When you have more Questions than Answers

pexels-photo-356079.jpegA friend of mine often asks, “What do questions produce?” I always answer with “MORE questions!” And that is never, in his mind, the correct answer. To him, answers produce understanding. To me, if you answer one question, it brings ten (or more) questions to the forefront, each one vying for top position in my mind. Which one of the delicious questions will I ask first? And when I ask it invariably I get a whole new host of questions.

Sometimes our questions don’t always get answered. It isn’t that there are some unanswerable questions, I don’t believe that for a second. But the questions seem to go unanswered. These also bring more questions to mind. The first one is always, Why?

Why did this happen? Why didn’t that happen? Why isn’t this answered? Why did that get answered and not that?

Sometimes Jesus speaks to our hearts with such clarity and we know that we know it’s His voice and we know exactly what we’re supposed to do. And we’re ready to do it. But then nothing seems to happen for a time. And we’re left living in the waiting, living our life in the why.

Why isn’t anything happening? Why can’t I see Him? Why can’t I just do this? I’m ready but why aren’t they? Why isn’t He? 

How do you live in the waiting – the time between hearing His voice and seeing the fulfillment? How do you keep going when you think you heard wrong and life has stacked the deck against you? When the enemy whispers to you that you are wrong and all wrong? That God isn’t good and He didn’t say that –  that yet again you heard it all wrong, got it all wrong, are all wrong?  When your focus wanders and your hear wonders what the point of it all is really? When you want to quit? Where does your heart fin the hope to continue on –  to keep trusting, keep loving, keep walking in and with Jesus? Where do you find the desire to keep going?

Your prayers seem like lead balloons, you know He hears and you know He answers. You just can’t see it. You can’t see anything except what He told you and its disenchantment? You begin to wonder if you can trust Him at all.

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How do you live when Jesus is as silent as the empty grave? And you feel His silence as anger because you’ve screwed up yet again. You haven’t trusted enough, you haven’t done enough, haven’t been enough, haven’t been good enough.

When the next step feels fake and forced? When you want so desperately to believe again but you aren’t sure you can? Where do you go then? Where do you go when life has more questions than answers?

How do you keep looking to Him, knowing He meets needs, you’ve believed it, you’ve heard His voice whisper softly to your soul, you know He meets needs with more of Himself, but Himself seems so absent and the heart needs are piling up like unpaid and unpayable bills? And your heart feels like an unpaid bill with no bill collector will ever come to extract payment?

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When you so much want to just simply believe, but you just can’t – no matter how hard you try or how much you pray to the silent heavens and the God who inhabits them?

What do you do then? When you feel so small and alone? When that one friendship is on the rocks and you don’t believe anymore than it will get better, even though Jesus said, promised it would?

When you write out pages and pages of questions because the pages and pages of prayers haven’t been answered and you can’t bear the thought of praying them one more time?

When you know there is no one on earth with the answers – no one who can tell you what is really going on and why this happened? No one can and the God who can isn’t? What then?

When your heart is full of angst so you write and write and write until your hand cramps so you can’t read your handwriting and still you write on hoping for some answer to magically appear the page as an unthought idea?

When you want to live someone else’s life for a while because your’s is broken? But you just, just can’t?

When all you hear is the enemy’s whispered “Did God really say…?” questions and you aren’t sure of the answer anymore because it seems to have been forever and an age ago since you heard what He said. You wonder if your mind just made it all up to make you feel good and it’s all just a lie, a sham.

You wonder if Jesus really spoke at all.

Where do you go then?

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We’re all familiar with the story of King David and the 15-years he spent running from Saul. Fifteen years between being anointed as King of Israel and seeing that fulfilled. Fifteen years. To mention it even now seems a moth-eaten and musty answer. Everyone rushes to his story when they’re living stuck in the why and all the other questions. We know he had these questions, we know he struggled. We also know he knew where to go in the struggles and doubts. I am sure he struggled going there just as much as we do and chances are he often failed to do it immediately, just like we do.

