Lavish Hospitality 13

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I don’t think I really knew much of pain until after midway through college.

And then it has been full force since then.

The agonizing words of a friend over my appearance and the fact that I was never going to get married.

The words of a man that questioned so much of my future.

The pain of hearing lies.

The loss of a relationship.

The bitterness of my own sin.  Time and time again.

Sting of another betrayal.

Being met with judgment and not grace.

Loss of so many friendships – all at once.

And then to have to start to build relationships again.  And again.

At 40 it is tough to build relationships with new people.  Mommy friends.  Couple friends.  You know, every one has their own set of friends with not much room for new people.  And remembering the hurt of past relationships doesn’t make you too eager to put yourself out there again.

But, that’s what Lavish Hospitality does.  Jesus was hurt more than we could ever imagine.  I can’t fathom that.  And I’ve not been hurt near as much as some.  But, Christ took that pain – all of it – and died for it – then defeated death so we wouldn’t have to agonize over the pain any more.

We could feel again.  We could love again.  We could have broken relationships restored.  Because of Christ’s lavish hospitality on us.

Quote taken from Ashleigh Slater’s Braving Sorrow Together.

Come Empty: a review

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The longer I live the more I am introduced to and reminded of pain and hurt.  A believer’s life is not immune from it – we just have help and a Healer when we experience it.

And hopefully, we can share that help and Healer with others who are going through pain.

The book Come Empty by Saundra Dalton Smith is good on many levels:

  1.  Her transparency.  I love that there are people in the world who are hurting, who have been hurt, and know that they have the freedom to share that hurt.  Not everyone is given that freedom for fear of guilt, shame, or rejection.  I think that is something we in the church can be more aware of and open to.  Not shunning people who are in pain, but helping them with the purity of the Gospel in their pain.
  2. Her use of Scripture.  I do love that this book is full of the Word of God – because through the Word we receive healing.
  3. Short reads.  I know in periods of hurt, I might not be able to emotionally handle a long chapter, or a lengthy book.  Short daily readings are great.

One negative: This book is in the same family as Jesus Calling in one regard: there is a His Reply section and the author puts it in first person, so it is as if Jesus is actually speaking these words to her.  And if He is, then these words are infallible and perfect, on the same par with Scripture.  Scripture is the only Scripture.  It is one thing to give readers Scriptures that they can internalize, but another to say that the Lord is actually speaking these words.

Thanks Litfuse and Dr. Smith for the book and all opinions are my own.

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet (Ramblings and Giveaway)

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Every Bitter Thing is Sweet

One of the best books I’ve read lately, one that has captured my soul in a time of hurt and healing, is Every Bitter Thing is Sweet.  I was introduced to it by a few friends on IG and she spoke recently at my former church in the RDU area.  It has indeed been a book that I will re-read in different seasons of life.  I will be doing an official review of it on another site, but here I just wanted to give some personal reflections – and have a giveaway (Thanks to Zondervan.)

First, just two notes…This book may not be for you.  It is a memoir of Sara Hagerty’s journey of a wife, adoptive mom, and now a mom.  It is one written on a painful journey and how God met her in her time of need.  There are Scriptures at the back of each chapter – dive into those verse.  Even if you know you know them, read them again.  Scripture is good for our soul – as Psalm 19 says, “It revives the soul”.

“I was a different woman than the one I had been before my life unraveled, because God had become to me a different God than the one I’d contrived to be when it all was working as it should.” (pg 180)

2014 was a difficult year to say the least.  I had a 2 year old and a newborn.  We moved states and my husband changed jobs.  I learned new meanings of the word trust.  I cried so much.  Hurt was a regular part of my vocabulary.  But, what I’ve been learning even into 2015 is that God is an amazingly, close Father and I am in so desperate need of the Gospel every minute of my life.  When we walk through valleys, our God shows up so clear to us – because He is often all we have – and that is a beautifully hard thing to learn.

“She was finding a new identity.  She was walking out the fulfillment of our feeble prayers.  Her heart was growing.  Pain had made space.”

Friends, I’m not there yet.  Not completely.  There’s more space, but not near as much as there should be.  I’m learning every day how to trust again, how to be selfless (which I’m so not, and that’s not humble modesty).  I’m learning to lean into Jesus and his Word.  I want God to be daily re-creating me more and more into his image.

