A Disciple’s Life

I was one of twelve chosen, I still don’t know why I was picked. Some were related and others complete strangers. Some had a radical turn around and some just quietly left to follow. But we were a force to be reckoned with.

I have never felt so passionately about anything in my life, which is probably why it was easier for me to say goodbye to the life I once knew. Being with these men made me feel alive. I had a purpose. I had a reason to live. Sure, some of the things our leader said were different. A lot of things I didn’t understand, but he was patient and he cared. Besides, I saw so many things I never even thought were possible. Food overflowing from a simple basket, water being turned into wine, lepers cleansed, the blinded eyes restored, the deaf able to hear and the dead being raised.

I knew I was headed in the right direction. I felt as if I were born for this. I could never grow tired of this life. I never knew what was coming next. I’d sometimes be frightened that things wouldn’t pan out; like the one time we crossed the sea and the storm rolled in, but then HE walked on water! Or, that time when we had fished all night and caught nothing to eat. I almost lost it when HE told us to throw the net on the other side; like we hadn’t done that 100x already! But, true to HIS word, we had more fish than we knew what to do with. I don’t know how HE did it.
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Then there was that day that HE called us together and said:

Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.  As you go, proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker, is worth his keep.  Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town (Matthew 10:5-15)

 

Heal the sick? Raise the dead? Cleanse the Leper? Drive out demons? I thought that was HIS job. I thought only HE could do that. But, we went out anyways. HE didn’t really negotiate with HIS commands.

 

It was incredible! We did those things. I actually did those things. I was so tired when we returned, but it was exhilarated. I felt invincible. I couldn’t believe I was chosen to do this. This MAN had changed the course of my life forever.

 

But after we got back, things started to change. I had learned to love our leader like I never loved anyone in my life. I loved to hear him teach. I tried to protect HIM at any costs. But HE started saying things like, I must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and raised the third day” (Matt. 16:21)

 

I didn’t understand why He’d say these horrible things. Suffer? Be killed? Was this a new parable? I thought to myself. HE must be using those words in a different way than I think.

 

Tension started rising among the scribes, elders, and priests. I knew they didn’t like what HE was doing… But I thought they would come around. How could you not like this MAN? But, the more time passed, the more the tension grew. I was growing a little more concerned, but then, I’d witness another miracle, or have another long talk with HIM. HE knew just how to settle my uneasy heart.

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Then, the most wonderful thing happened! HE was given a King’s welcome! The moment we all had been waiting for. We knew HE was going to reign; and now, it was coming to pass!  People were throwing down their tunics so HE could ride on something other than the ground. The people were shouting. I had tears in my eyes from the sheer joy of it all. Our King is here. It was such a wonderful day. I never knew so much joy could be contained in such a short amount of daylight.

 

A week passed and I still felt like I was floating from all that had transpired a week prior. HE decided to have a dinner with us all. It was a quiet night, but it was nice for it to just be us. It seemed we always had others around. But something was different about HIM. HE looked sad. HE and Judas had a brief discussion and then Judas left. I didn’t think much of it because it was Judas. He always had his own ideas about things.

 

But HE started worrying me. He made sure we had wine and bread and HE said, drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Matt 26:227-29)

 

His blood? The phrases He spoke months earlier came flooding into my mind: I must suffer, and be killed. It’s just a parable, it’s just a parable I continued to repeat to myself.

 

Later that night, we went to the garden we sometimes went to. I was so full of dinner I fell fast asleep. HE asked us to stay awake, but I didn’t think it was that important. We prayed all the time. I think we had enough prayer to cover us that night.

 

But then something woke me up. I heard a crowd. I immediately woke the other two disciples with me. I saw Judas, but he was with the scribes. Whatever this was, didn’t sit right with me. I was too fearful to stand beside our leader, so I hid not too far away. I couldn’t hear very well, but I saw Judas kiss HIM.

 

Suddenly, the soldiers, who had accompanied the scribes and Judas, bound HIS hands. Nooooo, I wanted to scream, but I didn’t want to be heard. I knelt down and wept. I was so angry at myself for not staying awake to pray… Why are they taking HIM?

 

Eventually, I learned where they had taken my beloved leader. I went there immediately. HE was being question, accused and then they took HIM outside to be beaten and whipped. Tears poured out of my eyes and down my cheeks. Why? Why is this happening? Why don’t they believe HIM? HE’s the most compassionate man I have ever met. One lash turned to two, two lashes into four, four into thirty-nine. I couldn’t watch anymore. HE was barely recognizable.

