Broken

26 11 2014

The jagged pieces of our brokenness startled us as we watched it play across the television. Reporters stared at burning buildings in disbelief as first responders were forced to retreat at the sound of gunfire. Armored cars rolled through the streets in what looked more like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie script than the actual events in an American city. In the end, no matter your perspective, a young man is dead, a family is shattered, a community is reeling, a police officer is vilified, and a country is divided. Our brokenness lies open, its gaping wound evident across the landscape of our national consciousness.

Normally, we do a pretty good job of camouflaging our brokenness. We cover it up, ignore it, or manage it so that we can pretend that we have it under control. The truth is that sin has so deeply wounded us, infected us, and twisted us that broken is our default. We are so used to broken that we accept it as normal, except on those days when its intense ugliness rears up and demands our attention. Hearts ache and hopelessness swells even as brave talk swirls about changing the conversation and affecting a real change. The reality is that the world holds no answers for what is broken deep down in our souls.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:5a) New. There is the word that speaks to the ache within us. It brings with it pictures of fresh opportunities, new beginnings, and soaring hope. The truth is that Jesus is the only answer for what is so badly broken within us. New can only be realized within the power of His love.

My Jesus Resolution today is to proclaim God’s answer to our brokenness. Today is the day for those of us who are Christians to turn off the news and start sharing the Good News. Today is the day to rise as ambassadors of reconciliation and extend the invitation of peace to all hearts. Today is the day to pray – pray for broken families, broken communities, broken hearts, and broken dreams to find a new hope in the One who is able to heal all hurts. Today is the day to raise our hands and our voices and lift a cross up before the world, declaring the truth that He was broken so that we can be whole.





A Letter to My Younger Self

24 11 2014

I have reached “that” age when I catch myself wishing that I knew then what I know now. I look back at myself as a young mom and, more often than not, see someone who was worried, stressed, and always in a hurry. Today I would love to be able to go back, put my arm around that young woman, and remind her to breathe. You are going to make it. It is all going to be okay.

Here are ten things I would tell that young mom.

  1. Memories are more important than the mess.
  2. Teaching them manners is worth the trouble.
  3. We all need grace. It is okay to give it, and even better to receive it.
  4. Consistency is one of your most important parenting tools.
  5. Make listening your default.
  6. Be silly. Life is too short to be serious all the time.
  7. Never underestimate your child’s ability to experience God.
  8. Invest big in your relationship with your spouse. Your children learn more about love, life, and making it last from the two of you than anyone else.
  9. Pray for your kids and with your kids…every day.
  10. Teaching them to look like Jesus begins in the mirror.

My Jesus Resolution today is to breathe, smile, and do. When I read back through this list, I realize that I can still bring these things to life in my family. I may not be a young mom anymore, but my children still need a happy, confident, Christ-focused woman in their lives. We all need memories, silliness, consistency, and grace. Most importantly, I can celebrate the Christ-forming transformation that is taking shape in all of us as we grow and learn how to walk with Him together.





Squeals of Joy

21 11 2014

She sat quietly in the teacher’s meeting. When it came her time to share what was happening in her Bible class, her face lit up. Her smile stretched across her face, a twinkle danced in her eyes, and passion filled her voice. She teaches our babies, and couldn’t wait to tell us about her class.

Creation wonders filled the sky. Noah brought animals two by two. Baby Jesus makes a quiet, awe-inspiring appearance in a manger. The little ones absorb every song and hang on every story. Her delight, however, magnified when she talked about the moment when squeals of joy are heard around the table. The children are most excited when she passes out the Bible for them to hold and touch. “Bible! Bible!” she told us they squeal. Giggles and grins literally fill the room when these little ones get to hold a Bible.

I smiled. I am so thankful for her commitment and passion to teach these youngest and most precious of hearts the value and joy of God’s Word. Their squeals, however, also served as a mirror for my soul. When was the last time my heart sped up with excitement when I picked up my Bible? Do I anticipate His presence with that much enthusiasm? Is reading His Word the best part of my day?

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at my Bible differently. I want to see it through the eyes of a child. It is a book that tells me how much I am loved, how special I am to the Lord, and how amazing His works are on my behalf. I want to pause before opening my Bible, letting the anticipation build as I prepare to enter His presence. I want to humble my heart in the face of His wisdom, surrender before His sovereignty, and expect to be changed by His power. I might even squeal.





Don’t Lose Heart

19 11 2014

This morning it’s the quiet, solid, determined words of Paul that are speaking perspective and strength into my soul. Listen. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Do you hear it? Paul looks at his struggles, his hardships, his brokenness, and his heartaches and sees God at work in them all. God doesn’t waste anything. He takes every tear, every prayer, and every pain, covering them with mercy and faithfulness. He uses every moment to draw us deeper into His purpose and more tightly into His love. Grace has the power to weave its way into our desperateness and change our souls. It can be slow. It can be hard. But Paul reminds us that because of Jesus, what seems like a disaster can be a door deeper into His presence.

