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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quote of the Day

"I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us resist in all times of distress. But He never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on Him alone. A faith such as this should allay all our fears for the future."
                        - Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Only those who place tomorrow in God's hands and receive what they need to live today are truly secure. Receiving daily liberates us from tomorrow. Thought for tomorrow delivers us up to endless worry."
                     - Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Monday, November 28, 2016

For You Broken Ones This Holiday Season...

 All you longing hearts that find yourselves walking into this holiday season without hope...
 All you broken ones that feel the pain drive deep, the memories haunt, the fear grip low and hard...
 I hear you. 
I hear your grief as you face your first Thanksgiving or Christmas after a loved one died this year. I hear your cry of pain as you recall your significant other taking their life around this time. I hear your plea for help as you tell the world that you're done with it all...that you just want to die...to end the suffering. You don't want to live another day. 
 Somehow, it seems that during the holiday season, our fears, our doubts are more evident. We seem to notice the love of family others have...and maybe what lacks of it in our own. We see the presents others receive...and mourn that nobody cares enough to give to us in our need. We feel the absence of those we've lost. We feel the darkness press us perhaps more than usual. Our emotional senses are heightened.
 This is the time of year when lost souls seek. When broken hearts look for some glimmer of hope to tell them that it's going to be alright. When closed hands just might briefly open to receive all things peace and goodwill to mankind.
 In your desperation, perhaps this word of grace may get you through another moment. Might help you make this season one of thankfulness and joy, no matter what heartaches beset your path.
 Draw close with me to the One who is at the center of it all. Yes, I see you closing up and thinking that you can't trust Him because His goodness somehow ran out for you this year. Just give Grace a chance in this moment...come to the start of where His redemptive plan came about.
 God didn't choose a place of great grandeur in which to enter the world. He didn't arrive with all the makings of a King. To us, it seems improbable. And rightly so. Kings don't come in stables...but He did. Kings don't come come with the purpose of dying...but He did. He did because He wanted us to see Him as a different sort of King. As One who enters into our mess, our fears. As One who isn't afraid of our darkness. 
 He chose a manger as His entering place. He chose the lowliest possible spot in which to make His presence known. Because God stoops low. His love drives Him to meet sin-sick souls in their dying-broken when all others might have given up. What King would do that? What King...other than Him?!! 
 As you carry your burden-load hard this holiday season, perhaps it may give you some reason to rejoice in that your Savior cared enough about you to enter this world and set into motion a plan to redeem your suffering for good. Maybe it just might make you smile to think that the One who has given you breath loves you enough to give you grace in this hard moment. Turning your eyes from how you feel onto the One who feels everything for you just may break the darkness. 
 And, because my God feels your pain this holiday season, I do too. And I pray for you. Whoever you are...if you're reading this, know that you're deeply loved. And that God is still good. If it were not so, He would've abandoned us sinful ones long ago. He would never have even thought of sending His Son to earth to buy our redemption. But because He did do all that...and so much more...hope can become your song this season. Praise can flow from hearts that barely beat...because He is still enough. 
 Thankfulness in the midst of our pain is what sets us brave ones apart. It's humanly against us to want to practice the hard-praise...when all we see are problems, to want to attempt to choose joy. When the fears seem to stare us right down and cause us to tremble, to instead desire to face them in faith. 
 I'm daring greatly...and I hope that you will, too. I don't know what challenges you're facing this year...but I do know that the God who entered our earth over 2,000 years ago is still breathing life-giving grace into hearts long dead. The miracle that took place in Bethlehem is still alive today, giving us assurance that nothing in this life we live (even the hard things) is ever wasted in God's plan. 
 And...because of that...we can take joy. We can open our hands in faith, knowing that He who holds the Universe, holds us. 


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours."
             - Marcus Aurelius 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now."
                          - A.W. Tozer 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

This Thanksgiving...Dare Big!

