Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Steadfast means...

I'm returning to a new normal.  Or perhaps it would make more sense to say that the emotional instability that I was dealing with after my car accident is fading away.

The things God has demonstrated to me in these last two months have changed me, though. He makes all things new... He doesn't just reset them to how they were.  His kind of restoration recreates each part of me to the "me" that He knew before I was conceived in a sinful world.


Two verses have spoken to me a lot in these past few weeks. I'll share one now and the other in the next day or two for the new year.

The first is in the old King James Version. I haven't read that version in years, but evidently, way back in my childhood, something impressed this verse on me:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee.  - Is. 26:3
 "Perfect peace" is such a powerful phrase, isn't it? But this verse is saying it applies to those whose mind is "stayed on" God.  That means "focused on God" doesn't it?  I thought so, but I wanted to be sure... so I went to look it up in the super-literal NASB:
The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
"Wait a minute!" I thought. "Steadfast? That doesn't mean the same thing as "stayed on Him" does it?"  And I began a word study.

It turns out that "steadfast" does not just mean "steady" like I would have defined it. Merriam-Webster says it this way:
Steadfast: Very devoted or loyal to a person, belief, or cause; not changing.
That definition made me think of a dog whose full attention is constantly on its master... or a fanatic whose every action somehow has something to do with the cause they have dedicated their life toward.

For us, a "steadfast" mind actually reflects a lifestyle. A system of values. Something deeper than just the mind. Something that comes from the heart and affects everything a person does and everything thought that goes through their mind.

This verse is saying that when our mind is steadfast toward Him, that is when He keeps us in perfect peace.

Wow. Small wonder that so few of us are really experiencing this perfect peace all the time!

That last part of the verse explains why it works this way. Because the steadfast person trusts in Him.

You see... you cannot possibly be "very devoted or loyal to God" unless you trust Him. It's simply not possible because of who He is... because part of following someone is trusting them.,, because He asks those who give their lives to Him to trust Him.

Truthfully, I don't think you can't truly know Him without coming to trust Him more and more and more anyway. The more I know Him, the more I understand what He did and does and wants to do for me, and the more I understand how powerful and capable and loving He is. The natural result is trusting Him in more and more areas of my life.

But it is a process, isn't it? How steadfast we are at the moment matters less than the direction we're headed. Just as changing from glory to glory is a process, so is becoming steadfast in God... and so is the learning to dwell in a reality that is encompassed by that oh-so-desirable perfect peace.

These past two months, as some areas of my life became more and more storm-tossed, I discovered that the delineation between that storm and His "perfect peace" became more defined. It became easier to see which parts of my life were settled in a steadfast-towards-Him attitude and which were still embedded in the overwhelmed Katie's-still-trying-to-control-it parts. Each part of my life, I could go about in a steadfast-toward-Him manner... or I could try to go about it on my own. The result of one was stress. The result of the other was peace.

Oh what a difference!

My desire for 2015 is to explore more of what it means to be steadfast toward Him!



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My God takes care of me...

Last week I shared how much I was struggling. I still am in those same ways... but at the same time, I am surrounded and filled with the assurance that my God is taking care of me. He knows my name, He holds me in His arms, He has good plans for me, and His goodness is greater than anything that life sends my way.

I was thinking this morning that life with God is full of paradoxes. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. He who seeks to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for the sake of Him will find it. When we are weak, He is strong.

That last one is being demonstrated to me, for never in my life have I felt so weak.

I have always been pretty confident and capable... if not of doing anything that needed to be done, then of finding someone who could do it if I couldn't, finding another way around, etc.

But this accident, compiled on top of things related to my husband's ER and ICU visit last month, added to being overloaded at work... you see, before the accident, I was already facing mountains above and beyond what little-ole-me can handle. Then the accident came and simultaneously did two things: 1) Added more to the mountain  2) Made me weaker and less able to "handle things" than I've ever been.  Kind of ironic, isn't it?

But when you're facing a mountain so far above and beyond your ability to climb, there's only one path that leads to victory. 
"I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb." - Bebo Norman
 I am so thankful that God has spent the last number of years giving me an assurance, deep in my soul, that He is able.  That He is worth trusting. Always.

I have, these last few weeks (even before the accident), done what I never have before... resolutely shoved things out of my mind to be dealt with later, because I do not have the strength and stability to deal with it in that moment.  Except it hasn't been a procrastinating kind of shoving-it-off.  (I know that one well.)  Neither has it been denial.  Since I am a very visual person, I can best describe it more like taking things off my very-tiny desk, carrying them over to God's massively huge and perfectly organized desk, knowing that they are safe there until such time as He takes what He wants me to do, one by one, and lays them before me with careful instructions, when He knows I can handle it.

And that's what He's doing. It's positively amazing to me.

For example, one of the things I knew I needed to do was move a doctor's appointment I had... but I wasn't sure which number to call, wasn't sure what time to move it to, and wasn't even positive which date it actually was for... I just knew that I couldn't go the week that it was. That's a small thing, I know... shouldn't be any big deal to do. But it was just one more thing that I was supposed to do, and it was lumped with a hundred other things together in the, "I can't handle all this, God, so here it is. Please sort it out" pile.
Cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.    - Ps. 55:22

The other day, the doctor's office called me about something. I answered their question, and in three minutes, my appointment was moved. Done. Without Stress.

I keep having little things happen like this.

And then there's the big things, like buying a new car.  Because yes, my beloved little Chevy HHR was totaled. That car was just an older car in a lot of people's minds, but for me, it was a gift from my husband who, last year, wanted me to have, for the first time in my life, the car that I wanted. And I loved it.  There were a few issues... the steering column was making noises and we didn't have the money to fix it so we were living with it... I had never quite liked the fact that the window buttons were in the center console instead of on the doors... or the fact that there was no visor mirror for the driver's side or overhead light... but I still loved it. And it was gone.... so my husband was determined again that whatever car we got would be again something I wanted.


Can I tell you my weekend story?
 It might be kind of long, but God did an amazing thing taking care of me.

Car shopping isn't fun (especially to someone like me who doesn't like to shop at all), and buying that HHR that got totaled had been one of the most stressful things I'd done last year.  This was a big part of what I felt the accident was doing to me, because now I had to do it again. One more thing to make the mountain higher.

One more thing to move to God's desk.

