Peace for the Broken

She lingered in the shadows, hearing a distant crowd draw near.  Her body a mere shadow of who she once was, frail from years of ailment and failed treatments.  Twelve long years had taken their toll.  What began as a simple bleed perpetuated into more than a decade of tests, treatments and tortured hope.  Every penny spent, every ounce of dignity gone, this woman bore within her veins a hopeless cause.  She had endured much at the hands of physicians trying to heal her constant hemorrhage.  Not a person in town didn’t know of her condition as illness bore witness over every ounce of her being.  For twelve years she had pursued all possible options and remedies.  But at the end of it all, she remained diseased, destitute and discouraged, worse off than ever before.  The crowd now came into her view.  Rumors of this Jesus has spread through the town.  A miracle man, a great healer, a prophet.  Some even called Him the Messiah.  As she heard their voices grow louder, this decrepit woman felt one last flicker of hope, that final spark before the flame completely went out.  Could this be the day?

This woman’s account in Mark 5:25-34 is a classic miracle story, one that had grown familiar.  But as Week Six of You Belong To The Bridegroom brought me to these verses again, I was able to see this passage with fresh eyes and a new perspective.  The Word of God IS living and active!  This was a woman who had spent over a decade in pain, isolation and shame.  At that point in history, Old Testament law still ruled in Jewish society.  Leviticus 15:9 & 25 states that any woman with bleeding was considered unclean as long as the bleeding persisted and anyone who touched her would become unclean as well.  So for twelve YEARS this woman was considered a source of defilement and shunned.  In remembering the Pharisee’s assumption that a boy was born blind because of either his or his parents sin (John 9:2), its safe to assume this woman bore the same judgement as well.  Unclean, outcast, shamed.  She had tried every remedy, spent every penny, saw every physician she could.  Yet she remained afflicted.

Matthew Henry said it well, “It is usual with people not to apply themselves to Christ till they have tried in vain all other helpers and find them, as certainly they will, physicians of no value.  And He will be found a sure refuge, even to those who make Him their last refuge.”   This precious woman found such words to be true that day.  She knew her desperate need for Jesus’ touch: “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” (Mark 5:28)  Braving the shame and mockery she would face for going out in public, let alone a crowd, she pressed through the crowd till at last she touched the back of His robe.  Instantly she was healed!

The Scriptures tell us what healed this woman as Jesus “perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth.” (vs. 30)  As I wrestled with this phrase, I went back to the original Greek roots and came to a beautiful realization.  This “power” was no superhero, ultra-zap that my mind often assumed.  In true translation, it was Christ’s virtue – the full essence of Himself – that healed the woman.  Wow!  Christ and Christ alone brought healing to a woman.  How often do we seek His hand when it is His fullness that we so desperately need?!

Jesus knew this secret act of faith by the woman.  It pleased Him, it drew His attention, it was of utmost importance to Him.  This woman who felt unworthy of His attention but desperate for His power realized she would not go unnoticed.  She approached her Healer “fearing and trembling…and fell down before Him” (vs. 33)  The woman was wholly honest, vulnerable and humble before Jesus.  The Savior of the world stopped all the commotion around Him, fixed His full attention on a woman bowed low at His feet, and gave her restoration.  True, she could have been healed of just her physical affliction that day but as many of us know to be true, the emotions that had grown so familiar would have carried on.  Even without the bleeding, would she still define herself as outcast, wretched, ashamed?  How beautiful is the love of our Savior!  “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” (vs. 34)  The woman sought mere healing; the Messiah bestowed a greater gift – peace.  He desired to remove more than her physical ailment; He desired to lift her head.

We are all this woman, battered by life’s circumstances.  Our afflictions may vary but our heart cries are all the same.  “If only I can get to Jesus.”  Beloved, His arms are ever open wide!  Cast away the shame that binds.  Press through life’s crowds and commotion to be with the only One who can set us free.  May we all find what He bestowed on the broken woman that day.  Peace.

1 Comment

Filed under Bible Studies, Faith, God, Resources

Withered

I’m currently going through You Belong To The Bridegroom (seriously cannot recommend this study highly enough!  Get it!!).  This week finds me in Mark 3:1-6, a passage familiar which packed a new-found punch.  In college, I traveled to India for two weeks and while there, one of my travel companions, Cara Powers George, shared an impactful message on this passage.  Today’s time in these six verses brought her words to memory as the Lord spoke fresh revelations to my heart.

The passage tells of a man with a withered hand who has a life-changing encounter with Jesus.  We know not why the man’s hand was withered.  Was it a birth defect?  A horrible accident?  The result of intentional harm?  No matter the source of his impairment, this man carried a physical reminder of weakness, inability and shame.  Every.  Day.  But rather than hiding in life’s shadows, we find him in the synagogue, the place of worship and teaching of Scriptures.  He had come to the place of religion but that day, he met the Source of Salvation.

