Hope for the Bruised Soul

I’ve just started Lysa Terkeurst’s book ‘The Best Yes’ and already I’m loving it and already getting lots of ‘meat’ from it. The following, from Chapter One really jumped out at me…

‘In this great day when most women wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents’

  And ain’t that the truth?  It’s a tricky thing, opening up, saying ‘this is where I’m at right here, right now’.  It is much easier, it rolls of the tongue much smoother, when we can talk about things with the benefit of hindsight, and sometimes even from a place of victory.

  But there is power in shared story.  There’s good stuff that comes from opening up and being honest about our presents.

  Today I can sit here and write about my bruised soul that is on the road to being fully restored.  And if I can see the healing that is taking place, if I can know the goodness and glory of God’s hand in this, then I really need to share this with you.

  I was chatting to a friend the other day about how I came into this new calendar year with a heart that was a little bruised and crushed, but now I’m in the fixing process.  And I am.  In the process of being fixed.  And it is a process.

  How I came to be in this bruised and crushed state doesn’t really matter.  Life happens.  Curveballs come.  Sometimes things compound.  Sometimes you don’t know who to turn to for wise counsel.  Sometimes you can’t talk things out.  Seasons happen. Just stuff, right?

  But the neat thing is….bruises change colour, and they heal, and they go away.  Souls can heal.  Things that were crushed, can be smoothed and soothed back into their original shape….and sometimes what they are newly shaped into, is better than the original. And even if crease lines are still visible – they are there to tell a story….

  My creaselines are there to tell a story….a story of God’s goodness.  Of His faithfulness.  Of his far-reaching hands that embrace me and remind me of my worth and significance as His daughter.

  So how are these creaselines being formed, as I am going through this ‘fixing’ process,  as the Master Potter gently and deftly pulls the walls of my heart back into alignment?

  *  time – time is my friend.  Time by myself.  Time with others.  Time that isn’t rushed.  Time to think.  To dream.  To pray.  To read my bible.  To read good books.  Time is a precious commodity and I think we could all value it a little more.

  *  worship – there have been certain songs that have just spoken to me, spoken deep down, and they continue to minister to me, any and every time I hear them.  So I put them on repeat.  And I listen again.  On some level I don’t completely understand there’s a connection formed…and with that comes healing.  One of those songs is ‘No Longer Slaves’ by Bethel.  Another one is ‘Come Alive, (Dry Bones)’ by Lauren Daigle.

  *  people – People can be downright scary for a person whose soul has been hurt by….people.  And there’s the temptation to withdraw from everyone when this has happened.  But you have to know that people can also be Jesus with skin on.  The right people can speak truth in love.  The right people can blow on those embers that need encouraging into life again.  The right people can be a safe place for fears to be faced with, prayers to be prayed with and laughter to bubble forth with.  I’ve been spending the last four months or so rekindling pre-existing friendships from before we moved overseas, but also building new friendships.  And it is exciting seeing God’s hand in this.  It takes vulnerability, it takes conscious effort to not over-analyse how I may come across as, or how or what I may be misconstrued as being, but it is worth it, so very worth it.

  To be in community is priceless, and to have friends become family…….I’m so very grateful.

  You know I’ve been a pretty ‘solid’ Christian for a good number of years now.  My Christian walk is something I take seriously, but that didn’t stop me from taking a bit of a hammering from life.  Sometimes it isn’t a matter of if, but of when these storms hit that hurt us and cause a bit of temporary misshapenness.  But it is temporary, and shouldn’t we all be in some process or another?  Aren’t we all in the Refiner’s Fire?  Take heart friend, if your creaselines are being hammered out and moulded back into shape, you’re not alone.  This surgery is for a greater purpose and the master surgeon is at work.  Together, we’re in the very safest of hands.

There is a lot of hope for our bruised souls.  Always and forever.

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Bragging Rights

The good, the amazing, the bad and the ugly – I spew it all out here on this here blog.

I haven’t shied away from sharing some things that have been hard – things that come with being in Christian ministry and with moving internationally.  Things that just come along the journey of walking in obedience.  But in and through it all – I hope that you can see what we hold on to – the hope we have in Him.  The faithfulness of our Father God.  His provision.  His care.  His love.