So last week, I spent some time googling cars (and avoiding car salesmen). Of course I looked at the now-even-older Chevy HHRs again, but most of the newer ones (2011 was the last year for them) were in the $11,000 - $14,000 range, even with 50k miles or more. Coupled with what I now knew about recalls and expensive steering column issues, I could not see spending that much. Besides... there were only five manual 2011 HHRs within 200 miles, and all but one of them was $13,000 to $15,000.  I could buy a new car for very close to that!

So I bookmarked the one that was less without looking at it too closely... after all, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, right? And I started looking at new cars. (Online, where I was safe from salesmen.)

I won't bore you with which new cars I looked at and why... suffice to say that I looked when I felt like it, and when I started to feel pressure to "figure out what to do" I laid it all down and walked away. Eventually I set an appointment to test drive a new Honda last Saturday.

I walked into the dealership Saturday, in pain from accident-strained muscles and tendons, and I told the salesman, "I am not here to buy a car today. I cannot handle any of that today... I just want to drive that car to see if I like how it drives. I want to compare it against a particular used car that I'm considering."  I had to repeat that several times over the course of two hours, and I walked out still saying that and still unsure of which car to get.

And then I got home.

And I looked up the HHR that I had bookmarked. The one with the lower price.

And I started to feel this whisper inside of me.  That's my car.

I looked at the photos more closely, and I saw all the features that I had loved about my first one that the Honda I had test driven was missing... and again I heard, That's your car.

I contacted that dealership (which was 100 miles away) to ask for more details.

And then I realized that the car was GM certified and came with 2 years of service just like the new car. And a 12-month bumper-to-bumper warranty. Even though it was already $2,000 less than all the other 2011 (uncertified) HHRs like it for sale.

And then I realized that I could extend that 12-month warranty to 4 years and still be less than all the other HHRs on the market... and less than I paid for my 3-years-older one last year, so I would not have to worry about steering column issues... and wind up with more warranty than the new Honda.


A very sweet and wonderful young woman from the dealership called me... and went all over the car for me... and called me to answer more questions again... and was sooo patient with my questions over and over and over again. And I felt more sure. That's my car.

And then I was looking at the pictures of it, and I discovered something that made me laugh in delight (and everyone else laugh at me.) The window buttons were on the doors instead of the steering column!  Remember how I said that one thing irritated me with my old one?  Feel free to laugh with/at me, but in that moment, I knew.

That's my car.

Yes, it was 100 miles away and I had not seen it in person.  And I know that when something seems too good to be true, you should beware.

But I was starting to feel like God had gone shopping for me. That He was being my personal shopper. He knew every car inside and out, He knew what I liked and needed, and He had shown me the car He'd found for me.

He was about to prove it beyond all doubt.

On Monday, I talked again with the young woman and my bank, getting everything pulled together and prepared so that when we drove down there, the sale could be quickly finalized. My husband kept saying, "I hope this car is as nice as you think it is. I hope we don't get all the way down there and you're disappointed." I totally understood where he was coming from, for I would normally be saying the same thing. The car was just too cheap.

I was also mentally shaking my head at myself over the fact that I was basically agreeing to pay their full asking price. Who does that for a car purchase?  I certainly never had, 'cause dealers will always come down at least a few hundred... especially when the used car has been on their lot for over two months. (Nobody likes manual HHRs but me, evidently.)

But I refused to worry about it, and I shrugged off all thoughts of asking them to lower their price. I just couldn't do either. I had no mental or emotional resources to try to figure that out. The price and warranty combined were good enough that, unless we got there and found that it had serious issues that the dealer hadn't mentioned, it would work. I felt confident enough to continue walking the path laid out for me.


I printed out the bank draft and paperwork to fax a copy to the dealership so that they could prepare the paperwork before we drove all that way late at night, and I thought, "I should type up a fax cover sheet with the VIN number just to make sure that there's no paperwork confusion."  So I pulled up the listing on their website one more time.

They had dropped the asking price of the car that morning.

Seriously!  What dealer DOES that?  Drops the price of a car that they've already got a potential buyer for?

The girl I was working with excitedly adjusted all the numbers for me, and I went to fax the paperwork.

And as I was driving, Francesca Battistelli's new song "Knows My Name" came on.
Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn't choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I'd understand if
You picked everyone before me...

I don't need my name in lights
I'm famous in my Father's eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name

And then the song got to this line:
I'm already so adored...
And I broke down in tears (again) as He whispered to my heart:

It's okay. I've got you. I'm taking care of you. That dropped price this morning? I did the bargaining for you. I love you. You. Are. Going. To. Be. Okay.

After that, I just smiled when my husband worried about the car not being what I wanted.  God had gone shopping for me.  No one could possibly do better.  I was still a mess... but I had the One who would never be a mess, and He was holding me and taking care of me.
He calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King,
His forever, held in treasure
I am loved.

Get this. The dealer's name is Valentine. And all my papers have a big heart at the top from their logo.


We picked up the car last night. In less than an hour:

- My husband poured over every inch of it with a flashlight, then declared it in remarkably good shape. 
- I test drove it and felt perfectly at home in my car.
- My husband tested it with a lot more daring than this still-shaky driver (me) felt up to.
- The girl gave me the paperwork for the bumper-to-bumper warranty.
- The finance manager gave us papers to sign.
- And I walked out with my new car.

God got me a 3 year old car in amazing shape (even with the buttons on the doors AND the mirror on the visor AND the overhead light) with a loan $40/month less than my older one, because I got this car for $8,744.  Yes... that's four to six thousand dollars less than all the other dealers are asking. Want proof? See my car at the top of the list with last week's price, before they dropped the price Monday morning. (Cars.com never got the updated lower price.)

But it wasn't the money. It would have been a good deal even $2,000 more. It was how God did the shopping and bargaining and financing and everything for me. Even something as un-spiritual and un-eternal as buying a car, and He did it all. For me. Because I am His. I have made myself His. I have given myself and my life - messy as it is - to Him, and therefore He makes my life His responsibility.

I'm already so adored...


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Struggles...

I'm struggling right now.

I find myself wondering if I need to be transparent about it on here so I'm not fake and a fair-weather blogger giving some false impression that my life is perfect and I'm strong... or if talking about struggles is going to sound like complaining and begging for attention.

But wouldn't this blog and website be a farce if Hope was not here for me when I am struggling? Does someone out there need to know this?

Because Hope is still here. In me. Even though I feel like I'm falling apart.

Because the Infinite One lives inside of me and breathes life into me and holds me in the palm of His hand and is entirely capable of shining His Light through this blog if He chooses, regardless of what I am going through.


I was in a car accident last Thursday. The cold weather that descended on most of the US changed our Ohio roads from perfectly okay to ice-covered skating rinks for cars right at rush hour.

