Heart to Heart with Jesus

It’s Holy Week, and like no other time, my heart draws near to the heart of Jesus. Through the heart of His earthly journey in Jerusalem His life and ministry draw to its incredible end. My mind seems to turn often to His final days in Jerusalem. I want to be near Him. I want to be with Him because I want Him to know how deeply I love Him and need Him.

IMG_7547His end is drawing near. It will be excruciating in the suffering it brings to Him, and, yet, His end brings my beginning. My new beginning; a new beginning freely offered to me every time I stumble or fail or fall short or doubt or turn away. It is this new beginning in Him I covet every day. Because each day brings its own trials, challenges, and struggles, His presence in the midst of those moments provides me opportunities to witness His faithfulness, His unconditional love, and His unending, amazing grace.

Even so, I know that these gifts which are so freely given cost Him everything. Therefore as each day of this Holy Week ends and we move closer to the cross and the crucifixion, I find no words to express the emotion of my heart or the contemplations of my mind.

My mind places me alongside Him on His journey around Jerusalem. This journey to His death. As for my heart, it sees the depth of His passion and drinks deeply His human struggle toward obedience to the plan He and His Father created for just this moment.

And though I know this journey, His journey, leads to resurrection, I allow myself to embrace only this moment and to hear His words and wonder at their meaning. His discussion of faith and His words on the Mount of Olives. It calls to mind the unknowns and the fear this life brings to bear on the shoulders and hearts of each of us.

And it reminds me the importance of why faith matters. Why my faith matters.

Faith transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Faith infuses the mundane with the holy.

Faith breathes life into the weary.

Faith offers me countless second chances and new beginnings.

Faith reminds me that this man called Jesus, though He was also God, chose the cross, chose humiliation, chose suffering, chose death, so that I could choose life. Every day.

imageEvery day I can choose a life that is made new in Him. And so, today, my heart draws near to the heart of the One who loves me enough to die for me. I join Him on His journey as He moves through these final days in Jerusalem. He knows what’s coming and He invites me to come and join Him, at the table, in the garden, at Golgotha.

And with a heart both burdened and expectant, I come. I join Him for each step of this journey because I love Him and I need Him and I want Him to see that in my every step as I join my heart and steps to His.

The Best He Can Do

deightThis verse has always resonated deeply with me. It still does, but in a different way.

For years I read this verse as God giving me the desires of my heart: what I desired, or, in other words, what I wanted. Selfish or at least self-centered or self-serving desires more often than not.

At times that included an easier way through struggles or a yearning for the wrong person or myriad requests too often centered on me and what I thought I needed. It’s not that they were bad; it’s that they were only good enough. In other words, they didn’t involve God or His best for me.

These days, I read the words of this psalm differently. I recognize the nuance of them and read them with the understanding that the desires of my heart are a gift from the One who loves me and who wants more for me than I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He wants to give me His best as I take delight in Him and in His Word.

Take delight in God, get to know Him intimately, and make Him the focus of my heart and mind and He will give me His best. He will hold out to me the desires He has for my heart so that my desires are really His desires. His desire and design for me to be the woman He created me to be when He knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). His desire for me to do the good works He created for me to complete on this world (Ephesians 2:10).

And, so, today I find myself meditating on these words and seeking to take hold of God’s desires, God’s best, for my life.

Partly I am realizing that delighting in the Lord is an active process; one that involves complete surrender of my agenda as well as praying without ceasing. Delighting in the Lord is about obedience to the life He offers, the abundant life to which He calls me and that too often I forego.

How often to I mistake living for what is in reality merely surviving?

How often do I justify my choices, my sins, my mistakes and settle for so much less than God’s best?

How often does God pour out His grace and remind me that His mercies are new every morning.

And so I stand in the middle of my life and give thanks for the beauty as well as the brokenness and I choose to delight in the One who delights in me.

It’s Who You Know

IMG_6928My husband and I are facing some big changes which ultimately translates into big unknowns. Unknowns can inspire fear or they can inspire faith.

We’ve chosen faith. And prayer. Actually big, bold and specific prayers for things that seem impossible if we were to pursue them in our own strength and ability. But we are praying with awesome expectations because of what God can do in our lives.

In other words, we are taking God at His words in His Word:

  • (He is) able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20)
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  • So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

This list could be much longer, but my point is, that not knowing what’s coming next can create a paralyzing fear or it can invite us to a deeper, fully-surrendered faith. Nothing we try will allow us to see the future but we can trust in the One who not only sees the future, but knows it intimately and wants our best in that future. He’s interested in our future.

And, so, our faith grows deeper. It is stretched and pulled so that it covers the fear that threatens to paralyze.

And, so, we walk in faith and not by sight because that is how we choose to live (2 Cor 5:7). Because it really is all about Who you know and Who knows you. And we know who holds tomorrow.

Here is a reminder in song of that Truth from Alison Krauss:

Ordinary Miracles

imageI recently posted this on my Facebook page:

I could use a miracle today. I don’t have any idea what it needs to look like, but it definitely needs to be an infusion of the sacred bending low and touching my heart and my life; a glimpse of the Creator creating something more, something different; a whisper of love that courses through my veins and then through the threads of this life.

