Humbled

Does Christlike to you mean perfect?

Does it mean proud for all you give

Is it a list of your accomplishments?

Just another boast for how you’ve lived?

Or does it mean humble?

Does it mean sick and dependent on His grace?

Is it awareness of your weakened condition?

And finding peace in His embrace?

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His Grace Along the Way

My sin has caused me to stumble
My failure causes much pain
But Your loving grace and discipline
Puts to death my own thinking and ways

Each season I rush to reach the end
Of the lesson at hand on my own
Instead of trusting the timing
In Your omniscient Hand is known

“If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins-and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

1 John 1:10- 2:2

I Self Identify as…

I am the daughter of a King

Richly blessed, redeemed

I am a warrior, clothed in grace

Equipped and strengthened for this very place

My rags are removed, washed in His blood

Replaced with a crown sealed with His love

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Photo credit: https://www.artstation.com/irinaplachkova

Dusty Road

Living in mansions of gold

May have turned my heart to stone

Traveling a carefree road

May have left my need for You unknown

Instead many troubles were designed

Further deepening my search for You

Delivered at specific times

For reasons only Heaven knew

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Uncomfortable

If God leaves you in a place you don’t like, you can either stay miserable or find ways to experience peace and joy in the midst of it. And where is our only source of eternal joy that rises above our circumstances? In Him alone.

My earthly mind says

Make it all the way I want

Just do as I please

Don’t inconvenience or burden me

But His heart says

I’ll cause you discomfort

Uncertainty and unease

Until You place all your trust in Me

Home With You

I don’t need fame or busy-ness

I don’t need success

Just a roof over my head

And Your rest

I don’t need recognition

Or constant activity

I don’t need to be seen

Just Your Spirit

Surrounding and indwelling me

I don’t need to join the crowd

Or make everyone hear my voice

I just need Your promises

Your truths not muted

By the competing noise

Peace like a river invades

When You get me alone

Seeking no one and nothing else

In Your presence, I am home.

Owies

Re-posting from a prior New Year’s…

Caleb (one of my 3 sons) dropped a wooden block on his pinky toe tonight. From experience, I know dropping anything on your pinky toe can be a painful experience. But, boy oh boy, did he throw out an over-reacting crazy cry drama display (yes, I believe that is the proper technical term) for all the world to hear. I put an ice pack on his toe, gave him lots of TLC and he eventually settled down. An hour or so later, he came back to me and said “Mom! My toe has been NOT hurting SO much that I forgot I had hurt it until I just felt it again and remembered.” I reassured him (as a toddler who has a hard time understanding that not every bruise and scrape is permanent) that the moments of absent pain are evidence that his “owie” is healing and soon enough the pain will be gone completely (until the next wooden block, playground slide or bike ride, of course).

In the midst of our conversation, I felt reminded that this applies to emotional pain as well. Often times, like my precious baby, we wonder if the pain we feel will ever go away and healing seems like an impossible task. Thankfully, we have a Heavenly Father just as interested in giving us an ice pack, wisdom and TLC as we are for our own children. And eventually the sting of pain subsides or maybe even shifts to a dull ache. And although total healing may take a long time and may not leave us the same as it found us, we should let these moments of “NOT feeling the pain SO much” remind us that healing is occurring. I wish everyone a wonderful New Year full of gratitude, strength, joy and healing.

“The Lord does not cause pain without allowing something new to be born” (Isaiah 66:9, paraphrased in 20 Lessons Learned by Debbie Stuart.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ( Psalm 147:3)

For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:17)

Sovereign Steps

I say I will go this way
But You direct my steps
In my head, all my plans are made
But only You see what’s next

My vision is oft filled
With self-centeredness or fear
Directed by my instinct
To survive and thrive here

Your plans are grander
than I can conceive
Designed with a purpose
Linked to eternity

I know not the path
Nor the way
So close to You
I’ll stay

Christmas

A Silent night as any other

While a miracle was born

Lowly laid in a manger

The very first Christmas morn

Could they hear on that night

His cries that would save

The wrath He would bore

As God set the stage

A fragile babe

Our heavenly King

God’s Light shining

Erasing death’s sting

Scandalous Grace

Scandalous grace

Because no one can earn it

And it can’t be taken away

The worst of us can own it

As the proud look on in dismay

Scandalous grace

Because you can’t contain it

And it can’t be sold your way

Bought for us as a loving gift

At a price only He could pay

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18

Selfish Fears

What if this path brings misery

And I wake up in tears?

