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“Can We Start Over?”

This week started with me in a nasty mood, subtle and yet constant attitudes toward my husband. I am not proud of that or saying it is ok… It wasn’t. But I wanted to share this because I wanted to share a decision that my husband and I made that greatly blessed our marriage: We decided to start over.

We didn’t hash out every offense and mistake. I didn’t even say “I’m sorry” again. Why? Because it was more than that. Yes, I was sorry and I needed forgiveness but there was more. I needed a “re-do,” a slate wiped clean, a chance to try again.

Ever need one of those?

So I asked my hubby if we could start over and incredibly he said yes and just like that- all was so well again. And it still is.

And I share all this because I realized just how much we all at times need a “start over” pass. And that is in fact what God did through us through Christ Jesus. He wiped the slate clean and gave us the freedom to start over, fully restored in the eyes of God- as if we had never sinned at all. With open arms and a smile, our Lord said, and continues to say “Yes, let’s start over.”

And so it is that we, too, also desperately need to be able to say that to each other- to offer that mercy, that love and grace.

Who might you need to start over with today? Maybe your spouse, your child, a friend, a family member, a co-worker, maybe even God?

May the same power that raised Jesus from the dead rise up in our marred hearts and relationships. Because all can be made wonderfully new.

 

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How to Live for the God Things

So the kids and I were standing there, toes sifting through the sand… No, not on a beach- but on a volleyball court at a park in the middle of town. And it really started to dawn on me, how young children are experts at being able to dig in and enjoy what is right there in front of them. They don’t worry about what they look like. They aren’t filled with phobias that are sure to quench fun. They aren’t bothered by getting more than a little dirty. And more than anything else they are enthralled, deeply fascinated, and wonderfully provoked by everything around them… Sand begs to be sifted. Their hands long to dig, to hold, to mold- to make the unseen seen… Castles out of trampled ground… Words echoing in a heart, carved out in the sand.

Why do we adults forget? Why do we lose that sense of wonder, of desire, of purpose? Why do we so often forget that the trampled ground around us can still be built up? Why do we allow fear to stop us from truly living, and from really getting deep into the good things… The God things? What does that even look like anyway? What does it look like to live for the God things?

Perhaps it looks like our 18 month old son looked on the changing table in the Mexican restaurant bathroom last week. He laid there, in the middle of a public restroom, and his ears tuned into the music on the speakers above. We couldn’t even hear it in the restaurant, but there in the quiet of the empty bathroom we could. And our little boy started to smile and wiggle and dance… And dance and dance. It didn’t matter that we were in a public bathroom. He could hear the music and he allowed the music to move him to joy. His joy changed the atmosphere.

Just like when our young children made a beach out of that patch of sand that was etched out under a volley ball net in the center of town and then turned it into a canvas. All on their own, letter by letter, they wrote out their messages in hope that the next people who came by may read them and leave feeling as they felt there in the sand… Free.

We can live like that… Not seeing things for what everyone else says they are but instead seeing them for everything they can be.

We can dig deep and start building where ground has been trampled.

We can leave our messages in the sand.

We can tune our ears to the sound of God’s song being played out all around us and chose to dance.

I pray this week for anyone who may read this that a fresh wonder for life rises up in you. May you start to stop more often to do the seemingly ridiculous… Build those castles… Leaves those marks and dance when God leads you to dance.

– Charity

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Ironing a little girl’s dress, Ironing out my heart

It’s 11:30 p.m. as I start to write this. I still have a little girl’s dress to press to get ready for church in the morning… And to be honest I am having a hard time balancing a joyful, thankful heart and a totally broken heart. And I have a feeling, I am not alone.

My mind keeps going back to pictures of little ones whose bodies were being gathered together… Children in Iran who fled to the hills with their families for fear of death, only to starve and die of thirst. I keep thinking about her, that little girl who looked so much like our youngest daughter, limp in a man’s arms.

Our baby girl smiled earlier this evening, held up her pretty church dress, and I started to think of that little girl again, and the many others, children’s heads on sticks, women and mothers being raped, fathers being hung… And meanwhile, elsewhere there are women and children stuck in human trafficking, children and spouses stuck in abusive homes, friend’s who have lost loved ones unexpectedly, hurricanes, and mudslides… Yeah, I think of all those things and suddenly what we are wearing to church seems so trivial. Whether this dress gets ironed out not so important… But instead ironing out my heart.

