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Hearts of Love . . . Just for You

8 May

Our beauty is different from one another. Our personalities set us apart and our stories, our moments in time, are distinctly ours.

Sunday we will set some of those moments apart to celebrate Mother’s Day. Our celebrations will be as unique as we are. Some will reflect and remember with great affection as they gaze at an empty chair. Others will consider an unknown bloodline but rejoice in the life they were given by a woman they’ve never known.

My celebration will be with my Mom and my Baby Girl. The two women who more than any others on the planet have my heart. One of the greatest joys in my life is being the one God chose to connect their hearts to one another.

Individually God has done amazing things in, about and through each one of us.

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But when I slide my hand into my Momma’s and my Baby Girl grabs hold of mine, we move past solitary wonder and with our hands and hearts intertwined we are the holders of a faith legacy and a redeemed heritage that moves beyond the temporal blood flowing through our veins.

Beloved, if you are one who will spend some of your Mother’s Day moments looking at an empty chair or wondering about your beginning, don’t you believe for one moment that your God has left you alone. His plan for you surpasses biological ties and He desires to absolutely surround you with LOVE.

See no matter how different our lives may be or how divergent our beginnings, every single woman who walks this earth shares the unchanging and unfailing love of God. 

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

Psalm 139:14-16 (The MSG)

He knows this life is tough. He knows we need to have a heart beside us in the journey that mothers us. He knows we need someone to pour ourselves into and build up along the way. He knows the importance of being surrounded by people who love us when the ground is crumbling beneath our feet and He knows we need voices to join with ours when we are rejoicing in our mountain top moments.

God knows we need family.

And based on the authority of His word Beloved, I can tell you without a doubt that before time began the God of Glory planned to meet that need.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.  Ephesians 1:3-6 (The MSG)

He sent His one and only Son, the Firstborn of All Creation, to plant a new family tree and establish a greater bloodline. Jesus, our Messiah, and our Savior, has welcomed you and I to be daughters of the King with outstretched arms.

The heart of God longs to embrace you as His beloved Child and gift you with Sisters who have eternal blood pumping through their spirits. He offers us the way into His family through His blessed Son Jesus Christ. The very One who gave you your unique beauty, your individual personality, and has watched over your every moment has hand-picked a family just for you.

On your own Sweet One, you are beautiful in His sight.

But when you slide your hand into the Sister’s on one side and hold tight, palm-to-palm, with the Sister on the other, when we raise our hands and lift our voices to declare that our family tree is the Cross of Christ, when we rejoice in the Eternal Blood that is our shared heritage, well Girlfriend, we leave beautiful in the rearview mirror and in the unity of the spirit we walk straight into absolutely stunning!

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Our different lives and varied beginnings knit us together in His Name. We rejoice and we mourn with one another. We laugh and we cry together. We remember with thankfulness, we reflect with sorrow, and we celebrate the here and now.

We radiate the beauty of His strength and we walk through every circumstance shoulder-to-shoulder. We applaud one another’s successes and we lament our losses. We link arms and we stand strong in the love of Jesus and the hearts of the women He has given us.

We trust in His plan, lay down roots at the foot of the Cross and with our hand in His follow Him straight into hearts of Love.

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The Miracle is YOU!

27 Mar

As I read in the Gospel of John on this Resurrection Sunday, the Love of Jesus and His desire to bring the children of God home has overwhelmed me. I am in awe of the lengths our Savior will go to in order to show Himself to us.

Mary Magdalene sees and hears the voice of angels announce the Good News that He is Risen and then Messiah stands before her confirming what her eyes have seen and her ears have heard. She doesn’t recognize the Man but when the Shepherd King speaks her name . . . her heart recognizes Him and rejoices!

She lingered at the Tomb, aching to be with Him, and was blessed to be the first to hear Him say “tell of Me!” She saw the Miracle, she heard His voice, and she obeyed.

John and Peter had seen the Empty Tomb but they went away, returned home, wondering what had happened. But Jesus never gives up and there isn’t a place that exists that He won’t come after us! He went where the disciples were. He spoke peace to them. He showed them His hands and His side. They believed what their eyes saw and their ears heard . . .and they rejoiced.

Though they left the empty tomb with uncertainty they responded with joy as they heard Him entrust the news of the Miracle to them, “I am sending you! Tell of Me!”

