0796d0208d9efd3a9fe56226051a41dc

Poverty, My Greatest Blessing

I love old, beautiful churches, so it is no surprise I was drawn off the busy streets of downtown Chicago and through the front doors of Fourth Presbyterian Church this past Thursday morning. Inside I sat down to enjoy sacred shelter from the cold and the hustle and bustle of what was going on outside the majestic doors, although that was not my motive for going in. I walked into the church wanting to experience Jesus and expecting I would. I had no pre-conceived notions what that would look like, but imagine my surprise when I found what I was unknowingly seeking in the eyes and embodiment of a homeless person.

After a couple of minutes inside, I broke through my fascination with the beauty around me, and I noticed near the front of the church a handful of people sitting on both sides of the middle aisle. I quickly realized they were homeless. They had come in off the streets to warm up and rest. I sat silently in the back just observing. God began to make something evident to me. I wasn’t there to watch homeless people in a beautiful church. I was there to remember one of life’s wealthiest truths.

There in that reverent church, I felt drawn to engage, so I walked forward and sat down next to one of the men. I said, “hello.” His disposition was gentle and relaxed. He was soft-spoken. It was apparent that he and his friends were broken, impoverished, homeless, needy, unclean and dependent for every need.

His eyes. I will never forget them. They looked sad but settled. They were sunken yet soft, wrinkled while welcoming. The story they expressed was foreign yet familiar.

This man and his friends bore no weight of expectations beyond shelter and rest. No schedules were taunting them, and no plans or unmet duties were daunting them. They just came as they were, destitute, weary and worn.

I sat there in clean, warm clothes seemingly not lacking, yet oddly I knew that even though it looked like the homeless people had nothing, in a different way they had everything, the most important thing, I need every day. A fresh awareness of the poverty of my heart is my greatest blessing.

As I sat with this man, I asked God to make me more like him. That sounds crazy, right? Not at all. I want to enter into The Lord’s presence fully aware that I am poor, needy, lost and unclean without a Savior outside of myself. I want to come free of distracting thoughts about schedules, deadlines, and duties, and for the love, thinking about what I will eat next! I want to come as I am, not as I feel I should be. I want to come aware of what is but more focused on the hope of what will be. I want to come empty of myself because it is only then I can be filled by my Savior.

These people were an exposed and unfiltered expression of me. I can dress up in my best smile, clothing, and accessories, surround myself with desirable things and people, but underneath it, and right in the middle is an impoverished heart that cannot be dressed up. It is destitute, broken, frail and in desperate need of a Shepherd every day.

Just like the people I encountered, I am a homeless heart wandering around grasping for places of shelter and rest because this world is not my home and everyday-everyday-I feel the ramifications of my exile.

The good news is this, though, I do not wander without hope or direction when I remember it is my poverty, not my perfection, popularity or “power” that yokes me to the love of my Provider. Neither do you, friend. Neither do you.♥️

And, this was the hymnal song that was on the board.

0796d0208d9efd3a9fe56226051a41dc

Heart Reformations

49fc24ce5e335a1f0d62f25c45e98898

My success rate with New Year resolutions is 0%; therefore, I am not a fan!   I have been “planning” consistent commitment to exercise for more than half my life.   That goal was just a picture absent of prayer that bred exhausted expectations void of any rewarding realizations.   Healthy resolutions will not prosper without heart reformations.   I do not need a new year to be a new me, and neither do you.   We can be made new any day, any month and any year when it is not about us who corrects our habits, but He who changes our heart.   Progress only thrives in the shadows of prayer, and growth is granted under the wings of grace.   Without turning over control from self to Savior resolutions become rejections and dates breed despair.   Results come from my Provider, not my power and by His appointments not my agenda.   1 John 4:4…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

0796d0208d9efd3a9fe56226051a41dc

Jesus Holds Our Little Lambs

6006b5b22da1f97255d0ec61238f54e9

Yesterday was a difficult day for me as a mom. Some days our hardest job is remembering that God does not get it wrong-ever! In no circumstance is this a harder fight than circumstances involving our children. My son suffered a traumatic brain injury last July. His cognitive recovery has been a struggle. School is a struggle. Life is a struggle.

His neuropsychologist and case manager spoke with me about considering placing him on a life skills tract as opposed to a diploma/college track at school. He is in the ninth grade. The doctor said his cognitive scores place him within the category of a life skills track. These were very tough words to digest. I tried to put my best armor on and let the words bounce off of me, but the tears were tougher, and they won out.

The emotions are still raw from that tragic day. I think they always will be. A sight, a sound, a smell, a memory; they can all trigger a rush of emotion that no amount of effort can contain. My son is forever changed. I am forever changed. Our family is forever changed. This is not all ominous news. Change chiseled from crisis forges character, perseverance, deeper faith and so much more. The fruits born out of frustration are often some of the sweetest.

My son is not a victim, and I refuse to be either. Once we take on that role we put limitations on ourselves. We also maximize our sufficiency and minimize the soverignty of our Savior. I am sad that the circumstances are as they are. I hurt, I ache and at times I worry about the future. In all my fleshly responses, a voice keeps echoing in my head, BUT GOD. That is my life preserver friends! Test scores are indicators, but they are not dictators. Doctor’s opinions are assessments, but they are not absolutes. I much prefer the infallible provisions of My Provider to the fallible predictions of man.

I don’t know at this time what our decision about our sons’ school track will be. I am not ready to make that decision, nor am I ready to confine him to the limitations of a label. Labels we put on things are typically stickers. Over time, they are prone to fall off. I choose not to rely on labels, I prefer to rest in the hope of providential plans.

Yesterday I heard this quote from my friend, Julie Sparkman, of Restore Ministries. During the third session of her bible study series, Unhitching From the Crazy Train, she said, “Getting under the yoke with Jesus does not give you a different life; it gives you a different way of doing life.” Those words spoke so poignantly to my heart.

No matter what obstacles you or I are confronting today friends, our hope does not rest in the what of our struggle. It resides in the Who of our surrender. That is great news! This truth is a rest for our weary souls. Will you fight to reside here with me? Jesus holds our little lambs.