signs

There will always be signs telling you the way in which to go or how things are.

This way, that way, even signs leading to harm, or death.

There are signs the earth leaves behind as it groans for relief from the stress we placed upon it:
natural disasters & their aftermath
habitat changes
animal extinction
environmental shifts in weather & seasons

The signs that humanity is not satisfied with what it has, and wants more:
wars
slavery
debt
markets crashes
pillaging
theft
rape
slaughter
exodus to a new land

Signs closer to home, reminding us of the chaos outside, and sometimes inside our homes, communities, cities:

Sale signs
Traffic signs
Construction signs
Street signs
Voting signs
Signs of broken homes
Looking for work signs
Signs looking for help
Ads for the newest flavored need to own

Just because we see the signs doesn’t mean we are to follow them.

We may be like sheep, but we have a shepherd who is leading us on a straight and narrow path with confidence and purpose.

The signs there is a hurting world out there needing a loving hand to bind its hurt, and a living Savior to heal its brokenness, is part of our mandate.

Helping the orphans, feeding the poor, praying for the sick, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, loving the lonely. (Matthew 25:31-46)

This is the sign that Jesus is in us, in our midst:
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Our appearance will never shine anywhere near the voltage of Jesus shining through our actions.

The signs we are to look for?

Not the ones the world is shouting out to our ears & eyes, but the still small voice we need to press close to hear, who will prompt us to see the signs He wants us to minister to, as His hands and feet.

So if like me, you are in voting season, looking for work or hiring staff, remember to look for these signs in your candidates/potential workers/bosses:
1. who they are listening to
2. how they speak about others
3. what they stand for

If the answers to these questions reveal selfish, power hungry or disrespectful signs, they are not a person you should be signing over the position to or working under.

Signs to look for:
servanthood
long term commitment
integrity
teachable
humility
investment in the team & community

These are the signs of the Kingdom, whether people know the King over them or not.

These are the signs Jesus wants us to look for, to coax out from within one another, to shine with as He did while He was here in earth.

There will always be chaos, disaster cries, hurting hearts, and loud voices clamoring for attention.

The sign we are His?

Showing His glory through His handiwork to those who don’t yet know Him, but long for His touch inside.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

unfixed

I’m unfixed. And the truth is, that’s where God meets me – in the mess of my life, in the unfixedness, in the brokenness.

Mike Yaconelli

I am broken.
and I know it.

I need putting back together again
from my long fall off the wall
I hid behind for so long.

Parts of me have shattered
almost completely.

It is a major undertaking to proceed
with my reconstruction,
renovation,
being put back together again.

But God, He is up for the task.

You see,
much of what was broken
needed to be smashed
so He can replace the faulty parts
(the old movie reels, the self sufficiency, pride, the desire to be in control)
with updated top of the line ones, that depend on His strength
to fuel them (faith, hope, joy, love, grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, patience)

There was some faulty wiring
needing to be ripped out
so He could reconnect the proper
thought processes
and reattach me to His Spirit
for instant notifications.
They may require quiet and concentration to hear them,
but this part of the rebuild
is critical before the next step.

A new heart.
One that will beat with His heart.
In tune with how He is feeling,
sensing His compassion for those around me,
His love for them, and me.

Open heart surgery that cuts away into our very soul.
Enabling the spirit within, that eternal precious spark in each of His children, to shine through us once again.

This season of brokenness
has been very humbling,
deeply painful,
yet
tremendously hope building
at the same time.

You see,
God isn’t finished with me yet.

His goal is to make me,
shape me,
build me,
put me back together
to be the me He designed me to be.

My goal is to not get in His way,
and give Him free reign.

There is a beauty to be found in allowing God to touch us in these places of brokenness.

Somehow His glory is revealed more clearly when we are broken for His purposes.

The enemy may try to play havoc with your life.

Stop listening to his depressing lies.

God IS in control,
even when you can’t see it.
He will restore,
even when you can’t feel it.
He will never leave you,
even when you can’t sense Him.

If you, like me, are in this period of brokenness beyond anything you can imagine, take comfort in knowing God knows what the end result is He desires to see us become.

