Finder of Lost Sheep

Especially for all my Elmwood friends!

I do not take it lightly that you have taken me into your fold! Hope to spend many more evenings being real with you. Did you ladies go home feeling as full as I did last night? Not from Alicia’s delicious Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting but full in your heart? Did you walk in your house feeling like you had something to give your family? I did and it was awesome. Just knowing that you guys are reading the same scriptures as me pushes me closer to Him. You encourage me! I need this kind of accountability.

So…today was the Lost Sheep of Luke 15:1-7. Did you love reading Jesus’ words?

Do you have some thoughts you want to share?

Right now I want to zero in on verse 7. I’ll write it here in the, uh hem, New Living Translation… (if you checked your email you’ll know why that’s funny.)

Luke 15:7 NLT – In the same way there is more joy in heaven over on lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Jesus always preferred the company of “sinners”; people who weren’t trying to impress Him.   I think that is still true for us today. I always feel a more intimate connection with Jesus when I recognize that I don’t have to impress Him. I think He can tell when I’m “church’n’ things up”.   You know, showing off my good side and not acknowledging the dirty parts of my life that He wants to tend to.  It’s hard to be vulnerable and real. But if there was ever a safe place to be vulnerable and honest, it is at the feet of Jesus. Remember how I wanted to pull away from Jesus…recoil from Him. I think we do that because we aren’t sure if we can trust Him.   We don’t think He will like what He sees and that maybe He’s just gonna shame us. Re-read Luke 15:5-7 and tell me if you think that Jesus would shame you.

For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. –John 3:17

It is because of Jesus, our Savior that we can stand before God, The Judge. We need cling to Him!

I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 119:176 NLT

Here are some fun facts about sheep to ponder… remember now, we are the sheep! Have fun, bless you all! Email or share your thoughts in the comment section.

Sheep are actually quite relationally intelligent. In studies, sheep can visually recognize up to fifty individual sheep by photo. They also have strong emotions and frail hearts: sheep feel pain over the pain of other sheep in their flock.  In fact, when one of its sheep-friends is in distress, a sheep can literally kill itself with worry because it can’t do anything to help.  All it can do is to cry out for its Shepherd to come rescue its friend.

Sheep are Defenseless, Directionless, and in all ways Dependent.

No other animal is so dependent on someone else to take care of it.  Its wool, for instance, has to be sheared regularly, or it becomes matted and overgrown, and debris accumulates in it.  As a result, the sheep can become overheated and top-heavy; and when a sheep gets top-heavy, it easily lose its balance and falls over—a position from which it is unable to escape on its own.  Once a sheep is on its back, it is stuck there until someone finds and rights it, until it starves to death, or until a predator puts it out of its misery.

All sorts of things can cause suffering for a sheep. Flies will gather on its face and can drive the sheep insane.  In an effort to relieve itself of the constant annoyance, a sheep will hit its head against tree stumps or fence posts, sometimes causing its own death.  To prevent this, the shepherd will smooth oil around the sheep’s eyes, nose, mouth and ears to repel the tiny Death Files.

Parasites will burrow into the folds of skin beneath the sheep’s wool, lay eggs and cause infection.  The shepherd must investigate every inch of his sheep’s’ bodies, and will pay that same tender, meticulous attention to each one.

Sheep are also prone to overeating, over-drinking, and slothfulness.  The shepherd carefully weeds dangerous plants from the pastures to which he leads them, and often wakes them early in the morning when dew is on the grass so that they can hydrate and eat all at once.  He takes individual walks with those he notices have been inactive.

In their dependence, sheep are also directionless. [1 Peter 2:25] They seek a leader to follow, even if it’s just another directionless sheep.  (In Turkey in 2005, 1,500 sheep followed one wayward sheep off the edge of a cliff while their shepherds were having a lunch break!) Sheep also get overwhelmed and paralyzed when given too many options to choose from while traveling to new pastures, or when the path seems scary.  The shepherd knows to show them clearly which opening to go through and which steps to take.