Jesus called the man to Himself.  “Get up and come forward!”  One of disability, I wonder if the man blushed at the attention, slowly rising from the back of the room and walked timidly to the center of the synagogue.  Did he hide his hand beneath his cloak?  How often we too hide in our shame, embarrassed of the marks we carry of life’s afflictions and poor decisions.  Even in churches, we come knowing we ought be there or hoping answers will be found, yet put on a happy face, hiding the disfigurements we all carry behind smiles and cliches.

As he reached the Savior, this man heard the words, “Stretch out your hand.”  Expose your withered hand, your inability, your source of pain.  The very hand that had defined and limited the man was precisely what Jesus desired.  Bring it out from hiding into the light.  What struck me most in this passage was not just the Lord’s desire for the disfigured, but how He chose to heal him.  Verse 5 tells us that the man stretch out his hand (comma) and it was restored.  Notice the order!  The hand was restored after he exposed it to Jesus.  The man’s willingness to stretch out his hand, to trust Jesus with his greatest shame, brought forth His healing.  The Lord honored the man’s trust and obedience in restoring his hand.  How often He calls me to bring my withered parts to Him with healing in mind, yet I remain impaired by my own pride to keep it hidden.

I love how Jesus called the broken to Himself.  He was surrounded by Pharisees in this moment.  Men of discipline, knowledge and religious perfection.  Yet it was the man of withered hand, standing in the back shadows, that drew the Lord’s attention and affection.  Jesus did not ask the cause of this man’s brokenness.  In fact, He already knew it all.  But the cause was not of concern to the Lord.  Only that he would come forward and trust the messy result into His keeping.

We all have withered places: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.  We all carry scarred results of past decisions and harmful afflictions.  But try as we might, we cannot mend ourselves.  Jesus calls us all to get up out of our shame and hiding, to come forward into His presence and to stretch out our disfigurements to Him.  Jesus loves us.  He longs for us.  And it is in our vulnerable trusting that His healing takes place.

1 Comment

Filed under Bible Studies, Faith, God, Resources, Struggles, Thoughts

Wear Love For Chloe

The Via family is giving everything to fight for their adopted Ugandan daughter, Chloe.  They are living out love for this former orphan in a profound way.  Please watch this brief video about their remarkable story.   We have a unique opportunity to be a small part of bringing home to Chloe.

We are partnering with Corinne McGowan of Stella & Dot for a unique way to support this family and be reminded to pray for them.  This beautiful Love bracelet sparkles with delicate gold beads, brass chains and brilliant red cording.  Symbolic of the Via’s love for Chloe, wear this bracelet as a prompt to pray for them during their time in Uganda and as a way to share their story.

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 5.47.06 PMProceeds from EVERY LOVE BRACELET and ALL other purchases made from the link below will go towards the Via’s moving expenses to Africa.  Every bracelet, necklace, accessory from this trunk show will benefit their family.  Estimated costs to make the move are $35,000.   So shop away!  Share their story with your friends, family and coworkers.  Together, we can make a big impact for this family!

Join us in wearing Love for Chloe!!

*IMPORTANT!!!  At the top of the website, click “Find your hostess” and type in “Patience Leino”.  You will then see “SHOPPING PATIENCE LEINO’S TRUNK SHOW” at the top.  This is essential for proceeds to go to the Vias.  This trunk show is open through Saturday, April 20th.*

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 6.45.53 PM

http://shop.stelladot.com/style/b2c_en_us/shop/bracelets/bracelets-all/love-bracelet.html

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Friends, Generosity

When Hope Seems Lost

This week overflowed with struggle and heartache.  Friends in pain, a terminal baby boy born and lost, a life-saving transplant seeming just out of reach, a new diagnosis plaguing one who has suffered much already, a beloved teenage boy’s life ending suddenly.  My heart has been heavy for people I love whose anguish I cannot ease.

Then yesterday happened.

Everything in me aches for Newtown, Connecticut.  My mind still can’t grasp the devastation the families of Sandy Hook are experiencing.  20 CHILDREN murdered.  Tears flood my eyes every time I think about it.  While our family celebrated Eliana’s first Christmas musical performance at school and laughed at Evan’s entertaining antics, other families were being recklessly shattered.  I know the pain of loosing a child, seeing their end near over a long period of time.  I cannot begin to fathom the agony of having your child’s life stolen so violently, so senselessly, so brutally!  Final words left unspoken, last goodbyes and I love yous never exchanged.  Why?!  Picking up Eliana from school became a luxury yesterday.  Hearing breath fill Evan’s lungs as he slept on my shoulder – a freshly appreciated gift.  My mind cannot contain the evil in this world, my heart overwhelmed by the pain it causes.

As thoughts raged and fear loomed closer, the words of a cherished song began to play gently in my mind.  Throughout the night and into this morning, Holding Us has grown louder in my ears as the Lord reassured my aching heart.  Written by my friend Josh Via during a season of great trial and uncertainty, its words hit home like never before.  I hope every person in Newtown…in our country…can hear this song.  Written out of suffering and based completely in Truth that never fails, it is a melody of hope for hopeless times.  May its truth still your restless heart today, drawing your gaze from fear to faith in God who holds us.

