Our little dog, Paisley, is such an example of so many things to me. She is the essence of unconditional love. To love like her, how sweet it must be! She also freely receives love. Paisley trusts with full abandon that we adore and accept her ALWAYS. She is in someone’s lap at all times, and she never hesitates to jump into our arms and immediately flip over for a belly rub. There is never a question in Paisley’s mind that she will not be fully and faithfully received. Paisley reveres every single one of us, and there is nothing she loves more than being in our embrace.
I have been praying lately to know a kind of love for The Lord like Paisley embodies. Oh, how I long to bask in the full acceptance, love, and satisfaction of His arms, unhindered by the seeds of condemnation that lurk within me. I want to know complete contentment in God alone, free of the alluring distractions of the world. I yearn to live freely from my identity as a well provided for daughter who is insufficient myself, but sufficient because of my inheritance secured by Jesus.
This side of Heaven, I will not fully understand the depths of The Lord’s love for me. Freedom will continue to be a journey, not a destination until I see my Savior face to face. There will always be days, hours and moments when I forget that in the words of Jesus, “It is finished.” Because of that, re-remembering will also be a persistent pilgrimage, not a permanent place.
We are all just walking this life on a journey home, and I am mostly comfortable with all the pit stops, detours, diversions, and potholes along the way. If I lived life as a straight line, it would perhaps be easy but not enriching. Living, loving, lamenting and laughing all happen outside the walls of safe and structured.
I have never known how to color any way but outside the lines. For years that was embarrassing to me. These days, I am okay being
imperfect, because I know it is my brokenness that renders me eligible to be complete.
Cheers to Paisley who is gaining a little brother tonight. You may want to remember her, and her brother, in your prayers. Life gets a little rough when we get knocked off our throne, even for our furry friends.☺️
As I was walking to the beach in hopes of catching a beautiful sunrise about an hour ago, I was singing these words from a song, show us, show us your glory, Lord. God showed off for me as He often does! This photograph, (totally raw and unedited), is evidence that every new ending and every new beginning, although sometimes painful, beholds great beauty. Be encouraged, dear friend. If you are confronting a difficult transition from old to new, there are better days ahead. Forgetting is often impossible, but choosing where to focus our attention and perspective is not. Tim Keller says everything given was necessary and everything withheld was not. The former things, realized and unrealized, have fashioned a wide portion of the person you are. Purpose is a predecessor of praise. Pursue the purpose in every ending and beginning knowing that grief and gratitude co-mingle in this life and peace, joy and hope within you will reside. Lord, help us remember your work never needs editing, even when we think it does! You are loved, friend! ❤️
Fear causes me to live a small, sheltered life. She tells me lies like, you are in control by suffocating your existence into the fangs of an illusion. I don’t desire to look back on a little life that reads, she was shackled and scared. Fear will guarantee that outcome. Faith assures me I can do adventurous, big things because my first breath and my last are already determined by a Father who loves me and desires me to live free not frightened. I live proportional to my level of belief. When I forget my destination I am incarcerated. Not all prisoners live behind visible bars. It is only when I remember where home is that I live the life that was ransomed for me. Today was about leaning into fear, and saying, not today pesky, friend!
I have been struggling with the battle found in the word hope. Hope is a beautiful and bright assurance that allows us to persevere through even our darkest realities and scenarios because we know the best is yet to come. However, while we wait, the burden of seeing the actualization of our dreams and desires can leave us battered, and sometimes beaten up. The first position of hope is of things to be realized once we are Home and have entered eternal life. The second is the concern we carry that the things we long for may not be complete in this fleeting life. In my reading this morning, Romans 8:24-25 ministered to me to patiently persist as I have been arduously enduring through this fight of faith with a matter near and dear to my heart. ~For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. What are you desperately hoping will be achieved; a cure, a child to come home, a reconciled relationship, a successful pregnancy, financial stability, a life partner, victory over addiction, fill in your blank. Fight to keep holding on with free hands and a faithful heart that is courageous enough to say, Even If, (Daniel 3:18), not here Lord, when I see your face. Thy will be done. Amen.
Last week I had the great honor to speak at my grandmother’s funeral service. I wanted to share a short piece of that with you. As I was preparing yesterday, God led me to 2 Corinthians 5:1-5. After reading that verse I felt prompted to read the message version. This is a portion from my message today. I hope you find encouragement here.
2 Corinthians 5:5-1: The message version says~ For we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
Family, friends, I know some of your tents are worn and weary. Life has been hard, but if you are a follower of Christ, we have this great hope that is not an earthly aspiration born of this world but an eternal assurance brokered by The Savior of the world.
Be encouraged today that the best is yet to come. Because of this great inheritance we have been given, we can leave here today knowing that we are not saying goodbye, but see you soon in paradise.
Whatever you are facing tonight friend, God is in the midst. He is going before you and working in ways you cannot begin to imagine. You never walk dirt roads alone. Ask Him, seek Him and find Him. He is waiting to give you rest. You are loved.
