May 13, 2015

A Lost Egg, a Lost Heart, and an Ever Caring Father


I took our dog for a walk the other day around the pond near our home.  It's one of his favorite things to do, most likely because of the dozen or so geese that make their home there.  Being true to his nature as a lab and bird dog, he's quite taken with those feathery, flying creatures.

On this particular day, it would probably be more fitting to say that he took me for a walk around the pond, even though he's old and not nearly as fast as me.  I wasn't the feeling the best with the pollen and the change of season getting the best of me, but there was more I was struggling with than just the pesky yellow dust.  My heart was in a bit of a slump and sadness, discouragement, and disillusionment clouded my day.  I'd spent a good bit of the morning bringing my heart before Jesus in prayer, and standing against the lies and the negative emotions coming my way.  I was doing well, but I was weary and just in need of a good, strong, comforting hug from my God.

He never ceases to disappoint me. 

He always comes through.

As I turned a bend with Glory in the lead, I stepped back quickly and stopped to avoid stepping on a goose egg that lay in the middle of the path.  Somehow, the little egg had been taken from its home and its momma and had been left all alone.  I leaned over to take a peek at it thinking maybe I could help, but then I realized the shell was cracked and the baby goose inside had died.




I felt such sadness and compassion for the little one, its life cut short before it could even hatch, but right on the heels of those feelings, Jesus reminded me of this scripture...


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

~ Matthew 10: 29-31


Yes...

Yes.

There was the hug I so needed and craved, and following that warm, wonderful embrace were these words from Jesus...

"Jenny, just as I see this little lost goose, I see you.  Even more so.  Your days are in my hand and your heart is forever in my care.  You are worth more to me than you can possibly imagine.  You are precious.  Chosen and deeply loved." 

I smiled and my heart brightened as his words lifted a weight off my mind and spirit.  Of course.  Of course, Jesus sees me and calls me worthy and precious and holds my heart forever in his care.  I know, that I know, that I know, that that is true.  But just like the little egg got taken from its home, the truth of what I know deep in my heart had been taken from me.  Forgotten and lost and needing to be recovered.

God is so kind and so unbelievably personal with us.  He speaks in the most unique and intimate ways, just as we need to hear and as only he can say.  I'm so grateful for his touch on my life, his breath on my face, his words to my heart, and his good, strong, comforting hugs are unlike any other.

He is a good father, and he is good to me.





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March 6, 2015

Keeping Score


Twenty-two.

It was once the number of people who followed me on Instagram and compared to others, to those who have hundreds and thousands of followers, it was a teeny tiny number.  Very teeny tiny, actually.  As in, I think I may have almost been invisible.

Though I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, at one time this little number had me quite discouraged, kind of sad and frustrated, and pretty disillusioned.

I wonder when it ever began to matter how many people like or follow or friend us or retweet our tweets and share our posts and leave us comments?  And how very crazy is that anyway?  What a weird culture we live in these days.  At what point did we begin to tie our value and worth to something so petty and silly?  To numbers for goodness sake?  And to a virtual life that in no way fully encompasses all that we are and all that we offer this world?



Standing at the dryer folding clothes one day, I was feeling particularly invisible and discouraged about this very thing and I knew I needed to take it to Jesus.  Like really take it to Jesus.  It bugged me that it bugged me, and it felt prideful and shameful and yuck, so I began to pray and invite Jesus into it.  I wanted to hear his thoughts and heart on my keeping score and what I sensed so clearly, so sweetly in my spirit, was this:

These beautiful, life-giving words from Christ…

"Jenny, your value and worth have absolutely nothing to do with your number of followers.  You know this, but I'm making it a reality in your heart.  Right now, with just twenty-two followers, you are just as valuable and worthy and loved and seen as you would be if you had twenty-two hundred, or even twenty-two thousand followers.  And one day, if you have twenty-two hundred or twenty-two thousand followers, you will be no more valuable and worthy and loved and seen than you are right now this very minute with just twenty-two.  Your reach and sphere of influence may change, but your value and worth are forever sealed in Me.  They will never change, vary or fluctuate.  They are steady, constant and true.  Irreversible for all of time.  Believe it and rest in it and let go of keeping score.  Live free as you trust in Me."

Those words rescued my heart that day.  They set me free from adding up numbers and getting lost, from posturing and arranging, and from doubting and questioning my value and worth.  They set me free from shame and pride, and from getting stuck and discouraged and disillusioned.

