In Your Heart

It’s not in your day job or side gig. Your credentials or diplomas. It’s not in your trophies or alma maters. It’s not in your bank account or retirement account. It’s not in your likes or followers. It’s not in the concerts you attend or the books that you read. It’s not in the movies that you watch or the instruments that you play. It’s not in the spouse that you have or the child that you raise. It’s not in the school you attend or choir you join. It’s not in your social status or relationship status. It’s not in the car you drive or the boat you own…

It’s not in your parents choices or your grandparents wishes. It’s not in your past heartaches or future concerns.  It’s not in your mistakes, accomplishments, regrets, or failures. It’s not in your report cards or paychecks.

It’s in your heart.

The decision each one of us makes day after day as to whom we will serve, lean on, and trust is our own. Your spouse can’t make it. Your parents can’t make it. They may try, but they can’t. As a parent myself now, this is terrifying, but I turn this over. Over and over. My kids will make their own choices. As will I. As will you.

To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul may look different to people. It may lead to choices others may not make. He gives us different gifts, passions, and paths. When we ask Him to lead, our lives may take directions we’d never choose on our own. But, the beauty before us is a life lived trusting Him. Let God be your guide.

We find Him in our trials, we help others with what we’ve learned, and we choose Him day after day. In the ups and the downs, we have faith He is with us. And, it’s in THIS faith, that our strength is found. Our callings may be every bit as different as the circumstances we face. But, pointing to the same God, brings us together in one accord.

Brothers and sisters. Hearts to hearts. Trials to trials. Victories to victories. Peace and strength abounds. In one name. The name of Jesus.

 

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A Time for Everything…

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I woke up with a beautiful breakthrough from God this morning. There is a time for everything under heaven. There is a time to struggle and a time rest. A time to share and a time to keep. A time to give and a time to receive. A time to sleep and a time to wake. There is a time for change and a time to accept our humanness. A time to teach and a time to learn. A time to seek approval and a time to act. A time to hold on and a time to let go. A time for spiritual warfare and a time to just be held in God’s arms of grace. A time for strength and a time for weakness. His grace is sufficient.

Jesus died for us because He knew we couldn’t live a perfect life like He did. He knew our limitations. He knows every struggle and temptation we face, and knew we would fall short. We all fall short. He died to cover us. His love is enough. His love allows us to admit failure, weakness, and imperfection. We are all saved by the grace of God alone. We have never been nor will ever be perfect, only perfectly loved. In our struggle to be obedient, we can lose sight of His grace and why He died for us to begin with.

When I find myself struggling with imperfection and worry, I need to remember this. I am perfectly loved by my Heavenly Father exactly as I am today, tomorrow, and I always have been. Weaknesses and all.

This morning I have a smile on my face and peace in my heart because of His sacrifice, not my own. Not because of what I’ve done or will do, but because of what He’s already done for me. Because He knows my struggles, desires, and needs even more than I do. Because I’m loved no matter what. This is not my war to win. He’s already won it.

There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance with joy. There is a time to throw weapons down and a time to pick them up. There is a time to hug someone and a time to stop holding so tightly. There is a time to look for something and a time to consider it lost. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away. There is a time to tear cloth and a time to sew it. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:4-8 (ERV)

Amidst all our seasons in life, it is ALWAYS a good time to rest in God’s love and grace. We can’t earn it, only receive and be thankful for it. Thank God for such a time as this….

My Babies…

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Feeling overwhelmed with love for my girls tonight…My oldest is 9 and just started 4th grade. She is smart, strong willed, and so brave. My youngest is 4 and just started full time PreK. She is sensitive, thoughtful, and so thankful. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They are happy girls. Watching them walk into school in their uniforms and backpacks gets me every time. Kissing them goodnight gets me every time. Seeing their sleepy bedheads in the morning gets me every time.

My babies:

  • Bring me deep joy
  • Make me want to be a better person
  • Hold my heart
  • Have pushed me to Jesus
  • Drive me crazy
  • Love me like crazy
  • Need me
  • Pulled strength out of me like I’ve never had
  • Induced love like I’ve never known
  • Will always be my babies

Beauty in the Struggle…

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Have you struggled?  Have you wondered if a lack of peace means you’re headed in the wrong direction? Have you wondered if the struggle is because of disobedience or God prompting you to change directions? Does the confusion get the best of you? It has for me. Why is it that when we pray a mighty prayer, make our requests so big that only God could deliver them, wait, wonder if it’s even possible, then actually receive it, that we still struggle? Why is that? Because we are human beings with mere human hearts and minds that have a hard time comprehending what is meant for us, what is best for us.

Have you ever heard, “Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it!” As soon as it arrives, our hearts are frightened and we feel like we’re not ready. If we weren’t ready, why would God drop this in our lap? Something only He could know we wanted. Something straight out of the deepest desires of our heart. Yet, we don’t feel ready. We don’t jump in with joy and excitement and praise His name, like a child would. Nope, we worry. We wonder if it’s right. We wonder if it’s real. We wonder if it’s finally here. And we wonder what to do with it. We pray for discernment, for peace, for direction…for truth.

Have you considered that the struggle may be because you ARE heading in the right direction? We tend to think that once our miracle arrives, it will be smooth sailing, but God has another thing in mind. How else would He keep us dependent?  How else would He keep us humble? By reminding us we can’t do it alone. By reminding us that getting our prayers answered doesn’t mean everything will be easy, but it will be different. With new territory, there will be new issues to deal with and problems to face. This allows us to praise Him while remaining completely dependent. When we feel incompetent to handle our blessing, He is STILL ever present.