 It is the season of giving thanks. We all do it...we all know it...except we identify it with ham and turkey and stuffing and all deliciousness...
To us, it is spelt out in pumpkins and all things harvest-like...and we gather with friends and family on one day every year and say that we're grateful...
But perhaps we're making the biggest mistake of all...perhaps when it comes to thanks, we really don't understand at all. I sadly think that many of us have relegated the return of our appreciation to God Himself to one day...one day!...when it should be a pattern of life, a cycle of 365...of gratitude always.
We have rushed on, pushed ahead in our heathenistic pursuit of success and money and fame and all the like...done so till we're worn out thin...and we have missed the point of everything...which is to glorify and thank Him!
This world calls for our attention constantly and we give it what it wants willingly. Too often we trade the cross-centered, grace-filled life for the "life" we think we're told to live...not the one that truly matters.
Honestly, what has held back my thanks has been my fear. Fear of not being enough, fear of messing up, fear of taking risks...I have played life too safe. I'll admit it...I have missed much because I wasn't willing to believe. I have walked the past of a doubter...because I didn't trust the perfect love which He gives...yes, that kind that casts out fears like mine.
His blessings and miracles have surrounded me all my life...and I know they surround yours too...but isn't it true that the statement "I've thanked too much" was said by no Christian ever?! We are forever in the minus when it comes to returning to God what we've been given. It is humanly impossible for us to give back when His storehouses of life abundant have poured out so freely! But even the acknowledgment of His goodness seems to be beyond us. We run on through the months, the years, hard thinking we're in this mad dash to the end called life and we have to do it all or else we've failed...
...but according to whom?! According to whom have we failed?!
Maybe we've simply failed ourselves...and because our vision is skewed, we are kept from witnessing the things God puts in front of us every single day. Maybe the life-lessons that are breathed in the simple are withheld because we are chasing something irrelevant to God...
I sit here...and I listen to Him speak in the heart...and I feel it resound within me deep: the things that the world considers relevant are irrelevant to God. To be a thanks-giver, one must become a thanks-liver, and the culture doesn't want a thing to do with us. If we choose to start breathing the gratitude and returning to the purpose for which we were made...if worship is to become a daily habit...then we must get used to be called out of touch...all because we desire to be in touch with God.
This desire started me down a path of searching five years ago. It's been five years now of chasing after His heart...of attempting to re-adjust my faulty thinking...of asking for His re-alignment so that every part of me is in sync with the God of the Universe. In those five years, I've learned more and more about the importance of thanks...that it is what keeps the darkness away...that it is what brings peace and meaning to the otherwise unexplainable.
And I have now come to a place where I want to dare...and I want to dare greatly. I'm tired of playing life safe...because I realize that I don't serve a safe God. I don't serve a God whose hands are tied from interfering with the souls of mankind, who just wound up this universe and is waiting for it all to crumble, who sits back and watches it all fall and fail and does nothing about it...I don't serve that kind of God. Some try to make Him out to be a softy...but I don't want any part of that kind of God. I want a God who dares greatly...because His daring led Him to a cross to die...because of love. His daring pitted Him against His culture too...in His day everybody knew you didn't hang out with outcasts and you didn't touch sick lepers and the like...but He did. He did because He enters into our messy...and He's not afraid to risk greatly in order to win us over.
If I am to follow His example, I need to begin believing big...I need to stop putting Him in a box and expecting small...I need to stop putting myself in a box and thinking that I can't take the leaps of faith He asks of me...He will always give what's required...and I need to trust that. He's calling me to greater levels of faith...levels that I feel I haven't even begun to tap into. To resist His calling is to resist new miracles that result when willing hearts are open to His plan.
And so...this Thanksgiving, I want to dare big. I'm tired of playing it safe. Perhaps you are too.
So let's make a deal together...before God...that starting now, this coming year will be different...
Let's agree that this will be the last year where our thanks-giving is limited to only one day of the year. Let's agree to the 365 challenge:
We'll believe more and fret less; we'll put faith into action over fear; we'll pray deeper and pray longer...even in the times when impossibly looms large, and we'll look for the little things to thank Him for...for everything becomes grace when you start to view everything as gift. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and can change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
                           - William Arthur Ward 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Quote of the Day

