My friend's little boy was very sick. He was hospitalized for days because his appendix had ruptured and an infection had set in. During his hospitalization, it was required for him to have a picc line. She called me devastated because she had just watched her bundle of love go through something horrific. As she spoke with me, I felt my head spinning and my stomach getting queasy. She needed to talk and I needed to rise to the occasion, so I grabbed a pillow and lay on the floor. I breathed deeply as she cried and we prayed for healing and strength, not only for her son, but for her and her husband.
Years later, I am not even sure how it came out that I had to lay on the floor. She asked me why I didn't tell her that our conversation was making me nauseous. I told her I knew she needed me to be strong. I knew God would strengthen me to pray with her even though it was difficult. My difficulty was nothing compared to what her son was going through.
I know some reading may think that is ridiculous. Unfortunately, I have no control over my physical response to difficult medical situations. I can't control my light head, my tears, or my need to lay down. It is what it is, but I won't allow it to prevent me from being present for the people I love. Now, that doesn't mean I won't unfollow you on Facebook if you keep posting pics of a gaping wound. It means when I need to be there for someone, I will find a way...like other people find a way to be present for me.
So often, I have had to push past my own physical response to pain and sickness. As I have gotten older, things have happened...babies have gotten sick, children have died, my loved ones have gone through chemo, and my friends have needed me. They have needed my physical presence and my emotional support. They have needed me to to rise to the occasion so I can point them to Jesus, the strong tower.
I find myself in a season of people I dearly love going through difficult things. Very difficult things. It can be easy to shy away when our friends need us most because it is uncomfortable to watch our loved ones suffer. But we can't shy away. We have to be willing to push through how it makes us feel, both physically and emotionally.
"Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment." Matthew 9:20-21
When Jesus healed the woman, she knew she had to get close enough to touch the hem of his garment. Her faith in Jesus healed her. When our friends walk through difficult times, often they need our faith and hope to rally around them. They need the encouraging words of truth found in the word of God. Sometimes they need the Jesus in you.
My prayer for is that I would be a strength to the ones I love going through difficult things. I pray I would always be willing to push through the hard conversations, the hospital visits, and the chemo appointments. I need Jesus to give me eyes to see when the people I love need encouragement. Jesus, please heal my loved ones. Give them strength. May they forever reside in the strength only you can bring to a situation.
Living Completely Undone
Last weekend, Philip's parents came to visit bearing gifts for all. It is always great to have another Christmas in January. In one of the bags from Aunt Karen the Great (Philip's Aunt) was a small spray perfume bottle. Jennifer immediately wanted to use it, but we asked her to wait and use it another day. In typical "mom of many children" fashion...I forgot all about it.
Saturday evening I was sitting at the computer working on a project for church. I suddenly got a strong whiff of something flowery and then it went away. I am not sure why it didn't click that one of my children was up to something unusual. A few minutes later, the whiff turned into a windstorm of lavender and I questioned the boys immediately. Obviously, the one I needed to talk to was tucked away in an secret location.
As I continued my project, the scent became overwhelming and I started to search for the only child not in the room. I called for my daughter...silence. I looked under chairs and behind doors. I finally found her in the laundry room. On the floor next to her position was a certain gift bag that I had quickly tucked away when we had company a few days earlier.
She stood up when she saw me. As she rose, I could smell the cloud of perfume rise with her. I asked her if she sprayed something in the room. She replied, "No." I rephrased the question, "I smell something very strong and it smells like perfume. Did you spray perfume?" She continued to insist she did not spray the perfume.
Quickly, I got my husband on the case. We found the almost empty bottle in her bag. Obviously, we knew she had sprayed the perfume, our problem was that she was not telling the truth.
Finally, after several long and drawn out moments of intense conversation, our angel confessed to using the perfume. At the end of the incident, we talked to her about taking responsibility for her mistakes, speaking the truth, and apologizing. We pointed out that no one likes to be wrong and no one likes to get caught doing something they shouldn't be doing, but it is how we respond to that situation that can either hurt us or heal us.
There is something refreshing and healing about confessing our sins and our shortcomings to one another. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." The Bible never says to confess so we may be punished or put to shame. It says so that we may be healed.
I knew Jennifer sprayed perfume. I also knew she lied. It was more important to me that she confess the lie than it was for her to apologize for the perfume without asking. Not to mention stealing all usable air from my home. In order for her to grow and become the woman I know she is destined to be, she has to learn to own her mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
When I go to the Lord and confess my wrong doings, he doesn't need me to confess so he can know my mistake. He already knows. He can already smell the stench that creeps into my heart every time I willing chose to sin, hide truth, and keep secrets that can hurt the people around me. So often, I am like my daughter when I come before Jesus. I hide the secret places out of shame or pride. What God desires by my confession is my healing.
