Why??

Even Jesus asked “Why.” He already knew the answer. He knew what He was doing. He knew what His Father was doing. He knew the job He came to accomplish. But, in His humanness and despair, He cried out..”Why?” Can you relate? Obviously, so can He.

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, WHY have you forsaken me?”). Matthew 27:46 (NIV)

Jesus knew His purpose. By the time he was twelve, He was “about His father’s business.” (Luke 2:49) He pleaded for the cup to pass the night before, if it all possible, but went forward all knowing, all merciful, and all powerful for the “joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). Joy? He wasn’t looking forward to it. He dreaded it, but the outcome was His joy and His why.

He knew that He would be the ultimate sacrifice. Our ultimate sacrifice. He endured and allowed the emotional pain and physical agony of the cross, for us. “Us” being His joy. We are why He did what He did. Being with us forever was worth it to Him to take on every sin, abandonment from His Father, be beaten, spat on, made fun of, and killed a tortuous death. He was forsaken so that we never would be. He took the hit. The pain of the forsaking (separation) ultimately pushed out the question. He could no longer contain it, even though He knew it. Even Jesus with a “Why, Lord?!”

If He did this for us, He should be our joy. Then and now, we are still His. We should relish in His love for us. Accept His forgiveness. Lean on Him in our trials and praise Him for His presence. Share His life and sacrifice with others. Point others to Him when hurt by church people, work people, family people, people. People proclaiming His name sometimes cause the most hurt. That’s not Him, that’s them.

So, when we ask “Why”, let us remember that even our Savior did. He cried out “Why” to a question He already knew. In His pain and literal darkness, He cried out “Why?”

He was sinless, so we are not wrong to ask this question. We are humans with many questions. May our “whys” be followed with a remembrance that it is also finished. After His why, He also cried this out. “It is finished” and died. All of our questions will one day be wrapped up in Him. He is the answer.

He did not come to hurt, condemn, or look down on people. He came to speak and live truth, teach, heal, be an example of God’s love, die, be raised again, and claim the victory….for us.

May our “whys” point to Him. May we point others with “whys” to Him. May, our “I just don’t know, but one day we wills” be a source of hope and point to the One who cried out the same exact question knowing full well the answer. The answer to His “why” was why He did it. We are His why.

May we always remember that Jesus comes to us in our hurts and empathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). He also knows suffering personally. His “why” was proof of that. It was in His worse suffering that even He asked the question we so often do and our ultimate sacrifice made complete because of it.

You are not alone.

 

 

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Because He Died For Me…

Because He died for me, I will live for Him. I have placed Him into each and every hurt I have…May my story, my life, reflect Him. May the difficulties with relationships, misunderstandings, child sharing, child raising, financial issues, family issues, point to Him in my life.

May I never be a stumbling block, but an example of a heart willing to do anything for Jesus, because of what He did for me. May people look back one day and think “I know she loved Jesus” and may everything else fall to the wayside.

May the tears we shed reflect hearts that hurt, not hearts that want to hurt others. May the chaos fade and the coasts clear. May my girls and friends and family know that peace and love is all I’ve ever wanted to give.

May I lift up His cross every day of my life.

Oh, how He loves you and me, Oh how He loves you and me. He gave his life, what more could he give?
Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

God builds us up to send us out.

It’s only in the stories that hurt that we can experience His comfort. Have you ever listened to someone share their story and think “How on earth could someone have to go through that much on this earth”? These are the stories that glorify Him most. Because, “if THEY can lean into God through THAT, surely I should be able to.” He comforts us to send us out and comfort others.

He corrects, teaches, and shares wisdom for our own healing and then to share with our children and others. May we learn something from others so that we don’t have to experience everything first hand.

It’s the hard stuff in our lives that is most likely to impart wisdom or recklessness. Anger can wreak havoc on our lives and loved ones. Are you asking for strength, His power to forgive, wisdom?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (NIV)

That’s a promise! It WILL be given to you.

When we feel the full expression of God’s forgiveness for ourselves, we can’t help but offer it to others. When He corrects us, someone else needs to hear.  When He changes our desires, it’s to align us with His will.  When we choose to love anyway and in spite of, it’s because of Him. If it’s HIS love that helped you, it’s HIS love you will share.

God builds us up to send us out.

The way He has worked in your life, the courage He has summoned in you, the ways He has renewed your mind, the healing from that specific brokenness, the relationships He has replaced, the hearts you can touch, all come from your specific story. Each one of ours is different and I would LOVE to hear yours…

He meets us right where we are so that we can assure the next person that He will too. Our God LONGS for us.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)

In each of your hard places, God has a special purpose. When our faith is tested, it is also strengthened. And, it is strengthened for a reason. Through Christ, we could be used to break a generational cycle, reach others across the globe, touch a heart across the cubicle or our own table, raise a warrior for Christ…all and only through Him. (Philippians 4:13) Who knows how He’ll use you?  That’s part of the adventure. No matter what, giving Him the glory, regardless of the outcome, turns our ashes to beauty.

