Tis The Season – For a Change of Heart

I should probably preface this post by saying it is not at all strange for me to be thinking or daydreaming about all things Christmas, no matter what time of year it is. You see, I am a Christmasaholic. Even as I sit in my rocking chair on my front porch enjoying this beautiful 72 degree May evening in Kentucky; I can’t help but wish it was almost Christmas again.

My mind was repeating, the song “Pretty Paper” by Randy Travis. If you’ve ever heard it, I’m sure the unique voice of Mr. Travis is ringing through your ears with those familiar words. I slowly rock back and forth as I watch the sunset over the horses in the field, humming the holiday tune. But the rocking stopped, and I felt myself scowling as I paused on the following lyrics:

“Crowded street, busy feet, hustle by him
Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh
There he sits all alone on the sidewalk
Hoping that you won’t pass him by
Should you stop? Better not, much too busy
You’re in a hurry, my how time does fly
In the distance the ringing of laughter
And in the midst of the laughter, he cries….”

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My feelings of holiday spirit quickly shifted to ones of concern and sadness. How often have I been guilty of that very thing? How many times have I been too busy or distracted to notice someone I could help? I’m flooded with conviction as I think of this morning’s drive to work. It was pouring rain; I could hardly see through the windshield. Through the rapid swiping of the wipers I could see a man riding his bike in the same direction I was headed. A raincoat synched around his face and wearing a backpack; I am confident he was doing what he could to get to the school that’s a few miles down the road. The next thing I know, I am looking at him through my rearview mirror as I drive on. I could’ve stopped. I could’ve put his bike in the back of my SUV and got him out of the rain. Yes, I would’ve gotten drenched, and I had no way of knowing if he was a good person or not (you know, all the excuses I let justify me not doing the right thing). But isn’t that the point? Sacrificing for someone else?

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2

My heart aches at the thought that our world, or should I say, the people in it, can be described much more accurately by the lyrics of that Christmas song than by the example set by our savior.

Think about the last time someone did something nice for you that was a complete surprise. Those moments in life when people go the extra mile to encourage and lift us up really makes us feel special. Why do their actions have that effect on us? I’m sorry to say that they probably stand out because it’s so different from what we experience the rest of the time. Day in and day out, most of us are forced to deal with people who care more about themselves than they care about others.

We have allowed ourselves to become a people who are no longer willing to carry the burden for someone else. We make every excuse in the world to justify our behavior. “I’ve got my own problems; I can’t worry about them right now.” “Someone else will do it; I just don’t have time.” Or my favorite, “I just don’t feel called to do that.” So engulfed in the business and worldly things we have worked so hard for; we are suffocating from our toxic self-centeredness as we choke God out of every aspect of our lives and effortlessly make those in need around us invisible. Just look away, don’t make eye contact…the second you are out of sight, they are out of your mind.

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These quotes from Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love are spot on:
“God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love.” – Chan isn’t referring to how we love our families and friends. And neither is God.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43

How are you doing in that area of life? How often do you find yourself showing love, compassion, and respect for those that aren’t your favorite people in the world? One of God’s greatest commandments is for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To regard their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own. THAT is what God measures our lives by…are we imitating the life of our savior and putting the needs of others above our own?

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”

Chan is reminding us that God didn’t create you and me to merely exist and make our goal in life to get as much money as possible so we can be as comfortable as possible. He puts us where we are because He has something for each of us to do at that very moment. I passed that man on his bike and FAILED! God’s plan was still fulfilled. Someone did stop to help him. I drove right past an opportunity to serve and glorify God and be used by Him out of complete and utter selfishness. So He used someone else. That shouldn’t be a relief to anyone. I want to stand before a Holy God and hear Him say, “Well Done Daughter, Well done.” Not, “Is this all you did with the time I gave you.”

“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” – I don’t think Mr. Chan needs my help explaining this one at all, do you?

Making All Things New

I love spring! I love that all the barrenness of winter is leaving, and new life is waking up. I am not a big fan of winter, but without winter we would not appreciate spring, would we? Most of all I love seeing the growth and the newness of what spring brings!



Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Sometimes it takes a season of winter or two ( lol ) to see a ” new thing ” come forth. A new way that God wants to do something in and through us. The only way that we will ever perceive a new way is to do a ” new thing”! Even though I perceive it to be mundane, it could be exactly what Isaiah 43:19 says, a stream in the desert to my soul.


Isaiah 43:19
Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

God is moving; He was moving when Isaiah wrote this verse; God was moving towards the cross. God has finished the final work through Jesus, but He is still doing new things. Still actively moving in us and on behalf of us. I love how this verse says DO YOU NOT SEE IT? Oh! That question hits me, just like the Jews missed Yeshua (Jesus) our Savior! We can be so caught up in our daily lives, daily rituals, the busyness of life, and miss what God wants for our lives. We can be so caught up in religious activities and good works and miss God if we are not actively reading and dialoguing with Him in the scriptures, we can miss Him and miss the small blessings He brings to us daily.

I think more than ever we are losing something spectacular in our relationships with God. It is dialogue, the word of God is going to deal directly with your heart. It is going to speak to places you thought were dead and barren. God’s word was meant to be opened and we are supposed to ask questions and allow Him to answer us with His word. Ask, and you will receive. Seek Him and you will find Him. Knock and He will answer you! ( Matthew 7:7)

This past weekend I went to a leadership conference. I love how God uses these conferences to fill us up and to speak to us clearly through our leaders inside the church. Plus, let’s be honest just getting away and in a new atmosphere can bring clarity in itself. I suppose that is why I love going so very much. It is about God doing a ” new thing” in me and for me.

He used leaders to directly speak to places of uncertainty with the word of God. Directly into my circumstances! That prompted me to ask God more in-depth questions and to confirm His will through His word to me personally. Guess, what He did!

If I had chose to just shrug off what I heard God speaking and go on my way, I will have missed something God has in store for me. I haven’t always been walking with Christ. I would say seven years total that I have had a real relationship with Jesus. For years I believed, and I accepted Christ, but I never accessed our relationship. I simply didn’t think I had too! I missed those years, but I know now I never have to miss Him again! I have heard the loud critics voice in my ear, saying: ” You are taking that out of context!” “God is not saying that or why would He say that to you.” I don’t have the most exquisite way of saying it, but here is what I have experienced with the word of God and the Holy Spirit. The word of God is God’s very breath, all 66 books, from Genesis to Revelation. I believe and want God’s very breath to breathe in my life every day. The Holy Spirit is the power, wisdom, knowledge and understanding that I must have in order to take God’s breath in. I wish that for everyone, but as a person who lives in reality, I know that some won’t. That does not stop me though!!! I love God’s word, for goodness sake, anyone who knows me has seen my library of commentaries and my resource ” stuff ” I am not writing this to defend myself; I am merely writing this to express what God has shared with me and has helped me so much along the way. So here it goes:


English Standard Version
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV

If we are going to perceive a new thing that God wants to do in us or through us we have to be actively dialoguing with Jesus in and through the scriptures. That means you ask a question and He answers back through the word of God. In the verse above this paragraph, I want you to read that out loud. The word of God is alive, full of God’s spirit, and the word of God divides the lies that life throws us daily. The word of God redirects our motives and our thoughts.


English Standard Version
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2 ESV

The only way that God can transform us is by the renewing of our minds. Sound’s like God is directly saying to us that if we want a new mind He will give it through the scriptures. God radically wants to transform us, but we have to be willing to find it in the word of God.

Do you sense God is wanting to do a ” new thing” in your life?

Are you confused or unsure about it?

What is leading your walk with God?

All three of these questions are easily solved. The answer is to be found in the word of God.

I challenge you this week, ask God a question in your life. A problem that is throwing you for a loop? See, if He will not lead you to the answer! He is faithful! There are amazing conversations to be had with The Lord of the Universe! What are you waiting for…

Here are some more scriptures about God’s glorious word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 
Philippians 2:14-16a
Psalm 119:105 
Psalm 119:9
Matthew 4:4
John 1:1 

How’s The View?

