Resolve: a firm determination

22 Jan

Marilyn (Bunny) Biddinger:

Glimpsed Glory is poised to celebrate it’s 2nd Anniversary and I am praising God for all He has done. This is the first post ever and I remember the giddiness of clicking the publish button very clearly. I praise Him so for allowing me to participate in the Kingdom work and I pray He will continue to include me in encouraging the hearts of my Sisters in Christ.

Originally posted on glimpsedglory:

It is January 23, 2013.  For many people it is the time the rubber meets the road for those New Year’s resolutions.  Will they become life-changing habits or will we gently say to ourselves, “good try”? I honestly didn’t make any resolutions this year because I am praying that the resolution I made in 2012 will be at the forefront of my mind until I no longer glimpse Glory but live in His presence.  At the end of 2011, I sat with a group of the most beautiful Bible study partners a woman could be blessed with and listened as one after the other chatted about what they resolved to do differently in the upcoming year.  Now from the outside, you would think that every one of these ladies had it so together that they would simply need to keep doing whatever it is that they were doing to be satisfied…

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There are No Ordinary Moments: Matt, Sara and the Quiet Servants

1 Jan karl and lori blog

Well Sister, the calendar page has turned and we find ourselves at the beginning of all new possibilities. 525,600 minutes are stretched between our here and now and the closing pendulum swing of 2015. So much life, so much love, so much everything will happen between now and then.

Life takes such unexpected twists and turns that to even try and anticipate where we might journey or where we will end up when the next 12 months draw to a close seems almost an exercise in futility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love looking out over the unsmudged landscape of 2015 with great expectation and hope of the what to come. I’m one of the geeky types that likes filling in the squares on my new day planner with birthdays and important things I want to remember. I enjoy thinking about things I’d like to do and how accomplishing them might look. But at 50, I’ve finally started to wrap my mind around the truth that I rarely travel the path I imagine. And I mean that in the best way. If I were to be confined by what my finite mind can dream up, I’d miss out on the Divine Adventure. I’d come to the end of the year and all I’d have is what I wanted and Girlfriend, He has so much more in store for us!

I would be so quick to settle for the ordinary when that is just not the life He has planned for His daughters. He wants you and I to live the Extraordinary. If you’ve walked with Jesus a while, you know exactly what I’m talking about and if you’re new to the faith, well hang on Beloved because it’s a wild ride! I say with full and complete certainty that there are no ordinary moments, no mundane actions, no seconds that simply tick by when you’re actively living out your faith. The wind of the Spirit just won’t let us define our days that way.

Every moment we experience after accepting Christ as our Savior contains more than what we see on this temporal planet. Every second is part of the Kingdom timeline and when we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, He makes every minute count. The minutes we rejoice in, the minutes we mourn in and the minutes we see as absolutely nothing special.

But Beloved, our vision can’t be trusted.  Rarely do we see the significance of the moments as they really are.  So we have to know and live, until our faith becomes sight, that our eternity, our life as the redeemed and chosen of God, has already begun. We fight the good fight of faith and we live with our eye, not toward a destination yet to be had, but fixed on a destiny we already possess.

Do we possess it in full? Certainly not. But are we living the eternal life, the Kingdom timeline, the Kairos Moments, in the here and now?

Karios

Based on the authority of God’s Word I believe we are.

1 Timothy 6:11-12

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

The hard part, O woman of God, can be that “fleeing these things” and “pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” may feel like a fight at times but often times it doesn’t really feel like eternal living . . . it feels ordinary.

Extending kindness to someone doesn’t feel like an eternal act. Being steadfast and following through on your commitments might not seem extraordinary. Offering a gentle word to someone who needs to hear it rarely seems heaven altering. But may I be so bold as to tell you, if you are buying into that mindset, you are wrong.

Sister, everything you do,

every minute you live makes a difference . . .to someone.

I got to witness the truth of this up close and personal this past year when God pulled back the veil and letmatt and sara wedding every onlooker glimpse His glory in the life of our precious friends, Matt and Sara. Matt and Sara share their testimonies and the Good News of redemption openly, and it’s with their full permission that I am sharing this small slice of their journey. I don’t overstep my bounds when I tell you, because they would be the first to declare it, that this couple was living life in the pit of sin and if God had not swooped in from heaven in all of His Sovereignty to draw them out . . . they would still be there. What a rescue He orchestrated! What freedom He blessed with! What sweet salvation He granted!

And we might be tempted to think that it all happened in one lightning bolt moment, with a glorious flourish, and a wild roar from the Lion of Judah . . . but we’d be wrong. God sent quiet servants to live life in front of them . . . one moment at a time. To “flee these things” and “pursue” the eternal life to which they were called in the everyday minutes.

The events that occurred, the acts of God that transpired, to bring Matt and Sara to a place of grabbing hold of Jesus were set in motion long before the ones I am describing, but none were more important or more significant than the earthly family He placed Matt in. The faithful ones God sent to do life, tough and difficult life, were placed there directly by the hand of God to influence the generations. It was God who chose to make Lori his aunt and Karl his uncle and to connect them to Sara through him.

And it was God who, many years earlier rescued Karl and Lori from the same pit of sin and transformed their ordinary temporal moments into extraordinary, eternity altering life.

karl and lori blog

Full confession is that Karl and Lori are two of our dearest friends and I might be tempted to describe their walk of faith with glowing terms that neither of them would assign to themselves. They would tell you that they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary and if I know them as well as I think I do, I’m going to go a step further and say that they would begin to outline all the ways they think they fell short over the years. See, fighting the good fight never looks the same from inside the ring.

So while they may have felt that they were just living ordinary lives, from their ringside seats Matt and Sara saw the activity of the Extraordinary. The steadiness of the walk, the gentleness of the faith, the pursuit of the Savior, so obvious that when God prompted them to reach for a hand there was no other choice. And true to their eternal calling, Lori and Karl grabbed hold. God reached out through real and tangible people and pulled Matt and Sara home.

Matt and Karl at Matt's Baptism

Matt and Karl at Matt’s Baptism

Matt and Lori at Matt's Baptism

Matt and Lori at Matt’s Baptism

Matt and Sara at Matt's Baptism

Matt and Sara at Matt’s Baptism

Sara Baptism Testimony

Sara’s Baptism Testimony

Karl, Sara, and Pastor Jerry at Sara's Baptism

Karl, Sara, and Pastor Jerry at Sara’s Baptism

I’ve seen few people burn as hotly or be changed as dramatically as Matt and Sara and I pray with everything I have that they are never satisfied with what they know of Him but they keep seeking His face and chasing His heart.

