Monday, April 29, 2013

The Depths of My Soul

One of my kids made a pretty big mistake the other day.  And I got angry. 

The mistake was pointed out to me by a third party (that's always hard to hear).  I was embarrassed by what my child did.  I thought I had taught them better than that.  And I was angry.

When I questioned my child about it, the said child lied to me, and then I really lost it.  
Eventually, the child was sent to his/her room and dad was called in.  

I knew I had handled the situation all wrong.  

I was angry, embarrassed and hurt, and my child knew that.  In that moment, though my love NEVER wavered, it NEVER diminished or faltered or decreased in any way, my child felt that it had.  Instead of communicating my love.  I communicated my hurt.

I handled it all wrong.

Daddy on the other hand laid down on the bed with the child and quietly talked to him/her for over 40 minutes.  Never once did he raise his voice, never once did he get angry.  He validated the choice that was made, communicated he could understand why that choice was made but described tenderly why it was the wrong choice, what about it made it such a wrong choice and helped the child walk through how to make a better decision next time. 

He handled it perfectly.  

On the way to class today I was listening to praise and worship music and asking for forgiveness because it still bothers me how poorly I handled this situation.  I did later go apologize to my child. I assured him/her of my love and asked for forgiveness.  But days later I am still remorseful.  Will I never learn????  And as I was praying, these words came over the radio "You know the depths of my soul and you love me the same."

Just as nothing my children do, could EVER change how much I love the (even when they make me angry, embarrassed or hurt). There is nothing that I do that will change how God feels about me.  He has seen me at my worst, he has seen the ugly depths of my soul, and he still loves me.  Just like I still love my child.  Only he loves me perfectly.  He loves me in ways I am incapable of loving.  He loves me with a love I can never earn, understand or deserve.  He loves me.  And he loves you to.  He has seen the depths of your soul and he loves you the same.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Don't Look Down!

"Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'"
Matthew 14:29-30

What is that saying?  Don't look down!

I wonder why they say that?  It's not like your situation is going to change.  Whether you look down or not, my guess is you are already in a position you, possibly, should never have been in the first place.  A dangerous position and whether or not you look down, that position is not going to change.

Yet somehow looking down does make a difference.  It does change things.  It makes us more aware that we are somewhere we shouldn't be.  And too often, once we look down fear takes over.  And that is where the big problems start, when we let the fear take over.  

Fear can be immobilizing.  Fear will stop us in our tracks.  All the sudden we are incapable of moving forward or backward, of making a choice, or deciding what is best.  Fear leads to all sorts of problems.

Fear is what got in Peter's way.  Peter wasn't necessarily in a position he shouldn't be.  No, he was right where Christ told him to be.  But admit it, sometimes that happens to us to.  Maybe we aren't in a "dangerous" situation, we may very well be doing exactly what it is God wants us to be doing, but it's out of our comfort zone.  And so we get scared.  Fear creeps in telling us we shouldn't be doing this, we CAN'T do this, and all the sudden we find ourselves sinking.  

That's what happened to Peter.  He was literally walking on water, doing what nature says is impossible.  But it WASN'T impossible.  Peter WAS WALKING ON WATER (disclaimer: please do not try this at home)!  UNTIL, he let the fear take over.  

At that point, when he let reason (it is impossible to walk on water) override Christ (you can do anything through me), he was limited.  He could only do what we mere mortals can do.  He gave into fear.  And he started to sink.  

There are things we are called to do, each one of us, that are impossible to accomplish by our own accord.  Reason and nature will tell us that these things are simply not possible for us to do.  They will put us out of our comfort zone and if we stop to look down, we will be overcome by fear.  But when we look up, instead of down, when we do it through Christ and not through ourselves, all things are possible.  Peter DID walk on water.  He DID the impossible. 

When you are called to do something amazing by God, and you will be, do it!  Do it through him, not through yourself and whatever you do, DON'T LOOK DOWN!

You will find the complete story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14:22-32.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

He Is Enough

I am an emotional girl.

I feel a lot.  Just ask my husband.

I have spent a fair amount of my life believing that emotions = truth.  That what I am feeling is true simply because I feel it.  That my feelings are justified and should be validated.  No one can argue with what I am feeling right?  I feel ________.  It is a fact.  It is true.  That is how I feel.  No one else can tell me how I should or should not feel.  