Sheep are dependent on a shepherd for defense as well [John 10:12].  They have neither defensive nor offensive weapons; they don’t even have front teeth. Sheep are prone to heart attacks if terrified, and can become too scared even to bleat.  Should the sound of a predator be heard, the eyes of all the sheep will flash to their shepherd. [Exodus 14:13-14]  They know they are helpless without him.

Quoted from This Is Church. Gospel Stories & Ideas. College Style. Retrieved November 5, 2012, from http://www.thisischurch.net/bible-reflection/sheepology-101/

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When You’ve Ignored God

As you all know we moved out here last fall and we are still trying to get to know people…making friends. I was blessed to cross paths with my new friend, Alicia. She has the most hospitable heart! The first time we met I told her about Lost Without Him. Then she told me about a women’s fellowship that she started with some ladies in town. She loved to make a meal for them and just have a ladies night with no kids. But she wanted to give them more than that. Not just food for their bodies but food for their soul. I suggested that maybe I could come to her gatherings and introduce a topic centered on some biblical issue applicable to marriage, mothering and life. She loved it! So we set the dates and began to plan.

We just had our first gathering last night. Our topic was titled When You’ve Ignored God. I shared vulnerably from my own Christian experience the struggle to keep God a priority in my life. That awkward feeling of opening your bible after months or years of neglect.  How strange our words feel as we bow to pray for the first time in ages.  We look at our dusty bibles.  With heavy hearts burdened with more than we were meant to carry, we say, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be better. Tomorrow I’ll open my bible.”  What if we didn’t wait till tomorrow? What if we just reached out to Him now?

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. -2 Corinthians 6:2

We bring him our neediness, doubts, weakness and poverty.  We come hungry for what only He can give.  After we have tried to find it in so many other places, we return. Like the prodigal son we come back empty. Nothing to offer but a flickering torch.  And as the scriptures show…there is no shame in your returning.

Why did I stop praying?

Why did I stop opening my bible?

It most likely happened very subtly. Some overindulging in mindless entertainment here…a miss-placed priority there. Before you realize it, it’s been a while since you thought about God. A spiritual laziness sets in.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” –Hebrews 4:7

I missed God so much. I really had to fight back my hesitation to just put Him on the shelf again. Many doubting thoughts and shameful accusations kept me from showing my face to God. Like the desperate father in Mark 9:22 says to Jesus “…if you can do anything…help us.”

Jesus answers him, “If you can? Everything is possible to Him who believes.”

The man exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

And that was the cry of my heart…help me overcome my unbelief!

At that point I asked myself a really important question.

“Bri, do you believe that Jesus died on the cross?”

(How silly, of course I believe Jesus died on the cross.)

“Then why do you pull away when he reaches out? Why do you recoil? Why are you hiding? Because if you believe that Jesus died on the cross then you believe that…

– the shame you feel is the reason he died.

            – He accepts you. All of your mess.

            – He is perfect so you don’t have to be.

            – life apart from Him is no life at all.

(Oh ya, that last one? Ya, I believe that one. I’ve experienced how empty my full life feels when I leave Jesus out.)

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” -Ezekiel 36:26-27

So I began to read my bible. And it did feel awkward to open my bible and pray when it had been so long. Like seeing someone that you have brushed off for a long time and you just don’t even know what to ask them about. It felt a little forced. But the more I read my bible the more we had to talk about in prayer. The more I prayed the closer I felt to him. I no longer felt so far away; far away from my husband or distant to my kids. I began to initiate life again, not just react to it.

One thing I have to guard against everyday is thinking too much of myself and too little of God. Everyday I need to “get over myself” so I can truly follow Jesus. Because when I look to him…Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never coved with shame. Psalm 34:5

What ever it is that has kept you from seeking God, you can always return. We don’t need to clean our selves up before we approach Him.

He washes our feet,

He covers our faults,

He forgives our wrongs.

