Hello friends! Wanted to share a little snippet of what’s been on my heart lately and ask YOU for your help. If you’re single and graduated…I need your questions and testimonies. If you’re married or still in school…would you pray for me? This is one of the most scary and exciting times in my life and I’d be grateful for your prayers on this journey.
Category Archives: Family
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Perspective is everything…and I tend to lose proper perspective easily. Often. I am a cronic perspective-loser. (If that’s even a word.) Two weeks ago was one of those times.
I was away from home on a work trip with my family and trying to juggle the normal responsibilities from my perch in the South. It was one of those times when the to do list in my brain was overwhelming me and making me a bit crazy. My fuse was getting smaller and smaller and my attitude was challenging me hourly. With an upcoming conference and other ministry opportunities, I was trying to get some work done, despite my being away from home. All of this and more were piling up in my mind. One of those times where you mark off two things on your to do lists and add four. At night my brain wouldn’t shut off. I was tired emotionally. I was discouraged.
Then I climbed a mountain.
Ok…it was more like a high hill with lots of rocks, but none the less, they call it a mountain. Pinnacle Mountain in Arkansas. I was told it was a “hike”, and if I had been in shape, it would have been just that…but it was more like a humbling stop-and-go climb for me. Three quarters of a mile seems like an easy hike until you put it 1,011 feet in the air. That changes things tremendously. The terrain was very rocky and thankfully, I am told we were on the “easier side”. That’s a very good thing. Otherwise…I’m not sure if I would have made it in one piece.
It was a hike. Took me an hour to summit, being 26 and sorely out of shape. I kept hearing my heart pounding out of my chest and my heavy breathing. It’s a very effective way to shut me up since I couldn’t talk and huff and puff simultaniously.
Every 10 minutes I stopped for a breather. Every bench had my name on it. My two teenage siblings were ruthless in their fun ribbing. “The old lady” was climbing a mountain! I waved them off…they were right, I was older than them AND out of shape. I reminded them that they didn’t have to run ahead and prove themselves! “Let’s enjoy the trip” really translated to “I am dying, can you slow down?”
Along the way, I was met by many athletic folks jumping and skipping rock to rock…as I hoisted myself slowly from one to the other. They exhausted me even more just watching them. We saw one man, probably in his late sixties or older, who was jogging downhill at a much younger speed. Our friend who took us on the hike said that same gentleman is there all the time. That knowledge wore me out too. People take this mountain climbing serious…like it’s a favorite pastime, or something. I mused at my very different ideas of a favorite hobby. None of which were rock climbing.
After an hour, and several bench breaks, we arrived at the top. I was windless and tired. My mind rolled over my to do list back home and the emails I needed to reply to…and I really needed to finish that blog! My shirt was wet from sweat and my legs felt remarkably similar to noodles. As I crested the ridge, I appreciated the breeze…especially in a damp shirt.
Then I looked down into the valley below and smiled. I wanted to congratulate myself for not fainting on the way up, but the view took my breath away (at least what was left of it). There was my Creator’s handiwork in full view. The sun was starting to set and the river below snaked around the mountain. In the far distance, I saw a sailboat…like a pin head on the horizon. The sky was exploding into color and the breeze was perfect. Below, I saw the city…this city I had just came grumbling from. The same place that seemed so big, and scary, and overwhelming. Now it looked ridiculously small. I put my hand against the spot where I had previously been and it all fit in the palm of my hand.
How my perspective had changed. Quickly. In an hour of climbing. Suddenly…my to do list vanished. My swimming brain stilled. My heart was in awe. I couldn’t get over the sail boat. It was so tiny. Then, as if in a whisper, I felt a truth drop into my heart. “There’s my to do list,” I thought. When I am right up on it, it’s HUGE. But when I am with the Father, it’s a speck of nothing on the horizon.
As a child I always wondered what Christ meant when He said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) The way I saw it, with Christ came a rough road ahead. Worth it? Absolutely! It’s just that the promise of a lighter burden didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I didn’t see lighter loads. Since fully surrendering my life to Christ, I had a whole lot more on my plate. So what did Jesus mean by a “light burden” and an “easy yoke”?
It seemed, standing there on top of that mountain, I understood what He meant. He didn’t mean the problems would disappear. He meant that your perspective would be changed. On that mountain, I was lighter. My load seemed like nothing. Weightless. Was my to do list erased? No. In fact, I knew it was getting longer at home while I stood on Pinnacle Mountain. My perspective had changed. All those details that I had been stressing over? They were all a pin-head sailboat on the horizon compared to the wealth of God’s abilities. He doesn’t need me to run around with my head cut off. He doesn’t need me to complete His tasks…He chooses me and uses me for His glory. Big difference.
