Hosea and Gomer

Hosea and Gomer. I’ve always loved this story…not because it’s a happy fairytale, but because it’s not. It’s real. It’s human weakness and Supernatural love on display. The kind that only God can give.

Last week I purchased a copy of “For Such a Time As This” by Angie Smith. It’s a children’s book designed for little girls about the women of the Bible. The illustrations are beautifully done and the writing style is lovely.

I settled in one afternoon on the couch with my baby sister to flip through the pages and read some stories to her. At page 120, I stopped. There they were. Hosea and Gomer. As I read the words aloud (well written, by the way, for a younger crowd) it struck me again. I’m in awe of this story.

Hosea is told to marry Gomer despite her checkered past. He does and he loves her. They have children, but Gomer’s old life pulls at her. She eventually leaves. But this is where it gets so unbelievable. Hosea’s love for Gomer is unreal. After all she does…her trickery, her lying, her cheating, her unfaithfulness…Hosea chooses to love her anyway.

My favorite part of this story is the end… Gomer winds up being sold into slavery. Dirty, penniless, and unable to help herself…she stands there on the selling block waiting for someone to buy her. Rejected. Broken. Unwanted. Hopeless. Her past is stained. Her future is bleak.

Then a Jewish man steps up to bid. He buys Gomer and she looks up into the face of her new master…and gasps. It is Hosea. Her Hosea. The one she was unfaithful to. The one she turned her back on for something worthless. He bought her back.

This is unconditional love. Crazy love.

At this point in the book, I am crying. I can’t hide my tears and my little sister is trying to figure out why I’m crying at a children’s book. My voice wobbles as I read the last few sentences. But it’s not a children’s story. This is my story.

This story is of Jesus rescuing me from myself. Loving me despite my flaws. Redeeming me though I am completely unworthy. Calling me consistently to Himself when my heart wanders. This is MY story.

Hosea 3:1-2
“Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods…So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley.”

Hosea and Gomer. Jesus and me. This is my story. Unconditional love for an undeserving girl….and I’m forever grateful to Him.

(Originally written on May 23, 2016…but I’m still in awe of His redemption!)

Life Between Trail Signs

Ten days ago, I started looking for yellow diamonds. Yellow trail signs that told me I was going the right direction. I was hiking Mount Nebo in Arkansas with two friends and the trail seemed to be getting longer and longer. What I thought was a one-mile path was taking hours and I was pretty sure it was no longer in the “easy” category.

It was beautiful outside…the colors are still vibrant in some places of Arkansas unlike my Michigan home. The air was autumn crisp but the sun made it feel warm and cheerful. I had decided to wear my tall boots to walk since the trail wasn’t going to be long and I wanted to be toasty with my long socks. We stopped every few minutes to take some photos of the incredible views and marvel at God’s creation. We even looked at the state park map a few times.

That’s when things started seeming a little off. After all, this trail seemed like it was longer than one mile. The map was slightly confusing and reading it with two others brought conflicting opinions. The only thing I knew for sure is that we were on the yellow diamond trail, so I started keeping my eyes peeled for those bright gold signals on trees.

We weren’t lost…we just weren’t exactly sure which trail we were on or how long it was. We kept hiking along, stopping here and there to take in the sights or take a drink from our water bottles. One whole side of the mountain was shaded and much cooler. There were icicles hanging down from the rugged crevices and it instantly made me feel colder. But every little while I would see another yellow diamond and would feel the inner shout: YES! We’re still on the right path!

That’s when I started thinking about how much this paralleled the “limbo” feeling of walking the path of life. I hate being in the limbo…the in-between seasons of life are uncomfortable. Ever wondered if you’re on the right road to where you’re going? Let me tell you, I’m there more often than I’d care to admit. Those spaces of wondering and wandering can be painful…or tension at best.

I’m still learning as I go through these seasons of limbo…but here are four things I recognized and connected dots with along the mountain path recently:

  1. Follow the signs. Our Guide doesn’t leave us hanging. There are road signs posted along the way for you to stay on the right path. Learn how to read them and then follow them faithfully. His Word will not fail us! It will not return to us void. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path! Start looking for the “yellow diamonds” and then keep pointing your life in that direction.
  2. Stay with your people. Picking the right people to walk with is key in trailblazing. Friends that will point you to Your Guide, the map (the Word of God!) and will listen to the same Voice (the Holy Spirit). Stick with your people…they will encourage you, pick you up when you fall, correct you when you’re reading the map wrong, tell you when you’re about to trip on a rock, and even remind you when you need to take a break. Some of your people will carry your backpack and take pictures of you too. The important thing is that you pick the right people to do life together. You can climb anything with the right people. They don’t have to be just like you (in fact, they shouldn’t and won’t be!) but the main points will line up and they will sharpen you. Your strengths and weaknesses will bind you together as a team. Find your people and stay with them.