Because I truly believe that God is not blind to what is happening.

Exodus 3:7
Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress…”

He is not deaf to the cries of his people. But I fear that all too often… We are… And we are by choice.

And somewhere in the mix of all of this it has really dawned on me that while I so desperately want to “save”so many… When I open my heart to the pains of others… It frees ME. It frees me from ingratitude. It frees me from being numb. It frees me from the little “happy bubble” that I like to stay in. And truly we aren’t meant to float around in a happy bubble. We are meant to feel- to take compassion. To cry…

“Jesus wept.” The shortest verse in the Bible and yet perhaps the most profound to me. That the all powerful Savior of the World wept. It was part of his purpose. Part of the reason he came and entered our world. He came to feel our pains, because only by feeling our pain could he free us from it.

We live in a great, big, broken world. And as we allow our hearts to feel it – to be broken for others, cry when they cry, pray when they ask for prayer- I really believe we WILL see miracles- including those that happen within our very own hearts.

I urge you friends- especially those of you who, like me, don’t like to let your happy bubble get popped- start clicking those links: see, hear, feel, fast, pray, cry… Let the heat of the world’s hurt hit your heart and let God iron out the shriveled and wrinkled places. Be moved. Move. And wait for a miracle.

 

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“She has Asperger’s Syndrome…”

We were at a splash pad. I was sitting in the shade on a bench next to another mom. My own mother had lovingly placed me there, insisting that I needed to cool off. Which I did. She handed me a chunk of ice to place under my wrist and a bottle of water to drink. The real mothers never stop being mothers, do they?

So I was sitting there, next to another mom, drinking water, ice on my wrist, watching our 6 kiddos play. I noticed a dad coming in with two beautiful little girls.

The younger girl quickly ran off to play after he took off her shoes. The older stood there awhile longer. I noticed she had her hand awkwardly, and what would usually be inappropriately, down in her shorts.

The dad knelt down and took off her sandals. He smiled and told her to go play. She then took two steps towards the water and suddenly it became very clear that something was very wrong.

She began screaming and thrashing and throwing herself on the concrete walkway, saying in a muffled voice, “I’m wet.” Over and over and over again.

He tried picking her up. Tried sitting down with her. Tried putting the shoes back on. Taking the shoes back off.

“It’s ok. It’s ok.”

He stood. She did not, but instead, hung her head down low, pressed hard against her father’s ankle.

“I’m wet! I wet!”

“It’s ok. It’s ok.”

And my heart was breaking- tears filled my eyes because I have seen, six times over, a child having a tantrum, but I had never seen a tantrum like this.

She had to be about eight years-old. And my mind tried to grasp what that would feel like. Eight years of tantrums from the same child.

Suddenly, all the tantrums I have survived felt like a drop in a pan. Once again perspective rushed in.

Her dad looked up. My teary eyes met his. “She has Asperger’s Syndrome…”

Truly he did not need to explain. And I told him that, “You don’t need to explain. God bless you for what you are doing…”

His daughter settled. We talked a little while. Another mom joined in. He and is daughters ended up leaving as did our crew.

Still, the sight of that child and her dad weigh heavy on my heart tonight.

May God bless the parents, caretakers and teachers of children with special needs. Bless them with strength. Bless them with patience. Bless them with love. Bless them with a support network that will uphold and encourage them. Bless them for what they are doing. When they feel like their prayers for a miracle go unanswered, may they look in the mirror and see what you see: A miracle.

 

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You are Beautiful

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So there is a new post trend starting that I wanted to reflect on a little bit. The trend? “Post 5 pictures that make you feel beautiful.” You post, you tag 5 people and they need to do the same.

And so my news feed is slowly filling up with “beautiful” pictures of my friends and family. And I don’t say that sarcastically. Truly, each and every one is beautiful… But here is the thing… I look at all those pictures and immediately some other pictures come to mind:

Pictures of Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son so that whosoever believed in him shall not perish but have everlasting life…
– John 3:16

So loved…

So treasured…

So considered each and every person worthy and truly marvelous.

Oh, that we would truly believe:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
– Psalm 139:13-14

And I wonder as I scroll through my news feed, seeing selfie after selfie…

Do we really know it?

Do we really know we are beautiful?

Or are we sitting and wait for comments? For validation? For someone to say, “Yes, you are beautiful!”

If you are…

Can I tell you something?

Somebody already said that.