In these moments with our children, we are teaching them that the most powerful relationship words are "I am sorry." and "I forgive you." Every time we ask for forgiveness and every time we forgive, we are demonstrating the value of humility and grace that empowers us to grow. Our friends will let us down. We will be disappointed. We will let others down. We will fall short. The true test of a solid friendship is when we use these moments of disappointment to go to the next level of trust: you can hurt me and I love you enough to work through my disappointment to forgive you.
In our relationship with Jesus, how quickly are we willing to humble ourselves, confess when we fall short, and allow him to shine the light on the secret places of our lives? I want to live a full life, a life where the enemy doesn't have any room to whisper lies, steal my joy, and hinder my growth. The power is not in the secret or the lie, the power is found in the confession.
This year, I pray that I will pursue my relationship with Jesus with a sincere honesty and openness that will not only change me, but those around me. I pray I would have eyes to see my shortcomings, my sin, and be brave enough to own them, repent, and accept forgiveness in those areas. I pray that I would grow in my maturity and would be willing to be vulnerable and honest with the ones I do life with.
I also pray for a boldness for the truth. In times where I shy away, may he help me speak words of hope, grace, and forgiveness.
Living Completely Undone
I remember the first time I went to a women's Bible study. I walked into a large cold room and sat at a plain round table. The leader wasn't prepared, the material hadn't arrived, and there wasn't any coffee. When I got home, I told Philip how nice everyone was, but there was something missing. I was really disappointed by the overall feeling of mediocrity. My time didn't seem valuable, I was cold, and I didn't have any plans of going back.
God spoke to my heart that following week and I knew I needed to go back. The next week I invited everyone back to my house where it was warm and there was coffee. I spent the next 5 years trying to show that hospitality done well, opens doors for ministry. When people feel welcomed and preferred, they are more likely to have an open heart towards ministry.
Christ has a standard of excellence. When he ministers to others...he doesn't stop half-way. When he turned the water into wine...it was the best wine at the wedding. When he rose Lazarus from the dead...he waited until he was good and dead and then raised him to life. He didn't raise him back to sickness. When he healed the woman with the issue of blood, he didn't just lessen her bleeding, he stopped it completely.
So often in the church, we don't do things well. It is easy to slip into an attitude of mediocre and expect people to be okay with it, but God has called us to something more. Something better.
Several years ago I was planning a retreat. During set up, I noticed one side of the platform differed from the other side and could easily be fixed with moving a few wires and tables. When I asked if we could move things around, one of the women rolled her eyes and told me I was being too particular. Did it really matter? Obviously it didn't to her, but it did to me. It wasn't about the platform or the wires or the tables. It was about setting the atmosphere and the expectation right from the moment the women walked into the room.
If I am going to do something, whether it is at school, church, or having people in my home, I believe it is important to do things well. I want to have a standard of excellence in everything I do, not so I can gain people's approval, but so they will be comfortable enough to open up their lives and their hearts.
My prayer for this year is that my standard would be God's standard and that he would give me eyes to see how I can improve in the area of hospitality and in making others feel loved and preferred. I pray that God would use my talents, my home, and my resources to influence and inspire the people around me. I pray that I would love people so well that they would be loved right into the Kingdom.
Living Completely Undone
I have spent today thinking of "blind spots" and how the enemy tries to deceive me from my own sin and shortcomings. There are things I can't see and unless Jesus reveals them to me, these are things I can't change. I often tell Philip he has to love me enough to tell me when I am doing something I shouldn't. He hates when I ask him this, but it is so necessary for the person closest to me to gently (emphasis on the gently) point out when I miss the mark. This post could easily transition to relationships, but I will do that one another day. I need to have Godly people around me who love me enough to tell me stuff that hurts, the kind of truth that no one wants to hear, but we all need to know.
My husband prayed this prayer a few years back, "Lord, if there is anything in my life stopping me from living the way you want me to live, please reveal it." Unfortunately for us, shortly after that prayer, all war broke out. Later, Philip confessed that he asked God to take anything away that was taking his focus off him. I have since told him the next time he gives Jesus permission to reveal something in his life, he needs to tell me so I am prepared for the shake down.
As a couple, we don't want anything to stop us from being who God desires. The biggest obstacles in living a Godly life are the areas I can't identify myself...my blind spots. Jeremiah 17 says that my heart is deceitful. If I can't always see my heart clearly, I need Jesus to point out what needs to change. He often uses other people to accomplish this. I don't always enjoy this process, but I am committed to it.
