Friday, June 8, 2012

Making Brave

I wrote down something in big bold letters from our last session of the Angela Thomas “Brave” bible study last night.

Together a group of about 10 looked at many different things over the last few weeks that we as women at one time of another face - feeling fearful, broken, invisible, being worn out, undisciplined, and bearing a thorn.
It was at times an exhausting study - these uncomfortable things are markers of hardships and trials of life. And they are uncomfortable to think about let alone go through. 

But once again God is trying to show me that these are actually the joys of life because if I let them they bring blessings – blessings of being used by Him for His Glory
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.”  - 
2 Cor 1:3-6

He is once again telling me that I can use those hard things to dig in and identify with Christ or I can turn away, wallow, stay broken, and miss His touch, healing, and what He has waiting on the other side.
“It is the Spirit himself bearing witness to our Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him - Romans 8:16-17

I want to be more diligent to seek Him quickly for comfort when I am fearful, for a redeeming when I am broken, to be truly & fully seen when I feel invisible, to find rest when I’m worn out, for strength to be disciplined, and as my all sufficient portion to endure the thorn!
To run to Him first – always - instead of my husband, friends, a distraction, or whatever else my mind sometimes tells me will meet my immediate need.

The saddest thing is that as we walked through those hard things together the last 7 weeks, what came sharply into focus is the fact that they will eventually become a prison, a holding cell, and a binding - but by our own hands. Because even if the things that have hurt us, made us feel afraid, worn out, and left us broken are at another’s hand and doing, we only are left in captivity by our own choice.

See here’s the truth…
1. We can make a run for it and be released straight into the arms of Jesus! But instead we try in our own strength and mind, both too weak, instead of trusting He is a strong enough shield to do the fighting for us.
2. The cage door is unlocked! But we’re just too afraid to move through the pain.
3. We can be free! But we choose fear, bitterness, and unforgiveness and hold a shackle in our fist that has long ago rusted and busted apart, no longer able to restrain.

Brave - to confront with resolution

 “And the God of grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” - I Peter 5:10

We have a Kinsman Redeemer (someone closer than a brother, who is willing, who is able, and that paid our debt in full) to take us somewhere else and away from that which we feel captive to and bring resolution if we let Him make us brave!

The truth I wrote down in bold letters?


Is that me?
Is that you?

As a famous bald man with a mustache from Texas on TV is fond of asking… 'and how’s that working for us?'

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" - Romans 8:35-37

I want to be free at any given moment to go wherever God leads with no restraints, with no regrets, to accept the promises He is waiting to fulfill for me, and even if the thorn remains I want to live my life expecting Him to show off despite and because of it, and I want to run unhindered with my Jesus prize in sight!!

Now, on to the business of making brave 

Joyful on the Journey

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Words Like a Honeycomb?

Words. What of Words?
Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit of them."
Hmmm… so words (fruit) are offered either as sweet on the tree to be picked for a sustaining benefit and enjoyed, or words (fruit) are offered as having fallen from the tree and laying on the ground rotting and the only thing they give are as a sickness.

In the bible study our Lifegroup is doing we were right smack in the middle of the week on Words of Affirmation. We were studying and learning how the words we use and say can make a huge difference in the temperature of our relationships, and how the effects of offering words that lift up and encourage those in our life can heal and not wound, and create intimacy and not distance. 
Hubs and I were doing our homework and we got to a section where in the margin of one page it referenced Proverbs 16:24… “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” And over the next couple of days my mind kept going back to that verse and I wondered each time, why ‘honeycomb’? It would not let me go.
So I begin to dig a little, and some things I found really began to speak to me.

In 1638 physicist and philosopher Galileo wrote about the design of the honeycomb, and the hollow solid design and strength of the honeycomb. He said “Art, and nature even more, makes use of these in thousands of operations in which robustness is increased without adding weight, as is seen in the bones of birds and in many stalks that are light and very resistant to bending and breaking”.
I also saw where the honeycomb structure has even been applied to the construction of things like airplane materials like steel panels, rocket sub structures, etc.
So the light went on – for words of affirmation to be compared to honeycomb was very intentional and specific. God inspired something in that passage to mean something even more purposeful today!