We don’t need to hang our beauty on the words or lack of words in the comments of our “selfies.” We can hang our beauty on the One True Word.

May we remember that the fullness of our beauty isn’t found in our face, but in His.

And when we get tempted to base our beauty by our positions and our accomplishments,

We may remember:

We greatly underestimate our beauty if we base our beauty on our position and accomplishments.

For the fullness of our beauty isn’t found in our position here, but the fact that the Word of God tells us that through Christ we are seated there, in heavenly places with the very maker of the heavens.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
– Ephesians 2:4-7

We can know we are beautiful, so SO beautiful, not because of what we do or have done, but because of what HE did.

And here is thing about knowing how precious and beautiful you are to God.

When you know, truly know, just how beautiful you are to God, it opens your eyes to the outrageous and overwhelming truth that every single person you see is beautiful to God.

Every single person was and is worth reaching out for, drawing a line in the sand for…

Worth sitting with and laughing with, listening to and talking with…

Living for, dying for…

They were are all worth it.

And I pray you know that reader and friend.

I pray you know that YOU were worth it.

YOU ARE beautiful.

Not just five times over, but infinitely over.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL in the eyes of our most beautiful God.

Your beauty is found in HIS beauty and your worth is found in HIS.

Colossians 3:2-4
New Living Translation (NLT)

Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

 

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When All Hell Breaks Loose

So today another plane came down… I believe they said there were 295 passengers… 295 living, breathing, heart-beating and feeling people who had plans and purposes and loved ones on the ground… And they are gone, just like that. And it hit the news hard, hit the ground harder… And for this pilot’s wife… It hits just too close to home.

And fear starts to creep in. Where did it happen? Does he fly over there? And let’s go ahead and include the obvious fact that he is so often one of those living, breathing, heart-beating people that is flying over our heads in an airplane. It is his job after all…

And somewhere a wife’s husband just fell from the sky and the sobering thought once again impedes that it could have been mine and what exactly do I do with that?

I will tell you what I have made up my mind to do: Trust God and live this life He gives us to its fullest. Thank Him for every day, truly every moment because you just don’t know when it all is going to come to an end.

And I stop and pray, allow my heart to feel and cry for a loss that could have been mine, but I don’t allow it to stop me from living. I don’t allow it to steal my peace or promote my heart to any further fear, because fear has no place in the presence of perfect love.

And I know that there is a God who perfectly loves me, my family, and my husband. I know that his plans and purposes transcend what I can grasp. And I choose to trust in his promise that he will work all things for good- All things- for those who love him and trust him.

And I pray that each of you would know that too- that God loves you perfectly. That you can trust him. When all hell seems to be breaking loose in this world, you can still be filled with heaven’s peace. You can still smile. You can still enjoy and praise him for all that is wonderful and good here because there is SO SO much that is wonderful and good. Too much to report.

Say a prayer for comfort and strength for those who are hurting tonight and at the same time please stop and thank God for all in your life and all in this world that is good. Thank him for his plans for your life- for the things he has done and the things he will do. Allow that praise to usher in peace and sleep well in that perfect peace.

That is my plan for tonight. I pray you join me.

You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

 

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Root Rot

Root Rot… Have you ever heard of it? It’s somewhat of a strange phenomena to amateur gardeners like myself. You get a hanging flower basket. You hang it. You water it. But still the plant starts dying. You think maybe I am not watering enough. So you water more. And now the plant looks worse. Practically the whole thing is shriveled. So you do a little researching and come to find out that a hanging plant won’t only die from lack of water, but it will develop “root rot” if the hanging pot doesn’t drain sufficiently. Essentially- a plant has to be poured into- and it has to pour out. If it doesn’t pour out its roots begin to rot and it dies. I had to bust bigger holes in the bottom of the planters, remove a plate that was blocking proper drainage… All so more of what was poured in could flow out.

And you know, You and I… We too need to be poured into and we also need to pour out if we are going to thrive. We risk rotting away if all we do is receive, receive, receive… And then sit.

What we have been so blessed to receive, we should in turn pour out.

We weren’t created to simply sit and receive.

So if your passion for life lately has been feeling shriveled; If your life feels more like surviving as opposed to thriving; I want to challenge you tonight to consider how you can start pouring out.

May we bust some holes in our jam packed schedules. May we remove the fear and excuses that have been holding us back. May we not be a rotting people, but a thriving people- A people who pour out our lives in the same way that Christ poured out his.

Titus 3:6
He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.

 

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