I can’t paint a clear and accurate picture of life as we know it, without this highlighting of challenges and highlighting of great joy, because that’s the reality of walking hand in hand in God, and my prayer and goal for these posts is to encourage and to bless, most of all – because it’s in these hard times that God shines through, and it is in the good times, that God is glorified.  God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.

So – today I just have to shine a huge big spotlight on my God.  The hero of my story today is my one and only Saviour.  The bragging rights can only go to Him, and Him alone.

With our recent move to Australia one of the many things that concerned my Momma heart was to do with how my two oldest boys would cope academically, with settling into a completely different school curriculum.  Add into that equation that we felt God calling us to send them to a private school, where the academic expectations are somewhat higher than a state school.  Add into that equation the fact that both boys pretty much skipped a grade each, although the comparisons are hard to make as each of the curriculum and year intakes work are so different it is hard to compare. Add into that equation my boys are taking subjects they have had no exposure to before….you get the drift….this whole schooling business has been a big deal for me.  It would have been no surprise to have found gaps in their learning – even though they both are hard workers and have excellent attitudes towards study.  But God.

Our story is peppered with ‘BUT GOD’ moments….and this is just another to show His loving kindness.

But God.

We now have had school report cards for both boys – and quite simply – they are rocking school.  There are no gaps in their learning.

But God.

I would brag about my boys and how wonderful they are, and they are.  Quite wonderful.  But they are also works in progress, as are we all.

I had to learn to trust God and trust that these boys would be ok in this new school environment, that they would not be intimidated and overwhelmed.  And God came through.  And is coming through.  And this is the story of our lives.

Accepting the call.  Embracing the call.  Swallowing fear and pride and personal desires and disappointments and allowing God to do what He does best.  Come through.  For us.  Because He loves us.

We will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony……I have no greater tool at my disposal of showing God’s greatness, than of bragging of what he has done in my life.  In the lives of my family.

My boys could be struggling so much – they could be grieving over what they have lost, they could be struggling with cultural changes and they could be troubled with feeling of inadequacy and low self-esteem if they were struggling academically at school.  But they are not.  Because.  God.  There are still challenges for them – speech and accent issues to name one – but God is still so very good.

Whatever God has called you and your family to – He will lead you through.  He will enable you.  He will protect you.  He will bless you in your obedience.  There will be road-bumps along the way, there are always road-bumps along the way – but that’s part and parcel of life and of our Christian journey.

There is so much to be gained in and through obedience.  God knows what our Mother hearts cry out for, God knows what keeps us awake and thinking of the worst case scenarios.  He knows and He moves.

My God’s a big God. Your God is a big God.  We serve a mighty God.

Division

There’s a certain blog post doing the rounds today,stirring up heated debate with heightened emotion.

I guess at the heart of it, I would most likely agree with the writer of this post with the theology behind it, but the delivery and the polarizing that occurs with how what is said is delivered….that I take issue with.

Division. It ain’t just in maths you know. And I guess it is good to know where you stand on matters, and it is good to debate things and blah blah blah. But I can’t help but think that this all is just a tool from the enemy to stop us from just getting on with The Great Commission.

The longer we sit on our butts, behind our computer screens and toss around words that cause division and hurt, the less we’re out there doing. Doing stuff. Loving stuff. Knowing people – of all walks of life. Loving people – of all walks of life.

Yeah this is a simplistic view of life. But I am a simplistic girl.

I want others to know everlasting life because of me – because of my actions, because I took the time to look at them, and know their story. Because my God was attractive enough in me to show them their need for a savior too.

That Jesus light and love I speak of? It ain’t gonna happen by highlighting the errors of anyone’s ways.

I’m so tired of the ‘having to be on the right team’ mentality. Jesus came to earth and died an awful death so that none should perish. He wants everyone to come to repentance. Not just the pew sitters beside me every Sunday who sing the right songs and attend the Sunday school class as well as service. Not just the theologically sound who can back up every sermon or blog post or tweet with the right three or four verses. But everyone. We’re all on the same team. And seriously, I need to start caring more about the salvations of my team members, more than I care about what I am cooking for dinner, or the moving parts of our move across the world.

