Overwhelmed.

This world is full of so much hurt, isnt it?  Dear friends of mine all over the country are enduring trials that are trying to consume their weary, battered hearts.  It’s so easy to get consumed with our life cirumcstances, especially when we keep taking beating after beating. It can leave us feeling broken, deflated and overwhelmed.  Sometimes, we even feel alone in our stumbling journeys and think no one could possibly understand what we are going through.  Then God sends us someone to come along side us, teach us and take care of our wounded hearts.  That happened to me, only he was in the form of a raccoon.  Sounds crazy, right?  It was.

One night we noticed a crippled raccoon eating cat food outside on our back deck.  We have all kinds of wildlife (that apparently love cat food) that crash our deck and if they don’t bother our cats or trash our things, we just let them be.  But on that night, we noticed this particular raccoon was struggling to even walk.  He only had two good legs – one in front and the opposite one in back (because God is gracious that way).  He hobbled to eat and hobbled away.  Every night after that, he would appear, yet each night he looked more battered and bruised than the day before.  Chunks of fur would be missing and deep wounds would be evident. One evening, we even thought he had lost his eye in a battle, yet when the swelling went down, we could see that it was, indeed, still there.  We grew fond of the raccoon and lovingly named him Dually, in honor of his two working legs.  He even starting coming around during the day and would curl up like one of our cats.  He was enjoying the peace and security our deck brought him.

One day, we were heartbroken to see that he was now dragging himself on his stomach, using the only 1 good leg he had left. I don’t know how he was physically making it, dragging himself up the stairs to our deck. It broke our hearts to see him struggling just trying to move.  Eating proved to be such a challenge, also.  He would drag himself over to the bowl and eat the pieces on the ground so he wouldn’t have to lift his head.  It was so sad to see him so broken, and knowing later that night that whatever was attacking him was going to make it worse.   One evening, my sweet husband and daughter decided they needed to make a house for him – a sanctuary where he could rest and be safe from the attacks that were wielded upon him night after night.  They made some sweet memories that night as they constucted Dually’s home – memories my husband says have been imprinted in his memories forever. And this home… it turned out beautiful.

My daughter was in charge of decorating, so the front was painted with four colorful, tall flowers beside a drawn-in window (in case he wants to look out, I’m told).  The back has a huge rainbow filling it, yet the side is my absolute favorite.  You can’t see it from the sliding glass doors, so I didn’t notice it at first. My sweet daughter had carefully painted a big sign in green glitter paint on a separate piece of wood and attached it to the side of the house – it simply said Welcome.  When I asked her why she had put such a beautiful sign on a side no one would see, she explained, “That way when Dually drags himself up the stairs, he knows he is welcome here”.  And just like that, tears welled up inside me and began to fall and I could see, so clearly, what God was whispering to my heart. 

Dually’s life wasn’t easy – he was the weakest link in his world and that world was beating him down. He was overwhelmed with pain, overwhelmed with suffering, overwhelmed with fear of what lied ahead every evening. He was all alone and had no one to help him (I mean, not many people would love or help a raccoon right?). Yes, I know he’s just a raccoon, but stay with me for a minute.

That sanctuary that my loves built was screaming to my heart. You see, the very next day, Dually entered his house and has barely left it. We look out and see him sticking his head out to let the sun fill his battered face, and he even lays on his back spread-eagle, enjoying his restful shelter. Dually didn’t know rest. Yet, once he found it, the sanctuary from his overwhelming world, he never wanted to leave. Maybe he felt welcome, and maybe for the first time, peace.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with life?  I sure do. Yet, that crippled raccoon reminded me of something very important my heart had temporarily forgotten. Even though there is so much hurt in this world that can be so ugly at times, we have a shelter from our overwhelming circumstances. God’s arms are stronger than any shelter we could ever construct ourselves. Those arms withstand all storms, no matter the severity. And, when this world beats our hearts raw, there is a shelter where we can find true rest. Guess what – there is even a welcome sign for you, dear one, because He wants us to come to Him. His arms have constructed a shelter just for YOU! I’m pretty sure I know what mine looks like – it is identical to the one built out of love and tenderness that my family built for a young, battered raccoon. 

So that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. Romans 15:32

One evening, my kids, while watching Dually drag himself to the food bowl, excited exclaimed, “Mom! Dually looks like you somedays!”. We laughed and decided he was my new mascot. But, as the laughter died down, I realized just how true that was and what honor that statement brought. Like Dually, I, too, feel overwhelmed with a world where survival of the fittest reigns. I, too, feel wounded and battered from all the world’s hurts and disappointments. I, too, feel alone and weary. 

Yet, even though it could take me entirely longer than the rest to drag myself up the stairs of life, I now remind myself to look for the welcome sign at the top on my restful shelter – a shelter found only in my Father’s arms. For only in His shelter, can I truly rest. No worries of the outside world are found there and on a good day, I can even lay on my back, spread eagle, in true submission to His peace – a peace only possible from the restful shelter of His arms around my overwhelming-filled life. From there, I even feel safe to poke my head out and let the Son fill my wounded, battered face. It’s a warmth unlike anything I’ve ever felt…

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25

Jodi

P.S. Please don’t worry about us and our raccoon. I am a country girl and I KNOW better than to try to pet him. I KNOW they carry diseases and we have watched him very closely for those signs. He’s just weak and worn and has dragged himself into our hearts. We love him… but from afar. ❤️

Lament

I feel so pierced – like little tiny razor blades ripping into the smooth surface of my heart.  What do you do when you are watching your children being defeated by someone who loves them?  Tears, so many tears are falling, yet I feel so bottled up.  It’s not sitting well with my soul – I’m being ripped in two. Seeing their tears, their faces of disappointment… it’s haunting me.  God, why does it seem you have forsaken us?

Words have such power.  When spoken in love, they carry joy and strength, yet when words are spoken in anger, they are all the more unforgotten, as well as the pain that accompanies them. What do you do when all you can do is watch the aftermath of the words, the words that deflate their whole being?  Lord Jesus, protect them.  As moms, our goal is to protect our children from harm, but what then becomes of times that they are out of your reach of protection?  The momma bear in me wants to lash out and hurt back, but I know that is not what my God would have me do.  What then?  Am I called to wait? I feel I have waited enough and watched entirely too many tears fall.  What then?  Godjust whisper Your words, any words, to my seeking heart.