This is why He came. He didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive. And I can certainly attest to feeling dead inside. We bring him our neediness, doubts, weakness and poverty. We come hungry for what only He can give. After we have tried to find it in so many other places soon He tracks us down and carries us home. And there is no shame in your returning.

(I prepared a 4-day devotional for all the ladies who came to our dessert night last night so I’ll be chiming in on those this week. A little more traffic than usual 🙂


Ask Like You Know I’m Going To Say Yes …and a special note from My Darling, Jeff!!

So the writer’s conference was just days away and I was still unsure if I would be able to go. Remember now that Jeff had accepted an invitation to help some family members that live 4 hours away. My child care options were running out. Even if Jeff did stay home he would still need to enlist help so the kids could be in two different places.

It came to this…I really wanted Jeff to stay home. I had lamented to him about this soon to be missed opportunity but never really actually asked him to change his plans for me. I guess I thought that he just would. I guess I thought he would just say, “Hey honey, no problem. I will call and say I can’t make it out this time. I really want you to enjoy this conference. Cheer up, we will make it work!”

But no matter how much I complained about missing this conference he did not once offer to just stay home and skip his trip. He was feeling more obligated to his relatives than to me. So now I was having a different kind of pity party…[insert crying] “My husband doesn’t value me! My husband doesn’t listen to me. And if he is listening than he just doesn’t care!!” [more loud crying].

Someone please tell me I’m not the only wife who has gone through this.

These are the thoughts that really break a wife’s heart. When she believes that her trusted protector and provider is not looking out for her and she is on her own and needs to fend for herself. That he would not forsake all others and be there for her when she needs him.

We have had many struggles in our marriage. Most of them can be related to poor communication. The message is just not getting through. Or worse, we believe a false assumption. I knew these thoughts I was having could really take me down a bitter road with my husband and my tender heart could not handle that. And I didn’t think my marriage could handle that either. I pondered my options…

1. I could choose to be bitter and quietly plot revenge.

2. I could throw a major fit; a tantrum of sorts, until I got what I wanted.

or

3. I could try again to tell my husband how I’m feeling and this time clearly explain what I want and need.

I have witnessed many women throw the dumbest fits simply because they wanted something but never actually asked for it (me being one of those of course). They were waiting for husband to just do it or give it or say it…whatever it was. They were being helpless victims. It is very cruel to blame our husbands for our unhappiness when we really did not give them a fair chance in the first place, that fair chance being an honest mature conversation.

I eat my words every time I tell my 7 year old daughter, “Fiona, you must stop freaking out and just tell us what you want. Please believe that we want to help you and always will. The world will not respond kindly to a helpless victim. Just say how you are feeling and what you want.”

Why is it so hard for her to just ask for what she wants? Does she think that I can read her brain and I’m just being cruel by not giving her what she wants? Sometimes I do know what she wants but I want her to learn that I do not respond to tantrums and fits. I respond really well to an optimistic request. I tell her …

 Daughter ask

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” -Matthew 7:7-8

So here is how it went with my Jeff. We were climbing into bed and I said,…

“Darling, you need to hear these really dumb thoughts I’m having.” I told him all reasons I didn’t think I was worth the sacrifice, money and effort of my family on my behalf.

Jeff responds, “Well those are dumb thoughts honey. But I’m just not sure how we will be able to get you there.”

“Ahhrrrg! Well it’s pretty obvious to me Darling! You need to say home!” (no, I didn’t say that. But I was thinking it!). Instead, I said…

“Would you please stay home and take care of the kids so I can go to this conference? Please call your family and tell them you can’t come because Bri has a thing”. It felt awkward. It seemed weird to have to ask this of him.

Jeff’s response – “Ok. I’ll call them. You can go.”

I was tempted to think, “He isn’t doing it right. He didn’t say it nice. He didn’t smile. It seems like he’s mad”. (Oh our poor husbands. Am I right ladies?)