My Jesus Resolution today is to not lose heart. I know. The burden is heavy, but God is using every turn, every tear, and every trial to teach me about His glory. Each time I choose surrender over sulking, faith over fear, or worship instead of worry I open my heart to renewal. My circumstances may not change, but a changed perspective allows me to hope and not lose heart.





Issues

17 11 2014

She walks on the fringes of the crowd. Her desperation is written vividly on her face, but no one notices. Invisible, she presses on through the throngs of people hoping to get a little closer. Just the hem of His garment….

For twelve years, she has suffered with an issue of blood. Life drains out of her, leaving her sapped, weary, and weak. Her heart has suffered as much as her body. Hope leaks out with each day. Joy seeps away. Peace ebbs, but never seems to flow back in. The knowledge that she is unclean defines more than her physical state. Her soul feels dirty.

Used up, unwanted, and unseen. Ever felt like that? We all have issues. Issues that impoverish us, isolate us, empty us, shame us, make us invisible, exhaust us, and leave us hopeless. What issue is making you feel vulnerable, alone, and desperate?

The end of the story is the just the beginning. She moves through the crowd and reaches out, not for His hand, His attention, or His face. Just the hem of His garment. Stooping toward the ground, her fingers graze the rough cloth. Power is unleashed. Hope becomes a tidal wave. The issue that had defined her for so long is redefined by His presence.

“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.” – Matthew 9:22

My Jesus Resolution today is to take my issues to Him. Too many times, I try to find my own solutions, come up with my own answers, or settle for living on the fringes of His presence. I may feel unworthy to seek His face, but Jesus sees me. I may be weak and used up, but Jesus is willing to pour His strength into my broken heart. I may be willing to settle for the hem of His garment, but Christ wants to give me His heart, and in the light of His glory, my issues become pathways for praise.





Almost Everything

14 11 2014

I love the honesty and transparency of children. They humble me with their ability to speak truth and show me my heart.

Sitting down to eat dinner with friends, the little boy at the table was called on to bless our food and lead us in prayer. He praised God for His love and faithfulness, remembered someone who is sick, asked for blessings on his class, and then there was a pause. He hesitated long enough that I opened my eyes for a peek. I saw him staring down at his food, and just when I was wondering what was going through his mind, he wrapped his prayer up with the following words. “And thank you God…for almost everything.”

His mother and I grinned, but truth be told, his words have stuck in my head and tapped on a hard place in my heart. Some days, I am thankful…for almost everything. There are sometimes people I want to cross off the list, stresses that have made the day hard, disappointments that have been discouraging, unexpected pressures that ate my time, and things I just didn’t like that came across my plate. I am okay with being thankful for the pleasant, happy, comfortable parts of my day, but the less than fun stuff is easy to push into the ‘almost everything’ pile.

God, however, calls us to be thankful in all circumstances. He longs for me to slow down and look for the ways that His presence is infused in my day. His fingerprints touch my moments, His love enfolds my path, His grace stretches out before me, and His purpose is shaping even the ‘almost everything’ pieces of my life.

My Jesus Resolution today is to choose gratitude instead of grumbling. Being grateful requires me to have open eyes and a clear vision of my Savior. Walking in His steps plants my feet on holy ground and sets my heart on a path of amazement. Grumbling turns my eyes inward and makes it all about me. Searching for His fingerprints means I need a transformed heart and a humble spirit. Today I am thankful that He used a little boy to remind me to seek Him out in everything.





The Ant Pile

12 11 2014

He was maybe twelve years old. Stuck in a line of traffic, I watched him walk through the grass, shoulders heavy with a backpack and books. He kicked the dirt, watching leaves and sticks go flying. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry. A boy exploring on his way home.

I knew the moment when he found it. The ant pile beckoned with mystery and adventure. His attention became focused, his eyes fixed on the ground. His feet couldn’t quite decide what to do. First, he gently poked a toe right at the edge of the pile. The ants kept on with their work, his curiosity growing. You could see the wheels turning in his mind. His toes began to dig in deeper. He didn’t jump back the second time quite as quickly as he had at first. He got bolder, determined to leave his mark on the ant pile.

I whispered to myself, “Don’t do it, kid.” Finally, he stepped too far. His brave move was replaced by hopping, swatting, shaking, and grimaces. The ants had swarmed up his pant legs. Covered in ants, he endured their bites as he tried frantically to brush them off. Dejected, he looked back at the ants that had left more marks on him than he did on their pile.

What is your ant pile?

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

My Jesus Resolution today is to step around the ant pile. I have them. So do you. Places that challenge us to dive in rather than walk away. For a while, it seems brave, daring, risky, and powerful to challenge the ant pile. But in the end, I always get bitten. I end up hurting, wishing I had listened to the voice that said, “Don’t do it, my child.” God has so many wonders in store for me, I don’t need to make up my own. It may be tempting to kick the ant pile, but real adventure comes from walking with God.








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