Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

My Life as a Buckeye

One of the special joys I’ve come to revel in lately is hearing Jesus speak to me. I love to hear His voice. At times He speaks and I hear His giggle.

Like the times I’ve been walking and I’ll hear Him say, “Look down!” And there on the sidewalk at my feet is a nut. You know the kind that goes with a bolt. And I hear His sweet laughter as we share a joke about finding myself on the walk.

Or there is the time I was praying for Him to give me my own special shape. The day last March I walked home from the coffee shop, stopped to tie my shoes and found a nickel there on the sidewalk. I heard His voice as clear as a bell on that cold, frosty morning, “This is your shape!” (You can read more of that story here.)

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There have been times He has spoken things that weren’t funny but were necessary to my soul. He has talked of truth and lies, He has shown me lies I’ve believed. And He has blessedly spoken His wonderful Truth into those lies and I’ve felt them release their death grip on me.

He has, at times, spoken words of correction. At times I’ve heard Him shout to get my attention because I dead set on doing things my way.  He has spoken sternly to me, but always with an undercurrent of love.

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So yesterday when I heard Him speak to me as I left the office it wasn’t a surprise. As I walked towards my car, one foot lifted, ready to take the next step when He spoke:
“Look down!”
I set my foot back down and cast a glance at my feet, there I saw a nearly perfectly formed buckeye.

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One day I had asked a friend of mine what a buckeye was exactly. He told me “A worthless nut.” You can’t do anything with a buckeye, you can’t eat them or make nut butter. The only thing a buckeye is good for is planting to grow a nice shade tree.

I stooped down, picked up the buckeye, and rubbed my fingers over it’s smooth surface. And I felt the presence of my Jesus well-up in me as I heard Him say, “You are a worthless nut who has found her worth in Me.”

And I couldn’t breathe for the wonder and the glory of it.

I am just a worthless nut apart from Jesus. I’m totally and completely worthless. I am a complete waste of cells, breath, life. I’m a worthless human. I’m no good to anyone for anything.  Completely worthless.

And so are you.

But in Jesus! Because of Jesus we have great worth! We aren’t worthless we have value because He has value! My value doesn’t rest in my address, my job, my family, my man, my children, or my friends. My value, my worth is only found in Jesus. I can look for it in other things and people but I won’t find it. I will push and shove and try to force others to make me feel valuable and for a time they will. Maybe. But it’s always only for a short time. And then they get frustrated or I get frustrated and I’m back to searching for my next value fix as I’m left feeling more like this:

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Broken. Forced open. And cracked.

When I think I need to tell someone what they mean to me, I’m really looking for them to meet some need in my life, probably to make me feel valuable. I’m demanding them to meet my need for affirmation, affection, admiration, and acceptance. Because when I feel these I feel valued, but when I don’t feel it my value dips.

I need–we all need–to look first to Jesus to meet those needs. And then from an overflowing heart that is fully convinced of it’s value in Him and His life, we are free to express to others our great affection for them without strings.  Because expressing affection to get our own needs meet is selfishly using others. No one likes to be used.

When we see ourselves as we are in Jesus, just a worthless nut who finds her value in Him we will rock our world. He will take us,

“and we will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers”. (Psalm 1:3 nasb)

How do we find our value in Him? First we must realize that apart from Him we can do nothing. We are powerless. We have no control over anything, not even our next breath.

We also must realize as much as we can His great love for us. I struggle to think of anyone I would willingly lay aside my life for and die in their place. Especially not a stranger and an enemy. But that is exactly what Jesus did. Not because I’m worth it, or you’re worth it. Because we aren’t! But because of His love, He chose it.

We also must choose Him. And we must choose to believe Him. Take Him as His Word. Believe it. Even when the truth of it sounds like a lie, we choose to believe the Truth that sounds like a lie over the lie that sounds like the truth.

To do that we must spend time with Him. We must submit fully to Him, His Lordship and His authority.  Oh how it’s hard. And oh how it hurts. But it’s the only way. It’s the way of the cross.  Yes, it’s in Ann Voskamp‘s vernacular “the broken way.” The only way to live broken is to be broken and offer up our brokenness, our broken pieces to Him. Sometimes we get to choose our breaking and other times life just seems to smash and break us. But we always get to choose our response to our brokenness. We can fight it, blaming God. Or we can run to Him with it and in it and allow Him to work through it for His Life, Light and Glory.