I was out to take my daughter to her last orchestra practice before her concert when we hit black ice.  In the span of three seconds, I went through the realization that I had lost control of the car, terror that we were about to slam into an oncoming car, torture at my daughter screaming my name, relief that we had somehow missed the car, and a strange, cool, detached curiosity at whether it was possible for the car to somehow slide between the fire hydrant and telephone pole in front of us.

All of that finished up with two thoughts, one after the other.

It's gonna be the telephone pole. This might not be good. 

(Bamm!)

Okay, that wasn't all that bad. We're okay.


In the two hours afterward, as I spoke with the police and my husband and waited for a tow truck, I was shaking from the cold, concerned about my daughter, etc... and I probably appeared more calm, cool, and collected than I am right now.

We're still waiting for confirmation that the car was totaled, and my daughter and I are physically okay other than some slight stiffness.

And yet...

I am struggling. Mentally and Emotionally. This isn't the first accident I've been in, but I have never been affected like this. This is also the first car accident that happened slowly enough for me to go through that many emotions before it was even over. Maybe that's got something to do with it. I find myself wishing it had been faster... that I had no memory of those moments, because they keep playing over and over again in my mind.

In some moments, I feel fine and normal and ready to put this behind me, and in other moments I am grasping for the confidence that I have known for most of my life.

Two days after the accident, I had to drive our minivan to take this same daughter to her concert, and I was fine. Yesterday I had to drive our other tiny rear-wheel-drive car on the same roads, and I was a shaking, sobbing wreck by the time I got there.

Yesterday morning I was working at my online job and moving at a good pace.
This morning, I'm sitting here looking for answers... tears pouring down my face as I read about how PTSD often hits people after car accidents... particularly when there are not serious physical injuries. And I wonder.

And so I turn on my audio copy of the Psalms.

And the words wash over me.

"Do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in You."

"In the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling.
He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."

"Though I have seen trouble, You will restore my life again. You will bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more."

"Blessed are those who strength is in You. They go from strength to strength."

"For great is His love toward us
And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."

"It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in man."

"The Lord is my strength and my defense.
He has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous."

"Save me, for I am Yours."

"You will restore my soul."

"I rise before dawn and cry for help. I have put my hope in Your word. Hear my voice in accordance with Your love."

"Your compassion, Lord, is great. Preserve my life according to Your love."

"I remain confident of this. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart.
Wait for the Lord."

"Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose Hope is in the Lord their God.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down."

This is the reality of the gospel... that Hope is always calling, because He is always there... and He is always greater... and He is always loving... and He is always able... so, so able to carry me through this and comfort me and sustain me and restore me.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.                                       - Psalm 121


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good
And His love endures forever.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Of this I am convinced...

Last Thursday ended with my husband in ICU. All of a sudden.

At 7:30 pm he was fine, and by 9:00 he was in the ER with machines carefully measuring his malfunctioning heart, working to bring it back into order to avoid a stroke.

By Friday afternoon, he was released... his heart once again beating strong and steady... essentially back to normal health levels. He's back to work this morning.

It's odd for life to be so "normal" after something so serious and NOT normal has just happened. I suspect that people who walk away from a serious car accident without a scratch feel similar.  I am very grateful for modern medicine that knows how to bring down down a dangerously fast heartbeat, and I am grateful for my God who caused his heart to reset to normal rhythm.

But most of all I am grateful for my God who knew in advance what was going to happen at 8pm on 10/23/14. My God who was there with me driving home while this was happening and who was there in the ER and ICU with my husband. My God who is there for my kids, watching over their hearts and minds as they process this. My God who was oh-so-Present when I layed there at 2:00 in the morning, alone in our bed, but home for the sake of my kids who could not spend the night in ICU with Daddy and who didn't need to be home alone without either of us. My God who knows that the financial mountain this frail and weak daughter of His was facing is now many times larger. My God who is bigger than even THIS looming mountain. My God who knows what the doctors don't know... why this happened... and whose grace is sufficient for everything that all five of us need, both now and in the future.

In fact, my overwhelming emotion these last four days has been that I am grateful. I am thankful.  Oooohhh-so-thankful. I cannot express how much my heart was overflowing with thankfulness in the darkness of Thursday night, and how it still is, just because of who my God is. Again, I find myself understanding why He calls Himself the "I Am." Because there are no words big enough and marvelous enough and powerful enough to express everything that He is.

And there is no way to fully express how thankful I am that He Is everything that that He is, and everything that I need, have ever needed, and will ever need, regardless of what lies ahead of me.

I am far from the only one "going through stuff."  I can look around and see people going through divorce. Loss. Far bigger health issues than we just did. Far bigger financial issues than what we now have. Betrayal. Depression.

My heart aches to help them.

But of this I am convinced:

There is nothing more vital than knowing Him. Nothing.

Not knowing about Him. Not knowing the Bible or having hundreds of verses memorized. Not doing amazing things for Him. Not knowing how to receive perfect healing from Him. Not having my theology 100% correct. Not "standing for what is right in a fallen world." Not even reaching the lost and telling others about Him is more important than knowing Him myself.

For how can I accurately tell others about Him if I do not know Him myself? People know the difference when you're telling them about someone you've only heard about, compared to when you're telling them about someone you truly know.

How can we stand for what is right if we have not sought to know His heart? For His heart is the source of what is TRULY right... and His heart is filled with love and grace and mercy, given freely to overwhelm all that is wrong.

And what better, more accurate way to enrich our theology is there than to know the One whom it is all about? After all, theo means One... Him... not many studies and versions and interpretations given by others who may or may not truly know Him. Knowing about Him is nothing compared to truly knowing Him.

And doing things for Him is worthless unless He is the One doing it all... through those who knows Him.

Regardless of whether life has blindsided us, or whether it has sucked us into an unending mire... whether it's going great, or whether we're aching with the desire to help loved ones who are "going through it"... there is nothing more effective than seeking Him.

Nothing matters more than to know Him
because everything follows that.  
Everything.

He said it Himself, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added."  He said this right after He finished listing and going through things we seek and things we worry about.

Seeking Him comes with this promise:
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’

Thursday night, when my husband looked me in the eyes and said, "I love you" in that just-in-case-this-is-the-last-time-I-can-tell-you sort of way, this is was my security... that I knew my God.

Do you know Him?  If you have not met Him, can I introduce Him to you?

If you've heard about Him and don't much like what you've heard, will you consider that maybe what you've heard didn't come from someone who actually knew this God who said that He is Love?