And Sweet Sister, it isn’t just the wandering that Jesus pursues. He goes after the doubting and the demanding. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus spoke peace over them the evening of the Resurrection but they exploded with the good news as soon as he rejoined them . . . “We have seen the Lord!” But Thomas hadn’t witnessed it and wanted personal proof of the Risen King. Until he put his fingers where the nails were and his hand into the side of Christ, he refused to believe. Thomas doubted and Thomas demanded but Jesus was not dissuaded. He came after Thomas. He held out His nail-scarred hands and offered His pierced side to him.

Jesus showed Himself to Thomas. He peeled the doubt away for him in a real and personal way and Thomas responded with belief declaring Him to be the Lord.

The Author of Life called to the lingerer, met the ones who left, and showed Himself to the doubter. Wherever they found themselves . . . HE FOUND THEM and the One who is the Miracle produced a miracle . . . He stirred their souls to believe.

And this is where my heart really starts to race—He did not stop with those blessed to encounter Him as He wore flesh . . .John 20:29-31

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. 

Beloved, those blessed ones, those who may believe and have life, are us!

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:8-9

See no matter who we are, the one who aches to be near Him, the one who leaves and goes home or the one who doubts and demands . . . the Savior will find us! He will show Himself to us. He will summon us by name. He will come after us and stir our hearts in real and personal ways.

Our Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever still does miracles! Girlfriend, if you have confessed Him as your Savior . . . YOU ARE ONE!

If you haven’t, as long as you draw breath . . . it is not too late to BE ONE!

The stirring of hearts has not ceased. The Miracle story is still unfolding. The glorious conclusion will not be written until the joy of true beginning—faith becoming sight, glory taking shape—is before us. Until then, the pages will continue to be inked with the blood of the Lamb and we who are the miracles will be filled with the joy of the Risen King.  We will go forth in His Name, we will shout His praise, we will rejoice and with every miracle heart beat of new life we will TELL OF HIM!

Jesus did many other miracles AS WELL. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.  John 21:25creation swap heart in bible Marian Trinidad 7896 ribbet

He is Still the God of More!

4 Sep

One of the things I appreciate about technology and in particularly the Glimpsed Glory blog is the opportunity it affords me to go back in time and pull whatever situation or circumstance God was guiding the Boulevard through at the time up close and personal.  It gives me the chance to praise Him for wonders I may have let drift from my memory, to thank Him for His ever-present love no matter where I am in life, and to reflect on the growth He’s provided since that moment in time.

Today this was brought into vivid focus for me as I read a fb post from my niece:

I followed her lead and I read that blog post from September 3, 2013 again.  And I was amazed at the goodness of God and declared again that He does remarkable things for this very unremarkable woman.  It was especially well-timed because I was just asked again this past week the question posed to me most often:  “What makes you so certain of the goodness of God?”  In fact, that question was the catalyst for my newspaper column this week.  In the column I wrote:

My friend was given the chance to see the blessing in her circumstance – that’s not always the case. . . . But the times we don’t, we remember when we did, and we hold tight to God’s Word knowing that the goodness of Him goes beyond our circumstance. . . . We believe that the God who gave His One and Only Son will hold back no good thing and we stand firm on the common ground of His goodness.

So I’m inviting you to link arms with me and glance back over my shoulder at a glimpse of His Glory and His goodness by revisiting all that He did in and through my lung collapse.  But here’s the thing, if you only have a few minutes today please close this window and meditate on His goodness to YOU.  Remember the wonders He has performed for you.  Recall the works He has done on your behalf.  Take the time to remember His affection and His attention toward you.

Rejoice in the victories and the refinement of your faith.  Celebrate the tough stuff He has made beautiful and be confident in the situations yet to unfold.  Walk on the solid ground of His faithfulness when you can’t see the goodness and remember that the path your beautiful feet are on was appointed with purpose and forged by Grace.  Girlfriend, meditate on His goodness in the past, revel in His present-time-all-out affection for you, anticipate all that He has in store when you step into Glory.  I guarantee that rather you look to your past, your present or your future — the view of the God of More will blow you away!

