He is our Safe Place

Sometimes we just need to know that we are safe and everything is going to be okay.

Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.

   Walk around and count the many towers.

Take note of the fortified walls,

   and tour all the citadels,

that you may describe them

   to future generations.

For that is what God is like.

   He is our God forever and ever,

   and he will guide us until we die.

-Psalm 48:12-14

Tower of David in Jerusalem
Tower of David in Jerusalem

He is our sanctuary and safe place.  We have all the protection we need, all the watchtowers, and fortification for any attack from any place.  He is eternally ours.

His city of protection can also serve as a place of retreat.  We aren’t called to always dwell in the sanctuary of his fortified walls.  Rather, we are called to go out and fight the good fight, fight the enemy with the knowledge that we have a safe place to retreat and rest before going out to fight again the next morning.
Oh how I am thankful for his sanctuary and safety!  God is so many things, but sometimes we need this reminder.  He provides a layer of protection between us and the enemy – if we allow Him and dwell in His safety.

-S

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Help My Unbelief

“what do you mean ‘if you can?’ Jesus asked, ‘Anything is possible if you believe.’ The father instantly cried out, ‘I do believe, but help me to overcome my unbelief’’” – Mark 9:23-24

I’ve said it many times, faith is easy for me, and yet, this father’s plea…his unbelief amidst his faith… it resonates.

Theologically I have unwavering faith.

“I believe in God the Father

I believe in Jesus Christ

I believe in the Holy Spirit

And that He’s given us new life

I believe in the crucifixion

I believe that He conquered hell

I believe in the resurrection

And that He’s coming back again”

I believe, and yet, Lord I pray, “help me to overcome my unbelief.”

Every time I over analyze His plan, my faith yes’s…

Every time I try and micromanage ten steps, 6 months, 12 months ahead…

Every time I need exact order and perfectly finished list in order to feel peace…

I am acting and thinking in unbelief.

I am doubting God will step in and take care of all the details, including the emotional weight, the personal sacrifice, the late nights, the back and forth, He holds it all.

Err…..He wants to hold it all. I must first hand it over to him, instead of carrying the weight of the ‘yes’ on my tired shoulders.

my unbeliefGod uses people, when we say yes we are answering a call to action. To take steps in faith, not knowing the outcome, not knowing the sacrifice, but yes nonetheless to show love.

I am not called to panic, or worry, or fear. God carries the weight of my life, the weight of my yes.

I simply need faith for the moment. Faith to let go of the 10 moments to come.

Faith to embrace the moment and the glory if His presence in my present.

Faith is easy for me, and yet I pray:

“help me overcome my disbelief, help me to silence the enemy, and dig deep into God’s promises, help me to silence the whispers of worry that lead to action and thinking in unbelief”

-J

Too Many Voices

I am sitting here, drinking my coffee

surrounded by middle school girls,

still tired as I’m awake

and they’re still sleeping,

I am sitting here, contemplative and reflective,

thinking about the girl I was

and the woman I am.

I was blessed to participate in a coming of age week with these amazing girls and some special women last week.  What treasures these girls are and they don’t know it.  Why?  Because society sends them (and most girls) so many other messages.

  • ugly
  • invisible
  • stupid
  • fat
  • not important
  • criminal
  • unworthy

The list could go on (and theirs did).

If they are getting these messages everywhere, how do they counteract the negative voices that inundate them from every corner?  How do we help them…

And ourselves.  As I did the same activity as the girls, creating a list of what the world calls me, I had quite the list myself.  How do I counteract these messages for myself?

b85dafa294bad253b7b68a3058ad45eaHow do I keep myself rooted in my identity of who God created me to be and ignore these voices?

I want to see my reflection as God sees it, in His image.  I want to see potential and possibility pouring out.
Lord, Help us to hear your voice louder than all others.  Let your truth rule in our hearts and lives, so we remember our value to you as we navigate all the challenges that come our way.

-S

My Heart is Overwhelmed

The past few days have been very hard for me.

The realities of major life changes are piling up and feeling heavy. Sleep is a nymph, passing in the night; sometimes stopping- often not.

And the hormones of baby girl just keep pouring out.

In the words of Willy Wonka:

“There’s no earthly way of knowing

which direction we are going.

There no knowing where were rowing

Or which way the rivers flowing

Is it raining, is it snowing

Is a hurricane a-blowing

Not a speck of light is showing

So the danger must be growing

Are the fires of hell a-glowing

Yes the danger must be growing

For the rowers keep on rowing

And theyre certainly not showing

Any signs of slowing”

Unfortunately that seems like a fairly accurate descriptions of my feelings this weekend (prayers appreciated for the passengers).

Then dawn, after a particularly rough night this verse landed in my lap:

When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I

Psalm 61:2

heart is overwhelmedIt is perfect. My head is not overwhelmed. I have full faith in my decisions that have led me to this foggy place. I have full confidence in my cognitive abilities to navigate out.