I think most people will agree with me when I say that experiencing a moment, or multiple moments, of conviction, can be one of life’s best teachers.  You know what I’m talkin’ about right?  That second you want to crawl in a hole because you’re feeling smothered in guilt, remorse, shame…need I go on?

ashamed I am sure it doesn’t take long for us all to recall those, not so fun, life lessons.  Whether we impulsively stuck our foot/feet in our mouths, blew a situation out of proportion, or continue to fail at that one thing you’ve been trying to work on; if you’re a follower of Christ, His Spirit will quickly begin to weigh on us.  I can just picture His Holy Spirit standing in front of me with His arms crossed while tapping His foot out of frustration until I have that Ah Hah moment of, “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done/said that.”

I had just such an experience this week.  Several of them, I’m sure, but one that is really tugging at me.  I have been struggling for about a month with kidney stones.  I was passing seven at one time, had surgery to have a stent placed, and finally began feeling better last week as I was starting to recover.  By the end of the week, I could tell I was passing more.  I went to the doctor, and they did see multiple stones.  Good times (deep sigh).  Ladies and gentlemen let the pity party begin!

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Can’t you just hear the thoughts I was having…”Why is this happening to me again? What did I do to deserve this? Wah wah wah…” Poor pitiful me.  I could feel the frown on my face.  All while sitting in my air-conditioned home, on my comfortable sofa, reclined with my heating pad, my fourteen-year-old daughter making my plate of food, and watching all the Netflix my little heart desires.   Sounds hideous, doesn’t it?

I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on two mission trips to very poverty-stricken areas in Uganda over the last couple of years.  Each time coming home feeling terrible about how so very spoiled we are as Americans, and we don’t even know it.  We don’t realize how ridiculous we sound to people around the world when we complain about standing in line too long, and wi-fi being too slow, and “I don’t really feel like eating there…”

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 I would get so aggravated when people would moan about their “first world problems”, yet here I was, doing just that.  I realized it while I was sitting through our weekly Women’s Bible Study group discussing missionaries over the centuries that have literally sacrificed and lost everything to be obedient to God.  One, William Carey, traveled to India in the 1800s with his wife and children.  While there, one of his sons and his wife died.  He continued to serve the Lord through it all, and His ministry impacted innumerable lives.

The way I would have seen that situation if it was me, I’m afraid, would be a much different view than what he saw.  Through the pain, sacrifice, grief, and struggle, he saw the path that God had laid before him from the beginning.  He could see the lives that would be touched, and the Glory God would receive if he persevered.  His view was filled with the desire to show Christ to a lost world, the faith that knew God was in control, and the expectation of Him to do something absolutely amazing with his situation.  Not only that but what a testimony for people to witness a man walking out His faith in such a way.  We claim to have hope, but so few of us show it when the rubber meets the road.

As we read Carey’s story, I could feel myself sinking in my chair.  How much had I complained that day and the days before?  My view was filled with self-pity and impatience.  I was focused on my circumstance instead of fixing my eyes on the One that was in control of it.  I lost sight of all the blessings that fill my life that I know I don’t deserve.

With that being said, I type this with a smile on my face (while sitting on a heating pad 😊) because I am so very thankful for God’s sanctification process through conviction.  NOT CONDEMNATION.  That’s a whole other topic that I won’t get into tonight.   I am thankful for the tests we must go through, whether I succeed or fail.  I am thankful for conditions that He allows me to endure in order to continue to mold me into the person He created me to be.

Consider changing your view to one that sees struggling in the Christian life as a temporary privilege.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5:3-5

Have You Seen My Seeds? What about Yours?

I often get asked how I went from being an outright Atheist to a woman madly in love with Jesus Christ. I guess that does raise an eyebrow if you haven’t lived it out with me.

If you haven’t read my testimony, please feel free to read my very first entry “Introductions are In Order.” That keeps this from being extremely lengthy. To summarize: for most of my life, all but the last 10 years, I was an atheist. A very angry, volatile, broken atheist who loved nothing more than arguing the fact that there could not be, and was no God.