What becomes of a child who is chronically deflated, dehydrated of hope and joy?  I feel their pain so deep, for I know exactly what they are feeling.  I know the sharp edged sword of abuse and control and I hate the fact they also are learning that fear. Only, God delivered me from those depths, so now when I see my babies neck deep in raging waters, all I can do is weep and lay my lament at my Father’s feet.

God, my sweet Abba Father, I know you love them even more than I do, so why are you allowing this?  What could they possibly learn from all this trauma, except how to enable a sinner?  Lord, your ways are not my ways but JESUS….I can’t see the road through all this fog.  What shall you have me do?  All I hear is silence, and Jesus I need some answers. Yet… I stop to thank you in my pain.  Thank you that I can offer up all my lost expectations of comfort and my broken, weary heart.  

I have to admit, God, that this has opened up a wound that I thought had completely healed.  But God, you are my ever present help in my time of need.  Yet, why don’t I feel your presence?  I need to hear from You!

Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago.”  (Isaiah 43:18).  There is your voice, Lord!  Thank you, thank you.  Yes, yes Jesus, I understand that and I am trying, yet when those events are happening to the very ones I grew inside me, how can I not think back?  That pain has a power all of it’s own…

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you;  I will never leave you or forsake you.  Be strong and courageous.  (Joshua 1:5-6).  I believe that truth Lord, yet I feel like this battle will surely suffocate me.  I know you are here, even when you are silent.  You will never forsake me, even though the Enemy plants hopeless thought in my already over-taxed mind. Yet, Lord, I  do not feel strong enough to watch those babies break.  I’m so afraid, Lord.  I can’t do this.

Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance of the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. (Exodus 14:13-14). Be still?  Lord how can I be still in all this agony and heartbreak?  That sounds easier than it is for me right now.  I know you have already fought battles for us, even ones we never knew existed.  You stand between us and storms so often, yet this time it feels like you took a step away and are letting this battle consume us.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  (Psalm 34:17-18). Yes, deliverance my Lord – I am craving deliverance amidst this crushing continuous blow.  You will deliver me, yes.  I needed to be reminded of that.  You will deliver me…. Thank you Lord.

He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You make your saving help my shield and Your right hand sustains me; Your help has made me great.  You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.  (Psalm 18:34-35).  I am being trained… is that what you are trying to tell me Jesus?  But I don’t want to go to battle – I am too weary from the journey to this place.  Yet, you are promising me that you are my foundation and you even make the path wider so I don’t struggle to make it to the end.  Ok… I know you’re with me – I hear you and I truly believe you.  But, it’s not the ending I’m afraid of – its the journey to get there.  Oh, but you are broadening my path… I see what you are doing here.  Thank you.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.  (Psalm 91:14-16). You will rescue me?  You will rescue THEM?  Yes, you have protected them and Lord, I thank you for your hand of protection over their bodies, but what about their hearts?  Are you trying to draw them closer to You?  Are you wanting them to seek Your face in their trouble?

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  (Psalm 63:1). I can feel my anxious heart calming Lord, and even in this dry and parched land, I can see You now.  You have wrestled with me and continually pounded my soul with your Truth and reminders of your noble character.  Thank you for loving me enough to remind me.  Thank you for loving me enough to draw me back in.

Surely He took up our pain and bore our sufferings, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:4-5). Ok…yes. This is not punishment – You sent your only Son to take my place on that cross.  You are a good God and thank you for making that sacrifice for me, for us.  

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33). I am feeling some of that peace now Jesus…. so much better than the frantic flailing I had succumbed to.  Thank you for conquering not only the world, but my breaking bleeding heart.

I am so loved by my Savior, as are you.  He loved me enough to wrestle my frantic heart back in line with His Truth.  Even in my weary, why-asking state, He answered me and He calmed my soul.  God opened up my heart to the need to pray for the lost, sin and all. Do I have total peace about this situation? No, not yet.  But after lamenting to Him my heart, my fears, my struggles, I feel blessed.  I am still broken, but I’m held. I’m weaping, yet I’m comforted. The fog is starting to lift and I can make out the lines on the road.  Oh and look – it seems the road has broadened. Good, my ankles were feeling weak today. ❤️

Jodi


Peace.

Peace.  It’s what we all strive for, isn’t it?  We want to have peace about our finances, peace about our job situations, even peace about how many children to have.  But, peace has a deeper root that is embedded in a spring of flowing, refreshing water.  It wasn’t until recently that I found that hidden spring. You know, the one that changes your life. 

My health battle has trudged on for over 7 years now, and boy have I had the 7 year itch! Honestly, I didn’t want to deal with it anymore, and the thought of dumping it alongside the road as I peeled off (in a hot rod, preferably) sounded thrilling to me! It wasn’t until I became obedient that I found it – something I didn’t even know I was seeking. Something I wasn’t sure really existed. Peace.

See, I had finally come to terms with the fact that this was the “new me” – my illnesses weren’t leaving me this side of heaven.  I had come to terms with it, yes, but did I have PEACE about it?  Did I have peace about everything in my life?  Did I have peace about anything in my life?

Life in general is stressful, isnt’ it?  Just looking at my calendar gave me such anxiety, then add unexpected days of immobility, guilt of the cancelling of plans and the unchecked boxes on my to-do list (that one really gets me) and you have the mother of all stressed out mommas!  It left me yearinging and searching – how can I overcome this stress?  All I wanted was peace.

Recently, God keeps showing me this word, peace, over and over.  He knows me and knows that I need to be hit up-side the head with Truth sometimes before I tune my ear to His whispers.  Peace.  Everywhere I looked I saw peace – I saw it but had yet to feel it.  I turned to my 11 year old one evening, the one that can see right down to your soul with just a glance, and asked her what she thought peace meant.  She cocked her head and thought for a moment, then said, “To not only be ok with what is happening in life, but to be happy about it.”  Wow.  To be happy about what is happening in our lives?  It’s not just enough to accept it, but to really be happy about the storm or trials we are living daily?  Oh, that girl has ahold of my heart.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.  James 1:2-4

On some pain-filled days, I find myself too weary to even consider being joyful in my trials.  It actually makes me kinda cranky to even think about being joyful, when pain clouds my mind and pity takes over.  It’s only when I take my eyes off my circumstances and put them on the One who has allowed it, that I start to see what this verse is resounding to my weary heart.  So that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.  I desperately wanted to be complete – to feel the wholeness of peace in my stressed-out world.  My heart cried out for the comfort and stillness it promises.  God promises us peace, but it was up to me to be obedient enough to accept it.