We’re so divided as a Christian population that our team doesn’t look appealing to anyone. And this must grieve the Father’s heart.

This life is so pressured as it is. So many things are constantly vying for our attention. Distractions are everywhere. Enough already.

My prayer this evening is that I stop giving my attention to things that are divisive. No more wall building from me. And in four months time, six months time or however long it takes us to get a dinner table..I want to fill that table with people from all walks of life. People who think like me, as well as people who don’t. People who love like me, and people who don’t. Not because this is what I want…no….this wouldn’t be easy for me in the natural, me in the flesh, but because this is what I believe God would have me do. Build my team, because it is really His team. And He wants that none will perish.

Enough of division. Here’s to addition and multiplying!

On the cusp…..

This is to you, dear lady who is standing on the precipice of a new direction in your life.

This is to you, dear man, who struggles under the weight of responsibility and concern for your family, yet you know, that you know, that you know, that you are being called into something new.  Something different.

This is for the couple that are just feeling more and more unsettled with your status quo.  Your life is ticking along just fine now, things are good, things are great, but there’s just something inside of you that hopes you’re not settling for less. Something inside of you wishes to expose your kids to a new dependence on God, a new level of trust having to be established.

You’re not alone with your fears, misgivings, second-guessing and concerns.

But this is what I know, without a doubt, as sure as night follows day, as sure as a baby poops as you’re about to walk out the door, as sure as a seven year old’s eyes leak as he’s learning the discipline of graciously loosing…….WHEN you step out in faith, WHEN you follow God’s leading, WHEN you choose to obey what has been asked of you, He will be faithful.

So very faithful.

One of the beauties of this world is we’re all called to different things. As a body of Christ we all have different ministries to serve in, different capacities to fill. What God has called my family and I to, will look completely different to you and your family has been called to.  There is no ‘better’, there is definitely different.  There is no ‘holier’ or ‘more worthy’, obedience is obedience.  Serving is serving.

At the moment we are starting to pack up our lives here in Southern Oregon, and we’re researching and planning for a move to fulfill our new calling (in Australia of all places! You can read about that here) So, while your family may not be called to move geographically, or you may not be looking at fulltime Christian ministry, what you are being called to is of equal importance in the Kingdom.

And if you’re peeing your pants at the thought of something new, if you’re feeling that sense of doom over details that are way out of your control…..please know…..God has this.

God holds you in the palm of his hand.

His will is perfect.

Sheer and utter dependence on God is a scary thing, but a blessed thing.  That walking step by step in His will…..that’s the kinda walking that brings miracle answers.  That’s the kinda walking that shows God as the hero – because of ONLY God.

How do I know this?  Because of God’s track record in my life.  Because it is in the stretch and in the pull, where I think I’ve lost it all, where I think this time I’ve really done it, really gone crazy, really lost the plot….His track record shows the Lord provides.  The Lord opens doors.  The Lord makes crooked paths straight.

As a parent and as a trained teacher, one of the biggest concerns I have for my children is for their schooling.  We were hugely blessed with a great experience of school here, and with moving that has been a concern of mine – where to put my boys in school, with not knowing the system, not knowing the options and not knowing areas etc.

A very legitimate concern in the natural.

But you know what?  We *think* we have a school sorted. An amazing school at that. I did some internet research, chatted to a very wise and godly friend who was familiar with this one particular school that stood out from the others immediately, made some inquiries and we prayed and left it in God’s hands.  And now…..because God has made a way, where there seemed to be no way….as long as this particular school accepts the boys we have been blessed to be able to make it so this will work for our family.  Now we may never be able to save for a deposit for a house (ha!) – but that is not our concern at the moment – this big deal for me of where to place our kids in school – after a big move and after leaving all they have known for the last four and a half years – is in the process of being sorted for us.

God is most certainly in the details.

If it weren’t for looking back at all God has done in our lives – all he has provided – all those details we’ve seen his hand at work in – it would be easy to say no to our next God adventure.  it would be more appealing to go back to where we’ve come from.  Back to familiarity and all the comforts that brings.  Back to what we know and to where we’re known.  But God.  But God’s track record shows He loves us and cares for us – for our every need and then some.  God’s track record shows I fret and I worry and I falter every step of the way – but He doesn’t.  He is patient and kind, his love is everlasting.

