Archive | March, 2013

THE LOVE LIFE!!!

22 Mar

I am so excited to be posting today! I have been waiting for the green light from God to chat about this since the first blog entry—in fact, it is what prompted me to start glimpsedglory—so believe me when I tell you that my entire body is smiling this morning.  I am absolutely giddy at the prospect of writing it down, imagining your faces as you read it, then grabbing hands and dancing down the streets of Jerusalem with you!

I sometimes get frustrated when I am plinking away on this keyboard trying to convey a sense of urgency about the subject at hand.  If you’ve chatted with me face-to-face when I have one of these lightning bolt moments hit my brain, you are very aware that I cannot get the words out of my mouth fast enough. And you’re also aware, maybe painfully so, that God has given me the supernatural ability to get a whole lot of talking done in only one breath. Now in my mind two things are accomplished with this rapid fire chatter:

  1. I’m able to get it all out before my train of thought pulls out of the station without me
  2. You’re kind of trapped until I’m finished.  (If blogs had emoticons, I would’ve put a smiley face at the end of #2.)

But no matter how fast I type I can’t dictate the speed with which you read nor does the blogosphere allow me to keep you hemmed in until my breath is gone.  So I’m just going to tell myself that since you came of your own volition, you’re in it for the long haul and you’ll read to the end.

God confirmed this message in the most beautiful and unmistakable way on January 20, 2013 at 3:45 p.m.  I know the exact date.  I even know the time of day.  It was that powerful and it was that life-changing.  I’m praying that it will be for you as well.  I have shared it with a few Sisters but I haven’t really felt Him give me permission to put it out there for you all to chew on until now.  But even as I sense His blessing and my spirit shakes with anticipation of who He will touch with this, I am asking Him to move me out of the way so it’s just you and Him meeting over this page today.

What I want to chat about in the next few paragraphs is dying to self.  If you don’t travel in evangelical Christian circles that phrase might not even be familiar to you.  To be honest, it has always felt like allusive Christianese to me as well.  I knew it was connected to crucifying my sinful nature and to choosing God’s will above myself but it was just kind of a concept that hung out there without a clear definition.  I knew it was something I was supposed to want to do but since I only had a vague comprehension of it, I certainly had no idea how to do it.  I had no problem understanding that I have behaviors and thoughts that are not Christ-like and they need to go.  So maybe “dying to self” meant to work toward eradicating those things that kept me from looking like my Savior.  Believe me, I could come up with an endless list of things I needed to change about myself, but was that really what it meant? Like a self-help or self-improvement kind of a thing?  Was that what the whole thing was about?  Me making changes in me to show that I loved Jesus?

Even though I operated that way for a quite a while, that definitely was not it. All that lead to was years of defeat believing that I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps and change.  I convinced myself that if I really appreciated what Christ had done for me I would grit my teeth and get rid of all the offensive ways in me.  I would live a holy life. But God just wouldn’t let my spirit settle there.  My mind kept returning to the day I confessed my need for Christ.  I had fully realized that I could do absolutely nothing without Him and yet, here I was, depending on myself to change myself.  It sounds confusing but that was the exact place I lived for many years.  Now don’t misunderstand.  God has poured His grace out on me and grown my faith by leaps and bounds.  He has lavished me with love beyond what I can describe to you but I have always had a kind of off feeling concerning this.  That’s one of the things I love about Him.  He knew I was thick-headed before time began and He chose to love me anyway.

Those are the days, months, and years leading to January 20, 2013. On that winter day, I was reading my Bible and had read about the sinfulness of jealousy, fits of rage, creating discord, gossip, slander, and arrogance.  And as I often do when I’m reading, I said aloud to God, “How am I ever going to get these things rooted out of me? How do I die to this stuff?” and I turned ahead in my Bible from 2 Corinthians to Ephesians.  I didn’t go there with purpose.  I just flipped the pages.  My eyes fell on verses I have read more times than I can count.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself

up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV, 1984)

Read it again, considering the topic at hand.  Do you see the answer that He gave me?  Oh how He takes my breath away!  After years of wondering and asking the question, “Lord, what does it mean to die to self?,” that day –January 20, 2013—He made it clear.  I practically heard His voice, “My dear child, you do not die, you choose to live like me. You choose to love.”  And in that one instance, years of fog began to roll away and it all started to come together.  Being crucified with Christ is being brought to life in love.  GOD IS LOVE.  If I live in LOVE, if I surrender every decision to LOVE, if I give over all I am to LOVE everything else falls into place.  It’s not about what I don’t do, it’s about what I do, do.

