Paper Bag Moments

roller coaster

Have you ever had a moment that blows you away? Not in a negative way, but in a positive way? The kind of moment that you dreamed of, but didn’t know would ever come true? The kind of moment that left your mouth wide open and a personal dream realized? I call them my “paper bag moments”. The moments when God shows up and shows off.  The moments that take your breath away. The moments when you just KNOW that He is looking and smiling down on you. The moments when all you can think is “Oh, how He loves us….me!”

The assurance of God’s presence in our lives should blow us away daily. When He acts out on our behalf in our personal dilemmas, issues, concerns, and fears, it blows us away personally. He wants to blow us away. He wants us to KNOW that He cares for our personal struggles and is fighting for us. He wants us to KNOW that He is very much present in our daily lives. He wants us to KNOW He is still very much a miracle worker. He wants us to KNOW that in those moments when the pain feels like more than we can bear, He is not only with us, but He feels it too. He want us to KNOW that He is a loving Father. Even in His discipline, He wants us to KNOW that He is showing love. He is drawing us to Him, not pushing us away.

I have had many “paper bag moments” recently. Moments associated with love, family, and ministry and they seem to keep coming. Moments when I feel like I really could use a paper bag to breathe into. I cherish these moments now. God says, just breathe, because I’m about to BLOW you away. Oh, how He loves us!

Life’s journey is like a rollercoaster. It goes up, down, and sideways. After a long downward plunge, the ups can make our stomachs leap into our throats. The excitement can feel scary because it’s so unexpected. I am reminded of how many times God says “Do not fear” in the Bible. When the ups come, throw your hands up and Praise His name! Just like when the downs come, the best thing for us to do is hit our knees and cry out. But, either way, don’t forget to breathe! He is WITH us in the good times and in the bad.

Here’s to more “paper bag moments” in all our lives. To God be the Glory of our story!

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When It Doesn’t Make Sense…

sense

One of the last things my ex-husband said as he was leaving was that he couldn’t do “the husband thing” anymore. He could do the “daddy thing”, but not the “husband thing”. I just wanted him to want to work it out. He wanted to leave. There was nothing else I could do or say, just let the chips fall. Let the dream go. Let it happen, my worst nightmare. Thus began a new chapter from rock bottom.

Being that he said he couldn’t do the “husband thing” anymore and my deep desire to DO the wife thing, you can imagine my confusion when the girls came home, THRILLED that daddy was getting married again. Of course, I’m happy the girls are happy, but they don’t understand. They don’t know. I did everything within my power to put on my happy face for them and turn away when the tears fell. I cried for two days. Not because I wanted him back, I could never trust him again…..But, because of the deep desire I have and always have had for a family unit. Not just any family unit, a healthy one. A God-loving, God-fearing, God-first family. The kind that can make it through anything. The kind I tried so hard to have.

I host a women’s Bible study on Wednesday nights. Last night, I felt the Spirit speak straight to my heart. I went in heavy and came out reassured. Our lesson was all about the times in life when there are no answers. The illness or abuse of a child, the tragic death of a teen, the loss of a pregnant mother, a tornado that demolishes a town, a deranged shooter who kills the innocent, a dreaded diagnosis, a marriage torn apart by selfishness. So many events in this life that leave people looking to God and pastors with a “why”? “Why would God allow this?” “Where is this God you speak of in the midst of all this?” Traumatic events that change a life forever without permission…..on a dime.

The verse that nailed my confusion was: Then the Lord said, “Here is a place for you to stand by me on this large rock. I will put you in a large crack in that rock. Then I will cover you with my hand, and my Glory will pass by. Then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back. But you will not see my face.” Exodus 33:21-23 (ERV)

In these events when we can not understand, He places us in the crack right beside Him. Our vision is impeded, because it’s in these times, that His hand is covering us the tightest. What we see as darkness is His covering, His Glory. Him. He is still in control when we are not, He still hears when we can not, He is still sovereign and we never were. Our understanding may be hindered, but His is not…ever.

He doesn’t just see our situation…He sees them all. Every heart, every tear, every injustice, every single one and they hurt His heart too. There are times when we can’t give or see any justifiable reason for an event. We can only trust God, in His sovereignty, to see and to know. To trust His heart when we cannot see His plan is faith. And, I want more of it…..

Mary’s Perspective

mary

I was thinking about Mary’s personal journey today. As a young woman engaged to be married, she was visited by an angel who tells her that she has found favor in God’s eyes. Because of this favor, He has chosen her to carry and deliver His son. She had questions…how can this be possible? I’ve never even been with a man! What will my fiancé think? Will my family believe me? Why would God pick me? Do all these questions really mean I’m favored….or in trouble? She only asked Gabriel one question…how can this happen? I am a virgin. Luke 1:34. His response was The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Once she accepted her divine yet incomprehensible assignment, God went to work on all the rest of her concerns. He sent an angel to inform, soften, and strengthen Joseph’s heart. And, he accepted his assignment too. People talked. Mary and Joseph both knew they probably always would.

People’s questions and accusations didn’t deter either of them. I read that one reason Joseph may have taken his extremely pregnant wife with him on the treacherous journey to Bethlehem was to protect her from a possible stoning because of the infidelity she was accused of. Joseph was the supportive and God fearing man that Mary needed him to be. Both of their reputations were at stake. Still, he protected her. He covered her. Just as God told him to. It took radical obedience from them both and that’s exactly why they were chosen. God knew they had it in them. I’m sure, at times, they questioned that as well. God didn’t.

Do you ever think about the humans involved in the nativity story? The living breathing human beings that allowed themselves to be ridiculed, judged, misunderstood, and turned away?? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable surrounded by animals. It didn’t matter where He was born. His delivery would deliver His people regardless. God, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the angels, and the wise men all knew that. Soon, the world would know. But now, imagine with me the people in this story that allowed their lives to be truly turned upside down for His Glory alone.

As a mother myself, I imagine Mary rocking her new baby to sleep and wondering “why God, why me?” I’m sure most mothers can relate to this feeling. but this story takes it to a whole new level. How could You entrust Him (Your Son) to my care? As the song goes…”Mary did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered , will soon deliver you.” Our kids have a way of doing that…..they readjust our priorities, they drive us to our knees, they change us. Their innocence is enough to make us crave ours again. Their curiosity arouses ours. Their answers teach us new insights. We never think we are ready, yet God entrusts us to more than we can comprehend.

It comforts me to know that questions are normal, they make and keep us human. God’s favor is not dependent on perfection, only willingness. His overwhelming love imparts obedience. If Mary hadn’t trusted God’s love for her and desired to please Him more than anyone else, the angel’s message would have sounded like a nightmare. Why would I do that, Lord? Why on earth would You put me through that? Instead her response was I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true. Luke 1:38

It was for His Glory, not hers. She found favor in His eyes. The rest, as they say, is history…..