But what does Jesus say? Does He turn us away with and in our doubts? No. Does He shun us in our pain? (Because let’s face it, living in the why and the waiting is a painful place to live.)

Oh, my dear reader, He does not. He remembers that we are simply dust,

For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. Psalm 103:14 

No, in fact, in the face of all our doubts, struggles, and questions He says,

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Come. Come to Me all who are weary. Bring your doubts. Bring your questions. You’ll find rest. Keep trusting. Keep seeking. Keep asking.

If a God says to keep asking, you can know He won’t turn you away in your questions. He welcomes them, and even if, for a time, they seem to have no answers. He is faithful and the more you lean into Him, press your sad heart into Him the more He pours His oil of grace into those deeply hurting questions.  The enemy will still whisper his lies, he will still point out what looks like God’s unfaithfulness, but press into Him.

Lord, to whom shall we go? Only You have the words of life. John 6:68

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Crazy Conversations

pexels-photo-209037.jpegSometimes funny things happen. Sometimes they just naturally happen and other times they need a little help. At least that is what I’ve heard. I’m not sure it’s true. For me it all seems to just flow right out of my every pore.

Let’s be clear here. Funny just happens. Especially when you know someone who has virtually no filter between their brain and mouth. No filter. None. You never know what will pop out of their mouth. Conversations with these people are always an adventure. If you love adventure, you love people like this. If you like life to be staid, static, and your idea of adventure is squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle, you will not enjoy people with no filter.

People with no filter tend to say things they haven’t thought of yet. They also tend to say really, really funny things without even realizing it. They say things like, “It goes on the top on the bottom.” And when they say that, chances are very good their offspring, the recipient of said comment, will look at them with an aghast look, put the platter on the counter, and back away quickly.

At least I suppose that would happen. I could see how it could happen. I’m sure I knew exactly what I meant by “on the top on the bottom”, it’s just really unfortunate that no one else could read my mind.

 

Julie

justread_JulieBlitz

Welcome to the Julie by Catherine Marshall Blitz Tour! Be sure to stop by each stop for spotlights and excerpts plus you’ll get extra entry points for a wonderful Grand Prize!

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Title: Julie Author: Catherine Marshall Publisher: Gilead Publishing Re-Issued Date: April 17, 2018 Genre: Historical Romance FictionLinks*: Goodreads l Amazon l ChristianBook l Book Depository l Itunes
*A New York Times bestseller* Will the dam hold? Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys the Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could endanger the entire community. Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills as they investigate the conditions of the immigrant laborers. As the Alderton Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role to reform these conditions, seething tensions come to a head.
When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?

You can find more information here.

Blog Love

Screenshot_20171209-174119Little girls (and boys) grow up with heroes. There are people in their lives who are bigger than life, who inspire them to dream big dreams. Sometimes they get to meet their heroes in unconventional ways.

And I’m all about doing things in unconventional ways. I’ve been privileged to meet one of two heroes I had a teenager. We haven’t met in person, but we have met in print. And he has been kind enough to refer readers of his blog to this blog. So if you’re looking for my reviews of An Accidental Cowboy, welcome! You can find them here and here. 

You can find my review of Dancing With the Dead here.

 

How To Find 3 Things Your heart Desperately Needs

Do not be anxious for your life ...I dropped my youngest daughter off at the dance studio and as I was driving home my mind was wandering as minds often do. It flitted from topic to topic until it settled on the upcoming graduation from high school and college of my oldest daughter.

I would say her graduation from both high school and college is a perk of homeschooling, but it’s not that at all. In my area of the world, our local high school has partnered with our junior college and offers many dual-enrollment classes. In our eyes it just makes sense to take advantage of this option.

Intrinsically I already know it will be a hard time for me. I’ve shed a few tears already and it is becoming less and less easy to just shove the whole idea to the back of my mind. Hello! It’s coming. It’s coming soon.