We are in a process that will be perfected when we come face to face with Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) I have to remain humble. I have to remain yielded to the Holy Spirit and his prompting for growth. Do I hate being told I am wrong? YES, I hate it and sometimes fight it with every ounce of my soul. After I struggle with my pride, I am able to go to the Lord and ask Him to change me. There are just things I can't change without him. I am by nature a feisty Northern girl who needs a little extra Southern Bell charm.
This is my prayer. Wherever I fall short, however I am not representing the light of Jesus well, may my loving and gracious Savior reveal it to me so I can change. Please remove the blind spots and make me whole. May I forever trust Jesus enough to embrace the process of becoming more like Him. May God teach me how to love people well and to see people and situations through his eyes of compassion and love.
Living Completely Undone
I started off this year with a desire to praise God in all things no matter what...and then Day 8 happened. It started off like any other ordinary early morning, I was asleep. I forgot to bring my phone upstairs even though I knew there was a 40% chance of freezing rain. The odds of my children staying home today were in their favor. At 5:45 A.M. I woke up to the sound of something vibrating downstairs. I tried to remain positive as I tiptoed down the steps, picked up my phone, and held my breath. Out of the corner of my eye I saw it. No school. Remaining positive, I went back upstairs to shut off alarms with the hopes of everyone sleeping in. Then I heard Jennifer playing with her Barbie Dream House in her room and I knew it wouldn’t be long before parenting would be required.
My plan for Day 2 was to clear my home and my mind of any unwanted distractions. My reality for Day 2 has been full of feeding my tribe, answering questions, navigating video games, and attempting to get some things done. My hopes of spending a large chunk of time focusing on Jesus switched to my hopes that I would still love my children at the end of this day and that they would still love me. I am proud to say that we have all survived to happily live another day.
This is life...this is my life. Remaining flexible day to day is imperative to my joy and happiness. In order for my life to reflect the joy of my creator, I must remain open to change. My tribe keeps me on my toes and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My praise for today is that I managed to shower.
Tonight at dinner, we were talking about our favorite Bible stories and why we liked them. We went around the table and Jennifer listened to everyone. Then she declared it her turn and put her finger up in the air in her sassy-matter-of-fact fashion. “I like that story about Jesus. All of them.” I guess she has this prayer stuff all figured out. ♥️
Living Completely Undone
Today we started our 21 Days of Prayer. I have decided to embark on a journaling expedition here on my blog. Maybe something in these 21 days will speak to your heart, give you encouragement, or renew your hope. I am hoping to grow, not only during these next 21 days, but throughout this year. In some ways, I have grown a bit stale and I don't like it. I don't believe Jesus is fond of these seasons in my life either. I am going on a journey to change it. Why don't you join me. Feel free to answer any of these questions yourself and post it in the comment section.
What is my biggest obstacle to experiencing the zeal and passion described in Romans 12:11-12?
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
I thought I would put "busyness" but that wouldn't be the truth. Although I have many things on my plate, everything is manageable. Busyness for me...is a distraction. I don't have to remain busy in order to accomplish my daily routine, but sometimes I use my list of needed accomplishments to keep my mind occupied and unavailable to God and the people around me.
Social media is another distraction. I feel like SM has become the scapegoat of everything unaccomplished or undone. Yes, Facebook scrolling, Instastory watching, snaps and tweets have a way of interfering and sucking up my time, but social Media isn't the problem...it is another distraction that clutters my brain, steals my passion, and hampers my drive to follow God with my whole heart.
I love to read. Magazines, books, articles...if you have it, I'll read it. There is nothing better than to hunker down with an amazing novel and drift off to a far away land to get kidnapped by a pirate. I may be exaggerating (a bit), but I do love to read. I find that every year during my 21 Days of Prayer, I place my reading at the feet of Jesus. I told someone once that I was fasting reading and they thought I was joking. Last year I went 5 months last year without reading a single book. I was so impressed with myself...until I turned around and read 5 books in a week. Reading is not a bad habit, but it is my number one distraction keeping me from pursuing Jesus with my everything.
On a lighter side, my children have agreed to eat sugar-free and gluten-free for these next 21 days (at home). After church today, I was making sugar-free, gluten-free peanut butter cookies with Lincoln. These cookies were amazing and a lot of work. As we were making these "healthy" cookies, Lincoln was talking to me about how happy he was that he was giving up sugar, then I realized that while he was talking to me, he was eating mini-marshmallows. I just didn't have the heart to tell him that the main ingredient in those tasty little treats was sugar. We are taking baby steps in this.
Living Completely Undone
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.