"The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become."
                                      - Robert Holden


Monday, November 21, 2016

A Thank-You Least Expected

 I never thought I'd ever say thank you in this way...never thought I'd one day be grateful for the things that were meant to hold back, to discourage, to wound. But here I sit...typing these words to all those who said that His direction for my life was wrong...
This is my open letter to all the nay-sayers and the doubters...not to prove them wrong but to prove Him faithful...

Dear You...

All of you who said that I would never "be something" in life because I wasn't led to go to college. I can recall your words as you pressured, attempted to convince...to sway, because you thought you knew the plan. I was as clueless to His plan as you...but all I did know was that His plan was different from yours. The fact I couldn't convince you bothered me...but then I realized years later that nothing I did could convince you if you couldn't see through to God. It was then that I decided to trust Him to lead...even if you never understood why...

All of you who thought I should've chosen love differently...yeah...those of you who think I've been single for too long, who wanted to set me up and rush me into the second biggest decision of my life...
When I was a teen, I gave God the rights to my life-story. I told Him to write it the way He wanted to. Granted, I thought He would've sent Prince Charming sometime ago...but who am I to question the ways of the God of the Universe?! If He can hold the world together, He is more than capable of uniting two lives for the purpose of His will. I continue to choose contentment and trust over fear...even in the face of your own doubting.

All of you who said that I wasn't working hard enough...when I knew that His ways couldn't be traced in the seen and I saw that the unseen mattered more...when I chose to look at my work through the eyes of faith, when I made the dare to step out and trust His guidance...as hard as it was to press into faith when fear pushed hard into your heart and mine...His way won...it always does. 

All of you who wondered if the dare to "be" rather than to "do" would pay off...I've often questioned it too...but I don't anymore. Because He's too good and I am too loved to doubt His gracious leading...to resist the blessings because the road doesn't make sense...
I have seen Him part the waters of fear on too many occasions to think that He would lead into paths that aren't laden with peace. Yes...maybe I could've chosen the path more lucrative, more famous, more luring...but what would it have been worth if He hadn't gone before? How could I have walked in blessing if He had desired something else? I would rather choose His way than anyone else's...including my own. 

To all of you...and many others who told me these things over the years...

Thank you. 

Thank you for expressing your fears because in your doubt, I came to face my own and learn the art of living by faith. 
Thank you for being my critics...because without you, I would've continued to think that life is all about people always being for you...never learning that to persevere in the face of pressure brings character. 
Thank you for testing my choices by your harsh words. By wrestling with the sometimes painful responses you gave, I learned to ask God for miracles in impossibilities. I learned to pray through...I learned to give Him everything and trust Him to come through big...even when things stood in the way. 
Thank you for pushing me to the brink of dire frustration...because I gained much more than I lost because of it. I won't deny that wounds were acquired...but the scars now and the lessons that came with them are precious to me. They have become marks of God's love.  
Thank you to the people who left along the way...those who I thought were my friends but who proved to not be fellow travelers on the way to Grace...because of you, I learned to lean on God fully...and I came to appreciate those few intimate, kindred souls that have come along the way and to cherish them deeply as His gifts.
I am who I am today because God allowed you all to pass my way for a reason. As difficult as it was to hear your fears, your doubts...to field your questions and to struggle with your harsh comments...He redeemed it all in due time, and removed the sting of all the wounding so that I can now say to you all confidently: 
Thank you for your part in making this girl who she is...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Movie

 If you have some spare time leading into Thanksgiving and want to see a great movie, check out The Thanksgiving House! I just saw it for the first time last night. It's a great story about the importance of valuing our history and helping others to appreciate it. It will bring a special significance to your Thanksgiving celebrations. 


