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



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 



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.


August 28, 2014

So Long, Fear...


Dear Fear,

I'm writing to tell you that we're over.

We're done.

I'm breaking up with you.

I've broken up with you before, and I thought we were finished forever, but I was wrong.

I happily slammed the door in your face, bid you good riddance, and wiped my hands clean of you, but somehow, you weaseled in through the cracks and crevices and found your way back to my heart.

If I'm truly being honest, and I am, then I have to admit that I played a part in us getting back together. I cracked the door open ever so slightly, giving you space to crawl in. I listened to and entertained your whispers and lies, and I believed the things you said that weren't true but felt true… the what has been's, the what if's, and the what will be's.

I fell for you and I gave you ground, but now I'm taking it back.

Strangely somehow, your tempting and enticing lure, though false and debilitating and suffocating, is easier to give way to than truth. Truth requires trust and trust is so very vulnerable and risky. It calls for courage and strength beyond measure. It's jumping off a cliff blindly, unable to see the ground below, but believing that it's still there and you'll land safely on it. 

Trust is believing you'll be caught. 

Fear, on the other hand, is standing at the cliff, clinging tightly to the edge and to a false sense of safety and security. It doesn't require risk. It doesn't invite vulnerability. It never calls up courage. Fear stays small and refuses to jump, to give up control, to trust, and ultimately, to find life.

No more.

I'm done with clinging tightly to the edge.

I'm done with you, Fear.



Because I am a woman who listens to Love and not to fear. Who wants life in every way imaginable, regardless of whether it's safe, comfortable, or easy. I am a woman who risks, who trusts, who willingly jumps and takes the leap because she knows she'll be caught and she knows the One who catches her.

She knows him well.

And so that is why we are over.

Through and finished.

You and me.

For good.

For my good.

So long, Fear...



"Fear not, for I am with you."
~ Isaiah 41:10

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine."
~ Isaiah 43:1

"What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?"
~ Unknown

"She took the leap and built her wings on the way down."
~ Unknown




August 5, 2014

Runner Girl


Though I like to run and I'm trying to get better at it, I'm not really a runner.

Not in the marathon sort of way, at least.

But when my blood starts pumping, and music's blasting in my ears, and my feet take on a rhythm and pace all their own, something shifts in me and I start acting like a runner.

I become a runner.




I run fast and hard and I wave to the other runners who pass me by. When they don't wave back because maybe they don't feel like it, or maybe they think waving isn't cool, I give them a little head nod that says, "Hey. How's it going? We got this thing. We can do this." And sometimes they look back at me like, "Really? Are you kidding? You're not part of the club." And I just smile and give them a look that says, "Oh…. yes I am. You just watch me." And then I take off…

I get a little feisty out there on that hot, steamy pavement. Something comes alive in me. Something wakens and stirs in my heart. The fog lifts. My mind is freed. I can think and feel and sense things clearly.

I do some of my best writing out there on those streets where the words flow freely while the sweat pours down my face and strength and perseverance and long suffering take deeper root in my heart.

God meets me there. He runs with me. He reminds me of who I am and what I'm capable of. He cheers me on and gives me the nod that says, "You've got this. You're part of the club. I see you and I'm proud of you, Runner Girl."

And to that, I throw up my arms, just like Rocky Balboa, and I run down those streets as fast as I can with everything I have and everything in me.

Unashamed.

Fierce.

Awake.

ALIVE.


"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."
~ Hebrews 12:1


"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure."
~  Chariots of Fire


"Run like you stole something."
~ Unknown


"This girl is on fire..."
~ Alicia Keys



July 14, 2014

Remembering


I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember, the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great is your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over) He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.

Lamentations 3:21-25 MSG




I woke up this morning remembering. 

Or rather, choosing to remember.

Remembering what's true… 

Of God. 

Of me.

Of my journey with him. 

Oh, what a precious gift it is to remember! How it rescues my heart, time and again. How it brings life back into focus and ushers in such comfort and hope. And oh, how desperately my heart needs it!

"But there's one thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope..."

YES.

Yes, we must hang on. We must hold fast. We must remember…

That his mercies are new every morning. He gives grace upon grace upon grace. He keeps no record of our faults, for he sees our beauty and not our sin. He calls us worthy and valuable. He calls us HIS. His love never fails, or runs dry and out. He's always faithful and so very good. He's with us and for us. He will never leave us, abandon us, or walk away. He's our refuge and strength… our strong tower. He rescues us. He saves us. He delights in us, and he even sings over us.

Don't forget. 

Remember.

Because by remembering, we keep a grip on hope. 