Whether it’s a new relationship or an ended one, an unexpected baby or a long-awaited one. Whether it’s your dream job or an opportunity that you’ve waited and prayed so long for, there will be issues. New ones. I’m so thankful that God loves me enough to struggle with me. When my soul desire is to do His will, it means I love Him enough to struggle too. I’d rather struggle with God than silence or deny Him in my heart.

One thing’s for sure, just like Jacob struggled with God, we won’t come out the same. We’ll come out closer, changed, and with a limp that keeps us dependent and reminded of God’s sovereignty in our lives . The people who have stayed by our sides in our struggles will always hold a close place in our hearts. Likewise, when we struggle with God, we come out closer and ever more certain of His love for us. There is beauty in the struggle.

 

He Touched Me

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I believe God touches us so that we can touch others. My relationship with God has come more and more to the forefront of my life from the time I had my first daughter to now. He has moved to the top spot in my life because I’ve relied on Him so much. He’s been tender, patient, and authoritative in my life and I have been receptive. I needed to be. I knew I needed Him, there was no other way.

I am also so thankful I learned who God is to ME. It took a personal encounter with Him to change my heart forever. He touched me in the midst of my brokenness, literally. I felt Him wrap His presence around me lying in bed one night after silently crying out to Him. I asked Him to wrap His arms around me and He did. In that moment, no one else would or could. With His touch, He reaffirmed His love for me. I will never forget it and I will share it with anyone who will listen. He is real. He is with us. He hears us. He protects us. And, He speaks our personal love language.

I know, in my head, that He’s been with me my whole life. I just didn’t pay much attention. My relationship with Him didn’t alter or affect the choices that I made. It wasn’t until I had daughters of my own and the pain of a husband’s rejection that my eyes were opened to His relentless love. Now, my knowledge of Him has moved to my heart and I pray that He always stays right there. His touch changed me.

I would never want to go back to the “old me” who lived unaware, unobservant, and unappreciative of His love. The “new me” wants to comfort and encourage others, longs to be in His presence, and wants to conquer fear in His name. I just want to do what He wants me to do….and that brings me true joy. I want to because of what He’s done for me.

He didn’t just die for me, He touched me when I needed it the most.

 

 

What More Can I Give?

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I was thinking today about how Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, and so much more. God gave us the most lavish gift of sacrifice and salvation when He gave us His son. Jesus willingly became human in our broken world so that we could live with Him forever in His perfect one. He set the bar. Now, that’s a gift!! What more can I give?

When we buy for our loved ones, we try to think about what they would like personally. Some prefer experiences, others food, some sparkly things in little boxes, dolls that walk or talk, or trucks that dump and demolish. My girls asked for Legos and walkie-talkies this year. Bingo! Makes it easy to shop when there’s a list.

But, what can I give Jesus? Does He have a Christmas list? If so, what would be on it? Let’s not forget to give to the true Reason for the Season. I think near the top of Jesus’s Christmas list would be our TRUST, our TIME, and to TELL others about Him and what He’s done for us. Trust, time, tell. These are treasures in all of our relationships. It takes faith to trust, dedication to spend time, and courage to tell others. It’s no different in our personal relationship with Jesus. He doesn’t need us, He wants us. He chose us. He died for us. So, what more can I give?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

God’s gift of His Son was the greatest gift we have ever or will ever receive. The ultimate treasure. What are we holding on to? That is our treasure. What are we holding back? That is our treasure and that is what He wants. Our hearts are naturally stubborn and scared. But, God’s presence in our lives will transform our hearts. He loves us right where we are and too much to leave us there. His presence will prompt us to follow Him and fight our fears rather than succumb to them.

Trust. Time. Tell. Treasure……My heart. What more can I give you, Jesus? Thank You for the best gift ever. You.

Guard Your Heart

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I have an interesting career. I look at people’s hearts all day using ultrasound. Just like any job, it can get monotonous after 14 years, but today I’m reminded of how interesting it really is. We check the heart function of every patient by assessing their ejection fraction. A heart’s normal ejection fraction is about 65%. When we come across a patient with a 5-10% ejection fraction, their heart is barely squeezing. Sometimes their heart function is so weak, I catch myself looking over to make sure they are still breathing even though I just walked with them from the lobby to my lab to run the test. It’s truly amazing that the body can still function with a heart that is barely squeezing. But, it happens, and our doctors treat it all the time.

One thing I have noticed over the years is that my sickest patients also tend to be the most kind, gracious, and patient people. Not always, but most of the time. Maybe because they know they are sick, maybe because they are grateful for the healthcare, maybe because they have adjusted their priorities, or maybe because they’ve made peace with themselves and others. It’s very interesting to me that the people with the “broken” hearts that barely squeeze can touch our hearts and spirits in such a tender way. We listen and pay more attention when we see how poorly their hearts are functioning. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could “see” how people’s hearts have been broken, betrayed, rejected, mended, or even revived in our daily lives? Maybe that’s why we pay more attention when we know what someone has been through and what their story is. Everyone has a story.

I can personally visualize a person’s heart function with my ultrasound machine any day. But, I can’t “see” what that heart has been through. Our hearts are physically and spiritually our most prized possessions and worthy of the utmost protection.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

I work with some extremely intelligent doctors who can treat your heart if it needs physical healing, but I know that God is the ultimate healer. He alone is the great physician and heart surgeon. Let Him hold and heal your heart. Trust Him when people come and go from your life (because they will) and remember that He’s not going anywhere (because He won’t). He created and designed our hearts, that alone makes them worthy of protection.