Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We are moving!!

Well, sort-of.  Ha!  We are moving the blog...

I am moving my blog forever to  

I will move some of my posts over from this blog - in order to help people know how we got where we are today. 

But, it is time for a change.

It is time to embrace (with hope!) the coming days - which will be filled with good things.  Surely we will have hard times.  Surely we will have difficulties.  But, surely we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  (Psalm 27) 

I am going to hop over now and post about what in the world has been happening for us in the last few months.  I cannot believe how long it has been since I have been here.  It may mean we are in for a lot of words.  ;) 

I have put a sidebar on chatterboxheart that allows you to "follow" our journey.  That way you can receive updates when I post them, and you don't have to try to remember the name chatterboxheart.  I am so thankful for those of you who have visited our skinnyonthesimmons spot for years.  What a sweet blessing.

Something about the new name just suits me.  My daddy used to call me a little chatterbox - so, that is where it comes from.  I look forward to our new journey!  There is much in my heart to share!

So, please come follow me over there.  I am encouraged by your comments and your questions.  God is so good to have let our paths cross. 

See you soon!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A million tears and counting...

 This past 24 hours I think I have cried over a million tears.  

I have laid, arms out wide on the hard tile and sobbed until my body hurt.  I have sat in a comfy chair in my bedroom and held tight to Jacob's old pillow that still smells like him, and screamed out to the Lord,

"I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS!!!"  Over and over again.  I don't know how to do this...  

I have cried as I cleaned.  Cried as I worshiped.  Cried as I played piano.  Cried as I watched Billy Graham's "My Hope America."  

I have cried and I will cry more - maybe even as I type here.  

I was listening to worship music and this song came on.  This song that I have had on my playlist for a very long time.  But, I hadn't taken the time, in the stillness to hear it.  Of course, the Lord used it to minister to my heart.  Right where I am today.  In this broken place.  In this place where time can't go slow enough and time can't go fast enough...  

The words are from Bebo Norman's song, "The Middle".  I have put all of them below because maybe just maybe one of you will be touched by them.  And, if not, then I am giving you a glimpse into the grief I hold in my heart...  It is okay for me to grieve, my way, for as long as it takes to get back to the trust I have in my God.  Anyway, here are the words to the song...

It's as if You could find me anywhere
That I could go, to try to hide my thoughts from You

But just like some runaway I'm leaving here
With half a mind that hopes of getting caught

So we can just drive home in the dark
Where we'll let our, our feelings fly
They'll cut like shame to break me down again
Until there's nothing left but for me to tell You I'm, I'm sorry
But I don't wanna go home now
Stuck here in the middle alone now
Everybody's singing their song now
But I'm still reeling
I'm not trying to run away from
This beautiful life I've been given
I'm not looking for freedom

Maybe just a little meaning here in the middle
It's as if there's a world uncovered by
The break of day all these miles away but for a better view
Of what's left in the aftermath of all these years
It's just so hard to know who I am in You
So I don't wanna go home now
Stuck here in the middle alone now
Everybody's singing their song now
But I'm not ready for this
I'm not trying to run away from
This beautiful life I've been given
I'm not looking for freedom
Maybe just a little meaning here in the middle
Alright, everybody says I'll be alright
Everybody says it's a good fight
I'm not seeing it now
All I know is I swear this
It feels a little more like a secret
And I don't know if I should just keep it
To myself, but my love, my love
I don't wanna go home now
Stuck here in the middle alone now
Everybody's singing their song now
But I'm still reeling
I'm not trying to run away from
This beautiful life I've been given
I'm not looking for freedom
Maybe just a little meaning here in the middle
Here in the middle, here in the middle
Here in the middle, yeah, here in the middle

I think it is time to share things that are widely unknown about this season in my life.  

Divorce papers were filed last December.  16 and a half years of marriage - over.

You see, the divorce papers are rarely the beginning of the divorce.  Sometimes there are many years of marriage that are lived in a state of divorce.  Thus was the situation with us.  Many years ago I was sleeping alone every night.  Many years ago we were living separate lives.  Many years ago bitterness stole the beauty of marriage...  many years ago hearts were hard - to the breaking point.  

This will not be a post filled with blame and accusation.  The enemy has done plenty of that.  It is so clear to my heart why God hates divorce.  It is an ugly thing.  Entirely ugly - through and through.  Though, because of hardness of heart and the depth of sin- sometimes it is necessary in order to not be destroyed for the sake of outward appearances.

The day I lost my son, I was still trying to figure out how I was going to come around to understand the grief and the loss of the marriage I had invested all of my heart in for so long.  I was grieving over what it would do to my children.  I was grieving over what it said about me.  What it said about hope.  What it said about so many things...

