Church at the Lab

Yesterday a group of precious teen girls and I commiserated about the difficulty of sharing our faith with a world that is easily offended. “I don’t really talk about my faith with my friends at school. I just don’t know how.” One by one, each girl confessed their struggle to share God outside of the church. I, being 30 years older than most of the girls, agreed. It’s a challenge in a world so consumed with the possibility of offending someone.

Walking into the lab this morning, I saw the room filled with people such as myself. Some did not appear ill and others visibly weakened by whatever ailment they had. But, even those who looked healthy, had a story. They were at the lab so a doctor or a team of doctors could meticulously check their blood for any abnormalities. Each person was either entering a trial, in the middle of one, or possibly just coming out of one.

And, right there in that dark lab, God planted one of His saints. God opened my ears to a man who’s vocabulary only included his faith.

“I see a miracle happening here!”

“God’s doing something in you.”

“I think He’s healing you.”

“Oh, it’s going to be good.”

In the cold, sterile, underground lab, I attended church. Along with about 50 other  patients and lab technicians, we heard and saw faith lived out.

business glove health healthcare
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I didn’t receive a church bulletin. But I was definitely welcomed.

There was no group prayer. But prayers were being uttered.

No worship songs were sung. But worship was heard.

No Bible to be seen. But God’s word was being shared.

We were in the Lords house. Simply because one saint chose to live out his faith with every breath, every word spoken, every interaction he faced.

He didn’t speak anything profound or even planned. Yet it was purposeful and prophetic.

He simply included his faith in his everyday life. His faith was his life and there was no hanging it up at the door upon entering his workplace.

I thank God for showing me this saint in the middle of the bleak weariness of the lab. I thank God for the practical example of living out faith.

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1: 22

Seek Him and Brush Your Teeth!

Yesterday I didn’t smile.

Yesterday I didn’t look my girls in the eye.

Yesterday I didn’t brush my teeth until the afternoon.

These confessions glare what kind of day I had yesterday.

Last night, when my youngest daughter asked if we could have our monthly breakfast date in the morning, I said, “No.” Don’t worry, I went on to explain why. I told her about how I had not had my quiet time in the morning and my whole day went downhill from there.

Now, truth be told, it wasn’t just the missing quiet time with the Lord that did me in. It was literally not taking a second to slow down and hear from the Lord all day. He is so good to me. When I slow down, and seek Him, He shows me what I need in each given moment. Maybe it’s fresh air, a nap, His word, a snack, a tough conversation, time with my husband. But when I just plow through the day, I am useless.

This morning, the Lord brought to my mind the image of the flight attendant reminding parents to first place the oxygen mask on themself and then tend to their children.

That is how today looks.

Placing the oxygen mask on myself first today looks like: taking time to study God’s word and be filled up through prayer, exercising with weights and sweat, making a green smoothie, listening to piano hymns, taking a shower AND brushing my teeth, and letting my girls sleep in so they get what they so needed.

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Dear One, it is not selfish to take care of yourself. God loves you so much. He does not want you to neglect yourself. You are not able to serve Him if you are completely spent. Seek Him today!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Update: at 10:00 am when my youngest daughter finally surfaced and asked once again about our breakfast date, I could answer, “Yes!” Thank you, Oxygen Mask! You truly are my Savior!

Making Me New

hanging basketsMy sweet husband bought me my annual Mother’s Day present, hanging baskets from Costco. I look forward to this colorful gift each year. And, I mourn the end of the season in late summer when I have to throw them out.

These flowers, all contained in plastic, under flourescent lights in the Costco warehouse. Waiting to be nourished with water, sunlight, and Miracle Grow. Waiting for the freedom of fresh air, bees to pollinate, and the occasional rain to add hydration.

My eyes fix on these flowers. Still positioned in their cramped style. As if the plastic is still holding them. I note how they just seem to be stunned by the blazing sunshine hitting their stems, leaves, and blossoms. They didn’t know what awaited them. The life that they were meant to have was just one costumer away. One car ride away. One strong arm to hang them up in all their glory.

