Tag Archive | Christ

All the Runners Run

Boy that is profound, isn’t it? All the runners run. Duh. That’s why they’re runners.

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I’ve long been a runner. Not always physically, but I’m a runner nonetheless. All of my life I kept running. Running from the boogey man, from pain, from fears, from people, from love, from Jesus.

Almost ten years ago I also started running physically. What great bringing together of the inside and outside of my life. Run away on the inside, run away on the outside.

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I recently spent a glorious week in beautiful Blue Springs, Missouri. We used to always joke that Missouri was really spelling M-I-S-E-R-Y. This week was anything but misery.  I was attending a rather intensive retreat and Jesus exploded all over this woman.

By all over, I really mean All. Over. Completely.

My prayer going into the retreat was that Jesus would ruin me for life as normal. That I would  have zero desire to ever back to what my life had been like. He completely undid me!

I will never, ever forget my time there. I will never forget what He told me there. I will never forget the pictures He gave me.

I am ruined. Forever ruined by Him and for Him.

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If you were to zoom in on my necklace in the picture above you would find the pendant is a stick figure of a runner. Very much indicative of my life to date. I wore it with happiness.

Happiness but not joy.

I had been home for a just a couple of days at the most when I was putting the necklace back on one morning when I heard Jesus speak to my soul.

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

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I held it in my hands, looking at it. And again I heard Him speak,

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

My soul reacted with joyful abandonment. And I threw the necklace in the trash. I have been completely set free from my running from everything.

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Everything.

I still run. It just looks different now. Instead of running from, I run to. I run to Him. I run to life. I run to love. I run to joy. I run to friendships. I run and when I run I feel His pleasure.

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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

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.

Of Bread and Wine

thankfulmugLately I’ve been pondering communion. The Eucharist. The time in our worship when we sit in somber solemnness and take the Bread and the Wine.

Then after we sing a hymn (or not) we just get up, vacate the sanctuary and go about our lives as if nothing of any import had just happened. As if our lunch plans superseded anything that Jesus did for us that day on the cross.

As if the roast we have at home in the oven was more pressing than the sacrifice that saved our souls from the fiery pits.

Maybe it’s only those who have recently been singed by a fiery pit who really understand the Eucharist. The giving of thanks. The importance of what we just did.

I think all too often communion is just another thing we do as if by rote memory. “Oh, yes, it’s the first Sunday. We have communion. Crap dang it! We just had that last month (or last week) and now the service will go long. And I’m starving. I wonder if my chicken will burn in the oven because now we have to have communion. Or maybe someone will invite us over/out for lunch? I wonder who it will be.”

We’ve already forgotten the Jesus we claim to love, we’ve forgotten His sacrifice, we’ve forgotten the Bread and the Wine and we haven’t even partaken of it yet.

“Do THIS in Remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19)

What is the THIS we are supposed to do?

Maybe our version of communion, the Eucharist, isn’t it. I know for sure our attitude towards the Eucharist is definitely not it.

Maybe it isn’t communion Jesus is after. Maybe what He is really saying is simply, “Remember Me” In all of our every day activity. “As you eat and drink, be remembering Me. As you walk in the way, as you sit to relax, as you work, as you play, just remember Me. Include Me in your day. Think about Me. Make Me a living, vital part of your every day mundane.

Remember Me.

In the days that are mundane for you, when you just do the very same thing you’ve done before for a thousand yesterdays stretching into a million tomorrows.

Remember Me.

When it is so mind-numbingly boring you just want to scream.

Remember Me.

When the days are exciting and special,

Remember Me.

Remember My love for you. Remember My brokenness for you.

Remember Me.

Maybe, just maybe what we are to remember is not the bread and wine, but the Person who IS the Bread and Wine.

Maybe it’s just like Christmas, we forget the Christ-child in our rush to open packages. In our communion we forget the One we’re supposed to commune with. We forget the reason for our Eucharist in our rush to get it done and over with.

We should remember Him, because He never forgets us!

Oh Bread of Life, help me to Remember You. Let me not forget You or Your sacrifice. Help me to savor each moment of life with You. Help me choose to Remember You at all times. Don’t let me forget the Giver when I’m partaking of the Eucharist. Let me give thanks to You and For You.