And if you know Him some but have not experienced how He can overwhelm your struggles and difficulties and pain and guilt and loneliness... if the concept of watching Him face down your looming mountains isn't one that makes you smile... will you take my word for it if I tell you that He is so much more.  I've been discovering that He is more for over 20 years... and still He continues to show me even more and more. More wonderful. More powerful. More marvelous. More complete. More loving. More merciful. More lovely. More awe-inspiring. Overwhelming. He is more than enough. For everything.

He is more than enough when your husband is in ICU. He is more than enough when you're in the middle of a divorce. He is more than enough when your friends are deserting you.  He is more than enough when you have no way to pay your bills. He is always, always, more than enough... but He will never force all that He is on us. We have to seek Him. That voluntary act of the heart is us giving Him permission to enlarge our minds and hearts so that we are capable of knowing Him. Trust me... there is no way we can possibly know Him in our small-minded human-ness... He has to change us before we can even begin to comprehend all that He is.

And that is why He sent a Savior.

This is the glory of the gospel. And this is where Hope is.

I wrote six months ago:

He offers all of Himself... to you.

This is not something you have to do. It is not something you can do. You cannot ever "be happy" because you're supposed to. You can't even be happy in the depth of joy that I'm talking about because He died for you and you accepted Him into your life.

What I'm talking about is beyond knowledge and beyond a prayer and a decision because it's wrapped up in who He is.

And because of that, it is only found by those who seek Him. He said:

You shall seek Me, and you shall find Me, if you search for Me with all your heart.

"All your heart" means everything you've got in this moment. And after you fail and wander away and realize it and repent, it means everything you've got in that moment. And the next. And the next.

"All your heart" means giving whatever little you've got -- no matter how messed up you are -- to Him, in every moment that you come to Him in humility and repentance for the hours and days and weeks and months when you were holding back something or everything from Him.

He takes those moments, and His mercy flows through them to cover the rest of your life. And His mercies are replenished and start new every morning!

And then His grace flows so that the moments when you are holding back everything become fewer, and the moments when your heart is reaching for Him become more, and He begins to change your life from the thing you know right now into something that is beyond anything you've ever dreamed.

I know, because I live it.
If you don't know how to get there from wherever you're at, then email me. Or just get alone by yourself and say, "God help. I need You. Please show Yourself to me. You said You'd be found if I seek You. Show me how 'cause I don't even know that. I'm asking in Jesus' name, because I know that I can't come to You on my own merits. I'm not going to put any time constraints on You. I'm not going to tell You how to do it or when You have to do it. Do whatever you have to so that I can know You, because life is not worth living without You. Take all I am... this mess... and do what only You can do, 'cause I sure can't do anything with it. Help me."


Friday, October 17, 2014

Fear vs. Compassion...

Ebola has "reached" the United States and Europe, and the world is paying attention to what is going on in Africa.

But are we concerned because of fear for ourselves and our loved ones? Or is our concern motivated by compassion?

Are any of the rest of you thinking about this? Granted, who or what you listen to will tell you whether or not to worry or not. And yet... if it's not this, it's something else. We live in an age where the media is constantly providing us with things we could worry over. And then everyone wants to know whose fault it is and what's being done about it.


I just read this article on the BBC:

Ebola – as seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old from Sierra Leone


When Ebola first arrived in my country, we weren’t too worried. Then came “sensitisation” – all the community groups and NGOs running around talking about Ebola. But many refused to believe in the danger and even tried to make politics out of it. We had a riot in Kenema, under the banner of “Ebola is not real”. 

Then, in early August, the situation changed. The government banned all movements in and out of Kenema and Kailahun districts. This hurt everyone, not just those with Ebola, as almost everything came to a standstill. We were trapped – and still are. My aunt, who used to go to the trade fair to buy local goods at low prices, could no longer travel. 

Things got much worse still when Ebola came into our community. There was a pharmacist who got ill but said he was suffering from a septic ulcer, so he never went to the hospital. We believed him because he was a medical man and maybe because we didn’t know any better. Many people came in contact with him during his illness. When he died, his corpse was washed and prepared for burial by people in the community, as is our custom.
But when his death was reported to the hospital, it was found that he had died of Ebola. After about two weeks, several people who had come in contact with him and those who washed his corpse fell ill. Then 16 more people, including dear Aunty, became ill. Out of that number, only Marie and my aunt mercifully survived – or else I too would be an Ebola orphan. I guess I am the lucky one, but it is hard to see it like that.
Our community was quarantined from the rest of town and we were told that no one could leave or enter for 21 days. People who attempted to sneak out, in need of food, were forced by the guards to return. No one brought us food or water for the first two weeks of isolation. In the third week, a charity group brought bulgur, oil and beans. We refused to eat the bulgur though, because it gives you a runny tummy; and if you have a runny tummy and are in an isolation zone they will definitely say you have Ebola and may take you away. So we bought gari (granular flour) throughout the three weeks because that was all my poor aunt could afford – it costs just 500Le (15 pence) for a cup that can feed three people for a meal.
Even now, with all this, there is a problem with educating people about Ebola. I just met two of my friends who told me about the illness of their uncle and how they were taking care of him at home, which they should not be doing as their uncle might have the Ebola virus.
Over 100 children have been orphaned in my community alone. Who is going to take care of them? How will they survive or even go back to school? Fear always grips me when friends who I know don’t regularly wash their hands with chlorinated water want to play with me.
Thinking a little towards the future, how do I go back to school? Where will my aunt get money to support our education again? It is hard to depend on others. We want to depend on our own like we were learning to. Because of my aunt’s weakness and the difficulty of trading we have eaten the money there was in the business. We are suffering. If Ebola does not kill us, maybe hardship and hunger will get us down if no one helps us before Christmas.
Three of my friends have been impregnated already, and I am also under pressure to go after men in order to survive and to buy a dress for Christmas. This is what girls have to do in Sierra Leone when there is no money. It is not right, but it is normal. If this Ebola does not end soon, many more girls will get pregnant before schools reopen and that will be too bad for the future of children in this country.
Of course, those who get Ebola and their families suffer the worst. They are provoked and the stigma keeps them worried and isolated without help. They have no food to eat and even the properties that are burned down are not replaced. But everybody in Sierra Leone is suffering because of all the other things. There is no business, no money, no food, no schools. Who will help us out of this trouble?

This article "put a face" on it for me.

Do I really believe my life is in God's hands?

Do I truly believe that eternity matters more than anything?

What is more important to me? How long my life on this earth lasts, or what I do with it while I'm here?