Stick with me on this.  It isn’t about not being jealous of another.  It’s about loving someone so much that you only want them to receive good things.  It’s not about refraining from gossip; it’s about loving others too much to hurt them that way. It’s not about abstaining from arrogance; it’s about so loving another’s heart that you can’t be anything less than humble toward them. Oh, do you see it?

The focus is not on the death.

The focus is on the life!

The LOVE LIFE.

So to me, it doesn’t get any plainer or any better than that and I must share the good news with someone.  I began to tell Brett about it as fast as I could – because he can’t get away from me (another place I would insert a smiley emoticon if I could) repeating the phrase LOVE LIFE to him over and over again.  I cried when I was telling him because I knew that even though I didn’t have my mind fully wrapped around it, God was going to show me!  And then, as so often happens, doubt began to appear at the corners of my mind. I started thinking, “Maybe I am making too much of this.  What if I am misreading this?” And at 3:30 p.m., partly to take my mind off the questions my brain was formulating and partly because I hoped she would call and chat it all out with me, I sent my daughter a text:

“I can’t wait until I talk to you next because I think God showed me the secret of the universe and I am trying to take in what my mind can get.”

Her reply at 3:38 p.m.

“I can’t wait to hear it! I love you Momma!”

There was not going to be a discussion right now.  So, I sat there holding my phone and wondering:

“Lord, does “dying to self” mean living to walk and to talk the Love Life?  Is living in the Spirit living in Love?  To be filled with the Spirit, is to be filled with you.  You are LOVE.  To walk in the Spirit, is to walk with you.  You are LOVE.  This is it!  Not death, but the LOVE LIFE.  Lord, am I making too much of this?”

Please remember, I had not shared a single syllable of this with my girl.  She was 1200 miles away from me and I thought we had finished texting. But at 3:45 p.m. my daughter sent one more text and she attached a picture.  Both are below:

“Momma, I just finished painting this and thought you’d like to see it.”

"LOVE SPEAKS"

“LOVE SPEAKS”

Oh Dear Ones, how the Creator of the Universe longs for us to get the message!  He does not call us to death – HE CALLS US TO LIFE.  Specifically, He calls us to live the LOVE LIFE.  When we LOVE, we imitate our GOD and we walk as JESUS did!  Living the LOVE LIFE is the essence of being holy because He is holy (Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16). He has not given us the death sentence of never ending self-improvement.  He has called us to live like we have never lived before—unashamedly in the embrace of LOVE.  Oh Sister, will you live for that today?  Will you surrender to that today?  Will you give up your “pull-myself-up-by-the-bootstraps” living and fully embrace LOVE today?  I pray it is so. I pray it for you and I pray it for me. Oh Girlfriend, let’s glimpse Glory!

Resolved to Involve

15 Mar

Today’s blog post will not be for the faint of heart nor the person with limited reading time.  The more I thought the more that poured out on the page so if you are not in the mood for some real transparency along with blood and guts honesty you might want to wait until the next entry.  You see I am kicking around the idea that I am believing the lie that if I appear to be anything other than self-sufficiently serene then I am less than the Christian woman I “should” be.  And when I kick around an idea for me, I usually take the liberty of kicking it around for you too. I’m quite certain that I am going to have a difficult time articulating what I have been pondering so I am praying that God will take my muddled thinking and turn it into something that really speaks to your heart because I think, for all of our differences—jobs, spouses, children, hobbies—this may be something that we have in common.

There is a question that I’ve heard myself ask quite a few times over the last few weeks when I have been encouraging others who seemed to be hesitating to share and offering all kinds of disclaimers when their struggles finally fell out of their mouths.  The question I asked was this:

“When we make our trials seem small,

do we inadvertently make the One

who sustains us through them seem small?”