The God of More . . . Much More

September 3, 2013

The post today is going to be a little strange and full disclosure, more than a little lengthy.  It’s going to mix parts of the present with the recent past and even merge parts from years ago when we met Joni and Ken Tada at family retreat.  My clumsy attempts to summarize the events of the last few days by recounting the present and pointing to the past will be intermingled with the voice of one of the most godly, courageous women I have ever encountered.   All of this back and forth confirms for me and I hope for you too that no event ever happens in isolation.  The activity of God cannot be confined by time and not a moment of your life escapes His attention.

To give a little context, I am sitting on our couch bandaged tightly across my entire abdomen so the air in my right lung will not escape through the hole left by the chest tubes that recently took up residence there. For some unknown reason, this part of my body decided to take a vacation and interrupt the one we had planned to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  It’s been a rough weekend to say the least.  Complication after complication has reared its challenging head but God has met every one with the supernatural resolve to fight for me and show Himself mighty.  I found it to be “so God” that He revealed Himself to me with the following thought right before I visited the doctor and this situation began to unfold:

“Trials rip away the façade of self-sufficiency and make way for God’s miracles.  I praise Him for His constant attention and affection toward me.” — posted on FB in the a.m. Aug 30

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The staff at the hospital was kind enough to let me call Britt and tell her what was going on before they doped me up for the procedure.  Her little heart was breaking (she’s 20 but it’s still a “little heart” to this Momma) and I so badly wanted to make it better for her.  But I couldn’t.  It was time to find out if I would believe God for her comfort.  I totally trusted Him for me, no matter the outcome, but I didn’t know if I had the tenacity to trust Him for her and for Brett.  The next few days presented that question over and over again.  Each time,  I said aloud, “I trust you Lord” and I repeated the verse from Psalm 28 I had started memorizing two days before . . .

“The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.”  Psalm 28:7 NLT (written on an index card the a.m. of Aug 29)

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Each time He was true to His Word. I love how He is always preparing us to face the next trial.  Always revealing Himself to be the One we can turn to and reminding us that everything has a purpose.

I was nervous about the medication I was getting because I knew that I would soon lose the ability to monitor what was spewing from my mouth. I never know what might come flowing out if I leave this tongue unattended and I didn’t want to be bossy or say something unfiltered.  The  E.R. Crew listened patiently as the drugs started having their relaxing effect and I explained that  “I needed them to ignore anything I might say under the influence because if I ever got to talk Jesus with them in the future, I didn’t want this to be what they remembered.”  Luckily, the jibberish I spoke wasn’t anything that threatened my sanctification!  I did quote a contorted version of Proverbs 21:9 to the three men hard at work preparing to help me begin breathing again:  Better to live on the corner of a roof than to have a nagging wife.  Hmmm . . . . . is this really the last bit of wisdom my brain wants to impart.

So I had gotten to talk to my Girl and, as the surgeons prepared to sedate me further and insert the tube that was supposed to reinflate my lung, I remember looking over at Brett and seeing such a mix of love and concern on his face.  I wrote later in my journal, “If her voice was the last thing I heard and his face the last thing I saw on planet earth, what a sweet send off it would have been. Lord, thank you for being Love to me through them.”  My God really is the Giver of all good gifts.  I don’t think I had any doubts left about that, but if I did watching my parents, my husband, and my sweet night shift friend do faithful vigil at my bedside certainly dispelled them.   He is today and has always been the unchanging God James describes.

My condition was very serious and the measures to correct it would not fall under my personal definition of the word pleasant.  The tube they originally inserted between my ribs was very large and they had to pry my bones apart to secure it.  As a result, it was painful all the time.  I was relieved when the surgeon said it could be removed and I looked forward to having that pain gone.  But when they took it out the diameter of the tube left a gaping hole and my lung began to spurt air and collapsed again.  There was no time to administer any kind of pain medicine so I received stitches and had a large needle for aspiration inserted without any numbing medication.  Youch!  To keep my mind from the events transpiring around in me I recited Psalm 15 which God had planted firmly in my memory the previous week over and over again.  I said the final line with particular gusto as the assisting nurses held my hands tightly . . .

“He who does these things will not be shaken.”  Psalm 15:5b (put in my memory folder Aug 20)

The following day one of the nurses asked me “What was that Psalm you were saying yesterday?” and I got to speak a good Word about the LOVE of my Jesus and He who IS FAITHFUL.  He always has a good work set aside for us to do and HE always gives us the equipping and strength to carry it out.  He never ceases to be active in our midst.