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3. Keep moving forward. Don’t stand and wait for another sign…it won’t come to you. Keep moving. Staying in one place won’t get you anywhere. You’re going to have to trust Jesus and move forward. Having a rough season? It’s okay to cry and walk forward, even slowly. Just keep moving. Always keep moving forward. Plus, moving will keep you warm.

4. Be Patient. Waiting isn’t my strong suit. Never had been. I’m learning this more and more lately about myself. Waiting is something I hate doing. Being in the limbo, or in the in-between seasons of life can be difficult! But Jesus is in those spaces too…sometimes even more so in the stillness. Learn to lean into His Presence. Trust His will. He is good. No, He doesn’t always make sense to our human brains, but He is always good. He is for us and His way is perfect.

Yes, we made it the whole way on Mount Nebo that day. It took longer than expected, but we stayed together, followed the signs and kept moving forward. We’ve got some pretty cool pictures to prove it. My step-counting watch said over thirteen thousand steps. It was a hike to remember.

So, when the trail seems to tower above you like a mountain climb that winds around and around, remember this: in the seasons of in-between, He is there with you. He has a purpose. Those seasons of limbo can be beautiful, because He is walking the road with us. Never alone…always one step ahead of us.

I’ve come to call these spaces Life Between Trail Signs.

Stillness

Stillness can be stifling if you’re used to being busy constantly. Always on the move. Always DOING and not BEING. It’s easy for those of us who are DOERS to feel lazy when we are still. Like we are un-spiritual because of our lack of busyness.

I’m a DOER. As long as I can remember, I loved getting things done. Even as a little girl, I craved check lists…and even more than that I loved the feeling of checking off those tiny boxes. I felt accomplishment. Ok, let’s be honest…I still enjoy check lists!

If you know me…or even if you follow this blog…you know that my life seems to always be spinning out of control. At least spinning out of MY control. My calendar has been a mess of scheduled events, mission trips, and running everywhere.

This past Friday, I sat in my room in Little Rock and the stillness was almost deafening. After a year of traveling and deadlines and ministry ventures, some unexpected events brought my plans to a halt. It’s not a bad thing, but my schedule was to drive here for the purpose of leading another women’s prison seminar…and after we were already almost here the seminar fell through. That hasn’t happened to me before, so I was instantly wondering why God would allow us to drive 12 hours only to have the reason we came be canceled.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this kind of experience. I’m constantly on the move…preparing, meeting someone, making a phone call, sending emails. But I didn’t plan on sitting on my bed in my room in Little Rock late into the night—not exactly tired enough to go to bed and certainly wondering what in the world I was going to do for the next week.

My Chaplain assures me there’s plenty of office work and I believe him. But there’s something about these quiet evenings that feels strange. I’m used to commotion, lots of voices and constant activity.

There’s something to be said about BEING, even when you are a DOER by nature. There are moments where God provides stillness to speak to our hearts.

Sitting here in the lamp light with the heater blowing softly, I look up at the ceiling and ask: “Okay Lord, what do you want for me this week?”

Perhaps this is the moment when Jesus smiles. This might be the question that He’s been waiting for. His smile feels like favor. A warm embrace of the soul…because He has a plan. He’s had a plan all along. My plan has been known to get in His way and He has His way of clearing the way for His will.

I hear His whisper: Be still. Just BE. Just BE here with Me. Trust Me…I’ve got this, don’t you know? I’ve got a plan and all you have to do is be. Hear my Voice and everything will be okay. Rest, Faith. It’s okay to rest in these moments, you don’t always have to be doing. Breathe. Just BE.

I exhale. The stillness suddenly comforts instead of repels me. He is here…in the stillness.

Beautifully Different

“But do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may be able to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2, NKJV (emphasis mine)

Let’s face it, friends. We all like to be “in the club”. No one likes to be the odd ball…to stick out or be different from the crowd. We are a culture of sameness. People don’t want to stand out. We all want to blend into our favorite click and be like everybody else. We want to look like, talk like, and be like whatever person is currently the image. We enjoy our clicks.