Gazing at the restrained beauty of the flowers, my heart and mind drift to my own muted life and how God has shone His light on me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Yes! The new creation has come! Just as the Costco hanging baskets are basking in their new home, their new life, their new creation, I, too, am basking in the glory of all God has done and is doing in me.

The old is gone! The old dreariness of the warehouse is just a memory for my flowers. The old life, I clung to, in all it’s familiarity, is just a memory.

The new is here! The gentle breeze, the freedom to grow, the warmth of the sun is all new to my flowers and they delight in it. And, the peace to take deep breaths, the gentleness to slow down and see what He’s doing, the fulfllling love He is lavishing on me is here.

Amen! May it be so! May it be so for you, Dear One!

Help Me, God!

Help me God

Help me, God!

I am listening, child

My simple cry

I am here with you

My hope-filled words

I keep my promises

Humble

I am your strength

Honest

I know your heart

Healing

I am your healer

What more can I say?

No lengthy prayer required

Not trying to impress

I am pleased with you, my creation

Just leaning in to the Savior

My ear is attuned to your prayer

With my heart’s cry

I know your heart

Help me, God!

I am your helper

 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:14-15

The Power of Life and Death

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

My encouraging friend, who lives out Proverbs 18:21, sent me that verse the other morning. Every morning I receive a nugget of wisdom from her. Because God has proven to me time and time again that nothing worth anything is ever  by chance, I take what she sends me to heart.

For years, I have been aware of the power of my words. God began revealing this to me through Joyce Meyers TV broadcasts, where she openly shares her struggles with words and how through God’s Word and power, she has overcome.

bridge

I don’t know about you, but I have set backs in this area. I am not tempted to smoke cigarettes, overeat, or drink alcohol, but I am definitely tempted to criticize, especially those closest to me.

1 Peter 5: 8 tells us that the Devil is watching us, looking for what he can use to destroy us. For me, it tends to be my words. He feeds me the words to say, especially when I am tired, sick, discouraged, or just simply not alert.

But I am so tired of it. I am so tired of Satan having his way with my words. And, I am not powerless against him!

Some truths about taming the tongue (just in case you, too, struggle in this area):

  • I cannot tame my tongue (control my words) in my own power. James 3:8
  • My life will be happier if I obey God with my words. James 1:26
  • My words can bring healing. Proverbs 12:18
  • My words are powerful. James 3:5
  • When my words are gentle, the can bring forth life. Proverbs 15:4

tree of life

Practical ways in which I am obeying God with my words:

  • Making sure my children are looking me in the eye when I give them a compliment. I don’t want my words to go unnoticed. I will say their name or something to get their attention, wait for their eyes, and then speak the words I want to say. I usually benefit  by seeing their face light up in response.
  • Keeping a list on my phone for both of my kids and my husband of compliments I want to give them. Often, I will think of good things about them when I am apart from them. I just make a little note on my phone and then I keep it there until I give them the compliment. Then I put a little check mark symbol after that particular compliment. Once, I am more fluent with my family, I want to add more people to this list.
  • Making sure I am full of God’s truth about me, so that I am not running on empty and have nothing to give.

Dear One, how do you see the power of words at work in your life? I am praying we each see someone we can encourage today. 

 

Life After the Trial

Oh, beautiful cherry blossom tree. You do not hide your condition. The winter has taken its toll on your beauty. On your branches. On your shape. On your structure.

The broken branches strewn about the ground. The sharp, ruggedness of the fracture, left on your trunk. Your dead leaves scattered around your base.

But, yet, God’s work in you is not over after the harsh winter. No.

Fall came and went. Your leaves changed. Dried up. Fell to the ground. The wind played a game of havoc on you.

branch

And, then the cold of winter came and finished off what life was left on you.

branch and leaves

But, deep inside, underground in your roots and in the marrow of your branches, life remained.