I acted in faith, God is with me. He will make it work better than ok…He will use this for <GOOD>

My heart though, my heart is currently very overwhelmed!

The emotional toll this season is requiring I was not prepared for.

Life is heavy, I am tired in every sense of the word. I need help.

My heart was overwhelmed, my heart IS overwhelmed.

But I’ve found a simple peace amidst the raging chaos in meditating on this psalm:

“when my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I”

The rock, the foundation, my secure step ,a solid place to rest a minute: my Lord.

Notice it doesn’t say IF your heart gets overwhelmed. Saying yes to a life based on faith WILL produce an overwhelmed heart at some point…so will the consequences of old (and new) nonfaith yeses…

I’ve never truly meditated on a verse before. Never really understood the internal power one verse can have.

In the midst of my wild, God brought me this gift, this piece of wisdom, and I will cling to it.

Too often I’ve received and ignored parental advice. I’m getting too old for that and seeing too clearly mom and dad know best. So to this verse, this piece of wisdom from my heavenly father I will cling. I will return to many times a day.

In un-utterable prayer and in wordless praise I repeat my psalm and give my overwhelmed heart some rest.

-J

Creative Soul

I’m a creative soul. I have the degree to prove it, but the desire goes way deeper than apiece of paper.

I must create. It oozes out of me. A longing starts creeping when I’m absent from it for too long, and it turns into a tidal wave of discontentment…until my fingers (and floors and walls) get dirty with the creative juices I tend to spill.

Some can create cleanly, I cannot. Heck, some can live cleanly, I cannot. Some can love cleanly, mine is messy and all over the place…I digress.

creative soulProblem (and blessing) is I have littles. I’ll be in the littles stage for quite awhile still.

Those in this stage with me can attest, personal time is very slim, and when it is found my bear finds it too and “I help.”

I wouldn’t trade it. I cant even fathom the idea of daycare (dubbed school) so I can have some “me” time.

I am too fully aware these little years vanish too quickly. I want to be present for as many moments as possible, even if I am exhausted.

However, that means I MUST find other outlets for my creative soul to express itself. To glorify God by using the talents and energies and soul He’s given me.

Some days I long for my old studio. Canvas primed, sun shining, music too loud and nothing to do but paint.

That’s not my season anymore though, and I wouldn’t go back.

So until the littles are larger, my home, my life is my canvas. I must actively and consciously put my creative spirit into the daily tasks.

creative soul1In every mundane activity, there is an opportunity to take my creative soul and feed her, exercise her, keep her in shape for our next season.

A study in beauty and design and ingenuity and functionality is as simple as a walk with a 2 year old. Who must stop, sit down and examine the clumps of grass, and acorns, and holes in the ground, and and and…

And if I slow down enough to sit with him I’m taught lessens in art, and life, a degree couldn’t even begin to touch on.

-J

Grace Upon Grace

“For the new to come, the old in me had to go. I would be left with an uncomfortable hunger, a longing, for new life yet to be born” Every Bitter Thing is Sweet pg 28

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then” Alice in Wonderland

It’s pretty safe to say I’m not who I used to be. I could elaborate, and I do in many posts; however the more pressing thing is…I’m also not yet the woman I am becoming.

I am a messy work in progress.

Prone to taking out my ugly on my sister (the one strong enough in my life to truly take it angrace upon graced understand what I’m really saying)

I am hard on myself (and others). I have high expectations that I fail to reach daily.

This week in particular.

Grace upon grace.

That’s what I’m given and also what I need to give out.

So, today, I’m focusing not on who I was or the past mistakes I’ve made.

Today, I’m focusing on grace upon grace for my own messy soul…and extending that same grace via little worldly kindnesses.

-J

Give Me Some Reinforced Drawers

Almost everyone in my family loves to find discarded treasures and revive them.  This could be a coffee table turned into a padded seat.  My favorite is a desk that had been put out to the trash that my mom repainted for me.  Sometimes, it just means a deep clean and polish.  Other people may not see the plan or best use for these items, but when we find them we have a vision for how to use them.

35ecfddd4bbafe2a9d6e8317fed178a7I think that is how God sees us sometimes.  Others may not see our best assets; we may not know how best to serve Him.  We can get blinded by the dents and dings to our exterior; we are fully aware of the limitation of our foundations, our fading color.  However, He has a plan for how to continually work us towards His vision, if we let Him.

Sometimes He has to reinforce some drawers to hold a heavier burden than we thought we could.

Sometimes He has to redo the surface to reflect more of His character to bring in more people.

Sometimes there is some damage done that He has to fix before we are fully functional.

He notices all of our quirks and intricacies (after all he put them there).  He lets those stay because those are what make us uniquely fit for his specific vision for our lives.

We are His treasure, not that He found, but that He made; meant to live and serve a purpose for him.
I like being this work in progress for Him.  I like knowing that He is constantly working on me, sanding, painting, reinforcing.  It’s because of His love and value for me that He challenges me, sands me, never lets me settle as adequate.  He has made me to serve a higher purpose I cannot even see yet.

– S