Broken Praise

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My soul exalts the Lord, 
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior

Can I do that? Can I really do that when the pain is great and goes so deep?

Can I choose to exalt my God when He seems so far away?

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For He has regard for the humble state of His bond slave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

What will I choose to focus on? This? Or the pain that is crushing? The ache in my heart that won’t go away, the feelings that are oh so real, or my God who is even more real?

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For the Mighty One has done Great things for me;
And Holy is His Name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation

Can I remember the great things He has done for me?  I know He has. Even now when pain is clouding my vision I know He has done GREAT things for me. I know because I remember, fondly and long for the GREAT again.

It seems light years away.  I know it was last week, but it seems like a forever ago to me.

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Since deciding the best way to help my hurting soul was to Be The Gift to someone else, I have failed so miserably. I decided to Go MAD Monday, to Go and Make A Difference in someone and for someone.

Right now I don’t even think I know how to do that anymore.

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Change your focus.

Focus on Living Cruciform.

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I don’t know how to do that when life hurts and falls apart. When I’m holding on by one fraying, thin thread. When it takes all my concentration to put one foot in front of the other and keep marching.

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Choose joy.

I need to remember that I have a choice. Every second. Every day.

Even when the tears run silent rivers down my cheeks, even when my body is racked with heaving, shaking sobs, I can choose.

Even when it feels I have no choice. Even when I feel stuck. Even when I feel He is silent. Even when I feel abandoned and alone. Even when my prayers are stuck in my throat. Even when my prayers are sobs.

Even then.

I can choose.

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He has filled the hungry with GOOD Things
…He has given help to Israel His servant in remembrance of His mercy

Something To Be Thankful For

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“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you.”(Ezekiel 28:15)

We were created blameless –perfect. Our default was righteousness.

But sin changed that. Sin brought shame, condemnation,  separation,  death and unrighteousness.

But Grace changes that! Grace brings healing, salvation, restoration,  covering, togetherness,  freedom and righteousness restored.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Scrubbing off the stain

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It’s now two days before Thanksgiving.  I suppose it’s time for my yearly cleaning of the oven. No, I don’t do it just once a year, sometimes it’s less often. Right now I’m sitting here steeped in shame and humiliation to say, I honestly have no idea the last time I cleaned my oven.

If only it was at least once a year.

It used to be more. Every time something spilled in it I’d clean it overnight. Oh the joys of a self-cleaning oven. Push the clean button and walk away. A few hours later come and find a miraculously clean oven. Just like magic.

But the locking feature of my oven is not working properly. It will lock when it’s cleaning just fine. It just won’t unlock and will instead just keep beeping at you to tell you, “Hey! I can’t unlock.” If only it was a regular oven and I could just pull it from the wall to unplug it to reset. But alas and alack. It’s a wall oven so no go.

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I made birthday cake last week and because sometimes I have trouble following simple directions the cake spilled all over the bottom of the oven. And it was already a mess.

So since Thanksgiving is coming I thought I should clean it. Not because I’m cooking dinner. Or that I’ll even be home. But you know. It should be clean for the holidays. Just in case someone breaks in and decides to cook something I don’t want to be embarrassed by a dirty oven.

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As I was scrubbing the oven I so clearly heard the Spirit speak to my soul, “You know this mess didn’t happen over night or all at once. It took time. And it’s going to take time to clean it. You’re going to get tired and you’ll want to quit before the job is done. Do you think cleaning your soul will be any different? It will take time for you to heal. You’ll get tired of the constant-ness of it. But you didn’t get broken over night and you won’t heal overnight. You’ll want to quit before the job is done.”

And I wanted to stop my ears from hearing His words because I knew they were true. I’m approaching this whole healing journey like the drive thru lane of McDonald’s.

And yes, I want fries with that.

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But it’s not like that.  It’s not a fast process. It’s a slow, painfully slow at times. Like scouring the oven. Like growing.

It’s not even a sprint as opposed to a marathon. It’s like a slow walk through the wilderness in the dark.

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I’m already so weary and tired of all the scrubbing. My muscles are sore and screaming at me to just quit already.

Just Quit already. When I’ve only just begun.

When Jesus didn’t quit. Surely the healing journey I’m on, that painful road to my own cross, my own death is no less painful than the road He took to secure my very life. The very life that I’m living now in His strength.

His strength. That’s the chemotherapy for my cancer-ridden soul. His strength is my lifeline and is my life.

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 (nasb)

I have cancer.

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I have cancer. I have cells in my body that are growing and multiplying at an alarming rate, eating all the good cells that surround them.

Given enough time, this cancer will kill me. I’m being eaten alive from the inside. Parts of me are eating other parts of me. To my very destruction. At this point I don’t know very much more than this. How long? I have no clue. Stage? No clue. All I know is this:

I have cancer.

Be joyful, when you hear you have cancer? I’m sure it can be done but for now I just have a big gaping hole where my heart used to be.