 

I found a place to cry until I felt as though I had nothing left in me… I decided I needed to go back. When I did, I found my beloved friend and my hero hanging, like a criminal, on a cross. People were shouting at HIM, “Save yourself.”

 

I prayed to God, HIS Father, to give HIM the strength to get off that cross. It wasn’t too much. I still had hope, despite the fear. I’d seen HIM do miracles on top of miracles. Time pressed on and still, HE hung there.

 

The sky began to grow dark, it felt like I was watching a picture of my own heart. I saw HIM struggling to breathe. The ground began to shake and HE cried out, My God, My God Hey have you forsaken me. (Matt 27:46) Never before had I ever heard HIM say anything close to this. HE was always talking about how HE and HIS Father were one and that if we knew HIM, we knew the Father. I couldn’t understand what I was seeing.

 

My heart was breaking in me; yet, I had seen this same man bring back others from the gripping hand of death. I couldn’t make sense of it.

 

Then HE said, it is finished and HE breathed HIS last. A groan from the deepest part of my soul came out. I fell to my knees, NOOOOO, Jesus, Noooooo…. This cannot be…. Please, God, you can’t take HIM!

 

It all moved so quickly; yet, it also felt like time stood still. HE was taken down and buried. I couldn’t grasp what was happening. It felt like a nightmare. I couldn’t connect my mind with the reality in front of me. The tears came easily as my heart was broken into a million pieces, but my mind was still not able to process it.

 

This MAN was my life. I left everything to follow HIM. Everything I believed in revolves around HIS words. How could we do all that we did and the outcome be standing at HIS grave? So many questions flooded my mind. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t get out of my cot. Fear encompassed me. The moment HE died, something inside of me died.

 

I don’t remember much of that Saturday. But Sunday I heard a stirring of women…
He’s alive!

 

What? I questioned.
HE died, I saw HIM, don’t mess with me, I already have enough to process. I said.

 

No, HE’s alive they insisted.

 

I ran all over looking for HIM. When suddenly, HE found us… I couldn’t believe my eyes! He was here. One day turned into two, and two into four, and four into forty. HE was with us for forty days. But, this time, it was different.

 

Part of me doubted. I knew HE was the way to eternal life but so much of this MAN I just did not understand. HE did everything backward. Why did HE have to die? Why cause all of us and HIS own mom and family so much grief? Why couldn’t HE just saved Himself, and not put all of us, including HIMSELF, through that agonizing situation?

 

But, I noticed one thing. After HIS death, I listened more carefully to what HE said. HE had allowed a great wound in my heart to awake my ears and heart to listen more intentionally. Losing HIM once made me more grateful for the time I had with HIM and the people around me. I was also grateful for HIS love for me. One breathes more deeply and feels more intensely when pained.

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HE told us He’d have to leave, and this time I knew it was not another parable. HE would really be leaving and handing us the mantle.

 

So, the day came. Before HE left, He instructed us to, go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the earth.

 

HE said HIS goodbyes and ascended to heaven. To be honest, the mayhem from all the chaos in the past month or so caused us a lot of fear. We all were a little lost after HE left. He’d left us with more instruction than the first time, but we were hoping HIS next return would be around the corner, but as time passed we realized we had a mantle to carry and a gospel to spread…

 

After a large gathering, known as the Day of Pentecost, the church began and the gates of Hell have not and will never prevail against it!

 

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A Wedding to Remember

We scurried down the stairwell and waited for the guys to walk past. I saw the last pair of shoes walk forward. The hallway door opened, “Okay, you’re up!” I carefully made my way to the other set of sanctuary doors. The doors in front of me opened as the music changed. I walked one foot in front of the other as the eyes of the wedding guests looked intently, anticipating the bride who would soon follow. I took my place on stage and waited as one by one each bridesmaid made her way.

It was a beautiful service. The pastor did an amazing job honoring my former roommate and dear friend as well as her now husband. When I first found out about their engagement, I couldn’t have been more excited. I was so happy I felt like I was the one getting engaged!

The day wore on and there were pictures, the announcing of the bridal party, the first dance and the cutting of the cake. I’ve attended a lot of weddings but this one struck me differently.