Mentally I was asking friends to please, oh please, come to the reception because I need you. I need you to keep me sane. I need you to allow me to lose my mind in anger or tears and not try to fix it and not take it personally. I need you!

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And Jesus spoke to my soul, “Who do you really need?” My soul answered very quickly with, “Only You, Jesus.” He has been teaching me over the past several weeks and months just Who really meets my needs and how He does it. To say His voice on this has revolutionized my thinking would win the understatement of the year award.

For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall put drink, nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? Matthew 6:25

We tend to focus on the physical needs and obsess and stress about how to meet those needs. They seem more real than the other –  heart needs. We think by meeting the physical needs our internal heart needs will be met as well. But the physical will never meet the spiritual.

We just can not expect a new pair of shoes to meet our heart need for affirmation. It won’t happen. Even if they’re really cute shoes.

All the shine of a thousand spotlights;
All the stars we steal from the night sky;
Will never be enough, never be enough.
Towers of gold are still too little;
These hands could hold the world; but 
It’ll never be enough, never be enough
For me

(Never Enough by Mike Portnoy)

The physical will never be enough to meet the deepest heart need we have.  It will seem to for a short time but that feeling fades and we’re left feeling empty, maybe even more empty than we did before. So we work and worry when Jesus says, “it’ll never be enough, so just stop. Look to Me and I will meet the greatest need of your longing heart. In Me you will find all the treasures and I will tenderly care for you like a mother to a child, like a hen gathers her chicks.”

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All too often, we delude ourselves by thinking that cute pair of shoes will meet our deepest heart need. When a friend rejects us, we must have that pair of shoes. When someone criticizes us, we must have a cup of coffee and a new mug. But those don’t satisfy our soul.

While we can’t meet our spiritual needs with the physical, each of our physical needs (food, clothing, and shelter) does have a spiritual counterpart.

Food:

  • I am the Bread of Life. (John 6:35, 41 & 51)
  • Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4)
  • O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blesses is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8)

Clothing

  • Put on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6: 11-17)
  • For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:27)
  • I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness. As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Shelter

  • …How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37)
  • Be to me a Rock of Habitation to which I may continually come, You have given commandment to save me, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. (Psalm 71:3)
  • The eternal God is a dwelling place. And underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, “Destroy”. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
  • He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

He meets our every need. Spiritual and physical. And He meets them in ways we can’t always begin to imagine. He meets them and fills them, He fulfills them with Himself. His life meets our heart needs and in Him our hearts find the love, acceptance and affirmation they long for most.

So the next time you think you need someone, remember you only need one Someone and He is so ready to meet your heart needs with His life. He satisfies the longing, needy heart.

 

1 Amazing Contest, Including a Perfect Giveaway for You

There are a few great loves in every life. Things we cling to as if our life depended on it and sometimes we’re sure they do.

Some of mine are, Jesus. He is not only a great love of and in my life He IS my life. Apart from Him I can do nothing good, nothing of value, nothing that will endure. I’ve known about Him for a long, long time, but I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of knowing Him.

Coffee. If you’re at all familiar to my blog you are very aware of my love of all things coffee. I love the word coffee. I love the smell of coffee. I love, especially love, the taste of coffee.

Words. I love everything about words. I love to think of words. I love to see words, say words, write words, study words.

Books. Oh yeah. This one. I have rarely met a book I haven’t at least liked. Books. They fall open and I effortlessly fall in. I love sharing books with my friends.

In light of all this, I need your help! I’m starting a new blog focusing on ALL THINGS BOOKS! My book reviews will show up there first. I’ll share recommendations.

I need you to help with the name of the blog. I want you to comment here (or on this blogs facebook page. You can find that here.) your ideas for the name. I’ll pick the best one and the winner will receive a FREE copy of Lee Strobel’s newest book, The Case for Miracles.

case for miraclesThe Case for Miracles is Lee’s newest book to hit the store shelves and one I’m just digging into myself. But I know you’re going to love it! If you’ve ever wondered if miracles are real, or ever happen, or if they do happen. You will want to read this book.