The sweet sisters I was chatting with were afraid to share what they were going through because they didn’t want their honesty to be misperceived as whining, complaining, or not trusting in the goodness of God. I’ll be the first one to say it’s always necessary to examine our hearts, but I’ll also be the one at the head of line shouting that God gave you those sisters at your side to do life with—Don’t steal their blessing!

Apparently, God allowed me to pose this question and explain it with such gusto to my friends so I could really feel the impact of the words when He brought them home to roost.  Funny how He does that; lets me think I’m conducting the class and then shows me that I’m the student in the corner with the cone shaped hat sitting on top of her head.

I know that I should be in party mode right now.  Life really is good.  Britt has returned to Florida and is absolutely gushing about the trustworthiness and sweetness of her God.  Brett has been released from the hospital and, though the whole thing is new to us, we are both working hard to make the new tube and accompanying equipment feel at home here on Lakeside Drive.  So, you would think that the celebration would be in full swing?  Well if you did .  . . you would be wrong.  Brett is processing all he has been through as men do (by that I mean in a way that no one without a Y chromosome can possibly understand) and I am processing things the way I do (and by that I mean in a way that is perfectly rational and to be expected).  I’m being humorous but suffice to say, the “process of processing”, has been anything but. This is where the blood and guts are going to start spilling so if you are thrown by human frailty now is when you will want to go check your e-mail or update your facebook status.

Ok,  if you’ve decided to keep reading here it is:  I know that I should be celebrating and walking on air right now, but instead I am cranky, fatigued, and emotionally overwhelmed.  Someone commented to me about Brett’s time in the hospital being a “mini-vacation” for me.  Another person thought it may have given me a chance to get some rest.  No, I was not on vacation nor did I get any rest.  I am still exhausted.  My nerves are frazzled and my body physically aches from sleeping on that hard couch-type deal at the end of Brett’s bed.   On top of those things, I am embarrassed because I am not responding to the situation with graciousness and a quiet spirit. In fact, I think it would be safe to say graciousness and a quiet spirit are not even residing in the same county I am.

I can hear my body language speaking volumes and my mouth isn’t being too quiet either.  I’d like to be kind, to be sweet, and to be upbeat but instead I am standing at the intersection of self-absorbed and cantankerous with my hands stuffed in my pockets refusing to move.  And, as if all of these things needed an exclamation point added to them, anytime I am by myself this great conglomeration of feelings decides to leak out my eyes and slide down my face.

But still, nearly every person that has made contact has received the same type of response . . . . “We’re getting settled in” . . .  “Brett has been through a lot” . . . “Our own bed was nice” . . .  all of those responses are true, but they aren’t exactly honest.  They don’t invite anybody in and they certainly don’t let anyone know the battle raging in my heart.  If you had been one of those people, how would you have prayed for me after we talked/texted/messaged?  Would you have prayed for me at all or just thought things were swell?

In comparison to others I know, the challenges on Biddinger Boulevard are small.  I have not lost my child. I have not stared cancer in the face.  I have not wrestled with the decisions surrounding the care of an aging parent.  I have not . . . . . you fill in the blank with your personal heartache.  I have not walked through the fiery trials God has called you to endure.  And still I wonder, even though the specifics of our challenges are different, might our responses be the same?   What in the world has convinced us that we must cloak the depth of our need in order to be strong Christian women?

I’m certain that the answer to that question is as widely varied as we are.  Your answer will be different than mine and both of our answers will be different than the sister reading at her computer down the street.  But this is what I’m sure of, no matter what has convinced us of this, IT IS A LIE!  God has not only given us Himself, but He has given us others to wear the hands, the feet, and the heart of Christ in our midst.  He has resolved to involve!  He has sent you friends to fight the battle, see the fatigue, and to lift you up as you walk through it all.  It’s Who He is today and it’s who He was yesterday.

Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands. “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.  Exodus 17:9-13

God didn’t expect Moses to pretend the battle was small or hide his need.  And He didn’t expect Moses to just grit his teeth and gut it out.  God knew the magnitude of the battle and how hard it would be so He sent Moses’ friends to the top of the hill with him.  When he got tired, they were there, exactly where God had called them to be doing the good work He had prepared in advance for them to do.  They didn’t think Moses was less of a man of God because he got tired and his arms grew weak.  They brought him a place to rest and took up their posts—one on one side and one on the other—and they entered the battle together.

Girlfriend, don’t turn away the ones God has resolved to involve in your life.  Let them know the fight is too much, that it has been going on too long, and the view from the top of the hill is overwhelming.  Don’t be afraid to tell them that your arms are tired and you just need to sit down for a while.  Beloved, our trial is not small nor is the One who sustains us through them. He has planned since before time began to send our us our “Aaron” and our “Hur” to give us a place to rest, to take up their posts– one on one side and one on the other—and march into battle with us. Let’s not choose to go alone.

The Warrior on My Wall

8 Mar

I arrived at the hospital thmeandmylovefortyeightis morning a little after 8 a.m. and was greeted with, “Good morning Gorgeous” before my man had even seen my face.  It was the same voice I heard say to me yesterday when I entered his room, “I love that I recognize that purposeful stride coming down the hall.”  Isn’t he amazing?  With all that he is going through (I typed “walking through” first but then thought better of it–LOL) he still notices me.

If anyone were to have a justification for being self-absorbed it might be Brett.  He has been through much since his accident in 1993 but few things have been as trying as the last few months.  In late August he developed a large growth under his skin and it has spiraled downward from that point.  It moved from a hard mass to a large open surface wound and steadily worked its way further into his skin.  It has required periods of 24/7 bed confinement and stolen much of his very active life.  On Monday, he will have extensive surgery to remove the dead tissue and hopefully, clear the path for his physical healing to begin.

Sisters, I so wish you could have watched this process unfold with me.  He did not shrink back from the challenge but became all the more determined to be a great warrior, a true Nehemiah man, in the heavenlies.

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall

at the exposed places, posting them by families,

with their swords, spears and bows.

After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles,

the officials and the rest of the people,

Don’t be afraid of them.

Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome,

and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters,

your wives and your homes.” 

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot

and that God had frustrated it,

we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

Nehemiah 4:13-15

See, while I may speak “thick-headed” my man speaks the language of the WARRIOR.  Case in point:  I was studying Revelation and gushing all over him about being the Bride of Christ dressed in fine white linen and he listened politely.  Then, I got to the next description of those dressed in fine white linen and the polite listening stopped.  He sat taller in his chair and listened intently as I read aloud about the armies of the Lord following the rider who is “Faithful and True” into battle.  It was total participation. You could see the light in his eyes and the engagement of his heart.  He was absolutely thrilled at the prospect.

That’s who my man is.  Behind the spine that won’t cooperate with his brain anymore, past the legs that will not listen to the signal to move, beyond the hands that refuse to obey his command . . HE IS A WARRIOR.  He is a protector.  He is about the business of listening to the Commander and standing guard at the wall so that his family and friends can safely go to their own work.  Every day, as surely as you rise from your bed and check off the tasks on your to-do-list, my man arises, grabs his sword and takes up his station. Oh how I praise God for the commitment He has given Brett to fight.

And this morning my heart was filled afresh with love for him as I realized that this hospitalization is not a change in mission for Brett or even a delay in his Kingdom work, it is a promotion.  He has been so faithful with his section of the wall that God is entrusting him with a new and larger assignment.  He is sending him deeper into enemy territory to stand beside nobles, officials, and people he does not know. But God knows them and He is sending Brett to fight for them.

And what has so totally convinced me that this is the case, that God has expanded his territory?  It was his first request of me this morning. He wanted to know if I would help him with the computer.  He was loving the verse of the day on biblegateway.com and wanted to post it as his facebook status.  Consider the battle fatigue this warrior should be experiencing as he has been literally wounded in the fight, and yet, his focus is on reaching those suffering on the battlefield or trapped behind enemy lines “in any trouble.”