See, God was calling me to be obedient to the whispering of the Holy Spirit, who was beckoning me to dig deep into the word, unlike I had ever before.  I have to admit, unfortunately, reading my bible wasn’t a daily routine I had allotted time for.  Days seemed to fly by and in a split-second, my day was ending with me flopping into bed, exhausted and weary.  I wasn’t making time for my Father like I should have – like He deserves.  So, I began reading and studying and before I knew it, two hours were going by without even realizing it.  God had gotten a hold of my heart and dear one, it’s an amazing feeling!  Before I knew it, things weren’t stressing me as much – I had gained perspective on life and what was truly important.  I have learned to keep my eyes on Jesus, for there, I find peace that surpasses all understanding.  All I had to do was be obedient and listen to the Holy Spirit.  

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let you hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:26-27.

Once we have peace, however, that doesn’t mean that we can easily keep it.  Just recently, our car died and it’s either fix a car with over 200,000 miles on it, or go into debt to get another car.  We have a love/hate relationship with Dave Ramsey at our house, and the thought stress of having to borrow money for a car left me stunned.  In one fail swoop, or one failed engine, peace fled my heart.  That whole day, my mind couldn’t process anything and I couldn’t even bring myself to pray about it – I was too broken over that broken car to even realize what I was doing… I was acting like Peter.

You probably know this story: after Jesus walked on water, Peter wanted to follow and walk out to Him, right over the crashing waves of the lake.  (Matthew 14:27-31). So Peter actually did it – he was out there walking on water!  Think about that for a second – Peter was getting to do this amazing thing that no one besides Jesus had ever done… until he looked away.  In those moments of locked eyes with his Teacher (a man Peter had witnessed perform numerous miracles), he was walking on water like Jesus had.  Yet the second he turned his eyes off Jesus and put them on the storm, he sank. 

I can imagine the flailing-about that occurred while Peter thought he was sinking – that is the same flailing my heart was feeling over our car.  You see, the very second Peter placed his eyes on the circumstance, a seemingly impossible one, he started to sink.  Did you catch that?  I sure did.  See, the second I took my eyes off my Savior and onto our crashing waves, my peace fled and I just knew I was going to sink.  

But I am reminded that Jesus didn’t let Peter go under.  He pulled him out, just as He has pulled me out of the flailing uncertainty my heart had succumbed to.  Matthew 14:31 tells us that Jesus immediately reached out his hand – immediately.  I wonder how long it took for Peter to notice that outstretched hand – was he too frantic looking at the waves to see it right away?  I sure was.  I was too busy looking at the waves that I missed His outstretched offering of peace – peace that came with obedience of digging into the word when a storm came, peace that comes only when I keep that steady gaze on my Jesus.  

Do you feel at peace today?  By listening to the Holy Spirit’s urgings to dig into the word,  I have found that spring of fresh, flowing water of peace in my heart.  All it took was the root of obedience and the discipline to fix my gaze on the One who can calm the seas.  The words of my sweet daughter echo in my heart and has become my battle cry in this storm – not only will I accept what is going on in my life, I will consider it pure joy, for in this storm my Jesus is proving to be faithful.  All I have to do is not look away, for in that fixed gaze, peace flows freely.

-Jodi

P.S. – We are fixing the car – no loans for us!

Trainer.

March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year!  As soon as Christmas is over, I look forward to those crazy weeks of staying up late and cheering on teams who I didn’t even pick, just because they are the under-dogs.  It’s a fun time of year watching players excel and give it all they have.  They leave it all on the court and sometimes end up getting injured in the process.  One night, a player fell, obviously injured, and I watched as the trainer rushed out.  No one called him over, he just knew he was needed.  I laughed as I asked my husband if I could get a trainer, one who would be right with me and come assist me when my body failed.  Then I heard that still, small voice whisper to my heart,  “You already have one”.

When I was younger and played sports, I was so thankful I didn’t have “those” parents who would jump up and storm the field or the court when I fell down.  They sat, watched and waited for me to get back up.  If it looked like I was really injured and needed help, the coach would wave them over and they were there to get me the help I needed to heal.  They waited for me to get back up, thus encouraging me to, and I was so thankful that they gave me that chance.  Years pass and with failing health, I am coming to learn that it’s okay to allow someone to rush by your side immediately.  He’s there anyway – I just needed the reminder to look.

I admit it – I have a hard time asking for help.  If you know me at all, you have just nodded your head and probably mumbled something about me being stubborn. Guilty!  Why is it so hard to admit our needs, our failures, our brokenness?  It all comes down to pride for me.  I’m too proud to use my cane in public if I need it that day.  I don’t want to appear weak and needy, so I would just rather shuffle my feet or even not go if it comes down to it.  However, 1 John 2:16 warns us about pride,  “For everything in this world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.”  My pride comes from the world view that I am fixed on – it doesn’t come from my Father.  I am too proud to ask for help, even though God may be trying to use someone else to be changed, by allowing them to assist me.  When we help others, we are blessed in return.  Our hearts are changed through the process of obeying, even if it’s ever so slightly, so when I don’t accept help, I am not allowing that change to happen.  So, when we fall we ask for help, right?  Yes – but we have to make sure and ask through the One that has allowed this fall to happen in the first place.  We can’t solely rely on others to help us – we have a Trainer who will storm the court on our behalf.  The best part is, whether we have noticed or not, He has been doing it all along.

I have never seen an injured player wave off the help from a trainer, have you?  The player starts telling him about his pain and where it is and what it feels like.  He is relieved when the trainer arrives and usually lays back and rests in the fact that the trainer knows what he is doing and he will help.  Chances are, that is what he has proven to do in the past.  It may hurt and it may be uncomfortable, yet the athlete knows it is what is necessary to heal.  So why do we, when our God rushes to help us, do we complain about the pain we have to go through to heal?  Our God works on a bigger picture level that we cannot understand.  He sees the end result and knows that the pain it may cause to get us there will be totally worth it when we are holding His trophy in heaven.  Remind yourself the pain is only temporary and it may be what is needed to get you back in the game of life.  I have a feeling the end result with be nothing short of the joy of a buzzer beater.