God protected and nourished that life deep within you all through the brokenness of the winter.

And now, in all your glory, you blossom your purpose, your fruit, your God-given beauty. Life is emerging on each branch. In each bulge brimming with life. In each blossom, opening for all to see. In each branch, stretching out further than the season before. You show your healing. Your life.

blooming cherry tree

Through the trial of the winter, the tree remained. Through the harsh reality the tree faced, the Creator’s plan never changed.

Winter still holds on. The bitter cold of the night still remains. The frost still appears each morning. The temperature and shorter days still threaten the growth of the tree. Yet, the Creator’s plan remains.

The evidence of the plan is seen in the tree: new life, new growth, new beauty.

cherry blossoms

Are you looking for the evidence of the Creator’s plan in your life? Even in the trial, the evidence is there. Sometimes it’s deep within. Like the sturdy roots of the cherry blossom tree, holding it in place, securing it through another trial. Yes, the evidence is there, Dear One.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Abiding in the Trial

God calls us to abide.

Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, netiher can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15: 4.

Abide. It’s a verb, which implies action or doing. Only when I hear Jesus telling me to abide, I don’t sense him asking me to DO. I sense him asking me to BE.

He’s asking me to BE in him.

BE close to him.

BE in prayer with him.

BE in his word.

BE his chosen daughter.

But in the trial, Lord? Do you call me to abide even in the trial?

“Yes, in the trial”, he responds. He tells me my trials produce fruit when I abide in him. Oh, I do want my trials to produce fruit.

A few weeks back I had a kidney transplant. The surgery had been a long time coming. Almost 18 years ago, I was diagnosed with an ultra rare disease call aHUS. You can read more about that here: Where Was God in All of This–Part I

The disease wreaked havov on my kidneys but not enough to cause complete failure. I lived with anywhere between 10 and 25% kidney function for all of that time. Finally it came time for a fresh start, a kidney transplant.

Surgery went well and I was incredibly overcome by the blessing of the donor and the family. I was in awe of their selflessness in the time of sorrow. I was in awe of the Father orchestrating the whole process. And, I was in awe of the human body and the surgeons the Lord created to perform such a surgery.

surgery

But, then the trial came. And the thought came, will this trial produce fruit or bitterness?

After coming home from the hospital, I woke up the next morning with incredible pain. I knew something wasn’t right. At first I just cried. But, then I began crying out to God with my pain and begging Him to take it. “Please God, take this pain away!”

The pain intensified. I went to the emergency room. The pain grew worse. My begging words to God grew more frequent. But, the pain remained.

In the midst of this pain, I found a peace in abiding in God. He wasn’t taking the pain. But, this time in this trial, I trusted. I knew the Lord could take the pain. But, I have chosen to accept His sovereignty. So, I knew without a doubt, He had a purpose for not taking the pain.

Although, I didn’t stop asking Him to take the pain, I added to my prayer, “Please show me what I need to know about this pain. Help me to have your wisdom and understanding, even for a moment.”

I could abide. Doubled over in pain, for the first time in my life, I could abide. I could remain in Him. I could continue to trust through the tears. I could continue to believe in His plan. I could have faith in His love for me and my family.

abby's hand
Translated: God keeps my mom safe

God did take the pain. But, not before He revealed to me the truths about which I write: that He is good, He is never surprised, and He will never leave me.

Dear One, I know it hurts. You may be experiencing emotional, physical, or spiritual pain. Or maybe you are experiencing all three. I get it. How do you abide in the Lord, when it seems that He isn’t answering your prayer? How do you abide? You walk with Him and remain with Him through the triumphs and the pain. You seek His heart for you. You remember His faithfulness in the past. Don’t worry if it’s not automatic. One day, you may just find yourself in the midst of a trial, and realize you are abiding, you are believing, and you are accepting His plan for your life as the best plan available.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2-4