Perfect for Mother’s Day (even though it was yesterday)

“If my chief end as a mother is anything less than knowing Him and carrying His glory in my life, I will walk through these years empty.” (pg 156)

I need to hang this on my mirror so I see it every day.  Notice she didn’t say to have the cleanest house, have the best “work from home” business, or have the most well-dressed kids.  She said to know Jesus and carry his glory.  Reflect his glory!

“He wants us to make a habit out of coming near.  Because His response to our pain will be safe.” (pg 146)

In the presence of God is the only safe place there really is – because there there is no sin.  God is perfect and holy and gently.  He will not break us.  He will shape us into the image of Jesus with gentleness.  Other people – in response to our circumstances – will bring us (even more) pain.  Don’t set your hopes on other’s responses.  Focus your hope of the Lover of your Soul.  He is good.

“Delight and life from a tongue can change a soul.” (pg 101)

This needs to be the air I breathe to others.  Conviction shouldn’t be the first thing on my mind.  Critique shouldn’t be the first thing on my list.  I know God’s Word calls us how to live and I want to know how I can bring life (not sappy optimism) into others.  I want to love on others like Christ would.  That is a hard balance.  If you see others living in sin, tread lightly, be gentle, allow the healing words of Christ and gospel to speak through you – not the harsh words of condemnation.  Remember when you are speaking that there is no condemnation in Christ – so if your words leave someone feeling condemned – that’s not Jesus.

Giveaway Question:

I have one copy of this book to giveaway.  If you’d like it – please answer: What is one thing you’ve learned about God as you’ve walked through a difficult season?

What do you do with PAIN?

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Tears and Pain

Life is a sweet journey – for the most part!  I’ve been amazingly graced with a really great life.

But, what do you do when life hands you pain?  As a believer in the sovereign plan of God and also the fact that God does all things good and for our good – this year has been a tough year to stand firm on that.

This past year has handed me a lot of pain.  We are just a year out from one of the most hurtful conversations in my life.  In each of these hurtful conversations I took away good and hard lessons.

Of the hardest conversations in my life, one of those conversations earned distrust.  One of those conversations earned freedom.  And the last of these conversations earned seclusion and doubt and tears.

So, how do you work with pain in your life?

1.  First, I couldn’t blog about it. Blogging is one way I think through what is in my head.  But, when I know others read my blog – there are some things that I can’t talk about on it.  Instead, I chose basically two people in my life to pour out everything to: a pastor’s wife that I knew faced similiar pain in ministry and the other one was my husband.  Both of these people shared wisdom with me and hours, whether on the phone or laying on the couch.  My husband was a champ during the months that followed this initial conversation and the tears each night for literally months on end that would stream down my face.

2.  Know where your trust is?  I used to be a very trusting person.  That was until people in my life that I trusted let me down.  Then, I don’t trust as much.  I really think i’ve come to know that God is the only person I can trust 100% of the time.  He is the only person who has never sinned and can’t sin – so that means he can’t let me down.  And God will never let me down.  At some point, every single person in your life will let you down.  Its a fact of sin nature.  You will let others down.  I will let others down.  But, God stands.

3.  My introvert self became more introverted.  Some people would never mark me as an introvert – but I truly am.  I thrive on quiet time during the day, on my boys taking their naps, on my panera time each week, on my laying in bed with a book or social media time.  I need to recharge.  And part of that being an introvert is usually yourself can’t hurt you.  But, others hurt me.  (and believe me I know I’ve hurt other people).  I’d rather stick with the friends I have who are tremendous and leave it at that.

4.  I’ve let go of things that we must agree on to be friends.  There are only a few BIG things in life that are worth battling over – those mountains you might say.  Don’t let battles rage and hurt fly over the little things.  Really.  You may not see eye to eye with someone and its ok.  Love anyway.

5.  Learning to love.  Reading Ryken’s book this past year and now going through Goff’s Love Does has been a tremendous thought process for me. Loving is hard.  It took MONTHS to even be able to look some people in the eye after this recent hurt.  Loving others is one of the hardest things to do.  Oh, its easy to love people when they are lovable.  But, grace and mercy and a generous love is needed when people are not lovable.