Since that day, I've marveled as I've watched God grow my little space in His time and way, and it's both humbled and honored me.  My numbers and followers have increased as He's called me up and out and widened my reach, but NOTHING has changed in terms of my value and worth.  Just as Jesus said, those things are final and finished and sealed forever in Him.  I'm deeply grateful for that truth and ever so thankful to be free from needing to count and keep score.

And that's something I'm holding tight to even still, day by day, as numbers come and go, up and down, and it continues to set and keep me free.


Is this something you also wrestle with?  This keeping of score and believing that your value and worth are somehow determined by numbers, likes and follows?  If so, know that all the words Jesus spoke to my heart are true for your heart as well.  You are seen and loved and valuable and worthy right now, today, regardless of a bunch of silly numbers.  Let go and live free.  XO



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February 22, 2015

Returning


"Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and merciful, 
slow to anger and abounding in love."

~ Joel 2:13


Returning… It's a practice I find the need to return to constantly, each and every day, sometimes moment by moment.  How prone I am to losing my way, to forgetting where I am and where I've been.  I get distracted by the world and all that swirls around me, pulled away by the tug of life's demands and my own restless heart.


Who am I again and who is God and what have I come to know and love of Him? What's the story He's writing with my life, and what's my part in the epic story He's writing for all mankind?  Where have I known healing and redemption and growth, and how has He rescued me time and again?  And do I even begin to remember and hold fast to how deeply He loves me and how He sees me as His very own?  His beautiful creation?  His daughter and love?


Oh how easily I forget and find myself wandering the field like a little lost sheep searching again for her Shepherd.  Gratefully though, Jesus is never far off.  Never.  He's always near, always present, calling me to His heart and inviting me to return.




He's gracious and merciful and slow to anger.  He's patient and loving and gentle with my heart.  He sees me and knows me and understands the depths of who I am.  He is safe and good, and He is good to me.


And so I return because how could I not?  How could I possibly resist and run from such love, the truest love I've ever known and the safest arms on earth?


He pulls me close and holds me tight and speaks the truth my soul so desperately needs to hear.  He blows away the fog and clears the sky and sets my feet firm.  I can see again and hear again and I'm sure of His love for me and my place in His story.  I'm sure of Him, and that alone is more than enough.


I've returned until the time I may wander again.  And when that happens and when I do, I will return again.  And there Jesus will be, calling me to His heart even still.


"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; 
bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."  

~ Proverbs 3:3

"Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of  Egypt, 
and who rescued you from slavery."

~ Deuteronomy 6:12

"O to grace how great a debtor 
daily I'm constrained to be! 
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, 
bind my wandering heart to thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, 
prone to leave the God I love; 
here's my heart, O take and seal it, 
seal it for thy courts above."

~ lyrics to "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"


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January 30, 2015

An Invitation


Even though it's almost the end of January, it's still the start of a brand new year, filled with mystery and wonder. All month long, as I've eased back into routine after the Christmas holidays, I've been asking Jesus what he has for my heart in the weeks and months ahead. I've been pondering and praying and finding myself on my knees a lot, both literally and figuratively, and these are the words that keep spilling from my lips…


Jesus, come and dance on my heart.


Over the years, I've traveled far and wide and long and hard in my walk with this beautiful One who's etched himself forever on my heart. Healing and growth and life have come to this woman who has come to know that Jesus really is all that she needs and more than enough. 


I've learned to travel lightly as God has taken from me the things that weighed me down and held me back and slowed my pace. I confess that some of those things I didn't give up easily, many of them He had to pry from my tightly clenched fingers. "Let me have them. Let them go," he said. "These bags are too heavy for you. You were never intended to carry them. They're not yours to carry, but mine. Let me bear the weight of them. Travel lightly and stay close to me."




And so I listened and obeyed. I gave him those burdensome bags, in both relief and sorrow, sometimes though, I would ask for them back when I'd forget that life isn't up to me, I'm not on my own, and I don't have to be in control. Out of his great love and only for a bit, he'd let me carry those bags again just so I'd remember how heavy they were and how they weren't mine to carry.


In the year ahead, as I continue to travel lightly, walking closely beside the One who carries my burdens and loves me so well, I'm inviting him to dance on my heart. To grow and shape me, and take me deeper and higher, and to leave his beautiful footprints scattered and imprinted all over my life. I'm handing over more of the bags that weigh me down and slow my pace, and I'm walking light on my feet right beside him, sometimes even skipping as I go.


Trusting him. 


Loving him.


Embracing and delighting in his glorious dance.




As I drove my children to school this morning, light snow began to fall, and as I headed home after dropping them off, it began to fall in a frenzy. Lovely and light, tiny, white snowflakes danced in a flurry all around me, scattered here and there and everywhere, and I laughed and smiled because I knew Jesus was answering my prayer.