He knows my love language is Words of Affirmation. If you don’t express it with words then I don’t believe you. And as you can see he uses few; and takes the shortest and most direct route. Jeff wasn’t too surprised when I said I was needing a cheerleader. I told him that asking him to stay was a big deal for me. I needed him to say some encouraging words like, “I want to stay home so you can go. I’m excited for you to go to this conference.” So I told him I was going pee and when I got back he could tell me his cheerleader thoughts. Knowing my Jeff, I wasn’t expecting much. But when I returned, I opened the bedroom door to the sound of the Nebraska Cornhusker Tunnel Walk music playing loud on the iPad…for me! I laughed so hard!  He didn’t say anything but the look on his face and his choice of “cheerleader thoughts” expressed through epic football introductory music was enough. He was cheering me on…in his own way.

And an epic battle was fought and won between my two ears. There were no victims 😉

(A Note From Jeff) As her husband and friend, my wish is for my wife to be the best she can be. But like most husbands who are used to getting in the front seat of life, I need to be told over and over and over what Briana needs. I am so good at asking for what I want, I forget to listen to my wonderful wife and what she really needs. Each person that reads this will think of ways that you have experienced something like this in your own life. If I can give a little piece of advice ladies, don’t be afraid to ask for your husband to bless you in any way he can. We live for it, we want to be your hero, but we can’t if we don’t know what burden we can carry for you. If you’re lucky, we will do it half the time.

pray with me

Dear Lord, Please help us think the best of our husbands. Speak love and patients when our hearts are freaking out. Help us guard against a victim mentality and just ask for what we need. Help us to ask with confidence and not criticize when they don’t respond the “right way”. Help us guard against quiet bitterness and obnoxious fits. Amen.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. –James 4:1-2


The Hoarder And Her Can: a mom’s lesson in worth and potential.

A month ago I was watching an episode of Hoarders: Collection (um yah, sometimes it’s the only thing that motivates me to clean my house) and my ears perked up during a conversation a counselor was having with a client on her porch. He brings out a bag full of empty cans from her house and sits down with her and her adult daughter.

The counselor asks her, “So what’s your thoughts about the cans?”

hoarder: “I see potential in everything. Lots of things you could do with tin snips, make flowers, all kinds of crafts…”

counselor: “Well you said you see potential in everything except yourself.”

hoarder: “Well I’m too old for potential anymore.”

counselor: “So theoretically this can has more potential than you.”

She nods and looks down.

Now I understand that the hopeless condition of this woman’s soul is a product of a painful abusive marriage that ended 20 years ago. My beautiful life cannot compare to her pain and loss but there was a part of me that could relate with what her counselor was getting at. I myself had just recently questioned my own worth and potential.

A friend told me about a writer’s conference called Jumping Tandem. I wanted to go so bad and I really needed to go. Seemed like it might actually work out until my husband said that he accepted an invitation to help some family members four hours away. Grandma and grandpa would be on vacation in Mexico. Fiona would need to go to a birthday party and Tony would have a baseball game. Who would watch my kids that needed to be in two different places at once! This was a logistical nightmare! And of all weekends why must it be this one?

My thoughts turn to…

“Looks like I’m staying home to hold everything together, like always, (very dramatically) and always will.

It gets worse though. Check out these other pity party thoughts I was entertaining…

“Serves me right, though. I don’t generate any income for our family so why should I spend it on improving me.”

“The family four hours away has a much more noble cause so why shouldn’t Jeff go help them.”

“Don’t be so selfish Bri”

But my heart was crying out! …”I’m home all the time! Everything I do is for the advancement of my husband and kids. Just this once I want to go and invest in me. Seriously my time away would amount to less than 24hours. Can’t I have that Lord? Am I being so selfish in wanting this?”

Then I thought of the hoarder and her can. And I thought of all the potential I see in my dear friends. If they ever came to me with such lies and an invitation to a pity party I would immediately tell them to stop it and do what ever it took to go to that conference. I knew I had much more potential than trash. My dreams, desires and talents are always worth fighting for. Pursuing dreams will usually be inconvenient on some level. Inconvenient for me and my family.

