02/22/17

Truth that Changes

For as many years as I can remember, I have referred to those closest of the close friends, colleagues, and accountability partners as my “heart friends.” Those people you can pour out your soul to, and they will listen, show empathy when appropriate, and encouragement when needed, and then feed Truth back to me. Those hard words that are hard to say, hard to digest, hard to hear, and the hardest to obey. But, I am incredibly grateful these friends love Jesus so well that they love me like they love Him, and that the truth of His word is reflected back to me in their actions and words.

I was reflecting on this very topic about a week ago after having coffee with a dear friend I do not get to see very often as she lives halfway across the world, but each time we meet (as infrequent as it may be), my soul sings and my spirit is enriched. It is gut-wrenching, honest, and raw conversation about our faith, our fears, our trials, and our fragile hearts. She reflects Jesus back to me. And I hope I do the same for her.

Then, I came home a few days later from a business trip, and while catching up on my emails, my eyes roved greedily over this post delivered to my inbox. “The Scribbled Truth that Changed my Life” on Proverbs 31 Ministries website, written by founder Lysa Terkeurst, and as I read, a little crack in the dam began to develop and I read.


“When my baby sister died tragically and unexpectedly, my entire world flipped upside down. It was a very dark season of my life.

What I once knew to be true suddenly became questionable.

Is God good? If so, why this? And if I never know why, how can I ever trust God again?

Hard questions. Honest questions. Questions that haunted me.

Until one day, I got a note from a friend. A girl I not-so-affectionately called my “Bible friend.” She honestly got on my nerves with all her Bible verse quoting. I wasn’t on good terms with God at that point in my life. I didn’t want to believe God even existed. And I certainly wasn’t reading the Bible.

I made all of this very known to my Bible friend. But in her gentle, sweet, kind way … she kept slipping me notes of truth with gently woven verses tucked within. And one day, one verse cracked the dam of my soul. Truth slipped in and split my hardhearted views of life open, just enough for God to make Himself known to me.

I held that simple note with one Bible verse scribbled on the front as the tears of honest need streamed down my cheeks. My stiff knees bent. And a whispered, “Yes, God,” changed the course of my life.

My “Bible friend” had reached me. And because of her, I’m determined to use my words as a gift to others who may be in hard places … like a friend of mine who recently told me she is struggling with feeling like she has no real purpose.

Life rushes at her each day with overwhelming demands. Everything feels hard, with very little reprieve.

If ever there were a drowning with no water involved, this is where my friend is. Maybe you have a hurting friend, too.

So I sat down to write my friend a card and send her a little gift. I desperately wanted to love her through my words. My heart was full of care, compassion and a strong desire to encourage, but I struggled to translate all I felt on paper.

As I prayed about it, the word “loved” kept coming to mind.

Remind her she is loved. Remind her how much you respect her. Remind her that she is a woman who has so much to offer. Remind her she is valuable and she is enough.

In Acts 3, Peter and John encountered a crippled man at the temple gate called Beautiful. They stopped. They noticed. They decided to touch. Riches weren’t available to them but the ability to value was.

As our key verse of Acts 3:6-7a says, “‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up …”

Peter and John didn’t have silver, but they had a hand to offer and value to give. The man in need was worth touching. The hurting one in need was a man who needed someone to see him as a man. The man in need had so much to offer. After he got up, he went into the temple courts, praising God and stirring up wonder and amazement about God.

I want my friend to remember she, too, has praise left inside her for our God. She, too, can get up. She, too, can stir up amazement and wonder about our God.

Yes, she is loved and God has a good plan for her. I want to help her see that, just like my “Bible friend” did for me all those years ago.

I will never doubt the power of one woman reaching into the life of another woman with some written whispers of love.”

Devotion Graphic

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.’” Acts 3:6a (NIV) 

I hope and pray that we can all be like that aforementioned “Bible Friend” that regularly reached out to Lysa to encourage her and to scribble little Truths for her on those hard days; those days were we feel alone, unloved, and uninvited.

Use the gift of words that the Lord has given. Use whatever gifts He has given for the furtherance of His kingdom and for His glory.

xoxo…

 

See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/the-scribbled-truth-that-changed-my-life-2/#sthash.H19ZDjgb.dpuf
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02/06/17

Looking for Lovely : Collecting Moments that Matter, Vol 2

Looking for the lovely can sometimes be very hard. Difficult even. And sometimes, feel utterly hopeless. But, there is beauty even in the midst of the ashes. That’s what makes His love and grace so profound to someone like me.

A little over a year ago, I lost my first grandparent. A Nana. And she was remarkable, vivacious, full-of-life and laughter,and anything but a shrinking violet.

NANA

Nana fought Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s for 8 long years before losing the battle in July of 2015. It is, in my opinion, the most cruel and vicious death that a person can experience because it strips you of you long before you have exited this world.

Nana started slipping my Senior year of High School and the changes were slight and went almost unnoticed at first, but she noticed them. She would write notes to herself in the corner of her day planner that would remind her to take medications she hoped no to forget and sometimes would write phrases like, “keep walking to the left” or “missed a step today”. Looking back at all of it, we were all in different stages of denial. But life, and the progression of this debilitating disease is unkind and it didn’t give us very long to wise-up and clue-in.

Denial flowed quickly into acceptance.

In her latter years, Nana became increasingly quiet and painfully distant. Again, incredibly unlike her. Mom, me, or DatDat would beg her to pipe up and join in the conversations happening around her and offer us anything, anything at all. We just couldn’t bear the absence of her voice. But, she would just smile or shrug or reply simply with, “Just listening.” You could visibly see the resignation on my DatDat or Mom’s face.

This was our new normal. This distance. A heinous interlude between mother and daughter, between husband and wife, between Nana and only granddaughter.

But, one day, we were all piled on the back bench seat DatDat’s SUV enroute to one of our favorite weekend lunch spots, and without any introduction or preamble Nana pipes up, in a strong (uncharacteristic at this time since her voice had become very weak and cracking) voice as a blue truck whizzes by to our left, “That’s a pretty truck.” 

I look to my left and to my right, registering the facial expressions of those around me. Looks of disbelief, confusion, and most often, humor. I can remember, at the time, we all thought it was the most absurd comment.

Nana had never been a lover of cars or knowledgeable of automobiles and she certainly didn’t often look at trucks and assess their beauty or aesthetic qualities.

I remember DatDat looking to his right and affirming her with, “Yes honey, it is.”  All the while, he too was probably imagining that to be an odd topic of conversation as well, but it was participation at the very least. Participation is what we so desperately needed. And that floating comment referencing a truck was like a life raft.

This disease will take everything from you, even when you feel you have nothing left to give, it will take a bit more. So, you have to find those light-hearted and even laughable moments in it all to keep yourself from crying.

This moment was a moment for all of us.

I cannot tell you how many times since that day we have seen a blue truck on the road and one of us will pipe up with “That’s a pretty truck.”  We smile, we remember, we giggle, but mostly, we choose to see the lovely in that moment. That simple, everyday, seemingly insignificant moment, but now, so many years later, I still remember that tiny glimpse at lovely in a dark time in the life of my family.

His faithfulness and loving-kindness towards us is oh so sweet, if we just make sure and look for it. I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

There really is lovely in everything.

Even in the gleam from chrome glistening off an old Chevy truck.

I would encourage you to look for it.

xoxo…

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