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Psalm 116:7b says “…The Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” This is bountiful? I thought it was supposed to be a good thing, His dealing bountifully with me. I thought the place of His bounty was the place of His blessing. Yet, this feels like a curse. A curse of death.

Which is the very thing He wants. He bids me to come and DIE. While all the time promising me life.

Abundant life.

How can I,  in the love of all things good,come and die and yet have abundant life?

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Blast those cancer cells!

Cancer is defined as: the cells that only benefit themselves. Cancer cells don’t look to benefit any other cell. They look after themselves only. Eating whatever they desire. They take care of themselves and only themselves. Not just taking care of themselves first, as we are told to do now.

They take care of themselves only and only take care of themselves. Wreaking havoc and destruction, bring death everywhere they go.

Now, I’m not talking about physical cancer here, I’m fine. Well I’m not fine, not at all fine. But the cancer is not to my physical body, but is in my soul.

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You see, I have a tendency to care for myself. First. And sometimes only. I do what benefits me the most. Above benefiting you.

Is it any wonder I’m broken? I ask you, is it any wonder?

Even as I’m drawing crosses on my wrist to remind me of the greatest Love imaginable. I’m choking on the cancer that is killing me slowly.  Even as I’m trying to live cruciform, in the very shape of the cross, arms spread wide open, embracing.

Welcoming.

I’m looking out for myself, and I might love you, but only so far as I’m benefited. If I can benefit I’m all about loving you, but if not chances are I’ll skip it.

Cancer. Cancer cells are the only cells that take care of themselves.

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I read that line in The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. And I sobbed as I realized I have cancer of the soul.

It is no coincidence that I read this chapter today. On Monday. The first day of my renewed, “Go MAD Monday”.  The day I’m supposed to be looking for others’ needs to meet, I’ve been wrapped up in myself and my own struggles. My sense of not belonging, not being wanted, in the way, abandoned, neglected, abused.

This journey to healing is a difficult one. Most days it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. I hope I’m moving forward and not backward, but really I haven’t a clue what I’m doing or if I’m doing it right or if anything is being done. Anything good being done.

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Today was a hard day. Full of tears.  Tears running silent rivers down my cheeks, and full of fully body-shaking sobs. Sobs that took my breath away and I wondered if I’d ever be able to stop and just breathe again.

And I have cancer of the soul.

In an attempt to salvage part of this hard day, this day of tears and sobs, to combat the cancer of my soul, I took the 14-year old for coffee after her dance class. I bought her coffee. And I bought the coffee for the man in the big white Chevy pick up behind me.

Maybe that was the right thing to do to fight this cancer that is eating my soul. Keeping my focus on myself and my own needs. Maybe, just maybe if I choose to take care of someone else’s needs when mine are so great, maybe, just maybe my healing, my needs will be met.

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Maybe that is how I will have peace. And healing. And my focus will be on the right things. And the cancer will be stopped.

Musings on the State of Affairs

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Lately I’ve really been musing on several different topics as my mind tends to flit here and there. You never know what will come out of my mouth because I never know what will pop into my head.

I’ve been pondering the most this idea of Crazy Love. No, not the book by Frances Chan which is (and has been) sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read, but the whole idea of loving like crazy. Loving when I feel just so give out, so empty. Loving big when I feel so needy inside.

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It’s definitely living counter-culture. Even in the church. We just don’t live like that. We think we have to know what it feels like be loved, we have to always be full of love before we can pour any out.

“You can’t give what you don’t have” is only true of the tangible. I really believe Jesus not only calls us to live life, live love loud and out-loud He expects us to do it. Loving people isn’t an option.

Claiming we don’t have the ability or capability to love others isn’t an option either, at least not for those indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.  We have to live love because Love lives IN us!

Think about that for a pair of moments.

Love. Lives. Inside. Of. Me.

Love Lives. Inside. Of. You.

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You see, if you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit you are indwelt by Love. Because we are told in 1 John God IS Love. (1 John 4:8)

That’s different than being told “God loves”.

So even when we feel all-give out, and haven’t a clue what it feels like to be loved at all, or how to love, or too needy of love from someone else, we CAN love others. Always. All the time. Whether we feel able to or not. We can. And we have to.

So since I’ve been pondering this, I’ve decided to bring back Go MAD Mondays.

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Go MAD Mondays….when we consciously look for ways to love loud and out-loud on another. It could be someone you know, it could be a complete stranger. It could be paying for the car behind you in line, or the carS behind you in line. It could be walking into a grocery store and finding someone with a full grocery cart and paying for the whole thing. It could be slipping your debit card into the slot at the gas pump for someone else before they get the chance. Or letting someone go ahead of you in line. Or it could be smiling at someone.

Or shock! It could be responding in patience and love when you’re in a hurry and stressed. Responding in kindness when someone else makes a mistake and inconveniences you.

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Isn’t that the way to really live thanksgiving? To really live Love? To pour Him out to a world that is so desperate to know they are loved, that someone sees them.

We will find the more love we pour out the more love we feel, the more we feel loved.

 “…for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you”
Psalm 116:7b (nasb)