Quote of the Day

"Thou hast given so much to me, 
Give one thing more - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise."
-George Herbert

Friday, November 18, 2016

Quote of the Day

"To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference."
                             - Thomas Merton 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Continued Counting Of Thanks

 Last Thanksgiving time, I did a post called Counting The Thanks in which I discussed the importance of naming blessings, of counting the ways He loves. There has been something powerfully transformative for me in learning to list the numerous daily encounters where He has made himself known in the special grace-moments...those times when you can only look up and worship. When the only words left in your heart are, "Thank You for everything!" In my post last year, I listed a few of the special things in 2015 that had stood out to me, and I encouraged you all to do the same...so that we could share the thanks together. 
 A year later, the gratitude still spills over...and the blessings have continued. So as we enter this season of thanks-giving once again, I will add more grace-moments to my list. 

In 2016 I am thankful...

...for God's protection over my friend Hunter and his girlfriend Arika when they were in a horrible car accident on New Year's Day that should've taken their young lives. To walk away from a crumpled truck on a Tennessee highway with only minor cuts and bruises was truly a miracle! 

...for the gift of faith that sustained me through many tense days this year. When the fears loomed large, He gave the grace to tell my racing soul that all was still well...because He is still good, and I am still loved. 

...for the amazing trip I took with my family to the East Coast this past spring. Three history-lovers, wide-eyed, taking in the sites of times past...thanking God for the rich heritage of the nation we call home. 

...for three beautiful God-filled days visiting our friend Billy at school. After close to two years of not seeing one another, we thanked the Lord for the gift of friendship. 

...for a few awe-inspiring moments, sitting in the historic Princeton University Chapel, blessing God for the many godly preachers of His Word who spoke truth to the generations from its pulpit. 

...for the opportunity to visit the graves of John Witherspoon, Jonathan Edwards, George Washington, and others who left a legacy of godliness to those who would follow in their paths. I praise God that such men existed...and I pray for many more!

...for the closure of finally getting to pay my respects at the grave of my friend, Marine Cpl. Michael Lasky. Nearly ten years to the day of when he paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country, I could finally lay my hands on his polished headstone in Arlington National Cemetery and feel like the chapter could close at last. 

...for the miracle of healing God gave to my friend Philip this summer. Arriving in Alaska for the summer, he suddenly found himself in the hospital with a brain infection. Providentially, God gave answers to a doctor here that no other doctors had ever come up with...in 20 years of Phil's health problems! Phil continues to be a living testimony of God's goodness. His ways are far beyond me!

...for God preserving my father's life once again. 

...for my friend Caleb calling me up during my dad's surgery in June and keeping me company...so I didn't have to walk through the fear alone. 

...for the day my friend Nate sat down at a friend's house and played "Claire de Lune" on the piano. I had had about the worst day imaginable, and suddenly, God used the music to calm my soul and remind me that all would be well. 

...for the phone call from my friend Michael as I shopped in the grocery store. As we each shared the struggles of a trying summer, the clothing department became holy ground as we reminded one another that seasons of testing will be used by God for our good. 

...for the strength to be vulnerable with my friend and tell her where I went wrong. God restored life to our friendship because He gave me grace to be weak. 

...for lunch with my bestie Lindsay as we ate burgers and talked of God's goodness...even in the hard things that we don't understand. 

...for a great 10-day visit from my friend Samantha. Showing her for the first time the beauty of this little piece of God's country called Alaska made memories for a life-time. 

...for the gift of a conversation with Colin on a mountain-top as he shared how his life was changing...because of Jesus. 

...for reconnecting with my friends: Jordan, Tell, Kyle, Steven, Josh, and Collin after such a long time. 

...for the thrill of my friend Conner getting drafted by the San Francisco Giants and being blessed by God with an incredible start to his professional baseball career. 