What if I wander around in boots of lead

While looking for a clearing to appear

The daunting task of this journey grips me

With threats of pain that may be endured

With no guarantee of how long it will take

And my fragility now underscored

Would the right way bring so much suffering

Is a conflict that lurks in my mind

I must endure the course, come what may

Instead of turning to my instincts this time

I’ll hold onto the hope one day it’ll be over

The work will have accomplished it’s intend

The perils of the journey left behind me

As I look up and behold this path’s end

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

The Gift Giver

It is such an enjoyable thing to buy gifts for those we love.  It’s a demonstration of the fact that we know them intimately enough to know what they would enjoy.  It shows them we think of them and consider the details of their personality and desires just to discover some little gem that will bless them. 

Well, I have a friend who lives out of town and every time a birthday or holiday rolls around, I can’t wait to think of what gift I will pick out for this person.  This past year, I picked out several items and couldn’t wait to deliver them.  However, our visits didn’t work out as planned, so I decided to hold onto them until they could be delivered in person.   Now with Christmas around the corner, I thought of a few more gift ideas.  So, I bought them and added them to the pile that is just waiting for the chance to be delivered.  In this process, I wondered “how large will this pile actually get if our visits keep getting delayed?!”

Then I pictured our Heavenly Father doing the same for us.  He picks out and collects gifts for us every chance He gets as a token of His love for us – gifts specific to us.  Gifts of grace, of strength, of breaking strongholds, gifts of revelation of Himself and gifts of intimate moments together.  And maybe we’re in a place for awhile where we’re not able to receive His gifts.  Maybe we are in a place of trial or sin, a place of mourning or tribulation.  And in that season, maybe the gift would be lost in the midst of our troubles.  So, He stores them up! He holds onto them and waits for the day we are ready to receive all the gifts He has planned for us.

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:7

“That is why God says, “When he went up to the highest place, he led captives into captivity and gave gifts to people.” Ephesians 4:8

Shaken

“Then the Philistines will be thrown into panic, for they counted on the power of Ethiopia and boasted of their allies in Egypt!  They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have?  We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.’”  Isaiah 20: 5-6

Is there something you have trusted in throughout your life that has boosted your confidence, given you a greater sense of security or maybe even shaped your identity? Maybe you come from a family of wealth, therefore you have never given much worry to where your next meal will come from. Maybe all of the women (or men) in your family have lived long healthy lives, living well into their 90s, so you have great confidence that you will follow in line. Maybe your parents have demonstrated commitment and endurance to their lifetime marriage and set the example for how you believe the story will also go for you. Maybe the church where your faith was born has a leader who has taught you countless truths and been the example of faith for which you look to and live by.

So what happens when that foundation cracks and the most reliable thing in your life crumbles? When the family you depended on makes a bad investment and files for bankruptcy; when you get a cancer diagnosis in your 40’s and your vision of a long life is suddenly threatened; when one of your parents commits adultery and the relationship you trusted more than any other ends. When your church leader is caught being dishonest and has to step down… what happens then?

Maybe we would echo the words of the Philistines in the scripture above and wonder, “If this can happen to Egypt (fill in the blank), what chance do we have?!” And suddenly we are met with the choice to either crumble in despair and hopelessness or rebuild our foundation.

God has a way of illustrating to us over and over again our faith and dependence should be on Him and Him alone.  Everything in this world is temporary, every person in this world is flawed.  If your trust lies in anything or anyone of this world, it is subject to disappointment. 

This is not to say we shouldn’t be grateful for the blessings of financial security, good health, successful relationships and amazing church leaders or walk in fear of their failure. (And check out how to still love people who’ve let us down HERE) But we should never place our confidence in these people, places or things above our confidence in the Lord. He is still who He says He is when we face loss and we can have the confidence in Him to say “I don’t like it, but I trust You. Show me according to Your Word and Spirit where to go from here.”

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Unfaithful

The Lord asked me, “What if I asked you to marry a cheating man?”

“When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.” Hosea 1:2

So, I pondered the scenario. The quick reply is of course – “anything for you Lord, right?” But my instinctive answer is no.

