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Purpose Amidst Imperfection 

Nestled amidst the sunrise of a fresh week and all the promise it holds is an ever faithful reminder of my inadequacy. I am presently, but peacefully aware that I got more wrong than right last week, and that will surely be my truth this week as well.

My keen sense of insufficiency poses a different purpose for me now, though. Growing in grace teaches me that it is no longer about striving for perfection only to be frustrated, but seeking purpose amidst my imperfection only to be furthered.

 It is an incongruent truth that on the other side of our failures is an intention designed for our prosperity. 

Understanding that falling down is not a shameful thing, but a sacred tool is the genesis of praise. Praise opens the door and welcomes gratitude right into our hearts.

When gratitude is our guest, we see through all the heavy right into the heart of the holy, and joy becomes a source of our strength. 

This week, friend, I pray you have eyes to see and ears to hear all the beauty that your brokenness beholds, and your heart will sing, it is good and it is well with my soul.
You are loved.❤️

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A Paisley Kind Of Love

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.☺️

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God’s Silence Does Not Equal Stagnation


Recently I was in a beautiful place surrounded by the sights and sounds of God’s creation.  My children and husband were with me, and we drove up to a beautiful beach that had an area lined by ocean rocks as if to create a safe, swimming hole for would be snorkelers.  I did not feel like getting in the water this particular morning, but my kids wanted to try snorkeling.  It was their first time, and they were curious to see what they would find living just below the surface of the emerald blue water.

I found a shady spot on a hill with a peaceful picnic table that looked down over the majestic beach.  I could not bring myself to leave the refuge of the picnic table, so I assured my children I would watch them from above and they could go ahead and snorkel. I watched as one child put on her equipment and swam off strong and smooth like a fish in its natural habitat. Then I sat and watched as my son, who has dyspraxia, struggled to get the mask, snorkel, and fins on.  It felt like an eternity of him trying over and over again and not succeeding.

Eventually, he began putting his head in the water and trying to coordinate all the necessary steps to swim and breathe. He would lower his head into the water a minute and then come up for air, never mastering the required motor coordination skills needed to put it all together, the skills that just come naturally to most of us. My heart was bleeding as I watched. Tears filled my eyes telling the story of my hurt for him as they trickled down my face. I was rooting and praying for him but painfully witnessed him fail over and over again. I wanted to rescue him. Running to him and helping felt like the loving and natural thing to do, but I knew delivering him from his struggle was the worst thing I could do because he would quit trying and rely on me.  Fixing the situation for my son would stunt his learning and crucial growth skills he needs to function in life.  As much as I wanted to intervene, as heart-wrenching as it was to watch, I had to sit and silently pray for him and watch over him from above the water.

It occurred to me at that moment that this was such a picture of our walks with our Father.  He looks down on us from above and often sees us struggling, sometimes drowning. In our estimation, it feels as if he is ambivalent to our struggles and suffering.

God seems silent, but His silence does not equate to stagnation.

Just as I was watching over my child, He is looking down and watching us, His children.  Our Heavenly Father is supporting us and working outcomes that are for our ultimate good.  Many times, though, He does not provide an immediate and noticeable rescue or His relief looks like more struggle and pain to us.  We don’t have the whole picture.  We feel like we are drowning, but God is there.  His heart must hurt as a Father like mine did as a mother watching his children struggle, but He knows just what we need.

Sometimes no rescue is the best rescue.

As we drove away from that beautiful place this thought occurred to me, my child didn’t fail.  Sure, he did if it I measured it by what I saw, but in God’s economy, the only failure is the one you didn’t trust Him in.  Be encouraged, friends!  God is looking down on you.  He sees you, and He has you.  When it feels like He is letting you drown, remember this, “All that is given is necessary.  All that is withheld was not.” ~Timothy Keller

You are loved.❤️

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The Best Is Yet To Come

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.

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Broken And Beautiful

I was standing at my kitchen sink crying and smiling this morning as I was washing my grandmother’s Spode, Christmas Rose, China that I now own. I noticed the sharp incongruence in my heart. There I stood, a broken heart full of broken pictures as the ballad of my soul played its hymn; this is not how it is supposed to be. But then there was an accompanying melody of, thank you, Jesus, for how it was. Imperfect moments, incomplete holidays accompanied by irreplaceable memories; both beauty and brokenness reigned there in the ordinary, yet extraordinary moment at my kitchen window.

This week, I have followed one of my favorite celebrities as she has ministered to the people of Haiti alongside Samaritan’s Purse. She has documented her trip in pictures. Many of her posts have contained the same observance or a similar variation. Her tag lines all lamented Haiti, so much poverty surrounded by so much beauty. Her pictures are oxymorons, and her perplexity of that juxtaposition is evident. Broken people and broken countries, but all encapsulated by beauty. It is not supposed to be this way, but it is.

As I sat in Christmas Eve service tonight and we sang Silent Night while lighting the candles, The Lord showed me a picture. For the dormant candles to be kindled, the light from our neighbor must remain upright and firm, while the one receiving the light must bend, lean and become vulnerable, to be ignited. At times we are the beacons, and at times we are the broken. We each have light to give and light to receive but the cycle cannot be sustained without both the shattering and the shining of souls.