There is a huge difference in attending a wedding and being in the bridal party. When you’re attending you come and go and you don’t have any real obligations. But when you’re in the bridal party, you are on the inside track. It’s your job and privilege to serve the bride the best you can. It’s your job to help make it easier on her as well as support her by standing on stage. It’s a representation that you will stand alongside the couple through their thick and thin, through their sickness and health, until death do them part. You have a part to play when you’re the wedding party. Another thing is people recognize you. There is an authority that comes with it. If I were to walk up to someone and say the bride needs this, or can we have some of this or that to someone who is there to help, it gets done.

This struck me because I thought, isn’t this what we are supposed to be doing in the family of God? We have the privilege to stand beside her in the good and bad, through the thick and thin. The church is called the bride of Christ, so although we are a part of the same body, we are also to be standing with the church and serving her. And we have been given authority to do so.

On the day of my dear friend’s wedding, she was serving too. She was fixing her Dad’s suit, pinning a corsage on her mom and even putting flowers in her bridesmaid’s hair. She is so full of grace. She is so kind and always caring about others.

It was a beautiful challenge as well as encouragement to see how well things flow when we serve one another. When we put our priorities aside and help the person next to us, this honors one another as well as Jesus, our Bridegroom.

One reason I was so ecstatic to be there was that is what my friend did for me. I felt like in a small way, I was able to give back a little. She has been a constant support for me. I even had to bail on our living arrangements and she said, “It’s okay, you just take care of yourself” that meant she’d have to find someone to fill my spot or pay extra out of pocket, but she never complained or got upset at me. She was also the only person I was able to talk on the phone with when my Dad passed away. She inspires me to love, give and serve others as Christ has done for us.

“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Today my challenge is to give, to serve and to love deeply. Look for someone who is growing weary, or pray for someone that you thought of, give a kind word or write a card. Life is short and it is only truly lived out as we give!

Song of the week (This song my family used to sing in our devotion time): Make Me A Servant

Fighting Fear: The Fear of the Unknown

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I got out of bed to do my quiet time, feeling depleted. My “prayer” sounded more like a complaint and a pitiful plea.

“I can’t do it. I’m overwhelmed. I’m tired and I just don’t know if I can keep up”

I had a lot of responsibilities awaiting me at the office. I had reports to finish. People needed their schedules. Facebook posts to create, the endless to-do list always present in my mind. These things were piled on top of the project deadlines, many of which were overdue. Even when I was off I was thinking of the amount of work left unfinished. I almost didn’t like having time off because I knew I had more to do. So after my pitiful prayer, I was surprised to have this thought, I believe from the Holy Spirit, pop into my head:

“Just focus on loving me, today”

“Just love you?” I thought. “You don’t care if my to-do list gets done? You just care that I love you as I’m doing my to-do list?”

“Yes…”

Suddenly, the weight I felt from thinking about the day crumbled! Like Jesus was taking my load, and just asking me to walk with him. Asking me to hold His hand as a child would her Father while navigating through a busy street.

I don’t remember if my to-do list got done that day, but I remember the pressure I had the majority of the week dissipated. It was simply my job to love him. To love him by making a good post, to love Him by creating a solid report, to love him as I scheduled meetings and production times, to love Him while I worked with my other co-workers. My to-do lists won’t even be a thought in heaven. However, the person I loved well might very well be standing next to me there.

God reminded me of this lesson again but in a different way. My life lately has been and felt a little unsettled. I have so many questions: Should I do this? Should I do that? What interests should I pursue? Should I be more ambitious? Should I wait? What about this prospect? How open should I be?  In life, there is so much to think about. One day can hold a basket of questions that need to be answered.

If I am being honest, the past few weeks have been really difficult. Not because of anything in particular, but because it seemed like nothing was happening. I feel like I’m waiting but I don’t really know what I’m waiting for. The nothingness became wearisome. But then I heard a message by Dr. Michael Youssef. He said when you remember you’re up. When you forget you’re down. I realized my hopefulness had a slow sprung a leak. I was beginning to lose hope. Maybe I was forgotten. Maybe my desires and dreams are just that a dream. Maybe my life will amount to nothing.

