Know That You Are Loved

We live in a sinful world that is fraught with conditional promises and relationships. Sometimes even those closest to us let us down. Despite this reality, our greatest need is to be loved unconditionally. We want to be loved with a perfect, sacrificial, forever kind of love in spite of our faults by someone who knows us intimately.

Further, we want to be supported and inspired by that love to not only become better people but to also leave lasting impressions on this earth. God provides us with that as no one else can.

That’s what theologians have meant over the years by saying that we have a God-shaped hole in our heart; there’s a space we were created with that only God can fill. And the love we were made to need is strong and unshakable. The Apostle Paul, who founded the early church, writes:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:38- 39).

That love claims you by faith. Wherever you are feeling unloved today, drink it in.

Bask in The Sunshine

We know a couple who had their first baby when we found out I was pregnant with our first daughter, Sommer.  When we called to tell them our news they gushed with how “rewarding” having a baby was for them.  Nine months later I’m having a difficult time in the birth of Sommer and the doctor ended up vacuuming her little head, terrible experience but it avoided a C-section.  Four hours and five minutes after my push time started, she was born.  Screaming I might add.   She screamed every night until the early morning hours.  Just in time for the new daddy to get up for an hour commute and a full day of work.

We loved our baby girl but there was not a feeling of “reward.”  In fact, I felt overwhelmed, tired, confused and a bit frustrated.  Why didn’t my baby sleep like other babies?  We walked around on tiptoes when Sommer finally fell asleep only to have her wake up screaming again.  I thought there must be something wrong with me.  My baby girl didn’t like me.  She was not content with anything.  I nursed her around the clock for months and still, she didn’t sleep well.  She had a healthy set of lungs and a great digestive system but there was nothing terribly rewarding about motherhood at first.  I loved her but was not in love with her.  That took some time.  I was so frazzled with my new job as a mommy that I thought for sure I was not cut out to do the job, but it was too late to take her back.  So, I soldiered on and on and on.  Then one day she smiled at me and my heart melted, and I fell in love with this chubby little baby and all the stress I felt left me, and I finally felt rewarded.

I thought I had a lifetime guarantee to be Sommer’s mom, but God had a better plan then my plans.  I can only see things in my limited view, but God not only sees the big picture, the wider canvas, but He is also the painter, the photographer of the snapshots of this life.  He called Sommer home at the age of 22.  I was supposed to grow old, watch her get married, possibly have children.  Her dreams were my dreams for her.  Just like the dreams of our other daughters are my dreams for them.  Of course, I want God’s will for them to be done but I share in their dreams and callings in this world.

Sometimes I feel let down by God.  Ripped off.  I didn’t get to have her for a lifetime.  I didn’t get to watch her dreams come true.  But one did come true.  She wanted to spend eternity with God, and I watched that dream come true the day she died.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Don’t let Satan steal your joy.

 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

Bask in the love of Christ and feel His peace cover you and bring you joy.

Our Thoughts Control Our Destiny

Today I read this devotional by Robert Jeffress.  I want to share it with you because, well, it touched my heart.

As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he.
–Proverbs 23:7 KJV

In our language and culture, when we talk about a person’s heart, we are talking about the seat of emotions. We say, “I love you with all my heart.” Or, “I feel this with all my heart.” But in the Hebrew mindset, there were two organs in the body: the heart and the bowels. The bowels represented the lower extremities of a person–the gut of a person if you will. So, to Hebrews, the seat of emotions was not the heart; it was the bowels. The bowels represented the sexual organs and deep, gut feelings. That is where a person felt things–in his bowels.

The heart, in a Hebrew mindset, was the center of thought. Most of the Bible was written by Hebrews, so when Scripture talks about the heart it is not talking about emotions; it is talking about the mind. For example, Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” In other words, the fool has said in his mind there is no such thing as God. Or Proverbs 23:7 says, “As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Where does he think? In his heart–which, in our language, would be his mind. Get the picture? The bowels represent emotion, and the heart represents thought.

Our minds are important because our thoughts control our actions, and our actions control our destiny. And that is why the Bible puts a premium on our thoughts–what we call the mind, but what the Hebrews called the heart. For example, Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” I have heard people misapply that verse for years. I have heard people talk to teenagers about this verse and say, “You better guard your heart. Guard your affections. Do not give those affections away too freely, because that is the foundation of your life.” That is not what this verse is talking about at all. It is not talking about giving away your emotions. This proverb says to guard over your mind because your mind is the center point of everything else that happens in your life.

Proverbs 23:19 says, “Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart”–that is, direct your mind–“in the way.” As the mind goes, so goes the rest of a person.

Grieve. Just Grieve.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Nothing!  NOTHING,  in life, can prepare us for the death of a loved one.  Whether death results from a sudden accident or a sustained illness, it always catches us off-guard.  In our case an unexplained cause of death.  Death is so deeply personal and stunningly final, nothing can emotionally prepare us for its arrival.  With every death, there is a loss.  And with every loss, there will be grief.

