Scarred Beyond Hope???

woman-at-the-well

 

Scarred Beyond Hope???

“All of the cards are stacked against the woman at the well.  Looking at her long string of bad choices, many would consider her unredeemable, unsalvageable, unteachable, and beyond help.  She hasn’t just made a few mistakes; she has lived a lifetime of mistakes, enough to cause most to conclude her life is scarred beyond hope.  She comes to the well at the middle of the day because respectable women come in the morning, and she understands that she is no respectable woman.

But Jesus respects her.

Jesus doesn’t see what everyone else sees.

As far as Jesus is concerned, this woman is salvageable, teachable, and redeemable.  As far as Jesus is concerned, the woman with no future has a future; the woman with a string of failures is about to have the string broken.  Jesus sees her present desire, which makes her past irrelevant.

You don’t suppose, do you, the same could be true for you and me?  Our mistakes, our strings of failures, and what everyone else labels unredeemable may actually be redeemable?  You don’t suppose the mess we’ve made of our lives can be the place where we meet Jesus?  Do you?”

(taken from Messy Spirituality- (one of my absolute favorite book)s- by Michael Yaconelli)

Art by Christopher C. Randolph

 

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What They Didn’t Tell Me…

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What They Didn’t Tell Me…

If they had told me some things about motherhood, I might have changed my mind. If they would have told me that it doesn’t matter how old your child gets, that there is this invisible cord that connects from their heart to yours that emits shock waves, and emotional highs and lows that never stop, that the protective instinct  that you were given by God doesn’t go away when they turn 18, and that your heart will be a squeezed, patched up, scarred up, convoluted organ that looks like a worn out washcloth… on the good days.  But how could they tell you that?  You might actually listen and change your mind… but we all know the truth.  We humans often don’t listen to the voice of reason, and we do what we want.  We take the plunge despite all the warnings, and we jump off the cliff into the freezing cold water that shocks us from the inside out, and the outside in.

And what is even more absurd, is that we women (some of us) chase the pain by multiplying it (I have 10-you do the math!) BUT  I don’t regret it!  Call me crazy, but seriously,  I am not lamenting the pain, or wishing I hadn’t, I am just saying…

I had no idea that it was going to hurt so much.

I wasn’t the greatest mother, either, when they were little,  I know I was impatient, and I focused too much on the house being clean, and them being clean,  and other things, instead of just having fun with them.  But we did have fun, too!  So much fun, and I don’t regret it for a minute… I just wish I had been a better mother.  I wish I had been a more joyful, happy and loving example of someone who loves Jesus, and not preached so many self-righteous sermons to them, or expected  them to be spiritual giants, especially during their teen years.  Aaayaayyaaah! My poor kids!

So, my advice to you mommies of young children, is to just love, love, love them, and help them to find that close friend that Jesus will be to them, and help them to establish that connection with him so that even as they grow and experience the world and start to question, and think that they have found a cooler, more intellectual, or scientific, or amazing path, that it holds them fast, that connection, even without their being aware of it.  And that, even if they stray for awhile, and think they can make it on their own, without their best friend, that eventually they will miss him and look around for him, and friend request  him again. There are so many things that parents need to prepare their kids for, it is really a ridiculously long job description, but Love and Understanding are the top things that cover  the lacks.

He made it that simple. And another thing to be aware of is that you can’t expect them to change their ways to make you happy, because it has to be for the only good reason, because they realize that the high road, no matter how rocky or bumpy, is still the best road, and that the low road may look easy now, but it becomes empty and boring and very dark and painful.

And despite the afore-mentioned pain…I must clarify…My children are the most amazing part of my life that make me who I am…. We read books and search and study to find ourselves and who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do and I have to say,  no matter what else I have done or will do, God gave me the gift of motherhood.  Yes, in spite of my description of pain, etc. it has been and continues to be what makes my life epic. Seriously!  That is how I see it! Each communication heart to heart with them, each memory, each struggle, agonizing prayer,  each proud moment as they succeed, or win, or fall, and rise up again.  Each step forward that they take, each gesture of love and care for others and each other, each time they make a tough choice, or blow it and make a bad choice, but learn from it.  The loving parents they are becoming,  they hard working people that they are, the funny, interesting, serious, unselfish, talented, beautiful and nutty individuals that they are is so much a part of what makes my life worth living.  So I am glad I didn’t hear it when someone might have said “are you sure you want to have kids?”