I would imagine sports team trainers have a pretty thankless job.  They are behind the scenes making sure their best player’s pulled hamstring is stretched properly, so he can get back in their biggest game of the year.  They rush out on the court, yet are invisible to all the fans, who are solely focused on the cringing face of their favorite fallen athlete.  The trainer will rush, assist, and seemingly disappear until they are needed again.  Have you ever felt that way about your walk with God?  Yes, He is there when you need Him and He gets you through the immediate need, but does it stop there? Do you seek Him out and look for Him when you aren’t in distress?  A sports trainer may only seem to appear in dire circumstances, yet he is right there sitting next to the players the whole time.  God is much the same way – He is there, right next to us, yet we are too busy excitedly watching the world unfold.  Have you taken time to look next to you and see Him watching you watch the world?  He is craving for you to turn and set your eyes to Him, and only on Him.

Our God is indeed our Trainer, if only we can turn and fix our gaze on Him, instead of our life’s circumstance. We need to accept His help, whether we have yet to ask for it.  We must allow Him to work out our sore spots, no matter the pain this may cause.  We must not forget to thank Him for the work He has performed in our lives and we must never make Him invisible in this back-and-forth game of life.  Yes, we will stumble and yes, we will fall, but with God’s help, we will rise and even be stronger for it.  For through true struggle, we learn that our Trainer is so trustworthy and ever present.  We just have to adjust our eyes to look for Him – He’s there in the midst of the battle and is ready to storm the court on your behalf.  He’s just waiting to see if you’re ready for Him.  You can do this, dear one.  I’m cheering for you – you may feel like the underdog in this world,  but I have a secret:  I have you down to win it all.

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2

Jodi

Glory.

So my blogging goes a little something like this:  I pray for God to humbly reveal what He wants to speak through me.  He, in His goodness, reveals one word that I ingest, pray over, and eventually put down in a post.  It’s really a fun process and through it, I learn more than I ever think I will.  This word, however, has ended up teaching me the most.

Glory.  God’s glory is beyond my comprehension and it is a word I say with deep reverence. But, frankly, when God gave me this word, glory, I really had no clue what I was going to say, much less stretch into a whole blog post. I honestly didn’t want to do it and started searching and trying to find a new word hidden in plain view. What did this have to do with my chronic illness journey anyhow? (Don’t you love how we question God, like WE know what is best and what isn’t worth OUR time?  Sigh.  So much yet to learn…). So, after much procrastinating and seeing “glory” appear everywhere (sometimes I have to be smacked upside the head to get it),  I started where I usually do – with scripture.  I found some great verses on the glory of God and praising His name.  Yes – He is so worthy of our praise… so, so worthy! Yet I felt like I was missing something.  Then I saw it – it practically jumped out and bit me. It was a verse that made me stop with puzzled curiosity.

Job 29:20 says “My glory will not fade; the bow will be ever new in my hand.” Ok, wait. Is Job talking about his own glory?  I don’t really know how I feel about Job having glory.  In my mind, God is the only one who should have glory, right?  You hear of athletes who are in it for “the glory” and that’s born of self-seeking, self-exalting hearts.  So why would Job, a man after God’s own heart, talk about HIS own glory?  To figure this out, I dug deeper and realized why God wanted me to study this very word. He’s pretty amazing that way.

My glory will not fade

Psalm 73:24 shows us that we can have glory – glory given by our one true God. “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.” If there was one person who whole-heartedly embraced guided counsel from God, it was Job. In return, he received the strengthening glory from God, instead of the selfish glory from man, that eventually turns empty and fades. Even with all he is going through, when he says his God-given glory will not fade, I believe he is telling us that he is not exhausted in the path God has him on.  He is continuing, pushing through it all, by listening to His voice. Not only is he persevering, but it’s with vigor and strength that he drives forward. It’s not a slow walk – it’s one of a passionate, confident sprint.

The bow will be ever new in my hand
The bow is a symbol of vigor and strength, (notice a theme here?) and the fact that he gathered it in his hands says he, himself, is strong & ready to defend (or stand) for something.  Listen to what the Kiel and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament has to say about this verse:

The fundamental character of his way of thinking and acting, was a holding fast to the will of God, … and judgement and decision in favour of right and equity against wrong and injustice.

Job is holding fast to the will of God and is at the ready to defend righteousness. He is persevering and driving forward with a forceful confidence – plowing through a world full of sin, yet he remains strong.  Even in the midst of his trials, he has full trust in God, because he is listening to God’s counsel. He is ready to defend, for he knows he has the strength of his God in his hands. Well, so much for thinking this verse had nothing to do with me.

I try. I really do try to hold fast to the will of my God, yet most days are filled with too much pain to move or even think, clouding my judgement – keeping me from seeing the bigger picture of my life. I don’t know if I could even bend down to pick up a bow today. But, that’s the key isn’t it, Lord? Picking it up- that’s the first step you are calling me to take. But Lord, most days I don’t feel that confidence or strength to persevere. Most days I feel weak and febble and not worth the dust on its string. How can I gain that confidence and strength to continue when tomorrow is just more of the same? You know where God is pointing me with this? It all comes down to hope…

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah‬ ‭40:3031‬. That promise, O my sweet Lord, is what my heart needed to hear today. By simply hoping in a God that never changes, who’s character is utterly trustworthy, I can not only make it through this very day – I can SOAR. He promises me that I will not grow faint and weary from my storms, if I hope in Him. Then, I will feel His strength and His glory in all this darkening chaos of life.

After all, God has never promised we wouldn’t have suffering in our lives. I have to remind myself that from time to time, when my lack of confidence fails to pick up that bow.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.  (Romans 8:18). Glory will be revealed in us – did you catch that?  But before that glory is revealed, we have to go through some pretty rough spots, thus molding and shaping our hearts into the one He wants us to be. Sometimes, that molding is pretty painful, I know, yet He promises that these sufferings will be totally worth it! We just have to clutch onto the will of God harder than we hold onto our circumstances.  And if we fail, we take a deep breath and pick up that bow again.  And if you can’t bend down today, sweet friend, my bet is God will place it in your seeking, open hands.  

