Saturday, March 30, 2013

And this is Where my heart breaks...Part 2. there is hope.

Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me…
Oh I used to sing that little ditty, but oh mama... It was not true.

I have scars from words that have lasted far longer than the bruises and scrapes I got into as a child.

I have been sharing about the damage that labels can have in our lives. This stemmed from an over night youth girls only event that we recently had at our church. If you feel a bit lost while reading this, it might help if you read the previous post, "And this is Where my heart breaks..."

I have a confession to make…

Each time I stare at these blasted stones with their crushing words of condemnation my eyes begin to tear up. 

Each one of these stones represents a person who is living under its chains and bondage.

I find myself holding each stone and praying,

 “Dear God let this one know she is loved.

Let her know she is wanted. 

That her past failures do not mean she is destined to fail forever.

Let this precious daughter know she is worth our time, our love, and efforts."

Can you imagine these being the defining labels in your life?

Have you been there? Do you remember when?

I do.

And my heart breaks and my soul cries out,
“Who will advocate for them?
Who will defend their worth?
Who will stand in the gap?”

I mean we can try, but the the bill to be paid is too big for just you and me my friends.

Except there is someone.

I know Him, and believe me when I say He gets it... In fact He's has been there.

His friends left him. They didn’t stick around when the chips began to fall and the pressure hit. When the people yelled false accusations at him...

 His friends weren't there to defend his honor.

When he was being beaten and whipped, mocked and spit upon...

 While people yelled for his death his friends hid in the shadows and watched in fear. Some claimed they didn’t even know him.

As the skin on his back was ripped away by the glass and metal barbs connected to the end of the Roman Guard's whip, he held firm.

When the crown with piercing thorns more than an inch long was driven into the flesh around his head. He kept each of us in locked in His heart.

When they threw the cross upon his back with wounds gaping open down to the very bones, he soldiered on seeing each of our faces before him.

As the spikes were driven between his wrists, and ankle bones connecting him to the roughly hewn and splintered wooden cross. His blood and love poured out forgiveness for us all.

I still find myself humbled and in awe over Jesus.

Taking on my sin, my most wretched moments, my labels, my own destructive ways, and then He willingly paid their price putting them to death so that I could walk free.


Little old me.
And you too my friends.
And, here is the hard part...

He also died for the lady who was rude to you in the store the other day. The guy who cut you off in traffic, and even the bully in your class who pushed you into the mud while mocking you...

He died for the one who is in a relationship with someone of the same sex, and the guy who swooped in and broke up your marriage.

He died for the druggie mom who forgot to feed her kids because she was too stoned, and even the one who is sitting in a church pew today thinking they have it all together because they don't look like, “that guy”.

Amazingly, He died for each and everyone of us so that we could be...


Free through Him...

His life. His death. His resurrection.

All because He loved us. This Holy, Perfect, and Righteous God wants to spend eternity with us. We didn't ask him to pay this price. We definitely did not deserve this sacrifice, but He did it so that we could have the choice...

And this turns me into a bleary eyed mess.

How can I not begin to see others with God's eyes filtered through love, grace, and truth.

I find it amazing that if we choose to live our lives for Him, and love like Him then one day, His glorious light of truth will spread through our love.

Out of the crumbling walls, and heaps of rubble and wreckage... Through beautiful tears of repentance there springs forth a beautiful rebellion to combat the misery and lies of this world.

It rises up from the dirt birthed by this undeserved grace and pure enveloping love.

Once again Hope blooms.

There at the foot of the cross a new label is born from this sweet and blessed truth.

“I am LOVED.”

A new cornerstone for our foundation.

“I am Loved”

Do you know this my friends?

Say it out loud with me.

"I am Loved!"

Are you with me friends?

We are loved by an amazing and all powerful God and it is an everlasting and amazing love.

Isn't it beautiful?

So today, will you choose to see past the labels in others and listen to their story?

Love them right where they are at and live out love the way Jesus did?

Can we make this choice friends to do this right now this week, and the next, and the next, to be Jesus to others?

Will you join me?

Linking with these wonderful places, take a moment and visit them...  Inspire Me MondaysWednesdays WordThought Provoking ThursdaysTelling His StoryFaith Filled FridaySoli Deo Gloria Party

Thursday, March 28, 2013

And this is where my heart breaks...

The candle light flickered as they came to the altar. Preps and nerds, freaks and emo, rich and poor...

From the ages of 13 to their 40's they came and on this night these differences no longer mattered because we all shared a dark and hidden secret in common. We all had labels, lies really, which had taken root in our lives and begun to define us.

Used, and unloved.
Not worth your time...

And the labels continued as the stones dropped into the water. Some were written in tears and others in anger.

All were confessed from deep wounds cut and forged by the words that came from a tongue waging war...