I felt like the Lord was saying, “Well how bad do you want this Bri, ’cause I’m not going to make it easy for you. Do you think it’s worth all this. Are you worth all this? Do you believe you are worth investing in?

The hoarder refused to have a vision for her life. I knew that I didn’t want to get stuck in that kind of self-depreciating rut – I wanted to get in my groove!

Ok you moms, how many times have you had those same thoughts?

…”Husbands and kid needs come first all the time. How could I ever ask them to bend over backwards on my behalf?”

Well picture yourself 40 years in the future and hearing the same words that our hoarder’s daughter told the counselor “It’s hard to hear my own mom say that there is more potential in a something that is trash than there is in her.”

I do believe that our kids and husbands take great pride in watching us pursue impossible dreams. Have you ever stopped to wonder that just maybe they would love to bend over backwards on your behalf the same way you love to do it for them? Seriously, we only need to ask. But we won’t ask if deep down we don’t think we are worth it.

The Lord was not making this weekend event difficult so as to cruelly dangle some unattainable fruit in my face. He really wanted me to see that I was worth fighting for. I think The Lord wanted my husband and kids to see me fighting for this dream too. I think He smiled in relief when I decided that I was. After all, He paid so much for me. With His very life He told me how much I was worth.

 -Here’s A Good Word-

Twice Paul encouraged Timothy to pursue his talents and invest in himself.

Do not neglect your gift…. -1 Timothy 4:14

…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you… -2 Timothy 1:6

-Your Thoughts-

What are some dangers of having that pity party in front of your husband and kids?

I would never want my kids or husband to feel like they were the reason I never did the things I always wanted to.

Tell me about a time that the Lord did not make it come easy, whatever it was.

Is it easier for you to invest family resources into every member of the family except you? Why?

Tomorrow… I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Was I able to get it together to go to the JumpingTandem conference? How hard would I have to fight for this… and a special message from My Darling (husband Jeff)


Let’s Not Over-Think This

“Don’t you quit now, Bri! Finish it! Just finish it!”

This is me talking to myself while running on the MoPac trail this morning. You see I have this problem sometimes. I get kinda lazy. I see the finish so I think I’m done (even though I’m not there yet). So I stop and walk the last 15 yards to my finish.   I love running! Not competitively though. I do it for fun. It’s relaxing for me. The moment you tell me I need to beat a time or a person I promise I will lose all benefit from the exercise.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with depression. Really scary time.  Of course I was able to find a good course of treatment; medication and some time with a counselor.   Everything I read told how good exercise was for my mind. I learned about endorphins and all the great benefits of regular exercise.   Tragically, this added information took all the fun out of my running. It was no longer for fun but for “have to”. All the magic of being outside, the sounds, the smells, the peaceful rhythmic breathing, the zone… it was gone. Disappeared into doctor’s orders. I thought, “Oh I guess its nothing special after all…just endorphins.”

I can be stubborn that way. It has to be my idea and my reasons. I don’t like to do something just because someone told me to. I know, really mature. My eyes are rolling with you I promise. My dear mother who raised this stubborn child knows exactly what I’m talking about. I think my husband might nod his head here too.

Sadly the divine was taken from another life-giving part of my life. Prayer. I absolutely loved praying. I believed in what I was praying about. I believed that God heard me. I believed that He would answer my pleas for people.

prayer

And I need to be anchored.   But then counselors and journal articles all told about the benefits of meditation and prayer. These experts told how good it was to sit quietly and clear your head. All good things. But with my depression/anxiety it is hard to sit alone, quietly and feel like it’s doing any good for me.   And there was no talk of the divine spiritual perspective of prayer. It became a time out and it became all about me. Already, my depression had me squarely focused on me and the last thing I needed was more me time.