...for the blessing of three young men coming to Christ this summer. 

...for my friend Jamie being given the gifts of love and family after so many years of loneliness. 

...for the grace given to publicly share my life-story for the first time via this blog. (You viewers will never know how big of a step this was.)

...for the God-given ability to let the criticism of others roll off my shoulders...especially when I couldn't have handled that in the past.

...that my sweet friend's parents got back together again. God is in the business of restoration...and it's a beautiful thing!

...for the simple fact that God gives songs of deliverance and joy in the dark seasons. When all seems hopeless, He grants the grace to keep on singing. 

...for the assurance that His plans are always bigger than my own. I need only trust Him. 

..."for the gift of friends, who know everywhere I've been and love me back home again..."

...for the comfort that He never stops making things new. Even in the moments when it's hardest to trust His redemptive plan, He never quits working...never ceases to turn the broken into something beautiful for Him. 

...for the ability to pray through the impossibilities...and to watch God answer. 

My list could go on and on...
But I don't want this post to just be about the blessings I've experienced this year...let's instead share the thanks together...
What are some of the things on your list in 2016? 
How have you been blessed?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quote of the Day

"The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing."
                          - Hannah Whithall Smith 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Quote of the Day

"God gave us minds to think with and hearts to thank with. Instead we use our hearts to think about the world as we would like it to have been, and we use our minds to come up with rationalizations for our ingratitude. We are a murmuring, discontented, unhappy, ungrateful people. And because we think we want salvation from our discontents..."
                         - Douglas Wilson 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wherever He Leads...

 I'm beginning to understand how hard thanks really is. It's becoming clear to me that, while we were made and created for worship and the returning of praise, it goes against my human DNA to thank God...particularly in the hard times. It's seems to be far easier for me to tighten the fists, to breathe in heavy, to question...even to flat-out doubt. I have to remind myself to think differently. I have to ask God to re-wire my patterns so that I learn to see as He sees. 
 Today, a line from one of my favorite songs is on my mind...I hear it echo in my chaotic thoughts... 

"Wherever You lead, I'm saying thank-You for everything..."

Wherever He leads... 
So many times I say this (and I think I honestly do mean it with surrendered heart) but what my living often reflects is a tone far from God's intent...

I'll follow You wherever You lead...but only if it takes me where I want to go. 

I'll follow You wherever You lead...but only if it means I won't have to suffer much. 

I'll follow You wherever You lead...but...

That three letter word "but" says it all. Every time I put that on the end of my resigning...I take back control. It shows that I disbelieve. I shows that I have just stolen my trust from His hands and that I do not have faith. I have contradicted everything I supposedly gave over...
God's invitation, from the moment we say "yes" to Him and receive Him as our Lord, is a simple,

"Come, and follow Me..."

His call that was first voiced to the twelve disciples hasn't stopped resonating throughout the centuries. It's still being heard today. But here's the thing, just because we say "yes" to Him once at the point of conversion doesn't mean that's the last time...saying "yes" to Him is a daily choice. While the Christian life affords much security and comfort, there is a kind of scary connotation to becoming a follower of the Master. Because sometimes He asks us to go places that require a courage only He can give...
Sometimes, sadly we think it's asking too much. We think we know better... 
And so we close the heart. We tell God "no." 
But what if we dared to do as His twelve once did. To go with Him anywhere...even if it goes against our understanding...
What if we chose to believe Him so strongly that we learn to accept all things from His hand...even the most harsh...
How might it change our lives if we headed His calling...and simply went...without questioning... 
What if we just thanked Him for everything...even the hard grace...
Would we choose to say "yes" even if it leads to a cancer ward and an unknown future?
Would we choose to say "yes" even if it means a loss so great we think we're almost broken in half?
Would we choose to say "yes" when the inner darkness presses right down and the chest heaves and the pulse races and we wonder how we're going to make ends meet? 
Would we choose to say "yes" if it meant pulling up our life's tent stakes to go do His work? Just like the fishermen when He called to them...would we
This is when the truth of our belief is brought out: when the praise can still spill from lips right chapped from crying out to Him for the impossible, when eyes that sting from endless tears can look up to Heaven, when hands worn numb from fist-clenching can open up and the heart can bless Him...knowing that He is always good and His love endures forever. 
Faith learns to say "yes" to God...even when life doesn't make sense. Even when we don't see all the pieces and we don't have all the answers and it all seems to run near out of control...can we still drop our tangled nets of doubt and despair and hopelessness to follow the One who calls to us? 
It may lead to paths that push us out of our known into the un-known. But will we still thank Him? Will we still trust and bless Him...no matter what?! 
Thanks is hard...but it's not impossible. And I feel I'm closer to the heart of grace when I stop and I bless God for everything...even what's shrouded in mystery.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Gratitude doesn't change the scenery. It merely washes clean the glass you look through so you can clearly see the colors."
                  - Richelle E. Goodrich