Sister, Matt and Sara have been liberated from the bondage of sin and live in wild appreciation of their freedom in part because Karl and Lori have taken hold of the eternal life to which they were called. Living life with and for the Savior has become who they are and with their eyes fixed on Him they continue to live moment upon moment in His Name.  God reached down through what our finite eyes may have seen as commonplace, normal, everyday moments and extended His love to the generations.

And Matt and Sara’s legacy was changed. Bondage was exchanged for freedom. Death was redeemed by life and an inheritance fit for a princess was born . . .the life of their sweet Baby Girl changed forever.

Matt and Sara's Baby Girl Due 07/05/2015

Matt and Sara’s Baby Girl
Due 07/05/2015

Can you even take how good God is? Look over that little one, knit together in her momma’s womb, entering into a redeemed heritage. Welcomed with love, not just by her Momma and Daddy, but by the quiet servants who lived one eternal moment after another.

And here we stand Girlfriend, you and I, with our feet firmly planted in the first square of our 2015 day planners. All those moments lay before us. . .every one of them poised to alter eternity . . . how are we going to live them?

creation swap hour glass ribbet

She Loves Me More: An Open Letter to my Mom

28 Dec

I feel God is prompting me to write a book and in response to that I have begun the process of sifting through all the spiral notebooks I have written in over the years. It’s a little bit like the process of revisiting the memories and the people when you’re sorting pictures. You can’t just drop it onto the top of a pile until you’ve looked it over, fingered the edges of it, smiled at it or cried with it, and let the “all of it” wash over your heart one more time. I realize as I am reading over that description that I am very much dating myself chatting about the mounds of unsorted pictures I have tucked away in totes, so for the younger sisters that I pray are reading and will be spurred toward love and good deeds as a result of being here—replace the words that chat about physically touching, feeling, and piling photographs with words like clicking, dragging, editing, and creating folders. I have no doubt that no matter how you preserve your memories, rather an old school Polaroid or Cloud storage, the sentiment and the desire to linger over the moments is the same.

young momI recently came upon a letter I wrote to my Mom a couple years ago but never mailed. I contemplated rewriting and sending it to her and then wondered to myself about the possibilities of encouraging another daughter to tell her Mom exactly how she sees her if I were to share it. Might someone take an extra moment to really look at the woman she is and see her. . . her strength, her sweetness, her beauty, her vulnerability, her sacrifice, her scars.

God has put me in a very unique place of appreciating the days with my Mom right now, even if our only contact is a quick text during the day. He’s opened my eyes through the grief of others and the place I have gone in life with my own Sweet Girl and began to show me who my Mom is not just as my Mom but as the woman, friend, daughter, sister, wife, grandmother, and so many more things that she is. All the roles she has had in her life, all the comfort she has given friends, all the love poured out – all the things that she does day in and day out to speak love into her world—to be beauty in motion.

Mom and me ribbetSo my hope in sharing this right now, as this year draws to a close and another lays before us, is that you might be prompted to use some of those dwindling moments to really look at the women who have invested in your life, see the high cost they paid to love you so well and then let them know how precious they are to you.   And if I may be so bold as to suggest – write it down for them. Give them a piece of their love story and their legacy etched out. Let it be something they can pull out and read on days they aren’t feeling really precious to anyone, to run their fingers over on a down day, and let the “all of how you see them” wash over their hearts one more time.

We’re just on the other side of celebrating the birth of love and the gift of life so what say you and I give one more gift to the women we love. . . the ones who have influenced, guided, and shaped us? I’ll lead the way and put a big red bow on this just for my Mom. I’ve left all the errors in punctuation, the grit of emotion, and all the other imperfections of the original handwritten letter because Momma’s don’t require editing or censoring. They love the all of you and . . . they love you more. moms card ribbet

SHE LOVES ME MORE: An Open Letter to my Mom

Hi Mom,

I wish I had some fancy paper to write on but I don’t so this notebook paper will have to do. Britt found this card the other day when we were out shopping and said, “Hey Mommy, this is in the romance section but it reminds me of you and Grammy.”

I read it, thought it was cute and picked it up thinking I would drop it in the mail to you to cheer you up this winter. Obviously I didn’t get it done and I’m glad about that because this card has taken on a whole new meaning as it has sat here in my house with life going on all around it.

I hope I can explain this right Mom and find the perfect words to say it all. If I can, you’ll feel very loved and noticed and seen. And that’s what I want, for you to know that I see you and you matter.

You know that the last few months have, for whatever reason, been some of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced. I started crying when Baby Dog died and I haven’t stopped. It seems like an avalanche has fallen and I’m trying to live my life crawling through the rubble.

You’ve been through so much coping with all that has gone on in life and in your effort to protect me from your hurt you’ve been keeping pieces of your heart locked up for a long time and that’s made it seem like I’ve lost a bit of you sometimes. Then Lori was diagnosed with cancer and the roller coaster of emotions that came at the thought of losing her was almost too much. Britt graduated and left. We packed you up and you guys left too. And Brett’s had one health issue after another pummel him throughout it all.

The next August came and Britt left again, Angie died, and then the Baby Dog. Brett’s still fighting and on some days it seems we are losing. Mikey has passed away and the ruins seem to keep piling up around me. Life is just difficult right now. I’m hanging on to the words of Isaiah and knowing that God is the Restorer of the ruins and the Repairer of broken walls, but it’s still difficult.

So I was taking down the Christmas stuff and thinking to myself “Why did I even put this up? Nothing matters to anyone. You work hard to love people, make them feel special, and nothing matters.” And right there, in the middle of my less-than-attractive pity party, it hit me like a lightning bolt.

I started wondering how many times you were going through difficult things but still worked hard to love all of us in tangible ways and make us feel special, cared for, and loved. I wondered how many times you did things, all by yourself feeling like you were the one no one wanted to be with or even saw.  Doing it all with the weight of the world on your shoulders and feeling like nothing mattered.

I WISH I WOULD HAVE NOTICED all the things you did and appreciated it then instead of looking back and realizing it now. The truth is Mom, IT ALL MATTERED.

