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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The gardener and his helper.

It is getting quite toasty in these parts, these days. We don’t have daylight savings here, so most people’s days begin rather early.  It isn’t uncommon to see people already working hard at their daily tasks, while it is still rather early…..partly to make the most of time before it gets too hot, and because they are most likely going to be awake and up anyway.

Last week I was on my way home from dropping my two oldest boys at school, and I was stopped at a red light at a major intersection.  Whilst stopped, I began watching two people in the gardens of a church I was outside of.  One of the men was getting on in years.  Wearing a broad-rimmed hat, with long, neatly pressed trousers and a short sleeved shirt, and working boots.  He looked familiar with his work, and careful and tidy.  Let’s call him Mr Neat.  Mr Neat was mowing the lawns.  Standing reasonably close to where Mr Neat was working, was another man.  The gentleman also looked like he was getting on in years, only he looked dishevelled.  He was wearing way too many layers for what the temperature called for, he looked like he could have had a nice wee appointment with a barber for both his head hair and his facial hair, and he looked like he rather enjoyed his food, and he just seemed like he was in need of some extra care.  Let’s call him Mr Scruffy.

Mr Neat was the one who was doing the bulk of the work.  Mr Scruffy was close to him, watching him with ease.  There seemed to be a familiarity between the two, but from my simple observations I didn’t get the feeling they were related.  I got the feeling that if the two men were related, Mr Neat would have been the type of person to make sure Mr Scruffy wasn’t overdressed.  He would have seen that Mr Scruffy had clean hair.  You know what I mean?

So anyway…..Mr Neat was doing the lawnmowing, then he finished up the patch he was working on, and as he was doing that, Mr Scruffy opened up a gate, and walked the lawnmower through to a another area, while Mr Neat followed behind him.  Mr Scruffy looked pleased as punch.  He was helping.  I couldn’t hear any dialogue between the two men, I couldn’t see them talking, but there just seemed to be this natural flow between the two, as Mr Neat stepped back and let Mr Scruffy do something that obviously made him very proud, but Mr Neat followed very closely.  Ready to correct, help or intervene if needed.

Then my light turned green and the flow of traffic surged forward so I had to leave my observations and carry on my merry way.

But for however long this little vignette took, I was captured by it.

And then I felt the Lord speak to my heart.

In the picture I had just witnessed, Mr Neat represented the Lord.  He’s in control, he’s got things sussed.  He is the master gardener.  He’s tidy and organized, but he has his sleeves rolled up and he’s ready to do business.  And I am the Mr Scruffy.  I’m messy and uncomfortable in myself – yet God has no trouble with me coming near to Him.  I’m overdressed and ill-prepared for come what may, but God doesn’t look twice at that.  I’m more than happy to be near the Lord and to sit and watch Him at work, and when I’m ready to take flight, when I’m ready to action upon what I’ve been asked to do, God’s right there, right behind me, ready to intervene if needed, but urging me on, like a proud Daddy watching his baby girl walk for the first time…And you know God really isn’t looking for talent and ability, or presence or a certain personality type – He’s just looking for obedience.  If Mr Neat was worried that Mr Scruffy didn’t have the goods to really help, he wouldn’t have let him take over controls of the lawnmower.  But he did.  He, quite simply believed in him, definitely when others wouldn’t.

What an amazing God we serve…..always at the ready….in charge but let’s us ‘help out’ when we feel we can or should….

And you know what happens when a master gardener is given permission and freedom to do what they do best?  When they have ample resources and man power to put into their project?  Beauty happens.  Significant change happens.  Something that was dead, and ugly and lifeless is made attractive and brings joy to many.  Imagine what would happen the more we work hand in hand with our Master Gardener……just imagine…..

What a touching scene I witnessed that day, at that red light.  I pray that God blesses that Mr Neat in real life, and may Mr Scruffy always find acceptance and love, on those church grounds.

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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.

Branded.

Night falls early in these parts, so I imagine the deed was done early one evening.  The ‘deed’ being the scrawling of an ugly word with an even uglier meaning, onto the front of a car.  By scrawling I really mean scratching.  Leaving a permanent mark.

 

 I don’t know the victim of the ‘crime’ – the owner of the car at the time.  She obviously had upset someone.  Maybe a jealousy was playing out in a very real way.  Maybe it was a spiteful prank gone wrong.  I don’t know – but I do know this – she didn’t deserve to be branded in such a scarring way.

 

 We are now in possession of the aforementioned branded car.  A long time loan while its current owner is overseas.  I can’t help but notice the unpleasant word every time I get in or out of that car.  It looks very out-of-place the few times it has been parked at my boys’ school.  Their ‘private Christian College’ school.

 

 In the bible, in John 4, we read of a woman who was branded with the same word that appears on our car.  The Samaritan woman with a bit of ‘baggage’.  Jesus approached her at the well and asked her for some water.  Now this was not the common practice in that day at all – not common for a Jewish man to speak publicly to a woman, much less a Samaritan woman, and even less common to talk to a Samaritan woman with a past like hers.