Friday, November 11, 2016

Quote of the Day

"To be thankful when my world lays in ashes long gone cold is to finally understand that ashes are the raw materials from which God shapes dreams infinitely grander than whatever the ashes were before they were ashes."
                       - Craig D. Lounsbrough 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Thanks-giving?

 I recall the summer I learned why thanks-giving. Why the offering up of praise is key to discovering the life that God intends for us. How the breathing of gratitude changes everything...
It was actually just this past summer. Because I had to live the two existences that beset many a believer: walking in the prosperity while still dwelling with the broken; embracing the light of His love while still feeling the affects of an inner darkness never far away; choosing daily to live in faith while yet combating the fears. That's when I realized that the art of giving thanks is a must. 
I had to find the little things to bless God for...while I once again entered the hospital halls I never wished to return to; while I also had to continue in my work responsibilities; while others kept asking for my time (and my help)...when I felt like I could give them none; while I needed to give when all I wanted to do was be held. I had to find the little things to thank God for...because I had to look for Him somewhere...everywhere. I needed to see evidences of His love because otherwise, my heart was about to shut off. All it wanted to do was protect itself. 
The racing heartbeats pounded out the rhythm of my fears; the quivering of my body threatened to tear me nearly in half; the mind went wild as it imagined everything possible...everything meant to scream that He's not good. 
I recall the days when I had to put on the music and praise the crazy right out of myself. I had to tell myself that love was still there...that God was moving. All I needed to do was look. 
Sometimes the effort it took to keep bringing my chaotic self back to the ordering of God took every ounce of my strength. But I refused to give in to the lie that had led me down the paths of darkness so many years ago: the lie that He has lost control...and I am not loved. 
Even when I made the trek between hospital and baseball diamond multiple times, even when I continued to attempt to meet the responsibilities of life and job, even when it all seemed to very wild...I kept on thanking. 
I knew I had to.
I knew I would not get through this valley any other way. 
On the other side of it now, I see it clearly: thanksgiving is the release of the soul's "yes". 
It is what keeps the heart from growing life-less. It is what helps it to heal. It is the buffer between the life-blows and desired peace. It is what enables a person to sing praises...even when everything around them tells them otherwise. 
I understand why thanks-giving because I understand why God. The punctuation is what makes the difference. It can be a why with a question mark: why God? why thanks-giving? Or it can be why with a period: why God. why thanksgiving. Actually with an exclamation point...because we agree with Him. And we choose to be grateful. 
I don't think I've ever headed into the holiday season with more joy. I've spiritually left it all out there this year. It's taken just about all I have at times to keep trusting, keep believing, keep praying through. But I am stepping forward in deep, deep gratitude. Because He's blessed the broken road. He's blessed the pain. He's used the ache to birth forth something new. All of the days of fighting for joy, fighting to stave off fear with faith - He's redeeming all of those. And I see it now. 
What cause, therefore, do I have to be un-grateful?! What reason can I think of to not bless?! 
When He's been so good...when's He's carried through...when He's loved so abundantly...
Where is there any room for doubt?!
I don't agree with Joel Osteen on much, but this I must say is too often what keeps us from experiencing Him to the fullest:

"One of the main reasons that we lose our enthusiasm
in life is because we become ungrateful...we let what
was once a miracle become common to us. We get so
accustomed to His goodness it becomes a routine..."

