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.

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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

Stop the Race. Look Up.

A nature loving mom with nature loving children means a homeschool brimming with nature projects.

Some simple peanut garlands hanging just outside our back door provide nourishment for the squirrels and much entertainment as we watch the animals bustle around gathering the nuts.

My soft-hearted, nature loving daughter can’t stand to leave the peanut garlands in an area where the squirrels have to work for it. She attempts to give them a challenge but usually within minutes she’s lowering one of the tasty treats to an area where the squirrels can have a heyday with it.

It’s like watching a nature documentary right outside our door. We watch as two squirrels fight over the peanuts. Who can get there first? Who’s quicker? Who’s stronger? Who is more nimble? Who can find the best hiding place for their peanut?

Their movements are fast. Frantic. My heart begins to race just watching them in their haste. And then I remember. As I watch one of the squirrels dash across the yard my eyes raise a bit and I remember the peanut garlands my daughter has yet to move still hanging from the trellis. Just above these frantic squirrels heads, peacefully resting there, are two long garlands of peanuts. The squirrels race around in their stress, capturing their prized peanuts. greed overcoming them. All the while an abundance of what they treasure hangs just above their heads.

Do they know? If they did know, would they rest a little? Would they slow down and enjoy the process a little more? Would they be more apt to share with the other squirrels in the yard?


Oh, do I ever see myself in these squirrels. The way I get so wrapped up in my own needs and the needs of my family. The way I bustle about in a frantic pace when I act as if our lives depend on my ability to move fast. The way I so quickly forget my Provider. The One that meets my needs for each day. The way I forget to look up and remember the Giver of great gifts, holds in abundance everything I need, ready for me just when I need it.

Can we all just slow down a bit today? Can we stop the race we find ourselves in and instead look up and remember the One that knows our true needs?

Just as the squirrels in our yard rush about completely unaware of the blessings hanging just above their heads, we too, rush about, missing the blessings and the provisions the Lord has for us.

But, if we’d just slow down. Stop. Look up. Commune with the Creator and stop the race. 

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

 

 

The Cross Bears All

cross in prayer closet

One of my daughters painted this cross for my prayer closet years ago. At first it was a sweet addition amongst the other pictures and prayers on my wall. But as time has gone on, my faith has developed, and God has made so much sense of things in my prayer closet, this cross has become a focal point for me.

Each morning I spend time just gazing upon this cross. A 10-year-old’s representation of the forgiveness of the Savior. Many times I’ve stared in wonder as I thought about Jesus on the cross. The sins that must have flashed through His mind as He hung on the cross. Not just any sins, but mine. My sins hung up there on that cross holding Him down, punishing Him, bearing my burden.

After sorrowfully and then joyfully looking at that cross and receiving His forgiveness day after day, why did I still carry a burden? Why did I still carry shame?
Not all of what I carried was my fault. Not all of what felt like a burden on my shoulders was mine to seek forgiveness for. Not all of what Jesus sacrificed for me was my own doing. But, yet, I carried it. 

Some of the sin and shame I continued to carry around were iniquities done to me. Why is it that as children we tend to think everything is about us and everything is our fault? When that becomes a pattern for a child, as it did for me, the load becomes unbearable. It feels impossible to get rid of.

You see, when I sin, I can take responsibility for it. I can confess, seek forgiveness, turn away from my sin and seek a different way. But, when I am sinned against, it feels harder to let go of. It feels more out of my control. It feels like I need to wait on the sinner to confess, seek forgiveness and turn from their ways. But even if those things don’t happen, there is an answer. I don’t have to carry the burden myself. The answer is the cross.

Not only does Jesus want to carry the burden of the sin I have committed but He wants to carry the burden of the sins committed against me.

I no longer have to carry the offenses committed against me. I no longer have to figure them out. I no longer have to walk in shame. I no longer have to own it as my own.

So although the burdens I was carrying and allowing to weigh me down were not mine to carry, they were mine to let go of and trust Jesus to carry. It was my responsibility to trust Jesus to heal me, fill in the gaping holes left from the offenses committed against me, and walk in the freedom He hung on the cross to give me.

Dear One, His freedom is for you. His forgiveness is for you. His love is for you. Yes, you! Can you let go today? Can you allow Him to fill in the wounds left by another? I am praying for you. Jesus longs to intercede for you. May it be so!

1 Peter 2:24-25, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

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Walking with Jesus Through Suffering

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Studying Hebrews this morning, thinking about the significance and greatness of Jesus. Jesus, greater than the angels. Jesus, worthy of my praise. Jesus, the one who sympathizes with my weakness.

My mind flashes to the ache in my foot where the doctor skillfully and so carefully used the scalpel to remove the worrisome skin. My foot, pierced. My flesh, wounded. My blood, exposed.

I walk with the reminder of my suffering. Each step sends an ache through my pierced foot.

My Jesus takes each painful step with me. Tempted, tried, suffered. His own feet pierced through. His hands nailed to the cross. His side pierced through allowing the blood to drain out.

My Jesus, pierced.

His pain, His suffering, His sacrifice, so that I can read the words, “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” and know that He walks with me in all of my suffering.

I walk with confidence in His love for me. I walk with confidence in His purpose for my pain. I walk with confidence in knowing that I do not walk alone.

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