It’s sad really. We feel like if we can hide in the sea of normality that it’s better for us. It’s safer. Less dangerous.

Now I’m not a Bible scholar…but I do love the Word of God. It is hope and healing and redemption when our world is painfully short of these things. I’ve found my only solace in the pages of Scripture and in this amazing JESUS I’ve come to know and love…but…nowhere in the Bible can I find where God tells us to fit in. Actually I find the complete opposite.

Now before you click off this page and start looking for something else to read, let me give you some clarification here. I’m NOT saying that you need to purposely go in every opposite direction that the crowd is going. I’m NOT saying you need to dress wild and weird just because you want to be different. I’m NOT encouraging you to be rebellious or to act strange and justify it according to Scripture. What I am talking about here is the heart…and that will affect every area of your life.

You see, being a Christian is more than going to church and having John 3:16 memorized…and those are wonderful things. Being a Christian means you are a “Christ-follower” and that means you are to be set apart for His purposes. Jesus repeatedly tells you and I in Scripture to “take up your cross and follow Me”. Crosses are heavy. They are abnormal. If you carry a cross you are definitely different from the average Joe. Who wants to be uncomfortable, right? We’re all about being cozy…and carrying a cross is everything BUT cozy.

I was thinking about this whole concept of fitting in one day as I was driving to a meeting. The topic of standing up, standing alone and standing out was rolling around in my mind. It’s something that I deal with on a personal level but also as I talk to young ladies everywhere. It’s a common thread in all circles…fitting in is just the thing to do, or at least try to do.

I take the back roads when I’m going places because I love this beautiful time of year. As I turned one corner on this particular morning, I noticed that a corn field had recently been harvested and a fence row of trees now stood in full view. My jaw dropped open. I stopped my car.

There in front of me was a huge row of brown, crusty trees, dead from the autumn wind and mostly barren of leaves. Directly in the center was a big, beautiful tree in full color. It stared at me. It was so different from the others. So beautiful. It seemed to beckon me.

Sitting there on the side of the road, it was as if God spoke to my heart as I stared in disbelief at the beautiful sight.

Being different for the right reasons can be incredibly beautiful.

I sat there and thanked God for a word picture. (I really need those sometimes!) Suddenly, being different didn’t look so scary or weird…it looked beautifully alive and strangely wonderful. You see, our lives are to be so radically different that it beckons our dying world to take a look at our JESUS! We should look different so that those we come in contact with cannot help but hunger for the Bread of Life. We should make people thirst for the Living Water as we live purposely set apart.

When we follow Jesus fully, our lives are different…but they are beautifully so.

What does that look like…to be set apart from the world. We want to be in the world, but not of it….so (practically speaking) what does that look like?

Let me ask you… does your Facebook look any different from your non-Christian friends? Is it selfie-focused or others-oriented? No…I’m not saying you can only post Bible verses and sermon videos! I’m saying…does it speak of your different-ness? What about presenting an accurate picture of who you are…not always making your life seem like a fairy tale and stretching the truth to seem more glamorous. Everybody knows it’s not girls, you live in a broken world like the rest of us…so just be honest. If you don’t have something nice to say on there…don’t say anything! Do you partake in gossip and slanderous talk or do you speak with kindness and make them wonder about your JESUS?

What about your speech? Do you talk with the same language that everyone else uses? Do you refrain from profanity, or do you struggle to not fit in…so maybe you curse sometimes to be cool?

Do you do things and go places that you know you shouldn’t, but it just feels awkward to go against the flow so you do it anyway?

Do you only choose to befriend people who are like you or do you have lots of age groups and personalities in your circles? Look at people through Jesus’s eyes…It’s different, but it’s beautiful.

What about the way you look…the way you carry yourself…your attitude…how you treat your parents and siblings…what activities you spend your free time on? Being different is our call to bring others to the Cross…because let’s get real…who wants to follow Jesus when there’s nothing different about His followers?

I think about that big, bold and beautiful autumn tree a lot. That’s what I want to look like. I’m a tree…a person like everyone else…but what’s inside of me is what changes how I look, act and speak. I do stick out from some of my fellow trees…but I hope and pray it’s the kind of difference that makes people long for my JESUS. I want my life to beckon others to look toward the God of the universe and be willing to follow Him as well. I want to be Beautifully Different.

