When God is Gentle, Even When He Shouldn’t Be

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I’m sharing over at Be Still Be Free today, in our new blog linkups! Hop on over to read and link up!

It was one of the darkest times of my life, and yet I drove there and parked the car and walked in the front door. It was our weekly prayer group. A motley crew of five to eight of us who would barge through the front door and drop everything a heap right there in the doorway — our junk, our sin, our issues and our unrealized dreams — and we’d slide into a chair and heave a sigh.

We were safe there. No questions ever asked, no judgments ever given. Just prayer and love and Jesus.

Always Jesus.

It was the always Jesus that drove my car there that night and it was the always Jesus that parked the car and it was the always Jesus that got me through the front door.

It was one of the darkest times of my life. Have I mentioned that? It’s always dark — almost pitch black — when you’re standing in the bottom of a very deep pit…even if it’s a pit of your own digging in which you almost gleefully, almost excitedly dive in head-first.

Dark. Very dark, indeed.

Sitting at the bottom of this pit I could see light, but it was faint and distant. I could see the difference between where I was and where I should be and tried clawing my way out day after day, but could never seem to get a firm footing. The dirt would crumple in my fingers and my toes would slide right back to the bottom.

I never shared about this pit with anyone. I lived in fear of what others would think of me…lived in defiance to the judgment I knew I deserved but hadn’t yet received. I memorized speeches justifying all of it and placing the blame everywhere except on me.

So I hid. I literally and figuratively hid. I still attended church and Bible Study and my little prayer group…but I hid in the back row, and hid behind odd clothing, and hid behind strange behaviors and speech.

And I thought I was doing a bang-up job with my hiding. I really did. I think I even convinced myself that I was fooling God.

Until that night. That night when always Jesus drove me and parked me and ushered me through the front door of prayer group.

During a silent prayer time, each of us huddled with our journals and Bibles and pens, eyes closed and just being still and listening to God, a note was passed over to me. It was from a girl who wasn’t a regular, who knew absolutely nothing about me or my pit.

I quietly opened the note . . . Click over to BE to finish reading!

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When Desperation Drives You to Finally ASK

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EVIDENTLY, this is my personal website. As in, MINE. ALL MINE.

Yet I’ve been so utterly and completely focused on Be Still Be Free that I’ve let this poor little site wither like a grape. And now we’re past raisin stage and into full-on petrification.

And I know I pop in over here from time-to-time and declare no more! I’m back and I’m committed! And then the empty words ring hollow and leave a mighty echo.

[Echo…]

[Echo…]

I have no strategy, plan or even shred of determination to rectify this, sadly. But here I am again…popping in to declare I’m back! For now! And to let you know I’m sharing over at BE today as we wrap up our series Be Bold and Conquer.

Here’s a brief peek:

She was a guest speaker at our Bible Study…an elegant woman with empathetic eyes and graceful demeanor, and a southern accent that lilted words and softened the convictions that always came as she spoke the truth. Plainly.
She words were full of authority and grace, with understanding and yearning. I sat mesmerized and unable to blink as she shared about Jesus – her Jesus – and how He changed her. Utterly and completely changed her.
For the next several days I struggled to stand as my weary bones carried my heavy heart. As I’d shuffle along throughout each day, she’d appear in my thoughts, blowing across my mind like a refreshing breeze. I needed something…that much I knew – and one day I suddenly realized I needed her.
On an it’s-almost-fall morning, with a cup of coffee in my hands, I found her number and called her. I stumbled over my words until I could coherently state,
I need a mentor. I desperately and immediately need a mentor.
Okay, she replied with that southern lilt and graceful demeanor. Let’s meet for lunch and we’ll see what God says about this.
Over squash soufflé and sweet tea with extra ice, she told me she’d been praying and that God nodded Yes, you should mentor this lost and desperate girl (although maybe I imagined the last part). And we developed a schedule and a plan and a list of things I needed guidance with.
She left with a very, very long list.

To continue reading, just click here! And I’m looking forward to seeing you back here in oh, I dunno…maybe another three months or so?

In the meantime, I would LOVE to see you over at BE. It is my heartbeat and favorite place, and I think you’d really, really love it.

Love you, friends!

A Beautiful Life: Wrap-Up

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He runs with his whole self — arms pumping and knees high and it’s full body engagement, all the way down to his toes, his running.

Her limbs keep growing — long and lanky. Legs keep her grounded and confident and arms emphasize the truth she speaks when it counts the most. They don’t stop growing, those arms and legs.

They climb the leafless tree into their self-proclaimed fort. She’s the mom and he’s catching the bad guys. They hop over the babbling stream and look for tadpoles, although I suspect it’s a tad early. Her shoes have been come off and the water tickles her toes. She squeals in delight.

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He must catch up to her — though he’s four, he’s almost as strong and fast as she is (in his mind) and trails just steps behind. He plays anything she requests for the sheer pleasure of being with her, but I suspect it won’t be long before he starts demanding his own way.

These trees are still bare and the sunlight filters through gently, casting long, sinewy shadows just like her limbs. In a blink the leaves will appear then disappear again and she’ll be old enough to leave…long shadows of those arms and legs resting in her wake.