Psalm 23 Virginia Style

I am the Lord’s little lamb,
He meets all my needs.

He walks with me to rest in green pastures,
He meets my most basic needs.
He encourages and strengthens my mind,
Because of His greatness.
He leads me in the right way.

When my path leads me to walk in scary places,
I don’t have to be afraid.
Because He is with me still.
His direction and correction
Bring me comfort not pain.

He puts a feast before me
While the scary people stand by.
He blesses me over and over,
I can’t contain all of them.

I can rest assured that His goodness and love
will be with me as long as forever lasts.
And I will get to dwell with Him forever.

©VLG2016

Whatcha doing, doing doing?

Have you ever noticed humans are always doing something? Always.  Do you ever wonder why we’re called human beings instead of human doings?

Ever notice Christians lead the pack in doing? It’s true. We’re always doing. Doing things for the church, doing things for God. Doing things for our neighbor. Doing things because we feel guilty if we don’t do something every second of every day.

If the church posts a need for workers, we’re signing up. We’re overbooked, over-stressed,  completely cranky to everyone all the time. We suffer with health issues because we won’t just take a break and rest our weary souls and bodies.  We have no more time for anything and yet, oh look there is another need for nursery workers, we’re already teaching Sunday school, singing on the praise team and serving as a greeter, baking snacks for Sunday morning fellowship time, but we’re sure we can squeeze in one more thing because “they need me. God needs me!”  And off we rush to do one more thing for Jesus all the while thinking, “Man! God’s sure blessed to have me to do all this work for Him.”

We still find ourselves wondering if we’re doing enough. Are we doing enough to please Him? To prove to other Christians and the world that we are His disciple?  Are we trying to prove our love for Him, or are we trying to just love Him at all? Are we trying to force the changes we need in our lives by our service to Him?

Do we really think if we just do one more thing, take one more Bible study, lead one more small group, volunteer for that extra Sunday in the nursery, deliver meals to those who visited is going to make God happy?

How many times do we mistake our doing things for God for being with Him?

It is so easy to forget in our rush to get the next thing done that we don’t stop to ask Him what He wants us to do. We’re simply to busy with things for God we can’t stop to chat with Him.

I’m not so sure we’re really doing them for God at all. No, I think we’re doing them for self, so we will feel better about our sin. The sin we harbor in our heart and hope if we do enough for Him He won’t notice or if He does He won’t care. Because “look at all the wonderful things you’ve done for Me! Man, am I blessed to have you!!”

I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve learned. Lean in close so I don’t have to shout. That is called idolatry. We’re making our schedule an idol, we use it to replace time spent listening to our Savior’s voice. We’re making an idol of our own self, we are choosing to serve our flesh over serving the one who died in the flesh for us.

In fact, He didn’t just die in the flesh for us. No, in the whole process He securely killed our flesh! And made us, by His very Spirit, alive to Him.

He did not make us alive so we could rush around, wearing ourselves out in service to Him. As if our doing things for God could ever take the place of Him! He redeemed us to live a life of abundance.

A life lived in abundance of Joy!
A life lived in abundance of Peace!
A life lived in abundance of Love!
A life lived in abundance of Gentleness!
A life lived in abundance of LIFE!

Because He is our life! He is MY life. The gospel of John tells me that apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

I can do nothing. There is nothing I can do apart from Him living in me! Nothing. I can’t even make my heart beat one more time, or take my next breath apart from Him.

Last night I was pondering all the things I’ve been choosing to do of late to grow in Him. To grow up in Him. And I was a little teary because it is such a slow process. I am too blind to see the changes He is making in me, all I can see are the old behaviors I want so much to be rid of.

So I asked Him in a teary prayer if all the things I’ve been doing have worked to bring about the changes I need so desperately.

Want to know what He said?

“Virginia, your “doing” doesn’t change you. I change you.”

He changes me and He changes you one obedient step at a time. When we rest in Him and in Him abide, we will begin to listen to His heartbeat for us and we will follow His voice because we are His sheep.