What answer would God give?

Am I concerned for myself and my family? Or am I thinking and praying for these multitudes half a world away who might not know my Savior? A Savior who defeated fear.

Few people can stare death in the face, knowing it is hovering nearby, and know that even should it come, fear is defeated forever. I think that, even among Christians, very few can do that.

The world needs more than just a few.

The world needs a multitude who demonstrate that security from fear comes in knowing the all-knowing and all-loving One, not in knowing that ABC and XYZ and everything in between is being contained and fixed and investigated.

Because only when fear is conquered can compassion become our driving force as it was for Jesus.

Will you join me in asking God to release and reveal this compassion... and this knowing that fear is defeated... among all those who seek Him? That the knowledge of Him might spread faster than Ebola?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Catching up...

This year continues to be a strange season of answered prayers and waiting, of wandering and closeness. Of miracles and disappointments. Nothing in life (other than God) seems consistent, least of all me.

Unfortunately, the overtime I have put in at work lately has gotten in the way of my blogging... but I hope that will change, along with some other changes I am working on making.

For those who are interested, I did just now post two small bits I wrote over the last two months that somehow or other never got posted. Here they are, if you want to catch up:

A season of answered prayer...

The miracle of worship...

So yes (if you read that first link) my husband does have a new job, after years of prayer for one. We took a pay cut for the job, but it is worth it on so many levels.

The thing is, though... we're discovering that the pay cut, compounded with significantly higher expenses on several fronts that we did not foresee the new job entailing, are equaling a bit of a financial quandary.

You know what, though? I'm discovering that God prepared me for this. If you read through the history of this blog (or even just look at all posts labeled "finances") then you'll see that fear over finances has been one of my biggest struggles.

So it's quite remarkable to me the way this isn't upsetting me. Yes, I'm perplexed as to what to do (if there's anything we're supposed to do). And yet, my trust in this God who cares for me is unwavering. Through it all, I've come to know Him. And it is inconceivable to me that He would so marvelously answer a decade's worth of prayers and not have all the details worked out.

My prayer as we walk through this is not that He will provide... why ask Him to do something He's already promised to do? It's that He will continually teach me more and more to follow His leading. That we will be able to remain in His rest and peace. That we will not get in His way by doing our own thing.

I know down one path is worry, exhaustion from overwork, lack of sleep, etc. Down the other path is rest, peace, strength, and miraculous provision.

The way to choose the second path is to seek Him and wait.

They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength... 



Thursday, September 04, 2014

The miracle of worship...

Lately I've been marveling at worship... God's ways... and what it means for us.

You see, I've had some pretty amazing highs lately, but I've also had difficult lows.

If you're like me, then when we're flying high on the thrills of what God has done for us –when we've seen miracles—well, then it's often easy to praise Him and enter His presence. But there are times when we feel a million miles away from God. Sometimes life has just beat us up, and other times we feel a weight of guilt or condemnation because of what we have or haven't done. We don't feel worthy of going to Him.

Most areas of life require us to be qualified in order to obtain something or to get a chance at something wonderful. Only the best students qualify for Harvard. Only qualified employees get raises, and only the most qualified get promotions. Competitions have qualifying rounds before the athlete can even get to the finals.

Perhaps this is why it's so easy for the devil to make us feel like we're not qualified to go to God. We know we're forgiven, but sometimes it's still hard to get past whatever's going on in our lives. But here's where the miracle comes in.

The Bible says to “enter His courts—His presence—with praise.” Praise, of course, is telling someone how great they are. But recently, on a Sunday when I was up on stage getting ready to lead a song and feeling a million miles away from God, I realized in a flash that we generally don't praise people for skills that we also have. We don't praise our equals. We praise those whose skills are beyond ours. We're amazed. We say, “That's incredible that they can do that!”

In fact, the greater the gap is between our level and theirs, the greater our praise naturally is.

In an instant, the miracle of worship swept over me.

We may be feeling a million miles away from God. The devil might be telling us we're not worthy to enter His presence because He is perfect and we are not.

But that very fact that He is always perfect—that's what maintains the miraculous reality, which is this: The more beat up and weary and mistake-ridden I am, the more qualified I am to tell Him how much greater and more perfect He is than me. Remember when Jesus talked about the tax collector and the pharisee?

The devil might be telling me I am unworthy, but the irony is that the more unworthy I am, the more qualified I am to praise Him that He IS still worthy of praise. That He isn't beat up and weary. That He is still perfect.

How incredible it is that when I most need the comfort and strength of His presence, I am also the most qualified to praise Him and enter His presence!

How miraculous it is that the more I realize I need Him, the more qualified I am to do what brings me to where I can receive from Him!

And how overwhelmingly loving and generous it is of our God to make His own unchanging self the standard that upholds this amazing reality!

So the next time the devil taunts you with your unworthiness to worship, just remind him that your unworthiness is exactly what makes you so very qualified to praise the One who is always worthy. And be ready to receive the touch of His presence in your life!

Friday, August 22, 2014

A season of answered prayers...

Remember how a few weeks ago I said I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil?  You know how they say it's darkest before dawn? I know the devil does not know the future... but I think he's pretty good at reading signs and listening in on human's conversations. I think he likes to hit us hard when God's getting ready to do big things, because he knows that, if he can only get us yanked far enough into our troubles and our circumstances and ourselves, then maybe he can get us to throw a monkey wrench into God's plans. Or maybe he just is hoping to get us to surrender as much joy as possible before the big events.

God's timing is perfect, though... and when we trust His timing, we are better able to enjoy it.

---------------

Fifteen years ago or so, a good friend of ours walked away from God. It hit my husband hard, and ever since, he has prayed for this man... perhaps because the whole thing still troubled him. We lost track of him completely with over a thousand miles separating us... and still my husband prayed for this man.

A few years ago, my husband added to that prayer... that whenever this prayer was answered, God would somehow let him know. He told God he needed to know when this friend came back.

And he continued praying.

A week and a half ago, he got a call.  Someone had found this old friend on Facebook, gotten in touch, and they had spoken on the phone.  The man's life has been completely transformed - beyond what it ever was, even before he walked away from God.

It had happened a couple of years earlier.  You may be tempted to wonder why God had not gotten word to my husband a few years ago.  Not me, though.  I know that if he had found out the month or so after it had happened, he would have been wondering if it would "stick." If it was one of those wonderful, emotional fleeting moments that change nothing or the real thing.  God took care of that.  He let enough time pass that there is no doubts about it... this man's life was transformed.