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, God, Music, Resources, Struggles, Worship

Perspective

Lately, I have been troubled.  Troubled with worries, inadequacies, looming fears and a burdened heart for my precious friend in the fight of her life.  Focused on the awful things I cannot control, the fretting became consuming.

Last night, our worship team at Journey Church rehearsed for this Sunday’s services.  My mind continued to wander as we ran through songs, dwelling on pain Tricia is walking through each day without knowing what the Lord’s intended outcome may be for her life.  I want so badly to take this awful struggle from her, to ease every pain afflicting her weary body, to make all things right.  Unfocused and heavy-hearted, it was honestly difficult to engage in rehearsal.

The Lord’s timing is so perfect.  In the midst of my struggle, we began to practice a simple song that shook me in the best possible way.  You Are Good written by Kari Jobe.  Simple lyrics containing profound truth.

Your kindness leads me to repentance. 
Your goodness draws me to Your side. 
Your mercy calls me to be like You. 
Your favor is my delight.
Every day I’ll awaken my praise and pour out a song from my heart.
You are good, You are good, You are good.  Your mercy is forever.
Your kindness is forever, Your goodness is forever, Your mercy is forever, Lord.
 

I had been so focused on the broken, changing elements of surrounding circumstances that I had forgotten the constant, steadfast, ever-present goodness of God.  In the midst of failing health and daunting fears, the Lord is good!  In the face of the frightening unknown, the Lord is good!  He is always good!  It is who He is!  As the Psalmist sang over and again in Psalm 136, the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

The facts of any circumstance will never negate the enduring goodness of the Lord nor His love towards us.  Though I am still immensely concerned for my friend and desperately praying for a divine miracle worked on her behalf, my perspective has shifted back to remembering that no matter what, she is loved by Almighty God and treasured in His heart. (Deuteronomy 31.8; Isaiah 43.1-4)  Though the cause of some worries have not changed, I am different facing them by having the proper perspective that God reigns sovereignly above them all. (Isaiah 55.8-9)

Never underestimate the importance of proper perspective.  It can mean the difference between hope and despair.  In Jesus Christ, we ALWAYS have hope.

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.17.38 AM

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, God, Struggles, Worship

Wear Hope For Tricia

One of Tricia’s favorite passages in Scripture is the teaching of the sparrow.  Just as the Lord’s eyes are always mindful of every sparrow, how much more is His gaze ever fixed on us! (from Luke 12)

This gorgeous Hope bracelet is rose gold with a delicate sparrow’s wing in the middle.  Wear this Hope bracelet as a reminder to pray for Tricia and a great way to share their story.  EVERY HOPE BRACELET purchased from the link below through Dec. 10 will have ALL proceeds go towards Tricia’s medical care.  In addition, ALL purchases from Patience/Corinne’s trunk show will go towards the Lawrensons.  So shop away!  The trunk show closes at midnight, December 10th.

*IMPORTANT!!!  At the top of the website, click “Find your hostess” and type in “Patience Leino”.  You will then see “SHOPPING PATIENCE LEINO’S TRUNK SHOW” at the top.  This is essential for proceeds to go to Tricia.*

http://shop.stelladot.com/style/b2c_en_us/shop/bracelets/bracelets-all/hope-bracelet.html

12 Comments

Filed under Faith, Friends, Generosity, God

Caught Between

Life seems to be a journey caught between two realities: the facts of our circumstances and the Truth of God’s character.  With every situation, we are faced with the choice of which reality we will choose to cling to.  The facts surrounding our existence may not all ways be easy nor quickly change for the better, but our perspective within those seasons will determine how we walk the path ahead.  It is a lesson I continue to learn over and over and over again.  Praise be to God who never tires in loving instruction, who’s faithfulness knows no bounds.

When caught between the facts and the Truth, we must always cling to the hope of Jesus and the Truth of His Word.  Here are a few examples:

If it seems impossible to choose the correct perspective: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days…”  Deuteronomy 31.19-20a

A child is sick or disabled, whether in utero or after birth:  “For You formed my inward parts; You womb me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  Psalm 139.13-17

Someone is maligning you for doing the right thing or you’re gripped by fear of the journey ahead: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  The Lord is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Plans go awry and hope seems lost: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”  Jeremiah 29.11

You can’t make sense of what God is doing: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'”  Isaiah 55.8-9

You’re under attack and everything in you wants to fight back: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.  ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12.19-21

You’ve messed up so bad that you don’t know how you’ll make it right:  “…All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…But God demonstrates His own love towards us, tin that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 3.23; 5.8; 8.1

We all get caught between the facts and the Truth.  Choose the Truth for it will surely set you free.  (John 8.31-32)

3 Comments

Filed under Faith, God, Struggles, Thoughts

Parenthood

No experience has made me more aware of my sinful human frailty and desperate need for a Redeemer than parenthood.  It frazzles me quicker than I’d like to admit, stretching my patience and compassion.  This is NOT a reflection on my children.  After all, they are only 1 and 3 years old!  Every struggle they face is an opportunity to learn and my responsibility to lead them in the way they should go.  Wasn’t I in their place but a few short decades ago?!  Parenthood ought be cherished as it is a gift not given to all.  It is an unmerited blessing and a privilege.  But oh, how it shows the weaknesses in myself!