I have spent the majority of my life believing that.

But what if that isn't true?

What if emotions don't equal truth?

There are times I feel like Erik has said hurtful things to me, when there was no ill intent on his part.  I misinterpreted his words.  My feelings, my emotions did not reflect the truth.

There are times I feel left out, when this is simply not the case.  No one intentional left me out.  Perhaps I wasn't involved in the get together because I wasn't involved in the events that led up to it.  Perhaps they needed a small group for a specific reason, whatever the case, no one intentional left me out.  My feelings, my emotions, did not reflect the truth.

Sometimes my feelings, my emotions do NOT equal truth.  They equal a lie.  

A lie the evil one desperately wants me to believe.  Satan uses emotions like this, at least in my life, to redefine truth.  To turn my eyes from what is REALLY true, to what he wants me to believe is true. 

I am not implying that all emotions are wrong.  That we shouldn't feel or that emotions shouldn't be validated.  No where in scripture does it tells us not to have emotions.  We were created to be emotional beings.  Jesus was an emotional being.  There were times he felt angry, he felt lonely, he felt  betrayed.  But he didn't use those emotions to define his truth.  There was only one truth to him.  

The truth is that He is all we need. 

Yes, we will feel hurt.  Jesus did too.  But the truth is that He is all we need, He is enough.  Yes, we will feel lonely.  Jesus did too.  But the truth is  He is all we need.  He is enough.  Yes, we will feel sad, disappointed, angry and at times abandoned.  Jesus did too.  But the truth is He is all we need.  He will never abandon us.  He will never hurt us.  He is enough no matter what emotion we are feeling. The truth is He is enough to get us through that feeling and back to what is true.  

You are loved.  You are not alone.  Jesus is all you need.  He is enough.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Psalm 50:15

"And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me."
  Psalm 50:15

There is no question that yesterday was a day of trouble.   

I have no doubt that throughout the city of Boston and all across our beautiful country God was called upon.  

His name was called in a  mighty cry by an entire nation.  And we were delivered.

I know it may not feel like it, but he was there.  And we were delivered.  

We called and He answered.  

He was there when the bombs went off.  He was there with the lost and the scared.  He was there with the hurting. He was there in the stranger who stopped to help.   He was there in the first responders.  He was there.

It never ceases to amaze me how we call on His name in the day of trouble.  I do it to!  And time and time again he delivers me.  He delivers us.  

But do we honor him?  Really, do we?  We rally behind our nation, we look for the "humanity" in people, and we ban together.  But do we give God the honor and glory He deserves?  Or do we forget the very name we called before the smoke even clears?

I love our nation, I think America is strong and beautiful and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.  I think people are more innately good than bad.  I think you don't have to be a Christian to do the right thing, to help others in need.  But I also think THAT goodness, that "humanity" in each of us is the reflection of Christ.  Even if you don't believe in him, you were still made in his image, and that goodness in you is a reflection of the goodness of him!  

There was so much good done yesterday in the midst of trouble, good that delivered us.  The question is who will you honor for all that good?

Monday, April 15, 2013

We Aren't Promised Tomorrow

I had this post planned out in my head hours before I heard the news from Boston today.  It is all the more relevant in the wake of what has happened.

This was a difficult weekend for me, to say the least.  I was awoken Friday morning with a call from my brother.  My dad had a heart attack and was currently in route to a hospital in Wichita.  Dad was conscious and communicative the whole time, but that didn't make it any easier to hear or any less scary.  I cancelled my workout, woke up my husband and cleared my schedule.  Six long hours later I made it to my daddy's bedside.  

Dad is fine.  He had a stint placed in one artery and will have a second one placed in the next month.  He needs to make some changes in his diet, but he is going to be fine.  It was a very long Friday.  

Saturday morning on our way to visit my dad in the hospital we got the news that a very good friend of the family was killed in a farming accident Friday evening.  He was my dad's age, one of his dear friends.  They had gone to church together for 40 years.  I grew up with his daughters.  This is a family we love.  My heart just broke.  It made it all the more clear how lucky we were to still have Dad.  It doesn't always turn out that way.