Sweet Jesus, thank you for whispering to my heart what I didn’t even know I needed to hear.  I fail Lord, all too many times, at resting my hope in ONLY you.  When the pain is too intense and the suffering great, help turn my eyes to YOU no matter the way, no matter the path you place me on.  I want to seek your will at all times and I crave to feel that confidence welling up inside me. Fill the marrow of my bones with the vigor and strength to not only survive each day, but to grow – grow deeper in You.  Help me to tap into your strength that you so freely give, if only I stop and pick up that bow. Lord, as hard as it may be, I praise you for my suffering, for You are using it to reveal Your glory.  And Your glory is much greater than my pain any day and every day.  I pray this in your trustworthy name.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. (Romans 8:17)

Jodi

Constant.

How many things in this world are truly constant? Talk to a woman whose husband has left her – a husband she just knew she would grow old with. Maybe a dear friend has hurt you deeply, therefore causing you to sever ties.  Believe me, even our good health can be taken for granted as a constant blessing in our lives. Daily, I am reminded of life’s changing turns and twists and I gotta say – I don’t like it.  But, there is one thing that never changes and that gives me great hope in the midst of my spinning life.  My God is a rock, a strong-tower, a constant beacon of light when all I am surrounded by is darkness.  If you have ever been plunged into darkness, you can truly appreciate the constant light He gleams.

You see, even in the darkness, when our world seems like the bottom is dropping out from under us, God remains unchanged – He is constant. No matter what changes we are experiencing (divorce, death of a loved one, chronic pain, broken heart), God remains the same. I have clutched tightly to this truth when my world has seemingly fallen apart time after time. Because even through my tears and many broken hearts, He remains constant. Think about that for a second – His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, His Truth is not dependent on our circumstances, screw-ups, our tears, our brokenness. Our God remains the SAME, no matter what!

I said, “I am falling”; but your constant love, O LORD, held me up. (‭Psalms‬ ‭94‬:‭18‬ GNBDK)

As God remains the same, so does who we are IN Him.  We are loved, and that hand He provides us to keep us from falling will always be there.  Once we believe in who Jesus is and in His death and resurrection, that never changes. NEVER.  “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).  We will forever be His and He will forever love us and never leave us, no matter what we do or may be enduring.  Not only that, but God is calling us to not give in to fear or discouragement in the midst of our cyclonic lives. Why? Because when we allow ourselves to be caught up in fear and disappointment, our eyes are focused on the wrong things.  We are fixing our eyes on the storm, instead of on the One who provides the shelter from that very storm.  He’s the only one who is constantly there and never leaves our side, even as the storm rages right outside His arms.

Your constant love is my guide; your faithfulness always leads me. (‭Psalms‬ ‭26‬:‭3‬ GNBDK)

February 23rd, 2017
This morning during my devotional time, God spoke some verses to my heart. They came slowly at first, than at such a feverish pace that I could barely keep up as I scribbled them down. As I continued to hear these verses being whispered over me, I started to notice a constant theme. At first glance, all the verses were about storms, trials, even war and death. It seemed apparent to me that my God is preparing me for an upcoming storm and one of potentially great magnitude. But as I really stopped to focus on each verse, they were actually filled with hope, perseverance and the absolute need to be reliant on my Jesus. My circumstances may drastically change sometime soon, yet God won’t – He remains the same. The SAME. He gave me that sweet time with Him this morning to remind me of that – He would even part the waters of the Jordan for me. And He would even do that for you. His character is constant and it isn’t reliant on our circumstances – that’s OUR point of view that is changing constantly, sometimes at warp speed. But Jesus, sweet Jesus, loves us enough to never budge from our side. He will never waver. He will never leave us. And He will always love us. Those are the constant reminders He branded into my weary heart this morning, and I am so grateful that He loves me enough to prepare my heart for whatever is in store.

The very next day after I received those verses, I awoke in the midst of a new, pain-filled storm.  Did you hear that?  The NEXT DAY.  New pain has propelled me from the comfort of my previously known aches, into unknown, new agony. I gotta say – I don’t like it. We get accustomed to our hurts and our pains, don’t we? Yet when that pain is tweaked and amped to a higher level, our mind scrambles to adjust. So I am doing just that.  I am letting my mind and heart adjust – letting it adjust to my constant beacon of light in the midst of my darkening pain.  I am adjusting my hopes, my fears, my reliance and turning it all over to the One who never changes.  And if it takes a storm to change my viewpoint, then Jesus, bring the rain, because I would rather be sold-out for you than be comfortable here.  Comfort is over-rated, if that is what keeps me from seeing the solid rock, never-changing characteristics of my God.  In the arms of my Savior, amidst my raging storm, is where my heart would rather be anyway.

Your constant love is better than life itself, and so I will praise you. (‭Psalms‬ ‭63‬:‭3‬ GNBDK)

My sweet Jesus, You know the pain I am in today and the things that are breaking my heart. Many times, I too quickly ask you to remove the pain, to remove the raging storm so I can see, yet You have shown me that even in the storm, I CAN see.  You have shown me that it was my fear and discouragement that was clouding my view, not the clouds.  Thank you for opening my eyes to see Your constant light and for opening my heart to my deep need for You.  Your constant help and constant love are all I need to thrive in this cyclonic world.  I thank you that You are constant and that my heart’s roaming ways are not.  Please reveal your constant nature to us and give us eyes to see its truth. It is in your precious, constant name I pray.  Amen.

Jodi

Transparent.

Transparency is a scary word, especially when that means sharing our thoughts and actions, even our mistakes, with others.  Being transparent means being real, and sometimes being real means showing those raw places of our hearts that we buried deep and tried to forget.  After all, we have to make room for that plastered smile and polite “fine” that we throw around so easily.  But, are we really “fine”?  And why is that truth so hard to admit?

I will tell you, I am not fine.  Life isn’t easy or comfortable and it includes a lot of pain.  Most days are met with tears of frustration and wrenching from agony.  But, honestly, I wouldn’t change one thing about this journey, because it is just that – a journey.  And the journeys God places us on are always for a reason, for a good reason, and every once in a while I get to see a glimpse of the work He is doing in me.  That truly makes it all worth it.  But what good is knowledge from a journey, if it isn’t revealed and shared to those walking alongside me?