Grief doesn’t care and go in an orderly, confined timeframe.  Just when we think the pangs of anguish have stolen their last breath, another wave sweeps in and we are forced to revisit the memories, the pain, the fear.  Sometimes we try to resist the demands of grieving.  We long to avoid this fierce, yet holy pilgrimage.  We fight against the currents, grieving. We fight against the currents terrified of being overwhelmed, of being discovered, of becoming lost in our brokenness.

Culture tells us to move past this process quickly.  Take a few days, weeks perhaps, to grieve, but don’t stay there too long.  Grieving can make those around us uncomfortable.  Friends sometimes don’t know what to do with our pain.  Loved ones struggle to find adequate words to comfort our aching wounds.

Yet grief, as painful a season as it is, is a necessary part of our healing.  To run from grief is to run from the very thing that can quell the pain of our loss.  English poet and hymnodist, William Cowper, described grief itself as medicine.  Greif cleanses the anguish from our souls and set us back upon the path of life so we can dance.  Grieving is the process God uses to bring us to a place of wholeness.  Grieving is His great gift to us.  It is a necessary part of our journey.  Healing.

Grieving can be the most difficult time for people.  Trying to balance the feelings of pain and loss while going forward with your everyday life.  Give yourself space and time, be honest with your emotions, don’t grieve alone, and don’t lose hope.

His Beloved!

The Woman Who Touched His Robe

There is a story inside the story of Jairus and that is about the sick woman:

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  Mark 24b-29.

This poor woman had suffered for twelve years.  Twelve years.  That is a long time to suffer from some sort of bleeding issue.  It’s a miracle she was still alive.  The type of bleeding she had can cause problems such as a fast heartbeat, low blood pressure, and low body temperature.  Not to mention how weak the woman must have been and yet she goes looking for Jesus.  She had been to doctors.  They took her money and gave her no cure.  Back then doctors didn’t know what they know today.  Some would argue that doctors do the same today, take your money and offer no cure or a pill to take.  Their idea of treatment back then might have been worse than the disease itself.  One thing is certain-she was only getting worse.  This woman was helpless and hopeless-until she heard about Jesus.

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.  Luke 17:6

Like Jairus, this woman had faith in Jesus.  She was certain that Jesus could heal her.  She knew that He was so powerful that if she could just touch the hem of His clothes, she would be healed.  That is faith.  Back then it was believed that the garment of a great teacher had power in it.

Imagine being in a swimming pool on a hot summer day.  If a lifeguard hears thunder or sees lightning, what happens?  The lifeguard clears the pool.  This happened to our family on a small vacation to Dallas.  We were all enjoying the day, and, in the distance, we heard thunder.  What we could not see was the lighting from an approaching storm.  The security men closed the pool.  They knew that if lightning hits the water, the electrical power will travel through the water and shock anyone who is in or touching the water. You don’t have to touch the lighting to be shocked-touching the water that is touched by lightning is enough.  Jesus’ power must have worked something like that.  His power is greater than that of lightning.  By His power, the entire universe was created!  All the woman had to do was to touch His clothing, in faith, and she was instantly healed.  She could feel the relief wash over her body.  There was no question- she was healed.

If you’ve had blood taken out of your arm you understand that sensation of the blood rushing back to your fingers when the rubber band is taken off.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Many people were crowded around Jesus.  Indeed, many people touched Him. But there was something very different about this woman.  She knew that she was helpless.  She was truly poor in spirit, and she put all her hope in Jesus.  So, Jesus asked who had touched Him.  When He asked who touched Him, the woman became afraid.  Maybe like a child who got caught touching something they know they should not.

Jesus didn’t call her forward because she was in trouble.  It was just the opposite.  He wanted her to know that she had done very well to put her trust in Him.  The woman was healed.  Jesus could have left it at that.  But Jesus wanted to give her more.  MORE!  He wanted to give her the peace of knowing that He was happy to heal her.  She didn’t’ have to live her life thinking she had “stolen” this blessing.  Jesus poured out His grace on her like a big hug.  Not only did He heal her, but He also gave her peace.

Jesus will never think of your need as an interruption in His day!  And He will never scold you for coming to Him!  No, quite the opposite- He will be so pleased that you had the faith to trust Him and bring your every need to Him.  Ever time you bring your needs to Jesus, you are showing that you have faith in Him – you trust that He has the power and compassion to help you.

The Lucky One

When Sommer was in the hospital I received a phone call from a distant Aunt who had heard the news and wanted to learn more.  I was in the elevator at the time of the call and remember thinking “how odd my phone works.”  I don’t remember most of the conversation my mind was miles away in room 419 where my daughter was on life support.  I did tell her “No matter what happens Jesus will raise my daughter!”

There was a strain in my voice.  I was very adamant about my statement almost daring her to challenge me.  She is a non-believer and I so wanted to prove something to her even though I knew it would take a miracle for Sommer to wake up and recover from her coma.  But you see I knew with every fiber of my body she would be raised and enter the kingdom of heaven I had and have that blessed assurance.