When raising small children, ample opportunities abound to grow impatient, to respond out of frustration, to frazzle and fray.  Whether giving an answer for the umpteenth time or teaching a life lesson again, perspective can shift in a nanosecond off of the big picture of their developing lives to how inconvenienced I am by the whole thing.  To respond in anger gives momentary satisfaction and long-lasting regret.  I have given in to my frustrations far more often than I’d like to admit and had to ask my children’s forgiveness more than I ever dreamed necessary.  *sigh*

Yesterday was one such day.  Certainly not a mom-of-the-year worthy day…at all!  Once the kids were finally napping, I lay in bed – exhausted and reeling in regret over my responses to them.  “Come on, Patience!  You’re 30!  You’re the PARENT!  You set the example!  Good grief.  How do you expect them to learn and feel loved if you act like that?!”  The shame fell thick on my heart.

Hours later, the Lord worked through story time with the kids to speak His love and grace over my heart.  We read The Good Shepherd chapter out of The Jesus Storybook Bible and though the words were about David, it felt like the Lord was speaking straight to me.

“David was a shepherd, but when God looked at him, He saw a king.  He had a heart like God’s heart – full of love.  Now, that didn’t mean he was perfect, because he did some terrible things – he even murdered a man.  No, David made a big mess of his life.  But God can take even the biggest mess and make it work in His plan.  ‘I need a new heart, Lord,’ David prayed, ‘because mine is full of sin.  Make me clean inside.’  God heard David’s prayer.  He forgave David…”

In reading those words, the Lord spoke gently.  “Yes, you do terrible things some times.  But I can redeem those things.  You’re not perfect but I AM.  Come to me with your mess.  I love you.”  Later that same day, I was reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Once again, the Lord spoke from heavens high to my fallen, weary heart as I read Ann’s words:

“The parent must always self-parent first, self-preach before child-teach, because who can bring peace unless they’ve held their own peace?  Christ incarnated in the parent is the only hope of incarnating Christ in the child….Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love?  That Satan’s way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus’ way?  Why else get angry?  Isn’t it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me into the full life I really want?  Give THANKS to keep your gaze on heaven.”

In all this, I felt overwhelmed by God’s goodness.  After all, He is my Heavenly Father.  How often I act the part of child, tantrumed and defiant and selfish.  Yet never once has He responded in anger towards me.  Never once has He failed to show love and grace, even on my most deplorable days.  When I honor Him, His grace remains.  When I go against all He has ever taught me, His grace remains.  When conviction fills my heart and I run to Him, never once has He held His arms crossed, still too mad from my behavior to reconcile.  No.  His arms are ALWAYS open wide for the wayward child to come.  His love is ALWAYS lavishing, even when we least deserve it.  God, the ever-faithful, ever-patient, ever-enduring Father.

Parenthood.  It stretches, it tests, it can refine.  When my little ones act out, may I focus not on their indiscretions towards my inconvenienced heart, but on the One who never grows impatient with me.  May I remember His grace that is ever extended and show the same to my children.  In the moments of meltdowns, may my mind remember the many I’ve been forgiven of by my Heavenly Father and show the same kindness to Eliana and Evan.  May I be grateful for their very lives, that I even have kids to love and train.  Lord, keep me grateful and mindful of Your great love towards me.  On my own, I will surely fail as a parent.  May I rest in Him and simply pass along to my sweet ones that which He has poured out on me.

1 Comment

Filed under Family, God, Parenting, Patience, Struggles

Pinning Inspiration

I find when there is a lesson, quality, memory verse, mindset or habit I’m trying to gain, I need to be reminded of my goal.  Often.  Very often.

Enter Pinterest.  This has become my go-to tool for visual reminders.   I’ve been gathering artistically displayed verses and quotes on a board titled “Points To Ponder”.  I’ll select a pin fitting my current circumstance and display the image as many places as possible.  Seeing these reminders throughout the day has really helped my growth in desired areas, memorizing verses more quickly and often restoring my mindset on frazzled days.

One great place to display such prompts is on your phone or desktop.  For example, recently I was struggling with feeling overwhelmed.  I grabbed a pin from my Pinterest board, copied the image to my phone’s wallpaper and voila!  My mind was directed towards the Lord EVERY time I used my phone.  Every call, every text brought this verse to mind.

Its a little trick that I’ve found greatly helpful.  Hopefully it will encourage you too.  Get pinning!

2 Comments

Filed under Patience, Random, Resources, Thoughts

The Snare Of Comparison

Comparison.  A tug and a trap.  The older I get, the more I realize how dangerous comparison to other people can be.  Amidst the craziness of life, I find myself easily tempted to hold up my experiences and surroundings with others.  And as my pastor, Jimmy Carroll, wisely says, we often compare up.  When my kids are misbehaving, my thoughts quickly go to the many friends I have whose kids seemed well-behaved.  When my house is disheveled, I remember their orderly homes.  When my walk with the Lord feels dry, I’m quickly reminded of those who seem to be intimate with Him always.  When I see someone’s strength, it often makes me ponder my weaknesses.  Compare becomes despair.