These labels may have been based on choices these girls and women once made, but the true travesty is when later these vicious labels took root and defined the girl and her future. 

These lies devoured and gorged on each one's hopes and dreams until she had been bled dry and found  hopeless.

Truth was a distant echo...

What was the truth about her identity anymore?

Words, labels, and the gossip that falls so easily from our lips is devastating and its leprous effects are lasting.

Do you realize what we are really doing though?

We are tearing down the very handiwork of God.

You see God labors over his precious creations daily. Minute by minute He is carefully clearing away the rubble, and laying a sure foundation built on His truths. Building brick by brick with care because each of these children is one of His beautiful masterpieces.

That’s you and me friends.

Yet, we are so very quick to tear each other down through hurt, anger, revenge, and our own deep wounds.

Sometimes it's someone else's foundation we choose to wreak our havoc on and other times it can be our own. We ravage it and plant the seeds of destruction that will soon crack the mortar and start the walls to crumbling down when enough pressure is applied...

And these seeds we are spewing come from one source...the enemy.
He is a liar from the beginning, and a murderer who wants to steal our joy. He roams around this earth looking for those whom he can devour and kill, but here is the real question for us...  Do we know Jesus?

I mean do we really know Him? 

Because as believers we should be following His example right?

 What was His response to the ones who wore these very labels?

The woman caught in the very act of sleeping with a married man. Who was grabbed from a bed still warm and then dragged out to be publicly humiliated and stoned.

Jesus dismissed her accusers by pointing to the sin in all of us. He offered her forgiveness and told her to sin no more.

And the woman scoffed at for weeping over his feet and anointing his head with oil. The one that the men in the room dismissed as a worthless sinner...

He called attention to her faithfulness. He pointed out the depths of her gratefulness that led her to bravely walk into this religiously self righteous leader's home, just to thank Jesus for His amazing gift of grace, love, and forgiveness.

And the liar?

The chief tax collector, the man people despised because he not only collected the taxes for Rome, but was lining his own wealthy over-flowing pockets by charging even more from the poor.
Oh how the people despised him.

Wouldn't you?

But, the wealthy tax collector had heard about Jesus… that Jesus was coming to his town and a deep chasm broke open within him. He knew with every fiber of his being he had to see this mysterious Jesus. So much so, that at the cost of losing his standing and respect in wealthy society, he climbed a tree in hope of just catching a glimpse of him.

Jesus, who had every right to yell at this putrid excuse of a man, instead told him while he was still up in the tree He wanted to have dinner with him that very night...In front of everyone.

Jesus, You were so the King of the shock and awe.

Son of God, You turn our notion of justice on its head.

In each account these people's lives were radically changed by encounters with the living God who chose to see past their labels and love them right where they were. Faith and repentance followed in a beautiful mix that replaced their muddied and hopeless past with freedom, hope, and a new life.

So what about you? Will you make war on labels my friends?

Can we, like these beautiful teen girls and women I met the other night, cast down our stones with their slanderous labels and say no more?

Will you wage war instead with Truth and Love?

 This is a two part series so more on this soon friends… Hope is around the bend.

Are you struggling too friend?
Will you take a moment in prayer and ask God to reveal the lies and labels in your life that are not from Him?
Will you name them and cast them down with us today and say no more?

I am linking with , wednesdays word

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

God Speaks Through Play Dough Hearts

More Lessons Learned from SYMC

For all who are struggling. 
Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,

    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,

    for he has been good to me.

In the darkness, with only the stage lights filtering between the seats, I fumbled for the small container of play dough that the speaker, Jason Ostrander, assured us would be there.

“Where are you at with God? If you were to mold the play dough into a symbol of where you are at in life right now, what would it look like? Take some time and let God speak to you on this...”

So there I sat in the darkness of the conference session. Squishing the soft malleable substance in my hands...

I settled in, quieted my mind, and listened to the speakers...

Before long I had made my first sculpture.

This was how I have felt this last year.
Like Jesus and His cross had broken my heart wide open so that it was spilling out...

It symbolized a year of Jesus turning my world upside down. 

Then, John Stumbo began sharing about a vision God had given him.

After a year of pain and agony due to a debilitating and unexplained illness, God revealed this vision to him...

He saw the clay formed and molded still spinning wet on the potters wheel...

Then He saw the potters hands reach down and crush the pot back down into a lump on the wheel, only to begin to mold it again.

God? Are you starting over with me?

God whispered back,

This heart cracked open and bleeding? It's not the complete picture. I have a better design.

So reluctantly, I squished the hot pink play dough I had so carefully constructed back into an ugly lump and waited with one question on my breath...

What is it You want to show me, Father?

Slowly, in the quiet, the Lord prodded me to place this silly misshapen ball of play dough into my left hand and to close my right hand over it.

