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Sharing Message that Speak to Us …

I love it when a friend shares something with me that speaks to her. I always think, “If that is the case, how many others would the message resonated with.”
Take a minute and be blessed, as I was, by reading through Lisa Terkeurst’s message about how to live a life that doesn’t betray our best intentions.

Great Sermons Aren’t Preached, They’re Lived
Lysa TerKeurstJune 8, 2017

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

– See more at: http://proverbs31.org/…/great-sermons-arent-preached-they…/…

 

 

Lisa Terkeurst

Believing in Beautiful …

“Mom, what does God tell you about all this?”, Brooke asked as she scanned the shelves of the refrigerator. It looked as though Brooke was searching for something to eat, whenrefrigerator asking this fateful question, But, deep inside I knew she was seeking so much more.

When life takes a sudden shift, the new set of circumstances creates a myriad of unanswered questions. Brooke was searching for solid ground. She was attempting to create a feeling of security by collecting information and threading together the knowledge she would gain. Then, I knew, because it is human tendency, she would go on to mentally map out potential outcomes, to create scenarios that sounded good and to carve out a story she created.

Standing on the other side of the kitchen counter, I longed to paint the easiest picture for her; one where everything goes just right and everyone involved is immediately  excited. Her heart has been broken before, I find myself wanting to knee-jerk to protect her from any more.

However, I simply didn’t have the authority to do that. I didn’t have any facts to share. Nor, was there a road map to refer to. Yes, this next God appointed adventure guaranteed a tremendous amount of uncertainty.

Even though it wasn’t voiced, I think Brooke subconsciously knew this. She knew I couldn’t predict the future. Nor, how it would unfold. Hence, in her wisdom and quest for something solid she aimed her question towards my Savior and the counsel He might offer.

Immediately, I was grateful she knew I would seek God’s advice.  And, be interested in what He had to say. She acknowledged and honored the relationship I had with Him.

And, that is when I knew I was time to share what had settled in my heart. For days, I had rumbled with how God wanted me to respond to this new  unexpected blessing. Trust me, as beautiful and unbelievable as it is, it held the power to shake the trusted ties that united our weathered family.

Rounding the edge of the counter, I walked towards Brooke and stopped in front of the stove. By now, her perusal for food had ended and she turned toward me with her full attention.

I paused before I answered. Not because I didn’t have an answer. God had already given me His sense of response before Brooke ever inquired about our inner conversations. Instead, I took a second before responding so the air would settle and my words could be heard.

Surmising the fore coming series of events and the twisting and turning it would take to assimilate and comprehend this new chapter of life was impossible. But better than giving Brooke a sense of security by speculating on earthly events, I affirmed Who I would follow.  Therefore, laying a solid foundation for all things going forward.

“Brooke, God has made it very clear to me that all of this can stay very uncomplicated if I, we simply love. That is all there is too it, simply love.”, I explained.

We continued our conversation of Christ’s instructions. I chose my words carefully to get Brooke to accept the truth that God doesn’t want us to search for answers, to predict actions nor to find security in knowing the outcome before it happens.

Instead, He asks us to move forward in faith. To be OK with not knowing everything. And, to trust that as we make room for the Holy Spirit to move , everything falls into place.

Watching with spiritual eyes, I was acutely aware of the interchange unfolding and was totally consumed with sharing the wisdom …

Control does not guarantee comfort. Instead, it is the power of Jesus that brings peace!

Brooke seemed satisfied with my reply, that the message  left for us in 1 Corinthians 13:13:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” would see us through.

With ease, she twisted toward the simmering pan and started to rhythmically stir.  Inches apart, we stood still, both feeling the security of God’s sovereignty. But, the goodness didn’t end there because I had more to share.

“Brooke, there is something else I sense.” I said, recapturing her attention. With the wooden spoon in her hand, she turned and readied herself to receive.

Feeding her soul, I shared “The spirit inside of me says, don’t flinch and have absolutely no fear!”  I expounded on God’s guidance wanting Brooke to understand that as we stepped into this next leg of life it was important for me, for her for all of us to cast off any thought that might prevent us from fully embracing the fullness of what was yet to be.

Holding back because something might go wrong was not going to work.