Even though I’ll never know all the million little details and the big sacrifices you’ve made, IT ALL MATTERED. You poured yourself into making me, me and my brother, my brother and into being by Dad’s side through everything. We are who we are because everything you are and everything you did, IT ALL MATTERED.

Another truth is, you really do love me more because I haven’t fully learned how much I love you yet. God keeps showing me all these ways that you have loved me and continue to love me that I just didn’t know. Until you experience some things for yourself you just can’t wrap your mind around it.

moms letter ribbetI do love you so much but I’m certain it isn’t as much as I will love you. I’m getting older and we have more shared experiences than before and sometimes when I’m in the middle of something and I think, “this thing’s about to kill me,” your face pops into my mind and I think to myself, I know she felt this way too and she got through.

So never think that the thing you did didn’t matter. Every single one did, the ones I’ve noticed and the ones I’ve yet to see and I appreciate them all, especially the ones I’m yet to discover. I love you Mom, but yeah, you’re right, you love me more. Thanks for always being the winner of that argument.

I love you – Bunny

The closest I can figure from the things I am chatting about in the letter I wrote this at the beginning of 2013. Why didn’t I send it? Why did I wait? I don’t know but I don’t want another day to pass without her knowing and I want to be the one who shows her beauty to the world.

Mom beautiful ribbetProverbs 27:2 says to let another praise you and not let it come from your own mouth so Sweet Sister please do not remain silent where she is concerned. Walk your Momma into 2015 with the full knowledge of the love you have for her. Send her into a fresh year knowing that all the ones behind her counted. Put a big red bow on your love for her and be certain she understands who she is to you. Let her know that your heart sees behind you and in front of you and it ALL MATTERS, that she matters. And even though our Moms and our situations, our ages and our locations may be different this is one thing we all have in common—no matter how much I love my Mom, no matter how much you love your Mom . . . .SHE LOVES YOU MORE.

creation swap she loves you more free mother daughter Travis Silva 5632

 

*Written with a grateful heart and much love for my Sisters walking through such loss right now and allowing me to learn from all you are going through. I love you so dear friends.

*If you’d like to put your letter to your Mom in the comments section here feel free to do that. If you’d like me to put it on Glimpsed Glory’s facebook page I’d be happy to post it for you just e-mail me at glimpsedglory@yahoo.com. If you’d like a public place to share it, I’ll provide it.

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec creation swap JOY 3763_Christmas_1_of_2_(REVISED) ribbet

 

Christmas Day comes once each year,

The bells ring joy so loud and clear.

Rejoice and praise with godly fear,

Come celebrate, Love has appeared!

creation swap 22155_Christmas_Bells

Marvel at our Savior’s birth,

The Light has dawned upon the earth.

Join your voices, sing with mirth

Wonder at His matchless worth!

Revel in that Grace filled day,

Christ descended to obey,

Raise your hearts and kneel to pray,

Our Jesus came to make the way!

creation swap 22155_Christmas_Bells

The Author of Salvation’s plan,

Fulfilled the holy, high command,

Born a Baby, died a Man

Bow your heart and lift your hand!

Yes, trumpet praise and fan to flame,

The Spirit’s Fire and Holy Fame,

Christmas Day, give wide acclaim

Shout His glory, Laud His Name!

–Marilyn Biddinger

creation swap JOY 3763_Christmas_1_of_2_(REVISED) ribbet

 

A Balloon Ride for Two . . . Safe in the Palm of Glory!

16 Dec

Brett and I have travelled across the country this past week not for a simple vacation but to witness a milestone moment in the life of our Sweet Florida Girl. We’ve come to see our Little One walk across the stage, receive her college diploma and symbolically step into the next stage of her 21 year old life.seugraduationbackground

Sisters, where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday she stepped up to the podium at her first “graduation” – the time passes so fast and, as cliché’brittspreschool graduation cropped as it sounds, you barely blink and it’s gone. And I don’t think that sentiment, the idea that time with those who have captured our hearts slips away too soon, is limited to our children. I think it’s that way with all the important people in our lives. The time always seems to go to quickly . . . with your Grandma, with your Mom, with your aunts, your sisters, your nieces, your daughters . . . it never seems like we have the time to fully embrace them and in the blink of an eye . . . it’s a memory.

That’s how these last 21 years feel to me and as I let my mind drift back to the beginning of her college years I clearly remember the absolute physical pain of watching her pull the car out of the garage to begin her adventure on the opposite end of the United States. I felt so anxious about what the future held for her and to be honest, for the empty nest she was leaving behind as well.

What was waiting for her at Southeastern University? She believed God had paved the way straight through those campus gates for her. So much so that she called it her “Promised Land” – but would it be? Would the adjustment, the being away from home, be difficult for her or would she make the move easily – and, if I was honest with myself, which one was I really hoping for?

All these questions and a thousand others pounded at my heart as I watched her turn the key, smile at me with such expectation on her face and drive away. I flew to the spot Brett was having his morning coffee, crawled up beside him, and let the thousand questions roll down my cheeks.

And now here I am at another monumental moment . . . watching as she takes her place with a smile full of expectation – she isn’t sitting behind the wheel with all her belongings in the seats behind her, but she is poised for another adventure. It’s so strange to me to see her in this place, where the past and future are meeting in such a real and tangible way. So surreal to open the commencement program listing the graduates, trace down through the list and land on the name we had given our Sweet Child 21 years ago.

Such a mix of remembering, experiencing and anticipating all tangled into these few brief moments. Remembering her as a little girl. Thinking about the health diagnosis she has received this year and the challenges they will present throughout her life. Anticipating her upcoming marriage in 2015.   Mulling her plan to move several states away from us . . . again. And there is that physical pain again and the thousand questions that batter at my Momma’s heart.

Does she remember home as a safe harbor? A place of love? The spot where grace lives? What is she thinking about the pain in her joints and all the medicine she has to take? How is she going to cope with the new limitations she has? Is she nervous about being a wife? Will she make friends in that new place? Will she leave us behind?

So much change in her young life and in this old one too. And all those questions welled up in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I spilled my heart out to Brett over coffee in our hotel the morning after graduation.

I’d love to write that he handled it so wonderfully but I know he will not mind me telling you that he sometimes forgets that I don’t really want the questions answered or the problem fixed. I just want someone to hear what’s on my heart. So he didn’t handle it badly, he just really wanted to make it better. To make certain I knew that Britt would be okay on the journey. To remind me that we have been praying for her for years with this specific time in mind. And to point out all the times God has been so obviously faithful to her over the years.