And, then, the worst day came.  The call came.  The absolute shock came.  

More loss.  A loss deeper than any I have ever had in my life. 

I still don't know how to do this.  I am grasping tightly to the hand of promise that I know is there.  But, grief would be hard enough if we could lean into each other...  if I had a husband on whose shoulder I could lean.  Grief would be hard enough if I could be home with my kids every day - being a momma.  But, to do this with no husband to lean on...  it seems more than I was meant to bear.  Truth is - it is more than I was meant to carry.

You see, I know the TRUTH that God is always here for me.  I know that He is my hiding place.  He is the only one that can bring comfort to me in the deep ways that I need it.  But, I want to be honest here.  I don't want to pretend that I don't long to be held in strong arms that belong to one on the earth who loves me.  I have many friends that are always there to offer arms of comfort.  But, please do not minimize my pain, and I will try not to diminish the greatness of Christ to me.

The many years of pain in my marriage thrust me to the feet of Jesus in ways that nothing else could have.  So, there is beauty in the loss...  But, it is a great loss.. It is the loss of every girl's dream to be treasured.  Every girl's dream to be protected and loved.  Every girl's dream to have someone who thinks she is worth fighting for.  It is the loss of what God intended marriage to be a picture of...

I don't know how to simultaneously grieve these things.  All I know that I am singing out to the Lord these words...

"than any comfort, Jesus is better, make my heart believe.  Our souls declaring, 'Jesus is better', make my heart believe.... our song eternal 'Jesus is better' make my heart believe."

I do believe that.  I know it to be true.  So very true!  But, there are still times that I have to cry out to God - begging Him to increase my faith - increase my faith that indeed HE IS ENOUGH.  

He gave His Son.  His one and only Son.  For me.  A fault-filled, broken, sinner...  He gave His Son, willingly.  

I cried out over and over last night that I DID NOT give my son willingly.  I didn't.  I am not okay with it.  Sometimes I don't think the pain and the fog will ever lift. 

Please pray for me.  Please pray for my heart.  Please pray for my precious children who are coming into their first set of Holidays without their amazing older brother, and their second set of Holidays with their parents apart.  We need your prayers.  Daily still.  Some days the pain is even more intense now than it was in the beginning.  Please withhold your judgement...  work it out with God, not me,  and pray earnestly for His intervention in our lives. 

And, now to readjust my focus... because honesty is good to a point.  However, some of these things come from feelings - and a lesson that the book of Job holds for us is that our feelings and our circumstances do not give truth or clarity to who God really is.

(photo credit is not mine - found this through google images)
You see the King of Kings sees me.  He knows all of my tears.  He can handle every fear.  He can handle every ounce of anger.  He can handle all of my doubts.  He can handle all of me - every strong emotion.  After all, He created me.  He formed me and He knows that I am only dust.  He knows that I do not see clearly.  He knows that on my own, I have no hope or righteousness at all.  And HE delights in me.  Because He was willing to send His Son to His death for me - He accepts me right where I am.  He is not judging me, or my emotions.  He is proud of me - as His beloved daughter.  With all of my flaws, with all of my hurts, with every bit of who I am that is too much for any other person... He takes me and tells me that He will never leave or forsake me.  

What kind of love is this?

What kind of God stoops down and is mindful of man?  Only the most Holy, Loving God.  

This Christmas I am asking for Him to reveal Himself in a MIGHTY way in my life.  I am begging Him for a miracle - for beauty from these ashes.  And, I am just crazy enough to believe that He hears me. 

Friday, September 13, 2013


What is your pain today?

That thing that has taken hold of your heart and it won't let you go, no matter how you writhe to get out from under it's suffocating grasp?

What is the voice in your mind that tells you that you'll never be enough - or you are just TOO MUCH?

Where are you just aching today?  Is there something inside that just screams out "THERE HAS TO BE MORE THAN THIS!!"

I am.  This morning, I have such a heavy heart.  Pain is everywhere.  It is unavoidable.  People spend much time, energy, and money to keep themselves from pain.  And yet, pain will find them, it will search them out - and it will crush every defense they thought they had.  Now, stay with me, I am not trying to be a "Debbie Downer".  I am getting around to hope.  Just hang with me for a minute.

We all build walls.  We all wear masks.  We all say what other people want us to say.  How many times in just one day do you lie to people when they ask you "Hey!  How are you?"  Almost always, "Oh, I'm fine...  and you?"  We are just trying to be nice.  They are just trying to be nice.  There is nothing essentially wrong with that.  But, I'm not talking just about the casual stranger.  I am talking about your friends.  Those that should be beside you to shoulder your burdens with you.  How many times do you really let them in on your fears?  How often do you open yourself up - getting really vulnerable?