After listening to that message by Dr. Michael Youssef I wanted to write a letter back to God. Because, at the end of the day, my purpose in life is not about having a career, having a comfortable life, or having a bunch of letters after my name. My purpose is to love God and love people. As I began thinking on this, I wrote this prayer:

God,

I know I rarely get it right. I know I judge too quickly, rush impulsively, and try to control
everything. I think too highly of myself. I am selfish and get wrapped up in my own insecurity. I go from thinking I can do it all; to thinking, I’m incapable of doing the most menial tasks. But God, I’m asking that you would use me. I know I don’t get things right, but I want to serve you. I know I am not the smartest, but the little I have I’m asking you to use. God, I know I’m not good at showing it and I fail daily, but I do love you. I know I doubt you way too much, but I trust you. You’ve proven yourself time and time again. You’ve loved me past my deepest wounds. You sat with me on my darkest day. You held me as I cried out. You provided when I had nothing. You cherished me when I felt worthless. God, I only have one life and I want to live it for you. Help me to love you. Help me to love others. Those are the most important things you ask. Thank you for loving me enough to come rescue me. God, do the impossible through me for your glory. I am nothing, but with You, I have all I need. Use this life for your purposes.

Love, your girl,
Christi

In life, the unknown is daunting: unknown relationships, unknown diseases, unknown treatments, unknown financial burdens, unknown hardships, unknown life changes. We know nothing about the future. Everything could change in a split second. But one thing I know is that whatever is ahead, my purpose is the same: Love God and love people. Perfect love casts out fear…

Because God fearless loves us, we can fearlessly face this life. Remember: He has already overcome it, and He who is with us is greater… Greater than anything we face.

I’d like you to watch a short clip of a dear friend who is living fearlessly now: All Things Possible: High Risk Missions to Iraq

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Song of the week: Fearless, by Ginny Owens

Fighting Fear: With the Opposite of Fear

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Introduction:
This month’s theme has been Fighting Fear!  Today, my dear friend, Connie, is sharing her thoughts on fear. Connie is one of my heroes. No matter what she goes through, she strives to be more like Christ and it is evident. To be truthful, she is more like a sister to me than anything else. I know you will enjoy her thoughts today :)!
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I’ve been thinking about fear this week, and how my sin is often rooted in fear. And do you know that the Bible commands – commands – me to not fear, not be afraid, and fear not over 100 times? So, fear is a sin, and apparently, one that is common enough and serious enough that God reminds us over and over again to just NOT DO IT. And I think one reason for that is that fear has a lot of power to cut us down, cripple us, and make us forget who we are. It’s a stronghold that has a very… strong hold.

So what’s the opposite of fear? If I choose not to fear if I give my fears to God and sacrifice them on the altar of my heart, what will replace it? One of my craziest fears is that if I let go of my fear, I’ll not have anything left… but I know this is a lie because God never leaves a void in us. Emptiness is meant to be filled by him. So how does he fill the newly-vacant throne of fear? The words that He revealed to me were these: Joy, Trust, Hope, Grace, Peace, Freedom, and Love.
So this week I feel like my prayers are stronger… instead of just asking God to wrench fear from my hands, I’ve been asking him for an exchange – my fears for his hope; my fears for his joy, my fears for his peace… It seems like an unfair trade, but his resources are endless and he is so generous, I don’t think he minds. In fact, I get the feeling he is pleased… And guess what is starting to fill up my heart?!

Connie Chandler
Website: conniesbowlofcherries.blogspot.com

Read my book, Tales of the Great King: Click Here

 

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Song of the Week: Overwhelmed, by BigDaddy Weave
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A Single Challenge

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“It’s wicked to throw away all your other gifts because you can’t have one”- Little Women

On long road trips, I like to listen to audiobooks. It has become a tradition that I listen to Little Women at least once. I grew up watching the movie dozens of times. Since I have four sisters, it was like watching us (a century behind and one less sister).

As I was driving from Virginia to Florida, I heard this quote by Amy: It’s wicked to throw away all your other gifts because you can’t have one. It hit me so hard that I rewound that section of audio and listened again. Conviction set it.

How many times have I done this? As a single person, there is a tendency to throw away our other talents and gifts because we can’t have “the one”. We sit around doodling while waiting for “the one”. I am talking to myself here. I have been there and done that.

At one point in my life, all I did was work and waited for someone to come along. Call me crazy, but I thought it would only be a matter of time until he came around. Well, after about 3-4 years of “waiting”, there was no one even “on the horizon”, as my dad says.

I took a leap of faith and decided to do something else, besides work and wait. When I took that step, it was a whirlwind of an adventure. I was using gifts that I didn’t know I had. I was learning new things left and right. I was going places I never dreamed were possible. It was an exciting time and challenging time.