He doesn’t need us to accomplish His plan, but what an honor to be used in any way, shape, or form for His purposes. This is His desire for us. To turn our lives into living testimonies. Your story may seem too ugly to share, but check your return address…There’s a place with your name on it.

There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am. John 14:2-3 (GNT)

Signed with the blood of Jesus, Sealed with His love, and Delivered into His arms…

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.

 

When Following Him Looks Different…

Over the years, I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of people who were shunned for their marriage issues, the smell of smoke, food choices, Sabbath activities, church attire, accidents, and cover-ups never to return again. From a church, a Bible study, a family get together, a school. Feeling unloved, judged, unacceptable, rejected….the polar opposite of how Jesus would have treated them.

Here are a few questions that come to mind…How do you love your neighbor? What about the one who believes differently than you? Do you believe Jesus died for them? Do you believe your rules will save you? Do you believe Jesus wants you both? Do you think your actions or lack thereof will save you? Are you leaning into Jesus and His love for others?

In our church, when we hear the word “obedience” we (I) tend to immediately think of the Sabbath. Like anyone who is not honoring the seventh day Sabbath is being disobedient to God. What if they find Jesus elsewhere? What about judging that person? Isn’t that disobedient? What if God is calling you to forgive and you just refuse? What if you covet someone’s marriage or singleness? Or He’s calling you to love your enemies and you just can’t go there…Isn’t that disobedient? We ALL fall short (Romans 3:23), and there’s no shortage of ways to do it.

Just like we may judge someone by the color of their skin, clothes, neighborhood, food choices, jewelry, or even hairstyle, we judge by the church they attend. I met the love of Jesus outside of my home church and have returned to share what I learned from those who do not go there. Praise His name, since I’ve returned, I’ve found more and more people hungry for this love.

We all need more Jesus.

I love the Sabbath, I came back for it. But, do we worship the Sabbath or do we worship Him? As humans, we tend to worship creations over the Creator. We want something tangible to hang on to. Like our children, marriages, friends, careers, accomplishments, even doctrine. Anything to feel like we’ve got what we need. I have been guilty of this for sure. What we need most is Jesus. The rest are gifts given BY Him to raise, enjoy, love, and study, but not to exalt higher than their Creator.

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath day was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath day. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Mark 2:27-28 (NIRV)

I feel like if He was sitting in my living room, He would say “following Me doesn’t mean doing things the way they’ve always been done, just because”. There are so many Adventists who worship the day that sets us apart over the One who died to do so. I think this hurts His heart. I can also hear Him saying, “I don’t want you worshipping the day I made any more than the animals I made. Worship the One who made them.” When Jesus comes first, how we treat and love others (all others) is evident. I mean, how would Jesus treat that particular person?

Would you flat refuse to set foot in church on a Sunday to worship our God in heaven with others? If so, what does that mean? Who are YOU worshipping? Do you think Jesus would be more likely to flip tables over in a church of people worshipping on the “wrong day” or people worshipping the day over Him? He knows our hearts and why we do what we do. Think about how public worship is an honor and a privilege that many in this world aren’t allowed to do on ANY day…

On my death bed, as much as I hope my girls are ingrained with a reverence and knowledge of the Sabbath, my ultimate goal is that they find and cling to Jesus for themselves. No matter how, why, or where they find Him, my deepest desire is that they do. God works in mysterious ways. His thoughts and ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is bigger.

May they sense the joy, freedom, and strength in Christ over the shame, fear, and insecurity of ANY religion that lacks unconditional love. Because, God IS love. In the last days, God will call His people out. Leave conviction to the One they have a relationship with. If that relationship is solid, they will hear His voice.

John 10:27-30 says  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.The Father and I are one.”

I claim this! I pray personal relationship into my girls’ lives, that is my deepest desire, because when that’s in place, they WILL hear His voice and no one can snatch them from His hand. No one. Nothing.

Search my heart, Lord. Correct me where I’m wrong and may my heart be and stay ever closer to You.

 

I Hope You Dance….

This is how Mama dances…

Co-parenting is hard. When both parents want the kids all the time. When both parents want to be involved and at every milestone. Switching weekends and sharing holidays, scheduling trips, and forgetting clothes. When one parent doesn’t like the school choice of a parent or the new relationship of the other. When both parents want their kids in different activities. When both parents have different priorities and dreams for their children. When they attend different churches or one stops going altogether. When both parents care deeply for the kids but one couldn’t care less about the other parents feelings. When both parents….tug of war.

Parenting is hard enough….