I tend to spew my fears, my thoughts, my dreams... kind-of everything out to whoever wants to sit long enough to hear them.  So, here it is this morning... some of the deep stuff of my heart.

I long to worship.  Really worship.  When I saw "The Rend Collective Experiment" video for Build your Kingdom here - I wanted to drop everything, pick up my kids and find out where they are going next.  I want to go with them.  Now, I know that it isn't all campfires and cool instruments.  There is sweat, tears, travel...  pain... but the joy - the joy to worship with a group of like-minded people.  To travel and tell of the wonders of God's love and faithfulness...  it stirs something in me that I can't run from!  I want to sing always and forever of God's love and beauty.  (Sounds so cheesy right, and yet something in you must be stirred up like this is stirred up in me). 

I long to write and to read, and to sit with the Lord day after day and then share (maybe just one person at a time, or ten, or ten thousand...  I don't care the number) what the Lord is doing... what He is teaching.  How He is reaching my heart that constantly retreats from pain. 

You see, everyone is broken. 

I am.

People are praising me right now for the way I am handling the death of my son.  They put me on a pedestal in their minds.  They think they could never handle what I am going through in the way that I am handling it.  But, while, my heart has been sincere...  every Scripture posted to FB, every blog entry has been straight from the deep places in my heart... people don't see the broken parts - the sinfulness in me.  These things are not as visible...  and one thing I know about pedestals is that people come tumbling down - and the higher up they are put, the further they fall - and the more it hurts when they hit.  So, I am asking you to take me off that pedestal.  Apart from God's grace - I am wretched, pitiful, blind, poor and naked.  Really.  It is God's grace that keeps me upright.  It is God's grace that keeps bringing me back to center.

In my flesh: I am an adulteress.  I am selfish.  I am prideful.  I am full of lust and greed.  I am broken.  I am bitter and I am mean to people who hurt me.

But, because of Christ, and only by God's grace, I am clothed in righteousness.  I am full of peace and hope.  The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.  I have access every day, all day long to all the beauty of Christ.  When I operate in it, people want to put me up high - in this lofty place.  But, I want to tell you that apart from God's grace - I cannot operate in it!  It is not me - it is Christ in me that is my hope of glory.  Over and over again I am realizing the deep truth of that.  I am human.  I am frail.  I am hurting.  I am desperate.  I am weak.  But, because of the Great I Am, I don't have to operate from those places.  I can lean on Christ's strength.  I can ask for His joy.  I can ask for His power to help me in every place that I am failing.  But, in my own strength, and in my own power, I am nothing.  I am just as wicked as any individual that has ever walked the face of this earth.

Today, I just want to be free from the labels that are put on me.  I want to be me.  Broken, but beautiful.  Unlovable, but fully loved.  Poor, but so very rich. 

Today, will you practice with me taking a few of the walls down?  Let someone you trust inside - to the deep places.  You will be hurt.  But, there is so much freedom in tearing down the walls... in becoming who you were meant to be regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.  There is so much freedom in realizing that you will hurt, but you will heal!  Everyone will hurt whether they want to or not.  So, instead of fighting it, and pretending (even to yourself) that you are invincible, take your guard down and face the hurt.  Once you have turned and looked it full in the face, you can begin to heal.  You can take a step towards becoming who you were meant to be.  God made you amazing.  God has a plan for your life.  It is a good plan.  Filled with love, loss, pain, joy, tears and laughter.  He doesn't promise an easy road.  But, He promises never to leave us all alone.  He says He will never ask me to walk through something that He won't be right beside me through.  Don't run from your pain anymore.  Today, make a decision to really look it in the face.  Really find the root of the hurt, the bitterness, the pain... and pull that thing out!  Then, turn to the Healer.  The God of the Universe that wants to bind up your wounds.  He wants to hold you while you cry.   He wants to carry the pain with you and for you.  Trust me on this one.  He longs to be everything you need if you just call on Him.  He is near.  He is pursuing you.  He wants to heal you - make you whole.  But, you have to face that brokenness.  You have to search out the pain - until you find the source, and then it must be dealt with.  I would beg you not to try to search it out on your own.  Invite God to search it out with you.  He knows you, inside and out.  He sees you, and He hears your cries.