I looked over to explain to him that I didn’t want to hear logic or be reminded of all the things I know to be true and over his shoulder, right off the patio of our hotel room, I saw the most beautiful hot air balloon with the sun splashing across it. I said, “Honey, look at that! It’s so beautiful!” He turned to look from the place he was sitting and said, “Where?” He rolled forward in his wheelchair and said, “I can see it now. But there isn’t just one – the sky is full of them!” And he pushed out onto the patio. I got out of my chair and followed him and there they all were with the sun lighting them up. They were so beautiful. And calm. So peaceful.

The splendor of the single balloon had been obscured from Brett’s vision by a concrete post and the beauty filling the sky had been hidden from me by a curtain. We had to move, to get up close, get out from behind the post and pull back the curtain to see the bigger picture. And still, as we took in the details of the balloons, suspended in the sky, awash in the sun, poised for adventure, we didn’t know where the balloons had launched from – where they were going—or who they were carrying. For all the beauty in front of us, we only saw one brief moment, hanging in time, of the much larger journey.

hotairballoonpsalm

We were witnessing, Sweet Sisters, a glimpse of Glory . . . a small slice of the wonder of Him . . . in the sky above us and the life of our Sweet Girl.

And the message struck like a lightning bolt.  God is all about doing the beautiful thing – even when the post is obscuring our vision or we’re standing behind the curtain. What I can or can’t see has no bearing on what He is doing. I cannot contain Him and neither can you so we trust Him to always be about the business of filling our skies with love. And occasionally, when we heed the Spirit’s push to move closer and respond to His invitation to look up . . . we see the beauty of Him . . . and if we will raise our eyes toward heaven, even as the questions roll down our cheeks, Sister, what we behold will be absolutely glorious.

hotairballoon desktopfreehebrews

From “Nothing” to “Something” . . . Something Beautiful

2 Dec

I am beginning a personal study of the Book of Hebrews and as part of the adventure into these passages I want to get as much of the background story as I can. It’s not where everybody begins but I enjoy trying to piece together the surroundings the Almighty chose as the very place He would have the quill hit the parchment. I love the idea of leaning over the author’s shoulder as he receives Divine inspiration and trying to imagine how it all unfolded. What did he experience as the Spirit settled upon him? What kind of expressions crossed his face as he drank in the Word of God? How long did it take him to understand what was happening –did he know immediately or was it a process? Did he smile at the thought that the God of heaven and earth was chatting so loudly or was it more like a holy whisper that made his hands shake as he tried to get it all down? These are the kinds of things that I like to think on and wonder over when I start out on the quest of new treasure.

creation swap Elizabeth Spencer Hebrews glasses 24482 ribbetThis particular excavation of Truth –this specific seeking of treasure– has however, begun much differently than what I anticipated when I settled into my chair. To say that my expected beginning has taken a very unexpected turn would fall far short of describing my experience this morning as God confirmed for me again at least two things that He has been whispering in my ear since He and I began this journey.

First, He will – in all of His ExtraOrdinariness – speak loudly to the utterly ordinary among us. I believe this so completely that I’ve made the declaration of it a permanent part of the blog in the Message From a Fellow Sojourner:

Beloved, God has gone to great lengths to whisper to your heart and reveal His Nature to you in personal, unique ways. My own experience confirms for me that neither a righteous background nor an extraordinary intellect is a requirement for looking beyond what we can see and Glimpsing the Glory of the One we cannot. In fact, I am walking, talking assurance that the “Extraordinary of God” will be revealed to the most unrighteous and utterly ordinary among us. Never doubt that the Creator of communication is fluent in the language of your unique soul as well.

And isn’t it beautiful that He will keep repeating Himself, over and over again, until He’s certain the lesson He is teaching is etched on our souls. He’s so dedicated to engraving His image on us that He perseveres in stamping Himself on our hearts . . . all for our benefit. It doesn’t change Him in any way but Sister, it changes us.

See, what I expected when I grabbed my coffee and Bible this morning was to add some texture to the fabric of the message I was going to read after I poked around into the history of the human who was entrusted with the task of putting it all down for the generations to come. What I didn’t expect was to have God show up in all of His hugeness and stitch together such a beautiful backdrop before I even read Hebrews 1:1.  Full confession is . . . I still haven’t made it that far.

The God of More had planned to drench me in Himself before I even dipped my toes into the pages of the Scripture. The Extraordinary seemed to be reminding this ordinary woman that He would not be confined by her idea of when and where she would hear Him. No, He could and He would give voice to the message He had prepared anywhere, any time, and in any way He chose.

coffe and bible creation swap free 19147 Aaron Burden hebrews cup

I’m trying to think of a better way to describe all that God has shown me this morning but the one word that keeps entering my mind is “nothing.” I don’t have the space to detail it and the way it all unfolded because He chatted so fast and so loud but in its most scant outline it went something like this in my spirit . . .

I read a couple of resource books and thought:

Hmm . . . different scholars posit different possible authors – some of the arguments are good others—not so much. What does that mean for me as I start this study?

I typed the answer to the question I posed to myself and noted the Scripture that brought me to my response:

My response to the challenge of human authorship: All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and brought into existence to accomplish the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11) – while the debate to determine the human hand that held the quill may be of scholarly interest –the power of the Word lies with the Almighty Author (Hebrews 4:12).

I pondered on it:

That’s really true of the entire Bible. It doesn’t really matter who put the pen to paper in any of the 66 books. It adds depth and gives application, and God chose them to convey His message, but the story is God’s – the message always belongs to Him. I wonder what those verses that came to mind read like lined up –from the New to the Old and then back again. Guess I’ll check that out.

I copied and pasted into a word document from the Amplified Bible (AMP) and then I read:

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Isaiah 55:10-11 Hebrews 4:12 AMP

Read back through it again! It is absolutely seamless—the Message of God from both sides of the Covenant Line. The utter constancy of God clearly stating that it is His Word and His Authority and His Voice that brings power and life to the black words on those white pages. And isn’t it sweet that He brought the whole thing to a point with the very book I am preparing to splash down in? I love Him so for putting me in the exact place I need to be as I begin this study. He took the distractions away and gave me “nothing” so I could receive the message straight from Him – not in awe of the dedication of the mortal author – not marveling over the tenacity of the human writer – but with my eyes and my heart marveling at HIM, the Immortal One.