And while all of this is going on my Sweet Girl in Florida is declaring that “she believes God to restore the health of her Momma” for all the heavenlies to hear and is praying big, ambitious prayers on my behalf.  The circumstances may have looked bad from the outside, but Sister, does it get any better than that?  Well, the answer is yes because we are loved by the God of More. . . . Much More.  And blessedly, He allows us glimpses of the “More of Him.”

So this is the point when I must begin moving forward and backward in time. The things that transpired in between the moment above and my being released continued to show the glory of God.  I was blessed by my Sisters in the Faith rolling in one after another with blessing after blessing.  Funny that I had just written about our need for the Body and resting in the garage. God knows that simply knowing something very rarely results in it becoming a part of who I am and I praise Him that He will go to any length to make certain that I have fully embraced the Truth He has uncovered.

Here’s the flash back:  This link is to the full blog post the excerpt below, written by Joni Eareckson Tada, was taken from.  I had read it on August 29th and prayed to be that kind of an encouragement to my man.

Ken opened wide the front door so I could wheel out to the van.  For a long moment I sat squarely in the door frame, staring and taking it all in:  the shade tree dappling our brick path, blossoms bobbing on the crepe myrtle, and patches of sunlight on dewy grass.  It was the freshest of mornings.  Oh God, I breathed, If only I could feel as fresh.

After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I’m tired.  Please don’t think I’m a veteran or a professional when it comes to living in a wheelchair.  I’m not an expert.  MY BONES ARE WEARY AND THIN FROM BATTLING EVERYTHING FROM PRESSURE SORES AND PNEUMONIA  (I added the capitalization for emphasis there because it so screamed my man’s name to me)—to stage III cancer.  My question these days is never “Why God?”  It’s most often “How?”

How do I keep on going? How do I care about others when I’m consumed with my own physical challenges? How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me? How can I find the strength to face this day?That morning, Ken had the answer.

“Why aren’t you out by the van?” he asked when he came from the kitchen with my lunch bag. Staring at the splendorous morning beyond the door, I answered him with a deep sigh. “Wait here,” he said, “I know exactly what you need.”

Soon he was back with a yellow post-it note. With a thick Sharpie, he had simply penned on it the letter ‘C.’

I gave him an odd look.  “It stands for Courage,” he said, “The courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this. I know you can!” With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.

There is more and I urge you to follow the link and read the observations Joni shares, but this is the point in the blog where I stopped and prayed through tear filled eyes, asking God  to please give me the heart vision to notice when Brett is having a “deep sigh day” and the wisdom to know how to lift him up. I told Brett about Joni’s words and how they had made me think of his daily struggles and I hope I encouraged his heart with words of admiration for all he perseveres through.

The flash forward piece of the puzzle brings us to yesterday when I was released and allowed to come home with severe limitations. Brett had watched all that had happened from an unfamiliar vantage point.  See, he is very used to being the one in the bed but the other side of the rail is territory he’s not visited too often. It was hard on him.  It took courage to push through and do all that he needed to do.  But my Nehemiah Man, the guard posted on my wall, persevered yet again. Oh, he loved me ferociously through it all.  And while I’m familiar with the feeling of being helpless but never hopeless on the “other side of the rail” I wondered what it looked like through his eyes.

I didn’t need to wonder for long because as I settled into the recliner I will be calling home for the next few weeks my man wheeled toward me with his glasses on his head and tears at the corner of his eyes. Unbeknownst to me, he had read the blog I had chatted with him about–the one that made me think of him and the courage of Christ that he displays every day–and on his knee was a purple post-it note with the letter “C” written in black Sharpie marker.  (Since Brett has no finger function this was a very intentional labor of love on his part.)

With me sobbing and tears in his own eyes, he pressed his finger down on the post-it note until it stuck to his hand and held it out to me.  I pressed it on my chest and I felt the total love of the redeemed man sitting in front of me.

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Oh yes, Beloved, my God is a God of More.  More than I can possibly conceive or imagine.  My God is faithful and trustworthy.  Not a single moment of my life escapes His attention or His affection.  He is the Giver of all good gifts and will never let His children settle for less than the More He has set aside for them.

