I Called to the Lord

Psalm 120:1 says, “In my distress I called to the Lord and he answered me.”

In the scary moments after our split second accident, last July, Emma and I could not get out of the car at first. She said “I’m OK. I’m OK”, I said, “I’m OK,” and I grabbed her hand and cried out, “Jesus, help us.”  JESUS HELP US!

This was not a flowery prayer or a long, drawn out prayer exercise following an acronym for proper prayers to be lifted up. This was not a perfectly written quote with a comma before the One we were addressing… This was –  in our distress we called out to God – and He answered us. 

I tried my door again and could open it.  Miracle? I don’t know, but we did just call out to God.  I’ll leave that up to you to decide. 

That prayer has sustained us throughout these past four months as we deal with the emotional and physical aspects of being in a traumatic car accident.  JESUS HELP US. And He is near.  

I don’t know where you’re at in life, but I do know whatever you’re facing you too can cry out – Jesus, help me – in your distress and He will answer you.   What you need help with may not disappear in a split second (in this world you will have troubles…) – or it may – but He will be near in the process, faithful to use it in your life and give strength for the journey.   

I cannot sing this song @ church (by Bethel Music) without crying as I reflect on God’s goodness, nearness and faithfulness. 

I will sing of all you’ve done

I’ll remember how far you carried me

From beginning until the end

You are faithful, faithful to the end.” 

And if that doesn’t get me – which it does, then we get to this part…

THERE WASN’T A DAY

THAT YOU WEREN’T BY MY SIDE

There wasn’t a day

That You let me fall

All of my life

Your love has been true

All of my life

I will worship you. 

THIS is why I’m passionate about sharing Christ.   It’s not about rules or what we believe or don’t believe as Christians, but it is about a relationship with a LOVING Father who cares, who is compassionate, who is GOOD.  It’s about His Son who took my place on a brutal cross so we could have forgiveness for our wretched ways and access to this loving Father.  It’s about a Holy Spirit who guides but also provides supernatural comfort and strength.  Life is hard, y’all. You don’t have to have a car accident to make that statement.   I could write 1000 pages of the faithfulness of Christ in my life through hard things (many written in this blog).  Don’t go it alone when the One who created you longs to be there for you.  

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The Sacred Slow – a book review :)

the sacred slow.pngIt’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book, so when “Sacred Slow” showed up at my house (even though I hadn’t requested it or offered to review it) I thought… God must have a purpose in me reading/reviewing this.A book about creating margin and being still before God was exactly what my soul needed after a crazy busy three years being back in teaching with a full load – – and accidentally getting my Masters – – and just about the busiest time as a parent with three active teenagers.   Yes, let’s slow down.  Let’s be still.

So, I started this in early June.  There’s 52 days of devotions and response activities to complete, and it is even advised to take a few days to reflect on one chapter so it can take even up to 52 weeks to complete (hey – that’s a full year) if you really want to chew on the concepts, reflect on what God is showing you and truly find the sacred in the slow.

On p. 3 Alicia Britt Chole writes, “Relationship with God is best fed by a steady practice of attentivenessto God.”    The book is divided into twelve movements and the first movement is a reminder that God is with us and to take the time to focus on Him.  Listening and attentiveness leads us to REST in Jesus. In this crazy world of over-scheduled chaos, this book provides practical and biblical ways to build in and intentionally have days/seasons/hours of a sacred slow.

For me, on a personal level, the irony of the timing of doing this devotional of slowing my booty down is not lost on me when a life circumstance slowwwwwed me down…. After a car accident this summer, God was faithful and gracious to show me in my slowed-downedness (is that a word?) that He is with me and that my rest and healing would come from being with Him.  Life crises tend to open the door to intimacy with the Savior and I don’t believe it was a mistake that I was already in the process of this sacred slow journey when this happened.  The Lord is so good.

All of that being said, I would recommend this book/journey/intentionality to anyone that is seeking a reprieve from the chaos, peace in the rat-race and practical application of stillness with the Father.  The first few months of “back to school” are always a busy season for me, so I’d love to hear – what are some ways that you create margin and intentionality in your time with Jesus in chaotic and time-pressed seasons?

 

I did receive this book for free in exchange for an honest review, positive or negative, as a contributing member of the Booklook Bloggers.

His GRACE is Sufficient

I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but was not going to get one until I knew exactly what I wanted…

Throughout my walk as a Christian, in any sort of valley or hard time, God’s Spirit is always faithful to whisper to mine that His Grace us sufficient.

It’s hard.  My grace is sufficient.

I can’t.  My grace is sufficient.

It’s impossible.  My grace is sufficient.