Shortly thereafter I attempted a bit more school with my six- and eight-year-old girls and then herded them outside. They don’t need much coaxing to go outside, but the process of getting them focused to find socks and put them on and to uncover shoes and get them on little feet, let’s just say it’s a process that resembles herding and leave it at that.

While my girls romped and ran and explored and dug in the dirt and planted an imaginary field of wheat, I stood in proximity to them at the edge of the woods and near to God, whispering prayers of incomplete sentences and thoughts. The kind of prayers for which there are no words and for which none are needed for God to hear.

When at last we came back inside, I drew a warm, Epsom salt bath for my girls and breathed in the smell of the outdoors mixing with lavender and realized that life’s moments are God’s miracles.

Sometimes miracles are found in the simple ordinary that surrounds us.

Sometimes miracles are the scent of joy settling over excited girls and a sense of calm where earlier there was doubt and insecurity.

sweet gum ballSometimes the miracles are found in the backyard, in the flowers, the birds, the trees, the creation that God so lovingly designed and then gave to us as a gift.

Sometimes the miracles are found around the dining room table, over a simple meal prepared with love and shared with family, where there are excited voices that run over each other with stories from their day.

Sometimes we are the miracle for which we are searching, for which we yearn. Because we are always His masterpiece even in our surest brokenness and greatest stumbling. And because we are always His masterpiece, His handiwork, because we are created in His image, we are miracles in this flawed and hurting world.

We are each a miracle worker in the lives of those we love and in the lives of those with whom we cross paths, even if only in the checkout line or a doctor’s waiting room.

The next time you are seeking a miracle, take a good long look at the person in the mirror and see yourself as the Creator’s masterpiece. See yourself as the child of the King and know what an incredible miracle you are.

The Faith of Struggle

IMG_8977Do you believe these words?

Yesterday I wrote that faith sometimes is as excruciating as it is hope-filled. When life is moving at the status quo, faith requires little from us.

But when life is moving at the pace of chaos and unpredictability, filled with unknowns and struggle, faith can slip through the fingers of what once seemed our tightest grasp. In moments like that, it can take everything we are to trust God and lean on faith rather than our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

And yet, God’s words stand. Always. His words remain steadfast; they are as true in the muck and mire of life’s circumstances as in the joy and delight and easier moments. Maybe even more so, because we need their truth more in darkness and struggle than in light and calm.

Because isn’t that when we tend to turn to His words and reach out for His promises and seek His presence? When life is at its least predictable? When our circumstances would have us believe that all is hopeless is when God’s faithfulness is our greatest lifeline.

So why do we go it alone? Why do we have such a strong need to figure it all out? Why do we choose to struggle, to battle the raging storm rather than seek refuge?

God stands at the ready, waiting for us to call on Him.

What are you facing today that you insist on figuring out on your own?

What if you stopped struggling and said, “I can’t.” How much stronger would you be in your weakness? How much freer?

What if rather than trying to figure it all out, you anticipated how God was going to work it all out for your good (Romans 8:28)?

I don’t know about you, but one thing I’ve found to be true always is that the greater my faith, the less my fear. When I am willing to give up the struggle and to cast my cares on God and let Him fight the battle while I rest in Him, I have nothing to fear. Fear comes when I am trusting in my own abilities which, honestly, do not stand the test of time.

Are you facing giants or storms in your life today? Know that God stands ready to be your refuge and, if we let Him, He’ll work wonders in our lives we cannot begin to imagine.

Pressing Forward

I remember the first time my daughter played in the snow. We were living in New England and she was not yet one. New England was experiencing some intense snow storms and at the time, the snow was taller than my daughter.

The softness of the snowy surface gave her pause. Each step sank into the snowfall that covered the driveway and she looked to us for the assurance she needed to take each step.

Eventually, she climbed up on the sled we’d dug out from my parents’ garage and she thrilled at the ride that carried her over the snow.

We have since moved to North Carolina and snow storms are fewer and farther between. And my daughter is now 8, so the snow is no longer taller than she is. Even so, she marvels at the crisp clean white covering that overlays our yard and her steps still sink slightly into the soft surface.IMG_9037

But now she thrills at running through the snow as much as riding over it on our sled. She loves trekking through the unmarred surface and making her own paths through the fresh snowfall. It brings her such delight.

And as I watch her, I know that God is standing with me, watching her and whispering Truth to me: I am still His child, a daughter of the King. A child of the One who created me and created the snow that swirls and that faith that surrounds and uplifts me. He is with me when the path is not yet clear and before I have taken that first step.

Like my daughter when she was one, those first steps through the unknown give me pause and cause me to seek His assurance. But when He leads, my feet move on a firmer footing; though they may sink slightly, He is there to remind me that He is my God and I can trust Him.

And, so, I step and I trust and I delight in the journey (even when everything outside of my faith suggests otherwise).