The same is true for you.   Do not believe for a moment He has abandoned you in the trial Sweet One.   Your God would not take you there or allow the challenge if He did not have More for you on the other side.  You hang on with faith.  You pray big, ambitious prayers and you wait expectantly for your God to bless you. Listen to Him when He tells you not be afraid and consider Joshua 1:9 to be your personal post-it note straight from the heart of the Holy One. Press it on your chest Girlfriend, count on Him to do what He says He will do, and be confident that the God of More is with 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

Most Favored by the Most High . . . Girlfriend, we get it ALL!!!

26 Jul

creation swap quiet apples 16997_Quiet_Apples ribbetToday a reader from India pulled up five different posts. I’m praying that whatever she was looking for she found HIM and she brushed spirits with His Word and His Love. More than any other message you might get here at Glimpsed Glory, I so desire for you to walk away knowing that you—no matter where you are on the globe—are secure, significant, and accepted by the Lover of your soul. His attention and His affection are part of our shared heritage regardless of where He has placed us geographically. You, Sister, are kept as the apple of His eye!

It seems to me that while there are many things that will change when we step into Glory, our status as God’s favored daughters is not one of them. I don’t have a handle on the enormity of it and I don’t have the words to fully articulate it, but I am certain that I am favored by God and so are you! I know this to be true, not because of my thoughts, but because of the Messiah’s . . .

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

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Could you or I ever know more favor or be more loved than to have the perfect love the Father has for the Son fall on us?  Could there be greater confirmation of our worth than to hear the Savior’s desire that we be loved so lavishly?  What more esteem could we hope to possess than what we receive when we are clothed, indeed hidden, in Jesus Christ?

And as is always the case with our God, He does not stop with a Word. He puts His heart and His intention for our good on display for the entire world to see. He makes a public declaration that He has summoned us by name and we are His . . . and Sweet One, the “what” He does reaches straight into the heart of Who He is . . .

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Scripture records the heart of God, the Cross reveals its Truth, and the Empty Tomb declares the victory. And we who believe, we will live His heart’s reality in Glory. Beloved, do you not see that His great favor rests upon you because you have been redeemed by the Son and now look forward to the concrete expression of your rescue when your faith becomes sight and His favor falls just for you?

God’s declaration that He does not show favoritism should never be confused with the idea that He holds something back from us.

Based on the authority of God’s Word, that simply cannot be true . . .

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

The Giver of all good gifts blesses with Grace that flows red to every believer and Love that lives eternally in every surrendered heart. But don’t let yourself believe for a moment that God’s ability to favor everyone means the love He has for you is impersonal. That notion simply doesn’t fit with the full counsel of God’s Word. God, who does not change, has always pulled His people up close and done life in real, tangible ways . . .think of Abraham, David, Gideon, Deborah and Samuel. Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, walked and talked with Mary Magdalene, Peter, James and John. If God reached into those lives with His perfect love and Christ rubbed hearts with His people in the same personal ways . . . .then it is still true for us today.   If God were to love you differently than He loved David, if Jesus were to love me differently than He loved Peter, it would imply that either those we may view as giants of the faith were loved imperfectly or we are. Would the Father who gave the Son and the Son who gave His life suddenly decide to give us less than perfection? I believe that nothing could be further from the truth. So I say again, in God’s economy there is no favoritism because there is nothing more we can receive than God Himself. Girlfriend, we get it ALL!

It has been a recent revelation to me that I needed to repent of my insecurity and my fear of insignificance because to continue indulging in the up and down of believing that I am less than Christ has made me . . . is sin. Apart from Jesus there is no good thing in me but praise His Name I am not apart from Him! Once we surrender our hearts to Christ, the Spirit is alive and well within us. We are transformed from the inside out and clothed in Jesus heart-to-toe . . . the old has gone and the new has come. It is unbelief to allow our pasts, our misguided notions and our old ideas of who we are to flourish. Girlfriend, don’t look back at that old mindset, you don’t live there anymore!

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You put your beautiful feet in the footprints of your Savior and you stand tall in all that He has made you. Let the truth of the perfect, unfailing love of the Savior wash over you. Delight in your God who calls you to be fully committed to Him because Sister, He is fully committed to you. You, Sweet One, are the Favored Daughter of the Most High God . . . speak, live, and love as nothing less.