What about you? I’d love to hear from you, friend. What are some ways you can be Beautifully Different and reflect JESUS in your daily life? Leave your comment below or shoot me an email from the Contact Page!

(This post originally posted on the Polished Cornerstones blog, October 25, 2015.)

A Place to Belong

Her words hung in the air. I have never heard a more poignant question that felt more like a statement. A verbal assessment of the condition of American Christianity.

I sat there and wept in conviction.

I’ve been in a lot of women’s prisons… and just when I thought I had heard the same things over and over, this woman blew my world to bits.

We were talking about being daughters of God. Pushing back the labels and choosing a different life because Jesus loves us and wants us. We were encouraging them to follow their Heavenly Father and pursue healing. We were also pressing the importance of being in community with other believers.

The Church is a big deal. It was designed by God on purpose for us to live in community with other Christians…that are redeemed and yet still flawed. There are no perfect churches and every gathering of believers will have some differences. However, as the Bride of Christ, we need to be meeting together and sharing with each other, keeping one another accountable and serving our broken world together.

It was in the middle of this talk about church community when her question split the room.

“Where do we go when no one wants us anymore?”

I choked.

The question seemed to stab me to the core. I sat there and watched this woman pleading with everything in her. She wanted to be free. She craved to belong. To be wanted by her own brothers and sisters in Christ. To be welcomed, even broken and empty.

I was totally stunned by her honesty and straight forwardness. Her question was not just a wondering of heart…it was also a statement to the condition of our American churches. She knew she wasn’t wanted by the typical Christian gathering. She could feel the wall between her and her fellow Christians…even though she was still in prison. Whoa. That was a hard pill to swallow.

It was obvious that the other women in the room resonated with her question. There was a low hum as her words gave them the courage to say what they were thinking. They were speaking out and pleading for a place to call home. They are making changes in their lives…but when they go home, they need a place to STAY DIFFERENT. When they can’t find a welcoming place, they often revert to the old friendships and places that led them to be incarcerated.

When did that happen? When did we start adding punishment to people’s current sentences? When did we become so self-righteous that we suddenly govern who can come through the doors of our churches?

I keep thinking… if these women aren’t welcome in the House of God, where on earth will they be invited? Perhaps our best candidates for church members sit behind prison walls…and we are too scared to invite them to join us. As if their belonging to us will taint us…when it will more often teach us. As if their stories are less palatable…when they are more powerful. As if they aren’t necessary to the Body of Christ when we actually need them desperately.

To belong is a powerful thing.

“Where do we go when no one wants us anymore?”

I don’t have a cookie-cutter answer for that. But I know this: we are all ex-offenders. You are. I am. Your pastor is. Every single one of us are undeserving of grace. So, what if we started living more like we are redeemed and serving a Rescuing God and less like we are the judge and jury?

That question still haunts me. I can see her face, tears rolling down her cheeks and the pleading in her eyes. “Where do we go when no one wants us anymore?”

What if YOU and I were meant to answer that question with the way we live our lives? What if we were the first person in our church to walk over to the new comer, regardless of their past…and tell them they BELONG. Welcoming the stranger, the ex-convict, the orphan and the broken-hearted into our churches is the heart of the Father. Jesus is about redemption, friends. I think it would be powerful if we started living like we believed it.

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” Matthew 25:35 NRSV

Of Weddings and Singleness…

This must be the year of weddings. I have eleven friends getting married in 2018. ELEVEN FRIENDS. For real, I’m not kidding. It’s as if love is in the air. But what do you do when everyone is “catching the bug” and you seem to be inoculated against it? It can be humorous or hurtful, depending on how you look at it.

I hear ya, friend. It’s whoa-fully obvious when you come to all your friends’ weddings alone…and did I mention that all eleven of those friends are a few years younger (or several!) than me? That makes a big shout out too. Here’s the thing…I mostly don’t notice it until someone mentions it to me (bless their hearts, those sweet people who feel they need to remind me).

Last month I turned 30 years old and from where I stand, I’m not heading to marriage any time soon. It makes for an interesting conversation when you go to weddings at my age without a ring on your finger, or without a guy…or a boyfriend. Top those odds with actually being a HAPPY SINGLE GIRL, and that’s just plain weird. I have to admit, sometimes I have fun with that one.

“Oh, Faith, do you have a man yet?” Clearly, no. Thank you very much. I forgot until you brought it up. I’m ever so glad you reminded me.

“Oh, you’re STILL single?” Ah. Gotta love that one. Definitely my fav.

