A Perfect Heart

When I seek mercy and justice

When I offer mercy and justice

When I receive Your mercy and justice

My heart is renewed

My heart is cleansed

My heart is healed

When I seek Your way

When I offer Your love

When I receive Your Spirit

I behave as a woman following You

I love as a whole person

I give from a complete vessel

When you come to me, oh Lord

When you walk with me, oh Lord

When your Spirit fills me, oh Lord

I am set free

I am made alive

I will walk with a perfect heart

I will sing of mercy and justice; to you, oh Lord, I will sing praises. I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will you come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. Psalm 101:1-2

The Way of Holiness

The Lord’s highway for the redeemed.

The Way of Holiness.

His path to glory.

Set aside for those who acknowledge their need.

Those who accept His hand.

Those who reach for His cleansing.

Those who grasp onto his purifying redemption.

He says,

“Enter in to Zion! Enter with singing. Rejoicing. Everlasting joy. Here is your crown of righteousness. Breathe out your last sigh of sorrow because there will be no more. Gladness and joy will be your breath now.”

Follow the Shepherd up the Way of Holiness.

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Yes, Lord! Lead us in your Holy Way! Thank you for your goodness! Thank you for your plan of redemption. You are good. So good. Amen.

 

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35:10

Attaching

My child doesn’t trust me. My child doesn’t trust me. My child doesn’t trust me. The words haunt me. Torment me. Cause an unending grief.

My child whom I gazed at all hours of the day and night as a newborn. My child who cried for hours and hours each night in my arms. My child who stole my heart from the moment I heard of her existence. My child who captivates my attention with her many gifts and talents. My child who serves her family.

My child was wounded before ever making her presence known on this earth. My child’s heart and brain were told this world isn’t safe. My child’s fight or flight response was on alert when she should have been experiencing the safest place she will ever know.

My child lost innocence too soon. My child faced toxins too soon. My child experienced stress too soon.

But, my Father is faithful. My Father is gracious. My Father is healer. My Father is hope. My Father is sovereign. My Father is true. My Father is righteous. My Father is all-knowing. My Father is all-seeing.

My child doesn’t trust. My child doesn’t trust. My child doesn’t trust…yet.

Looking in my child’s eyes each time we speak. Carving out one on one time, devoted to her. Refusing to engage in arguments. Seeking to understand her past and present. Becoming a consistently safe, available person in her life. Verbally and physically reminding her that NOTHING can separate her from my love. Praying daily to my Creator…her Creator.

My child comes to me. My child opens up to me. My child seeks me in times of trouble and joy.

My Father listens. My Father heals. My Father brings unity. My Father holds all things together and

my Father has not and will not ever leave my family. Amen.

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It Is Finished

I seem to readily welcome the wrestling with my past sin and shame. I open the door to my thoughts and allow them to take up space in my mind. Those thoughts then dictate my attitude and behavior throughout the coming days.

This time of year when so much is focused on Jesus‘ birth, as it rightly should be, my heart is drawn to the cross and His sacrificial death. I can’t seem to focus on his birth without jumping to the end… And what His life resulted in.

As I allow shameful memories to cloud my freedom, I am living as if something more needs to be done. As if Jesus’ life and death were not enough. As if the Lord wants me to walk around weighed down in guilt and shame as an additional sacrifice to the price He paid on the cross.

Years ago, at Christmas time I asked my daughter to paint me a couple of pictures for my prayer closet. I said I would love one of Jesus’ birth and one of the empty cross. Each morning as I spend time in my prayer closet, my eyes and heart always turn to these paintings. I need this reminder each day. I need to remember multiple times a day that there is nothing, nothing I can add on to Jesus’ life or the sacrifice He paid for me.

It is finished.

Finished is the same as paid in full.

Jesus came to finish God’s work of salvation.

In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ sacrificial death, you will find the words it is finished. As I read those words each time, I am struck by the finality of them. It is not open ended, segueing into a need for further sacrifice or work. No. I read it again. The words read, “It is finished.

Because of Jesus’ life and ultimate sacrificial death on the cross, the Lord sees me as righteous and I am secure.

Are you walking around with guilt and shame this Christmas season? Are you allowing your past to take up space in your heart and mind? Is yesterday weighing you down? Can you begin to consider that the word is true, it is finished. You can rest in knowing that Jesus’ work is complete. You and I can walk in freedom. We can rest in peace. We can count on the truth of his saving grace.

Psalm 7:9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

Chosen

In our house, we love to celebrate. We don’t love the planning, stress, preparation, and clean up of elaborate celebrations. But, we enjoy remembering special days with a meal, treat, outing, phone call to a grandparent, or small gift. Some of these occasions include losing a tooth, learning or achieving something new, a pet’s birthday, and our daughter’s adoption days.

August 17th and October 1st are our daughter’s adoption days, the day we celebrate having made their adoptions final before our family and a judge. The day they officially became Ostreims.

