Archive: January, 2012

Embrace Brokenness

People all around me are dealing with some hard things in life. My husband’s best friend just lost his mom to cancer over the weekend. Another fire in our community consumed many homes and a life just last week. And a precious friend of mine is hurting from some terrible, life changing mistakes.

These are just the things I know about. I know there is so much more.

I can’t help but wonder why sometimes. Why the struggle? Why the sin? Why life’s path turns so tragic at times?

And the word that keeps erupting in my soul is: Brokenness

The crazy, God thing, about that word is that it is always followed by a sense of peace and a spirit of joy in my heart. Why? Because of what I know about my God.

Brokenness is always His business. He’s either planned it or allowed it and something beautiful is always going to come from it.

He is constantly pursuing us. Drawing us further into Him. And while some are subtle pushes, others are violent, forceful shoves… knocking us down, cracking our knees to the floor.  And tears pour fluidly as bones break under flesh and blood leaks from broken skin.

In heap we fall, battered and bruised into the pit. But while darkness and fear advance quickly upon us we are never alone. Though it seems so much more than we can bear, a certain peace remains.

And a shaky hand only need reach up from that pit to find His warm and strong and ready grasp pulling us out and to himself.

You see, there is something supernaturally special about brokenness. It means something more to His children.

Brokenness equals His love.

It’s as simple as that. The most complicated, difficult trials of our life are whittled down to such simplicity. He loves us. He knows that through our struggles and with Him we tackle our flesh and our sin. After we are closer to Him. Refined by Him. And more acutely aware of how very much He loves us.

Are you feeling broken today? Rejoice in His love for you! Embrace brokenness and remember… He never picks perfect, He transforms us into it.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 

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First Things First

I’m thinking of you today, staring at that calendar clogged with too many “to-do’s.” How will I get it all done? I’m not sure sweet friend, but I know one thing: prioritizing is hard because so many people demand so many things from us.

I’m just like you.

I too have scheduled more than I can handle for today. Perhaps we’ve been trying to organize our lives according to our plans, not God’s.

Maybe we should take our daily obligations and place them in the hands of the One who makes all things possible. Remind ourselves as many times as it takes that, “All things {even the craziest schedule} are possible for the one who believes (Mark 9:23, emphasis added).

Maybe we write down our lists. Maybe while sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot wondering if we should even go in, we pray over our lists– we pray God will be glorified in the things we’re about to do.

By doing this, we begin to prioritize our day according to God’s will in all that matters. Then we can face the day with assurance that the same God who spoke our universe into being will help us place first things first in our lives.

“The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoveling it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”

~C.S. Lewis
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A Journey to Contentment

One morning after dropping the kids off at school, I have a little revelation from Jesus about myself: particularly, how I’ve conveniently forgotten to trust Him when things get tough— I don’t always accept my portion and my cup (Psalm 16:5). I cry out, “Jesus, show me how to be content; teach me how to trust.”

A litany of infractions parade in front of me. I’m flawed. I’m messy. I don’t always trust Him with things I don’t understand, with things I can’t see. Sometimes I find it hard to accept what He’s allowed in the past, what He allows today. It’s not easy giving our tomorrows to Him…completely. Are there any fellow strugglers out there?

Suddenly, the words of Christ wrap themselves around my clay-footed vulnerability: “Your weakness is the platform for My strength.”

So true.

In the refinement process, I’m learning that humility abounds within us the moment we discern: He is the Blessed Controller over all things, not us.

Waters of humility soak into us like a newly wrung-out sponge when we recite words such as these:

Though I don’t understand Your will;

Though I can’t see hope’s light glimmering ahead;

Though my faith fuel is running low…

I will exalt You. I will rejoice in You. I will yield to Your plan, Your purpose.

The key to my contentment in “all things,” is unlocked by the wild grace of God. I will allow my eyes to regain focus on a Sovereign Lord while shoving my own control-freak-agenda to the side: My focus on Him, not where I’m going.