It doesn’t matter what the crowd thinks of what you’re called to do.  it doesn’t matter if your heart skips beats and you can’t sleep and you mutter grumpy words to yourself…..it doesn’t matter….because in and through our weaknesses, He is made strong.

What is God asking of you right now?

Live in the stretch my friends.  Allow opportunities for your kids to see you thanking God for his provision.  Step out into his glorious unknown – step from the cusp – into the scary.  He’s there.  It is not unknown to Him.

 

 

 

 

Interfere Less, Love More

Interfere Less, Love More.

This is my latest lesson in life.  Not that I am ‘there’ yet….it is journey, a process, but this is the transformation I am in.

Zipping my mouth.  Switching channels in my thought process.  Even if those thoughts are ‘for the greater good’.  Even if those thoughts are ‘but I want to help’.  Flipping the switch from a posture of ‘this could be better’ to ‘love – just love’.

I think you’ll know what I mean.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

You see it just struck me that Jesus didn’t approach people with a 3 step process of how to ‘improve their life’.  No.  He waited until they approached him  – and  then IF they asked him – he was forward with his answers.  But He waited.  And in the meantime – he loved.

Ohhh how he loved.

I want to be known for my love.  Because by golly – how He loves us.  And isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?  Sharing the good news of the gospel by our actions – sharing God’s love around.  The aroma of Christ. That’s the mantle I want to carry.

Love and acceptance.

No three-step process needed for Jesus. So definitely no three-step process needed for me.

Interfere less, love more.  I’m working on it.

lovechan

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Listen

Five Minute Friday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write. Simply write. So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

So here goes….

START –

Listen.

I’ve always had a love/ hate relationship with this whole social media and blogging thing.  In some ways it is the coolest thing, to be able to reach out from beyond our four walls and at the click of a button proclaim life, encourage and exhort and to find kindred spirits.  In other ways, it can be a false reality.

Last night I saw Lisa-Jo’s prompt go live.  I sat there and I started thinking.  And then came the onslaught through my twitter and facebook feeds.  Read this.  I just posted this.  This was my blog. Linking up now.

And something within me became a little crushed, a little worn, and a little deflated.

Oh I know there is good.  Tremendous good. There are many blessed and inspired words strung together to create something glorious over the internet.

But the whole orchestra of instruments all together chiming ‘read me’ is essentially the same as saying ‘listen to me’.

And I think as much as I love the hearts behind the blogging, I need to listen to Him more.

I want to tune in to the conductor, more than the individual instruments. For without Him, there would be no harmony, no connections and continuity.  No meaning.

As much as cyberfriends can reach out and love on people. Our Abba Father is at the ready, wanting ALL of my heart.  BOTH of my ears.  ALL of my attention.

We are all instruments, yes?

Let’s tune in to Him, just a little more, yes?

So that we can turn our readers to Him, just a little more.

STOP.

orchestra

Five Minute Friday: Song

Five Minute Friday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write. Simply write. So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

So here goes….

START –

SONG.

I love that God made birds to sing.  I love that different species of bird have different calls and sounds and songs.

There’s something so magical about waking up in a new and foreign to you country and hearing the native birds singing.  The chorus at first light.  Welcoming the new day.

Even after natural disasters, birds sing on.

If someone is listening or if no-one is listening, birds sing on.

Birds don’t need score cards or record deals, they don’t require positive feedback or constructive criticism.  They just sing on.

I think we all could learn from the birds.  The games we play and all.

I can’t help but wonder what our worlds would look like if we just sang the songs we were supposed to.  What if we didn’t look to the left or the right, but just up?

What if we didn’t check stats or facebook comments and likes, retweets and responses?  What if we just wrote the lyrics of our songs, the words God places on our hearts?

What if, like the birds who don’t need to sow or reap, for their heavenly Father looks after them, what if we didn’t worry about how we would be received?

What if we all sang the songs we were created to sing – because we couldn’t not do that?  What a mighty sound that would be.

STOP.

birds