Beloved, those three Scriptures only scratch the surface of the Holy Script He let me visit this morning. It was one thunderbolt after another (read fast because that’s the way He brought it all to mind in rapid-fire fashion) –

Isn’t He wild?  What kind of King shows Himself to the servant that way?  It’s astounding that He would welcome us into His Presence with such generosity.  I am beside myself with glee at what lies ahead on this treasure hunt. Absolutely giddy at the possibilities He may lay out in front of me. And Girlfriend, Fellow God Seeker, this is just a small glimpse of Him, a little piece of His splendor. What will it be when we fully know as we are fully known?!?

Do you remember where all this began? It all began with finding nothing – no undebatable human author. He has brought us all this beauty, all this excitement, all the wonder from the discovery of “nothing” —but it strikes me as I type those words that I shouldn’t be surprised because isn’t that how He does? In Genesis 1:1 God speaks and “nothing” is transformed into the spectacular “something.” Just the sound of His Voice, giving form to the command of His Heart and “nothing” takes on a wild beauty that we can’t even comprehend.

“Nothing” is touched by the Breath and Heart of God and it becomes “something.”

Doesn’t that thought startle you just a little bit? The same Voice that spoke the world into existence . . . the same Heart that commanded beauty to be born . . . the Heavenly breath that turns “nothings” into “somethings” . . . Sweet Sister, He’s the One who speaks to you.

And that brings me to the second thing that I am certain He has confirmed for me again today and I hope He has spoken to your heart as well –our God, the One who loves you and the One who loves me, is always the God of More. creation swap coffee cup painting lori macmath 9079 surpasses dreamsHe’s always more thrilling, more exhilarating, and more exciting than we could possibly dream up. When He shows us glimpses of the Who of Him and empties us of our own small expectations, when we come to Him with our “nothing,” . . . well Sister, transforming it to something is His specialty and it will always be more beautiful than our finite minds can conjure. I’m going to be so bold as to say that His reality will always surpass our dreams. It will always go beyond our wildest expectations and exceed our aspirations.

That Girlfriend, is the “something from nothing” life – originating in His Heart, beginning with His Voice, taking form at His command – He created you to live. So you press in close, hold out your cup full of nothing, empty yourself of your small expectations, trust Him to be Who He is and then you watch your beautiful something overflow.

creation swap coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940 beautiful cup

(P.S.  And so I finished all the detail work on this post but wanted to check a reference one last time.  I went to Biblegateway and the verse staring back at me from their homepage . . .Hebrews 1:1-2!

[The Supremacy of God’s Son ] Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2

I couldn’t make this stuff up — He is always the God of More!  And I’m taking that gift from Him as the green light to actually jump into the Book of Hebrews!  Isn’t He too good for words! Oh, Believe Him to be More today!! Blessings to you!)

The Overwhelmed Life

11 Nov creation swap bible roses Gail Wall 11243 deut3247

It was put before me recently to explain what God’s Word means to me. Not in an apologetics, logical, reasoning, I’m going to try and convince you to see it the same kind of way but in a heart-all-out-there personal kind of way. I’m not certain I had ever contemplated anyone wanting to know that before and honestly, creation swap heart Stephen Ramkissoon 4959 graceI wasn’t prepared for the emotions, affection, and love that meditating on the personal meaning of God’s Word brought about in me. There was a sense of this “almost too much Lord” in trying to string together with some kind of clarity exactly what it means to me to sit so close to the Throne and be welcomed there.

One of my favorite songs right now is Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave. It came on the radio the other night as I was driving home by myself and I was so engulfed in the mercy of Jesus, the pure love of Him, that I was exactly what the title of the song said . . .Overwhelmed.

creation swap blue2 Joshua Lenon 5971 bigdaddyweaveThe most beautiful pictures slid through my mind. I saw myself running to the arms of the Father with Jesus – the very One who had made the way – right beside me whispering “Go child, go.” And He had tears in His eyes. I felt absolutely covered in Him. Even as I let my mind’s eye wander back and re-experience the moment, I feel the love for Him well up in my throat. See, I’ve been praying not only to love Jesus but to be in love with Jesus. For me, those pictures, being lost in the wonderment of Him, marveling at the All of Him, was confirmation that He hears our every prayer.

This challenge, to give shape and form to what the Word means to me, brought about that same overwhelming sense of affection and love. I didn’t worry about being able to offer the Scripture references that led me to write what I did or make certain there was a commentary written by someone smarter than me that confirmed what I thought, I just let myself see Him. Experience Him. Worship Him.

I let myself feel His embrace and the overwhelmed in me poured onto the page.

The Bible, the Word of God, the Voice of Heaven, the Breath of Love—is life to me. Nothing else stirs me, energizes me, moves me, thrills me or humbles me like He does. I am left slack-jawed and steeped in awe that He would stoop from Heaven to speak to me –the very worst one. But He does. Over and over again He does. And with every syllable I hear Him whisper, “I love you.” And my heart reaches back with, “I love you too.”

Girlfriend, isn’t He just too much? I always encourage women to take His promises as their own . . . to get up close with His Word and breathe It in – because I know that’s the only place we’ll find the tenacity and courage to really live and love with abundance on this temporal planet. Only when I inhale Love, when I meet Him in the pages of His Word, do I have even a slight chance of getting my flesh out of the way and exhaling any semblance of it. Breathe in “Capital L” Love. Breathe Out “little l” love. Watch God and do what He does. See His posture of love and try to stand the same way. Observe Christ and copy Him through the power of the Spirit. Look at the way He wears Love from head-to-toe and put on a matching outfit.

creation swap wheat Wagner Daniel 1269 ephesians

Oh Sweet One, we cannot watch Him, we cannot keep company with Him, we cannot observe Him without falling in love with Him. We breathe Him in and then breathe Him out. The Bible is not black words on white paper. It is life!

On both sides of the Covenant Line –His Word is life!

They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. Deuteronomy 32:47

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:1-4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 1 John 1:1

. . . so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:15-16

And Sister make no mistake that the Word of Life has a name . . .

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

creationswap blackbackground white rose Billy Page 1180 revelation

Revelation 19:11-16

That, Beloved, is who is beckoning you to His side. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords wants to speak to you from the pages. The Word of Life wants to overwhelm you and me with “Capital L” Love. . . . to breathe life into our souls. Not spoon fed life – real, dig-into-it-myself and come up with my lungs and heart full of Him life. Because while we can certainly glean from the insights of others, we absolutely cannot breathe with the Spirit second hand.