He was dancing on my heart.

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November 3, 2014

Jesus Calling


"Lucy woke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine with the feeling that the voice she liked best in the world had been calling her name."

~ C. S. Lewis


When I was a girl and would lie in bed at night, in the dark and often afraid, I would hold my hands over my heart, the weight and warmth of them resting on my chest, and I would sing "Jesus Loves Me" quietly to myself.


It was an innocent, child-like response to the voice that called to me. A voice that invited me to rest, that settled my anxious heart, and helped to ease my fears. It was a voice that was safe and strong and ever so loving, and even as a child, it was a voice I knew I could trust.


I didn't know that voice then like I do now, all these years later. After many seasons of walking with Jesus, I've come to know his voice well and it's all the sweeter and more dear to me now from years of journey.


And still he calls to me… morning, noon and night… and assures me that he's always present, always with me, always for me. He brings comfort and hope and peace and rest. He reminds me that I have nothing to fear for I'm safe and secure in him, and he invites me to abide, to snuggle in tight and find my life in him.


His is the voice I like best in this world.




"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me."

~ John 10: 27-28


 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."

~ John 15: 5

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October 14, 2014

Here's My Heart, Lord...


I stood at the kitchen sink this morning rinsing the breakfast dishes, lost in thought, while David Crowder's "Here's My Heart" played on the stereo. Before I knew it, I was singing along at the top of my lungs on my knees in the middle of the kitchen floor, with arms raised high and tears streaming down my face, pouring my heart out to Jesus and, once again, offering him my heart and life.


I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I'm made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

You are more than enough
You are here, You are love
You are hope, You are grace
You're all I have, You're everything

Here's my heart, Lord….


I can honestly say that every one of those words, those stunningly beautiful and intimate lyrics, are true of my heart and life and what I've come to know and experience of Jesus. As I've walked a very dark and lonely path with him for many years now, those truths have been forever forged deep, deep down in the depths of my soul. They are truer than anything else I know, or anything else I've ever known, and the truth has set me so wonderfully free.




And as I'm coming to the end of that long and winding and difficult season, my heart is so very full. Brimming over and spilling forth. There is laughter and joy and strength and freedom and beauty and hope and passion like I've never known. I wouldn't trade the years of loss and suffering for anything, for what I've gained is a priceless treasure of heavenly worth that I carry with me now and will carry with me still in the beautiful world to come.


Here's my heart, Lord…


Here's my heart.




"How glorious the splendor of the human heart that trusts that it is loved."

~ Brennan Manning




Passion: "Here's My Heart" featuring David Crowder 


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October 13, 2014

Finding Life


I woke up this morning and lingered in my warm, cozy bed thinking about the day ahead. I was grateful it was Columbus Day, which meant a day off of school for our kids and a morning to move wonderfully slow without need of making breakfast, packing lunches, or rushing out the door. I felt happy and hopeful and rested, but even still, I was so aware of my need.


As I prayed a version of a prayer I pray every morning, not so much out of discipline, but more out of desperation and devotion… "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I need you. Jesus, come. For my heart. For my day. For my family. For me. Be all that I need and more than enough," these words played across my mind...


"Every morning I'm dead on the floor until you come and pick me up and give me life."




I thought they might be the lyrics to a song, the words to a poem, or maybe they came from something I'd read. I wondered who wrote them and I made a mental note to google them later as I laid there and thought of how very true they were. Every morning I wake up virtually dead, thick-headed and groggy and needing coffee, yes, but more than anything, broken and empty and needing the One who gives me life. The only One who can give me life.


Jesus said in John 15:5...


"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; 
for without Me you can do nothing."


I've lived the pull-up-your-bootstraps life with equal parts self-will, self-motivation, and self-discipline with a good bit of self-reproach thrown in for good measure. It's miserable and futile and I've learned the hard way that it never works and it never will, but sometimes I still fool myself into thinking it might. I forget the relief and rest and joy that comes from giving up and laying down.


God created me to need him and to need him desperately and daily. Just as the verse says, he is the vine and I am the branch, without him I can do nothing. With great love, he calls me daily to die to myself, to my own efforts and will, to all the striving and arranging and controlling, and to find my life in him. 


He invites me to abide.


Deeply rooted.


Firmly secure.


Beautifully bearing fruit.


Later this morning, I googled those words but couldn't find them anywhere. They didn't come from a song or a poem or a book, they just came from my own heart… one that daily and desperately needs Jesus to pick her up and bring her life.


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