O Savior...do not let my ingratitude shut up my eyes to Thy grace! Give me faith and vision to see Thy miracles for what they are...
Give me a heart that is always open to Thee...even when the pain runs deep. Through all things, let me breathe the necessary prayer: thank You for everything! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Whatever is the nature of your affliction, you will find it weakening to look at it; but, looking unto Jesus, you will have, moment by moment, incomings of strength and support - not a stock in hand, but just as you need it. When Peter looked at the waves, he soon began to fear and to sink, but while he looked at his Master, though they were still boisterous, yet all was well. So I find it, and so will you. When looking at this or that painful thing, it is quite too much for us, but when looking unto Jesus and leaving all to Him, we are borne through the trial, and the very mountains become a plain, and the floods we thought would overwhelm us are made to divide that we may pass safely through."
                         - Ruth Bryan in Seasons of the Heart


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Nothing comes to pass without our heavenly Father's permission or ordination. By this almighty providence, God overrules and sways all things to his own glory. There is nothing that comes to pass but God has his purpose in it. Though the world seems to run at random in blind confusion and rude disorder, yet God governs it to make perfect harmony out of all the seeming discords...Divine providence does not only ordain what effects shall come to pass, but also by what means, what causes, and in what order they shall flow. God has appointed not only the effect itself, but the means to accomplish it. "
                                 - Ezekiel Hopkins in Voices From the Past



Monday, November 7, 2016

Quote of the Day

"...As your heart becomes pure, you will receive the most incredible blessing: you will see God. The real you will know the real Him. The relationship will not be based on performance and pretense but will be authentic. I can't think of a greater blessing than seeing God. To authentically know Him and to be authentically known by Him is what my soul was made for."
               - Kyle Idleman in The End of Me

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Quote of the Day

"So the bad news is that I'm not okay and neither are you. We're both badly broken. Not 'gently used,' like the clothing requested by Goodwill. We're ripped, torn, and ragged. Citizens of the global junk heap. 
The good news is that God makes the broken whole. He takes the overlooked, the undervalued, the left out, the written off, the damaged and destroyed, and then he does what only He can do. God loves to make the broken beautiful."
               - Kyle Idleman in The End of Me



Friday, November 4, 2016

Quote of the Day

"We struggle with authenticity because we fear rejection. We want the world to see us at our very best, because then people are more likely to accept and possibly even admire us. Maybe we don't need to try so hard or hide any of our blemishes. Maybe people will like us just the way we are. It's even possible they'll be more drawn to us if they know some of our failings and struggles. They could say, 'I'm like that too. I have the same issues. I'm glad to know there are two of us.' ...Getting to the end of me means I'm not worried about performing for others anymore. Getting to the end of me means I'm no longer interested in faking it, because I understand that God is looking for the real me."
               - Kyle Idleman in The End of Me

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quote of the Day

"...It's so easy for me to put on a show, add a little extra, be more than I am. Every instinct I have tells me to cover my sin deeply, to stamp a big smile on my face, and to give the impression that I have all the answers. But getting to the end of me means getting over myself so the real me can experience the real life available in Christ." 
                - Kyle Idleman in The End of Me

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What To Do When All You Want To Do Is Hide...