He will fix us up,
put us back together again,
and be with us
every step of the way.

We don’t need to fear being broken
when we know God is in control.
His plans will come to pass
in our lives
when we allow Him to be our
strength & guide.

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look up

When I feel low, its usually because I have taken my eyes off of God.

When God is in His proper place, and I acknowledge how big, strong, mighty my God is, I can’t help but look up to Him.

Focusing on the problem makes it block out my view of God. It doesn’t mean God is not in the picture.

I was at a training course, where the teacher shared a part of someone else’s story.  A young man was crying out to God in a drug trip to reveal Himself. All the man saw was a tiny distraction, which led him down a tormented path for years.

When he finally went for healing and freedom, he asked God to reveal where He had been in the room at that exact moment.

God did.  He completely filled the room.

We can miss the bigger picture and how big our God is (as far as our finite minds can grasp an infinite God) when we narrow our focus.

When we limit our vision to what we think we should see, instead of seeing whatever God wants us to see.

Himself, reigning over all, no matter what we see going on around us.

We serve the one and only God, who is seated on His throne:
the Creator of all we can see on our earth, in our universe, and beyond.
the Savior of all people, who has never and will never stop reaching out his arms to them, us.
the Healer of all brokenness and wounds within us.
the Provider of all good gifts
the Guide who shares all wisdom, knowledge and discernment to all who seek and ask
the King who reigns forever and ever
and so much more!!!

In light of who He is, we need to remember He is greater than all we will come across:

The enemy who is being and will be defeated.
Those who hate and harm us.
Painful situations caused by sin & selfishness.
All disease, mental illness & sickness.
Losses and grief.
Broken hearts.

Today, I am reminded anew to lift my eyes up, and keep them focused on God, not how I may be feeling.

I will look up.
I will proclaim God reigns over everything happening in my life.
I will choose to put my hope in the One who gave so much for me.

Its never too late to look up.

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cut

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When words cut deep, anger rises to the surface
as the first line of defense.

Some of us are able to tame it more quickly than others, while some struggle to get it under control.

One thing we all have in common…

We all hurt when words are used as weapons.

Especially when the one throwing them is a loved one.

Someone we trust, pour our hearts out to, live with.

Deep emotions erupt when we are wounded.

I think the deeper the love, the deeper the hurt.

Betrayal doesn’t hurt if you don’t care about the betrayer.

There is one who responded so radically different in a horrible situation, it has mindboggled millions over the years.

In the Garden of Gethsemene, Judas approached Jesus and betrayed him.

Not just for the money he was given to do so, but I suspect he saw Jesus do so much good, he wanted to push Jesus to the next level…force His hand to reveal more of who He is, for the new Kingdom to come in his present.

And instead of being angry…which almost everyone who reads that story for the first time feels…
Jesus acknowledges him.
Without anger.
Lets Judas, one of his closest friends, kiss him on the cheek in a greeting, knowing it will be for the last time.

Jesus’ heart must have been cut to the quick, in a very natural human response.

However, Jesus knew, as He was (and is and always will be) God that Judas would betray Him, and would pay a high price for doing so.

And so chose to show compassion instead of anger.

Sometimes our actions can speak louder than our rage ever could.

The rest of the disciples were confused, surprised and more than a little angry. I love how Peter does what I would imagine any strong able bodied man would do in defense of one he cared for…he sprang into action in attack mode. He tried to harness the anger into action.

Notice how Jesus heals the ear of the man Peter assaulted.

Caring for his enemy even in such a time as when His heart was breaking.

Showing forgiveness instead of anger. Even though He had every right to feel hurt by the one He loved.

Love poured out of His wounds instead of anger.

Anger given over to God will not hinder us from fulfilling our purpose.

The anger we cling onto and refuse to let go of binds us to our wounding, keeping us with open wounds and hurting hearts.

Its time to allow God to heal the wounds earthly love has left behind with His everlasting, good and perfect love.

He wants to drain the infection of anger, bind us up and set us free to become whole.