[Praise to the God of All Comfort ]

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles,

so that we can comfort those in any trouble

with the comfort we ourselves receive from God

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

So, I tell my Warrior all that God has chatted with me about as he was sleeping and as I watch the smile spread across his face two things come to my mind.  First, I think, “Lord, give me that kind of humble tenacity. Let me be so consumed with you that I am willing to combat crawl with my legs dragging behind me to any place you call me on the battlefield.”  And second, I give Him praise with all that I am that He has stationed this mighty Warrior on my wall.meandmylovefortyeight1

He Will Not Let You Go Alone

6 Mar

How thankful I am for God today.  How desperately I seek His comfort.  How I praise Him that before time began He planned to meet my every need.  I thank Him that He never fails to show Himself involved in all the intimate details of life and I pray for eyes to see Him as well as a heart that seeks to embrace Him.  Although this morning has been filled with much prayer and girding up for the battle that lay ahead, it has also been filled with a sense of excitement. While I have no idea what challenges the battlefield holds today, I feel a surge of adrenaline as I hear my head tell my heart that no matter what, my God is bigger. And I visit a favorite website and see the following words staring back at me:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

And I praise Him for His love for me.

The health issue that has been plaguing Brett since late August is wearing a new face and it is an ugly one.  My heart is breaking for him as he fights against his own body and appears, in this one area, to be losing. He has fought the despair of illness and experienced setback after setback and through it all, he has remained faithful in his desire to believe God more.  He has not faltered in his determination to be matured in this trial and he purposefully enters the Throne Room day after day in intercessory prayer.  Oh how I love that man.  Believe me when I tell you that even though he lives his life seated in a wheelchair, he stands head and shoulders above most I know.  He perseveres. He endures.  He suffers.  But he does NOT waver.

And as I pray for him, I am keenly aware that my continuing faith in God’s goodness, Brett’s continuing faith in God’s goodness, has little to do with us and everything to do with Him.  As I wrote in the previous post, He refuses to let me be satisfied with myself.  With my limited perception. With my oh so small faith. And so like the man in Mark 9:24, I have a decision to make as I watch the one I love suffer.  I have come face-to-face with a situation I cannot solve or change; it is beyond me.  It is not, however, beyond Him.  So I press my eyes closed and I ask God to help me overcome my unbelief.  I ask Him to reveal any lingering doubt I may have about His goodness and I firmly determine that this day I will not waver in my belief in the goodness of God.  I will stand tall in His armor and declare for all the heavenlies to hear that I will not shrink back nor change my mind concerning Him. And again I feel the rush of excitement and the thrill of belief because He has prompted me to stand firm in Him and I have obeyed.  I am at once emboldened and humbled as I realize the depth of my need for Him and the power with which He will undoubtedly meet it.

Sister, our God longs to bless His children and if the blessing is not immediate, then there is purpose in the wait.  May I just encourage you to hang on and trust Him?  May I exhort you to love Him through it all and to rely on His love for you?   I guarantee you, based on the authority of His Word, it will not be an exercise in futility.

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing]

to be gracious to you;

and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you

and show loving-kindness to you.

For the Lord is a God of justice.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those

who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him

[for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace,

His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

Isaiah 30:18 (Amplified Bible)

The blessing will come. The need will be met.  The tear will be wiped away and the hurt will be healed.  Dear One, you are loved by Him and He is aching for the day He is allowed to make your faith sight and to fully reveal His favor to you.  Jesus knows that it is hard to be us.  He knows how limiting it is to live inside our dying skin.  And He knows what it is like to wait for the healing, to trust for the blessing, and to fully rely on the love of the Father. Imagine the agony He felt as He hung on the cross. . . . . .  waiting, trusting, relying.  He knows Beloved, Oh how He knows.

Our Savior is not far removed from our needs or distant from our hurts.   We need not be afraid. We need not be discouraged.  He has walked in our shoes and laid down footsteps of determined faith. We need only to believe and follow Him.

Posted from Blodgett Hospital 1:17 a.m.

Posted from Blodgett Hospital 1:17 a.m.

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