Blind side…

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.  He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam”(Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

John 9:1-7

I have long been fascinated by this story, but a particular phrase struck a new cord today.

“This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

Let me explain.

We went to see someone today about difficulty my son was having, or so I thought we were there for my son. Turns out the whole interaction really ended up impacting me.

You would think after years of knowing Ryan is different in some ways than other kids, I would have come to some rational point of acceptance. But mommy love often balks in the face of rational thought, so no, I really haven’t. I have held very much to the desire of wanting my son to be “normal”.  Whatever that is…as if a true normal really exists…

And so I’ve fought and I’ve struggled. Much like the disciples in this story I have wondered if I, his parent, had done something wrong…if my sins had caused his “blindness” in his own intellectually disabled ways. I have blamed myself. I have blamed the struggles with his breathing at his birth. I have blamed vaccines, and processed foods, and anything else and I could think of. I’ve blamed God and passive aggressively distanced myself just let Him know…hey…I’m not happy with you.

But maybe, just maybe, I have come to some sort of understanding.

This could have happened that the Glory of God might be seen through him.

There’s nothing to blame or feel angry about or ashamed of. Ryan is simply a display of the Lord’s splendor in ways that a perfectly un-disabled child could never be. God has a plan and his disability certainly doesn’t exempt him from that plan…in fact it fully qualifies him for it.

In the past I have chosen blindness about Ryan’s disabilities…at times, at least in my mind, denying their existence. But they are still present and aren’t going anywhere. And neither am I, or him for that matter, until I stop sitting frozen with my eyes covered.

It’s time to move forward and look at what he can do instead of sit paralyzed by all the things I think he can’t.

So I’m done. It’s over. Blinders off. Time to move forward. And maybe it’s time for you to move out of your own personal blinded state too…because when it all comes down to it…our less than perfect circumstances truly are the places God’s love shines the brightest.

Transitions…

I haven’t blogged in a while. Just haven’t had the needs or desire to. But today, after the extra special week I have had trying to move our entire family out of one home into another, I needed some online venting.

First of all, let me say I am well aware that I shouldn’t need to vent at all. After all, Kevin and I have been given a huge gift and are buying a relative’s home at a great price. We are so excited about the possibilities of having more space for our family and friends. HOWEVER, that being said, moving is still so unbelievably stressful.

And I know some of you move all the time. I get that. But we don’t. We go somewhere and try to plant… hence my rants over the past couple of days that I am NEVER EVER EVER moving again, which inevitably we probably will just because I have declared that I won’t. But despite all the craziness, God is teaching me something (as He always does) and maybe it will mean something to you too.

We have lived in the home we are leaving for around six years. During that time things have changed, A LOT. We moved into the house a couple in crises. Hoping a new space, a bigger house, in a nicer neighborhood might fix things for us. Our marriage might stop unraveling and maybe the depression I refused to tell anyone about would somehow subside with the promises of a clean new space to lay my head. But none of that happened. We moved into this house and things got worse. So bad in fact I ended up going through 2 years of counseling to deal with my past and how it was blasting it’s wreckage into my present. It was tough. But thankfully, and with lots of help and prayer, we got through it. And so for the past 3 or so years our house has been a very happy home. Kevin and I have mended and found healing in so many ways and we have watched our children grow from tiny little people into miniature adults. It happens so fast it’s frightening. So I guess what I am trying to say is that leaving this house is a bit like leaving a battleground. Not a scary battleground, but more like one that paid the price to lay the foundation of the family we are becoming.

It’s hard to leave and exciting all at the same time. I feel a bit like the Israelites. Called out of slavery and into a new home, but still wandering a bit, and eager to find out what this new slice of paradise is going to look like. Right now it looks like a cardboard volcano exploded into a house that needs significant remodeling as Lauren eats her cereal with a fork because we can’t find the boxes where we put the spoons. So yes, right now it is stressful, but all in perspective, things are very very good.

And not only do I find myself transitioning to a new home, but also working my way into a new job. My first real counseling job where I get teary on a daily basis as God reminds me that the pain I went through was for a purpose…that I might have the insight and desire to help someone else. And it’s happening. I am getting to live out and see His purpose and His plans. And they are good. He said they were good, and I tried to believe Him, but getting to see them in actions is well…indescribable.

So we are in a good place. A place of transition where we may have to rely on manna from heaven (or Chick-Fil-A) to feed our children because our house is in complete and total disarray, but  overall a very very good place. The God who has provided for us all this time, who paves the way for transitions and change, will continue to provide and pave for us in this new home. New good things await, and inevitably new trials will also await, but we will make it through. Always stronger. Always growing. Always leaning on the Lord who is ALWAYS on our side. And I stand excited, with my husband and children by my side, ready to see what will happen next.