So there I was 1,011 feet up in the air and all the dots were connecting for me. My problems aren’t big. My to do list isn’t impossible. My opportunities aren’t overwhelming. I make them that way. I blow them up into monsterous proportions and then God has to come along and deflate them when I am at my wits end. He calls me to climb a mountain…and then He points to my sailboat of a problem. Its really not that big from up there. Its actually very achievable. It fits under my pinky finger.
I know I stared for a long time into the valley that day, overwhelmed in a different way. This shrinking feeling washed over me. Freedom feels very light. In fact, it’s weightless. And for the first time in a long time, I felt weightless. It wasn’t my job to be frantic and coordinate perfection. It’s my job to climb the mountain and be obedient. He does the rest. Roll up my sleeves in diligence? YES. But not get in God’s way of planning and making all things beautiful IN HIS TIME.
The sun was setting and we had to leave the mountain top. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stamp this image deep into my heart. Every river bend, every church steeple, every road and every sail boat. I wanted it etched in my memory. I wanted this new perspective never to fade. I wanted this mountain to change me.
How often do we allow the circumstances of life to rob us of our joy and sap us of energy? We blow up our problems and create bigger ones. However real they are, we must not let them rule our lives and steal our zest for living. That relationship that is crumbling…it IS painful, but it must not keep you in the valley. Climb up, dear friend! That test final that seems impossible? One rock at a time, sister…move steadily to the top and your perspective will change. Stay on the mountain top as long as you can and carve the things you see there in your heart forever. Dwell on His power. His majesty. HIM.
As I started down into the valley again, I thought a lot about what I had experienced on the mountain. I carried with me the realization that sometimes…amid the struggles in life…I just need to push the pause button and climb. I needed to MAKE time to climb. To be with Him and rest in His perspective.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I fully expect in my humanness to need another mountain climb again one day. Maybe even soon. We all need a visual reminder. When that moment comes again…I will climb. But for today…I am remembering that little pin head of a sail boat and praising God for His power over my problems, however big they may seem at the moment.
What is your perspective today? Climb a mountain. Climb a tree. Climb for perspective. Live in the Presence of the Father and remember that “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Climb, sister, climb!
“For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, emphasis mine)
Kids have a way of bringing new life and vantage points to everyday things. Their questions spur in us the desire to search for answers. Answers that we perhaps didn’t even know we needed. I have been pushed to dig deep into God’s Word…simply because a younger sibling asked me a curious question.
“What is adequate?” The question came from my 7 year old sister. I was cleaning the kitchen and her question caught me off guard. Where did that come from? I thought. I mean, seriously, ADEQUATE isn’t normally a word that a seven year old spits out fluently….and it had rolled off her tongue like CAT. I stopped washing the counter and turned my head to her. She was sitting at the table doing some school work with her pencil and seemed unaffected by her strange curiosity.
I sighed a bit. Explaining the meaning of simple words has never been easy for me. My brain churned, trying to pull small words from my vocabulary that would satisfy a seven-year-old’s curiosity. “Well…Adequate means like…you’ve got what it takes.” She looked at me and then went back to her work, but I could tell that my answer wasn’t enough for her. “It means…enough…it means you’re enough. If you’re adequate, you’re enough. You have what it takes. Does that make sense?” She nodded and then went back to her math problems. This time, I felt like she understood, and like I would be hearing the word fall from her mouth in a sentence in the near future. I know her…when she learns what a word means and how to use it, she will use it.
But then a nagging question hung in my mind. What IS adequate? I realized my little sister had over heard me asking for prayer in conjunction with the statement that I felt INADEQUATE for the task ahead of me. What is adequate? It struck me that this seven year old had not said, “What does adequate mean?” She said, “What is adequate?” That was an entirely a different matter.
What is adequate? The question spun around in my brain bringing a thousand other questions to my mind. My heart resonated with the truths I slowly discovered. What is enough? Am I enough? Do I have what it takes? Am I adequate for the job? Am I worthy? Am I enough…adequate?