Will you let Him transform you with His love?
This same love that poured out when He was cut, for you and for me.

out of the dark

All new life comes out of the dark places.

-Ann Voskamp

Out of the hard broken places, hope can spring. If you keep a small nugget alive…like a tiny mustard seed just waiting to germinate.

You see, I know first hand how this is true.

The dark places help illuminate the hidden truth waiting to be found.

Being abandoned helped me know God as faithful.

Being broken led me to discover Him as healer.

Feeling lonely, He met me within, and has never left me since. God is with me.

Scared when facing hard news, He has been my Comfort.

In loss, He has always Provided.

With storms, He is my Anchor, and brings Peace.

Without the opposite to illuminate His quality, I might miss experiencing them first hand.

I am not saying that God sends terrible actions on us just to reveal Himself to us.

Humanity has enough within it to bring on more than enough terrible acts without blaming God for them.

I am saying God is, always has been, and always will be revealing Himself to all of us who are, ever were and ever will be on earth.

His quality, His true character shines for all to see.
His handiwork in the natural world around us is breathtaking.
His skill and depths of creativeness in making each person on earth unique and original is mind blowing.

The fact He keeps radiating love towards us, despite all the yuck and muck we being upon ourselves, the pain and hurt inflicted by others, our shattered dreams and what its…shows just how amazing that love truly is.

Every winter, the earth prepares itself for a hard time. The ground is dark, hard and nor very appealing as the season passes.

The perennial seeds we planted in moments of hope will come to life when the Light, and spring, arrive
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The dark times will move into their place in our distant memory when HiStory steps in, ready and willing to release the new life just waiting for us to invite Him in.

salt

Words are like salt.They can add flavour, melt ice and preserve life, when sprinkled right; or bring sickness when misused.
– Laugh Again Canada tweet
(@laughagainca)

Let your conversation be always full of grace, (as if) seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
-Colossians 4:16 (NIV, brackets mine)

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How salty are your words?

I am not referring to off color or ruse language here, but words that add to the conversation- well chosen, uplifting, encouraging, wise, timely spoken words.

Words that are flavoured with kindness and grace, that can thaw a hard heart.

Words that encourage life and taking steps forward, leaving what needs to be left behind.

Words that are applied, like salt, as needed and with the right touch. Not too heavy, not too light, but just right.

Words that show you actively listen, and sensitively respond in a way that make the hearer know they are valued and respected.

When was the last time you were hurt by an unkind or untimely word? It stings, like salt on an open wound, leaving deep uncomfortable and sometimes unexpected pain behind. Such a word can leave you feeling ill, and off kilter.

When was the last time you spoke that word you wished you could take back? That spoken word that brought tears, divided hearts, left a rift in need of repair?

I remember using words as a defensive weapon when I was in high school, flicking them like a fencing epee to keep others from getting too close and hurting me. It never felt right, but it became a habit I needed to break when I entered the workforce.

I still remember crying over how cruel words and labels were that have been spoken over me, and my regret from wielding mine in a hurtful way.

It takes an awful lot of the right circumstances now to get me to draw out my old failsafe pattern….too little sleep, too little self care, not speaking up often enough about things that are really upsetting me, or someone failing to respect my ‘You shall not pass’ boundary.

As a writer, singer and avid reader, I understand the impacting power of a well chosen word. The power to bless or hurt. The power to encourage or dampen. The power to share love, or hate.

The choice is yours.

We are, however, not alone in this battle. We have a Guide in Holy Spirit, who prompts us on what To say and when to speak when we ask and listen for His direction.

God knows the power of words. His Word is full of them, and His son was a living example of this in the Gospels.

Take a moment, and pause before you speak. Ask God to help you speak as if your words were salt. Words that will add just the right amount of salt to heighten the flavour of the unique ‘dish’ in front of you, without being overpowering.

Use your words with care in such a way you always seek to preserve relationship with whomever you speak with.

Let’s leave careless words in the past, and move forward with kindness, grace and respect. You may be surprised how a carefully chosen a and delivered word can change a life. It could even be yours.

enough

There comes a time when each of us have had enough.