And Sweet Friend, the beauty of it is we don’t have to. Pick up your Bible. Pull the app up on your phone. Listen to it on your headphones. Whatever choice sits before you– choose it! And Girlfriend, when you do, you can be confident that what you will find will be absolutely oxygen to your soul.  For you my Friend have chosen to sit before the Throne in the very Presence of Love, to inhale the Word made flesh, and to take in the All of Him.  You have chosen to live, you have chosen the overwhelmed LIFE!

creation swap bible roses Gail Wall 11243 deut3247

(Overwhelmed Music & Lyrics: Mike Weaver / Phil Wickham)

But God! . . .

4 Nov

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

creation swap cross thorns Michael Bernico 17823 1thess59

1 Thessalonians 5:9

Sisters – Let the wind of the Spirit blow over those words and drive them deep into your heart this day. We have been rescued! Those who have believed in their hearts, confessed with their mouths, and this day are being transformed from one degree of glory to another have been ushered into safety by our Sweet Messiah.

Try not to get all caught up in the shades of the word appoint when you read the verse– some translations have it “destined” others use the word “intend” – there may be a time and place when you are called to pull the Sovereignty threads apart and seek out Scripture’s guidance on that particular word but for just the few moments that you will spend reading this post let’s keep to the Strong’s Concordance definition of “to decree one to be subject to” and throw our hats in with A.W. Tozer in the Pursuit of God . . .

God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, “O Lord, Thou knowest.” Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.

Let’s rejoice together that if we have claimed Christ as our Savior then God in His infinite grace has not decreed that we are subject to His wrath.

In Bible study this last week the class was challenged to ponder the word wrath and jot down the things that popped to mind.  I’m certain we came up with many of the same ideas and concepts your mind would conjure given the opportunity.

  • Punishment
  • Unrelenting Pain
  • Destruction
  • Unrestrained Anger

And maybe the most pointed term of all – DESERVED.

And yet, God did not decree those who believe to be subject to punishment, unrelenting pain, destruction, unrestrained anger – He chose not to subject us to exactly what our sins deserved. Rather, His appointment for we who believe is to obtain salvation. Beloved, the thing He has decreed for the Romans 10:9-10 believer is rescue.

  • Preservation
  • Deliverance
  • Safety
  • Grace

Unmerited favor placed squarely on your shoulders, squarely on my shoulders, because the Messiah chose to place the Beam across His.

Is His compassion not breathtaking? It’s unfathomable that He loves us so. What faithfulness He displays to we who by nature are children of wrath . . .

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3

It’s our nature to be children of wrath, but here Sweet Sister is the entrance of Grace and Love . . .

BUT GOD . . .

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Ephesians 2:4-5

I don’t know what that does for your heart or how it quickens your spirit but for me it feels a superhero has swooped in from heaven and saved me from certain death at my own hands!   Do you see it?

BUT GOD . . .

And the Creator of the universe stoops from heaven to lift you . . .to lift me . . to the Rock of certainty. To hide us in the cleft . . . to hold us in the place of safety that we do not deserve. What so great of rescue is this that the Son would wear our death so that we might be dressed in life?

Every act of disobedience merits retribution. Every sin deserves punishment.

Retribution—Punishment—Wrath is exactly what I deserve . . . BUT GOD!

He has saved us, rescued those, who were by nature children of wrath, placed our punishment on the head of Christ and appointed to us the crown of life . . . BUT GOD!

Girlfriend, we cannot make too much of those two words — BUT GOD!  They are our lifeline.  It’s what we live on! Cling to! Trust in! It’s our firm foundation to know without a doubt that the mercy of God has sliced through the world timeline in the person of Jesus Christ and looked directly at us with the Face of Grace.

It’s what makes our walk confident when we should be anything but in this very dark world.  It’s what makes our faith unshakable when our circumstances quake around us. And it’s what makes us stand firm in the face of our enemy for greater is He who is in us than He who is the world.

So Sweet One, no matter where the pressure comes from today, rather the assault is from without or the attack is from within – you steady your heart in His love, stare that thing in the face, raise the hand of victory and you declare for all the heavenlies to hear. . . BUT GOD!

creation swap heart in bible Marian Trinidad 7896 eph245

Beauty Speaks . . .A Sister’s Story

15 Oct

Beauty . . . you are alive and well. The image of the Beautiful One is surrounding us and we are engulfed in its heartbeat. His grace, His love, His steadfastness . . . every single attribute He possesses has been placed inside of His most prized creation. Sister, that most favored status belongs to you.

Your life, if you have accepted Jesus Christ, is being renewed and transformed to reveal more and more of the beauty the Elohim, the “All of God”, created you to possess. And we, with unveiled faces, move about this life going through the trials, the tests, the difficult stuff and we come away with a greater confidence and certainty that He is with us, that He is good and we are precious in His sight.

We confront the questions to be sure . . . Is our God a Giver or a taker? Does the Delightful One truly delight in me? Has He forgotten His promise to work all things together for the good of those who love Him? It’s part of the process. We question, we pray, we cry . . . but we do not withdraw when “good” doesn’t look like we think it will and “beauty” gets messy.

And when He clears our vision, reaching down into the depths, pulling us to the top so we can breathe, opening our eyes to see just a slice of what He is doing . . . Beloved, we scarce can take it in.

That’s the place my Sweet Friend found herself in just a short time ago . . .the place where God peeled back the worries of this world and showed His splendor just for her. She gave me permission to share her story, but no matter how I tried I couldn’t bring the words together in a way that captured her heart and the way His love absolutely flowed over her in those moments. See I think that no matter how up close you have watched someone, walked with someone, or done life with someone – you can’t really tell their story quite like they can.

I so wish you could sit face to face with her, see the tears in the corners of her eyes as she spoke—because the tears would be there believe me—and hear her voice take on the hush of holiness as she poured her heart out and marveled at His goodness, but that’s just not possible.  So instead, she’s allowing me to share her story in her words. She wrote this originally as an encouragement to the Sisters she studies the Word with – a tangible way to put skin on 1 Thessalonians 2:8 sharing of our very selves—not anticipating the invitation to encourage a much larger audience.

creation swap glimpses1 Paul Snyder 10439 ribbetSo, being affectionately desirous of you,

we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God

but also our own selves,

because you had become very dear to us.