I think Dad got an even bigger hug from me on Saturday then he did on Friday.  

None of us our promised another day.  We are told that are days are numbered.  That they are known and counted out, but we are not told what that number is.  

Today in Boston too many people found that to be true.  We aren't promised tomorrow.   None of us are.  

So call your daddies and tell them you love them.  Tell your mommies how much they mean to you.  Play with your children and kiss them goodnight.  Tell that friend how much you love them, that life wouldn't be the same with out them.   Write the letter. Make the call.  Say the words.  They need to be said today, because we aren't promised tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I Have a Dream...

I have a dream...

No it's not the same one as Martin Luther King Jr (although I have been reading a whole lot of the original Martin Luther in class so maybe there is some subconscious aspect to this post).

But I do have a dream, and I should warn you, I tend to dream big.  

I recently celebrated a birthday, I don't think it is necessary to document which one (but for the record it wasn't REALLY my 29th).  And one of my closest friends gave me the absolute sweetest card.  Hallmark must have been thinking of me when they wrote this.  The card was all about your dream, that hidden dream so many of us have, that dream that carries you through the day to day stuff we all have to do, the one you pull out when it's just you and you let yourself dare to dream.  My friend knows me so well, she knows what my dreams are and in this card she encouraged me to follow those dreams.  She said I was one of the biggest dreamers she knew (perhaps I could also have read that as one of the most unrealistic people she knows, but I chose not to).  She even gave me a bracelet with the words "Dream Big" inscribed on it.  And I do tend to dream big...

The truly ironic thing is that as much as I love to write and love to talk, I have a very difficult time articulating what my dream is to others.  So I just quietly sit here and dream.  Can any of you relate to that?  Do any of you have a dream?  Perhaps you have shared your dream with someone and are actively pursuing it.  Perhaps you have hidden your dream so deep in your heart you barely recognize that it is there.  Perhaps you feel like you don't really have a dream, that dreaming is silly, unrealistic or useless.  Perhaps your right, but I still have a dream.

Today I stumbled across 2 Corinthians 3:3 "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."  That's it...that's my dream. YOU are my dream!  I love to write, I love to talk but it's not about the words written in ink or the words that come out of my mouth, it's about the mark that, I pray, it leaves on someone's heart.  It's about letting the Spirit of the living God flow through me to reach someone else.  That is my dream.  You, sweet child, are my dream!  Thank you!

Please keep dreaming, dream big, you know I will!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Fruit of Righteousness

I sat in my car yesterday afternoon as I grabbed a quick bite (emphasis on quick) between class and picking JT up from preschool.

It was one of those beautiful sunny days when the inside of the car is decidedly warmer than it is outside.  Some people find that stuffy and suffocating, I happen to love it.  I am naturally cold so any time I can bask in the kind of sunshine that warms you to the bone I treasure it, especially after the kind of winter we have had!

As I sat there in the car, loving the warmth that was sweeping over me, wrapping itself around me, I thought of this verse from Isaiah...

"The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet and confidence forever." Isaiah 32:17

Righteousness, this kind of righteousness, the kind that will result in peace and cause quiet and confidence in your soul, is simply the state of moral perfection.

Well, that sounds achievable! I guess I better get started on that!  

WAIT!  Keep reading!  That's not the end!  

No one, not one of us, will ever be able to achieve moral perfection.  We can't.  It's not possible, it's not achievable .  We will NEVER be righteous by our own accord.

Our righteousness, our way to peace and quiet and confidence, is through faith in Christ alone, not by "doing the right thing".   We will never be able to do enough of the right things to be considered righteous.  It can only come from Jesus the Christ.

I know, I know that right now SO many of us are lacking peace.  Our lives don't feel quiet and we can't remember the last time we truly felt confident in anything.  

I want you to know that the peace, quiet and confidence that you are looking for can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ.  Not just believing IN him, but by believing him! Letting HIM change your life.  Letting HIM lead you to righteousness.

When that happens, the fruit of that life, that truth in you, the fruit of that will be peace, the effect it will be quiet and confidence in your very soul. 

And it feels a whole lot like basking in sunshine that warms you to the bone.  It feels every part of you, it wraps you up and holds you close.  And there is NOTHING that feels better than that.