May grace and peace go before you today. Don't miss out on one more day of the YOU that God created you to be.  Today, I exhort you to become.  Become everything that you were meant to become.  You are not your mom.  You are not your dad.  You are not your older siblings, or your younger ones.  You are uniquely YOU!  That means, one choice at a time,  you choose to be you - broken and beautiful.  Sinful and selfish.  But, longing for the righteousness and the holiness that God created you to walk in.  Because, the answer when our souls cry out that there has to be more -  is that there is more than this.   For every believer in Jesus Christ, there is much more than this.  Our hearts know that this broken world can't be all there is.  We were created for so much more.   If you haven't trusted your heart to Christ, because you:
* are skeptical
* have met too many mean and angry Christians
* can't make it make sense
* think to trust Christ means to start being judgemental
* are scared
* are scarred from your past
* can't believe in a God that allows so much pain in the world while being all powerful

Let me say this one thing.  I'm sorry.  I am sorry for the pain that has been brought to you through Christians, through the church, through the depravity of the world.  Becoming Christians doesn't make us perfect.  And, I am sorry for the people who have in their Spiritual pride made you believe that we have something that makes us better.  We don't.  Becoming a believer is about finally realizing that we are the most broken ones.  We are the ones that knew (at one time or another) that we needed saving.

People who are well don't need a doctor.  People who have it all together don't need Christ.

But, if we are honest, there isn't anyone really standing in the "have it all together" place.  No matter what it looks like on the outside.  Inside, they are falling apart.  Christians aren't better.  We just have hope that God hasn't and won't ever give up on us.  Not because we have done something great.  But, because He did something great.  I'm sorry for the people that have made that seem like we are more - I'm sorry for being one of those people too.  Sometimes, because we are human, we act stupid.  I'm just sorry for the picture it paints, and I am sorry for the way(s) it has wounded you.  Please forgive me and my fellow believers for being judgmental.  For being prideful.  For being selfish.  For still being human.  Don't disregard my God, my Jesus, on account of my being human.  Search Him out for yourself.  In the quiet of this moment.  Ask Him to be exactly what you need.  While we will hurt you and let you down - He will always be faithful.  Gandhi said it right, "I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians.  They are so unlike Christ."  Forgive us for not being like Christ.

If you are a Christian that thinks you are better, that thinks you do have it all together.  I exhort you to look deep into the heart of Jesus.  Ask yourself why He did what He did.  Ask yourself how you ended up in the place of the Pharisee.  And, then lay it down.  Remember the "you" that knew you needed a Savior.    Then, go out and offer the Truth to anyone who knows they are broken and need saving too.  


Sunday, August 11, 2013

A day for remembering...

16 years ago at 5:43pm I became a mommy.

It was a moment unlike any other in my life.  I had no idea what the years would hold for us.  I had no idea how short my time with him would be.  15 years, 5 months, 25 days.  And every one of those moments was established for him before one came to be.

God chose me to carry that boy.  What a gift.

Today I have cried my eyes out.  I have literally sobbed.  I have just let it all be what it is.  I miss him.  My heart aches through and through.  I carried him 9 months inside of me.  I watched him grow for 15 years, and now... until my precious Savior sees fit to take me home, I will carry him only in my heart.  I will laugh at the memories I have of that boy-man all grown up.  I will treasure the things he said to me and about me.  I will be filled with joy because I know he is in the presence of my God with no more color-blindness and no tears.

I watched God provide for me today.  Opportunities to cry.  Opportunities to laugh.  Opportunities to reflect.  Arms for me to cry in.  People to pray over me.  God knows every need we have before we ask it.  And He is Faithful.

I don't have many words tonight.  But, I want to share something sacred with you.  I had no idea on February 1 as I started a new journal what pain was just a few days away.  But, my God did.  And He was preparing me.  This is my un-edited journal entry from February 1, 2013.  Just 4 days before my boy left earth to receive His welcome to the arms of Christ.  I am astonished every time I read it.  My God cares for me - He sees me, He knows me and He loves me so deeply.  I pray that this encourages your heart even if in just a small way...

February 1, 2013

Though I know not what all will happen through the pages of this journal - one thing I am certain of is this:
My God is always faithful.

This year may catch me off guard in circumstance after circumstance - but it will not catch my God off guard.  He will not be shaken. Ever.

Sweet Lord, please fill my mind with Truth and Life as I seek you in this place.  Please let me honor you in all that I do and say.  Help me to capture my thoughts and make them obedient to you always.  Let not my will be my own.  Let my heart be thoroughly bent towards your way and your Truth.  Jesus- help me to be so near with you.  

Isaiah 41:13
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear, Christy, I will help you."

~ end of journal entry

God moved my heart to fill my name in that Scripture.  He knew that I would need to hold His hand tightly in the coming days and months.  He knows me so perfectly.  I even started a blog post that day that I never published.  The Title was "wrecked".  I haven't been able to finish it yet... just not yet.  

Tonight as I go to sleep I am going to go praising my God for my boy.  Praising my God for my precious children that I have the blessed privilege of tucking in bed each night.  Tonight, I remember that God is faithful - and He is never caught off guard.  Not only that - He prepares the way for me to walk.  What a sweet God.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trust, Shame and other such ramblings...