Brooke relaxed into the words, her shoulders inched down and the edges of her lips inched up. She understood that if we allowed love and the Spirit of Christ to set our course, that bumpy it might be.

But because of Jesus we could believe in beautiful!

 

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

KJV

 

Believe in beautiful

 

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Traveling Mercies – Janet Hines

As school ends and summer approaches time spent for so many shifts. Sp whether it is a vacation or a staycation that comes next … take a minute and see what Janet Hines has to say about how we interact with the world around us. Thank you Janet for haring your inspiring message with us today.

Janet Hines – Traveling Mercies

Flowers in the field
Flowers in a field in the small town of Alora in the south of Spain

I am passionate about traveling this big world. Everyday is filled with sights, sounds, tastes and flavors I have never experienced before. It is a thrill to me. Taking pictures, conversations with random strangers – language not creating barriers – smiles – sign language – pointing – all fill my heart with the sense of adventure God planted in me when He created me.

Yet, the older I get, the more I realize my everyday world is full of these same wonders. It just depends on how I look at it. What has my attention? Do I become so habitual in my days that I forget to look for the adventure? Do I forget to look for things I have never seen before?

This is just a simple blog post inviting you to join me in looking at the world around us a little differently today. When people speak, listen in a different way. When we greet someone, let’s pause intentionally a moment longer to look at them and see if they need to really tell us. Maybe a hug is in order. Maybe not.

Let that person who made their way through the construction barricades without merging and now wanting to merge when there is no space left {this is a personal battle for me living where I do} – let them in without making a comment Janet – just. let. them. in.

Choose to make the world a teeny tiny bit better in our wake today. There are way too many things we are not in control of but God gave us each the free will to choose how we interact and react to the world in our breathing space every day.

Let’s make a difference today. Let’s be bold – maybe someone will notice – maybe no one will – but in our hearts when we lay down in bed tonight, we will have a peace about the moments we remember and how we saw something new – even without leaving the parish today.

  But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, 

what God is looking for in men and women.

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

be compassionate and loyal in your love, 

And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

 Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Mic 6:8). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

“Lord, we pray to You to give us the courage to interact in positive ways today to whatever situations the world throws at us. We believe You, Lord, when You promise us You will give us everything we need to see You up close and the courage to allow You access to the deep places in us that need the most work. We want to be closer to You, Lord. Give us an awareness of what creates barriers in our relationship with You and help us move through this world seeing You in new ways today. Amen”

 

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A Box of Miracles in my Backyard

As Easter Sunday approaches, I find myself contemplating the Cross and Christ’s Resurrection.

Everywhere I go, walking, running errands or even alone my thoughts continue to wrap around this Gospel message of hope and eternal healing, of rebirth and renewal, and of celebration and miraculous occurrences. It has been kinda of a constant cerebral conversation.

I work to replay the events of Holy Week in my mind. Then, I try to understand the emotions attached to the events. I ask myself, “What did the people witness and how did they respond?”

Of course, each mini-series evokes a unique set of feelings, stretching from humility to horror and then onto heartbroken. As Jesus moves through the acts of the Easter story, the setting shifts as well.

Like Jesus, in my own pressed state I have spent time in the garden. Gardens have always served as an inspiring backdrop in the Bible. After all, God first planted humanity in a garden in Eden. And the most redemptive act in history began in a garden in Gethsemane. And the story ends in Revelation with the image of the garden taking over the City of God.

Like Jesus, my garden served me during my own season of sorrow.  “Elizabeth, anything to do with nature is healing and good for the soul” I was told.  In response, I grabbed a hoe and hoped for the best. Certainly, tears were shed, as I shoveled the dry soil.  However, there was a healing component to digging in and getting dirty.

Today, my garden continues to serve me. However, it is in a new way! Rather than seeking the comfort the warmth of the earth has to offer, I sing in celebration about what has sprouted!!! As well, the overwhelming growth and the abundance of fruit that is growing in the box of miracles in my backyard!!!

It’s magical to pull a carrot out of the ground and exciting to see a ruby red strawberry gracefully hang from its thin green stem. The zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower buds are poised to break open and the eggplants are lush and tinted lavender. The carrots are ready and the tomatoes are ripening.  Yes, my vegetables plants are poised to have a party.