“Aww. Faith, maybe you’ll be next.” That feels remotely like pity…or like I’m broken or messed up because of my singleness.

In short, well-meaning people say stupid things. Good people. People who are your friends. They just don’t know what it sounds like…or feels like, for that matter.

First off, single friends…we’ve ALL said stupid things. So, let’s cut these well-meaning people some slack. Give some grace. We all want a little growing room, so let’s be the first to give it. People generally don’t mean to treat you like you have a “condition”, they just want to say something, and they say the wrong thing. Mercy…I’ve done that myself plenty of times.

Back to weddings…because weddings are the best times to hear these lovely remarks.

Weddings are wonderful times. I love going to weddings. I really do. But they can also hold with them the familiar reminder that you are one of the few who are alone. You are the lone single, poking yourself into a million conversations and trying to find where you fit in. You are that single gal rocking someone’s baby to sleep while everyone else slow dances with their spouse. What’s a girl to do?

If ever there were a time that I see this clearly, it’s now. With a bunch of weddings under my belt already and several to go, I’m coming to grips with my singleness in a new way.

I want to be that mysterious single gal that is thoroughly enjoying all her friends’ weddings without one ounce of jealousy or envy. I want to be able to take complete joy in these events…never stopping for a moment to notice my lack of sameness with my married friends.

The truth is, there have been moments in the last year when I have been GLAD I was single at these weddings…because there needed to be an unmarried gal to be the gopher. I’ve got a few fun stories about being the single friend who got some crazy jobs…but I’ll save those for a different day.

I have atleast two favorite moments at every wedding…the first is always when the bride walks down the isle. This reminds me that one day, my Heavenly Groom is coming for me and I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of His face. He continues to pursue my heart, day after day, patiently and weddings remind me of His steadfast love.

The second moment is when the bride and groom are announced as the new Mr. and Mrs. It’s just a crazy amazing thing that a covenant just happened between God, a man and his wife. Beautiful pictures of grace and faithfulness.

Sometimes there are multiple moments at any given wedding that will go down in my memory as favorites. Like when the kiddos in a wedding go screaming down the isle or decide to take their shoes off and throw them during the ceremony. It’s just the unpredictable and hilarious part of friends getting married.

Yes, I go to weddings with JOY. I rock the babies to sleep. I laugh with everyone. I clap like crazy at the announcement of a new couple. And I dance with the littlest people who need a partner. That’s what you do when all your friends are getting married…and you’re not. It’s okay. That’s what happy single girls do.

Who is your Daddy?

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1 (KJV)

One of my life passions is helping women understand the depth of God’s love for them. Of course, humanly speaking, wrapping our minds around the limitless love of God is impossible. However, even if we catch a glimpse of that unconditional love He has for us, it completely transforms the way we see our Heavenly Father. It’s all about Who we belong to, girls!

I once saw a powerful 3 minute video clip by Pricilla Shirer that I want to share with you. (and if you can’t watch this video, you can read the words to it at www.goingbeyond.com/blog/who-do-you-belong/)

Every time I see this clip (and trust me, I’ve watched it a lot), I want to stand up and cheer for my Heavenly Daddy! The fact that this limitless Daddy chose to become Father to a limited girl like me… that is amazing! I’m in awe of that kind of love. That kind of grace overwhelms me. What mercy and kindness!

I’ve also noticed the more I focus on Him and Who He is, the more I see myself and my surroundings in a different light. When I am secure in His love, not much else matters, does it? It changes the way I see myself in the mirror in the morning. It changes the way I view the ministry He has set before me. It completely transforms the way I view big problems in life…because they’re not too big for Him.

I love seeing the first part of 1 John 3:1 in this way too… “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!…” (HCSB) We are!

We are His daughters! Princesses of King Jesus. Savor that incredible thought for a little while, gals. Dwell on it. Think about the power of that small sentence. You are His little girl.

You.    Are.    His.

Nothing can stop Him from loving you… “For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present , nor things to come , Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

What is Adequate?

“For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, emphasis mine)

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Kids have a way of bringing new life and vantage points to everyday things. Their questions spur in us the desire to search for answers. Answers that we perhaps didn’t even know we needed. I have been pushed to dig deep into God’s Word…simply because a younger sibling asked me a curious question.