100 percent…

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

I heard her say, “If you still feel just a little bit broken, even a tiny bit, stand up, God has healing for you.” In that moment the small shards of glass left in my heart began to swirl and work their way to the top. I knew something amazing was about to happen. As I stood up and began to praise God, a tremendous weight was lifted.

This was my experience at a conference I attended last weekend. As I got in my car to begin the drive home, I felt changed. But there was more I needed to understand. Where had that last bit of brokenness had been hiding and why my heart had refused to give it up until this moment?

A few days later I came across a blog post that answered my question. The writer approached Jesus and His all sufficiency with fresh perspective. He used the specific term “100 percent.” Jesus became 100 percent of the world’s sin in one inconceivable moment.

The idea of Jesus covering all sin was not new to me, but seeing it written as a percentage shifted my thought process. I understood the fullness of His sacrifice from the standpoint of my own sin, but the thought of Jesus having become ALL sin, even the horrible act of date-rape that happened against me when I was 15, took me aback.

I don’t know if the man who hurt me knows Jesus or not. He may have experienced the divine power of forgiveness, or He may still be living in bondage. But what I cannot deny is that Jesus became all sinners, all of us, in that moment. I wasn’t sure how to process this truth, but after some time I have realized what this means to me.
It means not one single second of that night was hidden from Christ. He saw it all. He experienced it all. His sufficiency covered both of us completely. Jesus died to provide Him with forgiveness, me with the capacity to forgive, and healing for both of us that would have been impossible without Him.

Up to this point, my heart and mind secretly held to the idea that Christ was awesome, but He might not be enough to free me from my past. Sure, I talked like He was enough. I desperately wanted Him to be enough, I just wasn’t completely sure.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” His forgiveness and redemption power is not only limitless, but also complete. It is not coming soon. We don’t have to wait on it. It’s already here. Therefore, I do not have to wait around and see if He might be enough or if He might set me free, because He already has.

In the moment I stood up, God showed me His power. He has indeed set me free. It was me who needed to let go. To decide I would fully accept what He has to offer. And this freedom is not just for me. It’s for all of us!

Maybe it’s time you stand up, wherever you are, and receive the fullness of His healing, grace, redemption, and forgiveness. God did not send His son that you might experience 99.9% freedom in your life. He died for the 100%. Total coverage of you and anyone who has sinned against you so that you might not only be 100% forgiven, but 100% free.

God, we are asking for the fullness of your promise, nothing less. The fullness of Jesus and His sacrifice to come alive, 100%, in our hearts and minds. Complete freedom and total forgiveness. On the cross, You said, “It is finished.” It is already done. Lord Jesus, bring us into the fullness of all you have for us. We were meant for nothing less. In Jesus Name We Pray, Amen.

An invitation to humility…

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Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

We’ve all heard it…James 4:10. A highly quoted and noted verse. As is the case with many well known verses, we skim over them thinking our spirits have already soaked up every ounce of God breathed wisdom they can offer. But I can’t get the verse out of my mind, so much so it has haunted me for the better part of a year.

I tell God that I get it…be humble. But do I really get it? Do I really get humility? Or am I confusing it with self-abasement and false humility. Maybe I don’t confuse it, but I dismiss it as nothing more than a word, denying the power of a humble servant heart and the impact it could have on my relationship with the Lord.

When you look at James Chapter 4 in its entirety there really is much more to it than just verse 10. Verses 1-10 reveal a story, a revelation even. The chapter opens discussing conflict. Why we engage in conflict and how it can be related to wanting what other people have.

I didn’t have this problem…right? I am happy with my car, house, and such…but it seems my jealousy existed on a higher plane. At times I grew jealous of others relationships with God – why did it seem stronger than mine? I even found myself jealous about the spiritual gifts they had or the opportunities God gave them.

I didn’t physically wage war with them, but mentally I start pulling hair and dragging them to the ground. And what was the consequence? They didn’t suffer…but I sure did.

I love what James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

Does it get any worse than likening an obsession with what others have to adultery? Cheating on God himself with thoughts of what we want and what we think we need – bashing Him for what He hasn’t given to us and refusing to realize there is a reason.

James 4:2 tells us we have not because we ask not, but other times we have not because we ask with wrong motives…

So what do we do when we ask for what someone else has, He says no, and we are consumed with frustration and jealousy? We readily accept His invitation to humility.