It might be your stress level. Your health. Your inability to sleep. A negative influence. Someone not taking your no as the final answer. A boundary was crossed. Hurtful words hurled your way.

When you’ve had enough, we hit the end of ourselves.

Leaving us with two choices:
Usually an emotional reaction, such as anger, frustration, exhaustion, hurt feelings, depression or regret. These can also show physically, with tense muscles, headaches, upset stomachs, lack of appetite, overeating, insomnia, or illness.

Coming to the end of ourselves usually occurs because you and i fail to see the bigger picture going on beyond ourselves.

The second option when you reach the end of yourself is to take that emotional reaction and plug into God for your need:

Exhausted?
Come rest. Psalm 23

Angry?
Lay it down. Ephesians 4:26

Stressed?
Stop worrying. Matthew 6:25-34

Sick?
Ask for healing. Matthew 4:23

Regret?
Seek forgiveness. 1 John 1:9

Hurt?
Forgive. Matthew 18:21-22

Lonely?
He is with you. Psalm 68:6

In need of comfort? Broken hearted?
He is close. Psalm 34:18
He heals your heart. Psalm 147:3
He loves you. Jeremiah 31:3

In bondage?
He sets the prisoners free.
Isaiah 61:1-3

Need hope?
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 12:15

When we hit the end of us, when we turn to God, we find that His more than enough is more than able to help us move forward.

May you draw close to this God who is so beyond what we can sense in the natural world, tap into His supernatural love and equipping, and find yourself as you do.

Don’t let one circumstance or situation blind you from God waiting to be there for you. Let Him help you stand, and face it together.

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come out of hiding

You were strong enough to survive the real trauma. You’re strong enough to let God bring you through the healing too.

#TheMercifulScar

Many of us wear our trauma like a wrap. Tightly wound, seemingly to protect us from more hurt, wound, pain.

The wrapping instead begins to strangle our emotions, keeping the wounds from healing, slowly sucking the vitality out of our lives.

But you survived.

The other mechanism you used, self protection, was never designed for long term use. It is meant to be used to survive the trauma at hand, and then we need to take the situation to God. For Him to heal us, help us forgive, to find release in speaking the truth, and restore us. To be made whole again, left only with the scars.

Many of us stay in that wrapped protective state way too long, because we fail to recognize the first step.

We cannot be healed until we let go.

As someone who has had her fair, or unfair, share of hard knocks, I get it.

It is hard work unraveling the tight wrapping that has been holding us together.

The freedom, however, on the other side, is so worth it.

If you are tired of staying in that holding place between your wounding and His healing, you must take the step towards God.

Removing your need to control what will happen next in a leap of faith.

His merciful arms are waiting to catch you, hold you up, comfort you, guide you.

Open wounds become scars that fade in their intensity over time once God heals them.

If you survived the wounding, you will survive their healing.

From the loving hands waiting for you to come.

partner with hurt

We get hurt when we partner with the person or thing that is hurting us.

Simplistic in its truth, but jam packed with implications.

We have a choice to make in that split second after we are hurt.

To agree with the hurt, and plant a seed of harm in our soul and heart, ready to deepen and grown into a negative, unholy crop.

Or refuse to partner/agree with it, and offer immediate grace, mercy and forgiveness. Releasing us both to heal, and grow in freedom.

Sounds easy, but it becomes easier the more you practice it.

Like a doctor, the more experience you have, the more health and wholeness you will ideally give your patients.

Patience, grace, mercy, love, peace.

Just a few of the fruits that grow in our garden when we forgive.

The fruit in the Garden of Eden negatively impacted us because Eve and Adam partnered with the snake/enemy.

Join in with what God calls us to.

Walk in forgiveness, just as Jesus did with and for us.

I can’t say it is easier, because feeling justified to feel hurt and pain is very natural to us all.

The inner freedom to not add any more wounding to the load I already carry that I m trying to unload is priceless.

God knew we need less weight, and offers us a way to have Him carry it.

Take Him up on the offer. Partner with grace, and live in more and more freedom as you do.

Fly high with forgiveness and grace.