In Luke, we learn that Jesus raises and heals the daughter of a prosperous man named Jairus.

40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.

Jarius was a community leader and head of the synagogue. His job was to organize things.  The running of the show so to speak.  He was in charge of conducting the worship and selecting of those who are to lead the prayer, read the scriptures, and teach of the service.  Yep, he was the boss.  He was also a believer in Jesus Christ.  He had to of been based on his actions.

Now, this highly respected citizen comes up to Jesus in the multitude of pushing and shoving individuals.  They make way for him out of respect, but he is not there to pay his respects to the rabbi nor to greet an old friend

His face was probably ashen, his hands trembling and when he finally reaches the Master he falls upon his knees before Jesus.  Can’t you just see this important man in the people’s eyes down on his knees before the King of the Universe begging him to do something quickly?  Notice he is not afraid of what others thought of him, he knew the Master and what He could do.

See his head bowed, his shoulders shaking with emotion, his brow sweating?  Here is a paradoxical scene:  the well-to-do synagogue president utterly bumbling himself before the simply-dressed Jesus.  He has been waiting for Jesus to return–hoping he would return in time, and now he is here.  Jesus is Jarius’ last hope

49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Notice the private moment.  Just Jarius his wife Peter, John, and James.  Everyone else is shooed from the house.

I can so relate to Jarius.  I have been on my knees begging God to restore my daughter.  I wanted what Jarius wanted.  I wanted Sommer to wake from the coma and be restored to perfect health.  But God wanted better for my daughter.  He gave her eternity.  He gave her everlasting life.  He gave her a new name.  He gave her a mansion.  He gave Himself so that Sommer could have all these things.  No matter how much I would love to have my daughter with me I accept that she is in Paradise and I am the lucky one.  Yes, I am the lucky one I know I’ll see her again.  I don’t have to guess or hope I have that blessed assurance that she is in her heavenly home and by accepting what Christ did for me and you on the cross lessens my grief.  I still grieve but I grieve with abundant hope.

I am the lucky one.

 

 

Happy New Year Y’all

Happy New Year!

The beginning of every New Year prompts some people to make resolutions.  You know the standard ones: I am going to lose weight this year.  I am going to the gym more often. I’m going to more productive at work.  I am going to learn to play the cello, do yoga, skydive, take a road trip to some National Park or maybe fall in love.  Some make financial resolutions. Saving more money.  Investing money or just using coupons.  I think I could do the latter if I can remember to take them with me to the grocery store.  See, set up for failure.

I am not into resolutions to me they are like diets I doomed before I start.  If I were to make a resolution it would be one on a spiritual level not one of my own doing.  Because the simple truth is, I fall short.  Every time!

Here are a few of my New Year’s spiritual resolutions:

I want to worship God more than just at church.  Why is worship important? First, worship is the program in Heaven.  Think about that all the saints that are in heaven are in constant worship of our Lord. Imagine that!  What a beautiful image that is.  I can do that here right now today I might be 80 before I join our Sommer and the other saints so why not start today.  Secondly, worship is the purpose of creation.  True worship is any sincere expression intended for the Lord’s pleasure.  He created us for worship.  Worship!  It’s the program in heaven, the purpose of creation on earth.  When we worship Jesus in our grieve, we are reminded that not of this is about us-it’s all about God Almighty.  God will use empty places in our lives to draw our hearts to Him

I want to see God in all the major and minor circumstances in 2019.  I want to look at my “Lot” in life and see God in control and on the throne.  When we understand that He that is in us is greater than any temptation, trauma, difficulty which could come against us, we can move through life freely.  I want to live more freely.  As children of a sovereign God, we are never victims of our circumstances.

I want to learn more from the time I may spend in the valleys of life.  We all have had times on the mountaintop when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and have wanted to stay there, but God won’t allow us to stay there.  The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend.  We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our character.

I want to walk in faith.  When I lay a matter before God, I should trust Him so much that I am willing to accept His will and be obedient to the prompting of His spirit no matter what.  Forget about what others think or say; trust God unconditionally and He will reward my faith. I can rejoice in what God is doing in me through difficult times.

I want to get real with God.  God loves it when we are real and raw.  I want to be real with myself.  Be honest and be accountable.  Be real with others.  They see my flaws more clearly than I do.  Especially my family.  Get real with God.  He doesn’t want to hear repetitive words in our prayer time.  He wants honesty. He knows us better than any friend can.  He knows every thought.  Every action and reaction.  He knows our frustrations, pain, flaws, heartache.  He knows what words we chose to use before they are thought in our minds.  You may say “if He already knows what’s the point?” The point is He loves us.  He simply loves us, and we don’t earn that like a girl scout pin.  It’s free, He wants Heidi to be real.  The truth for me is sometimes being real scares me.  However, He knows that already so why not surrender it all to Him.  The author and finisher of our faith.  My will can be weak, but my faith grows stronger especially when I am real.

Those are my spiritual resolutions.  I trust God will give me the strength to finish strong.

His Beloved.