Humility chooses to trust He knows best withholds no good thing from His children. Humility chooses to believe He keeps His promises. Humility trusts His timing-His seasons and humility chooses to let go of what we want and trade it for what we already have…a God who is jealous for us. Who wants all of us.

Perhaps James 4:7-10 MSG version says it best…”So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”

And there it is…your open invitation from Him into the beauty of true humility…

Out of demands hands…

isaiah 64“Father God I am clay in your hands…help me to stay that way through all life’s demands…” ~Toby Mac Lose My Soul

I’ve heard this song hundreds of times, but for some reason the lyrics struck me…

Lord, am I clay in your hands?

Or am I allowing the demands of life ~ circumstances and life experiences ~ to shape who I am and what I will become.

My work demands…

My family demands…

Society demands…

Not to mention the demands I put upon myself…the blind expectations I never notice until I  shame myself for not meeting them.

But how do we live as clay when everything around us constantly dictates a mold?

The perfect wife. The perfect mom. The perfect boss. The perfect worker. The perfect Bible study leader. The perfect participant. The hands of demands are infinite.

They squeeze and mold us, push and pull us, in a thousand different directions. Maybe that’s the beauty of the clay and the potter.

We can rest in the Lord’s hands, knowing He would rather mold us into His majesty than force us into expectations we will never live up to.

In my work, my home, my everything, I want to step out of the hands of demands and into the hands of the potter. In those hands there are no expectations and I know all movements are driven by love of a potter who wants nothing but the best for me. Such beautiful hands …completely void of any and all demands.

Temptation can have purpose…

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Sometimes it’s easier to start something than stop something.

Working out five days a week is do-able. I like to exercise and the only thing I really miss out on is a few minutes of extra sleep or time watching TV. I like the good feeling exercise gives me, so when it comes to healthy habits, a good work out is my friend.

However, diet is a different story. I like what I eat. I like sweets, carbs, and Mexican food. So telling me to stop feels like a serious infringement on my freedom. Sugar, for me, resembles the apple for Eve. I know it’s bad for me, hence I want it all the more.

I have cursed this love of sugar. I have called it everything but lovely. And I must admit somewhere deeply hidden in my heart was anger at God for creating me in a way that thinks I need all things bread and sugar.

I must admit that when I began the Made to Crave Online Bible Study it was more out of obligation. I am on the Online Bible Study leadership team, so I should do the study, right? I decided I would step up my workouts, re-read the book, and even answer the study questions, but I wasn’t even going to worry about the food. I resigned myself to the thought that this is a hopeless battle.

And because I am doing two Bible studies at one time, I am also studying Wendy Blight’s new book “Living So That”.

I didn’t expect much correlation between the two studies, but it seems God had other plans. When I read this out of Wendy’s study, it shook me to the core…

God didn’t give us the law to set us up for failure; rather, He gave us the law to protect us from failure. God’s standards would exist whether or not we ever knew about them. But in His mercy God informed us of His law and has shown us the only way to fulfill it—through faith in Jesus Christ. ~ Wendy Blight, Living So That

Could it be that God didn’t set me up for failure by allowing me to overindulge in and develop a love relationship with all things sugar? Maybe, just maybe, He knew this relationship, although idolatrous and sinful, would eventually be the catalyst for an even deeper relationship with Him.

I guess I viewed sin, all sin, as screw ups that just happened. I didn’t really understand why we had to struggle with sin. I heard people say, and have even said myself, that sin could push us closer to God – but honestly I thought of it as a bunch of Christian-ease trying to explain away our struggles and battles with evil.

But reading the verses from Wendy’s study and her words changed things for me.

God really is sovereign.

He really does have a plan.

A plan that is so much more than a rescue effort to pull us out of hell and into heaven. It’s a plan that involves allowing sin at times because if it wasn’t for sin in the world how else would we have the motivation to seek a relationship with Him? Not a robotic forced relationship, but a real – chosen – relationship.

I don’t have to resent my love for sugar allowing it to put distance between me and Jesus.

Instead I can choose to move deeper into my unhealthy relationship with sweets or closer into a relationship with Jesus. And although a relationship with the chocolate cupcake in my kitchen may be enticing, Jesus offers so much more.

I can choose Him.

I can STOP doing things that push me away from Him.

Not because He is my back up plan, but because with Him temptations can have purpose. Purpose that propels my heart and mind in His direction. And that is reason enough for me to choose to TRY and make a change.