So all the things you’ve been doing to gain acceptance with God, stop. Just stop. Seek His face. Seek to hear His voice whisper in your dear ear, “This is the way, my child, walk in it!” (Isaiah 30:21).  And find in Him the rest your body and weary soul needs so desperately.

Toilet Paper Prayer

toilet-paperYou know some months are just harder than others, right? Some moments are just harder than others. At least that is true for me.

A few weeks ago I was in one of those hard months with plenty of hard moments. There were times I wanted nothing more than to cry UNCLE! every second of every day with every breath I took.

That was the time when my debit card was on life support, and I was out of cash. And we had three rolls of toilet paper and two weeks until pay day. I wondered if I would need to use some of my rationed savings to get more before we ran out completely.

I decided against it. Because three double rolls and two weeks, surely a little family of 4 could make it work, right? Especially since 3 of us were out of the house for the better part of every day.

Piece of cake.

But I have girls. Teen age girls. Girls who think they need to use a plethora of toilet paper. In less than a full week we had blown through all three rolls. One roll didn’t even last 24 hours.

This Momma wasn’t happy. At all.

I informed my family, mostly my offspring, that I would not be purchasing more toilet paper until Friday. Not going to do it. We have kleenex, use that. Momma isn’t spending another penny.

Thirty-six hours later I found myself praying for of all things, toilet paper. I listed out my needs to in prayer, and topping the list was toilet paper. Toilet paper that my children squandered. Toilet paper that is not a necessity of life, a nice feature don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of toilet paper. But it isn’t vital to my life, especially when we had other things we could use just as well.

But I prayed for toilet paper. I didn’t pray that God would supply us with toilet paper. I just listed it as a need. Along with cereal. And something equally mundane that now escapes my memory.

I somehow knew that this would be a monumental prayer and it would have massive consequences. I knew in some ways this would be a day of turning for me.

The day wore on and I occasionally thought about my toilet paper prayer but mostly I forgot about it. When it came to mind, I mostly thought what a dumb thing to pray about.

That afternoon, I picked up my leather jacket to hang it up when I remembered I had noticed a piece of paper in the inner pocket when I put my phone away  in there earlier. It was an old folded, receipt from Hobby Lobby. Curious I unfolded it to see what I had purchased and when.

That’s when I saw it.

A fresh, crisp ten dollar bill.

“Oh Lord! That is You.”

And God said, “toilet paper.”

And I said, “Yarn and coffee.”

God said, “toilet paper.”

Every time I thought of that ten dollars, I heard God say, “toilet paper”. I argued some more. Why exactly I’m not sure. Immediately when I saw it I knew what it was for. God kept just saying, “toilet paper.”

Then He changed, “Be faithful.” and I was reminded of the verse about being faithful in small things and I would be found faithful in big things.

If toilet paper isn’t a small thing I’m not sure what is. Talk about your mundane, small things. Not necessary. Not vital. Not a real need.

This taught me one very important lesson. One I had known before but not KNOWN. I knew it was true, but now I experientially know it to be true. This is one lesson I won’t soon forget.

God notices. God cares. God provides.

Why do we think something is too mundane to pray for? That God really doesn’t notice or care about that? Expect God to provide for something we’ve squandered, something we could have purchased for ourselves without a second thought but we chose not to?

Those are the very things we have to pray for if we ever hope to see God work in the big things. These are the prayers God loves to answer. Those prayers that say, “God, here is my need. You have the supply. I’m just going to sit here and watch You work on my behalf.”

He shows up big. And my faith grows big. And the next time I need toilet paper, I’ll know I can come to Him with my mundane need and find His supply.

Friend, if I can ask Him and trust Him for toilet paper, what makes you think you can’t ask and trust Him with the needs of your heart? Dear friend, He does the same for you! I’m not His favorite. He doesn’t show up big for me because He carries my picture in His wallet. He loves to show up for anyone who in humble boldness comes to Him with their need; leaves it at His feet, and watches in eager anticipation for His supply.

So go ahead, take your mundane prayers and your big ones, to His throne and you will find grace to help you in your time of need.

Trust me.