A Friend loves at all times…

A friend loves  at all times…

Friends are so important, and maybe I took mine for granted, before I moved so far away to a place where I really didn’t have so many.  Of course, I have my dear hubby and my wonderful kids & their significant others, and I am pretty close to some of them. But we all, at any age do need to have a friend or two who will listen, care, be honest, & love us through the muck and mud of our humanity. This kind of friend is a  treasure  so valuable that you really want to keep it.   I was happy to discover that my best friend from High School (who I am friends with on FB) is still there for me.  Recently, when my son was shot in a gun accident and spent two weeks in the hospital, I was so amazed to see my dear friend giving updates and sending out prayer requests for him!  Our friends in far flung countries, and nearby as well,  have stood by us and prayed for us and for these I am truly thankful, for a true friend is someone who is looking out for what is best for you, someone who helps you to be your best self and someone who cares about you, even enough to tell you the truth, someone that you can always trust, and someone you know your heart is safe with. 

But, of course, even though I have great friends, they are not perfect and not always “there for me”, and I am not always “there for them”, when they need me.

I concur with Celeste Palermo in her book THE COFFEE MOM’S DEVOTIONAL,

“There is only one true and lasting friend who is always available.  He understands me and wants the best for me.  He not only inspires me but he sustains and equips me.  He tells me the truth- straight up, all the time.  He is Jesus.

(she continues…)

“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I used to see my relationship with Jesus as a duty, a chore to be crossed off a list.  I’d think, I need to have my Bible study today or I need to pray so that I could feel like I was “growing” spiritually.  I actually approached my relationship with God like a Monday through Friday job.  I’d do Bible study five days a week and take weekends off.  And, if I “took a sick day”, off, once in a while, I figured the Big Boss would understand.

He does understand, but what He wanted me to get, that I (finally!) get, is: He is my Friend.

A relationship with Jesus is not a checklist duty. I don’t call my friends because I feel like I need to.  I call them because I want to- and it’s no different with God.

Friendships do not grow when we feel forced into them.  They grow when our hearts connect.  When I came to understand, to truly understand, that God wants me to talk with him all the time- about ordinary stuff- not just requests or ritual, I became His friend. My heart connected with his.  I now look forward to talking with him 24-7, whether it is first thing in the morning, in the car, at work, or last thing at night. Jesus is the go-to friend who never fails and who loves at all times.” (see Proverbs 17:17)

Taken from A Coffee Mom’s Devotional by Celeste Palermo

Do You Need Fixing?

Don’t feel bad if you do, for this is the human condition that we all know and experience.  We may be  all happy and shiny one day and then, the next day, fall down and break, really break, into what might seem like a million pieces.  Everything may look lost and hopeless, but it never is.  Never.  Because we know someone who can fix anything and everything… bodies, hearts, lives, relationships, …souls.

It’s true.

The thought of redemption is a curious one.  Redemption is one of my favorite words,  along with validation. In her book,The Path,  Laurie Beth Jones encourages her readers to choose words that stir something in them, in order to discover the secrets to composing their own personal mission statement for life.  It is a beautiful exercise and pretty eye-opening.

The word Validation is one of my own favorites, as I can’t help but be stirred by the desire to somehow help people to find their value and purpose.  This is a deep passion that the Lord has given, only a minute fraction of a reflection of His own intense love and care for every soul, no matter who or what they have done, or how lost in this world they may be.

And, let’s face it, it is extremely easy to get lost in this world.  So very easy.

But, I want to share this thought from John Eldredge:

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”-Isaiah 61:1

“When the Bible tells us that Christ came to “redeem mankind” it offers a whole lot more than forgiveness.  To simply forgive a broken man is like telling  someone running a marathon, It’s okay that you’ve broken your leg.  I won’t hold that against you.  Now finish the race.”

That is cruel. To leave him disabled that way.  No,  there is much more to our redemption.  The core of Christ’s mission is foretold in Isaiah 61:1.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives & release for the prisoners.”

He came to “bind up and heal, to release and set free.  Your heart. (body, too, I might add.) He comes to restore and release you, your soul, the true you.  This is the central passage in the entire Bible about Jesus, the one He uses to quote about himself when he steps into the spotlight in Luke 4 and announces his arrival.  So take him at his word-ask him in to heal all the broken places within you and unite them into one whole and healed heart.  Ask him to release you from all bondage and captivity, as he promised to.”