To start with I looked up some information on bee keeping. What I found was that the honeycomb, if not damaged by a beekeeper, can and will be used over and over again by the bee for making honey. I didn’t know that, did you?
Words can really stick with someone. Just as words that wound do, sweet words of affirmation can be remembered and give courage to someone for a lifetime. Can’t we all recall even from childhood both good and bad things people have said? I would rather someone recall feeling stronger and loved by my words. Ephesians 4:29 says “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” When grace is given it is ongoing, I want my words to be something that echoes goodness and sweetness. I want those I love to be able to go back continually to the things I speak into them over and over for a renewing.

I also was intrigued that this design of the honeycomb can be used in steel plates of an airplane and rocket ship but then can fly through the air. Galileo said that the honeycomb design can be seen in nature, inside some plant stalks that are extremely light but that this strong design allows them in most cases to bend but not break. 
WOW! Our words can give the person hearing them strength in tough times to bend and not break! Think about it, if you believe someone thinks you can stand and has poured into you the affirmation of that – isn’t it easier to try? To believe you actually can? The things I may choose to speak into someone’s life can either be something that keeps them from having the confidence to even try, or they can give them the courage and strength to overcome - to fly! 
Proverbs 15:4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
(Pardon the cheese, but don’t you want to be the wind beneath their wings?)

Proverbs 16:24… “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Continually offering the sweetness and strength to sustain life through its naturally healing power. Oh that I would offer only healing and life, not condemning and destruction. That I would only build up and not tear down.

God, thank you, that we are created with the ability to communicate with one another thru the spoken word. Thank you that we can share your Word and your promises in that way, speaking your truth and life into those around us.
Help me today and every day to choose to offer life and not death with my tongue. I want to offer something that over and over brings sweetness just like the honeycomb. I want to impart strength and confidence with what I say. Father I pray that things that I have said that have brought sadness, anger, hurt, and bitterness to those I love would be forgiven. Your Word in Matthew 12 says that “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”. Give me your heart! May things I have said that encouraged and soothed wounds be remembered. Remind me of the sweet promises you have left me to go to whenever I need them -  in times of trouble and in times of joy. May I seek to leave behind words of life sustaining sweetness that others can go to time and time again to know their true worth, value, and gifting… to remember who they really are in your Son Jesus!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Invisible Ones

She was walking across the street. Not exactly a feat of extreme efforts. That is unless you are this woman. The woman I gazed intently at through my windshield was staggering about under the influence of whatever she took last night. or this morning, or both. As she crossed towards me, diagonally from my left to my right I slowed (she was really not even aware of the flow of cars around her it seemed). If I didn't slow I was afraid she would walk straight into the side of my car as I passed her. She was dressed in skin right jeans tucked down in ratty boots, a tight shirt hanging way off one shoulder, with no bra on. It didn't cover her stomach either. It was as I slowed to a stop to make sure she was able to cross my side without getting hurt that I noticed the smile on her face. It took my breath. A plastered on smile. A smile of smeared bright red lipstick. Eyes vacant and drooped. But it was the smile that caught my attention the most. A smile as fake as they come.
Not able to be sure of her age, I was looking at a woman who looked to possibly already had received the wrong kind of attention, many times over. Maybe even last night. And quite possibly in her condition may attract the wrong attention once again on her way home or to wherever she was headed.
I began praying for her as she passed. God, this precious daughter of yours is in need. In need of  You. Of the ONE who can be her everything. A Savior who can show her she is beautiful inside. Meet her where she is Father. Help her see her worth in You. 
Where was she headed? Where was she from? What had her life been? What was like now? Did anyone in her life really truly see her? As I thought these questions I looked for her in my rear view mirror, but in a flash she was gone.
I drove on to meet with my friend for breakfast, and had a sweet sweet time with her. But in the back of my mind I couldn't forget the woman with the fake smile.
After breakfast I drove back to that street, hoping to see her again. Just to know she was okay. Maybe to try and talk to her if she was alone.
She was gone.