 

strawberries carrot

zucchini

And, my friends, so are we. As we approach the Celebration of Resurrection,  we as believing Christians know the glory that is coming!!!

Remember, we are a resurrection people!

We celebrate this belief in unity on Easter!

Together, we affirm the miracle of Jesus rising from the dead and ascending into Heaven, Together, we acknowledge the triumph of light over dark and as the body of Christ give thanks for the gift of eternal life.  Easter is the anniversary, the yearly commemoration of all these things.

However, the little box of miracles in my backyard reminds me resurrection happens everyday.  That seeds planted and buried deep in the dirt, because of a miracle, can grow into a maturing plant with an abundance of  fruit.

Jesus’ miracles of renewal and regeneration are evident and alive in the world around us. His power loves people to life and His message brings beauty out of our brokenness.

So today and everyday, I celebrate the miracle of Resurrection and what it represents!!

garden

 

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What Finally Worked …

ekg-2069872_1280For weeks, I felt pressure and pain, The good news is the stacks of self-help books, the many trips to the therapist and lots of alone time were all doing their part to help ease my panicked and pressed state-of-self.

Long ago, I learned and experienced how important the healing power of healthy support can be. Each type of assistance strengthens and sustains a unique need. For me, the reading helped to remind me I wasn’t alone. As well, because others took the time to share their knowledge and record their past experiences, I was blessed with wisdom and what techniques worked. Visiting my therapist offered the opportunity to have an objective conversation, free of judgement, therefore, facilitating the customization of coping strategies.

Ahhhh, and the alone time allowed me to soak in the strengthening messages, the saving grace and powerful promises of my Savior. By reading the many passages that I have earmarked in Samantha’s Bible, then giving myself space and time to ponder their meaning and then apply them to my current personal situation was once again a game changer.

Over time, I began to feel better and I began to understand myself more. There are psychological shifts that need to take place in order to work through shame. I was learning how to talk to myself, how to perceive myself with compassion rather than criticism. and how to own my story so that I could write a new ending. Thankfully and as I was counseled, the emotional and psychological work was helping to change my self-characterization and how I saw my past circumstances. I was in tune and keenly aware as the embarrassment melted away and I began to embrace what was to come.

Honestly, the process was powerful! However, it wasn’t perfect!

Like a nagging hangnail that snags on all types of surfaces, I often reverted back to my old way of thinking, “Elizabeth, you should be ashamed! Elizabeth, this is awful and needs to stay a secret!”

When I heard the degrading message, I would go back to work to mentally distinguish it!

Eventually, I got fed up and I grew tired of fighting!

So much energy in the last few years of my life, has been spent on working to be well, to come back to life after loss, to caste off the mental strongholds that have the power to sink me.

Quickly, I grew weary of living this way again.

“Enough of this!” I ssshhhed myself.  “Why do you think you can do this on your own?” I asked myself. Caught off guard at my own question, I paused and paid attention for an answer. And, that is when I remembered a woman, who had ultimately handled her issue in another way.

However her circumstances differed didn’t matter, it was her solution that I knew to seek.

So, I did.

That evening, I hurried off to my Heated Power Vinyasa Yoga class. As the sweat dripped down my cheeks and trickled into my inner ear, I knew the workout was about to end. “Thank goodness!” I thought. Yes, I was grateful the twisting and turning was about to stop. But, more importantly, I was ready to pray!

In a whisper I heard, “Ladies, find your Savasana.”  I gladly obeyed and lowered down, flat on my back and relaxed my arms and legs. Spreading the cold towel soaked in essentials oils over my blotchy red face and closing my eyes brought a sense of stillness. I allowed a few seconds to lose myself and let go. And then, like I love to do while recovering from a especially challenging yoga class, I prayed

Father, hem 2

I ask for one special moment with you. I know that is all it will take. Just like the woman who touched the hem of your garment and was healed, I am asking for the same miracle for myself. Please rub away this last little bit of stain from shame deep in my soul. Please do for me what I can’t do for myself, so that I am free to carry out your work. 