In those moments, what I fail to remember is their kids also have meltdown days.  No child is perfectly behaved all the time.  When I’m frustrated by a weakness, I neglect to recall my strengths.  When I become consumed with the gifting of another, I’m wasting opportunities to use and strengthen the giftings He has given me.  When their clean home comes to mind, I don’t remember that it was clean because company was coming over or the other times when my own has been orderly.  When I feel discouraged that my walk isn’t at the level of so-and-so’s walk, I’m not considering the dry seasons they too have experienced nor the trials that grew their walk with the Lord.

Comparison can be a shoddy lens.  While it is wise to observe characteristics and habits in those we admire to better strengthen ourselves, we must remember that we are ALL uniquely made by a loving Creator.  He gives us all a beautiful life inheritance, giftings and a future.  (Psalm 16.6, Jeremiah 29.11).  When consumed with what we lack or struggle in, we are restrained from living fully the life He has perfectly crafted for us individually and end up being poor stewards of what has already been entrusted to us.  I have wasted years resenting the successes of others in areas I desired for myself.  How kind the Lord has been to show me this error.  It was His loving design to lead me down the path I’m on.  He has given me gifts and talents for good were I to actually develop them rather than waste my energies coveting the giftings of others.  (1 Corinthians 12.7-26, 1 Timothy 1.6-7)  As I was recently reminded in Radically Obedient, “We miss the joy and freedom of radical obedience, of becoming all that God has designed us to be, when we try to be like someone else.”  The LORD defines His plans us.

So if you find yourself scoping the circumstances of others and coming up short, take heart.  Be mindful of what you are comparing yourself to and the incomplete picture it may be.  Remember that we are ALL a work in progress.  We ALL have been entrusted with amazing gifts, talents, and blessings.  Focus on what He has given you and celebrate His gifts to others.  With a heart of gratitude and humility, we can avoid the snares of comparison and live out fuller lives.  All to the glory of God.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Comparison, Faith, God, Resources, Struggles, Thoughts

What the Kale?

Crispy.  Savory.  O so healthy.  Kale chips!

If you’re craving some crunch without the carbs, give these a go.  I whipped up a batch last night…make that two batches.  Between Evan and I, they were gone!

Kale Chips

  • 1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.  Remove the ribs from the kale and cut leaves into 1 1/2-inch pieces.  Lay on a baking sheet and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes.

So put any preconceived ideas about kale aside and whip up a batch.  They just might become your newest crispy craving.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Recipes

Living And Active

I recently completed Radical Obedience: The Joshua Study for the second time.  To say this study is life-changing would be a stark understatement.  This Scripture-saturated 9 week study by Aliene Thompson dramatically impacted me the first time through three years ago.  Going through it again only furthered its impact and has left me changed for the better.  Aliene has brilliantly written this study in such a way that the Word truly speaks for itself.  Nothing is conjured.  Rather, it guides the reader in learning to hear the Lord’s voice through the whole cannon of Scripture.

“The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.  It penetrates to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4.12

Radically Obedient brought this truth to new light in my life.  As I went through the Scriptures, the Lord spoke often to my heart.  He exposed root issues in my life, showed me areas I needed to confess and grow in, and gave me a deeper perspective of His magnificent grace.  I was stretched as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, Christ-follower and friend.  Though my life circumstances are far different now than my first time through this study, He worked through it to profoundly impact me today.  Fresh manna.

PLEASE!  Get this study!  Not because Aliene has written it so well (though she has) nor because Joshua is an amazing book of the Bible (though it is).  Get this study because the Word of God is its sole focus.  His Word IS living and active!  Allow it to penetrate your heart and change you for the better.  No matter your circumstances or season, there are treasures to be found within its pages.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, God, Resources

Bloom

Its tempting.  That persistent pull during stressful moments and amidst the chaos of motherhood.  When it seems you’re treading water just to make it through the day, yearning for bedtime to finally come for a brief respite from life’s ever-rushing flow.  It whispers in the mundane as I fold yet another load of laundry and look at the messy room that was clean just moments before.

“I can’t wait for this season to be over.”

I have found myself wrestling with this tug to look more towards tomorrow than enjoy whatever is held in today.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely ADORE my children!  I’m beyond grateful that I’m able to stay home to raise them in these small years.  What a blessing to have a home to keep and a full fridge of food to prepare.  All gifts.  All luxuries.  All able to wear me out more than I’d like to admit.  Motherhood has proven thus far the most refining role I’ve held yet.  Sacrifice.  Selflessness.  Patience.  So much patience.  ‘Tis not a glamorous job but oh so worthwhile.

As I’ve wrestled with this pull during today’s struggles to be more eager for tomorrow’s elusive ease, the Lord continues to bring this passage to mind.  Oh how I need it!