That time created a hunger to learn more. Life can be extremely challenging, but it also can be absolutely amazing! God is greater, kinder, more beautiful than we can imagine.

Just last week I was listening to the audio book by Steven Curtis Chapman, Between Heaven and the Real World .  After the death of his daughter, Maria, his wife asked them to remodel the house. It was too hard to live in after Maria’s passing. Steven struggled with the idea of how much money it was going to cost, and if it was a waste of money because their house was fine.

He prayed about it and felt like they should move ahead with the idea. The day came and the demolition crew started their work. Steven looked over at his wife, Mary-Beth, and saw tears running down her face. He walked over and asked her if she was okay. “I needed to see this”,  she said. “This is what happened to our family the day Maria died”. Their family took a devastating blow. Yet, through the tearing down and building back up, Steven saw God’s love. He felt the Lord told Him that sometimes His love appears extravagant and wasteful.

Isn’t that true? I was pining away for a marriage when God wanted to show me more. He literally allowed me to travel around the globe. It was extravagant and sometimes it seemed wasteful. Because I had the budget information, I would often say, I can stay here. However, God allowed me to go on one trip after another. I learned so much not just on the trips but over that span of 3 years, I saw God in ways I never knew I could.

My encouragement to you who are single comes from a 10th-degree black belt: Act on life. Don’t let life act on you. You are not a victim to life or anyone.

Use your gifts. Use your time wisely. Live well. Love fervently. Give fearlessly. Life is short and we only have one life to live.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Don’t let the enemy steal any more years. Don’t let him steal your joy, your affection, your devotion, your desire to grow and learn.

There is a 2nd-degree black belt I work out with in a group, who told me, “I’m trying to help you be the best you”. Sometimes it feels like he is trying to kill me, but he is pushing me to be better. Isn’t that what God does for us? He allows challenging things because He is strengthening us. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “God will not protect you from anything that makes you more like Jesus”

Life is meant to be lived, not just survived. Sometimes surviving is the only thing we can do. Other times, surviving has become our comfort zone. Living on purpose often takes us out of our comfort zones. But today, remember to thank God for all that He has already given you. Thank Him for the friends you have, the job you have, and the opportunities He has opened up for you. Instead of focusing on the one thing or person you don’t have.

Sometimes, when I wish I had someone, I remind myself that I do have someone. He is my closest friend. He says that He is my husband. So, instead of wasting time wishing I had someone else, I try to look for ways to love Him. I do not do this as much as I would like.

We are God’s children. He knows we are incapable. He wants to make us laugh, and wants to spend time with us. He wants to be close, but often times, we are so preoccupied with other things or wishing for the one thing we don’t have.

Think a friendship that may be morphing into something else. Think of the little glances shared back and both. Think of the sweet gestures: a hand to the side as he walks behind you, a gentle touch to the elbow, a goodbye hug, exchanging eye contact and a laugh over an inside joke.

I know for me, I think about each thing over and over again. I think of what they said or re-read a sweet message they sent. Imagine if I thought of God that way.

Imagine if I mulled over in my mind the MANY things He has done: The opportunity to travel, learn all kinds of new skills, learn martial arts, write, be near family, and have amazing friends. I should be on cloud nine all the time.

So, I am challenging myself to think on Him this week. To think of the ways He has blessed me. He is too good and has done too much for me to waste more time.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

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Song of the week: King of my heart, by John Mark McMillan & Sarah McMillan 

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You Are Not Enough…


About a week ago, I got in my car and headed to the bank. On my way there, I was having a conversation in my head, half praying, half talking. “God, If you just open this door, I’ll be happy. That’s all I want”

Before I go on, I am ashamed to admit this, but I felt like I should. It’s not about perfection. It’s about being honest about imperfections, in order for God to shine. To see His beauty and patience in my ugly day to day mess.

So after submitting my grand idea to God to open a door, a thought popped into my head. “No, we’d still be having this conversation; you’d just want something else”. I sat there thinking for a moment. It was true.

Have you ever prayed and asked God for something? After waiting and praying and praying some more, you still don’t see it. I have been praying. I have been asking. I have been knocking. I’ve been doing the next thing.

But, without even realizing what I had actually done, I was telling God that He wasn’t enough, at least for me. It’s not that I don’t believe God can answer. I have seen Him answer prayers for my friends and family. I have seen Him be enough for others, but for me, lately, He has not been enough. Why? Because I was not giving Him enough time to be enough for me. I’ve allowed distractions and ambitions to cloud my thinking and occupy the time that God used to have.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”… I shall not want.