Contest is open now and closes at midnight (mountain daylight time) on Monday, April 23rd and the winner will be announced here (and here and here) at noon on Wednesday, April 25th.

You can share this contest with anyone, wherever you desire.

5-Love Languages, Jesus, You and the Love Your Heart Needs

A number of years ago Gary Chapman wrote a book all about love. In this book he said each person alive had at least one way they both show and express love, he referred to that as their love language. Since love speaks to each of us individually it made sense. It made a lot of sense to a lot of people.

As per my usual zany ways, I wasn’t really gung-ho to read the book. First of all, it wasn’t a novel and I was sure all non-fiction books were boring. And second of all, everyone else was reading it and oOoOoOoOoOhing and aAaAaAaAaAhing it to death. I’m too much of a non-conformist to readily want to read anything the whole world is raving about.

It took me a number of years to read it, in fact I only read it when we were out of town at a marriage retreat and a friend of ours shared that it had revolutionized his marriage. “We must get this book, Mr. Fullcup!” I exclaimed.

He agreed and so we did.

We read it out-loud together and tried to guess which languages each other spoke (him: Acts of Service, me: gifts and time). We took it on ourselves to meet those deep love needs and keep each others love-tanks full.

Yeah. That lasted about 3 days and then we were back to squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle, being late, and in general not doing anything to speak love to each other. We weren’t mean we just stopped focusing on this one area and lived life. We stopped asking if love tanks were full and what could be done to fill them.

We knew each of us was trying to meet the needs and so would say, “Yep! I’m good!” all the while choking on the sawdust in the bottom of the bucket.  Now we don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t talk about it. We just choose, for whatever reason, not to think about it.

Jesus has recently been directing my thoughts back to the whole idea of Love languages. (If you’re not familiar with them, or would like a refresher, they are: Acts of Service, Touch, Gifts, Time, and Words of Affirmation.) And not in the way you might expect. Or want. Or be crazy about. Because as is my normal, it’s bound to make waves.

Love Languages –  at first glance is a great book. But a deeper inspection reveals that it isn’t a Biblical book. The 5-Love Languages is a book that tells us we all have God-given ways we feel love and acceptance from others, and that we can only love from a full tank. So it is my responsibility to meet your love need in your love language and to teach you to meet mine in my language.  It is your responsibility to soak up the love and meet my need for love from your full tank. (That I filled. All by my own big girl self.)

But only – it isn’t. When I do this, I am doing nothing more than using you to meet my needs, which makes you my god, because whoever or whatever I look to to meet my needs becomes my god, and that, my dearest reader, is nothing more than idolatry.

Jesus is the onliest only One I (and you) should be looking to for those needs. Man simply was not designed to meet them.

Yes, man does love, but not of their own ability. Both the love and the ability to love comes from Jesus. (Oh I’m going to get mail about that comment. But hear me out, in 1 John we read in a couple of places that God IS love. He personifies love and without Him there is no love. Lust, yes. Love, no.)

We are commanded to love one another, but not to meet their needs. Jesus meets them. Human love to and from us is just the frosting on the cupcake of life. Freely and lavishly given from a heart that is fully loved and free. The loved heart –  the one who knows it is loved by Jesus (that need it met) can freely and without strings love another and it just happens. We can’t help it. Jesus loves because He IS Love personified.

We each are hardwired by God to need love, it is what drives us and drives us to Him. He meets each of these heart needs with Himself. What greater act of service is there than the cross? What greater gift than grace? Or the death of His Own Son? What could be better than walking on earth for 33 years with us? What could be better than the time He spends with each of us each time we call on His name?  What greater words could He say to affirm us than, “I have called you friends”?  What could possibly be better than having the God who created everything and hung the stars in place, speaks to and touches your heart in a million different ways?

He is so intimate with each of us. Meeting our every need. Meeting our greatest need with Himself.