What truths are you remembering these days? What is God bringing to mind and etching on your heart? I'd love to hear…


June 24, 2014

Kissing Waves


"I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages."
~ Charles Spurgeon ~


A dear friend is battling cancer for the second time and having a pretty rough go of it. Another friend's marriage is falling apart, and in just the past few weeks, I've learned of two families who've recently lost children… swept from this world at too young of an age, with so much life yet to live. And I have my own struggles, my own unique stories of suffering and loss, and I know you have yours as well.

Where do we go when trials come and tragedy strikes, and we're certain our hearts will break from the weight of them? Where do we run when fear and anxiety and sorrow hover close and threaten to steal our very breath? What could possibly ease the empty, bottomless ache of our souls and bring us any measure of comfort and peace?

I have learned, and I am still learning, to allow the waves of pain and suffering to wash over me because ultimately they drive me deeper and deeper to the heart of God. That is my safe place, where the pain in my heart is eased and peace comes in like a flood. There, on the bottom of the sea, where all is quiet and still and at rest. Where Jesus meets me and I am changed in his presence.




Jesus warned us that in this world we would have suffering, but he also encouraged us to take heart, to be courageous, to even be of good cheer, because he'd already overcome the world. (John 16:33) He promised us he came so we would have life, a rich and satisfying life, and we'd have it to the full with everything we could possibly need. (John 10:10) How do we interpret his words and wrap our heads around their truth when our hearts are so deeply broken and lost? How do we cling to his promises when life looks far from full and rich and satisfying, and we're pretty sure we don't have everything we need?

I think it's all about perspective. That's where the secret lies. I believe Jesus meant that even in the midst of pain and suffering and loss and trials, we can still have life to the full. In abundance. Spilling over. More than enough. If we look for it and find it, simply in and through him.

He is enough. His joy is our strength. He loves us beyond anything we could ever imagine. He is so very faithful, present and good. He sees all, he knows all, he hears all, and he's working all things together for our good. He is life. In and of himself… HE IS LIFE.

If we could see with the eyes of our hearts this beautiful mystery, we might learn to kiss the waves of pain and loss and suffering because they drive us to life. They drive us to God… straight to his ever-loving, fathering heart. And that is where our every need is met and life in all its rich and wonderful abundance is found… spilling over and more than enough.


"Let go my soul and trust in him, the waves and wind still know his name…"




"It is Well" 

Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music



April 30, 2014

Steadfast and Firm


Hello friends…

It's been awhile since I've checked in here. Actually, I've checked in a bit and I can tell by my stats that you have as well… thank you for that, for reading and following along even when things grow quiet around here… but I haven't been writing much over the past few weeks for various reasons. My kids were out of school for spring break, so I took the week off to hang with them and enjoy the slower pace. Then, Easter came with hope and new life, but I got sick with a stubborn stomach bug that lasted over a week. And then, on top of that, life unraveled during those days in some ways that sent me scrambling for solid ground and looking to find my feet again.

Whew.

We never know what the days will hold, do we? We never know what's ahead, what's coming around the bend. We journey along and all seems smooth sailing until a fierce storm blows in and knocks us off course. I can't imagine my life without Jesus to guide me and lead me, to hold me steady when the winds howl and the ground shifts beneath me. He is my anchor, my one true constant.

Just days before Easter, before I got sick and life got super messy, Jesus gave me this verse… these beautiful, life-giving words that I've been clinging to and holding close ever since.


"I will have no fear of bad news; my heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."
~ Psalm 112:7


I say them out loud when I'm folding clothes, and on the treadmill, and when I'm driving in my car. I say them silently in my heart and pray them through my mind as I chat with a friend, or walk the grocery aisles. They keep me focused. They give me context. They keep my eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, and they're so very true of my deepest heart, the way I want to live.

There's great power in the spoken word, in claiming truth over our hearts and lives. It's good for my heart to remind myself of what's true… to dwell on it, simmer in it, speak it aloud, and hold it close. And it's also very good as well to remind the enemy of what's true. To say outloud… "This is what's true. This is what I believe. This is what I'm claiming. This is my heart, and I make no agreement with anything else, anything contrary to this truth."

We have to fight for the life we long for, the life we so desperately prize. We live in a world at war… there is good and there is evil. There is God and there is Satan. We have to stand firm, guard our hearts, and set our minds on truth. It makes such a difference in the way we live, in the way our days play out. It's so incredibly worth the fight. 

Whatever it is that you're facing, my friend, and we all face something... claim what is true. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Stand steadfast and firm, trusting in him. You have nothing to fear. He will come for you. He always does. Just watch and see...

"Jesus, I love you. I worship you and give my life over to you. Every bit. Every part. All of it. I will have no fear of bad news because my heart is steadfast, firmly rooted in you. Anchored. Nailed down. Safe and secure. I trust you with all of my heart, with all of my life. I am yours."




