What A Gorgeous Mess

If you struggle with perfection. If good enough seems constantly unattainable, I want to offer you a hand of grace today. I want to encourage you to drink a deep breath of relief.

 

picsart_04-09-111751054115.jpgThis book. My favorite. The one I know best. The one I quote from. The one I live from. The one whose characters have become my acquaintances. Some close friends. Some my constant best.

I feel I know it well enough to offer you this still water, green pastures, goodness and mercy respite.

There is only ONE. There is only One that was perfect in this book. It is not an accident or a cruel joke. He left us these words that are full of compassion and reality. Life is amazing! Life is hard! It is messy. It so often seems senseless.

He knew….. He didn’t leave us these words to hold us to a standard we could never meet. Instead He left us stories. Knowing that His children love a good story. Stories about people whose lives were ungodly messes. Yet He loved them! They, in their imperfect, human ways loved Him. They fell, they stumbled, they turned their backs. Yet the yearning in their hearts always drew them back.

His perfection, His sacrifice, is the scarlet thread woven through each page. Each story. Each holy mess of a life.

It is the same thread that weaves through your life. The awkward beginning. The bad choices. The good choices. The pain. The joy. The wounds. The healing. There is not an instant that the thread and rope of His love was not, and is not tethered to your heart.

We fall, we stumble, we turn our backs. Yet… The undeniable words written on our hearts always draw us back. There is but One Who wrote them. And it Is He alone that can sing them over us.

Take a bit of solace in this. I can only find the One. The One that was and Is and will be perfect in this magnificent story book. Only Him. Not one of the people we look up to in this book. Not one family.

So why did He leave us a story full of mess reflected in the light of His perfection? Because He is a Friend, Father and Teacher full of great love and compassion. That very same compassion that laid down His own life for us, left words to reassure us. Not condemn.

He says to us…… Have you fallen my friend? And you worry that you cannot measure up to imagined standards? Have you read about my friends? Have you read the stories of Joseph and David? What about Abraham and Sarah? Moses? Or Peter and Paul?

The list is long. It is full of His sons and daughters that don’t measure up to our standards. Full families we would have run from. But these? These are the ones He was so proud of that He wrote books about them. We are the ones He loved enough to write that book for.

So I will walk looking to Him. Walking in the beauty of His attainable holiness. Moving from glory to glory. Because my hearts desire is to be close to Him and to look like my daddy. But I also know I look like His other children. My brothers and sisters. My friends. And we are all together a gorgeous mess that He takes such joy in.

You my friend? He not only loves you today, right where you are. But He is so proud of you, that He has already written you into His story.

2 Corinthian 3:18 (TPT) We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

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When Words Are Your Love Language

PicsArt_03-05-09.34.06Here is something about me you probably don’t know… I spent over a year listening to the audio version of Psalm 139. The English Standard Audio Version to be exact… I listened as I went to sleep. I listened when I woke up. Even today it is the alarm that is set on my phone. Every morning (usually at 5am) this is what I hear. You should hear a very over pronounced Shakespearean actor talking,,,, now.

“Oh Lord you have You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways………”

That is about as far as I get before I turn it off. ( Or lets be honest. Snooze for five more minutes.)

This scripture has been my constant companion. It’s words the prayer on my lips. It is engraved on my heart. The friend that steadies my mind when it want to veer off course.

This scripture came to my rescue a few years ago. After sitting in a room that should have been safe. It should have been a place of truth and compassion. It should have been, I expected it to be, a place where the Holy Spirit was invited to lead and direct. Instead the words that assailed me pierced my flesh. They left me a devastated and disoriented mama and servant. And all I could do was run to this Word. All I could do was curl into a ball of hurt and desperation and listen to these words again and again and again……..

Years have passed. Forgiveness has been walked out. Blessing has been given. But these words? They are defining.

I sat down today looking for direction. Looking for understanding. Looking for a place of peace that would make some things going on in my life make sense. I thought about soul searching but opted for looking outward.

Today I am a Face seeker. I look to Him instead of staring inward with no direction. I choose to stop examining my scars. I allow Him to search me and to know me. I do not try to define today and the past by my wounds and my thoughts. Instead I surrender them. I let Him shape them and remake them into His plan.