Before I went home I headed to a retail store to pick up 4 place mats I knew were on sale that I wanted. But as I drove there I was thinking about the woman. She was a young girl once. Hoping for a wonderful life. The stuff fairy tales are made of probably. That's what the world does. Makes you believe in fairy tales that can't come true. Makes you trust in things that aren't reality instead of trusting a Father and Prince of Peace who can truly give you the life you need and can surpass all that's not real or attainable.
I gathered what I came for and went to get in line to pay. It wasn't a busy but there was three people in line in front of me. But there was quite a large pile of clothes on the counter so I leaned against a column to get comfortable for the wait.
It was then I noticed the three people were together. From the little conversation between two of them I gathered it was a grandfather and his two grand kids. One a boy about 11 and a young girl about 14. I didn't get to the line in time to see what may have already been rung up for the boy, but as the girl stood texting on her cell phone I did notice some things. I noticed she hardly looked up. Hardly spoke. I noticed she only stopped with the phone long enough to pull at the edge of her way too short shorts. They were not only too short but about a full size to snug. So any time she moved at all she has to stop and tug again.
I also noticed the new clothes as the clerk picked them up to scan the bar codes on the tags. Really short summer skirts, some sleeveless see-through tops, a low cut top, more short shorts. My heart was sinking more with each item that I saw move by the clerk to be placed in a bag.
The grandfather was paying. I don't know if he realized what he was purchasing. Was he appeasing her and trying to connect by buying her things? Or was he only one more distant man in her life that would rather buy things than spend time with her - paying little attention to both the clothes and her? I don't know. It could be either or something completely different. Either way, how horrible that this man was actually purchasing things that would also draw the wrong kind of attention to his own grand daughter. 
I began praying for this young girl in line in front of me, this young woman wanna-be that was tugging at her shorts. God, this precious daughter of yours is in need. In need of  You. Of the ONE who can be her everything. A Savior who can show her she is beautiful inside. Meet her where she is Father. Help her see her worth in You. 
What had shaped her already to think that showing herself this way would be the thing to do? What about her friends? Her family? Did they see her? Really see her?
My heart sank as I thought of what her self worth may be now, and what it could be in the future with the world telling her this is the way that a 14 year old girl should dress.

I have seen two very different ladies today- different in their location, in their age, in their experiences maybe.
But very similar as well. Same provocative dress. Same want of attention. Same disregard to just how bad that attention could get.
The same need of achieving a self worth that can only come from one place - from an understanding that a Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus gave up everything for them and that He sees them as worthy, valuable, precious, lovable, and cherished treasures that He designed and created for so much more than they are now or have now!
My heart cried out to them... Oh sweet dears! How much you are loved, how lovely you are - just as you are - without clingy revealing clothes, without so much make up, without having to showcase your bodies. There is ONE who wants desperately to spend time with you, to love you, to bless you, to be your constant and your portion - your FULL portion!
I was hoping the grandfather and grand son would walk ahead somehow, and there would be a moment I could speak to her and tell her this looking into her eyes without freaking her grandfather out. But just then her phone rang and answered it walking out ahead of the transaction being fully completed.
I asked the lady ringing me up to please hurry that I wanted to talk to the young lady that had just left. She did work quickly and I ran outside.
She was gone.

An invisible woman and invisible girl - to some - but not to you "El Roi - the God who sees me"! (Genesis 16:13) 

Father I pray that both of these precious creatures begin being somehow surrounded by people in their lives that begin filling them with the right words of affirmation. That someone builds them up in the right way. That someone earns the right to be heard, and shows them the rescuing love of your Son Jesus, and that they learn just how beautiful they really are. If they know you but have lost their way I pray you continue pursuing them relentlessly!
May we affirm the women and young girls we know and come across - help us to show them their worth in you and see them the way you do... created as your masterpiece, the apple of your eye, known and seen before they were born buy your Loving Heart, priceless, and fully loved!
And Father show us those who need you, keep our hearts broken for what breaks yours, show us whom you love and want to redeem, and teach us how to love them as you intend us to!