There’s no way out. My grace is sufficient.

It’s unfair. My grace is sufficient.

It hurts. My grace is sufficient.

I’m alone.  My grace is sufficient.

It became quite clear that if I ever got a tattoo, it was going to include at least the word GRACE, if not this verse in some way, shape or form.

With the word or verse about grace, I wanted the tat to be pretty and feminine.  I thought it would be nice to accent with a flower, and since Gerbera Daisies are one of my favorite flowers I created some designs with a daisy. I tried yellow and pink with different placements.  I liked what I was coming up with, but I never felt like this is it.  And I wasn’t going to get the tat until I was sure.

Throughout a particularly loooong and brutal season, God’s promise that His grace is sufficient continued to be a lifeline of hopein dark days and difficult moments.  In that valley I heard the song “Amaryllis” on Christy Nockel’s Christmas album.  The words are so precious and spoke so deep to my heart that that year for Christmas I printed off the lyrics and bought several friends and family members an Amaryllis plant for Christmas.

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Photo by Nastasia on Pexels.com

“Here I am waiting
In a winter of my own
If it’s gonna be this cold here
Why couldn’t it just snow?
At least I could say through the pain
That it’s somehow beautiful…
And everybody knows that the time to bloom is spring,
But You’re asking me to break through the hardness of this freeze
And You say that You’re with me
And I can make it through anything….

Like an Amaryllis, blooming at Christmas,
When everything is cold and dark
Your love breaks through and I shine
With the brilliance of summer,
Right in the middle of winter!
Somehow surprising the night
Like a Christmas Amaryllis…”

In the coldest and darkest days, God was growing me, creating something beautiful, making all things new. He is doing the same for you. He works ALL things for good for those of us that love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).  God is a constant, even in the dark and His work breaks through the toughest, hardest, frozen soil.

Jesus did and does that for us. When it seems like there’s no hope, no way out, when it’s unfair, it hurts and you’re alone.  When you can not. The Light of Life comes.

Talk about a winter
The world had never known,
Talk about a silence
That hardened up the soil;
No more life left in Eden,
But You knew the time would come…
‘Cause You were growing up a family
That You would call Your own,
And through a fragile people
The Light of Life would come,
And when it seemed like we’d never see Spring,
Heaven gave a King!

So, I ditched the Gerbera and redesigned my sketches with an Amaryllis flower. It’s a perfect representation of the work that Christ does in the winter of our lives. He is with us. He is creating something new.  And even through the tough, hard soil, something beautiful can come from it.  The work He does in us is an Amaryllis flower, with the “brilliance of summer”in the midst of the winters.

Finally, while I was studying in Spain last summer, my roommate had a few tattoos and I shared with her the plan for my tattoo.  She was hype for me to get the tattoo while in Spain and I was down for that – – so I made one final edit… Su gracia es suficienteand switched it to Spanish.  Spain, the Spanish language, how God has allowed me to use Spanish in my life… that was the nicely tied bow on top of the gift, so to speak. 🙂

I didn’t end up getting the tat in Spain but earlier this year in 2018 I did.   The Holy Spirit is my first reminder of His precious, sufficient grace in my life, but this tat is a close second.  Laying on a gurney after the car accident, alone for the moment in my room in the ER, in pain, scared, thankful, nervous, overwhelmed – I glanced at my right arm and there it was.  His GRACE is sufficient.  Su GRACIA es suficiente.  In my spirit I knew that this was going to be another winter season, there was going to be some hard, frozen ground to plow through – and it has, and I have – – but I have confidence in His work through this trial that He’s at work in and through me, making all things new.

“There are the rare and beautiful treasures
That grow when it’s coldest
When nobody’s watching…
Sending a message to a sleeping world
That You are here with us now
And You are making all things new again…”

His GRACE truly is sufficient.

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Cleanin’ Up The Teeth (Before Going To The Dentist…)

I hate going to the dentist. To clarify, I don’t hate my dentist – he’s a great person :). But, going to the dentist is NOT my favorite thing; getting the plaque scraped viciously off of my enamel, the saliva pooling up in the back of my throat trying to choke the life out of me and the hygienist trying to have a conversation with you to which you can only reply mmmhmm or uh-uh while all this is going on – HA!

When I have a dentist appointment coming up, I usually start flossing.   This past time between appointments I actually did floss sometimes between then and now, but the few weeks prior to my appointment I stepped up my flossing game (not the dance, y’all ;)).  I guess I wanted my teeth to be kind of clean, with a little less plaque and be ready to meet the dentist and hygienist.

Isn’t that how it goes? We want to clean up a little, before going to the one who is going to clean and take care of us.