The Evermore of Glory . . . the Nevermore of Tears

16 Jun

Life is such a funny thing. Periods of great joy and deep grief run parallel with one another. Elation and loss side-by-side, each one demanding your full attention – neither receiving it because you find yourself incapable of fully committing to the experience of either. Instead, you find yourself vacillating between the two. Moments of great happiness followed by times of overwhelming melancholy . . . and the life events that lead us there are as different as the feelings themselves.

I have Sisters walking through such grief as they come to terms with doing a portion of this temporal life without their Mommas. . . without their children . . .they simultaneously ache with the reality of their daily absence and rejoice that the ones they loved so well are now free of pain and worry, standing hand-in-hand with Jesus. They delight that their faith has become sight but the apartness of it all is so heavy sometimes. So they find themselves living in a place of both joy and emptiness, hearts etched by separation and spirits anticipating sweet reunions . . .knowing the reality of the Apostle Paul’s statement that we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

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I have Sweet Friends in soul combat as their “adult-children” begin navigating life on this decaying planet in a new way. They beam with pride at the accomplishments of their babies as their high school days are left behind and they pray with ferocity for their futures. They put together picture boards in commemoration of milestones and try to imagine the new images that will be part of their children’s monumental moments in the days to come. They are standing between the mountain-top of triumph and the fresh climb into the unknown that looms just ahead for their young people. Young people who head toward new destinations on their life journeys and take with them very real and very large chunks of their Momma’s hearts. Hearts that at once celebrate what lies ahead and remember the sweetness of what is behind. Hearts that hear the Voice of Love whisper . . . “train a child up” . . . and cling to it with everything they are.

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God opened my eyes to this strange linking of emotional arms this morning as I set about the business of continuing to sort and pack away my daughter’s things. I pack a little and I cry a little. I do heavy sighs as if my heart can’t get enough air as I look from thing to thing and the memories flood through my mind and onto my cheeks. The wedding is over. The new life in a new state has begun for her. My emotions flow back and forth between great happiness over her new experiences and powerful waves of what I can only describe as heart blues.

And I’m sure she is encountering some version of that same ebb and flow as she makes her new home. Unpacking boxes that speak to the security of a time now passed and choosing new things to create a sense of belonging in this place of fresh beginning. New wife, new life . . . joy and anticipation colliding head on with a peculiar mixture of mourning and melancholy.

No matter where you are reading from, you have a similar experience. A time when it seemed that your heart argued with itself about what you should be feeling. A dear friend reminded me years ago when my Sweet Girl left for college on the opposite end of the country and I walked through the same dichotomy of emotions that we were never meant to experience painful separation from one another. Might that be why it is so difficult to nail down the way we feel about being apart?

I confess that this upheaval in my emotions, while unpleasant at times, has served a beautiful purpose. It has opened my eyes and allowed me a glimpse of the eternity I will spend in Glory. It has made me marvel at what Jesus was willing to endure when He experienced the ultimate separation on the Cross so we could spend eternity in glorious togetherness.

There will be no farewells in heaven. Glory wasn’t designed for clashing emotions. Loss will have no place in eternity and its fraternal twin loneliness will never draw a breath.   Mourning and melancholy simply won’t be part of the equation. Sadness and sorrow will never make their way past the Gate called Beautiful.

The ransomed of God will delight in the absence of mixed emotion and savor the full presence of one another . . .not a tear will be shed and everlasting joy will crown the head of the redeemed. Gladness and joy will overtake us and sorrow and sighing—the kind we do when we feel like our hearts can’t get enough air—they will flee away.

Beloved, that’s our reality – our certain outcome – because He is our reality and He will not change His mind concerning us. We won’t be visited by loss and the pain of grief will not find a home. There will be no more life transitions or waiting for blessed reunions. No more intermingling of elation and melancholy. Never again will we utter the goodbye. Sweet Sister, if you find yourself with a fractured spirit—part of you celebrating while the other part grieves—you take heart Precious Believer . . .our complete joy is guaranteed and the Nevermore of separation will be ours when our feet are firmly planted in the Evermore of Glory.