“What is adequate?” The question came from my 7-year-old sister. I was cleaning the kitchen and her question caught me off guard. Where did that come from? I thought. I mean, seriously, ADEQUATE isn’t normally a word that a seven-year-old spits out fluently….and it had rolled off her tongue like CAT. I stopped washing the counter and turned my head to her. She was sitting at the table doing some school work with her pencil and seemed unaffected by her strange curiosity.

I sighed a bit. Explaining the meaning of simple words has never been easy for me. My brain churned, trying to pull small words from my vocabulary that would satisfy a seven-year-old’s curiosity. “Well…Adequate means like…you’ve got what it takes.” She looked at me and then went back to her work, but I could tell that my answer wasn’t enough for her. “It means…enough…it means you’re enough. If you’re adequate, you’re enough. You have what it takes. Does that make sense?” She nodded and then went back to her math problems. This time, I felt like she understood, and like I would be hearing the word fall from her mouth in a sentence in the near future. I know her…when she learns what a word means and how to use it, she will use it.

But then a nagging question hung in my mind. What IS adequate? I realized my little sister had over heard me asking for prayer in conjunction with the statement that I felt INADEQUATE for the task ahead of me. What is adequate? It struck me that this seven-year-old had not said, “What does adequate mean?” She said, “What is adequate?” That was an entirely a different matter.

What is adequate? The question spun around in my brain bringing a thousand other questions to my mind. My heart resonated with the truths I slowly discovered. What is enough? Am I enough? Do I have what it takes? Am I adequate for the job? Am I worthy? Am I enough…adequate?

We all face these questions in life…more than once. They probe into our souls when our schedule is crammed and we are overwhelmed. They creep up when someone in our family says hurtful things. They stand at our doorstep when we are about to take a leap of faith into ministry. Sometimes…they stare at us when we look in the mirror in the morning. Am I enough? Am I smart enough? Am I beautiful enough? Am I talented enough? Am I strong enough? Am I spiritual enough?

The questions wrap their greedy fingers around our souls and sap the joy of life from us. Instead of living fully…we live wondering. Questioning our worth. Asking questions that block our effectiveness for God and leach the life out of our beings.

Then the breath of God…”Ye are a CHOSEN generation, a ROYAL priesthood, a HOLY nation…”(1 Pet. 2:9, emphasis mine). He came and “gave Himself for us, that He might REDEEM us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14, emphasis mine) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have CHOSEN you, and ORDAINED you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” (John 15:16, emphasis mine) “I have LOVED thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3, emphasis mine) “My grace is SUFFICIENT for thee, for my STRENGTH is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Corinthians 12:9, emphasis mine). HE is enough. HE is adequate. HE is worthy. HE is sufficient.

Beautiful daughter of God…do you want to know why you are enough? You are enough, because Jesus is and He said you are! If you weren’t worth it…there would have been no cross. No redemption. No sacrificial love. Ah, but you were enough! You were enough that He said YES to the cross for you! He went to that rugged cross on Calvary because He deemed you worthy of His love and forgiveness and outpouring of blood.

His choice made you worthy. His love made you beautiful. His redemption made you enough.

I stood in the kitchen with a dish rag in my hand and marveled at this mystery. That I, an unworthy daughter should have the favor of God rest upon my head. My past is forgiven. My scars are beautiful. I am enough, because He is enough. I am worthy, because He is worthy to be praised.

My mind went to a song that I love. It’s called, “My worth is not in what I own.”

“My worth is not in what I own, not in the strength of flesh and bone. But in the costly wounds of love at the cross. My worth is not in skill or name, in win or lose, in pride or shame. But in the blood of Christ that flowed at the cross.

“As summer flowers we fade and die; Fame, youth, and beauty hurry by. But life eternal calls to us at the cross. I will not boast in wealth or might, or human wisdom’s fleeting light. But I will boast in knowing Christ at the cross.

“Two wonders here that I confess, My worth and my unworthiness. My value fixed, my ransom paid at the cross.” (Keith and Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick)

Dear Sister…your worth is summed up in the cross. Your beauty is a reflection of your Father Who calls you ransomed, chosen, and loved. Don’t let the voices of the world tell you that you have to achieve to win His favor. He has made you beautiful and worthy and loved. His work on the cross has made you adequate to stand before God. His blood has made you enough!

So next time those ugly questions of self-worth probe your soul…remember your answer. Your answer stands on a hill called Calvary. Your answer reigns in heaven and in your heart! He has made you HIS…and because of that, you are beautiful, worthy. Girl, you are enough….because of His sacrifice.