So I will choose to revel in my position as a worthless nut because I know my worth and value are found in Him alone.

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Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

Trust

20170715_065750Lately Jesus has been talking to me about trust. In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means” has been what He has told me the most.

You see I always thought that trust was earned, easily broken, and nearly impossible to replace once broken. Trust was something you gave to only a select few and when your trusted persons quota was filled up you simply stopped trusting. There was no room for any more trust in people. If someone broke the trust you had in them, you were free to not trust anyone ever again.

Because it wasn’t worth the risk.

But then I met a woman who had written off people, mainly adults, as being completely untrustworthy by the age of 5. The age of 5! When she was in kindergarten she knew she couldn’t trust adults to care for her and had written them off, all of them. To say she had a chip on her shoulder in kindergarten would be an understatement.

The more I spent time with her the more I realized that she had much to teach me about trust. Something didn’t ring true about her feelings about trusting people. In her mind no one was to be trusted, not people and definitely not God.

Heaven forbid one should trust God. That was crazy.

Only it wasn’t. The more time I spent with this woman the more I realized the lies she was feeding me. Yes, to be sure there are people that can’t, or maybe even shouldn’t be trusted. But to think that no one can be trusted, and God can’t be trusted? What a sad, sad existence that would be.

I read on this on twitter the other day,

Maybe we can’t trust our whole lives to Him yet, but perhaps we can trust God with today & see what happens. Maybe we will be surprised. (Melissa Moore)

My thought and response then was, “I don’t know. If I don’t think I can trust Him with tomorrow will I really trust Him with today?”

So many of us have grown up thinking there is only so much love, so much trust to go around and when we’re out of it, we’re out of it. So we have to use it, give it a way wisely because you can never get it back.

Simply put, that is a lie. Especially for a believer.

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Back in the 1980’s, musician Steve Camp recorded a song that became very popular, “Love’s not a feeling”. We all applauded the new thought that love wasn’t a feeling, but a choice. It was a commitment. Then DC Talk appeared on the scene with their song, “Luv is a verb”. That showed us love is action, it’s what we do not just what we feel. And we applauded some more.

Love is a choice. It is active, but it isn’t what we do, it’s WHO we are. Because Love lives inside of us if we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Love is our nature. Love isn’t a feeling. Love isn’t a choice. Love isn’t a verb. Love is a Person.  Love is Jesus.

Plain and simple. It’s Jesus.

So what does love have to do with trust? Everything. Just as love is a choice so is trust. We choose to trust. We choose to see people as trustworthy. Even after our trust has been broken or violated.

Trust is a choice. And we can make it as many times as we need to. Or want to.

The choice to not trust is also always ours. We don’t have to trust anyone. But why would anyone choose to live in that misery?

Not this woman. And not the woman I mentioned earlier. You see, she’s had a change of heart, a Jesus-sized change of heart.

But how? How could she just change her mind, her heart on the issue of trust? I’ve heard her story and if anyone should get a pass on trusting people, it’s her. But she chooses to trust. Over and over again. It’s hard, I can tell that by looking into her eyes, but you know what else I see mirrored there? A steely determination, the kind that only comes from knowing and loving Jesus. The determination that says the enemy has taken enough years, he’s devoured enough of her and with Jesus to lead her, to guide her, she will trust.

Because people are trustworthy? In her eyes that is almost laughable. No. Because Jesus is.

She can trust others because she trusts Him. She doesn’t need to trust others to learn how to trust Jesus. She knows that if she can trust Him, if she entrusts her whole being to Him, she knows she can trust people.

The only blind trust she has is in Jesus. And even that isn’t all that blind. He has walked with her, talked with her, and taught her so much, she trusts His heart.

She knows people will fail. They will disappoint. But Jesus never will. There may be times it appears He is, but she knows, loves and trusts enough to know perceptions can be wrong and they can and will change.

But this fact remains, Jesus never changes. If He is trustworthy today, He was trustworthy yesterday, and He will be trustworthy tomorrow. And a forever’s worth of tomorrows.

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Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

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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Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

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

Posted in Go MAD Monday, Jesus, Life as it happens.

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.

Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

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.


Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

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