Yet, I found myself wanting. I found myself trying to get God to solve my problem through other means, instead of through Himself.

The question, for me, was not if God is enough. The question is, is God enough for me?

For you, it could be: I know God can heal, but can He heal me? Or, I know He can provide, but can He provide for me? Or, I know He can do exceedingly abundantly beyond what I can ask or think, but can He do that for me?

Our relationship with God is partially about what He can do for others. But, it’s mostly, about knowing what He has done and can do for us.

At the end of my life, I am responsible for how I lived. I want to live satisfied in God alone. I know other things won’t satisfy. I could land the dream job, get a spouse, start the family, start a business, and still be empty. I know this. And it’s not like I wasn’t content before. Last year, around this time, I was losing everything, except God, and He was enough. Yet, a year later, I find myself floundering, treading water, wondering when I’m going to feel a rock for me to stand on.

I’m also learning that life is a journey. I don’t need to beat myself up for having to relearn a lesson. The Christian life is not about learning it once and moving on. Some things we have to learn and relearn.

This week, I became a Green Belt in Karate. I started the first phase of material this week as well. There are things in this phase of green belt that I learned when I was working towards my yellow belt. I am relearning the techniques from the material I learned a few months ago.

I think God allows us to relearn lessons because we never “arrive”. We are always learning. Some things are new, and some things we relearn.

So in this season of waiting, knocking and praying, I am asking God to teach me that He is enough for me.

Because God knows me better than I know myself, He hasn’t allowed what I want, to show me what I need. He knows that I need this lesson. He wants to be the one I take refuge in. He is the only Rock that will not crumble. He is the only one who will not disappoint, and He is the only one who will ever be enough for me.

So, I want to encourage you today, because this is what I am called to do, encourage (1 Thessalonians 5:11). If you feel you have drifted, as we all have from time to time; take a moment to come back. God is gracious. He LONGS to show compassion (Isaiah 30:18). Come to Him. He is waiting. He wants to help. He is the Lifter of our heads. He is the strength we need. He is the wisdom we need. He is the Healer we need. He is the love we are looking for. He is the filler He is waiting. Don’t run away, run back to Him. He does not condemn you. He loves us even more than we can ever even fathom.

Song of the week: Even If, by Mercy Me  (Listen Here)

 “I know You’re able and I know You can  Save through the fire with Your mighty hand  But even if You don’t  My hope is You alone  I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt  Would all go away if You’d just say the word  But even if You don’t  My hope is You alone”

“Oh, Oh, Hey, Ms. Christi” — Another Sweet Reminder

“Oh, oh, hey Ms. Christi” I heard a sweet little voice say; knowing immediately who had greeted me. I turned and said, “Hey, Buddy, How are you?”

I currently work at an after school program. We have roughly 35 kids on our roster, but average about 20 kids per day. I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but it’s hard not to.

This kid, who I often refer to as Buddy, has taught me a lot.

Every day he comes in he almost always says, “Oh, oh, hey Ms. Christi”. Although he can bring challenges (what kid doesn’t), he reminded me of an important lesson.

You see, he is autistic. He spends a lot of his time talking to himself, and living in a world that is his own. One day, I heard him say, “You failed, you’re stupid”.

Buddy tends to act out what has happened to him. You quickly learn what type of day he is having if you listen to what he says. So, when I heard him say, “you’re stupid” I realized there is not much difference between someone who is autistic, and someone who isn’t.

The difference is those who are autistic verbalized their thoughts. Those who aren’t tend to keep their thoughts to themselves. I don’t know about you, but I have called myself stupid more times that I can count. I have said that I’m a failure more often than I care to say.

I realize there are other differences, but when it comes to our identities, we are not that different. I read a quote that, upon reading it, brought me to tears. It says this:


In this journey called life we all tend to get tied up with what we do, how much we make, how we live, or how we are measuring up.

I read an article that said if we were measuring Jesus’ life by our view of “success” His life would be a complete failure. His family didn’t understand Him. His disciples abandoned Him. He had no place to lay His head. And to top it all off, He died a criminal’s death.

But, through in His father’s eyes, He was a complete success. He conquered death. He broke the curse of sin. He brought reconciliation. He exemplified love.