I’m learning, “All things work together for good,” even when I can’t see how God is working, or how the pieces will fit. The Blessed Controller of my life is teaching me to cling like crazy to joy at its best [especially] when circumstances are at their worst.

I’m finally learning how to maneuver through the muddy moments in life, with less clumsy and more grace. Y’all can’t see me, but I’m doing a praising Jesus jig right now. Why? Because I’m not defined by my messy responses to tribulation in my life. I’m defined by my Jesus…

…who dared to be messy himself

…who dared to get earth’s stank on His robe

…who dared to leave the confines of heaven,

For raggedy, clueless people just like you and just like me.
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God is in Control

It’s so easy to give someone the advice, “don’t worry, God is in control,” but when a trial hits home it’s sometimes hard to consume those words for yourself.

It’s certainly not that we don’t believe that God is indeed in control, we know it… but doubt creeps in because the struggle seems so out of control. I’ve felt this lately. I’ve wondered, “is God really in this?”

My husband and I watched a short video sermon by Chip Ingram last week and it was packed with some wonderful reminders on how we can know for sure that God is without a doubt in control — especially for those times when you think He’s not.

Chip says, when we face troubled times and our Faith is wavering we need to ask ourselves this question: “Who is God?” And reflect on these three Truths…

1. God’s goodness. Psalm 84:11 says, “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”

2. God’s wisdom. Romans 11:33-36 reminds us, “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.”

3. God’s Sovereignty. Which of course we all know the verse well… “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

It is often hard to take our attention off of our present turmoil and on to the Truth of just “who” God really is, but the Spirit is leading us there. We must reject the flesh that leads us astray and follow the Spirit that causes these truths to surface in our hearts.

For adversity we must dwell on and believe fully in Gods true character. It’s the only way to survive life’s difficulties.

Chip also shared this wonderful acrostic on what God provides for all those He loves when times are hard…

H ope for tomorrow

E ndurance for today

L earning in my experience

P erspective for the past

Love that. Love Him for that.

Here’s the video if you’d like to watch yourself: Chip Ingram – Three Ways to Know God is in Control 
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By His Power

Over the past 7 days I’ve made, homemade blueberry muffins, chicken and dumplings, sausage kolaches, pancakes, french toast, applewood bacon and chocolate shakes… among other things that I can’t recall at the moment.

Personally, I did not have a single taste or bite of any of it. And I confess it’s been a bit tempting.

So, why am I not partaking in all of these sweet and savory yummies?

Because I am in the middle of a juice fast. Yes, ME… the girl who loves to cook and eat.

Why, a juice fast?

Well, there are a couple of reasons.

While Christmas day was lovely for us directly after we endured an entire week of affliction. I cannot share the details of that now, but hope to another time. Then very quickly after that my husband became ill from the stress and is still recovering.

So, with the holidays and a lot of anxiety came a lot of emotional eating for me. In the midst of anxiety I quietly shoved God aside and welcomed in my old friend food. And by New Years day I just felt completely food-ed out.

A dear friend mentioned this movie to me… Fat Sick and Nearly Dead by Joe Cross ,so we watched it and I got a mega dose of motivation to at least give juicing a try.

So, I bought this…

  And a whole lot of this…

And started drinking bunches of this…

What does God have to do with it? Everything. I mean every-thing. Self-control and discipline are not my strong suites. They are on-going issues that He has with me and without Him I am absolutely helpless in this or anything else that requires endurance.

There are so many verses that I could share with you, but this one says it all…

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-  the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself from us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”Titus 2: 11-14

It grieves me that I allowed food to consume me– again. And I needed crystal clarity with my worldly passion for food shoved way out of the way and God back in center focus. The self-control and discipline I am experiencing through this fast has done that for me.

Today is day 8, my goal is 10 days, but I’ve decided to take these last few days one day at a time. Even if I quit a little early and despite the true love/hate relationship I have with juicing I am still claiming this God-given victory. And the best part of all of this? Making all of this delicious food over these past days and not eating it because that is real power… His power– extended to me.

 

PS: How are you??? I’ve missed you!

 

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