Could I walk in daily forgiveness of a man who was continually and willfully unfaithful to me? Surely over time, no matter how much strength I mustered to forgive over and over, my love would reach its limit and I would give up. That seems to be the human limit of love.

But the Lord has shown us a different kind of love.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

He saw our unfaithfulness and chose to love us still. He saw our disobedience and chose to pave the road to forgiving us through the sacrifice of His own Son. Without forgiveness, love is hindered. So, He paid the highest price making His forgiveness complete and His love known.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

To accept His forgiveness and experience His love, all He asks of us is to believe that He has given us this gift of grace.

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:10-11

What an amazing demonstration of love this is! He has shown us how to love and in so doing, has now freed us to extend that same grace and love to others.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

Joy Comes in the Morning

This night is long

My requests play on repeat

Do you hear me? Are You answering?

I circle the same bleak scene.

My mind is tired, my spirit despaired

I try to conjure up gratitude

But none is found here

Then in the darkness, I hear His whisper in my ear.

Jump for joy, rejoice in your faith!

You’ve held onto my Hand and have not lost your way.

Through this storm, your character was born.

Be encouraged for my joy comes in the morn!

“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” Psalm 13

Written

Uncertainty need not lurk in our minds

Obsessing about allowed or forbidden

He’s won the war and determined our course

The end has already been written

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:37-39

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Phillipians 1:6

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5

Calling all Sinners

I desire mercy over sacrifice
I paid the highest price
For an open door to commune with you
So bow your knee, confess your sins
Follow Me and walk in truth.

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

‘”Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”’ John 8:10-11

For further discussion on this scripture, check out: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/what-does-it-mean-when-god-desires-mercy-over-sacrifice/88736.htm

Captain God

This restless sea inside of me

Tries to pull me under

But I’ve learned to sail by the winds of Your Word

Unmoved by strike nor thunder

My compass spins out of control

Guided by worry and doubt

But my Captain aboard anticipated the course

And lovingly steers the whole route

I cannot see what’s ahead of me

But certain treasures I know will be there

His companionship and peace sustain me

As I sail with my God in prayer.

Hope

Look up ahead! There is a clearing

A beam of sunlight past the bend

Can you see it? Do you feel it?

Heavenly hope streaming in

From a source so grand

Beyond our understand

It’s bubbling, now overflowing

Gifts pouring from His hand

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Pleading

Is my self deception too great for Your spirit?
My ears too clogged to hear Your Word?
Is my spirit too strong willed to sense your direction?
My vision too tainted to understand all observed?

If I have no ears to hear nor eyes to see
If all of my ambitions center around me
Then stop me in my path, turn me around
Whatever Your judgement, let it be.

But if I have sought and believed Your Word
If I have surrendered my will to Yours
Confessed my sin and trusted Your grace
Let not my prayers go unheard.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

“Now, will God not judge in favor of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them?  I tell you, he will judge in their favor and do it quickly. But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when he comes?” Luke 18:7-8

Overruled

With a contrite heart, I come before You

Confessing all I’ve tried to control by my will.

With my troubled mind, I’ve justified

With my sinful flesh, I’ve refused to be still.

I’ve hoped beyond all human reason

That Your hand would still provide

A way out of this wilderness

Out of the mess we’ve contrived

Is it Your grace I have hoped for

Or my selfish desires to come true

Is it Your plan I envision

Or am I forcing my plan on You?

Roll in with a thunder

Strike with Your mighty hand

May Your will be done, not mine, I cry

But not let my tears thwart Your plan.

Gospel of Grace

In our longing for justice,
We argue, we reason, we explain
Hoping our offender
Will feel remorse for our pain

But where we have been wronged
We have wronged a thousand more
So we look to the cross
And see the grievances He bore

If we all weren’t in need of this grace
We could rest on our arguments
If all we had was our understanding
All through the day we’d lament

But thank God He teaches mercy
Thank God it’s not about evening the score
Thank God it’s not about who’s right or wrong
Thank God, grace gives so much more.

I Doubt It

Today all I can see is every dream that never came true
Every time I screamed out and never heard from You
Every loose end that never got tied
Every time I felt alone as I cried.

Today all I hear are the sneers of those mocking my faith
The repetition of questions never being set straight.
The deafening silence when I wait for You to make a move
The countless reasons to give up my faith til it’s proved.