----------------

Years and years ago, my husband began wanting a better job. Not necessarily one that paid better, but one where they treated their employees better.  When we moved from Florida to Ohio and he transferred, he hoped that this was going to be better. Instead, things kept going downhill in a slow decline with the company.

I have prayed soooo many times for a new job for my husband, but due to a number of factors that are hard to sum up, my husband has truly felt trapped... unable to provide for his family if he has to start an entirely new career, and unable to find anyone needing his skills outside of the company he's in.

Over and over, he's asked how he will ever get out. Over and over again, I have assured him that God has something planned for the perfect time... that I cannot fathom what it might be, but God can do anything.  My husband could not possibly perform that job until he retires, and God has promised to provide. Thus something, some day would come along!  It had to.  There was no other possibility.

That day came this month as well.  And as the details unfold, it is looking so much better even than we were asking for, on so many levels. But then, what else should we expect from the God who is able to do more than we could ask or think?

----------------

I have nothing more profound to share, but I want to encourage you to keep waiting and trusting!  Even if it's been 15 years since you began.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A sun and shield...

It seems like everyone this morning is mourning Robin Williams this morning and talking about depression. On klove this morning, Craig shared how he suffered from deep depression for 10 years, and how real and dark and oppressing it is. He mentioned different things that well-meaning people say, how his mind would agree with them, but how useless those words and suggestions and ideas were in reality.

Me... I'm afraid I may have said some of those kinds of things in my life. Now, I can't help but wonder if there was anyone praying for Robin Williams. Then my thoughts carried me further... who do I know who may be suffering - perhaps quietly - from that kind of depression? What can I do?


Of course I can pray for them, as that is the most powerful thing in any circumstance.

But this morning on the radio, Craig made what, to me, was a profound statement.

Depression is darkness. Light dispels darkness... even a lightning bug's worth of light dispels darkness. If you live and breathe, and you have Jesus, then you have that Light. 

I felt encouraged that it does not matter whether or not I would know what to say or do for anyone I love who might suffer from depression, because the Answer is Him - the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life - the One who said he was the Light of the World.  He is also Love, so if I give those around me my non-judgmental love, then His light can shine through me to fight that darkness. Even if I don't know they're surrounded by it.

Then this morning I read Psalm 84 - one of my favorite.  The last two verses just seemed so FULL this morning! Especially when you consider how the sun is the earth's source of life and light.

"For the Lord God is a sun and a shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trust in You!"

How remarkable is it that He blesses, not those who manage to walk and live and be perfect, but He blesses those who simply trust in the One who DID walk and live perfectly for us!



Thursday, August 07, 2014

When you're trained...

One of my nephews has been in the hospital for a few days, and it's had me thinking and praying about all kinds of things.

The devil does his best to keep us from regularly praying. To keep us from knowing our Bible. One of his tactics is to tell us that we're strong enough; we don't need to pray about getting through their day... like only wimps would do such a thing. He says that daily struggles aren't big enough to bother God with.

And it's true... many people do "make it through their day" without relying on God or involving Him at all. Plenty of us can develop thick enough skins to survive through what life deals us on a daily basis. And we can solve most of our daily problems without Him. Problems like getting around that closed road. Problems like dealing with the frustrated customer. Problems like overcoming that difficult job in the middle of your day. But...

My kids and their cousins are demonstrating a very profound truth.

Sooner or later, life throws things at us that we CANNOT overcome. When my nephew suddenly started having seizures a few days ago, there wasn't a one of us who could do anything at all to make them stop. We don't have the training or power. The doctors have training that sometimes helps them figure things like this out... but many times, even they are not able to figure out what is causing seizures. Either way, we certainly cannot affect or change whether they figure it out or not.

It's times like these that people -- even kids -- are face to face with the fact that we need a connection to something more powerful than us.

In those moments that our spiritual training suddenly makes quite a difference.

The one who has allowed themselves to become well-trained in prayer and going to God and trusting Him over the little things in life finds going to Him over big things as natural as breathing.

On the other hand, those who are not well-trained find themselves reaching for a sword that is still unwieldy in their hands. They are not sure what words are the best to pray. They're not sure what to think. They're not sure how to trust. The taunts of the enemy criticize every insecurity they have, and they hear every taunt loud and clear... while the words and directions of their Master and Commander they do NOT hear loud and clear because they are not well-trained in listening.

Does God hear their prayers? Of course He does! The power of prayer itself doesn't change depending on who is praying, just as a sharp sword doesn't become dull just because it's put into the hands of a novice. Nor does a shield suddenly become fragile when it's held up by a child. The novice is still technically capable of using that sword in a deadly thrust, and the shield will still protect the child who holds it up.

But...

The Christian who is still a child in their experiences of trusting God will not be able to hold up that shield of faith and trust anywhere near as long as someone who has practiced holding it high every day through the little things in life. And the novice swordsman who is not well-trained in hearing the Voice that brings scriptures to mind will find it is not natural for him to wield this Sword of Truth quickly in effectual ways.



It is natural for my younger nieces to call my oldest daughter and ask her to lead them in prayer. They are younger and have not had the training and experiences that she has, for she has had extensive training in trusting God and praying through the things everyday life brings.

But it is also possible for an adult Christian - even one who has known at least a little of the power of prayer for many years - to not be any more practiced than my young nieces.  I remember being there myself, and it is actually the difference in me now that got me to thinking about all of this.

I also know that all of us - no matter how much spiritual training we have had - can still become even more well-trained.

That's what I'd like to encourage all of us (including myself) in. The more we practice trusting Him and praying through every little and middle-sized thing that comes our way, the easier it will be for us whenever the next battle comes our way.

We will also be better equipped to answer the call when those around us find themselves needing someone experienced to take them by the hand and show them how to fight.

Let's answer the call!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I will say to my soul...

The first half of this month was rough... full of things that resulted in lots of emotional turmoil.

Emotions are tricky things, aren't they? They are a powerful part of how God created us, and without them, we would lose much of the richness in life.

But they are also quick to tell us when we've been hurt... and they remind us over and over and over again.

This where we have a choice to make. We can choose to dwell on our hurts, our worries, and our pain. Or we can follow King David's example. He knew that we must sometimes choose to rise up and command ourselves.

We have the Holy Spirit inside of us, as we must side with Him and say as David did in Psalm 42:
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
David commanded himself. He made a choice.

I will hope in God. I will praise Him.


We sang a song last week:
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone.

This is from another psalm of David - Psalm 62 - where he says:
My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.

