So you hate our new President and you post publicly that you’re a Christian. It breaks my heart when I hear of surveys where overwhelming numbers of non-Christians say that Christians don’t act like Christians anymore. So I just did a Google search for “What … Continue reading So You Hate Our New President
Jeremiah 29:11 Amplified Bible (AMP) 11 For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. What a Year… I’m supposed to be writing … Continue reading Goodbye to 2016
Habakkuk 2:2 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 2 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. Dear End of The Sidewalk, Please know first of all that I miss you. Yes, I miss … Continue reading Dear End of The Sidewalk
John 17:20-21 English Standard Version (ESV)
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…”
If you have ever struggled with feeling like you don’t belong, I understand. If you’ve ever struggled with the worry that people just wouldn’t understand you, I do understand. If you’ve ever wondered if anyone heard your cry, I’m listening. If you’ve ever struggled with how you fit into the grand scheme of things, boy, oh boy, do I know how that feels.
I’m finally starting to see where God has been leading me my entire life. Funny thing is that, as much as I fought it, it is right into His arms. Funnier thing is that, when I got here, there were a whole bunch of others here, too who had thought the same stuff! We are now connected in Christ. My dots are connected to their dots now. And there is strength in numbers.
The scripture I started this post with is where Jesus is praying that people would come to know Him by hearing the gospel and the testimonies of the ones who were with Him. That people would believe in Him and come to the Father through Him by being witness to the changed lives of His disciples. His prayer was that those who came to believe because of those lives would become one with them, and one with Him, just as He is one with God.
That’s not the only time the Bible says that He prayed for us. Luke 22:32 shows that Jesus prayed for Simon, that his faith would not fail him. John 14:16 says He would pray for the Father to send us an advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be our helper so He could be with us forever. Most importantly, in my opinion, when he pleads with God to “forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” in Luke 23:34. No doubt about it- Jesus is our great defender.
By praying for us, Jesus set an example of how we should lift each other up. In this culture of “whoever looks best in their neighbor’s eyes wins,” that’s a challenge for most of us. I take the challenge seriously now. In fact, I published my testimony the other day and I can’t even describe the whirlwind of response it has received. I prayed it would open doors for people who thought they were alone. I prayed it would give others courage to do whatever it takes to get their voices back. I prayed for grace as people came to know my secrets.
Then I realized that, wait- people would know my secrets! But then they might come to understand that they are not alone. And maybe some of them would come to understand that they were meant to hear my story because God is calling out to them! Yes, that He is calling their sleeping spirits awake because they need to know that He is still on the throne and that He is still in the business of setting the captives free!
I have no more secrets, at least that I am aware of today. All of what has been done to me and all that I have done has been confessed to God and to a small handful of who I consider to be safe sisters in Christ. As I continue to walk in His protective shadow, I am being equipped to handle any other secrets that come to the surface but I am also being prepared to address the wrongs I have committed. I have not been blameless in this life. But I am free. I am happier than I’ve ever been. I am no longer ashamed or afraid.
So I pray that you are free. I pray that if you are not free, you would find a way to start that process. It can be as simple as looking at a friend and saying, “Hey, do you have a minute? I really need to get something off my chest.” Or maybe over a cup of coffee, you can start asking God to put someone in your path that would speak to your heart. Someone who would speak to your pain, be the first to say it so you can say, “Yeah, that happened to me, too.” Oh, the dots that are connected when we find we aren’t alone!
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There is healing in Christ. There is freedom in Christ. There is joy here. No lie.
Mark 5:27-34 English Standard Version (ESV) 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried … Continue reading Free
Isaiah 61:3 ESV-
……to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.[c]
I went to a retreat with the women from my church last weekend. That was a pretty huge step for me because I’m not exactly famous for trusting women, or for being hidden away on a mountain with 30 or so women, and especially if those are “church women.” I got the opportunity to confess that little secret at the retreat and we ended up not only laughing about it, but bonding over a deeper discussion on the subject. It turns out I wasn’t the only one there facing that same giant.
Theory of being chronically unique shattered…
I came to understand that having the common bond of being in Christ changes a lot of things, and changes the lies we tend to believe about ourselves. For example, standing in the kitchen in my PJs and tattoos, I asked one lady, “If it weren’t for Christ, would you even want to hang out with me?” She laughed and said, “If it weren’t for Christ, why would you want to hang out with ME?!” That was when I realized we all have these fears. She was asking the same question I was: Am I enough?
The funniest thing that happened was that I learned that I actually am not enough. Yep, you read that right. I’m not enough. I’m not enough to fix my life by myself. You can’t fix God-sized problems with human-sized strength. I know Christ is enough though. Christ is enough to make my mess something beautiful. Christ is enough to turn the pain of my life into a light that encourages others to come out of the darkness with their junk. There’s nothing that defeats the enemy more than a shared secret. There’s nothing that glorifies God more than a testimony of all the wrongs in your life laid at the feet of Jesus.