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for me, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3.23-24)

Whatever you do.  Whatever.  Whether folding laundry for the millionth time or cleaning another dirty diaper or putting down the book that you’d really like the chance to read to give your child a needed hug, do it ALL for the glory of God.  When tomorrow’s dreams feel like they lay on the back burner in order to accomplish the needs of today, work at today’s tasks as unto the Lord.  Rather than hoping this season will quickly pass because of my own shortcomings and impatience, I ought embrace the gift of today that He has given me.  After all, the whole of life is a sum of todays.  If I spend it all looking towards the tomorrows rather than embracing the now, I will have squandered it all.

Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”  In other words, bloom where you are planted.  That is my hope, my prayer, the lesson I continue to struggle in learning.  When the tugging comes to wish away the present struggles for tomorrow, may I remember that it is the Lord Jesus whom I serve.  May I work at all before me as working unto Him, knowing if this is the season He has for me, then it is for a good purpose and I can trust Him in it.  After all, today is but a wisp, here for a moment and then gone forever.  May I be found faithful in His sight.  May I bloom where I’ve been planted.

3 Comments

Filed under God, Patience, Resources, Struggles, Thoughts

Off To A Great Start

Eliana LOVED her first day of preschool!  She was giddy about it from the moment she woke on Tuesday.  Thankfully I was able to maintain my composure at drop-off, only tearing up while praying with her before going in.  With a quick hug, she headed right into her classroom and began working on a craft with some classmates.  “Bye, Mom!”  And that was it.  My baby girl was officially a student.  (Where has the time gone…)

While the little lady was at preschool, Evan and I enjoyed a fabulous date together.  We enjoyed waffles from Jubala Village Coffee then went exploring at the park.  The heat finally forced us indoors until it was time to pick up big sis.  I loved having one-on-one time with my little man.  Evan is the sweetest, snuggliest, most charming 15-month old I’ve ever met.  Precious boy.

At the end of the school day, Eliana greeted us with a smiling face and stories to tell.  Our new season of preschool is off to a great start.  One great day down, many more to go.

2 Comments

Filed under Eliana, Evan

A New Chapter Begins

How did this day get here so fast?!  In a blink, Eliana Faith has grown from a bright-eyed newborn to a vivacious 3 year old.  This sweet girl is full of life and kind to absolutely everyone she meets.  I never knew it possible for someone to be so caring and outgoing at merely 3 years of age.  What a gift!  And today, this precious blessing begins a new chapter as she has her first day of preschool.  Preschool!  TODAY!!

We took Eliana to Meet The Teachers Day last Friday.  It was a huge success!  She warmed to Miss Amanda and Miss Courtney instantly and had a wonderful time doing crafts with them in her new classroom.  She seemed completely comfortable in her new surroundings.  While she explored her classroom and crafted away with her teachers, I was chronically fighting back tears.  How did this day get here so fast?!

Smart, loving and compassionate.  Curious, energetic and hilarious.  Independent.  Eliana Faith has already exceeded every hope I’ve ever had for a daughter.  I could not be more proud of her.  My social butterfly will absolutely love school.  Though my eyes fill with bittersweet tears at the thought of this new chapter unfolding, they are tears mostly of joy.  After all, she is a precious gift that God has entrusted to me.  She is ultimately His.

Congratulations on your first day of preschool, sweet girl!  Mommy and Daddy are ever so proud of you.

2 Comments

Filed under Eliana, Family, Thoughts

New Twist On A Classic

Chicken Salad.  Its about as classic as burgers and hot dogs.  Wherever there’s a cookout or leftovers, you’re likely to find chicken salad.

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of this traditional dish.  Cold chicken with grapes and celery?  No thanks.  It often tastes bland to me and given the choice between creamy calories in a savory entree or a sweet dessert, I’ll always err on the side of sweetness!  But I digress..

Recently, I had a surplus of roasted chicken in my fridge that needed a makeover.  An old recipe from my catering days in Annapolis popped into mind and I just had to give it a go.  Moroccan Chicken Salad.  Chicken.  Honey.  Almonds.  Cardamom!  YUM!  Seriously folks, you’ve got to try this stuff!  In light of today’s holiday and the likelihood of us all having leftover chicken in our fridge at some point, I just have to share this delicious goodness with you.

Combine mayo and honey in a bowl until you have a smooth, sweet mixture (roughly 2 parts mayo, 1 part honey).  The honey helps balance the mayo’s tang.  Add salt, pepper and (most importantly) Cardamom to taste.  TRUST ME!  You do not want to miss the cardamom step.  Its the magic touch that brings this all together.  Toss diced cold chicken, dried apricots, and chopped almonds in the mixture until its is fully incorporated.  I prefer the taste of pine nuts in the salad but almonds are much more budget friendly. 🙂  Serve on a toasted croissant or fresh bread.  Its sweet, savory, creamy and crunchy.  Delicious!

So whip out that leftover chicken and discover the wonders a little cardamom and honey can do to an old classic.  You’ll be glad you did.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

In Response Of Wrongdoing

We’ve all experienced it.  We’ve observed its wreckage from afar and felt its sting first hand.  Wrong done in the name of right.  Intentional harm from trusted hands.   It bruises at the onset and rattles our being long after.  Wounding sin.