Life is choices.

I saw this on a shirt when I was walking the breast cancer 3-day event a few years back.  It reached up and grabbed a hold of my heart.  It choked me for a minute.  I thought to myself... Thanks for wearing that shirt, buddy.  As if I didn’t have enough to think about right now. 

But seriously.  Life is made up of one choice after another.  Life really IS choices.  Sometimes I wish I had the creativity to write a script that could capture this a little bit.  One story line - primarily the same, but with two or three different seemingly inconsequential choices that dramatically effect the future outcome.  Not so that we can get bogged down, with every choice being heavier than it is supposed to be.  Ice cream after dinner, or a brownie?  I mean, really either way - you win!  I also don’t want to minimize the Sovereignty and ability of God to take our foolish choices and make something great out of them.

This struck me as I was listening again to the story of Abraham and Isaac.  As the pastor recounted Abram’s (later Abraham’s) life story a little, he brought out the fact that it was over 13 years from when Abram and Sarai were promised by God to have a son until they conceived a son.  Can you imagine?  I can’t.  Month after month wondering if this is the month of the promised child.  God after all is faithful.  God said it, He would do it.  Oh man.  How many times a week do I doubt this in my life?  It comes down to trusting God - to taking Him fully at His Word - even when it seems like He is long in fulfilling that promise.   I noticed for the first time as I re-read it, that I didn’t see a time frame from when God told Abram he would have many decedents and when Sarai “gave him” Hagar to sleep with so that a child could be born.  Then, after Hagar has that son, it seems as if Abram just assumes that Ishmael is the promised son.  It does not SAY this, so please understand that I am just uncertain of what that time looked like.  I know that Abram loved Ishmael from the text that follows - and that Abram asks God if He would bless Ishmael.  The Bible doesn’t speak much to what happened in the years after Ishmael is born.  But, it says this - 13 years after Ishmael is born, God appears again to Abram.  This time, God says, “I am God Almighty.  Walk before me and be blameless...”  God goes on to tell him that Isaac will be the son of the promise...  A son born to Sarah.  More than 13 years pass from the time the promise is made to the time Sarah conceives.  It makes sense to me that they went about it their own way.  Okay, Sarah is barren, so if God said that the son would come from Abram’s body, then Abram must need to hook up with someone else.  He was younger than 86 when God shows up and promises him a son from his own body.  He was 99 when the promised son was conceived.  I can completely understand their “rationalizing” that Hagar must be the answer.  But, immediately from the time Hagar conceives there is trouble in the household.  Trouble that comes as a consequence of figuring it out on their own - and not trusting that God had meant what He said, and He meant it for Abram and Sarai - not anyone else.  And, what does God say to Abram?  He doesn’t say, “you will be condemned for doing it your own way.”  or  “I am removing my blessing from you and your family.”  He says, “I am God Almighty.  Walk before me and be blameless.”  Whew.  Sit on that for a minute.  It’s like He is reminding Abram who He is.  And then, He calls Him to faith and obedience.

I know personally that the enemy always convinces me that I didn’t hear correctly - or that I can figure out a better plan myself.  “Well”, I think, “God didn’t mean that...”  And bam!  I’m back in the garden with Eve saying that we can’t even touch the tree or we will die.  Adding or subtracting from what God said.  Oh how badly we need to be rescued from these minds that tasted the fruit and now have the knowledge of good and evil!  Yuck!  Most of the time, I don’t even know that I am doing it...  that I am leaning on my “knowledge”  instead of waiting and leaning on the wisdom of an all powerful God. 
I for one moment would love to go back to Eden... “naked and unashamed”.  I could stop and make a ton of naked jokes, but to keep it serious for a minute, what in the world would it feel like to be unashamed? 

Think of it.  Really? 


What would that be like?  To not carry around shame for our fallenness.  To not feel shame over our choices that were less than glorious.  Shame for what we have done.  Shame for what has been done to us.  Shame for what we think we should have done and didn’t.  Shame for making that simple mistake.  Shame for the way our kids behave when new people come over for dinner.  Shame for the way we look when we gain weight.  Shame for the way we laugh.  Shame for the way we are too shy.  Shame for the way we are too outspoken.  Shame for the words we spoke, but shouldn’t have....  Geez.  How long could this list be?  I promise you it could go on for seemingly endless days. 

In “Cry of the Soul” by Dan Allendar and Tremper, he says this about shame...