Repeating my prayer over and over, adding a few words here and there, I only stopped when the teacher instructed, “Now, wiggle your toes and wrap your wrists. bring your awareness back to the room and when you are ready come back to a seated position.”

Rising to my feet at the end of class, I did a double take, a body and mind scan so to speak. Unfortunately, nothing seemed different. I was momentarily disappointment, but lacked the energy to do anything about it. So, I directed my exhausted body home and on to bed.

The gift arrived the next morning as I woke up and got out of bed. I smiled, I thought of my situation and said to myself, “I can do this. I can get through this and go on. And, better than that I can now be content and peaceful about it!”

For the first time in 35 years, I could think about a certain “something” and know everything was going to be OK. I wasn’t aware of the specifics, but I sensed however things played out they would be positive and for God’s purpose. I don’t know exactly what happened, but gone was the doom and gloom. The freedom was immediate and overwhelming.  So much that, for the first time in my life I stepped away from my shame and voluntarily shared my story.

Scheduled to attend, yet another exercise session, I headed back to the health club, skipped up the front stairs, swung the door open and said, “Travis, I have something to share.” It helps when your pastor greets you at the gym and what a relief it was to break free from the burden I had been carrying for so many years.

One day, when the time is right, I will write about my “something”, but for now I know it is the process that is important. As I take each step towards towards the full story, leaning into restoration, I know it is right to record the entire journey and to give God the glory for what is going on!

 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Matthew 9:20-22 (KJV)

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Romans 8:38:39 (The Message)

You see, there is thing about faith, it works!

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What I’ve Been Reading

lizs-library

Yes, I went back to the bookstore!

Yes, I purchased another bundle of books.

Yes, as it was after Samantha’s accident, I am hoping the words and the wisdom, and the tests and testimonies of others will help see me through this next season.

Titles such as:

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown and All Our Losses All Our Grieves by Kenneth Mitchell and Herbert Anderson weighed my shopping bag down.

I was hoping each author’s work would teach me how to implement the truth. It is one thing to read and believe what the Bible says. It is another thing, all together, to actually put the teachings into practice. I’ll admit I needed help with that.

So, I settled into my yellow linen rocker and worked to decide which book to read. “I’ll go with the thickest one first.” was how I got started. And, thank goodness I did because it was  Brene’ Brown’s Rising Strong, The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution which helped me understand the process of recognizing, working through and walking away from shame.

Quotes like:

BB 1
Brene’ Brown … Rising Strong
BB 2
Brene’ Brown … Rising Strong
BB3
Brene Brown’ …  Rising Strong

resonated with me.

As these thought provoking messages led each chapter, I found myself reading fast and furious. The writing is real and relatable. The research on human nature and our tendency to turn away from the painful parts of our life is tried and true, and instructions and suggestions on how’s and ways to overcome weren’t obvious, but indeed they were well laid out. Once again, I had stars and asterisks and underlining all over the pages of Brene’ Brown’s book. Flipping back through, I found one I wanted to share.

BB 4

Passages like these provide powerful messages. So much that they initiated a new way of thinking and offered support to what I learned from the scriptures. And, another one too meaningful and emotional not to share:

bb5

Continuing to post pictures would be easy to execute. However, better than reading excerpts,  would be to purchase and read this book for yourself. It is for anyone who yearns to regain their footing in the face of fear and struggle, yet are willing to allow vulnerability to lead the way.

And to entice you to get started here is just one more snippet of powerful prose:

bb6

bb7

 

In a nutshell, Rising Strong is a book abobb9ut what it takes to get back up and how owning our stories of struggle gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle can be our greatest call to courage and and the clearest path to a wholehearted life.

 

 

Father in Heaven,

Your word instructs us to seek counsel, to find support and to search out wisdom. I give you thanks for making such resources available to seeking souls such as mine. Lord, you know the struggle and I offer praise for meeting me right in the place of need where you find me.

Thank you for researchers, such as Brene’ Brown who are full of knowledge and have been given the gift of writing providing a way to share their insights.

I ask for your constant presence, as I find the courage and bravery to embrace my own difficult stories so that a beautiful new ending can be written.

Amen!