We all face these questions in life…more than once. They probe into our souls when our schedule is crammed and we are overwhelmed. They creep up when someone in our family says hurtful things. They stand at our doorstep when we are about to take a leap of faith into ministry. Sometimes…they stare at us when we look in the mirror in the morning. Am I enough? Am I smart enough? Am I beautiful enough? Am I talented enough? Am I strong enough? Am I spiritual enough?
The questions wrap their greedy fingers around our souls and sap the joy of life from us. Instead of living fully…we live wondering. Questioning our worth. Asking questions that block our effectiveness for God and leech the life out of our beings.
Then the breath of God…”Ye are a CHOSEN generation, a ROYAL priesthood, a HOLY nation…”(1 Pet. 2:9, emphasis mine). He came and “gave Himself for us, that He might REDEEM us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14, emphasis mine) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have CHOSEN you, and ORDAINED you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” (John 15:16, emphasis mine) “I have LOVED thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3, emphasis mine) “My grace is SUFFICIENT for thee, for my STRENGTH is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Corinthians 12:9, emphasis mine). HE is enough. HE is adequate. HE is worthy. HE is sufficient.
Beautiful daughter of God…do you want to know why you are enough? You are enough, because Jesus is and He said you are! If you weren’t worth it…there would have been no cross. No redemption. No sacrificial love. Ahh, but you were enough! You were enough that He said YES to the cross for you! He went to that rugged cross on Calvary because He deemed you worthy of His love and forgiveness and outpouring of blood.
His choice made you worthy. His love made you beautiful. His redemption made you enough.
I stood in the kitchen with a dish rag in my hand and marveled at this mystery. That I, an unworthy daughter should have the favor of God rest upon my head. My past is forgiven. My scars are beautiful. I am enough, because He is enough. I am worthy, because He is worthy to be praised.
My mind went to a song that I love. It’s called, “My worth is not in what I own.”
“My worth is not in what I own, not in the strength of flesh and bone. But in the costly wounds of love at the cross. My worth is not in skill or name, in win or lose, in pride or shame. But in the blood of Christ that flowed at the cross.
“As summer flowers we fade and die; Fame, youth, and beauty hurry by. But life eternal calls to us at the cross. I will not boast in wealth or might, or human wisdom’s fleeting light. But I will boast in knowing Christ at the cross.
“Two wonders here that I confess, My worth and my unworthiness. My value fixed, my ransom paid at the cross.” (Keith and Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick)
Dear Sister…your worth is summed up in the cross. Your beauty is a reflection of your Father Who calls you ransomed, chosen, and loved. Don’t let the voices of the world tell you that you have to achieve to win His favor. He has made you beautiful and worthy and loved. His work on the cross has made you adequate to stand before God. His blood has made you enough!
So next time those ugly questions of self-worth probe your soul…remember your answer. Your answer stands on a hill called Calvary. Your answer reigns in heaven and in your heart! He has made you HIS…and because of that, you are beautiful, worthy. Girl, you are enough….because of His sacrifice.
Live fully…laugh long…remember that we have the glorious truth. We can live beautifully and purposefully knowing that our worth is in HIM, not in ourselves. That kind of promise inserted into our souls can create a radiance that only Jesus can get the glory for.
What is adequate? What is enough? You are friend…because HE is.
“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8
Strange things happen when you’re doing dishes. Or at least for me they do. Yesterday I was doing dishes at my brother’s new house. My second younger brother is getting married next month and needed some help settling in. So there I was…washing new dishes and putting them into clean cabinets.
New dishes mean one thing…sticky price tags. All of them screaming to be removed. I must have peeled and scraped and scrubbed fifty stickers off. They are very persistent little things and yet so rewarding. The first dozen or two gave me a feeling of satisfaction when the dishes were smooth and clean. It made me feel good.
Then it started getting boring. Monotonous. Even agitating at times. So I started thinking…what lesson could I learn from this? When I begin asking myself questions like this, I know I am really grasping at straws, but it was starting to get on my nerves…this whole sticker business! I needed to walk away with more than a stack of smooth-bottomed plates and bowls, I wanted some spiritual food for thought!
Then it came to me. Or HE did. All these beautiful dishes are worthless if they stay boxed up, wrapped up, and stickered up. To be useful they must be unwrapped and ready on a shelf for easy access. I won’t eat a bowl of cereal from a bowl that is in a box of styrofoam peanuts and wrapped up in age-old newspaper. No! I need them available. I need them at my fingertips. I need them unstickered.