Because He is good that way. He takes our hurt, our shame, our confusion and most importantly our surrender and breathes on them. They are turned from blackened lumps of death and darkness into life. They are the parts of us constantly being made new….. If we surrender.

Find a minute. Maybe in the car line. Maybe in a locked bathroom. Maybe hidden in the laundry room. If you are so blessed, over coffee in the still and quiet of your own private space. But allow these words to become a part of your today.

Psalm 139 The Passion Translation (TPT)

You Know All About Me

139 For the Pure and Shining One
King David’s poetic song
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
3–4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness you follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.[a]
With your hand of love upon my life,
you impart a blessing to me.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.[b]
Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?
If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!
If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting![c]
10 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.
11 It’s impossible to disappear from you
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.
12 There is no such thing as darkness with you.
The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
there’s no difference between the two.
13 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.[d]
14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
15 You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place,[e]
carefully, skillfully shaping me[f] from nothing to something.
16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me![g]
Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
the number of days you planned for me
were already recorded in your book.[h]
17–18 Every single moment you are thinking of me!
How precious and wonderful to consider
that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!
O God, your desires toward me are more
than the grains of sand on every shore!
When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.
19 O God, come and slay these bloodthirsty, murderous men!
For I cry out, “Depart from me, you wicked ones!”
20 See how they blaspheme your sacred name
and lift up themselves against you, but all in vain!
21 Lord, can’t you see how I despise those who despise you?
For I grieve when I see them rise up against you.
22 I have nothing but complete hatred and disgust for them.
Your enemies shall be my enemies!
23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
the path that brings me back to you.

I Had To Do A Thing Today…..

(Warning: If real talk makes you uncomfortable look away. If you need to place blame for all the world’s woes, stop now. If you feel like you know better, move on….. Stuff happens to people. It isn’t pretty or simple. You should probaby just love them and hush..)

Today was the final day. The last day in a process. I moved my son into his school apartment yesterday and said goodbye. Today we had a family lunch with all the leaders and students. And I surrendered him to ALL that Father has for him.

The moment came at the end of the luncheon. The moment where we were asked to lay hands on our children and pray for them. I quickly stepped into a place I know all too well. The place where I often need to play the role of not just mother, but father as well. And I quickly took that role today. With no hesitation and no resentment, I layed both of my hands on this man’s shoulders and released him. I placed a mantel on him that only I am qualified to do. One of calling, authority and leadership. Because I have been uniquely qualified and equipped to raise the children God gave me. The children He knew would be mine. 

He knew what our story would look like. I know that He grieved our pain and shame with us. But He has never looked away. And He has never left us alone.

He has been Father, Husband, Provider and Friend. He has been our Rock and ever present source of Joy.

I have messed up PLENTY. But His grace and mercy have covered more..

So this is for you. The ones that do not feel strong enough. The ones that feel alone. My job is this. To point you to HIS eyes and ask you to hear Him say these words…

You are strong enough. You are good enough. You are wise enough. You are enough!

Reality

And You……

Your presence is sweet. It is comfort. It is healing like the rain.
So why the pause? Why the fear?
Just as Abram. Just as Moses. I sense Your presence. I yearn for and seek it out. It stirs and shakes reality.
As the paths in my mind go with determined purpose to new and higher places, my flesh seizes. It begs to stop.
Fear of what is unknown. Fear of intimacy with what is indescribable.
But You……….
You wait with extended hand. You invite me into the fire. Into the cloud that reshapes and imbues authority. Love. Wisdom. Trust……
It is in this Heavenly Place. This great fire cloud of terror, that I find reality. This is the place where my earthly perspective meets Truth.
So like Abram. So like Moses. I push past. I crawl when I have to. Because my presence on this earth will not keep me from sitting next to you. Seated on a throne that transcends what I can explain.

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Ephesians 2:6-7
6 He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 7 He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed.

To Know The Lamb

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This week, let us become intimately and truly acquainted with The Lamb Of God. With His perfection, His character,  His ultimate sacrifice….. And our Blood bought redemption….