Jesus didn’t have a 401k. He didn’t have a home. He did not own his own transportation. He even had to borrow a mule to ride into the city on Palm Sunday. He was a King without glory, without honor, without “worldly” means.

Yet, you and me, we were and are the object of His affection. He sacrificed all the “pleasures of this world” for you and me. He allowed Himself to be rejected so we could be accepted. He allowed Himself to be viewed as “guilty” so that we would be exonerated from our sin. He became despised (in the eyes of the world) so that we would know we are His treasure. So, Instead of self rejection, we could hear that we are His Beloved. We are His Delight (Isaiah 62:4).

So when you and I face the temptation to say to ourselves, “You’re a failure” remember:

It is not about what we do.

It is not about how old we are, how young we are.

It is not about what others say.

It is not even what we say.

It only matters what He says.

My Friends, He says we’re enough. When He said “It is finished”, We, as His Children, became flawless.

He doesn’t see you for who this world says you are. He sees you as complete in Him. He sees you as His Masterpiece – His poem.

You are not a failure. You are not stupid. You are His Beloved and nothing you do or don’t do will ever change that!

Navigating Through Land Mines

It hits you out of nowhere. Suddenly these triggers send tears pouring out of your eyes from the what feels to be the deepest part of you.

 

You hold your chest, hoping that the pain inside will somehow go away. Maybe, if you hold on to it long and hard enough, your broken pieces will come back together.
You don’t care about the people in the parking lot around you as you wheeze through the sobs. Trying to control yourself, yet knowing, it’s useless. A dam has broken. This pain needs to come out somehow. You haven’t cried in so long because you grew weary of it. 

Triggers.

Have you been there? Have you set foot on an emotional IED? Have you found yourself crying uncontrollably, not being able to pull yourself together?
I have. It is a hard place to be. It’s a battle to focus on truth. It’s a battle to pick yourself back up after a beating by a storm surge of emotions. You feel as though you’re sucked back to the place you never wanted to be again.
When you’ve experienced pain induced by someone, the aftermath is like walking through a land field. 

Before the harm took place, you walked carefree, and without worry. Then someone overstepped their bounds. They entered your life and caused damage. All of a sudden your world becomes pitted with bombs waiting to go off. You have to navigate through an emotional flare up. 

You walk cautiously, looking around. You step slowly. You try to figure out if the ground looks tampered with. But sometimes, no matter how cautious you or I may be, our other foot hits a mine. We find yourself trying to put yourself together again. Trying to calm yourself down you say, “They didn’t mean it”, “They aren’t the person who damaged you”. 

But anything could trigger an explosion. A trip to the nail salon. A car ride. A trip. A word spoken. A situation. A closed room. As you navigate each explosion, you quickly learn where the triggers are. In a sense, you have to learn, pray and strive after being carefree and trusting again.

If you have been under or around someone who did damage to you, I want to say, I am so very sorry. I’m sorry you have to not just feel the pain in the instance, but also years later.
Life is messy and people are broken. We all know from one extent to another the deep wounds we can experience at the hands of another. Let’s be honest, our world is broken..

If you find yourself in this situation of mining through your triggers, I want you to know that you will have more emotional IEDs. However, I want you to know that while you’re crying, God sees. He is with you through the sobs and wheezing. He is holding your broken pieces. He is truthful. He won’t mess with your mind. In fact, He tells us, “In this world you WILL have troubles”. He also says, “but I have overcome the world”. Yes, He has overcome our broken world.

None of us wish for brokenness. We want to remain whole, but I am learning that the deeper we are hurt, the more our heart expands.

 

Each scenario we face, when we surrender it to God, can be used to help someone else. So although we don’t like hitting land mines, we don’t have to fear them. God knows how to use them for our good and His glory.

 

Remember the worst thing in life is not a broken heart, but a callous one.

 

I heard a song say, “Love as if there were no such thing as a broken heart” (Old dominion). That’s my goal. I am broken, but I’m not useless, in God’s economy that means He can remake me, making me more useful! What someone may have seen as trash, God sees as treasure. What someone may have seen as weak, God sees as strong. What someones else may have seen as an easy target, God sees as a heart to cherish and pursue.

 

Don’t give up friends. We need each other, and we all need more love. Maybe our brokenness is the gateway for more love to occur.

  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
  • “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 4:10
  • “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” Psalm 103:8
  • “The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” Jeremiah 31:3
  • “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you” Isaiah 43:4-5