“Shame is an exposure of our idolatry...  We are exposed in our foolish trust in ourselves when we are shamed because we spilled a drink on our lap, because a chid makes poor grades...  But shame is also a great gift.  It can reveal sin and draw forth desire.  If we honor shame as a severe mercy that can lead us to the wonder and wholeness of worship, then we need not fear (unto death) what will be drawn forth in the staggering moment of exposure.  We can face shame as an invitation to look into the eyes of the One who does not condemn  but instead, He offers grace, forgiveness and freedom.”

Could it really be that we feel shame most of the time because we have put our trust, our faith, our worth in ourselves - and we have found that we are not worthy of that worship?  I can certainly see how it is my pride that leads me to shame.  I loved the line “the staggering moment of exposure.”  We are exposed - naked and exposed.  It is as if I expect myself to be perfect in every way - without faults or blunders.  Without messing up.  Seriously, no one is like that.  Everybody screws up.  Everybody sins.  For Heaven’s sake, that is why we NEED a Savior.  We couldn’t do it on our own...  But, shame comes strong when that realization hits us in front of other people.  We so desire to be self sufficient, knowledgable and powerful.  We love the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We did taste of that fruit, through Adam and Eve... And our eyes were “opened”.   How absolutely ironic that the moment our eyes were opened we became truly blind.   It makes me sad to understand that I, like Sarai, often have a back up plan for God - to make what He has said more easily understood.  “Well, it just makes sense that God meant....”  And off I go trusting in myself instead of my faithful God.  And, there are always consequences to that.  Always. 

Romans 8:28 promises us (who love God) that God can work it all together for our good.  He can take even our biggest mistakes and turn them into something glorious.  Only He can do that.  But, we will still face consequences from the choices that we make because we are not trusting Him - we don’t really believe that He has our best interest at heart.  We believe instead that He is holding out on us.  That He couldn’t possibly be loving and all powerful and at the same time allow the world to be what it has become.  We are relying on our knowledge - which is limited - to explain His infinite knowledge that is limitless and beyond understanding.  We trust then, in what we see - instead of what is real beyond our sight.   Faith does not make sense.  It is not containable or explainable.  Faith is believing in that which you cannot see.  I cannot see the wind, and yet, I know that it exists.  I cannot see the pull of gravity - and yet, I have merely to jump up to see it is real.   I long to have the faith that stands firm - even when everything else is shaking.  I want the faith to remember that God sees me - all of me - and knows what is best for my life.  His vision is not blurry.  He has the whole picture and He is not withholding any good thing from me. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Offended by God

Have you ever been offended by God? 

Sometimes things don't go the way we planned.  We see in such a finite way.  Our eyes weren't meant to observe everything.  Imagine for a second the most horrifying 3 things you have ever seen.  Now, think if you saw all the horror on the earth all the time.  Think if you couldn't turn away or not see... 

We weren't built to withstand that.  We are finite.  We do not see as God sees. We just don't.

Certainly all of us at one time have been offended by God.  Certainly you have.  And, it is so plain to my eyes that I have been so recently, and so deeply offended.  There are times that my Spirit cries out as Jeremiah...
"O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed..."  and then, like Jeremiah, in my next breath, I say, "But  the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior..."

David was offended by God too. 

Psalm 13:1-2 has him crying out, "How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?" 

He FELT neglected.  He FELT abandoned.  He felt sorrow - deeply.  But, even in the very next breath he says, "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart REJOICES in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me."  (Psalm 13:5-6)

You see, I believe that the Lord is not the one sending calamity.  Look what His word says in Psalm 11:3-5, "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?  The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne.  He observes all the sons of men; His eyes examine them.  The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence His soul hates."

He is altogether Holy.  Friends, His soul hates wickedness, violence, depravity...  the word "hate" here literally means hate or enemy...  He is an enemy of wickedness.  He does not delight in our sorrow.  He does not take joy when it seems that wickedness prevails against us.  His Word is also clear that He will not leave us or forsake us. (Psalm 27:10, Heb 13:5)  His Word is clear that He delights to shower good things on His children.  (James 1:17)  It also says that He stands ready to defend us.  Luke 18:7.  He is a good God.  He is full of mercy.  He is compassionate.  Slow to anger and abounding in Love.  He is altogether righteous.  No matter what our circumstance.  No matter what we are feeling.  He is incapable of being faithless.  Read 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself."  He literally cannot be unfaithful.  It is against His character. 