I waited there with my hands closed around the dough in prayer...

I felt the dough in my hands begin to grow warm, molding into the spaces and crevices of my palms.

His voice came into my thoughts,

I am Holding you my dear child.
I am holding you.
My veins my finger prints, my wounds are impressed upon you...
Just stay here, while I hold you.

Warm salty tears began to fall as His words sank in.

I love you, I am not done with you my child. Open your hands and see.

I was fascinated by what I saw.
There in my hands was a heart, but not like the one I had molded earlier. The one we have so commercialized on cards, posters, t-shirts...
This looked more like a real heart.

He whispered,

You see I am not done with you yet.
This represents my heart. A real beating heart for a life that is not over yet.

A life that needs to be lived now.

This is My design. So much more complex and amazing.

The blood flows out, but it also constantly being fed again. It continues to beat and flow, beat and flow,
 bringing LIFE to the rest of the body."

I looked at the play dough heart...the crevices and lines of my palms had created veins that are pathways of life.

"My ways are not yours my daughter...My ways are not yours, but I am not done with recreating you yet.

I took your heart that was broken for Me and have given you Mine instead.

Are you there friends?
Are you unsure of the path that the Lord has been taking you on?
Have you surrendered your heart to His amazing and capable hands?

My goal is that you may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that you may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that you may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:2-3

To hear John Stumbo's amazing story you can click here.
John Stumbo: The Deeper Life in Jesus
part 1 ,  part 2 , part 3 , part 4

Need some praise time?
The heartbeat of my life is to worship in Your light...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bracing for Impact with the Living God.

Recently my hubby and I had the privilege of returning to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Our intentions were to gain training for a couple of college students who are called to ministry.

I was not expecting much for myself. You see my hubby and I have found ourselves in a year of dis-orientation...

Meaning, good friends have passed away or lost their jobs, family strife, our church is without a Pastor and wrestling with it, and so much more...

To put it plainly we have felt disoriented.

I thank God for the Simply Youth Ministry team for listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Disorientation was a theme discussed again and again at the conference. 

God, You are always right on top of things aren't You?

 I have a few posts for you on lessons I learned while there. I hope they bless you. The posts are very raw, but maybe...just maybe there are some out there who can relate? 

I pray this finds you, the souls who are trying to stand in the midst of storms and cry out to the living God for the strength to follow His will. I am grateful for this truth, that in the process we absolutely will discover His unfathomable grace and amazing love. 

God Bless you all greatly,


Jesus, You just keep messing with me.

Turning my insides out...
Shaking the loose pieces to the ground...Sifting.
You are a fire scathing, seething, licking away the impurities and reducing me to liquid.

It's been painful...I feel like I bleed and cry and scream, but to no one but Jesus, because who else would understand this anyways?

Then comes the reminder...
He is the God of the light and the dark.

"Seriously, Lord?!? What do you want from me?"
 I ask searching for answers yet again.

Hot messy tears begin pouring out as I sit huddled and bent over tucking my head into my knees.
I am rocking with my hands over my head as if I am bracing for impact in a plane crash.

White knuckling it, I try to restrain the sobs as I feel my face growing red from the tension. Fearing it might burst forth in all its ugliness and confusion, I find I am holding my breath...

I am bracing for impact with a 
Living and Holy God.

Hoping no one notices me in this state of fear and heart ache under the cloud of darkness in the worship session I whisper,

“ I don't like this Lord.” Sobs begin to escape my throat , “This scares me... Why? Why now?”


His words rush over me like a crashing wave.

“Oh how I love you daughter.
I do... I love you.”

As if I am in the choppy tangled waves of the ocean

I gasp for breath in great gulps. I feel like I am drowning.

In the darkness of the worship session I hide.

“I don't like this Father. This scares me. Please no...Please no, no, not this!”

I beg and beg as I rock. He whispers gently again,

“I love you. Trust me. Obey.”

Again and again this was the message. It scares me, this task He is asking from us. Its different. (I am not always great with change.)

Now we are diving into the unknown and uncharted waters and this definitely requires trust.

“Not my will, but yours be done Lord.”

I will wrestle my will and fears to the mat...Through Your love and grace, Lord, I will surrender to You and Your ways.

Oh Jesus, You are unrelenting and I find myself grateful for You never ever give-up. Father, Your ways are not my own and Your thoughts are not mine.

Once again, with knees still knocking, I stand.
I am shaky still, but my feet are planted on Your solid rock of Truth.

I raise my hands high. Lifting my face to the light, I offer my heart again to You in worship and praise. I open my mouth and sing.

Will you join me friends? In the tough times? In heart ache and loss? In the pain and confusion will you join me and sing?

Do you have something you are wrestling with?

An area of your life where things are confusing or painful?

Can I pray for you friends?