Live fully…laugh long…remember that we have the glorious truth. We can live beautifully and purposefully knowing that our worth is in HIM, not in ourselves. That kind of promise inserted into our souls can create a radiance that only Jesus can get the glory for.

What is adequate? What is enough? You are friend…because HE is.

(Originally published May 9th, 2015…and still pondering this amazing truth. Jesus is enough.)

Carry the Light

Matthew 5:14-16
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Last week an ice storm came through and our power went out for a few days. This presented some interesting challenges in day-to-day life. When you’re a kid, this becomes one thrilling long journey. When you’re an adult….not so much. After eighteen hours I was ready for power again.

We have wood heat (praise the Lord!) so despite the chilling cold, we were able to keep warm and our gas stove allowed us to cook, but the adventure wore off quickly for me. Who wants to take a candle to the bathroom? Or have to carry a flashlight in your pocket all the time? Or watch the laundry pile up because the washer and dryer are out of commission? And I must have said, “Please shut the refrigerator!” a thousand times. What is it about a power outage that makes people so hungry that they have to survey the refrigerator contents twice an hour?

Two days without power shows you a lot about life….and attitude. Believe me. At the end of the second day (when I was thoroughly sick of no lights) I had a light bulb moment. Almost literally.

It was pitch black, and even the candles spread all over the house didn’t cut the darkness very well. I was sitting on the couch in the thick blackness. I don’t remember what I was doing, except for having a sour attitude. I mean, really, what can you do when it’s dark and you have NO electricity? Then this light entered the room…it was my little sister. She is not an adult, so this was still a huge adventure for her. She was LOVING the moment and I was in the same house HATING it.

She was holding a small glass dish with a tiny tea light candle in it. Strange how the moment hit me, but it was like she was HOLDING LIGHT. You really couldn’t see her glass dish because the light obscured the container. It really looked like she was cupping light in her hands…and she was bringing it to me. “Faith, look!” she said.

I stared at it. All I could think is how BEAUTIFUL it was. This cupping of light in her hands. It made me want to hold it in mine. To carry it around the room like a little child and share it with others. To wonder at it and be filled with the adventure that was in those sparkling eyes. Why couldn’t I find joy in this moment?

The light was amazingly bright. It seemed so luminous. Chasing away the shadows and lighting the face of this little girl. This child bringing light to me. I had to smile. I couldn’t help it. The moment was beautiful….and since phones don’t run on electricity, I took a picture.

carrythelight

When the moment was past, it got me to thinking…what do I look like to this dark, dying world? Do I cup my hands like a willing servant and carry the light to dark places? Do I smile like a child and enjoy the journey…carrying the Light, the Beauty to others? Is my life’s light bright enough to draw them to JESUS?

I have this picture as my phone’s wallpaper right now…and it’s a visual reminder that I am to carry the Light wherever I go. I want to cup JESUS in my hands and take Him to the dark places.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

(This post was originally written on January 9, 2016…and today? It’s message still motivates me to carry His Light to a dark world.)

Persistence

The following post I wrote nearly two months ago…but because it was so fresh, I chose not to post it. Since then I’ve been learning what it means to be PRESENT even when I’m no longer Ms. Mary’s primary caregiver. Even that requires Persistence.

Faith Phone-May2018 215

It’s a hard thing to fall and then get up and try again. Painful. Challenging. Like trudging through molasses to get somewhere. There are days I want to quit because life beats me up and it’s easy to lose the wind in my sails. When everything seems to be coming at me full force and I can’t get out from under the chaos.

I’ve had one of those weeks. Adventure isn’t always peaches and cream, I’m learning. When I choose Jesus as my Guide it more often than not means struggle and rainy days and hard questions and mountain climbing when I really don’t know what I’m doing. It means looking into the face of change and smiling because He knows what He’s doing even when I’m incapable and scared. It means persistence. Pushing through the clouds and clinging to what He wants for my life even when it doesn’t always make sense.

Change is a common visitor in my life. I’m not friendly with him, but he seems to show up anyway. Sometimes he shows up during beautiful times like when I get a new niece or nephew or one of my friends get married. Other times, he shows up when I’d rather him not. These past several days have been “one of those times”. Caregiving hasn’t ever been my dream…but it seems to follow me. My sister and I have been taking care of a 98-year-old lady for the past nine months who has been like a local great-grandma to us. She has dementia and severe arthritis and could no longer be at home alone. It started slow…just nights and an occasional pop in. Then it progressed to more and more as her circumstances worsened.