Ever since I found Jesus nine years ago, I have felt called to be transparent.  And honestly, it comes pretty easy to me.  I was blessed to have found Him later in life, and when you have lived and survived in darkness most of your life, you fully can appreciate His magnificent light. I’m not ashamed of where I have been and what I have learned, because it’s all part of my journey. Through my Savior’s grace, my eyes have been opened.  I have been changed.  So, if you ask me anything, dear one, I will answer. Why? Because in the midst of my trials and struggles, I have learned a multitude.  I have learned to not be too proud to share my hurts. I have learned that grace and mercy overflow daily. I have come to understand that all I have learned is to be shared and every bit to be used for His glory.

I will tell you how I’ve messed up and what I’ve seemed to get right, in spite of myself. I don’t mind revealing what tortures my heart, or what I’ve missed. Friend, I will even reveal the hard days of abuse I have endured. Why? Because if that turns you towards our Christ, it did not go in vain. As I’ve cried, as I’ve learned, as I’ve screwed up, my God never let me go. Never. EVER. He not only was forever by my side, holding my hand, but He chose to TEACH me along the way. What love He has for me to not let even one tear go in vain.  He is using my pain and calling me to share with others, so they might know His mercy and grace, His overwhelming grace.

On a long trip to see family, God laid this transparency post on my heart.  I picked up my phone and quietly tried to get down the thoughts that God was whispering me to share.  I didn’t say a word about what I was doing or what word God had given me, after all, it was a very rough draft.  An hour later, my husband brought up some things that had been weighing on his heart.  He wondered how much of the connections in relationships we make are through our own transparency?  How can we expect others to be as open and real as we wish they would be, if we ourselves are silent?  Would that help those shallow relationships reach new depths?  I smiled and read to him the notes God had just directed me.  The last phrase I had written simply read, “With transparency comes connection”. 

Connection.  We all seek that don’t we?  We desperately want someone else who has been in our shoes to tell us they understand, the only way someone who has walked our journey could.  Whether it be potty training a child, living in a tense marriage, losing a loved one, or struggling with illness, we all are in different stages of different journeys.  We tend to give into the urge to put smiles on our faces and pretend life is “fine”.  So when someone opens up and shares their raw heart, the same raw hearts we also share, we feel drawn and connected in our brokenness.  I have some friends who are currently walking very rough, very different journeys.  Their journeys are ones I haven’t faced, yet my heart breaks for them and cries out for mercy on their behalf.  They have been transparent about their distress, which has opened my heart for their prayer needs.  If they had just tucked away their agony, I would never have known their true heart’s cry and how I can specifically lift them up to our Father.  With transparency, comes connection.

That day in the car, my husband could have kept quite about what the Lord was asking him to ponder.  He could have just turned the radio up and I wouldn’t have known what was going through his mind. But, he chose to share and in that sharing, God was revealed.  In my husband’s transparency, we got a front row seat to God’s mighty hand at work.  He loves us enough to open up our hearts on the same subject – and, as usual, His timing was perfect.  When we open up about our lives, where we have been, where we are now, and where God is leading us in the future, it opens the door for others to follow.  And in that sharing, we find just how great and magnificent our God is.  We hear stories of unexplainable peace, in the midst of dire circumstances.  We hear true joy revealed, due to hard storms gently changing hearts.  We even hear of words spoken to hearts from our Father that bring tears to our own seeking hearts.  Do you see?  Hearing of God’s workings in each other’s lives, reveals more of His character, His love for us, and it is there we find hope for our own broken path.  God is revealed in our transparency.

Years ago, I went to a mom’s conference with some of my MOPS friends.  I was a brand new Christian.  I had found Jesus just a month before, and couldn’t get enough of Him!  I was eager to hear from Him and follow His callings, yet when He called me to talk to a speaker there, I was reluctant.  I was scared!  This lady was leading one of my break-out sessions and it was filled to the gills with 200 women.   I heard God’s voice telling me to go to her and tell her my story.  Now, I would love to tell you that I marched right up to her and instantly obeyed that calling.  But I didn’t.  Fear kicked it and before I knew it, I was doubting myself.  Who was I?  Why on earth would this famous lady want to hear my story?!  After she finished speaking,  I turned to leave and got funneled into the crowd of women hurriedly leaving to go to the last session of the conference.  But I just kept hearing my God’s voice, beconing me to go to her and tell her.  I must have looked like an idiot in that crowd, for I kept turning around – towards her, away from her, towards her, away from her…  But His voice just got louder, so I gave in and went to her.  (There may or may not have been a foot stomp of defiance in there.) What came out of my mouth went something like this “Hi.  God keeps telling me to come talk to you.  I don’t know why, but He wants me to tell you my story.  So here I am.  If you need to go, that’s totally fine!”

What happened next was a beautiful moment I will never forget.  We sat down, just us, in a large empty room.  She gathered my hands in hers and she listened.  I told her everything, of my past abuse, being a single mom (at the time), finding Jesus.  She smiled and opened up about her past, which surprisingly was very similar to my own.  She taught me about forgiveness that day, and moving on and letting the past lay behind me.  She taught me about seeking Jesus in the midst of trials.  She taught me not to fear, and encouraged my heart.  It was the most beautiful moment of transparency…  that was only made possible through my obedience.  Through obedience, we find transparency. 

 “You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to Him, that you will keep His decrees, commands and laws – that you will listen to Him.”  Deuteronomy 26:17

Do you find it hard to open up to others?  Would you rather hide your wounded heart behind your back, then to share the deep cuts it holds?  Dear one, I encourage you to open up – be raw and transparent with someone you trust.  You will be blessed by it!  Your eyes will be opened to God’s workings and He will use you, if only you allow Him to.  Think of all you have learned and all you have been through – you are valuable and needed to share that knowledge and encouragement with someone else who is needing to hear it today.  Your hurts will not go in vain, if only we are obedient in our sharing.  Through transparency, we see Jesus.  And what a sweet Jesus He is.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”  2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Jodi


Content.

Our house is very small. Our vehicles are old and rusty.  Money is tight.  Our fridge isn’t always full, or always working right.  My house isn’t always clean. We don’t go on fancy vacations, or vacations much at all. Yet I find myself content, most of the time that is.

