Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens., Photography

Open Heart Surgery

I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a cutsey, eye-catching way to draw you in and wow you with my 2 w’s. Wit and Wisdom. But I can think of nothing at all witty or wise to say so I’m just going to jump right in with both feet, since that is typically how I roll.

Have you ever had one of those times where the hits just keep coming? You’ve barely recovered from one hit when the next one comes. Or maybe it comes as you’re still reeling from the pain of the last encounter?

You’re left breathless and feeling more than a little like you’re coming apart, only it’s not a nice neat coming a part at the seams. No, it’s a big, ugly hole in the middle of your dress. It’s the sting of the loose string someone pulled and now you’re being exposed.

And it’s cold.

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DSC_0102It’s the words someone says to you that are true. And you know they’re true. The words being spoken to you about you are all very true, and you know you never claimed to be the opposite of the words, but there they are all up in your face. And you’re left feeling like a liar at best and a more than a little wounded as you puzzle over why on earth they thought the words needed to be said at all.

Because you never claimed to be what they are telling you you aren’t. Not once. In fact, you never even had the thought that you were or could be until they asked you too be it or do it. Until they led you to believe you could be something you weren’t.

All their encouragement and tenderness as you tried on the new and found a passion that lit the fire of your soul now feels fake and like a lie from the deepest pit of deepest hell.

And you never claimed to be good at it. You never claimed to be a professional. You never even knew you had the skills they claimed to have seen. You never would have attempted it without their encouraging.

And now here you are, months later, once again finding yourself horribly inadequate, unwanted, unneeded, unnecessary, cast aside, rejected yet again.

You never claimed or wanted any of that. But here you are. Reading words that bring a quick sting of tears to your eyes and nose, the quick intake of breath before your face involuntarily crumbles as your body convulses with sobs and you land in a shattered heap on the floor.

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You ask over and over, “Jesus! What? What does this mean? Why did You allow this? Why?”  You pray for eyes that are open to His answer, ears that are attentive to hear His voice whispering in the midst of your pain-filled sobbing.

You long to run. You want to be anyplace but here. But right here is where you are and you know you can’t escape. You must stay here in the agony of the hurt. You must stay right here in the painful place and wait for His voice, you have to, as my friend says,  “embrace the pain.” All you really want to do though is shove it way, make it stop. Run far and fast. So far so fast in ten years time you’ll still be running.

Over time your prayer changes to “What do you have to teach me, Lord? And can You teach me quickly?” Because you’re still about avoiding the pain.

Your friend threw an arrow and it hit its intended target with deadly accuracy. You pray, “Lord, yank it out! Yank out that arrow, even if it means I bleed to death, yank it out because it hurts too much. Yank it out, please!”

Job 23:10 runs laps in your mind:

“But He knows the way I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

And you chant this as if it was your new mantra. You pray it back to Him as you bleed out your heart to Him. Every breath a new agony, every breath a prayer.  A prayer just to keep your lungs taking in oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide.

Breathe in, breathe out. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Breathe in the Life of Him, knowing it is only His Life that is keeping you alive. Breathe out His Life. Choose to fixate your gaze on Him and not on those who would hurt you.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

And in that moment you know it’s only His life and His grace that is keeping you alive at all. You know fully now that if you can only cling to Him in this painful place you will find Him fully capable and more than willing to take your painful heart and heal it.

You begin to see that He was treated this same way by His friends. They all left Him and fled in His greatest hour of need. And you wonder how on earth He could have managed the cross all alone.

And I mean, all alone. Because not only was He alone on the cross, all His friends had fled, but His Father also left Him alone. The greatest hours of darkness this earth has ever known were that Friday as Jesus hung on the cross.

And He hung there. For love. For the love.

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For the love, He hung there for me! For you.

And what a prize He got. He hung there to the death for His enemies. Because that is what I was. What you were. His enemies.

And we dare to compare our paltry little hurts from friends to His sacrifice. I can’t say I’d die for my friends, I know that probably makes me a bad friend. If I wouldn’t die for my friends, I sure won’t die for an enemy.

But He did.

For the love.