Over the past three weeks, it’s went downhill fast. These past ten days have been long. Short nights with little to no sleep and long days of care. If I’m honest, I’ve even felt a little stir-crazy. It’s been a long road. The reality is, we can’t keep up the pace. There’s only two of us and we honestly can’t do it all. There aren’t many options for those of us who live in the middle of nowhere, so her family opted for a nursing home. I cried. Not because I was in disagreement, but because I wanted to see it through. I wanted to walk her to heaven’s door and for it all to tie up neatly and be done. Closure. A little part of me felt like I was abandoning my mission before it was complete.

We called the ambulance after a long day of battling side effects from her new meds last Tuesday. I saw it in her eyes…she wasn’t right and I knew I couldn’t help her anymore. My sister stood there and said what I was too afraid to think…we needed to call for help. Sisters are good for tough moments like that. In the back of my mind I wanted to deny it, because a little piece of me knew it might be the end. It would mean change and I felt like the fight had been already whipped out of me.

I knelt next to her worn out recliner and held her hand as the First Responders and EMTs asked a million questions. Date of birth. Medications. Food. Medical history. A slight daze settled on my brain, the sleepless nights and emotional roller coaster was catching up with me. Charity righted my ship a few times…helping fill in the blanks.

Since I’m the primary caregiver, they told me I could ride in the ambulance to the hospital with her. As I could feel all the hurt and angst come floating to the top. Half way through the trip, the emotions overwhelmed me and in an effort to stifle the tears, I sighed a deep, heavy sigh. The driver turned to me and said, “We are almost there”, as if I was only tired of the drive. Inside I felt like screaming for help. The weight on my chest was all too familiar.

Persistence.

How do you push through the fog when you don’t even know what direction you’re facing? What do you do when the circumstances of our fallen, wicked world knock you down? I’ll admit…more than once I’ve just stayed laying there for too long.

Then there’s persistence. Determination gets up and begins again. Even if it means starting over. Even if it means getting a new mission. Even if it means re-evaluating our approach and tweaking your presentation.

I stayed at the hospital until nearly 2am…answering round after round of questions from nurses and doctors about some of the same things again. I crashed when I got home…weary in body, soul, and spirit.

The next morning, I cleaned up her house (I’ve been living there full-time for the past week or so), canceled her hair appointment, and tried to catch up on some long-overdue projects at home. I was waiting for the call that she was coming home so I could resume my post as caregiver.

The phone call wasn’t what I expected. She’s not coming home.

Instead, I heard she has kidney failure. She had slept the whole day without pain meds and hadn’t eaten or drank anything. My mind was having flashbacks …these signs were like red flags waving in the wind and shouting at me. I’ve been here before and somehow, it feels both different and strangely familiar.

The feeling I felt was failure. Why couldn’t I walk her to heaven’s door? I wanted to be there for her…to hold her hand and walk with her through the valley. What if she gets scared? What if she can’t see anyone she recognizes in the dementia fog?

So now I stand at the door of change again. Wondering—all this time I suddenly have back—what if I don’t want it? What if I’d rather be giving meds and applesauce or changing adult diapers and smiling when she told me unbelievable stories about her “visitors” that she can see and I can’t? What if I’d rather everything just stay the same?

Persistence and determination are amazing virtues…but I feel like the fight has been knocked out of me. I want to be faithful. I want to stand firm. I want to be trustworthy and loyal to my Captain. I’ve also found that He walks through some rough country to get to where we are going…and I feel weary and tired and emotional and sad. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Then I see the nest.

Often, God speaks to me through word pictures…apparently, I learn that way. My brother had parked his Jeep in the driveway and I noticed that a bird had built a nest in one of the headlights. He drove it one day, pulling the nest out before he left. The next day, the bird built another nest. The 2nd nest was removed and by the next day it was built again. This went on for days. Six nests later, I was wondering how long it would take this bird to get the point. The odds were against it.

Persistence.

What would it take for you to love difficult people? How many times will you walk through sorrow and choose to love again? How many times will I be willing to say YES to being a caregiver?

Today, I want to be done with caregiving. It’s too hard. Painful.

Then I see that nest…and I wonder. How much am I willing to risk? Couldn’t I be a little more persistent, patient and enduring? I’ll keep building…time and again…knowing that Jesus will hold me together.

That’s persistence.