I am a garage sale, thrift store, Dollar Tree kinda girl.  I don’t care about clothing brands or expensive purses.  Fancy, new cars aren’t really my thing either.  I don’t find myself wanting too many “things” that others have.  But, it’s the experiences that leave me yearning for and jealous of other people’s lives.  As I listen to stories of family hikes, weekend getaways, even just time playing with their children at the park, it stings at my heart, as salt stings an open wound. Oh, what i wouldn’t give to be able to hike with my family or run and play at the park, yet honestly, that would land me in bed for days.  Weekends are usually spent recovering my body from the week, so weekend getaways aren’t the best option for me, either.  So even knowing all that, why do I find myself wanting another person’s life?  Because, in those moments, I am looking at it all wrong.

Blesssed. We are blessed beyond measure, as so are you.  No matter what storm you are walking in, you are blessed.  Although it might be hard to see through the fog or to understand His ways, we are still blessed. Yet seeing that blessing may be harder at times than others, as evident in my journal entry from years ago.

April 5, 2014

I cannot wrap my mind around your ways today.  Not that I can all the other days, but today is darker and much rougher terrain in my mind.  I know you have given me blessings – so many blessings.  Yet today, I can’t seem to see them through this haze, through the fog of my circumstances.  You are my sun, my warmth and my light that this soul needs, and even though the sun is shining out my window today, I can’t seem to focus on it.  Your truth and peace is standing right before me, yet it is out of my reach.  I cant quite grasp it today, Lord.  And quite honestly, I have stopped trying to reach it – I’m too tired and this marathon has gone on too long for me to even breathe.  The hope I speak of to so many has somehow dissolved into just a memory. 

I feel so hurt, so burdened by all the trials in this world.  And even though I know you have come to overcome the world, I can’t seem to get out from under this boulder I am shouldering.  I am tired, Lord.  I am tired of fighting, tired of missing out, and tired of the hurts and sins of this world causing me pain. You have promised you would never leave me or forsake me… so why can’t I hear your voice today?  Of all days, just a word from You would surely mend my broken heart  long enough to get through this day.  This sadness is consuming me, yet I am too weak to raise my hand for you to save me out of this sinking ship.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see our blessings isn’t it?  This world consumes us and tells us that all we need is a different life, one free from suffering and anguish.  The world whispers that we deserve happiness at whatever the cost. So we try to loose weight, because being thinner will surely heal our hearts.  We buy bigger houses, believing more room would help fill our void.  We cry out for healthy bodies, because then all our troubles will be better – if our bodies would be healed, so surely our hearts would be also, right?

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”.  Hebrews 13:5

But, God doesn’t promise us an easy life.  He does however, love us so individually that He gives us a unique life – one catered to our own heart’s needs and characteristics.  One that He will always walk through beside you, guiding you.  Currently, my family is being called to a time of trust that would only be possible through the absence of our comfort. That is the path God is using to build my continual reliance on Him.  Would I be more comfortable being able to freely spend my money, time and energy on anything I wish?  Absolutely.  But would God be able to reach me there to teach me the trust I can only learn through empty hands?

So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you. Proverbs 22:19

My life is meant for only me and the life God has given you is meant for only you.  If God loves us enough to know the very number of hairs on our heads, He loves us enough to not give us cookie cutter lives.  He loves us too much to make our lives comfortable, for in that comfort, we find complacency.  No matter how much we want to change our lives, whether that be having the new car your friend has or just wanting our bodies to be healed, we are missing the point.  When we covet someone elses life and their experiences, we are telling God that He somehow messed up on our life. He “forgot” to add in all those things that we falsely believe would heal the salted wounds of our heart.  These dreams we have for “bigger and better lives” are us telling our Father that He is not enough – that WE know what would make us happy and fulfilled and it’s NOT Him, it’s more than Him.  What we are missing is that God is using each one of our hiccups of life to shift our focus to Him and shower us with love and contentment, if only we allow Him too.  When we are trapped in our own selfish desires, that fog overtakes the bigger picture.  Yet, when we allow God to show us glimpses of His beautiful plan for our lives, true contentment lifts that haze and all becomes clear again.

Yes, our house is small, yet cozy and inviting.  Our cars may be rusty, but they are paid for.  Money is tight, but due to God’s calling of working less (which has been the biggest blessing on my life).  We don’t go on weekend getaways, but beautiful memories are being made ever Saturday morning when my family goes garage saleing together.  I am content with my life, and content with being taught daily to trust my Savior’s will for my life.  It’s not always comfortable, but it’s out of His love for me that it’s necessary.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  Phillippians 4:11-13

Jodi

 

 

Truce.

Around the holidays, I can’t help but look back and reminisce on the events that took place over the past year.  This year was entirely too eventful, if you ask me.  New physical pain has crept into my life and my sweet husband found himself in the same boat, sadly. It was a blur of history-making political issues and elections. Protests and hate have consumed our country – a country so needing Jesus now more than ever.  But as Christmas approaches, I can’t help but yearn for a truce.  I long for love pouring out of our grateful, full hearts to those we claim as enemies. And I believe it’s possible – it has happened one time in history. They do say history repeats itself, right?

In the winter of 1914, during World War 1, German and British troops were at war.  Yet, at the first light on Christmas Day, some of the German soldiers came out of their trenches calling out “Merry Christmas” to the British soldiers.  Not only did they wish their enemies a Merry Christmas, but they even said it in English for the British troops to understand.  Let’s think on this for a moment.  You are at war and the enemy not only comes out of their trenches, but they start approaching you saying, “Merry Christmas” in your language.  I can’t imagine what must have been going through their minds!  Was this a trick?  I’m not sure I would have trusted this huge act of outreach from the German soldiers.

But it wasn’t a trick.  The German soldiers had even unarmed themselves before making their way over to the British troops.  Somehow, for some reason, the British troops trusted them, and what followed warms my heart.  These soldiers, enemy combatants to each other, exchanged Christmas presents and traded goods.  They sang Christmas carols together and even played a game of soccer.  Why?  Simply, because it was Christmas. “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” Acts 2:44

What a respect Christmas Day held for them – a day worthy to stop fighting and celebrate the birth of our Savior.  A Savior to ALL men, no matter the skin tone or geographical origin.  As a nation, do we celebrate Christmas with the same respect these soldiers held in 1914?  They had just begun the largest war in history to date, yet they knew what Christmas was all about.  They had waged a truce of love.