It’s been five years since I’ve come out of the dungeon. And I’ve got to tell you, I am taking back my running and I am taking back my prayer. I’m so glad that exercise helps my mind, but I want the mystery. So I run like a child -before the battle scars of depression and before it was all about me.  I enjoy the sounds, smells, the rhythm and the zone once again. I don’t think much about what I’m getting out of it. I try to not think much at all. I just enjoy it. And when I want to burst with joy and praise my God on the running trail, I will!  And just be thankful and enjoy Him.  Even when other runners on the trail are thinking “I’d like to have those kind of endorphins”… I’ll still believe.

Think with me – but not over-think it 😉

Like me, was something stolen from you at the hand of depression?

What would you like to take back?

How did “over-thinking” it take your enjoyment out of it?

The counselor I saw years ago was not a believer. As I began to come out of my depression by telling her of the hope that Jesus gave me, she dismissed me – awkwardly.  Thank goodness the Lord had given me the confidence in that moment to realize that I was not a lunatic for my faith. The gospel is foolishness to those who don’t believe.   But I wonder if some of you came out of depression believing that your faith was just a crutch and not the very solid ground that your life stands on?

Lets cry out to God and claim it once more!

Dear Almighty God, We believe that you care deeply for us and long for us to be close to you. Help us Lord to cling to that. Let us not grieve the lost years and the lost fruit and instead look forward to what you have for us now. Lord we want to lavish in Your mystery and acknowledge Your power in our lives once more. We come back to you Lord, like little children sitting at your feet. All this in the sweet name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure… –Hebrews 6:19

Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. –Mark 10:14-16 (NLT)


Restoration of home…and heart

I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?

Jeremiah 32:27

I have been pleasantly packing up my little home.  Boxes filled and sealed.  Destined to be opened in a new strange place. A place that will soon be our home as we begin to fill it with our presence – for that is what home is.

The afternoon of March 29th Jeff and I set eyes on this old house for the first time.  Like some eternal nurturer always looking for a broken or wounded soul to heal, so Jeff and I tend to be that way with old broken down and tossed aside things on the brink of death.  Whether it is an old rusty bucket like the one I just resuscitated last week or a piece of furniture by the curb on trash day.  We see not the trash heap it is, but what it once was.  What it can still be.  We have a vision of “new life” for things others would put in a grave.  So it is with this old school house.

We came early that day to snoop around before our realtor arrived to unlock the house.  We enjoyed guessing the purpose of each out-building and deciding right there how we would use it.  We knelt down and prayed in the driveway. Asking the Lord to make a way for us to be the new care takers of this lonely place.  Our realtor arrives.  She struggles with the lock.  The door opens and we look, we see, we imagine…we plan.

With Jeff armed with all the capabilities of a construction crew and me (as I’m told) the patience of a saint – we know we could take on this patient.  Though dirty, violated in some areas and slightly ill equipped to shelter our family, we knew we could provide the care that was necessary to bring her back to life.

I snooped through every door.  Like a curious kid wondering where it would lead.  One door took me into the bathroom.  As my head ducked under old dusty spider webs I turned to look in the mirror. There I found a treasure.  On a yellow post-it note was a bible verse written with a woman’s hand, stuck to the mirror and left behind.

I am the Lord

I snatched it down.  Who was this woman?  Our realtor spoke of rumors of divorse.  I knew we were looking at a property in a foreclosed status.  These walls could tell of hard times for sure.  Like scanning a crime scene and trying to put the pieces together I looked for evidence that told their story.  A teenage girl once roomed here.  They had a moving sale.  Unwanted items were simply left for the next occupants.  I wondered how they were all getting along now.  Had their wounds healed? I will never know.

But I do know this – that nothing is too hard for the Lord!  The Lord explained to Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 32 that He was about to hand the city over to the Babylonians – to destroy it and burn the houses down.  His people had ignored Him and turned away from the One True God.  They were in trouble and their lives were falling apart.  The Lord allowed the Babylonians to come in and destroy it.  He intended to show them just what life would be like for them, without Him.  And it was a nightmare.  But our Good God would not allow that to be the end.