My girls dad and stepmom have a more flexible work schedule than I do. Girls asked, so they signed them up for dance lessons. Not just dance class, but multiple classes, even elite companies and competitions. Lots of money and lots of time go into this.  A lot of “my time” with the girls is affected by their dance schedules now. But, theirs is too. Lord, help me. They pay for it and they make sure they get there (since I’m working when most of the classes start).

I can’t help but feel out of the loop, it’s more their thing than our thing. For me to nix it altogether just because I could or because I want them in different activities doesn’t seem fair either. Girls would wonder why?? So, I do my best to support, but it’s hard and it hurts.

Their dance schedules have taken over our lives. Four nights a week and weekends. It just feels like too much. I don’t like it when they miss church for it, I don’t like it when they miss school functions for it, and I don’t like that they aren’t on school teams because of it.

Once again, I feel held hostage by what he wants to do. I also feel like they’re missing out on other things and overextended. But, then I go and I watch them dance. I see the passion in my oldest’s eyes when she does. I see the improvement, confidence, posture, and elegance. She prays about dance. She wants to go to class, she wants to succeed, she wants to keep dancing. How could I deny that? So, I will say “thank you”. Thank you that they even have the opportunity. Because if it were just me, they wouldn’t. This isn’t easy, ya’ll.

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure co-parenting lately. It’s stressful. Honestly, I have felt more pushed around than primary custodian because of all this. I feel like if this were my idea, I would get an earth shattering “No” from him. But, because it’s his or hers, it’s expected for me to go along with it. I’m not telling them what’s happening, they are telling me. None of this is easy.

I’m sure many of my issues with dance go back to my childhood. Dance was a “no no” growing up, in all forms. Of course, I wanted to. I think about how I have always loved to dance with a pure heart. I think about how beautiful a first dance is and how sweet a father/daughter dance would have been. I also think about how David danced before the Lord. I think about the athleticism involved, the artistry, creativity, and the outlet for expressing emotion. I think about the good things…but still worry about so much.

Once again, I struggle with what people will think and which battles to pick. But, Jesus says, “Look at Me”. In all things, all these hard and new things, I will look to Him and ask Him to calm my anxious mind and thoughts and trust that He is working. I think I will look back one day and say “Thank the Lord they danced.” May they never feel the shame associated with it that I did.

I pray for protection for my babies, their dreams, and their hearts for Him. That they flourish and that they dance to His glory. Meanwhile, I will go to every competition, recital, and performance I possibly can. The alternative would be to miss out on something they’ve grown to love, are talented at, and have a heart for. I thank God for their health and legs that can leap and plié and point. I pray that His will be done in their lives and that His grace abounds in mine. Because, I need it. Lots of it.

He knows my heart. He alone knows and holds theirs….

To my girls, I’d like to finish this by sharing a song that has always brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, because it’s beautiful and true. I mean this from the bottom of my heart…. Whether it’s writing, drawing, singing, playing, going on that adventure, staying close to home, or twirling in your tutu….I hope in whatever form it comes, when you get the chance to sit it out or dance….please dance.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance….” — Lee Ann Womack

When All Else Fails….

When the phone call is not returned. When you’ve reached out multiple times. When your plans fail. Whatever it may be. When you’ve done all that you can do…

We blame ourselves, take criticism to heart, seek to please the unappeasable, wear ourselves thin, burn candles at all ends, over plan, over apologize, overwhelm, and over think. We fear rejection and seek comfort. We wonder why we’re left out and then isolate because of it. We filter our words for fear of abandonment. We worry about the future and squirm over the past.

Can we seek God’s love in the midst? Can we share openly when each one of these come to knock on the door of our hearts and ask Him to answer it? Can we ask Him to usher it out when, even thought we hate to, we swing the door wide open. In our humanness and struggles is where we discover and swim in God’s grace the best.

Maybe it’s not a habit that holds you captive, but a deep sadness. A relentless fear. An insatiable need for control or perfection. An insecurity from childhood. A difficult parent or the loss of a child. A regret. Maybe it’s not what you’ve done, but what you’re scared you may do. Let God in and share. Let THIS be the gateway for relationship. Let THIS be where your intimacy grows with your personal Savior. Let THIS hard painful thorn usher in the beauty of Jesus. Not my Jesus, but yours.

And each time it rears its ugly head, claim His precious Name. He died for this. He died for you. And He died to bring you an eternity of peace from it soon and very soon. Let THIS keep you homesick for heaven. Let THIS be used to the glory of God in your life. Let THIS be what brings you closer than you’ve ever been to the One who made you, claims you, and redeemed you.

If THIS is what brings you to your knees (emotionally, physically, mentally), let it be in front of the cross. Because THIS is why He did what He did…for you.

Because when all else fails…Love never will. (1 Corinthians 13:8)