You see, every day we CHOOSE what we believe.  We choose.  Our circumstances do not make Him less than who He is.  That is like saying if you declare it adamantly enough you can change the color of your eyes from brown to blue.  Just because you declare that your eye color is blue does not change the reality that they are brown.  You can put in fake lenses that make your eyes appear blue - but you cannot change the actual color of your eyes from brown to blue.  You can DISTORT reality - but you cannot change it.   We can believe whatever we want about God, but I assure you it does not change who He is by one iota.  So, every day I will CHOOSE to believe that He is fully who He says He is.  I will CHOOSE to believe that I am who He says I am.  I CHOOSE to believe that His Word is true - and that when it doesn't make sense to me, it is because I do not see as He sees.  I do not think as He thinks.  I will choose to be offended for a fleeting moment - and then, press in closer, press in to take Him at His Word.  He can handle my anger.  He can handle my grief.  He can handle my misunderstanding.  It does not change Him.  But, He longs to comfort me - if I will only allow Him near enough to do so.  He longs to wrap me underneath His great big wings and offer me rest if only I will be still enough.

He beckons to me, "Be still and know that I am God."  "Come to me, you who are weary, and I will give you rest."  Psalm 91:4 says, "He will cover you with His feathers,  He will shelter you with His wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection."   

I will go to Him.  I will be comforted by Him.  I will find rest in Him.  I will find rest.  I have found peace.  I have found life.  I have found Him faithful and true.  He has my whole heart. 

This morning my heart was ripped in two once again.  I miss my boy so much.  Oh my heart aches without him.  I miss his smile.  I miss his laugh.  I miss his big feet.  I miss his quick humor.  I miss his texts to me throughout the day - the way he invited me, daily, into his life - even the seemingly insignificant parts.  They no longer seem small to me.  His death has given significance to the insignificance.  I miss the way he knew the words to every song.  I miss the way he couldn't hold still when there was any kind of a beat.  He tapped all the time.  I miss it all.  I miss it more than my words can portray on this page.  I am grieved to the deepest places that as long as I am on the earth - I am here without him.  But, one day - one day soon we will live together forever in the presence of the Most High God.  We will worship and work and laugh and sing.  We will no longer hurt or hurt each other.  We will be one in Spirit and in perfect unity.  We will love without pain.  We will love forever without end.  We will enjoy fellowship with the King of Kings and for all of eternity - we will rejoice.  This is the hope that I have every single day.  He is already experiencing this fellowship with my mom, and with some of his great-grandparents who went before him.  Most importantly, he is experiencing sweet fellowship with the Father.  He lacks nothing.  He has no burden, no pain, no grief in his heart.  What a gift to this momma - to know that he is so free.

I will still cry.  I will still grieve.  I will still miss him.  I will still fall on my knees and tell the Father that I am mad that He has allowed me to be pained in this way - and then I will get up and praise Him because His plan is right.  I will stand with my arms high and tell Him that He alone is worthy of all my suffering.  I will thank Him for the gift of being Jacob's mom.  I will thank Him for the privilege to suffer for His sake.  I will love Him with all of my heart.  I will praise Him with all that is within me.  I will go forward, and I will tell Him over and over that He is worth it all.

May God go before you today.  May He hem you in behind.  May He hold you in His big loving hands - and remind you that He loves you enough to give His Son - His precious, only son - for you to know Him and to be with Him forever - if you will just believe.   

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The simple truth

I cannot believe that we have been a month without our Jacob.  Wow.  Part of me says, "wasn't it just yesterday that he was wrapping his arms around me?" and part of me feels as though it was years ago that I heard his voice calling me "mommy."

He did that - even at 15 years old - even in front of his friends - really everywhere.  I love that he still called me mommy.  He would tell his friends on xbox that he had to go because 'his mommy was asking for his help'.  The ways he showed love to me spoke so deeply to my heart. 

Well, I wanted to share something with you.  It is dear to my heart indeed.

Jacob was full of joy.  Jacob was full of encouragement and hope.  Many of you already know this.  Many of you saw this every day at school - or at church.  He was kind and gentle.  He had a servant's heart and was just overall a wonderful young man.  There is a reason.  You see, Jake knew that he messed up every day.  He knew that I messed up every day.  He knew that the earth is full of broken people.  He knew that we were no exception.  But, he knew something deeper... something far more important.

He knew that God loved him, God loved us anyway. 

Right in the middle of his brokenness.  Right in the middle of our family's brokenness, he knew that God saw us and He loved us.  He had provided a way for us to be healed.  God didn't wait on us to fix ourselves, or clean ourselves up.  God knew before we ever took a breath that we would not be able to live in a way that was pleasing on our own.  And God had a plan to help us - to give us an opportunity to be with Him forever anyway.  You see, when God created us - the human race - He created us to live among us - with us.  He wanted to walk with us - in all of His perfection and Holiness, He desired fellowship with us.  It is staggering really to think about.