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Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens., Photography

God is no gentleman

Have you ever heard that saying? “God is a gentleman. He waits to be invited in. He doesn’t barge in where you don’t want Him.”

I’m convinced that statement is a lie. Yes, it’s true He does not force anyone to accept Him, so in that regard He is a gentleman. But I’m here to tell you, when you give Him your heart, He takes your life!

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Just take a look at this:

“Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:13-14 nasb)

We are redeemed and purified, why? To be a people of His own possession! He fully possesses us! There is no part of our body, no part of our life He does not see and where He is not! Every place we want to hide from Him because we think it’s too evil, to beyond the scope of grace, to beyond the reach of His blood, He is there! He possesses those parts too.

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The parts of ourselves that are hidden from us, the parts we aren’t even fully aware of are fully possessed by Him.

No, God’s no gentleman, but He is good. That is what we must realize and trust in. His very goodness. Because He isn’t a gentleman. He goes places we don’t want Him to go, He messes with things we don’t want Him to mess with, He changes things we don’t want changed.  Yes, we can resist Him and make futile attempts to thwart Him but guess what? He always wins.

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So just give it up right here and right now. That fight you’re fighting? Just give it up. Give in to Him. Partner with Him to work in you, even in those hidden places. You can’t hide from Him. He possesses you fully.

Let’s unpack this verse a little more. It is such a treasure trove of Truth!

It is the grace of God that instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. It’s His grace! We can’t do it on our own. He does it through us and uses grace to teach us! It teaches us how to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age. It points the way to the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. His grace points the way to Him!

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And that is glory!

Jesus gave Himself for us to:

  • Redeem us from every lawless deed.
  • Purify for Himself a people for His own possession!
  • Possess us,
  • Make us zealous for good deeds.

This means we are:

  • Redeemed from every lawless deed and every violation of the law–wickedness. This means our old is gone (2 Corinthians 5:17) and our new is here. The old way was wicked and in constant violation of the law. Every intent of our heart was only evil all the time. But He redeemed us from that and He paid our penalty! We are no longer unwanted children, we are redeemed!  Camp on this for a pair of moments. He went to the slave auction of the enemy, and saw us there. We were over our head, drowning in a debt we couldn’t pay and He said, “I pick that one. I’m redeeming her.” He paid the price of our redemption. But He also paid the debt we owed that put us on that auction block in the first place! He paid our redemption and then He also paid the penalty, the debt we owed. Does anyone else want to shout, GLORY, or is it just me?
  • Purified. He not only redeemed our lawless ways but He purified us. He made us pure because He is pure. He didn’t just buy us from our old way of living, He stripped us and cleansed us completely! We are completely clean, undefiled before Him. We are no longer the bad girls (or boys!) we are purified as He is pure!
  • His own possession. He fully possesses us. There is no part of us that He does not possess–even those parts we try to hide because we think they are too wicked, to outside of grace for Him to see, too beyond the power and reach of His blood–He possesses those parts too. Even the parts we don’t know about ourselves, the parts hidden from our own eyes, He possesses them, because He redeemed and purified them.  We are completely clean before Him! We are completely His.
  • Zealous for good deeds. Our desire is to work for Him, not to pay for our redemption and purification because that just can’t be done and it’s a slap in God’s face when we try. Rather it is because of our redemption and purification, and being fully possessed by Him, that makes us want to work for Him. But it isn’t us working at all. It is Him working in and through us. He not only gives us the desire and the ability, He does the work. We just have to submit to Him.

Life is either a great adventure....Daybook!!

Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens., Photography

Clearing Out The Old

One of my favorite parts about spring and summer is not the heat, although I do love that. I love yard work.

Strange. I know. But it’s true. I go a little nuts on my yard and working in it. I love tending my flowers, plotting and planning where to put more and what kinds I want. I love getting out, walking behind my mower and  using my weed whacker.

My favorite things.

I’d really rather spray weed killer, or use a good weed and feed than spend any time pulling weeds. Why pull them when you can kill them dead right in their tracks? I mean really!