Wow! That truth got me right between the eyes. Maybe God was standing there at the sink with me, whispering truths into my soul. I heard Him stirring my heart to see myself in those stickered plates. How often was I the one staying packaged up? It got me thinking. Staying packed up doesn’t change my value. It changes my usefulness. I can be a lovely glass in a box, carefully wrapped up and protected from any danger… Or I can be a beautiful pitcher that is used for His glory.
Maybe it is my fears holding me back from doing bigger things for God. Perhaps in an effort to protect myself, I peek out from the safety of my styrofoam peanut-bedded box and shiver. “Not me, Lord. Can you pick someone else? How about that sturdy looking plate over there? You know how easily I can chip!” So I stay in the comfort of my newspaper padding and never grace the table of my King. I am valued, but not useable.
Standing there at the sink suddenly became therapy. I felt tears welling up in my eyes. A prayer bubbled up in my heart. “Lord, I want to be used. Unwrap me. Wash me. Unsticker me. Please…use me. If I chip, still put me on Your table. If I crack, mend me. If I break, heal me…but Father, please use me.” I felt the words of Isaiah pouring from my soul… “Here am I Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
I want to be useable. I want to be available. Some days that may mean leading a Bible study or tutoring a child in math skills for the glory of God. My work can become my worship, if my heart is toward Him. Some days that may mean teaching children at a kindergarten class or listening to piano students plunk out their pieces. Other days it might be cleaning up vomit or folding ten loads of laundry. Yesterday it meant scrubbing stickers off new dishes.
Friend, God has the perfect place in His heavenly cabinet for you. It’s a place that you will be available…right at His fingertips. To get there you have to get out of that styrofoam-coated comfort and leave the packing box behind. You have to give up the stickers and be willing to be chipped. It means being vulnerable. It means being subject to the dangerous air…but you can do it in His strength! I think I want to leave the box behind and be unstickered in the cabinet of Jesus. Will you join me?
Do you ever have those moments when your wonder of God’s greatness gets exploded and you stand in awe of His power? I have. Last week, in fact.
I was standing in my kitchen and listening to the narrative of God’s power and grace on the life of my brother. I’ll spare you all the details, but it’s more than safe to say that my younger brother came within literal feet and inches of death…and lives to tell about it. He drives a semi truck and was fully loaded with logs when he came face to face with a big county truck fully loaded with salt. It’s slick outside. Brakes don’t work this time of year in Michigan…. especially for a semi or other heavy trucks. Police at the sight later shook their heads in disbelief. Both drivers should have died. Instead, both walked away without a single scratch.
As my brother told the story, I stood there amazed at God’s mercy. My skin tingled. Shivers ran down my spine. His mercies are new every morning Lamentations tells us. “Great is Thy faithfulness!” The accident happened right in front of our local school. It was around 2pm…school was letting out….and not one child was anywhere near when the accident took place. Now I call that God’s finger print!!!
Miracles are happening every day, all around us. Problem is, I don’t often stop and notice them. The million things that God graces us with daily…and we walk by without a thought. The air we breathe. The water we drink. The seasons. The baby that curls up in your arms and sleeps like an angel. The fireflies in the summer sky. These are all small miracles. Graces He gives us every day.
As I was thinking of the accident and reflecting on God’s mercy, my brother’s seven-month-old daughter was sitting near me as I played the piano. She loves music and was humming in her sweet baby way. Then (as if I were in “It’s a wonderful life” with Clarence, the angel) my mind flashed to a world without my brother. Morbid, I know. But it was as if God have me a picture of His mercy in a bigger way.
I imagined a funeral instead of joyful relief and gratefulness. A young widow and her seven-month-old daughter. A farm without a farmer. A hole in our family. Shock. Grief. Heart ache. The moment was awful…staring into what could have been a tragic loss.
And then…a miracle instead! God’s mercy. He chose to give life. To grant protection. To dispatch hundreds of angels for that specific moment. To steer those trucks perfectly and spare the lives of two young men…and countless school children. Mercy like that makes you want to sing! So I did. With my little niece humming her own tune, we sang worship songs and praise anthems to Jesus. His mercy! He has chosen mercy and love and protection. Thank you Jesus!
A miracle. That’s what we are. Human wonders that God has created to tell the world His story. He loves us. He cares for us. Even when we don’t see His hand, His fingerprints dot our very being. I stand amazed in His presence. I am in awe of His power. The prophet Jeremiah said so well in Lamentations 3:22-24, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.” And it all made me wonder. Standing in awe…What miracle have I failed to see? What else have I missed?