  I've had so many of those days...you know which ones I mean: the ones where it all goes plain broke, when all your plans are washed down the proverbial drain and you wonder why...just the simple, weighty "why." In this harsh reality, our souls shrink in fear...and we begin to doubt everything He has promised...His goodness included. 
This year has been filled with days and moments like this for me...the faith-dare has been tested. Fears have loomed large and old soul-ghosts have attempted to come back and haunt...to halt my walk of trust. 
When these life-storms used to hit, in days past I hid. It's all I thought I could do...just run from the pain somehow and escape. I thought that's how one dealt with the wounding...to get away from it...to avoid. For years, my soul hid - to the point where it even hid from love, from light, from God. It hid not only from the pain but also from the one thing that could mend: walking through the pain. 
It wasn't until many years later that I would learn that healing can only happen when we refuse to hide from the hurts. The wounds are merely openings for His light to get in. The pain is only an opportunity for redemption. When we hide from the things that cause us deep soul-scars, we turn away from the only path where grace-living can be found. It is only in walking the broken road that we learn to see ourselves for who we really are...and to experience the Savior in all His blessedness. 
Over the years, I've sought Him for a cure. I've asked Him for a remedy in the moments when the chest tightens, the heart races, the pulse speeds, the body cold-sweats right out of itself...
How?! 
How can I learn to slow the racing...to ease the breathing...to trust?! 
And I think just this year that I've found the answer... 
One word. One word that has changed everything. 
Faith. 
I've come to see that so much of my worrying, so much of my fearing has to do with a lack of faith. It is a sign of dis-belief. In those moments when I feel it all crumbling, if my response is to tense, to tighten, to clench the fists into hard balls of flesh...it is then that I become a type of atheist...it is then that I live out the "no" and by my actions tell God that I do not believe. I do not trust Him enough. I do not see Him as being capable. 
Worries about everything...and sometimes stupidly, about nothing...threaten to tear my soul into a million shreds. All because I do not give all back to Him. All because I do not remind myself that it's all His anyway. I do not honestly own anything...including my own life. 
If I live life as a Grace-gift...if I walk by faith as I'm supposed to instead of by my faulty sight...if I do my days with the intent of living hope unseen...then there is no room for doubt. Fear has no place. 
And even when I fall flat into my own weakness and the moments seem to spin around me without any sense of control...I must remember that His love is holding me in the eye of the life-hurricane where all is peace and calm. 
Prayer...it's the one way I've come to learn how to center myself. When I find the fears running wild and the doubt speaking loud, I begin to converse with the One who can and will set all right once again. I take all the cares and all the worries...and I set them before the God of the Universe...and I attempt to leave them there. I prayer a spirit of praise right into my heart. I do not stop until I find the place of thanksgiving once more. Because I know that my concerns all stem from a failure to recall His past goodness. Because past blessings beget faith for future ones. Recalling the endless times when He has done the impossible, brought about the improbable - these tell me the story of His love. These remind me that He's not finished working out His restorative plan in a broken world...in my broken world. 
To center my thoughts so myopically on my own feelings of fear is to miss the miracle that's just around the bend. Because that's how He works...the hard things proceed the blessings. If I could just learn how to remember, all would change. I would change. 
And I am changing...hard as it is. I still want to hide sometimes. I'm sure you do, too. It's part of human nature. But He's in the business of giving us His nature...of resurrecting our dead places and creating a new person out of each of us. That being true, we must press into the faith-walk harder. Must lean into Him deeper. Must rest in the love longer. 
Because this is our only hope when it all comes apart. Faith must be what we do when all we want to do is hide...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Who else feels the anxiety of supposing an absent God? Who feels the dread creeping up from behind? Do yo know the tightness in your chest, the speeding of the heart? Do you sometimes hear the voices asking what would happen if your friends and family discovered that you doubt God's active, healing, redemptive presence? Do you wonder whether they'll think you a fraud - you, the infidel, the runaway, the doubter? 
...If you are looking for a dose of uncensored honesty, a partner for the coming clean, if you are looking for a sobering exploration of God, maybe we're in this together."
                                 - Seth Haines in Coming Clean