I walked away from that gathering on a beautiful mountain in Gatlinburg more in awe of the women than of the scenery. I walked out of that cabin knowing not only that they knew my name, but that I had nothing to fear of them and that neither did I have to fear telling my story. I am giving my testimony at a banquet in a couple of weeks and I know that afterwards, I will tell you about it here. I am no longer a slave to fear and I will wear that headdress of beauty over the ashes of my life any day.
This is my story. This is my song…. you know the rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I’ve been too busy to write for a few days… ok, a week. I’ll admit, it’s been busy work to keep my mind off of writing. There’s a lot going on. But I’ve worked it out and now I know what I want to say. So here it is….
God’s Got This.
Profound, right? Sounds like the same old stuff everyone else says, but I mean He really does. I’ve taken a week to stress and then spend time with Him to make sure I had this down before I came back to tell you about it.
I love to make stuff. I love creating tiny gifts to give my friends and I love to talk about how each day God shows me something else to be excited about. My dream is to one day incorporate the two into one big, pay-the-bills-and-have-free-time-to-play-and-create pile at The End of the Sidewalk. But life keeps happening and distracting me from it!
So this past weekend, I turned my phone’s ringer off, including all social media notifications, on Friday night so I could think. I left it that way until I needed it for church and then for the GPS for a prayer dessert I was going to on Sunday. I wanted to read, pray, and listen. I had received a text earlier in the evening from a friend about the bookmark I had recently given her, saying her daughter wondered if I made panda bookmarks. Of course I never had but I quickly responded, “Why yes, I do!” As soon as the ringer was shut off, I started doodling. Saturday morning I got to work and by noon, I had created a few I thought she would like- cute, huh?
Nothing fancy, but she loves them. They’re mostly corner covers, and they’re not all pandas, but they were a hit! There’s even one her big sister might like and her dad’s a Tennessee Vols fan so yeah, I had to make one like that, too. Judge me. 😉
But it made me happy to know that I was able to share a little bit of the crafty side of me with a friend. And to boot, to show me how happy she was, I think she’s 7, she made one especially for ME!
This was all in response to listening to God to just be. Not be a bee: but Just. Be.
I have an hour drive home from work, so Friday on my way home, I was having this talk with God about why I’d been stressing all week. About why I even got to the point of wanting to be mean so my voice would be heard. I mean, earlier in the week, I had wanted to remind people that they had made choices that effect others and that just because they feel ignored doesn’t mean they get to get out of the choices now. I wanted to tell people they aren’t God and to be mindful of the examples they’re setting. I wanted to tell people “Let it go!” and “I told you so!” And every time, instead of posting or emailing or texting or confronting, God kept bringing me back to the thought of a yoke. The yoke of trying to fix things especially. The yoke of thinking that, after the life these people have watched me live (read: survive), they should be able to believe that I knew what’s best for them.
The thought of a yoke reminded me of a lesson from the Freedom in Christ classes I worked through last fall. In this particular class,the facilitator taught us the Biblical meaning of the yoke by telling us a story about a young ox that was hooked up to the yoke of an old ox. The young ox (Judi in this case) thought she was tough and strong and could work circles around the old ox (this one would be Jesus) and tried to prove it. The young ox would pull as hard as she could to get the old ox to hurry up and get the job done- probably so she could go play Candy Crush or something- but the old ox just kept up the easy but steady pace. The young ox pulled and stressed and got so exhausted the old ox ended up just about dragging her around while He finished the work.
Thinking of that scenario made me realized that God was trying to show me that all of that stuff that’s going on isn’t my problem, it’s His. He was trying to show me that my job is to keep the pace He has set for me and to let Him help me through it all. I realized I was trying to play God but that’s His job. I realized that all of the stressing and the busy work with groups and games and visits I had pulled off last week was about avoiding Him while I tried to figure out how I could work it all out myself. He was trying to remind me of how much I need Him. All the time.
So I closed it all down for a few days. I shut out the noise of social media, put my face in the Bible and a couple of good books I am reading, and I made a little girl some silly bookmarks. And you know what happened? The world kept turning. Facebook kept Facebooking. Twitter kept up with the tweets. People kept peopling (yes that’s a word now). Jesus kept being Jesus. And I survived not being in control.
I can’t fix anything but I can work to improve who I am as this new creation in Christ. I can focus on who I am called to be now that He is living in me. I can trust that He knows what’s best, what’s going on, and how it’s all going to work out while I take care of my little piece of the earth. I’m officially hanging up my robe and sandles folks. I’m gonna leave the busy work to the bees and let that easy yoke guide me on this journey. God’s got this.