Today found me wrestling unexpected thoughts of past experiences.  Thoughts of harsh words spoken, lies told, accusations thrown, trust broken.  While enjoying some java during the kids’ naps, this sudden flood began and with it, a wave of anger.  It quickly grew from a steady simmer to a roaring boil.   My heart raced with righteous anger against the utter nastiness of sin and its devastating effects, both in my life and the lives of loved ones.  We all have been wronged at one time or another.  And we all have done wrong to someone else.  We are, after all, innately sinful.  Nevertheless, this morning’s awareness of these offenses, some of which may never be rectified, left me frantic with frustration and nearly tachycardic in wanting justice served.

“In your anger, do not sin.”

But it’s wrong!  It mocks Your Name!  It harms undeserving people!  It’s not right!  Why do You allow such things to happen?!

“In your anger, do not sin.”

I know, Lord, I know.  But I’m so angry!  Emotions raged as memories raced.  Some wounds fresh along with old scars resurfacing, reminding me of whence they came.  Where was this coming from?  And what in the world was I to do with it?!

“In your anger, do not sin.”

Over and again, the Lord whispered Ephesians 4:26 to my heart.  In the midst of feeling the weight of others’ sins against me, I did not want to respond in like kind.  I would be no better than those who caused the original harm.  It would not leave me better off.  It would bring NO honor to the Lord.  None.  But what to do…

I had no answers but knew I needed to go to Scripture to find them.  Anything apart from that would simply be based in opinion and emotion.   A trusted friend immediately came to mind.  Ever since I first met Beverly Carroll, she has always spoken Biblical truth into my life, ever pointing me to Christ in times of wrestling.   Today was no exception.  I shared with her my consuming struggle, asking what passages had guided her when she faced wrongdoing.

James 1:19,20   2 Corinthians 10:5   Ephesians 4:25-27, 29-32

Beverly immediately pointed to passages that deal with such ugliness, mostly our response to them.  As I scoured these verses, the Lord began calming my turmoil.  The words turned my attention off of the wrongs done and onto the One who came to redeem all things.  Slowly, my mind went from being consumed with the sins of others to dwelling on the One who forgave MY sins.  What Beverly shared next diffused the fury burning within me, shifting my focus from the wrongs to the Redeemer.  As I could not say it better myself, here is what she wrote:

Matthew 5:23,24 instructs us to be reconciled, regardless.  That means that we cannot indulge negativity or bitterness even when they are warranted and justified.  Forgiveness is vital, required, even when the offenders don’t deserve it.  God requires it.  It is an act of obedience that can become our offering to the King.  They may not deserve it.  They simply benefit from our unwavering desire to please God.  It cannot be done on our own.  It is a supernatural gift, to “be not overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).  2 Peter 1:3,4 assures us that we have everything we need, in Christ, to live the lives He expects us to live.  We are promised that that we don’t have to do it ourselves.  We partake of the divine nature that is already in us.  We don’t have to muster up love or forgiveness.  We don’t have to remove our own bitterness.  We simply partake of everything that is available to us in Christ.  We help ourselves to His very nature thus enabling us to escape the very corruption you reference.  I think, regarding these types of struggles, that victory is a daily laying down, much like surrender.  It’s certainly not a once-for-all victory.  But it does drive you to Christ repeatedly, and that fact, alone, helps us to count it all joy.  It’s just one more example of the fact that God redeems what He allows.”  Wow.

So what to do in response of wrongdoing?  Forgive.  Speak truth in love.  Overcome evil with good.  Not because it is deserved but because as our act of surrendered worship to God.  Because while we were in the midst of our sin, Christ died for us.  Because it reminds us yet again of our need for the Savior.

We all have been wronged.  We all have wronged someone else.  We all must run to Jesus in the midst of the mess.  Only there can true healing, true forgiveness, true peace be found.  To Him and Him alone be the glory for it.

Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.  ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”   

(Romans 12:9-21)

 

IMG_0515.PNG

7 Comments

Filed under God, Patience, Struggles, Thoughts

So Here’s The Thing…

Thirteen months.  It has been thirteen months since my last blog post.  Thirteen months since I let a day pass without writing…then two..then a week…then 2012 is halfway over and not a single thing has been written!  THIRTEEN MONTHS!

Truth be told, I set out to be perfect.  I wanted to write a post every day, each week, all year long.  I have several amazing girlfriends with far more children and responsibilities than I who are able to wax poetic daily.  They don’t simply write posts; they inspire, they encourage, they are consistent.

I love to write.  Since I was a young girl, words have gripped me in inexplainable ways.  I will choose a book over a movie anytime.  Something about putting thoughts to paper has always brought great joy and focus to my heart.  I don’t claim to be a brilliant writer by any means.  Writing is simply the venue the Lord has given me to sort my own thoughts and analyze my life experiences.  When faced with a blank page and words begin flowing, all the madness of life seems to fade and for a brief while, the scrambled things come into focus.  Many times, the Lord has brought words and passages to mind in the midst of writing that He would use to work in me later on.  So much of my writing during Isaac’s life was words He would give in the midst of writing sessions to later use in ministering to my weary heart.  Its nothing that I have earned nor take credit for.  Its just the way He has wired me.