“God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.”  1 John 4:9

As Christians, we know what Christmas is all about – the greatest gift ever given.  God sent His Son, Jesus, to the world to make a way for us. We all know the manger scene and the star that led the shepherds to the new baby King. Yet, even with this knowledge, we tend to have our holiday attention askew. It’s as though Christmas has turned into flying wrapping paper on Christmas morning, with some going into debt to make happen.  It’s cookies perfectly decorated and devoured.  It’s overeating just because we can – Christmas calories don’t count right?  But, loving our fellow man, especially those we don’t see eye to eye with, on Christmas Day is something we don’t see very often these days.  Yes, we buy presents for others, we gather together with friends and family, and we even go to church.  But, would we celebrate with our worst enemies on that day?  Most likely not.  Christmas is celebrated with family and friends and those we love, and that’s a good thing.  But what about our enemies?  On that day, is there a truce from the fighting?  Do you gather around the table with that person you are harboring hate towards?  Most of us don’t.  We may forget about that situation and continue the hate in our hearts until after the holidays.  Is that really what God wants from us?

No. Jesus commanded us, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27  Now, that doesn’t just say on Christmas, obviously.  But what Jesus is doing here is showing us how to change our hearts. I believe that is a very important Christmas lesson that gets overlooked. God changed so many hearts with the birth of His Son, all because He loved us so much to send His only Son to save us from ourselves. There are countless people from the Bible that had their hearts changed by Jesus. But, I’m most grateful He chose to change mine. 

 Jesus is commanding (not merely suggesting), that we allow our hearts to be changed towards those we consider enemies. And what tool does He give us to do it? Love. I believe, at least some of those troops were so full of Jesus’s love, that they just couldn’t keep it inside that Christmas morning. They wanted to celebrate with everyone and rejoice in the first and best gift they were ever given. They called a truce, at least for that day, to share in the love Christmas brings. I wonder if it had been their very best Christmas. For some, who would die in battle the very next day,  it was their last Christmas. But, even still, what a special day that was for them – a truce unlike all others.

This Christmas, will you allow your heart to be changed? Will this be the year you thaw that frozen part of your heart and allow love to flow freely? Imagine what our country would be like if we all loved our God first and our neighbors as ourselves, no matter their viewpoint or the election results. Sounds like a good start to a great year. Don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

Broken Hallelujah

I’m gonna be honest. Life has been rough lately. It’s been pain-filled. It’s been ever so trying on my heart and on my soul.  The past few months have been entirely too full of countless, unbearable days. That’s hard for me to admit. I would so much rather tell you I’m fine – that life is good and God has granted me some great, healthy days. But in reality,  I just feel… broken. My body, my heart, my soul feel wounded & shattered. Pain takes such a tole on us, doesn’t it? With every pain filled step, I am reminded how fragile our bodies actually are, always changing and ever surprising.  For example, a few months ago, I got out of bed only to feel shooting pain in my foot. I looked down to find it swollen, black and blue. I really thought it was fractured, by no fault of my own. I felt I had woken up broken.

My heart is crying for rest, for relief in this pain-filled storm. But, while I cry for a reprieve, I find my Lord is asking one thing of me in this  – to praise Him. Praise Him? How can we do that when we are suffering so intensely?  What would that even look like? In the middle of my darkest moments, my Lord so gently brings one song to my mind.  A song that reminds me even though I don’t know His plan, I can bring my brokenness to Him and always sing His praise – even if it is a Broken Hallelujah.

You usually hear of people shouting “Hallelujah” as a happy, joyful shout of praise. People say hallelujah when someone has been healed, when God sends us something we can only explain as a miracle, or even when we find our car keys after frantically searching the whole house. But shouting Hallelujah when we are crushed in spirit, sore in body, when our lives are just plain broken? Sounds easier than it is, doesn’t it?

But that’s exactly what God is calling me to do. He has taken my comfort, my full hands, my own strength, and stripped them away. The pain from that depravity can be gut-wrenching, but now my heart, broken from my pain-filled circumstance, is ready to piece back together. And dear one, God is the only one who knows how to piece them back together.  He knows the end picture He wants to make out of our lives, and so carefully and gently pieces our hearts back together, but in a completely different pattern. What was once here, He may now place there. What was once forgotten may now be brought to our mind. Why? Because he wants to perfectly piece us together to be more like Him and less like our former selves. We are being sanctified, made holy and set apart, from our former identity.  But that is only made possible through our newly broken, depleted hearts. 

Even broken, we are called to praise.  I have to constantly remind myself of this and I fail miserably, all too many times.  I want to rejoice and be grateful in the storm, but when I am broken, my flesh tends to kick in.  Before I know it, pain has shut out everyone I love and I have even allowed it to sound-proof my heart from His truth.  But then, in His faithfulness, when I least expect it, God seeps His love and quiet beconing through those 10″ thick walls I have secluded my heart in. For me, it’s usually the words of a song that crash those walls down. In His goodness, He used my daughter at our church’s performing arts day camp this summer to reveal guidance.  As my baby stood there and sang about making broken things beautiful, tears stung my eyes. Yes, I fought back tears because I was so proud of her fearlessness on that stage, but also because my own baby was singing my wounded heart’s song. It awakened me to see that broken hallelujahs can turn us into something brokenly beautiful.

He wants to change us in our pain to make us see things through new lenses, which can be painful in itself. But praising our Lord, in good days as well as bad, strengthens our trust in Him amidst our storms. These past few months, God has removed the teetering ledge I was so strongly gripping to, and revealed His strong foothold beneath me, which had been there all along. I just needed to change my outlook and turn my sights on Him instead of my circumstances. 

No matter the pain, no matter the tear stained cheeks, no matter the broken heart, He is worthy to be praised. He has not left me and He has not left you! Removing our eyes from our storms and placing them where they should be, on our loving, mercy-filled Father, is our calling. Even if you woke up broken this day, God is waiting to hear from you. And guess what? I just have a feeling He loves the beauty that comes from a broken hallelujah.

 “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jodi