Torn doesn’t always mean broken…

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Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:51-53 NKJV)

I love sweatpants. I mean LOVE them. So you can imagine the drama when I discovered a tear down the seam of my brand new pair. I don’t just “wear” sweatpants. I live in them. A tear is heartbreaking. Gut wrenching. It means an instant trip to the store. ( I don’t sew) I must have new ones.

But tears are not always bad. I have a pair of perfectly distressed boyfriend cut jeans with a lovely tear. I adore my jeans this way. They were made this way. The tear makes them cute!

Now I realize that comparing a tear in my jeans to the tear in the veil of the temple is lacking. My jeans can’t hold candle to the curtain that divided sin from the Holy of Holies. However, things like tears in my jeans remind me of what Christ has done.

My Savior created a tear in the temple veil, a split in the rocks, an opening of the graves so that insignificant me, in my wholly jeans and torn sweatpants, might be saved.

I can look at a tear in the fabric and remember even though life has torn me to shreds…torn doesn’t always mean broken. Only through the tear in my covering can perfect love sink in. Maybe, though painful, at times the tears are even manufactured by my maker…just so my prayers might be answered for more of Him and less of me.

Tears, though revealing, don’t always mean broken.

Big fat lies and the truths that make us believe them…

crossI had an awful experience at fifteen. An event I hid for years. Funny how hiding an experience doesn’t stop it from influencing our thoughts and beliefs. A lie took up residence in my heart and mind and it took years of hard work to uproot it. Maybe you have believed this lie yourself.

The Lie – I am unloveable

The truth that verifies the lie

Our lives are filled with experiences that seem to verify the lies we believe. In this case – unloveable-ness. We get dumped, someone abandons us, friends come and go, our spouse cheats on us, someone dies, we feel lonely, sometimes it seems like our prayers hit the ceiling and God doesn’t care. If we look for them, we can come up with a million events to verify what we might  believe – that we are unloveable.

The truth that refutes the lie

…and our lives are filled with good things, although we may neglect noticing them. We have successful relationships, sometimes we feel like God does hear us, and there are people who care about us. But these things seem small tokens of happenstance in the shadows of the lie we believe.

The ultimate truth

…but when there seems to be more truth verifying our lies than evidence to the contrary…we must lean on the ultimate truth – scripture.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

It’s in our nature to look for evidence that supports what we already believe. It doesn’t matter what lie we tell ourselves…we can usually find life-based/circumstantial truth to support it.

What we must decide is if our circumstances and life experiences will scream louder than the truth of God’s Word.

Will we believe His Word at face value, or try to verify the lies that grind against everything He made us to be – freedom filled daughters of the King.

When we dwell on unchanging truth rather than circumstantial evidence to the contrary, our view of truth begins to change.

I choose to refuse….

How do we get to that point?

The point where we consume sugary treats in place of healthy alternatives? Where we skip the gym and relish the couch?

One pound became five…five became ten…ten became twenty…

They certainly aren’t places we intentionally went or hoped we would go. But there we are and getting out seems impossible.

I guess that’s why Made to Crave is such a wonderful book. A book worth reading and re-reading. Because we all have pits and vices. Things we look towards to satisfy our needs. And more often than not, there is something that rivals with God for our favored attention.

Approval addictions, shopping addictions, internet addictions – you name it – the vast majority of us have something we wish we could stop craving – and crave God in its place. But instead of running to Him we often run from him. Embarrassed about our fleshy behavior.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! We can choose to refuse!

Refuse to allow our hearts to be marred by sinful behavior!
Refuse to sink any further down in the pit!
Refuse to allow embarrassment and shame to keep us from getting help!
Refuse to believe that your sin is more powerful than God’s grace and forgiveness!

Yes sweet sisters it is time to choose to refuse! Refuse to allow sinful behavior or destructive patterns another day of stronghold in your life.

And you don’t have to make these choices for change on your own! You do it with God! He is the one with the power!

And if you choose to sign up for the Proverbs 31 Made to Crave Online Bible study you can choose to refuse with 20,000 other women fighting right alongside you!

Do you need this Bible Study to get free from sin, or to crave God more than you crave anything else? NO! But it sure can help! And I am a sister who needs some help and support! So if you do to, click here to learn more about the study and how to sign up. I would love to have you join us! Let’s be a sisterhood, daughters on a mission for Christ, craving God and refusing to let ANYTHING else fill the gap of His glory in our lives!

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Me chillin’ Made to Crave style with author Lysa Terkeurst and P31 OBS Director Melissa Taylor. Good times 🙂