So here’s the thing:  As I said, I want to be perfect.  Not to impress or gain attention but to accomplish every goal I set.  Since I was young, I’ve had an innate desire to get it right every time, all the time.  To set a goal and fully achieve it.  Type A, anyone?!  So when I set out to be a consistent blogger, I was gung-ho.  Posts were flowing, lessons being learned and in need of sharing if for not other reason than to record His workings for myself.  But then it happened.  A day would go by, then a few.  Writers block would creep in and suddenly I was faced with inconsistency.  My pride bruised from imperfection.  One would logically think, “Just pick up where you left off and keep on writing.”  But no.  It turned into anxiety, embarrassment.  I couldn’t just write any post.  It must be epic!  Profound.  Worth the loss of days.  As each day passed, my self-inflicted pressure continued to rise.  Thirteen months later…

This is but one of countless examples in my life that has caused me to face my frailty head on.  How often I strive for perfection, to have everything all together, all the time, on my own.  Were I truly honest, it is a struggle that has impacted my walk with the Lord.  I fail and my natural response is embarrassment, discouragement, inaction.  At its core, isn’t that the human experience?  In the Garden, Eve desired to be like God by eating the fruit, to become perfect.  Yet once she sinned, rather than running to the arms of the One who loved her most, she hid in shame.  We seek to be complete and self-fulfilling all on our own, as if we will impress God with our “grandeur”.  Yet every ability, every gifting, every good and perfect thing to be found in us ultimately comes by His generous hands.

It may seem like a silly issue, inconsistent writing, but it has been a simple lesson on a greater issue for me.  The Lord desires my communion with Him, not perfection of my own accord.  After all, I will NEVER be perfect.  ‘Tis the human condition: broken and in need of a Redeemer.  So whether it be a large life issue or simply a blip in the blogosphere, He is teaching me to move ahead.  Lay down the discouragement and press onward, further knowing my desperate need of Him and His gracious delight in me.

So here’s the thing:  I won’t be perfectly consistent in writing.  I will set goals and sometimes fail in achieving them.  Writers block may come and go.  But when the words do come again, rather than being silent out of my shame of inconsistency, I will simply pick up my pen and scribe again.  After all, anything of merit in my words comes from Him.  I simply want to be faithful in expressing what He has given.

9 Comments

Filed under Blogging, God, Patience, Struggles, Thoughts

Two Years of Answered Prayers

Eliana Faith is now 2 years old!  Words cannot adequately describe the joy and blessing she is to us.  When we chose her name, meaning “God has answered us”, little did we know how amazing this sweet answer to prayer would be. She has truly been God’s beautiful answer to so many prayers.

She has grown into a delightful, energetic, outgoing little girl.  Her zeal for life is infectious and she sees a friend in every new person she meets.  She is completely fascinated with all things ocean (especially Nemo) and cannot get enough of bubbles or balloons.  Eliana loves to help in the kitchen whenever she can, whether its whisking eggs or helping to measure ingredients.  It always makes me smile to hear her count away or sing, “Yes! (with a lisp) Jesus loves me!”  Ever since Evan came home, she has been an amazing big sister.  She loves covering him with hugs and kisses, saying “its okay!” anytime he cries.  It has overwhelmed me at times to watch her care for her baby brother so sweetly.

Happy Birthday, Eliana Faith!  Thank you for all the beautifully moments over these past two years.  I am so excited to see all God has in store for you this next year.  What a blessing and honor to be your mom!

4 Comments

Filed under Eliana

One Month Along

Time flies quickly these days and it seems to have shifted into warp speed ever since Evan arrived.  Our sweet boy turned one month old on Sunday!  He has grown quite a bit since his grand May arrival, now weighing 10 lbs 3 oz and measuring 22.25 inches long.  Looks like I’ll end up having two tall and handsome men in my life. 🙂

Eliana grows more beautiful and adventurous every day!  She is on the move from the moment she wakes until bedtime.  While I’m still learning how to keep up with my gorgeous bundle of energy, I wouldn’t have it any other way!  Her zest for life and outgoing demeanor brings a fresh element of surprise to each new day.  Eliana askes for Evan first thing each morning, wanting to greet him with hugs and smiles.  We’re still teaching her how to gently love on Evan, but there is no question that she adores her little brother.  Anytime he cries, Eliana is right there to enthusiastically tell him, “Its okay!”


The past month has been many things: hilarious, emotional, eye-opening, precious, refining, thrilling, exhausting.  But above all, it has been a blessing.  I could not be more grateful for these two precious children, thankful for their health and humbled that God entrusted such amazing gifts to Jordan and me.  I would not trade a single day for anything else in the world!

Leave a comment

Filed under Eliana, Evan, Thoughts