 

I was recently gone for a week….oh it was a glorious week! Jesus lived large, loud and out-loud. He was so very present. A friend of mine has what he calls “EO” or eating orgasm. (I know…I know…I know), I have adapted that somewhat and will often now exclaim, “JO! JO! JO!” Not as a name, Jo, but “Jay Oh!” Because He blesses me.

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This morning was just such a time.  I spent time mowing, pruning my flowers, and just general yard work. 20170609_063710

I love spending time outside with Jesus. He is always so faithful to speak and focus my thoughts on Him and His very goodness and very God-ness.

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This morning I noticed the ugly part of my yard really needed some attention. And by some attention I really mean a LOT of attention. It is ugly. No grass at all, it’s choked with weeds. There are no pretty flowers and really it’s just an eyesore. Our old broken trampoline is there, broken and fallen branches clutter the top.

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Today was the day to mow that area.  I started in and it was hard going. It seemed every large tree branch from 5 counties was in that small, postage stamp sized area.  My mower was wanting to stop with each step I took it. I was determined to win the battle though and persevered.

Pushing my way through when Jesus spoke. “You know, this is a lot like your life. It’s full of weeds, things you have believed to be true that just aren’t. Now we’re working through these, and it’s hard going.”

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“We’ll have to stop every so often while we pick up broken branches. Some of the weeds will just bend with the mower, so we’ll have to go back over them from another direction to clear the area.”

I was listening, taking it all in. I stopped to move the branches, the broken fence posts, praying for a heart that is willing to do the hard work to believe the truth that so often feels and sounds like a lie.

Isn’t that funny. We listen to and believe lies so much the truth sounds like a lie. We exchange the TRUTH of God for a lie and that makes the lie true and the truth a lie.

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Our choice makes the truth a lie. 

Yeah, you try that on for a pair of moments. Just by believing a lie, you’re making the truth a lie and a lie the truth.

Now that’s crazy talk!

When I willing choose to believe a lie from the enemy, either the devil himself or my own flesh, I do his job for him.

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And you know what?

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I’m done helping him out. 

I’m so done helping him. My life might look barren, dry and full of prickly weeds, but it’s not for long.

Not long at all.

You see I have a dream. A passion. A desire to join with the Master Gardener and work to weed out the garden of my soul. He has plans to break up the hard soil, prepare it with compost, and then plant grass.

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He’ll landscape it with flowers, a bench, and a fire pit. Where we’ll sit and share our thoughts of the day, both at the beginning and the ending.  Just Him and I.

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And we’ll revel in the new found freedom I have.

I’ll call Him my Lord, my Daddy. He’ll call me His little peony.

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Posted in Go MAD Monday, Life as it happens., Love, Photography

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)

 

Posted in Cooking, Food!, Just For Fun, Life as it happens., Photography, Recipes

Nameless Chicken Dinner

DSC_0042Which is somewhat similar to Winner Winner Chicken dinner, but different.

A friend of mine is, in my humble (hah!) estimation, a wonderful cook. I’ve gotten a few recipes sent me in a text message and each one is wonderful. These recipes can’t be found anywhere because I’m pretty dang sure he made them up.

In his head.

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I’ve long been of a competitive nature. And well, two can play at that game, right?

Normally the first time I make a recipe I follow it exactly. Except when I don’t realize I don’t have a certain ingredient until I need to put it in. I substitute. Often I’ll put supper on the table and announce, “I followed the recipe exactly, except it called for this and I only had that. So I used it instead. Oh and it said to do this, but I did something else entirely. If it’s really bad, we’ll get pizza.”

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After trying some of the recipes from my friend, I thought to myself, “Self, you could do this.”

Last week I set out to come up with my own chicken recipe. And I think I did.

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Now, I’m not going to share the whole recipe with you here and now. It needs a little more tweaking. But it’s close.

Lest you think in the above that I used coconut, nope. I didn’t.

I do normally use provolone cheese with this dish, though. Today though I realized too late that my offspring had eaten nearly all the provolone so we used pepper jack instead.

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So really all I’m doing is tempting you. I will tell you this, though, it’s good!

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Leave me a comment if you’d like to be a recipe tester for this and as I get the kinks worked out, I’ll be in touch.