I’m going home. Recently I visited my grandmother in Texas where she lives in a home and receives full-time care. At ninety-six her body is strong, but her mind has slipped. Most days she cannot put intelligible words together. Occasionally, however, she is very clear when uttering a few words. On the first day after “visiting” with her, I told her I would be back to see her tomorrow, and she very discernibly responded, “I won’t be here.” I asked her where she would be, and again she stated with great clarity, “I’m going home.” At that moment those words broke my heart and brokered tears. As I have been pondering her words and that twinkle in time, I have realized that those are the most beautiful three words anyone can say with the confidence Pete did that day. Despite her deficits, she knows her desired destination-Home. Those three words still make me cry, because I now perceive them as a beautiful declaration of her destiny rather than a brutal depiction of her desperation. I’m going home. That is the hope of all our hearts. I’m going home. It is the mantra that rings in the background of all our messes. When we know our eternal home is Heaven, are there any more beautiful words? 2
Corinthians 5:6-9 ~So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
My heart is so heavy and my chest so tight tonight. I do not know that the fires of our furnaces ever die. I think they always simmer discretely somewhere deep within, only to be reignited by sharing in the pain of others.
I am grateful to have known suffering and, in turn, God’s mercy and love as He walks through it with us. It is a beautiful thing to see God’s people rally around the hurting. Prayer is a beautiful thing. Tears are a beautiful thing because they shed the weight of our hearts so they will not implode just when it feels as if they may. But God’s word, it is the most beautiful gift.
When we believe the One who holds us in His hands was at the beginning and already knows the ending; it is a comfort that we cannot gain from any other source. Having a Savior who lived a life of suffering so that He could identify with us in ours is a the balm for our bleeding hearts.
No one can console others like travelers who have walked similar dirt roads. Isn’t it a blessing that Jesus walked them all, and there is no path we travel that He does not understand.
As my heart and mind keep churning, I opened my journal a minute ago to see immediately Psalm 46:10 ~ Be still and know that I am God, and that was it. That was enough for today. It was enough yesterday, and it will be enough forever.
Keep praying with faith friends so that the hurting may be held up. God will bring great glory to His name through His work and His people. All of you praying are part of God’s story. Don’t you feel special? What a privilege to go to the Lord on behalf of our brothers and sisters. It is a beautiful thing, and you are all shining lights that contribute to this broken but beautiful life!
May we all continue to walk with each other well on this journey home. Home–that is where we are all traveling, because we are not there yet.
I was having a conversation with God while driving down 280 yesterday. I was praising him for finally breaking His silence and working in what has felt like a place I have been stuck for a long time. As I was mentally speaking to Him, these beautiful words graced my mind;
“sometimes I leave you places not because it is the path of your destiny but the process of your destination.”
Wow! Thank you Jesus for loving me so personally! He loves you that much, too, friends, but He cannot speak to you if you are not meeting Him daily in conversation.
If we are not keeping our eyes on the cross, we are merely a blind man driving home.
Last Sunday our Sunday School teacher took us on a short field trip on the church campus. We were lead to the cornerstone of our church, and he gave us a brief history lesson about the church and a touching exhortation to be the church. He also pointed out the three crosses that stand high above our church building. The one in the middle stands the highest, and the two on each side a little lower. The two lower crosses represent the crosses of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. The higher one, representing the cross of Jesus. The message was particularly special to me because those crosses, the highest one, in particular, holds special value in my life.
In September 2005, my parents were in town visiting. The second day they were here, my mom and I dropped my children at pre-school and headed to Sam’s. We had just parked when she got a phone call. It was my dad. “He said something has happened, and I cannot see.” Our Sam’s trip was averted, and we rushed back to my house to check on him. We would later end up in the emergency room to find out he had a stroke in his eye. This would be my dad’s second stroke. The first had affected his opposite eye. Now both eyes were impaired.
As hours passed, and the story unfolded, we found out he was in the car driving down Columbiana Road when the stroke besieged him. Our church sits on Columbiana Road. Although my dad had very limited vision, He said he could see ONE thing. The high cross that stands guard at the top of Shades Mountain Baptist Church. He went on to explain that he knew if he slowly proceeded toward the cross, he could find his way home because I lived just down the street. Miraculously he drove himself home, the cross guiding him the whole way.
After our field trip last Sunday, we were walking back into the church and I mentioned my dad’s experience to my husband. He said to me, “I still do not understand how he drove home blind.” It was at that moment that God spoke to my heart. The message direct and simple, “If we are not keeping our eyes on the cross we are no better than a blind man driving home.” Wow! I had chills, and I love how God used that little Sunday School field trip to go beyond our teachers lesson and deposit His own message into my heart.
We are all just driving home friends. Where are we fixing our eyes? On the world, on our problems, on our pain, on our possessions, or on the cross?
Sometimes my vision gets distorted. There are many things the world has to offer to distract my eyes. My flesh wages war against my sight. The goal is not perfect vision, but progressive vision. We must always be advancing, focusing and refocusing towards that one thing that now or later will make all things clear and guide us without fail, even in darkness-The Cross.
I know your “drives” sometimes become treacherous. I know your vision often feels blurry. Mine too, but Keep returning your eyes to the cross friends. It is the only way to get you home.