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I didn’t meet a single writing goal this week. Am I disappointed? Definitely. Frustrated? Yes. Rested? Refreshingly so.

My dog’s sharp Feed me! yelp and a painful twinge in my neck greeted me Monday morning. Sighing, I slipped from bed into the regular morning routine—spending a few quiet moments in prayer before taming my bedhead and hustling out the door for work. Before long, a headache invited itself to the “she’s-worn-out-and-needs-to-slow-down-party” and became a permanent resident for the better part of the week.

My response? I s-l-o-w-e-d down. A lot.
Hurting and desperate for relief I took a muscle relaxant. I spent the rare hour with a massage therapist. No change.

The only alternative? Sleep. And a lot of it—my pre-teen tucked me in instead of the other way around.

And this morning? I awakened with something rarely experienced in my not-a-morning-person experience—yes, a smile. I felt good bordering on great.

What a glorious sensation!

For years, I’ve joked that I’m a Type B person living like a Type A. My joy comes not from doing, but in being….in experiencing…in dreaming and this week I’ve been reminded of who God created me to be—someone who requires quiet. Time for reflection. Moments to rest.

Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirrst (3)Even the do-ers in the crowd need rest. You know who I’m talking about–the people with an overabundance of energy, drive, and focus–the ones who attack the checklist with a vengeance and cram a week’s worth of tasks into one day. People like my husband or co-worker who seem to thrive on caffeine and just the idea of busy. But, even the industrious let’s-get-‘er-done types need to step down from the frantic pace and—well, breathe.

Whether you’re a Type A imposter or someone who borders on workaholic, remember the all-powerful Creator sanctioned a time for rest—not because He needed refreshment, but because His knew people would.

If you, dear Friend, are caught up in a season of endless busyness, maybe it’s time to put some of your burden down and exchange it for rest. Time spent in the presence of Eternal Refreshment. A few hours invested in family and friends. And, possibly, a night or two of indulging your body with the often-denied-but-much-needed sleep.

Maybe you’ll wake up with a smile, too.

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The place name dogged me all week–my thoughts returning again and again to the words of John 18:5.THE NEW YOU

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. (NIV)

Familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, I knew of the events preceding the crucifixion. The humble Creator stooping over the dirt-encrusted feet of His disciples and cleansing them of Jerusalem’s desert sand—the actions of a servant. Christ—breaking bread in the presence of beloved companions and a friend turned foe.

But until a few days ago, my eyes seemed to pass by any mention of Kidron Valley. What could be its significance? Why hadn’t I noticed before? Jesus walked purposely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to reach the Garden.

The symbolism is too rich to ignore. Kidron Valley, meaning black or sad, was a burial site to Jewish kings, priests, and prophets encased in tombs along the rocky slopes. And today? Thousands of limestone coffins stand end to end—the bodies of Jewish hopefuls awaiting deliverance through the long-awaited Messiah.

I can almost imagine Jesus surveying the valley and its surroundings. There, high on the slope, He could make out the southeastern edge of the Temple. How many hours had He spent within its walls proclaiming the truth? Inhaling deeply as He passed by a stand of olive trees, Christ might have swept His gaze to the far edges of the landscape and noticed the Mount of Olives. Did His stride quicken as He anticipated ascending into Heaven from that hill—the Father’s call beckoning Him home?

Determined, Jesus continued on as the dark valley rose sharply on either side–evening shadows deepening. He knew the history of the place—He’d seen it clearly from Heaven’s throne room. Christ knew of the treachery encased between the walls of this gorge—when the Chosen Ones had displayed worthless idols here. The people turning away from I Am not once…not twice…but three times. (1 Kings 15: 12-13, 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Chronicles 19:16).

Jesus knew—they would again turn from the Way and choose another.

And soon, the blood of hundreds of thousands of lambs would spill into the wadi, filling the valley with the scent of death; innocent blood staining its walls. The disciples might have noticed a look of satisfaction cross Jesus’ face as He considered the near future—that moment when His own, untarnished blood would pour out for all sin and sinners. Once for all—if they would only accept His gift. The perfect Lamb. The ultimate Sacrifice. The exchange of the Sinless for you and me.

Each step Jesus took in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, friends, brought us closer to Him. Because of His death and resurrection, we can claim the beautiful promise of Ps. 23,

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)

 

 Thank you, Jesus, for walking the dark valley of sin that we might be the sinless ones. Praise God for His mercy and overwhelming love. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's fight the good fight • www.breastcancer.com (1)He declared it good. The golden brightness pouring across the horizon like honey flowing from a hive. The ocean dancing and crashing against land in celebration. Elegant birds arching and bowing at the ebb and flow of air currents across their missile-shaped bodies.

Then, the man. Beautiful. Innocent. A one-of-a-kind creation fashioned by the hand of God.

But, God designed man for something more than a sunrise to greet him each morning or admiration for his surroundings. Just as the Image Bearer–Father, Son, and Spirit–exist in relationship, God made man for relationship.