J. Eldredge

Redemption is just a whisper of a word of a prayer away…please try it, and then wait and watch for it.  The answer may not come in the way you are expecting,  but it will come.

Ephesians 1:7

Do You Hear It?

 

As obvious as it may be to some,  I think that many of us too easily forget that whether we want it or not,  there is still a war going on.  There is still a war and we are players in it, whether active or passive.

We either  hear the  sound of the call to arms in our hearts.. or  choose to ignore it, drown it out or pretend it isn’t there…

John Eldredge puts it this way:

“We are living somewhere toward the end of Act Three.  We have a future, but this tale is not over yet.  We now live between the beaches of Normandy and the end of the war.  Between Paradise lost and Paradise regained.

We live in a far more dramatic, far more dangerous Story than we ever imagined.  The reason we love The Chronicles of Narnia or The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings is  because they are telling us something about our lives that we never, ever get on the evening news.  Or from most pulpits.  They are reminding us of the Epic we are created for.  This is the sort of tale you’ve fallen into.  How would you live differently if you believe it to be true?

The final test of any belief or faith that claims to provide an answer to our lives is this.  Does the one explain the other?  Does it explain the longing in your heart for a life you haven’t yet found?  Does it explain the evil cast around us?  Most of all, does it give you back your heart, lead you to the Source of life?

Something has been calling to you all the days of your life.  You’ve heard it on the wind and in the music you love, in laughter and in tears, and most especially in the stories that have ever captivated your heart.  There is a secret written on your heart.  A valiant Hero-Lover and his Beloved.  An Evil One and a great battle to fight.  A Journey and a Quest, more dangerous and more thrilling than you could imagine.” John Eldredge-Epic

Don’t  forget that in your life your role is the lead and it does matter very much how you play it out.

Don’t Lose Touch with Your Heart…

“All my longings lie open before You, O God, my sighing is not hidden from You!”

Psalm 38:9

“Indeed, if we will listen, a “Sacred Romance” calls to us through our hearts every moment of our lives. It whispers to us on the wind, invites  us through the laughter of good friends,teaches us through the touch of someone we love. We’ve heard it in our favorite music, sensed it at the birth of our first child, been drawn to it while watching the shimmer of the sunset on the ocean. “The Romance” is even present during times of great personal suffering, the illness of a child, the loss of a marriage,the death of a friend. Something calls to us through experiences like these & rouses and inconsolable longing deep within our heart, waking in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty & adventure.

This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality.  It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for a sense of being truly alive. However we may describe this deep desire, it is the most important thing about us, our heart of hearts, the passion of our life. And the voice that calls to us in this place is none other than the voice of God.

We cannot hear this voice if we have lost touch with our hearts.”

From The Sacred Romance– by John Eldredge

One thing I know from experience: His Love and care and abundant desire to woo our hearts and souls and spirits back into His loving care is eternal. The only thing that stops it is our own loss of communion with our hearts- His voice is there, whatever our need, whenever our need, no matter how profound or simple. His richness, genuine care for us and overwhelming love is available.  But we have to stop and listen and breathe Him in…

Feeling Invisible?

 

To All of you young mothers out there I have a little quote to lift your eyes from the dishwasher loading and the laundry folding & the face & bottom  wiping  to loftier heights!

My gorgeous daughter, Carmel, loaned me a book a few years back, called  The Invisible  Woman by Nicole Johnson, which I highly recommend.

Nicole (also on Youtube, type Invisible Woman and you can hear her speak,) brings you through a journey that all moms go on but elevates it to wonder and greatness.

I’ll share the closing prayer here:

“Almighty God, who sees every sparrow, continue to teach me life’s great lessons from the world’s great cathedrals.  Make me more invisible. Strengthen my heart to do the things that no one sees or appreciates, and to do them as unto You.  Help me make personal sacrifices with no trumpet & no credit to myself.

Let me be more invisible to You, so that real love may be more clearly visible.

Let me allow humility to cloak my love at every opportunity.  And if history never knows my name, may I have helped it know Yours a little better.  Allow me to b e invisible, that the world might see you- the living God who sees and loves all invisible women. “

Nicole Johnson