This year, we celebrated by giving each girl a shirt, which reads “Chosen” on the front. That one word summarizes so much of our adoption stories.

Chosen: selected from several; preferred; to want; desire.

“No, you didn’t grow in mommy’s tummy, sweet girl, but we chose you. We could have waited for a different baby, but we chose YOU,” I remember explaining to my inquisitive 3-year-old with her endless questions. This explanation seemed to bring her a feeling of importance and uniqueness.

But, as the years have gone by and parenting has become more challenging, I have come to accept that it wasn’t me who chose my girls, but it was the Lord who chose us all.

Receiving that long-awaited for, yet unexpected call from our attorneys’ office that a birth mother had chosen us to parent her child, we didn’t experience much of a choice. Well, of course we could have said, no. It would have been possible to say that. I guess it would have been possible but the Lord had a grip on our hearts and our minds so that it didn’t feel like we had a choice. Once we heard about this baby yet to be born, we were chosen. She still remained in her birth mom’s womb, but she filled our hearts every waking moment. She was all I could think about. She was all I could talk about. When my  eyes finally met hers, hours after she was born, it was like I already knew her. God had already knit my heart to hers. So, although, it was possible for us to have waited on another baby, God made the choice and let no man interrupt God’s choice!

The same is true when we heard about the baby that was to be our 2nd daughter. I remember being at a park with our first-born when we received the call about our 2nd child. I was speechless. Dreaming of this child, soon to be born. How could I explain my thoughts to my little 2-year-old running around at the park?  How could I make her understand that she was chosen to be a big sister?

When our youngest daughter’s adoption day came this year, she ripped into her package and was delighted to find that she had received a Chosen t-shirt, just like her big sister. “But, you know, I really feel like the one that was chosen. It’s the greatest honor I know to be your mom!” I hugged my girls closer.

“Mom, you need a Chosen t-shirt!” my oldest daughter exclaimed.

I really started thinking about that phrase “Chosen” and the privilege it holds. Of all the moms God could have chosen for my girls, He chose me. He chose me? He chose me.

Yep, I need a shirt, too!

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Chosen

Living as orphans,
In need of refuge
Chosen

Selected from among many
Esteemed above the rest
Chosen

Sought after
The preferred choice
Chosen

Redeemed, restored,
Remade and rejoiced over
Chosen

Longed for, planned for,
Sacrificed for, loved
Chosen

Before the creation of the world
Holy and blameless
Chosen

Amongst the living for a purpose
Created for more
Chosen

 

This Christmas season, dear one, can you stop and reflect on your Creator, choosing you? Before the world was formed, He chose you! You were planned for. You were selected. You were created for a purpose. You are loved!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Peace?

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

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But, not at Christmastime, Lord. You understand that I have presents to buy and wrap, food to buy and prepare, children to corral in the craziness of a changing schedule this time of year, basketball practices to get to, dinner to make, oh, and don’t forget some self-care in there too: exercise, eat well, and stretch. Lord, you didn’t mean, you have given me peace even at Christmastime.

Not as the world gives do I give to you…

The world offers me peace in the Christian yoga YouTube videos I found. The world’s peace is in letting go. It’s found in circumstances going my way. I can experience it in discovering the perfect gift found on the clearance rack at the first store I step into. Ah…an empty parking spot nice and close to the front. Is this the peace I seek?

My peace I give to you…

Jesus doesn’t offer peace based on the circumstance. Jesus offers his peace based on who He is and what He has done for us. His peace doesn’t depend on me. His peace doesn’t depend on those around me. His peace doesn’t depend on my schedule or the season. His peace depends solely on him…His life, sacrifice and resurrection, and His Spirit dwelling inside of those who place their hope in him.

Let not your hearts be troubled…

Don’t run around in a frenzy. Don’t expect others to do what you want. Don’t search for peace in this world. Don’t make yourself God in your life.

Neither let them be afraid…

Keep your heart and mind set on the Lord. Trust in His love. Trust in His goodness. Trust in His power.

Yes, Christmas peace. 

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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

Who is Like You?

The following poem is really a compilation of “who is like you” questions I wrote each morning for the last few weeks during the beginning of my quiet time. I have really been encouraged to be in awe of the Lord God Almighty. My response to this awe is to ask the Lord, who is like you? The answer? None other than the Lord. 

Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11

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Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, waiting on me, listening with patience and kindness?

Who is like you, pouring out endless grace and mercy?

Who is like you, filling my days with purpose and focus?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, steady from beginning to end?

Who is like you, holding my past, present, and future?

Who is like you, full of power, strength, and sovereignty?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, Father to the fatherless?

Who is like you, protector of the weak?

Who is like you, guide to the blind?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, a King in a manger?

Who is like you, humble and meek?

Who is like you, born to sacrifice?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you? Oh, who is like you?

 

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