We can view God the same way.

Sometimes we think we have to clean ourselves up before coming to God.  We think we’re too dirty, we’ve made too many mistakes, or we have too many issues.  So, we quit the bad habits (drinking/drugs/sex/drugs/rock-n-roll…. lying/cheating/gossiping/bad language… you get the point) and maybe even start some good ones (serve the community, go to church, or give money towards a worthy cause).

But, here’s the thing – we do NOT need to clean ourselves up before coming to Jesus. And nothing we DO can earn His love.

Jesus says in his red letters, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick DO need one” (Mark 2:17).  In other words, those who have perfect teeth (no plaque, no bleeding gums, no cavities) do not need to go to the dentist.   There is NO ONE with perfect teeth – thus the need to go to the dentist.  Likewise, there is NO one who is good enough to come to Jesus.  Paul says in Romans 3 that we are “all under sin, as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one” (vs. 10).  Later in that chapter he says we all have dirty teeth – – not really – – he says, “For ALL (emphasis mine) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (vs. 23). We all have DIRTY TEETH.  We are all in need of the GREAT PHYSICIAN (or dentist ;)).  The second part of that verse (Mark 2:17) Jesus is saying, “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You don’t need to clean up before coming to Jesus.  In fact, you CAN’T clean yourself up. And that’s ok.  Jesus accepts you and me how we are – dirty, plaque-laden, gingivitis, halitosis and all.  John 6:37 says that whoever “comes to Me (Jesus) I will never cast out.”  In fact, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” HE does the cleansing.  In fact, when the Lord cleans us up, we can “be clean… whiter than snow” (Psa. 51:7).

Psalm 46:10 says to “stop your striving and know that I am God.” Stop striving to clean yourself up and let Him do it.  Come to Jesus as you are, confess your sin and surrender to Him.  Accept what HE has already done for you. He will clean you (forgive you, sustain you, strengthen you, give you hope).

I Don’t Like to be WEAK…

I don’t like to be weak.  I’m sure most of us can say the same thing.  I don’t like to be weak physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally.  I don’t like the weight of weakness, the dependency of weakness, or the helplessness of weakness.  Can you relate?

A month ago, I was in the habit of taking my pup to Findlay’s reservoir to walk.  It’s a four mile walk around the most scenic spot of Hancock County.  I walk an 18-20 minute mile around so it takes me about an hour and twenty minutes to an hour and a half (depending on swim stops for the pup :)).  It’s good exercise and a fun, relaxing activity to do with my pup. And, the biggest challenge is when you get halfway around and have to use the bathroom (TMI – I digress – HA!).

Three weeks ago today, my daughter and I were in a car accident.  I don’t want to over-sensationalize the accident – it was a bad crash, but we walked away with non-life-threatening injuries.  Although it wasn’t life-threatening (thank You, Jesus) it was, in a way, life-altering. I’m dealing with a bum foot and sore leg and my daughter is dealing with a shoulder injury to top the list.  Again, I don’t want to over-sensationalize the injuries and make them more than they are – it could’ve been a LOT worse – but they are injuries.  And they have altered some day-to-day functions.

Overall, Em and I have remained positive, trusting in God, our health professionals and “the process” for our healing.  But yesterday, when going to do some low-impact movement exercise in the pool my foot was giving me more trouble than usual, I felt weak.  I thought to myself, “I don’t like to be weak,” and had a “this sucks” moment rehearsing the fact in my mind that in three weeks I need to be able to be on my feet all day, with non-stop activity and responsibilities with the focus on OTHERS and not myself (#backtoschool).

But, God is faithful.

One of the signs at the pool said something along the lines of FAITH is greater than our fear.

Another said, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” quoting Isaiah 43:2.

Ok, my Faithful Comforter. Thank You.

Today, in my devotions I read 2 Corinthians 12.  If you know me, you know my tattoo is based on this chapter, but I’m going to blog my tat😉 later this week – stay tuned. Today, my heart was comforted and encouraged by this passage on weakness.   Jesus reminded me that in our weakness, He is strong. Paul didn’t like being weak either, using the phrase “torment” to describe his “thorn.” Jesus, in His love and sovereignty and purpose and plan reminded Paul that “HIS power is perfected in weakness” (vs. 9).

The dependency of our weakness drives us to depend on Him. The weight of our weakness is lifted in Him. The helplessness of our weakness is comforted by Him.

THAT is the POWER of CHRIST in our weaknesses – because in CHRIST, we can become strong.

Crying Stones

Image-1-2.jpgThe people, the crowds, the FOLLOWERS of Jesus were ALL about praising Him, shouting GLORY, calling Him BLESSED.  They were all about Jesus.