 1 Thessalonians 2:8

True to the image she was created in she has answered the call to come alongside us and let us glimpse God’s glory with her. May He bless her one-hundred fold for giving voice to His goodness and testifying to His love. My Sweet Friend, thank you for living and loving out loud in Jesus Name. You are tangible proof to me that beauty thrives in a fallen world. Blessings to you.

creation swap coffee cup painting beauty lori macmath 9079 ribbet

OUR SISTER’S STORY

You all know I was on a long journey with my Mom as she was dying. TammyandherMomma ribbetIt was one of the hardest journeys God has ever taken me on.  I lost her in December of last year.

Facebook Post from her Momma’s bedside–December 4, 2013

Sitting here with my Mom during the last hours of her journey here on earth. It’s strange how they usher us into this life and we get to usher them into eternity. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. What a blessing to hold her hand through it all.

tammy'sjacob ribbetSoon after that my son Jacob’s caregiver, (Jacob has Down’s Syndrome) that worked for us around 4 years, was engaged and got married in April.  So she left us too.  She is like a daughter to me so I was so happy for her but it was a big loss.tammymikejosh graduation ribbet

Then Jacob’s twin brother Josh graduated in June and left for college on September 1.  Honestly I wasn’t sure I would make it through all of these losses.

I had a few months where I didn’t leave the house much.  The massive amounts of snow were a good excuse to stay home.  I did pray and read my devotional and even sometimes my Bible during this time.  I had awesome sisters that kept praying, bringing coffee and checking on me.

As spring came and the sun….I felt God so close.  Just as I had in my Mom’s last days.  I slowly started moving again and getting involved in life.  It was a very long process but as I shared with my counselor and my girls, God had told me to be still when my Mom had died.  I was still but the pain was so overwhelming sometimes.

We had to help Josh decide on a college.  This was so hard.  To guide but not insist or pressure.  God gave us such wisdom and patience.  I knew where I felt he should go as soon as we hit the campus but Josh wasn’t sure.  It also cost way more than we could afford.  I kept praying Lord is this the place?  Show us, tell us, we want to obey.  By May, Josh had decided it would be Spring Arbor, my choice too.  Then God provided the money we needed.  It was amazing.  All that he did to show us his answer.

Anyway, as summer ended we packed Josh up.  We arrived on campus and were overwhelmed with God’s goodness. From each person we met to how smoothly things unfolded.  We had never met Josh’s roommate but quickly knew they were a match.  His mother and I stood in the hall listening to the RA and Spiritual advisor for the boys tell us their hearts for these boys and how they wanted to encourage and guide them.  Amazing.

After lunch we went back to the dorm.  Drew, Joshua’s roommate, was talking to someone and I heard him comment

“That can’t be true because I am adopted.”  I looked up and said “Drew, your adopted?”  “Yes”  he said.  I said “Wow, Josh is too.  Did you know that?”  “No, I didn’t”.

When I looked up at his Mom and Dad they were both smiling.  His Dad asked me when we had adopted the boys.  I told him August of 1996 from Christian Cradle.  They smiled bigger….

”I approved your adoption” he said.

“I was on the board of Christian Cradle at that time.”

tammy'sboysbaby ribbet

I couldn’t even speak.  I actually held my hands up to God and started talking.

‘You have planned this since the beginning of time…you knew these two boys would meet today and that we would find out this information.  Unbelievable!!!!”

I said to them “Can I just say thank you…”

What a confirmation!  God told me in no uncertain terms that Josh was supposed to be there at that very moment.

He is more than I can even put into words.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Savior of the World, the Lover of the Soul.  Every intricate detail…from greatest to least.  He has filled me with more hope and joy this Fall than I ever thought possible.  PRAISE HIS NAME!!!!

I don’t know about you but I can’t read the words of that Sweet Sister without the tears rolling down my cheeks. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Was it beautiful? It absolutely was. It might not have been our idea of what beauty looks like but when He peeled that curtain back and she got to see His tenderness, love, and care toward her – Beauty was speechless.

In all those years, God was storing up that moment and treasuring it in His heart until the very time she needed it most. That’s Who He is. Regardless of what our eyes see or how messy our lives may be –

the Beautiful One never ceases to work for the good of those who love Him.

What goodness, what treasure, do you suppose, Beautiful Sister, He is storing up for you? Where might you be, what storms might you have endured, when He peels back the curtain and reveals to you His splendor? I don’t know when that moment might come. We have no way of pinpointing the time when He will show His tenderness so plainly . . . the time when we will glimpse His glory and we will be left speechless. But we have heard this testimony and we know He is faithful so we can be certain Girlfriend –the time will come and His Glory will be seen!

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And we know that for those who love God

all things work together for good,

for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

You Make Your World More Beautiful . . . Just by Being You.

3 Oct

Tonight I was reading in 1 Corinthians 10 and my eyes slid across this passage. . . “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” It simultaneously brought tears to my eyes and made me smile because those few words were the answer to a prayer I had breathed only moments earlier asking for God to show Himself gentle to me. See those words are like an old friend taking my hand and leading my heart because of the spiritual mentor who helped me learn them. So as the words hit my brain the memories of her diligence toward me flooded over me, I thought to myself, “That’s from Psalm 24,” and sure enough when I glanced down at the footnote for confirmation, there it was . . “Psalm 24:1.”

That Psalm is the first Scripture I clearly remember memorizing and it was Nanny, my paternal grandmother, who went over and over every syllable with me—in the KJV no less . I’m certain there were other verses I memorized for the Sunday School classes she took me to but that Psalm – at least part of it—was different. Not only was it huge to my little person mind, but I recited it in front of the whole church at the Vacation Bible School program. Angela L. said the other half.

I was about eight or nine I think, but unlike the age that I have to work to recall, I have perfect clarity of how I felt . . . I was terrified. I don’t remember Angela L. looking at all nervous which must’ve made the ashen colored fear on my face stand out all the more to the parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who were there. I distinctly remember thinking that I could either look at all their expectant faces or I could recite the Psalm, but I couldn’t do both. So, rather than look at what seemed to me to be thousands upon thousands of people in the pews, I closed my eyes. . . .and I didn’t miss or stumble over a single word.