"Let it be Jesus" by Christy Nockels, Kari Jobe, and the Passion Band




This song is currently playing on repeat, often and always, around our house these days. It's lyrics are my heart and I sing them loud, though not well, and I hold them close and claim them as truth. What are you claiming as truth these days, friends? How is God speaking to you and coming for your heart? I would love to hear...



April 11, 2014

Stop with the Rules

I can be my own worst critic sometimes, and to be perfectly honest, no one is probably harder on me than I am on myself.

YUCK.

I hate even admitting that... to myself and to you, and realizing there's a lot of truth to it makes me sad. Jesus isn't even as hard on me as I am on myself. In fact, he's not hard on me at all. His heart towards me is mercy and grace and love... 

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." 
~ Romans 8:1-2

His voice is never condemning or shaming or blaming. He never says, "Get your act together. Now." like I sometimes say to myself. He's kind and gracious and patient and forgiving. Constantly and continually. All the time. He doesn't demand things from me, and get frustrated when I don't follow through. He doesn't hand me a list every morning and say, "Do these things. Get this stuff done. Live this way… and you'll be good with me." 

Nope. 

He doesn't do that. 

Oh, but I do that to myself.

(Insert pause, deep exhale, and sigh)

And that is so very sad… so terribly flawed and wrong, and it keeps me from experiencing and living in the freedom that Jesus gave his life for, the freedom he longs for me to know and experience. It keeps me from resting in his love and knowing his delight, and it causes me to strive and arrange and perform, which looks only like bondage and absolutely nothing like "just being."

So...

Stop with the rules, Jenny.




Enough already. Stop handing yourself a mental list of, "If I do these things today and act this way and look this way and pray this way and live this way and parent this way and wife this way and all the other ways, then I will be happy and good with myself." God does not love and accept you based on how well you perform. He loves and accepts you just as you are. Not as you could be, would be, should be, or will be. Just as you are. Right here. Right now. Today. Simply because you are his. Stop with the rules and the lists, and love and accept yourself just as Jesus does. Kindly give yourself the grace to be and the room to become.


"Come Jesus... I lay down the rules and the crazy lists that make me crazy, and I repent of my striving and arranging and performing ways. I welcome your love and mercy and forgiveness and grace. Heal my heart and set me free in ways I have yet to know, so I can run with abandon the race you've set before me. Living freely and just being."



It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (…and that includes the mental list of rules that we heap on our own heads and hearts.)
~ Galatians 5:1




April 4, 2014

Making the Most

Spring is finally springing here in Northern Virginia and it's simply the most glorious thing!

I'm afraid we thought it would never come… that winter would never release it's strong, firm grip and we'd be shoveling snow, bundling up in coats, and turning up the heat forever.

But, alas, the warmer days are here, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing, and I'm so deeply grateful because WHEW… it was a long winter!

Unfortunately, though, along with this much awaited and hoped for season… with the budding of trees and the blooming of flowers… comes that powdery, sticky, yellow dust that lingers in the air and covers your car and causes headaches and scratchy throats and itchy eyes and lots of sneezing.

Lots and lots of sneezing.

Every time I blow my nose or get a sinus headache, I try and remember just how very happy and grateful I am that spring is here. I can handle the runny nose and the headaches and the itchy eyes, but I can't handle the cold, dreary days of winter any longer. Not even for one day. I am so completely done.

I don't think I've ever been so happy in all my life to see spring.





But spring's pollen is working hard to get the better of me and I woke up this morning with a raging headache. I took two Sudafed and two Advil to try and ward it off and while I stood at the dryer folding clothes and holding up my head, I remembered the verse from Ephesians that says "make the most of every opportunity." (5:16)

How could I make the most of this headache? How could I push through the pain and enjoy the day? I knew I was pretty worthless until it passed. I wouldn't be working out, folding more laundry, or cleaning up the breakfast dishes until I felt better. But I didn't want my day to get tanked... didn't want to waste it away waiting for the headache to pass, and so there were those words whispered to my heart by the One who knows me well, loves me dearly, and cares about all the little details of my life.

"Make the most of every opportunity…"

So for the last several hours, I've been doing just that…. making the most. I put on George Winston's "Winter to Spring" album, lit a "Spring Blossoms" candle, got comfy on the sofa, and started writing and reading and commenting and posting and texting and it's been such a rewarding, enjoyable morning. I've gotten so much done, and now that the pain is fading and manageable, I can move on to tackle the dishes, fold the laundry, and squeeze in a workout.

I love how Jesus is always so present with us. How he knows all the events of our days. How he sees and knows US. He whispers to our hearts the words we need to hear, and he guides us and leads us in all things… in every opportunity.

Making the most.

May I have the strength and grace to live that way each and every day.




"So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." 
~ Ephesians 5:15-16

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 4:19

"But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head."
~ Psalm 3:3



 
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