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 12:15

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 11:14

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

Proverbs 28:26

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:20-21

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Shaking that Shame

“Hey, have you seen that picture of you that is going around on Facebook” a friend of mine stopped and asked as I scooted out of the sanctuary.

“Oh gosh, not again! I haven’t seen it this time, but I saw it once before.” I replied, trying to quickly end the conversation. I remember feeling physical annoyed and flipping my wrist back and forth to minimize any conversation that might occur. My unaware friend went on to explain how amused her young adult daughters were concerning the “dated” appearance of  the cast of characters captured by the camera.  I was grateful her remarks were lighthearted and  accompanied with laughter.

In stark contrast to her entertained attitude, I wasn’t so carefree when it came to re encountering my past. Suddenly, a strong sense of discomfort washed over me as I stood on the curb sharing empty pleasantries about a photograph snapped approximately thirty years ago. Honestly, all I wanted to do was remove myself from the exchange and forget the picture was ever taken, much less shared with the public.

I knew the photograph she was referring to (at least I think I do). It wasn’t even that bad! It was simply a snapshot of a crew of college kids being crazy.  There wasn’t any illicit behavior or condemning actions going on. (Unless you focus on the Farrah Facet hairstyle that framed my face) The others, my friends from university were all gathered together in the group shot and seemed as carefree and “collegey” as me!

Honestly, the image itself was harmless! So what was my hangup?

Why did the mention of that snapshot sting so bad?

Why did I want to wave away what was recorded on that piece of Kodak paper?

Like so many times before, when someone or something lured me to walk in “way back when”, instead of pleasantly reminiscing about the days of my youth, I immediately shut down and wanted to forget what was.

In fact, if I was being totally transparent and brutally honest with myself,  that embarrasseduncomfortable feeling that overcame me while standing on the sidewalk at church was all too familiar. I had felt it before. It had bullied me on many occasions. And, in fact it’s negative message to my inner self had shaped me for many, many years in the making. But never did I give those thorny thoughts my full attention. Each time they snuck into my psyche , I suffocated them to ward off the work to be done. Using the worst coping skill available, I stuffed my emotions and denied the uneasy reaction trying to make it go away.

However, on this Sunday, as I scurried to my car, with David oblivious to my anxiety, I knew God was doing something different. He was stretching my awareness so much that I had to admit to myself:

I didn’t have a problem with the picture! Instead, I had a problem with my past!

So much that even an innocent picture taken many years ago, held the power to send me sinking in a swamp of shame.

As uncomfortable as I was, I continued to silence my emotional state.

No one knew what I was going through. Therefore, for all of these years shame, guilt and regret had a death grip on me.

Furthermore, writing about “all of this” in the past tense isn’t showing complete honesty, as these burdens bear down on me today. They cause me to tiptoe through the thoughts of my teenage years. They mar the memories of my youth. They cause me to disconnect with people from my past. And, they make me feel like I want to forget a large portion of my life.

The colloquial phrase often referring to this pattern of pain is having  “skeletons in the closet.” But, based on my belief system this type of situation is identified as “spiritual bondage.”, which is better described as a certain type of powerful fear which rules over and against the confidence of Christian faith.

So, as I begin to pray for the courage and bravery to let God shine a light the tarnished spots of my soul, I look to Jesus on how best to deal with my shame. He clearly spells out his instructions to me and to any one else that can relate to where I am. I am learning that when we talk about guilt and shame, we must also speak about the gospel.

 

So I once I again I turn to the scriptures to set my thinking straight:

As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”(NIV)

Romans 10:11

“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” (NIV)

Isaiah 61:7

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,(NIV)

Romans 8:1

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 3:17

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (KJV)

Hebrews 8:12

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people – free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.” (The Message)

Ephesians 1:7-10

 

If there is any out there who suffers with shame and guilt, who is shackled by past sins, yet desires to walk in the freedom of forgiveness, please join me in this simple prayer:

Father, 

I know and believe that I am blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, loved, adopted, accepted, favored, redeemed, forgiven and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3-11).

I repent of believing lies that have held me back and kept me looking down.

I believe I am everything God says I am from this day forward, and forever more,

in Jesus Name,

Amen!

On so many occasions I have begged for forgiveness! Now is the time to actually accept it for myself!