And the custom was……
In the four days  leading up to Passover, to the sacrifice, the Lamb was brought into the home. To live among the family. To become a part of every activity. It is difficult to believe that the children of the family did not make this perfect, fluffy little Lamb their friend.
As a parent, I have to believe that it was difficult for the adults to allow themselves to get close to that lamb. They knew exactly what as coming. They knew the heartbreaking reality of the what was in store for that perfect little lamb….. They had lived this very thing out, year after year. Known the heartbreak of loving the lamb.
And that little lamb was just that. Perfect…. It was required by the law of God. Nothing less than perfection. Because it, that fluffy little innocent thing,  had to cover what we couldn’t.
There is so very much that could be said. So very much that could be expounded upon. But this week, I have a mission. It is to invite the Lamb into my home. Into my life. To get to know this Lamb better than I have ever known Him. So that I become completely and totally  acquainted with His perfection. Completely acquainted with His character. And completely acquainted with His suffering and sacrifice.
John 1:29 The morning after this conversation, John sees Jesus coming toward him. In eager astonishment, he shouts out: Look! This man is more than He seems! He is the Lamb sent from God, the sacrifice to erase the sins of the world!
1 Peter 18 You know that a price was paid to redeem you from following the empty ways handed on to you by your ancestors; it was not paid with things that perish (like silver and gold), 19 but with the precious blood of the Anointed, who was like a perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb. 20 God determined to send Him before the world began, but He came into the world in these last days for your sake.
Philippians 3:1[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
Exodus 12Jubilee Bible 2000 (JUB) 12 ¶ And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month let each man take a lamb according to the families of the fathers, a lamb per family; 4 and if the household is too small and is not able to eat the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of persons; each one according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 The lamb shall be without blemish, a male of one year; ye shall take it out from the sheep or from the goats; 6 and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the two evenings.

Resolute Determination

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I had no plans to write this today. Sometimes it is easier to let the hard observations slip quietly by. But easy does not equal right and almost never equals obedience.

The past year has caused me to come to an obvious observation. I would have never known the strength I now know if I had not had everything I knew stripped away. All that I thought I was. All that I knew I would be. There is nothing quite like losing everything to help you realize that you have nothing left to lose…..

When my life started to fall completely apart, so many people told me how amazing my testimony would be….   Ya’ll……. That is not comforting….. In fact, it is excruciatingly painful. But it is also incredibly true.

I AM stronger.
I do NOT really care what people think at all anymore.
I know the incredible power of YES and NO.
I am just a tad on the other side of crazy faith and determination now……

My life is not set now. It is still a struggle daily to navigate what seem to be unending turbulent waters. I still struggle daily with the temptation to sit down in the ashes, put on my burlap bag and have an all-time, never to be forgotten, pity party. It is hard. I am tired. Physically, mentally and spiritually.
But, I am definitely stronger.

So, this year I determine……
I determine to forgive FREELY.
I determine to love GENEROUSLY.
I determine to choose the YES and to challenge the no.
I determine to choose STRENGTH even when it isn’t pretty.
I determine to make my good, good Father proud of the words that flow from my mouth and my pen.

My struggles and hardships are not the same as yours. But we all have them. And, as it turns out, we all have the same choices to make. Will we let what is painful strip us and shape us into something strong and all together lovely? Or will we remain an unyielding, brittle lump of clay?

My prayer for us all this year is that we choose to look to the Father with our faces set as a flint. Not a flint that remains unmoving or untouched. But the very flint at the tip of an arrow. An arrow pulled from our Father’s quiver. Pulled because He can trust us to stay affixed and steadfast to His arrows. Allowing the trials we meet as we fly, to strip us of all but HIM…..

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Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set myface like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7

Slow Cooker Spicy Italian Sausage Soup

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Slow Cooker Spicy Italian Sausage Soup
Spicy Italian Sausage (2-3 lbs)
6 med sized potatoes
112oz bag frozen chopped spinach
1 12oz bag frozen corn
2 15oz  cans white beans
Garlic Powder
Salt
Water or broth

Cut sausage and potatoes into bite size pieces. (I kept the peel on mine.)
Go ahead and salt the potatoes a bit and sprinkle with garlic powder
-DO NOT ADD ANY LIQUID-
Place in slow cooker on high for 3 hrs. Hopefully your cooker turns down to warm and can hold there for several hrs.

When you get home….
Turn slow cooker back to high.
Dump in the corn, spinach and drained and rinsed beans.
Pour in enough water or broth to cover.
Taste and add more salt and garlic powder if needed.
Cook 30 to 45 mins until spinach and corn are cooked and soup is warmed through.
You can also sprinkle in a little gluten free rice flour to thicken a bit if you like.