The examples of the ever-present and unchanging reality of the marriage of beauty and brokenness are more pervasive than I can list. They are present in every moment and every memory, in our tears and our triumphs, our pain and passions, our struggles and our strengths. Where there is beauty, there will always be brokenness, and it was this way from the beginning.

I am so thankful that The Son of God, The King of the world was born in a dirty stable and laid in a messy manger. The Light of the world, God’s most perfect Gift, a Savior for the world entered this life, and surrounding His arrival was beauty and brokenness. Broken circumstances, broken parents, broken leaders, broken countries and broken plans were the backdrops that set the stage for the most beautiful bounty the world would ever know. It was all necessary to remind and comfort us when life is not as it is supposed to be in our hearts, that it is as it is meant to be in our Savior’s hands.

Many of you are experiencing the poverty of loss, illness and difficult circumstances this Christmas Eve. I pray you find strength from the life of a baby born into bankrupt surroundings, who suffered among both the sick and the “sufficient” so that He may bring the beauty of His perfect light to mingle among the broken parts of our lives. Jesus, may we all have eyes to see your grace flowing through our moments of grief, and may we be consoled, sustained and encouraged by the sweet fragrance that accompanies all of our fractured moments as we travel home.

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A Beautiful Story

Her successes humbled her; she softly accepted them with gratitude.  Her wounds filled her heart with compassion, and she knew though painful, they would mature into wisdom that she would rely on to comfort others.  Both together wrote her story; the story she drew from to minister to others with gentleness and grace.  You, my dear, are a beautiful story with pages full of pleasure and pain that have formed your unique and eternal purpose.

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ALL THINGS

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Dear friends,

Remember every situation that comes your way today, tomorrow, and beyond, God has a promise for it that is ALL encompassing for those who love Him.  There are no exclusions, and it is so steadfast that it is substantial enough to console, energize, revitalize and sustain us through every valley we walk.  Romans 8:28.  ALL THINGS.  That one little, three letter word, ALL, makes my life so much lighter when I keep my gaze focused there.  It is not a promise of instant relief, but infallible redemption.  May you find rest there today.

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Born in Weakness, Clothed in Strength

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Dear friend, whatever struggle is dominating your thoughts today is the very one that will swaddle you in strength. It will clothe you with compassion, and it will honor you with humility. Every painful circumstance becomes a purposeful square in the quilt you are sowing. Embrace the opportunity in your obstacles. Remember, when you are afraid you are available. When you are confused, you are connected. When you are waiting, you are watchful. When desperate you are dependent, and when lonely you are looking. In Jesus’s economy, weakness is the source from which all good and beautiful things grow. May grace fill every season of growth and spring streams of joy along your journeys.

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The Trail of Life

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Yesterday our family set out on what was supposed to be a short hike.  It turned into four-miles.  I realize for a lot of you that is short.  Not for me, especially in muddy, rocky, uphill terrain, with altitude as a contributing barrier.

As I was struggling through a large uphill span of our hike, I was noticing all the ways nature mimics life.  The trials of that riddled trail were a parable of life.  There are times in life when we are sucking air just to survive, and there are times we are enjoying the view.

Struggles are often long and appear as if they will never end.  Giving up or giving in becomes an attractive option.  Fears are frequent and real.  The bends and turns are prone to placing us in barren places rather than beautiful spaces.  We have this great hope, though, that a great joy awaits, so we pick ourselves up and continue walking.

When we experience those moments where we catch our breath and enjoy the beauty around us, we appreciate them more because we know the effort and intention it took to get there.  The experience gives us a fresh supply of endurance for our trek knowing those encounters are just preludes to something greater.

The walk goes on.  We cycle through stages on a spectrum somewhere between worn and wonderful.  It is within the worn corners we grow in determination and perseverance.  In the wonderful places, we cultivate grateful hearts, and our eyes begin to see the fountains of grace poured into our pilgrimage.

Life is a necessary combination of both, the broken and beautiful so that we remain steadfast with our eye on the ultimate reward ahead-Home.

Yesterday for me, the grand reward was the sight of our car.  As we walk the path of our eternal home, though, knowing for certain the joy that awaits us is sustenance for the trails of our hike.

Keep walking friends.  If you believe the Bible to be true, there is unimaginable and everlasting gratification at the end of your journey.

Hebrews 12:1~Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

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Just Believe

 

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Hey, you, That valley you are traveling. The one that is cutting you up as you wait; ripping your heart apart with worry, and making it hard to get up, dress and put on a smile. Yeah, you know the one. If you only knew! Sometimes in my desperate prayers for people I love; I cry out to The Lord, “if they only knew what I know. If they could only see what I see. They would be at peace. In my plea The Lord said back to me, “I feel the same about you.” Your pain is just a prelude to an eternal purpose. Battles are where beautiful souls are born. Your worry is a welcome invitation for a deeper relationship with a loving Father while you wait. He knows.. He sees. He hears. He loves you and knows the plans He has for you. Your job is just to believe.