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I didn’t plan to take this time today…to press pause on my to-dos and come to this meadow — our Eden — to play. I didn’t plan to be still on the large rock and lay back to feel the sun on my face, hear the babbling of the steam and be lulled into a peaceful surrender by the breeze.

I didn’t plan on watching them age before my very eyes and be moved to tears by their laughter. I didn’t plan to notice with excruciating detail how quickly they’re growing up. I didn’t plan on any of it.

My plans included a bullet pointed list anxiously waiting to be slayed — a dinner to be prepared, a laundry basket to unload, a work project to complete. And, and, and.

But He directed my steps today. I chose to walk with Him and he led me on a more important path, and it led to this beautiful moment.

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Here on this rock, despite my stress and worry, I found pleasure never-ending in the sound of little footsteps and pebbles tossed into the stream. Here on this rock, I found true joy in the laughter of fighting bad guys and playing tag. I found contentment and that supernatural way time can stand still when you are.

Here, on this Rock.

I didn’t plan any of this today, but He did.

My cup overflows.

You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life.
As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending,
and I know true joy and contentment. (Psalm 16:11)

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I hope you’ve been blessed by this series, and I pray the varying voices of the guest writers has left a melodic symphony playing across your heart. But most importantly, I pray you’ve been encouraged to Tharseo — to be of good courage and good cheer — simply you are free. Click here to read the rest of the series — posts by bloggers I adore with my whole heart.

Watercolor hearts photo ©iStock.com/beastfromeast (modified by Elevate Ideas)

Be Healthy Part 2: Podcast

 

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This week, we’re continuing our discussion on what it means to BE HEALTHY in mind, body and soul.

Last week we talked about emotional health, and this week, we’re exploring how emotional, spiritual and physical health all tie in together. We’ve got the podcast to download or listen to, printables, practical applications and additional resources as well.

It’s incredibly awesome, because our friend and special guest Tracy Hurst (licensed professional counselor, author and speaker) has profound wisdom in this area.

You don’t want to miss it…I promise you!

So hop on over to this week’s post at my other home, Be Still Be Free and check it out.

Here’s to good health, my friends!

Being Trees

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The neighbors are up this weekend and their fire wafts the eighth of a mile from their chimney to this porch. It’s twilight and the sun is retreating and the onset of night sends its milky blue haze over the leafless trees, and somewhere off in the distance is the gentle hum of a motor…soft and almost indiscernable. The clouds cover all the sky…except for a thick band across the mountaintops that is peachy…no, purpley…now it’s almost gone.

This is a magic moment, a holy one.

My husband is driving home and my daughter is cleaning her room and my boy is curled up on my bed with a slight fever. It’s just me out here on this porch marveling at the thick band of sunset that dances on the mountaintops.

I’m struck again at the beauty of the empty trees — trees that bear no leaves, no evidence of their fruitfulness. Just twisted trunks and spindly limbs intertwining in a stunning silhouette against a milky blue sky. As I sit and listen to the distant hum and watch the sun fade, the stillness of the emptiness is achingly beautiful.

I only see these mountaintops in the winter — when the leaves have fallen into soft piles at my feet. I only see these mountaintops and this thick band of sunset when the limbs stop trying to hang onto that which needs to fall. And through the twisted and spindly silhouette, I see majesty and beauty and am in awe.

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The ashes at my feet have been replaced with a crown of beauty on the mountaintops — bigger and grander than the leaves the trees themselves bore the rest of the year.

This stillness — here on this porch, watching this sunset through these silhouettes — this stillness is deafening. Not the silence, but the stillness. There is no breeze, no wind. No leaves raining down like snow as it has most other days. Just tall, stoic, empty and bare trees that almost seem to be afraid to breathe for fear that something else will be taken from them…they feel poured out.

I think we’re the trees, yet we’re trying to be the mountaintops. I think we try to be majestic and beautiful and awe-inspiring for God, when we’re really supposed to be twisted and spindly and empty…so that through us others can see. I think we mourn the falling of our own leaves and fruit — but yet when they’re gone, it allows God to be seen through our silhouette. We’re evidence of creation, but we wave our leaves and obstruct the view of the Creator Himself.

I think we’re the trees.

Winter creeps in and whisks everything off limbs and we feel poured out. We feel poured out and empty and we hold our breath for fear that something else will be taken from us. We stubbornly grasp at single leaves that remain on our spindly limbs, unwilling to let the gentle breeze of the Spirit blow it off so new growth will soon come.

We try to be mountaintops; I don’t want to be a mountaintop anymore.

This stillness is deafening. The stillness of stopping and grabbing The Moment that’s been extended out to you unexpectedly — the one that crops up when your daughter is cleaning her room and your boy is curled up on your bed with a slight fever. The stillness of seeing the beauty in the bare, seeing through the bare and off into the distance.

It’s deafening.

Because when you stop to listen in the stillness, God’s presence is so thick you can’t hear anything but majesty and beauty and awe.

It is a magic moment, a holy one.

We are the trees.