 

 In his book ‘Powerful and free, confronting the glass ceiling for women in the church’, Danny Silk looks at this interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman and notes that ‘Not only does Jesus talk with her, but he also talks with her about theology – a topic expressly forbidden to discuss with women.  In one conversation, Jesus literally sliced through years of rabbinical law and cultural norms with the extreme love of God that sees the treasure in every human heart’.

 

 The people around the Samaritan woman would have had all manner of labels stuck on her.  All sorts of branding.  Yet Jesus was able to look into her eyes and see her simply as a child of God.  He saw in her purpose.  And hope. A future.

 

 He saw the treasure that is in every human heart.

 

 He looked past her past, and saw what she could be in her present.  And she did use that information he shared with her; the fact that he revealed his true identity as the Messiah for the first time, to her, she went back to her people and shared the good news with them.  She brought people to him.  There must have been some point in her thinking when she realized ‘if this man the Christ sees me, then I am worthy’, for her to have gone back to her people with enough confidence to share her story with them, to bring others to Him.  All it took was for her to see herself as the Lord saw her – worthy.  Daughter.  Beloved one.

 

 We all wear labels of some sort.  Some of these labels are positive, some are negative.  Some stop us from seeing ourselves as God sees us.  My husband and I have to look past the label on our car.  We know that this branding doesn’t affect how the car drives, its effectiveness in doing what it was designed to do.  We have to choose to not focus on the negative connotations of this label.  What if we all carried this on to every area of our lives?  To every dark and hidden corner of our hearts?  What if we all worked on trying to rip off every label that has been imposed upon us, by simply accepting the Father’s love for us.

 

 Jesus sees the treasure that is in every human heart.  We are his children.  What if we start walking in that?  What if we start living that out?  We are loved with an everlasting love.  We were created in His image.  I think it is time to start ripping those labels off – time to help your friends and relatives see themselves as God sees them.  Cherished.  Beloved.  Designed while we were in our Mother’s wombs for a purpose.

 

 I’m gonna start tearing off some self-imposed labels and others-imposed labels…..how about you? Are you in?

Hey, you!

….yeah, you!

Life’s pretty full on, isn’t it?

I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed and was struck by the thought that so many people I know are facing hard times at the moment.

Disappointments.  Sickness.  Health scares.  Family breakdowns.  Accidents. People letting people down. Financial issues.

There’s a whole heap of sadness just hovering over precious lives.

And if you’ve been a reader of this blog at all you’ll know that life’s been a little tough for me just lately.  I’m very real about the cost and the price that comes with following God, and choosing to serve and walk in obedience.

But along with the trials that I’ve been facing, and along with whatever you’re facing, there is no doubt in my heart and my mind and my soul, that God is so very faithful.

If you’re a Christian – your only chance is to hold into hope.  Cling to the promises we have in Him.

If you don’t know Jesus in a personal way, then ask Him to prove himself to you.  Put yourself in a place of openness, and just wait for the transformation. He’s real.  He’s kind.  And He’s there for each and every one of us.

Isaiah 41:10.  Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.

Whatever darkness you’re facing.  Whatever questions you have over your future and your beloved ones’.  Hold onto hope.  Hold onto those words we have from someone who loves us far more than we could ever imagine or dare to believe.

He is strengthening me.  He will strengthen you.

He is holding me with his righteous strong hand.  He will hold you.

Dear friend, hold onto hope.  Just cling to it.  Cling.

 

Five Minute Friday: Red

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.

RED.

Where to start?  What to start writing about?  Red. Red.  Red.

Red red wine.  There’s a song about that.

But no.

Tangent.

I was thinking on the red thing and flicking from open tab to open tab on my netbook…..and bam.  There in my facebok feed was a link to an article about a 19 week old baby who was born, survived a few minutes and then passed.  This tiny, red, human being, held in someone’s hands ever so carefully.  Perfectly formed, but too tiny to survive.

I can’t bring myself to the read the whole article.  I can see the first paragraph and the photo.  The red baby.  Someone’s hopes for the future, wrapped up in a precious bundle.  Someone’s heart, crushed by what was not to be.

Do you know what a miscarriage that happens after 12 weeks is called?  A spontaneous abortion.  I learnt that the hard way.   Those words, they sting.  They go down deep, into a deep dark well of hurt.

But the more I live this life and the more I grow as a Mother and a Wife, with me grows my love for my family, I realize how great is God’s love for us.  So much greater than my meager offerings.

His love is higher than the heavens.  Deeper than the oceans.

Who can pour life and healing balm into a deep well of hurt?  Only God.

What can refresh and renew dreams, and take the place of dreams no longer able to be fulfilled?  Only the hope we have in Him.

It isn’t possible for us to have all the answers, we’ll never ever know why some babies are taken too soon, but we can rest in the peace that as we grieve, the Lord grieves with us.

STOP.

 

 

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!