6.  I know some of you who many know me think I always take everything even keeled and am pretty much a laid back person.  But, as my husband will tell you, I am an emotional and passionate person.  Tears flow with friends as they share news of hurt with me.  After last summer, I didn’t think I would ever be able to cry any more tears.

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?” – Psalm 56.8  It gives great comfort to know that the Psalmist was not a stranger to tears.  We see him often bringing his heartfelt and tearful please to the Lord.  This give me great confidence in knowing that I can do the same thing with the same Savior!

7.  But, more tears will come.  This year has been one of one hurt after another.  And I know that pain is a part of life…so we will start the cycle over again.

How do you handle the pain that life deals you?  How do you let God work on your heart with the hope of the Gospel?

The Hurt and the Healer

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Mercy Me always seems to put out stellar songs and the ones I am thinking of have solid biblical lyrics.  Love it when a Christian artist can do that.  Engage the culture and where people are without sacrificing the truth and depth of the lyrics.  This is no less true for their new song, “The Hurt and the Healer“.  Even thinking of the title reminds me of the book of Job or Paul’s prayer for the removal of the thorn. 

We all face difficulties in life, in fact, Jesus says that if we are believers, we will face trouble.  But, we have to take heart – for He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  These difficulties may come in the form of sickness, financial troubles, relationship disagreements, forks in the road, death, etc.  We never know what may come our way – but we do know the One who holds all things together.  My Mom’s favorite song is I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.  A favorite song I sang in high school was “Trust His Heart”.  There are many songs out there that speak of hardship and knowing that God is still in control.  My favorite hymn is It Is Well.  There you go – another one that speaks to that truth of the sovereignty of God over all of our situations.  We must claim that and believe that only with Jesus will we have peace through these storms.

The Hurt and the Healer – by Mercy Me

The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide [x2]

I highlighted some of the lyrics above, so I thought I would expound on them:

Jesus please don’t let this go in vain – The Hubs and I are going through the book of James this year.  As I re-read it almost daily, as I did with James 1 today, certain truths keep ringing loud and clear.  In James 1, the outcome of the suffering (count it all joy, right?) is steadfastness, faith, crown of life, perfection and completeness.  These will not come without trial.  Believing that there is a plan and a purpose though to any trial you or I face is a tough faith thing.  But, as it says later in James 1 – God never changes.  So we must hold fast to the fact tha tHe is faithful and does all things for our good and His glory.

You take my heart and breathe it back to life – Some of you who are reading this may have just lost a loved one or your husband may be facing trials or you might be struggling with relationships or being in a place God has you for this time in your life.  You might find that there are days when you would rather just not get out of bed (why does bed bring so much comfort?)  Are we willing to let Jesus bring life back into our dead hearts?  I’m reading through Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word and in one of the sections she talks about the difference and the difficulties when Christians who are filled with Light are struggling with darkness.  Are we willing, as believers who trust in the Sovereignty of God over all events in our lives, to let Jesus have full control and lead us where He wants to take us (or keep us?)

Pain so deep that I can hardly move – Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You – This pain can be quite debilitating at times.  But, where is our gaze?  Do we constantly focus on the hurt, the pain, the weariness, the exhaustion, the quietness, the numbness, the tears?  Or we will able to let go and look to Jesus.  I love the Fernando Ortega song, “Give me Jesus“.  This speaks greatly to our needs vs our wants in what will satisfy our deepest longings.

Awake my heart and take my tears – One of my sweet friends, Jill McCloghry, one one of her early projects, wrote a song about the grace and mercy of God in how He catches our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8)  There are some days when I don’t think I have any tears left (pregnancy).  But, I know they are not wasted.  I know God sees each and every one of them that fall and none of them soak my shirt and leave marks where He doesn’t see them.  My husband often wipes away my tears – but my Father God who is gracious to me keeps them and knows them and will not let them be cried for nought.  He is tender and merciful to His beloved sons and daughters.

You may wonder why I chose this picture to go on the top of the blog?  I have this knack and desire to find half dead flowers and take its picture.  It reminds me that we who were dead have been brought to life by the breath and salvation of God through Christ.  It also applies here.  We who are made alive may (no, will) go through suffering and at times we see no hope.  But, where there is death – there is life.  Jesus is that life.

I pray that no matter where you are today or what you are going through, this song/video, and this blog post have been an encouragement to you and has enabled you to fix your eyes on Christ.