In Jeremiah 32:37-39 the Lord says that He would also restore it and bring it back to life.  “…I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them … I will bring them back to this place and let them live safely.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them…”

I have also turned from God and His tender care.  Each time, He never withheld the sure consequences of living in such disregard to His goodness and mercy.  When my life would cease to worship Him he showed me exactly where that would lead – an exile of sorts.  But He always welcomed me back when my heart returned to Him.  He would not shame me nor allow me to live in the disgrace I deserved.

This is the God that Jeff and I worship.  He loves to make things new – to breath new life into something on the brink of death.  The Lord has done that in our marriage when it was destined for the trash heap.  A bond so broken by sin and selfishness that only the Lord could bring us back with a singleness of heart and action…for our good and the good of our children.  Nothing is too hard for the Lord!

This is so much more than fixing up a house.  Anyone can come in and do what Jeff and I are doing- the painting, cleaning and repairs.  It would be all for nothing if we didn’t love the Lord.  Because He is the one that breathes the breath of life into our souls. It is His presence that makes this broken house a home!

pray with me

Oh Lord, you are so good to us. Thank you for stretching out your arm to us. Restore our hearts. Make them new. Breath life into our homes. Give us the singleness of heart and action that we long for. For our good and the good of our children. -Amen.

think with me

When have you found something or someone that you thought was beyond repair? Sometimes you see someone so ravaged by selfishness that you think there is no hope for them. Do you find it hard to have compassion and mercy for those in need of the Lord?

Take some time and think about what God has made new in your life. What has he rescued you from?

It’s one thing to put some screws into an old shaky chair. It’s an entirely different thing all together when you find a broken person.  Only God can see into their broken places and apply the healing touch of a creator.


Stop Picking That Scab!

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.   –Psalm 147:3

I’m a picker. It is not uncommon to see me hovered over any of my family members looking for a pimple to pop.   Evolutionist could try to use me as evidence that we evolved from monkeys! My dear Fiona has inherited her mom’s grooming habits. She loves to pick off her rough, scaly scabs. And when she does they start bleeding all over again, exposing a wound that has not fully healed. I have warned her so many times…

“Fiona, if you don’t leave that alone it will never heal. The scab helps it heal and every time you pick it open you have to start that healing process over.”

Sometimes I am so struck by the things that come out of my mouth to my kids.

You see, I can get to picking at scabs too. Not the kind of road rash scabs from falling off a scooter but the kind of scabs from hurt feelings.   A cut from some harsh words. Or the scrape of a cold shoulder. A bruise of betrayal.

It’s good to talk things out. We need to process painful events, get things off our chest. We forgive. And then we live.

But later on something reminds us and we look down and see the scab. We get to thinking about how it got there. Then we start talking about it, reliving a painful event that has left a mark on our heart and mind exposing a wound that had not fully healed and the blood beings to ooze out again.

Wait, I thought I had settled this issue! I thought I had already resolved this! Why am I reliving this all over again? That was so long ago…

Its time to apply some more balm, cover it and give it some more time. Soon the scab forms again and the wound can begin to heal back. My little girl is learning to leave her scabs alone and let her body do its thing. I remind her…

“Honey, the more you pick on that scab the worse the scar will be.”

 …Next time a word about scars.

Allow these scriptures to encourage you

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:18-19

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth…” -Isaiah 54:4

…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. -Philippians 3:13

think with me

Here is a new word I learned… recrudesce (re-kroo-des´) v. – to become raw again, worse, bloody.

So here’s to not rehashing past events. Here’s to not dragging people through “court” again after the matter has been settled. And here is to making new memories!

pray with me

Dear Lord, we are so thankful that you hear our cries when we are hurting. Please help us leave our “scabs” alone so that they can heal.  Let the healing balm of forgiveness cover over anything that we scrape off.  Help us to be understanding to other peoples wounds and always encourage them toward healing and not scaring. In Your Name we pray Lord Jesus – Amen.