This is me, the singer, commanding my soul - my emotions - to stop looking for rest anywhere else. It is me reminding myself that to hope for rest and peace from any other source is pointless.

The song continues:
Know His power
In quietness and trust
This references two verses:
Be still / Cease striving and know that I am God. - Ps. 46:10
In quietness and trust is your strength. - Ps. 30:15

When I sing these words, I am telling myself to calm down, get my emotions under control, and choose to trust my God instead.

Is it easy? Nope. But his grace is available for this.  His grace is here to forgive others, forgive ourselves, and to  choose to trust Him in those moments.  To choose to be still and know - experience all over again - that He is enough.
I will be still, and know You are God.

Here is the song:




Thursday, July 03, 2014

The lie of the American Dream...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.."

That's from our Declaration of Independence, which we're about to celebrate.  Those three things - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - are rights that we have as Americans.

I am immensely grateful for those rights and for those who fought and died to win them and protect them.

But as the years go by, I see more and more that the "pursuit of happiness" part has become twisted into a huge lie that most Americans -- and even much of the world -- has bought into.

"I'll be happy if I can achieve _______."
"I'll be happy if I can have _______."

Thus we have a materialistic society that is engaged non-stop in the pursuit of happiness... and looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong things.

We look to the government to solve or do this or that ("this" or "that" varying according to your politics)... yet Jesus said, "I am the way."

Teenagers and twenty-somethings praise anyone who is "the life of the party," but Jesus said, "I am the life!"

We have a list of things in our life that we think are keeping us from being happy. And yes, if all those things were fixed, perhaps we'd find some measure of happiness.

Yet happiness is only surface deep. There is something greater and deeper and stronger and more lasting than mere happiness.

Joy.

Joy is the strength and the depths of ocean currents while happiness is only the waves on top.

Do you want to continue your pursuit of happiness?  Or do you want depths of joy?

Did the Declaration of Independence grant us joy?  Is there even such a thing of "the pursuit of joy"?

Consider another declaration:
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand there are pleasures forever.     - Ps. 16:11

In His presence is fullness of joy!

Do you get that?

We can spend our entire lives pursuing happiness and never find what is even greater... because we're pursuing the American Dream instead of pursuing Him.

But if we pursue Him until we are in His presence, what is there?

Happiness?  Nope, not just that, for it doesn't say that there is happiness in His presence.

It doesn't even say that you can find joy in His presence.

It says that there is fullness of joy in His presence!  The complete, total, life-filling kind of joy.  Take a look and see everything the Bible has to say about where joy comes from.  I promise you... there's nothing about pursuing the American Dream.

What are you spending your life pursuing?  Happiness? Or are you spending your life pursuing the One who is so amazing that simply being near Him immerses you in Joy until you sing because the joy is so great?

But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;    -Ps. 5:11

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trust without borders...

There's this song playing on the Christian radio a lot. You've probably heard it. -- "
You call me out upon the waters //
The great unknown where feet may fail //
And there I find You in the mystery //
In oceans deep //
My faith will stand //

And I will call upon Your name //
And keep my eyes above the waves //
When oceans rise //
My soul will rest in Your embrace //
For I am Yours and You are mine" //

This song - "Oceans" - has lyrics that cause me to think on a very deep level about where my faith is. The lyrics are actually amazing... so poetic, yet holding so much meaning!



We like to think about Peter who walked on the water when Jesus called him. If you're like me, then you've tried to put yourself in his shoes. Would I have done it? Walked on the water to Jesus? Would I have gotten distracted and fearful because of the waves?

Almost five years ago, God told me it was time to thead out into uncharted territory. He gave me a vision -- not a not-aware-of-what's-going-on-around-you-type, but a very clear mental image -- of Jesus in a boat, teaching the crowd on shore... and then the crowd dispersed, and I was invited to get into the boat with Him and head out. I wrote in my journal, back in November of 2009:
I feel like I’m on the verge of a deeper level. I feel like I am embarking into it. I’ve pushed off from the shore, and from here on out, it’s uncharted territory. I know there are others also pushing out, and still more who pushed out long before me. So I don’t think I’m going where no one has gone before, by any means.
This is uncharted territory because there is no one leading me here. It’s just me and God.
And why do I feel like I’m launching into this uncharted territory? I don’t know. I’m having a hard time really pin-pointing why I feel this way. I just think that it’s so. Something in my spirit says I am, and there is no turning back. (How many times have I said that already?)
I think that where I go with Him from here is uniquely individual to me, but it is perfectly suited for His plan for me. I am honored and humbled that He has chosen me and called me into this uncharted territory, for it is the same territory that Moses and David and Daniel made their home in. It is awesome and strange to even think that God is inviting me into the same territory they walked in…yet I know He is. I have no desire to lead a nation or advise kings. Yet I do desire to walk with Him as they did. Up until this point of my life, I think I felt like there was this barrier between me and them…between where I was at and where they walked. Perhaps there was. I was still on the shoreline, looking longingly at the sea of glass* that stretches before His throne, but not trusting or dedicated enough to step off of familiar ground. But what I wrote about walking with God in September—Surviving the Experience*that was an awesome revelation, but I think at that moment it only existed in my mind. Now I feel God whispering the reality of it to me…calling me to come, to walk on the water with Him.
So Father, if this is true, then here I am. I am stepping off the shore. I am running toward You. I will dance and worship my way across the sea of glass until the day comes when I can say with Isaiah that I have seen the God of Israel, and the train of His robe filled the temple. And I will cry, with the living creatures and Serephim, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” For that is what I live for, Father God. For You.
This image of being in the boat with Him has stuck with me these last five years. Perhaps this is why the words of this song echo truth deep within my soul.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and You won't start now

These last five years have brought me to a place of trusting Him that is beyond anything I could have imagined in my younger Christian days. I say that... and yet I know it would sound foolish if I tried to explain in detail, because I know other Christians have never found it difficult to trust Him on some of the things that have been the biggest struggles for me.

But that's why our walk with God is a personal thing, isn't it? He meets us where we're at, He uses the things He allows into our lives, and He doesn't expect any of us to walk according to someone else's path.

My path has continually been one of deeper trust and drawing closer. Perhaps that's why it was actually the bridge of this song that first spoke to me:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me...
Those words challenged me.  "Lead me where my trust is without borders."  So often, when God asks us if we trust Him, we quantify the answer... sometimes without even realizing it, I think. We say, "Yes I trust You. I ______." We give an example that's supposed to prove how much we trust Him.  In reality, though, I think that example is really us stating the borders of our trust. "I trust You enough to do this.  And no more."  Even if we're too ashamed or afraid to admit it.