Now Nanny had worked with me on that Psalm all week long. She made certain I could say that thing forward and backward . . .not just my part but Angela L’s too. I was so afraid she would be disappointed or embarrassed because I hadn’t stood straight and tall, I hadn’t looked the congregation straight in the eyes with the steadfast confidence of someone whose Grandma had made certain she knew her part. I hadn’t done any of the things she had helped me prepare to do. I had closed my eyes and tilted my head down to speak but if she was disappointed in me, she didn’t let me know it.

Nanny My grandma and spiritual mentor,

Nanny
My grandma and spiritual mentor

Instead, she put her hand on my shoulder—the one with all the extra skin that I liked to press into big ridges and then smooth down before I went to sleep at night—and she said, “That was beautiful. Psalms are written to be prayed. Your eyes closed and head bowed was perfect.” I remember that evening and those words so clearly—not that it was good enough, not that it would do. . . .”it was perfect.”  The tears are sliding down my face right now and I can feel her perfect hand, the one with the extra skin, on my shoulder.

Oh how I am praising God for bringing those words of love and that touch of grace to my mind this very moment. See, when I opened up my Bible this evening, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by my own imperfections and shortcomings and I asked Him to lead me to a tender word from Him, to be salve to my heart because I felt so less-than. And this is where He took me . . .to this tender memory, to this gentle touch and the echo of my Nanny’s voice. . . “it was perfect.” Thank you Lord.

It fits so well with all that He has been showing me lately about the beauty that women of all ages, occupations, and personalities bring to their worlds. He’s just been putting them in front of me everywhere I go. . .pretty places and not-so-pretty places.

Momma full of grace

The Voice of Grace

I walked into a public restroom and bent down to scan the space between the bottom of the door and the floor to see what one might be empty. My eyes stopped and my heart took in a picture that spoke a thousand words. Now the photo isn’t too clear because it isn’t exactly the place where you take a lot of time to focus your camera but if you look close you’ll see three little pairs of feet engulfed in a sea of white toilet tissue facing one another sideways and . . . one pair of larger feet, toes touching the ground, facing forward. I expected to hear some harassed and helpless sounding shrieks come from behind that pink stall door, but instead the voice of grace poured over my ears, “I just need a minute and then we’ll be done.” Her tone was soft. She spoke tenderness to those babies. Not a harried response or a sharp retort within earshot and she had no idea anyone was listening. She was grace come to life. . . making her world a more beautiful, softer, grace-filled place. I never saw her face but I know she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever encountered.

A few days after that, I worked out at a fitness center and the Mom, Daughter, Wife, on the elliptical beside me got interrupted not once but four separate times – twice by her daughter, once by her dad, and once by her husband in the span of about 15 minutes. And that beautiful woman, who had no idea anyone was watching, kept a posture of love the entire time. She never folded her arms once. Never shot a look that could kill. Never did the long exhale through her nose. Nope. She poured love out on every single one of those interruptions wearing skin . . .she made her world a more beautiful, kinder, love-filled place. She was drenched in sweat, wearing her heart on her sleeve, and she was radiant to me.

spine cancer beauty

The Stride of Devotion

The following morning I was walking on a flower-lined sidewalk with a friend and a woman about our age came up behind us. We invited her to pass through because we were more concerned with chatting than with keeping up a good pace and she was so pleasant as she walked between and eventually passed us.  She turned back as she made her way by with a smile and explained, “I’m not as quick as I used to be with this limp.  I have spine cancer and I’m afraid I overdid yesterday.  I just finished radiation but I wasn’t going to miss this vacation with my husband and kids.” No bitterness. No this-isn’t-fair cadence to her words or her stride. Just pure devotion . . . .selfless, heartfelt, devotion . . .she would not be brought to a stand still.  She was tenacity in motion and she made her world a more beautiful place.

And then there was Eloise and Yaya. Two complete strangers to me. Eloise, about 2 years old, and Yaya who was about 70 years her senior . . . granddaughter and grandmother playing in the pool. Eloise full of energy and spunk in her little retro bathing suit flitted from one thing to the next, chattering the entire time. Yaya never told her to quiet down or suggested they take a rest. She engaged fully in every toddler utterance that came from Eloise’s mouth. She was wise enough to soak in every moment that was passing between those generations and you could tell from the look on her face that she was treasuring that day up in her heart. She may not have had the zip her grandbaby did but as a friend who has many grandbabies of her own often tells me, “my speed might be gone but the stamina is still there!”

Yaya was in it for the long haul with Miss Eloise. She would not be deterred from loving all out and all in where Eloise was concerned. She was enthralled with the little girl before her and Eloise was enamored with her Yaya and they were beautiful .. . .they made their world a more beautiful, love-out-loud, treasure-the-day, live-this-moment place.

I don’t know if any of those women have confessed Christ as her personal Savior or not. I hope so, with everything that’s in me, I hope so.  But the truth is, God can display His glory and impact my life through whomever He chooses and for this moment in time He chose them. His plans don’t need our approval to move forward and for this season in life it appears that His plan is to increase my awareness of the beauty of women and tender my heart toward them in a way I’ve not experienced before – – not just the ones I’m blessed to know but the ones I may never meet.

Some I'm Blessed to Know

Some I’m Blessed to Know

These encounters changed me.   None of those ladies know how they impacted me. None of them know how they lived out loud, loved out loud, and brought beauty to my world. . . .but they did. And YOU, sweet, sweet Sister, YOU are those women.

You’re the daughter, you’re the mom, the grandma, the wife, the friend, you’re the sister making the world a more beautiful place. A softer place. A grace-filled, love-filled, life-filled place.

Your lives aren’t easy—the toilet paper tangle on the floor is sometimes as good as the day gets. But you do the messy stuff and you make even that crowded stall, with all those feet, a beautiful place to be. You reach out a hand with extra skin, lay it on the shoulder of one you love, and you make life better. Your tenacity for life, your pure devotion, they make your world beautiful.

I know it’s easy to feel as if we don’t bring much beauty to our circumstances. We get too caught up in the imperfections and the shortcomings, but I assure you Beloved . . .

YOU ARE BREATHTAKING IN HIS SIGHT

and He will display His glory and His love through you. . . . with or without your approval.

Every time you choose a posture of love over a posture of impatience. Every time you refuse to be deterred from being fully with the ones you love. Every time you do the daughter-mom-wife-grandmother-friend-sister pour out grace, love, and life stuff. . .every time you are YOU, you make the world a more beautiful place because you, my Sweet Friend, are a glimpse of His glory.

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