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The Corner of the Familiar and the Future . . . Written by the Mother of the Bride

16 May

little do

I am at an intersection – a unique place of ending and beginning. . . the corner of the familiar and the future.  Days of being a much needed Mommy are coming to a close. They have been ebbing away for quite a while but it seems that my Sweet Girl becoming a wife closes the door with a bit more of a hushed goodbye than her exiting for another year of college.babydo

It’s an end to an era of cuddles on the couch, brushing her hair out of her face when she doesn’t feel good, and keeping her room exactly like it is for the next time she comes home. It’s the beginning of preparing for visits from the newlyweds and Brett and I finding our footing in this last stage of empty nesting.

I’m thrilled for the new life that awaits her but I simultaneously ache for the warmth of the life that has already passed. All too quickly she has grown from a delightful, sweet child into a wonderful, vibrant woman. I’m going to be sad not to have a ringside seat for all the changes that are coming her way and the idea of peeking at her life as it is displayed on facebook and Instagram makes the melancholy run down my face.

We’re at an intersection – leaving behind and moving forward. She’s leaving behind rural living to move to the city, a place far more suited to her eclectic little life palette. She loves the busyness of it all—the people, the sounds. She even likes too much light shining in her bedroom window now but I know that in that urban setting . . .her heart will remember a sky filled with too many stars to count. I’m hoping she’ll remember the fireflies that lit up the trees across the road like Christmas lights and the ones she trapped in mason jars before they became symbols of shabby chic and kitschy drinking glasses.

I’m hoping that when she’s navigating the traffic, lanes filled with cars and activity, there will be a part of her that will have a small urge for the quietness of Biddinger Boulevard. The place that deer would walk up to the back deck and I would convince her Santa had sent them to check on her. santadayThe place where Barbie shopping centers grew into empires and the American Girls lived. The home where her love for the magic of following A Rabbit in the Garden changed over the years to a love of following the White Rabbit and the magic of Wonderland.

I’m at an intersection—voices of the past echoing and new songs forming for the future. Celebrating that her soon to be husband knows her so well that he bought her a record player for a wedding gift while tilting my head to eavesdrop on the past and hearing the creepiness of Little Mary Fagan move from Nanny’s lips through my heart to meet her ears. And somewhere along the way, my mind swallows up those eerie notes and they are replaced by the theme song from Gilmore Girls and then quickly segue’ –appropriately I might add—into the voice of Taylor Swift as I crack open my favorite old card from years ago and hear . . . all my best days are with you.

Straining my ear backward to listen in one more time as Sleeping Beauty thuds to the kitchen floordaddysgirl and the Handsome Prince rolls his wheelchair to her rescue while simultaneously hearing the Bride-to-be make honeymoon plans with the red-haired Boy on the other end of the phone. Leaning into the past to hear her giggle as Uncle Scar and Don Karnage make an appearance through her Daddy’s voice and listening to one song after another play on the computer as they try to pick the perfect one for the Father-Daughter dance that is coming so quickly.

We’re at an intersection . . . beautiful memories in the rearview mirror and new scenery just ahead. Remembering so vividly the big vocabulary of the tiny blond-haired toddler of the past and seeing the brilliance of the young writer who speaks with such insight in the here and now—wondering what the future will hold. Reminiscing about the little one who rode on the power chair’s battery pack with her Daddy manning the controls and having my eyes fall on the wedding dress she will wear as she walks beside his power chair down the aisle. Looking back in delight at the little girl she was and gazing with wonder at the young woman she is –so beautiful, so breathtaking.

britt with board

I’m at an intersection . . .and no matter which way I look –behind me or before me—I see Jesus. I see a heritage of life . . . redemption then and freedom now. I see Love . . .mercy yesterday and grace today.   Rather I gaze forward or backward . . . I see Him. My God whose blessing cannot be contained and whose promises for joy and life abundant know no time constraints. I see Him and my heart rejoices that His love toward me reaches beyond me and His grace is bigger than my mistakes. I see Him and my heart cries out in praise that He has changed her faith heritage –redeemed our family line—and His love extends to a thousand generations of those who love Him.   – And I smile at the blessing in the distance—knowing that when little red-haired grandchildren arrive someday they will be the first generation to be born into a family of full throttle Christ followers. Oh Lord, I stand at the crossroads, the intersection . . . the corner of the familiar and the future . . . and I am utterly amazed by Your goodness.

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!)

But God! . . .

4 Nov

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

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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.”

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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

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