But trust without borders.  Is it even possible?

And to walk on the water with Him.  Yes, I want to do that!  But before I heard this song, I only thought about whether or not I would be able to get out of the boat.

I thought about going where He called me.

But I never thought about putting the two together.  I never considered that walking wherever He called me might be all walking on water.

Am I willing?  Is my trust deep enough, not just to get out of the boat and walk on the water, but to continue walking wherever He calls me to go?

That's what's happening now... for many of us, I believe, for I see echoes of His Spirit and this calling in the faces and words and actions of people around the world who have spent time seeking Him.

God is moving... starting to do something powerful.  But it will not be a revival of sensation that makes its way into the news. It may not even have many signs and wonders.

It is deeper.  More powerful even than the miracles of healing that we so long to see.  Something is happening in the realm of the spirit where only those who walk with Him can go, for there is no way to get there accidentally.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior...



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The great divide...

I've had a message burning inside of me for months now.  This message is burdening me more and more with each week that passes... with each new person that comes to me because their pain is so great they don't know where to turn. I point them to Jesus -- quite frequently a Jesus they already know -- but One that they are not relying on for what others aren't/can't give.

And so as spring arrives and the world displays the beginnings of life around us, I'm going to share the call that I think God is whispering.

I see a great divide.


Most of the time, when Christians talk about a great divide, they're talking about the separation that sin makes between God and us. That one does exist, and that great divide was bridged by Jesus's death on the cross.

But I see another divide that still exists.

On one side of this great divide, I see a host of hurting people who are not satisfied.  They're not satisfied with their marriage. They're not satisfied without a boyfriend. They're not satisfied with their job. They're not satisfied with their friends. They're not satisfied with their finances, their goals, their past, their present, or what they see of their future. They're not satisfied with their life, period. And they're miserable.

I'm not talking about superficial discontent, though. I'm talking about people who aren't satisfied and who have very good reason to be.

Did you hear that? I'm talking about people who have good reason to not be satisfied.

Is that you?

But here's the thing.  On the other side of this great divide is my God and my Savior.  The One who is and was and always will be enough... for absolutely everything any human can ever want.  The one who said, "My grace is sufficient for you."  That's what "sufficient" means.  Enough.

Is it true, though?

Seriously? Ask yourself!

Is God really enough?

...even when my marriage stinks?  ...even when I am abused?  ...even when no one loves me? 

Is it possible for Him to give... to provide... to be enough for you to be satisfied and joyful and peaceful and happy in the depths of your soul, even when your world is giving you every reason to not be satisfied or happy?

Is it possible to be satisfied because of everything that He Is, even when you've got a list of things that your life is not, and your marriage is not, and your finances are not, and your job is not, and your friends are not?

I'm not asking if it's possible to be satisfied with your life, but satisfied in your life, for that one little word makes a big difference!


I am here to tell you that not only is this possible, this is part of what Jesus came to give you!

You can have a satisfied soul.

You can be happy!

How, though?  For I make no promises when or how anything will change in your marriage, your job, your finances, or any other part of your life. Jesus made only one promise about all of that. He said, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows."

Yep, He really said that

But that's not all He said. Read the whole verse.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

What He came to give you is so much deeper and truer than all those things that are screwed up in your life.

This great divide exists between God's sufficiency and what the majority of humans are actually receiving from Him.

Jesus not only came to die to pay the price for our sin.  He also came to live.  He came to prove that He has overcome death. Forever!  He said, "I came that you may have life, and life more abundantly."

This is why Paul said:
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Cor. 4:8-9) 

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? 

Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one—for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

Do you see it?

The world is full of hurting people, one after another after another, hurting in terrible ways... but so focused on the earthly source of their pain that they cannot seem to even realize that enough is being held out and offered to them by the Savior who gave everything He had for them.  They don't realize that He now offers everything He is to them.

He offers all of Himself... to you.

This is not something you have to do. It is not something you can do. You cannot ever "be happy" because you're supposed to. You can't even be happy in the depth of joy that I'm talking about because He died for you and you accepted Him into your life.

What I'm talking about is beyond knowledge and beyond a prayer and a decision because it's wrapped up in who He is.

And because of that, it is only found by those who seek Him. He said:
You shall seek Me, and you shall find Me, if you search for Me with all your heart.

"All your heart" means everything you've got in this moment. And after you fail and wander away and realize it and repent, it means everything you've got in that moment. And the next. And the next.

"All your heart" means giving whatever little you've got -- no matter how messed up you are -- to Him, in every moment that you come to Him in humility and repentance for the hours and days and weeks and months when you were holding back something or everything from Him.

He takes those moments, and His mercy flows through them to cover the rest of your life. And His mercies are replenished and start new every morning!

And then His grace flows so that the moments when you are holding back everything become fewer, and the moments when your heart is reaching for Him become more, and He begins to change your life from the thing you know right now into something that is beyond anything you've ever dreamed.

I know, because I live it.

Many years ago when I first shared my testimony, I wrote these words:
I saw that I was still nothing, but that He is everything, and He wants to live in me in a way that I had never understood.

Because He is everything and He is in me, I may experience His fullness instead of my emptiness.

I may have His victory instead of my failure.

I may be filled with His peace instead of my turmoil.

I may live in His rest instead of my frustration.

Today, I live and breathe in a reality that is many times this revelation that He gave me 13 years ago.

I live in a waterfall of grace and mercy that overwhelms everything that is messed up in my life and around me.

I live in depths of joy and peace that might sometimes be ruffled on the surface as a pebble or a rock creates ripples in a mountain lake... but the depths are still greater.

I am a satisfied soul who desperately wants the world to know the hope that is just waiting for them in Jesus.

Your struggles... your abuse... your failures... your sin... your drugs... your scars... your pain... your loneliness...

I am not going to tell you none of that matters and none of it should hurt. It matters. And it hurts. And that's why He came!  That's why He didn't just die for you... all of that is why He lived - and still lives - for you!

All those things that are making you so unsatisfied with your life... they are a sign showing you how much greater your Savior is. Take the biggest, most difficult and most painful thing in your life.  His sufficiency is not only greater than that thing, it is greater than that thing and everything else in your life... and every struggle you will ever endure in your entire life.

He is greater than all of that... and everybody else's "all of that"... combined.


He is enough.

And He's waiting.  All you've got to do is seek Him with everything you've got - no matter how little that may be.


"My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness...

Christ alone, Cornerstone..."

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