On Sunday.

Then came Monday.  And Tuesday.  And by Friday, we have quite a different story.  The same crowd that was shouting GLORY and PRAISES to JESUS, the Son of God! were later that week shouting, “Crucify Him!”

Let’s go back to Sunday.  Jesus said, “If they (the people) were to keep silent, the STONES would cry out!”

Who are “they?”

Of course, back in Bible times, they were the people following Jesus.  Shouting His praises.

Who are “they” now?

We are.  Followers of Jesus.

  • We who sing praises to Jesus on Sunday and let the stones take over on when we’re too busy on Monday.
  • We who sing praises to Jesus when everything is going all right, but let the stones
    take over when it’s not.
  • We who sing praises to Jesus when living right, but let the stones take over when we’re not.
  • We who sing praises to Jesus with other followers, but let the stones take over when surrounded by people who do not know or follow Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want some inanimate object taking my place of PRAISING JESUS because I’m keeping silent. Because I’m too busy. Because everything is not awesome.  Because of my sin. Because I’m the only Christ Follower in a group or situation.

I have been silent for each of those reasons at times in my life… but by His grace, today (and tomorrow, and the next day) can be different.

‘As He was going along, they were spreading their robes on the road. Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen: The King who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven! Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”’

Luke 19:36-40

Instead of crying stones, maybe we can:

  • Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness – Matt. 6:33
  • Trust God as our STRENGTH, ROCK, DELIVERER, REFUGE in trying times – Psalm 18
  • THANK Jesus for His GRACE and RESCUE when we fall to sin – Romans 7:25
  • Be the LIGHT God has called us and entrusted us to be – Matt. 5:14-16

Lord, help us not to lose sight of Your goodness; that You deserve all HONOR and PRAISE and GLORY!  Today, and every day!  HOSANNA! Amen.

It’s Whatever, Man

December 31, 2015.  The years just move along a little faster with each passing one. Gracious!  It’s always a day of at least some reflection.

I never declared “One Word” for 2015.  In fact, if I would have it probably would’ve been “It’s Whatever Man”.  Ok – that’s not a word, it’s a phrase so it wouldn’t even be a “One Word”, it would be a “One Phrase” (because just “Whatever” doesn’t quite encompass it all). Ha!

I mean – look at this blog.  This is only the 4th post in 2015!  It’s whatever, man.

At the end of 2014 we made a difficult decision to stay in the States as God began to show us it wasn’t His timing for another overseas ministry appointment. It’s whatever, man.

We began 2015 still picking up the financial pieces of the previous years where Kevin and I took turns being unemployed or going without a paycheck.  Starting over in your early 40s is not exactly delightful and we’re not where we want to be… but it’s whatever, man. 

On one hand it’s whatever, man, can be a cynical place, a white flag or a time to just go through the motions.  And there has definitely been some of that in 2015.  But it can also be a quiet surrender; trusting a Sovereign God in His timing, in doors that He opens and shuts and a season of patience and waiting and healing and refueling.

As I glance back over 2015 with some of the hindsight the Lord gives us, I can see some of the whatevers as blessings.  I only wrote three other blogs posts because I was so busy GOING BACK TO SCHOOL to renew my license for my NEW TEACHING JOB!  God has opened doors for each of us Grubbies for new opportunities and different communities to be a part of – strategic placements for His glory, we pray.  We still have a long way to go but Kevin and I are both EMPLOYED, have steady incomes and are on a financial plan.

In Job 2:10, Job asks, “Should we only accept good from God and not adversity?”  Great question. Sometimes the challenges that come along life’s path are just whatever to us, but maybe, just maybe, they are a part of His greater plan, a part of His refining work IN us and stuff He will use for His glory.

It’s all about PERSPECTIVE.

Perspective can mean the difference in wallowing in self-pity and trusting in a Sovereign God.  Perspective can mean the difference in fear (of the future, of the unknown, of failure, of lack, of __________) and walking by faith.  Perspective can mean the difference in despair and hope.

With 2016 just hours away, that’s my word for this year:

PERSPECTIVE

Will I fix my eyes on my circumstances or will I keep my “eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our (my) faith?” Heb. 12:2

Will I freak out at the not so wonderful things that will happen this year or will I “hold on to the confession of our (my) hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  Heb. 10:23

Will my life answer the question that the enemy posed to God regarding Job (Job 1:9) – “Does Kendra fear God for nothing?”  Which is basically asking will Kendra be devoted to God only throughout good things in life? Or will she, will I, be devoted and bless God through EVERYTHING that comes across my path in 2016?

It’s all about perspective.