When sin entered the world, He had to remove Himself from us.  He is altogether Holy.  He cannot be in the presence of our sin.  And it grieved His Spirit.  So, He made a way - through Jesus Christ.  He said that a Son would be born to us - a Savior that would come to earth to redeem us (Luke 1:31-38; 2:8-20).  His precious Son came as a baby - lived a perfect life - and died because I am sinful, because Jake was sinful, because you are sinful.  He took on my sin - He took on the sin of the whole world.  He took our shame upon Himself so that I could spend eternity in a real place called Heaven if I only confess that I am sinful and need His salvation.  John 3:16-17 says this, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."     

Right now many people are asking why my Jacob died.  They want autopsy results to reveal the "problem".  They want reasons.  Inconclusive is not good enough.  I understand that.  But, for me, it is more precious that it is a mystery to us.  I believe with all of my heart that God took him - much like Enoch.  God walked beside him and delighted in him.  And, on February 5th, 2013 at 2:00pm, it was time for him to go home - to walk with God.
Jake's work here was completed.
He had accomplished all that God had intended for him.

He had lived life well.  That is why it hurts so badly for us.  He was an amazing man of God.  His friends told me that at camp they called him Mac.  At first, I didn't like the sound of that - and then they helped me understand that it stood for Man After Christ.  Wow.  What an endorsement!  Nothing greater can be said about anyone.

He was at school, he was playing dodgeball, and then he collapsed.  I believe that his spirit was gone before his body hit the ground.  I believe that he was in the presence of Jesus before he fell.  The coaches did everything correctly.  They tried with all of their might to bring my boy back.  They did everything they could.  But, he was already in the presence of Jesus giving glory to the One that deserves it all- why would he want to leave that to come back here?

I cannot grieve the same way that others grieve.  Don't misunderstand me...  I grieve.  I mourn from the depths of my soul.  I MISS MY BOY!!!  He was an honor and a blessing to me every single day.  Hear me... every. single. day.  But, he is with my Jesus.  He no longer has any burden to carry.  I am mourning the times I thought I had ahead of us with him.  Graduation.  Marriage.  Grandkids.

In a moment the other afternoon, I was at home all by myself.  The house was so quiet.  I was playing worship music and a song came on that says, "I am leaning on you Jesus, with all my longing laid before you now.  And all I'm needing is you Jesus, and all my wanting is satisfied somehow.  There is no higher worth in all the earth but to love you, how I love you.  No greater call, no life at all but to love you... How I love you."  Later on it says, "How I love you... love you, Jesus, Jesus.  How I love you, love you... Jesus - oh how I love you, I love you."
It was at that moment in the song that I fell to the ground.
Knees hitting hard.
Tears falling hard.
Crying out - singing from the depths of my soul that I did love Him - though, I could not honestly sing that all of my wanting was satisfied.  In that moment, in that very real moment with my God... I told Him that I want my boy - and though I want to be fully satisfied, I was not...  and I was struggling to love Him.  In that moment He looked on me with compassion.  He knelt down beside me and He lifted my face.  He loved that I was honest before Him.  He loved that I - in my humanness, in my brokenness... was still desperately trying to love Him with all that I have.  It was enough for my King.  It was enough. 

My heart does grieve.  I assure you.  But, my heart does not grieve without hope.
I am praying - begging the Lord that if any one of you reading this doesn't understand this hope - this peace that I have ~ to the deep places in my heart and my soul ~ that you reach out to me or to someone you know that has placed all of their hope in Jesus.  Ask me anything you want... I want to share the hope that Jacob had.  The hope that I have.  Our goodbye is only temporary.  I will get to be reunited with my Jake one day.  I will get to stand in the Holy presence of my Jesus - right beside my precious boy and my beautiful momma.  And we will no longer hurt or cry or have pain.  We will be healed.  Completely restored to the glory that God intended for us in the very beginning of time.   

God saw me in my sin.  He loved me anyway.  He did not withhold His Son from me.  My salvation cost the God of the Universe - the Creator of all things - His one and only Son.  How dare I try and withhold my Son from Him?  You see, God is allowing me to share in suffering unlike anything I have ever known.  He is allowing me to understand how costly my salvation was.  It is beautiful.   Friends, the pain of losing a son...  the ache in my heart, the tears in the night, the longing for Jesus to come now... it is all very real.  But, if God chooses to use my boy's life to bring many to Himself - then I want to have a heart that blesses His name in that.  I long to be wholehearted in my devotion to my God.  He is worthy.  He is ever faithful and true and worthy!  He did not withhold anything from me.  So, today I rest in the love of my Most High God.  The Almighty One.  I rest in the peace that He brings to my spirit as I come to Him in my grief.  Oh please - find your hope in Jesus.  Find your hope in the One that will satisfy every longing of your heart if you will just surrender your heart to Him.