It is not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18)

And the One who gives good gifts presented the first man with a woman–to come alongside as a companion.

We are all made for relationship, Friends. It is not good for us to be alone. Separated from others. Lacking intimate, soul-bearing, heart-refreshing relationship.

Being truly known can feel risky. It requires vulnerability and we wonder if we’ll be accepted for the faulty, flawed women we are. This is the unknown of any human relationship, but if we–the Church–love others as He expects then relationship builds its foundation on the Truth.

And in Truth? There is room for grace…love…forgiveness. There is space to be fully Self and fully accepted. Let’s trust each other enough to step away from loneliness and into love.

Lord, help us to admit we need other people and give us the capacity to love others the way you have loved us. Amen

Linking up today with Patricia Holbrook at Recharge Wednesday.

The mountains are yearning.Schloop!

Did you just hear it?  That was the sound of the last bit of energy being sucked from my body. Too-early-mornings punctuated by spilled Cheerios and staff meetings with coffee that slides down the back of the mouth as thick and distasteful as oil have merged with post-Spring Break study marathons held in honor of my reluctant-to-participate pubescent children. And the time in between? Appointment-aligned and hard scheduled on three different calendars. The optimistic hope is that multiple postings of orthodontist appointments and sports events will keep me organized…on top of things…able to manage the time crunch.

Do you ever feel the same way?  Are you running in circles just trying to keep up with life’s business when you realize you’ve lost sight of the most important things?

The verse God keeps whispering in my ear is, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  My answer, “Lord, how can I be still?  There is so much to do!”

But, life’s obligations will always encroach on quiet moments…peaceful moments…moments of  reflection…moments of being in God’s presence.  So, dear friend, wherever you are today—take a breath.  Inhale the freshness of God’s spirit.  Consider the One who created you for His glory.

Be still.  Just be–if only for a moment.

Love each otherLife seemed to take a wrong turn when her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Together, they relocated to Manhattan where some of the best treatments were available–far from the slower-paced, small town in Colorado. Physically distanced from family and friends and immersed in a world of sterile hospital rooms and uncompromising statistics, loneliness became an cloying companion.

Unwilling to foster an ongoing relationship with isolation, a determined                   twenty-something dialed the suicide hotline. She told the soothing voice on the other end of the line about her desperation. She spoke of a sense of worthlessness. Then, she explained the reason for the call.

Ready to break the chains of loneliness, Daniel Hernandez offered to step away from her own pain by embracing the stories belonging to others. For two years, Daniel volunteered as a voice of comfort and encouragement to the desperate and disillusioned, the hurting and the hopeless.

Is it possible loneliness is your unsolicited sidekick, as well? Does isolation invade the space of healthy relationship in your life ? Are you, perhaps, even coddling loneliness because of its familiarity? Or, when you look at others with the eyes of Christ do you notice the lonely ones? They are everywhere–hoping someone will take a moment to smile…engage…love like Jesus.

Today, I’m issuing a challenge. Friend, whether you are lonely or not–will you allow your struggle in the now to motivate you toward investing in someone’s tomorrow? You don’t need to be the voice on one end of a hotline to make a difference. Just take one simple step–invite a neighbor for coffee, ring up an old friend, plan a date night with your husband.

Let’s break the chains of loneliness.

Absolutely nothing can get between us and God_s loveThe sounds of celebration and revelry rang in stark contrast to the dull feeling of isolation growing large and heavy in my chest. While men and women laughed and swayed in time to the strains of music,  I pasted on an obligatory smile and engaged in meaningless conversation–hoping nobody would notice the discomfort in my voice.

I’d waited impatiently to be part of the gathering–to belong to these people. But as soon as I arrived, I understood. The longing was mine alone.

Needing a few moments for reflection, I slipped away from the crowd unnoticed.

Sometimes loneliness is felt more in the crowd.

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From crowded rooms to solitary hide-a-ways, loneliness exists outside the boundaries of place or circumstance. It invades the space of married couples…singles…young and old. And, loneliness? It has the power to drive us toward relationship or introduce lies into the vulnerable places of our hearts.

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If we aren’t intentional our in loneliness, we can be taken captive–seduced into believing that we are utterly alone. Have you been there, Friend? Has this lie lodged itself into the corners of your heart?

Perhaps it was birthed in the ruins of a fractured relationship or marriage. Maybe the pain of untruth took root when your prayers seemed to go unanswered. Is it possible you even feel you deserve loneliness—that your internal ache for something more stems from just being you?

Daughter of Christ, if you are hard-worn by loneliness right now, remember–there is Someone who is always with you. He knew you from your beginning. He knows the day of your last breath. And, He walks with you each step between now and forever.

This is the truth in which we can intentionally rest.

And, for those who know the lonely one? We can pray…love…and–with intentionality–remind her of Christ’s steadfast commitment to His children.

Won’t you join me today by reaching out to someone burdened by loneliness? Share your story with us.

Scripture for Reflection

I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! I will not leave you orphaned. (John 14:16-18 MSG)

 

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