Yet, my heart keeps calling out for You.

Worldly Affair, Heavenly Commitment

“I had this secret affair,” she said. “He loved me more than anyone could.

He bore his heart to me, brought his cares to me and listened equally as good.

The best of friends we quickly became

Our souls finding familiar comfort while passion filled the same.

But he had committed himself to another a long time ago.

He was not free to love me openly or so the story would go.”

So their commitment sat in silence, in a world all on it’s own

He would keep on loving her as long as he didn’t have to let the other go.

She cried out to the Lord in her desperation and pain

“Why give me this love that must stay hidden and contained?

Shouldn’t his love for me make it impossible to hide

Impossible to still hold onto another and in his closest companions not confide?”

And the Lord answered her: “Now I will ask the same question of you

Has your commitment to the world kept you silent of our love, too?

You walk with me each day, have come to know me and love me like no other

Yet keep me hidden from your world, contained as a secret lover.

Denounce your prior affinities, do not be ashamed

The intimacy we have grown by heart, now walk in the same.

Share our love story, no longer make me hide.

Let your faith in me match internally what is seen on the outside.”

“And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.” Hosea 2:20

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31-32

Inevitable Pondering

Reaching for answers that aren’t there
Wondering if my wishes will vanish with the wind
Trying to make sense of the madness around me
Wondering what picture I fit in

Trying to grab hold of pleasures that pass me
To celebrate love and warm hearts
Distracted by horror stories, fears and theories
Unable to decide how true they all are

Building strength to stand on my convictions
With limited info to decide what those should be
Working day to day just to earn a living
Wondering if this is all that will become of me

At what point in time will the big picture be clear
When will we know what we chose to believe was right
I guess not until the ever after
So we keep saying our prayers every night

He Has Overcome the World

I can’t guarantee any outcome for tomorrow
Or even my breaths beyond today
But I can rest in the grace of my Savior
No matter how far I have fallen or strayed.

I can’t make my troubles on earth get better
But I can rejoice in heavenly truths
I can’t remove all fear or failures
But I can find real joy and peace in You

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

Firm Foundation

I’ll keep reminding myself
To place my hope in You
Not in another, not in a circumstance
Not in flashes of temporary hope before me
Nor memories of victories past
No, only in You
Will I hope and rely
On the Rock of Your truth and promises
Will I place each brick of my life.

“It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.” Luke 6:48

Provisions

Though the path is hard
It’s not impossible.
For nothing is impossible with You
Though the way is dark
It’s not invisible
You shine Your light to see me through
Though my heart is broken
It’s not beyond repair
When placed into Your hands
Though my tears may fall
You’ll wipe them away
And not let them thwart Your plans.

Prepared

Just because each step is heavy

Doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way to go

Laboring in each step is building my strength

And preparing me for what I don’t yet know

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 13:8

Journey

I look on journeys past

And see the change they bore in me

I never would’ve planned these paths

Or the struggles they would bring

The battles are beyond hard

And oft take forever to win

My mind and heart get scarred

Then Your Word carries me back in

I look at journeys past

And see the victories they led me to

I take a deep breath, step out in faith

And set out on my next journey with You

“So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” Exodus 13:18

“He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.” Psalm 23:3

Devoted

If you love me, scream it from the mountain
If you love me, keep me close at all times
If you love me, believe me and act on your faith
If you love me, put all other loves aside

“Without growing weary, you have persevered and endured many things for the sake of My name. But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love.” Revelation 2:3-4

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deutoronomy 6:5

Faith or Works? Yes

Oh faith,

Will you crumble when put to the test?

Will you run and hide when you’re not approved by the rest?

Or will you put into practice all you’ve been shown

Speak boldly, stand strong even when all alone?

Faith without works is dead

Works without faith is misled

Demonstrate your faith by your works instead.

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17

Prodigals

Please carry the heavy load of our pasts
So we’d be free to walk along
Your predestined paths
Please cleanse us from our regret and shame
So our mouths would be confident
To share Your good name

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Not I but Christ

Disappointments and heartaches
We can give these to You
And attempt to align how we think
to Your Word and Your truths
So what do You say
About moments that don’t go our way
To remember You are Sovereign
And there are grander purposes at play

“Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” Ephesians 1:11