As I look back over those years trying to piece together the events that unfolded to ultimately lead me here, the incidents that come to mind first (and most vividly) are the handful of genuine Christians that God strategically placed in my life. I say genuine because their church attendance and program schedule had nothing to do with the impact they had. It was their everyday lives. Their relationships and interactions; the way they spoke, treated others, and most of all, the way they reacted to adverse situations in their lives. They were unapologetic about their faith but very humble in approaching a person as abrasive as myself with a topic they knew I wasn’t fond of. But they did it anyway. And all though I brushed off what they were saying at the time, they planted seeds. When they would share their faith with me, it was as if they were digging back the packed in soil of my mind and placing a precious seed of hope. As I would watch them go about their days, really living out their faith, those seeds were being watered and nurtured. When I would hug them or try to comfort them during a hard time, I would always be amazed at their hope. I’m not talking about optimism here. I’m talking about real, unshakable hope built from faith. That type of witness and testimony of the God they worshiped was like pouring miracle grow on those seeds.

Everything we experience in life begins as a seed. Our relationships, marriages, businesses, churches, the choices we make, and most importantly, our spiritual growth. But NONE of those things can happen until the seed has been planted. What God can do with a seed planted in faith is something we, as humans, can’t fathom. That’s why it’s called faith. But we have a part to play. The planting of those seeds has been left up to us my friends. A good portion of the time, we won’t even know we’ve sown a seed (or seeds). We can trust that if we are living as followers of Christ are called to live, and acting on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to step out and step up for the glory of His Kingdom, seeds are being planted…and God does the rest.

Out of our gratitude for His grace, we should be compelled to live this out; to walk our talk and let what we hear in the pew on Sunday morning meet the pavement on Monday. We should gladly take uncharted paths, letting go, surrendering, trusting, and knowing that we don’t have to do the heavy lifting. Living out our faith is much like working in a garden. No matter how hard I work in my garden, my efforts alone don’t force plants to grow. I do my part by carefully planting, watering, fertilizing, and pruning — and then I wait and trust that God will do His part to cause the growth. Take a leap of faith, live it out, and then sit back and watch God do His thing.

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‘It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. ‘ 1 Corinthians 3:7

Have you ever really thought about the part you play? If you are a believer, if you proclaim to be a follower of Christ, you have officially been drafted. His Word makes that clear. God has uniquely equipped you, through your life experiences and circumstances, with your very own batch of specially formulated seeds. Only you can fulfill the duty of sowing those seeds because of God’s specific plan for you at this very moment in time.

‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10

‘Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.’ Hebrews 13:20-21

If it had not been for those bold, Christian men and women that God purposefully placed in my life at just the right time, doing their part and being obedient, those seeds might have never been planted. Praise God for those who are unafraid, unashamed, and are more concerned with God’s opinion about them than the world’s.

I’ll end with this question for you, and myself, to mull over…. Is there evidence of fruit in your life that is the result of seeds being planted?

‘Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.’ Colossians 1:10

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. ‘ John 15:1-5

‘You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” John 15:16

Kindness Doesn’t Cost a Thing, yet it’s the Richest Gift You can Give.

I am always amazed at how God uses difficult situations in our lives to offer us an opportunity to stop and take a good look around and within.  Generally, in those moments, it’s much easier to become self-focused; worrying only about what we are going through and ways to overcome it.  But the more I listen to God’s Word in my life, the clearer it becomes that, that is not how He intends for us (believers) to respond.

Over the last week or so, I have had the unfortunate experience of having multiple kidney stones.  Several of which were too big to pass, leading to a surgical procedure to place a stent in my left ureter.  And yes, it IS as painful and uncomfortable as it sounds.  Even though I was dealing with pain and the stress of trying to make last minute plans and arrangements because penciling in a surgical procedure wasn’t on my radar, I could see God’s sovereign hand all around me. Even though it was a “last minute” procedure, everything fell right into place. Each nurse and medical professional that I came in contact with seemed to genuinely be happy.  They were very kind and accommodating.  One of the nurses even liked the snow as much as I do.  That might sound odd, but around “these parts” in Kentucky, most people don’t like the snow.  But there is a small niche of us crazies that actually pray for it.  We had a good laugh about it as they wheeled me down to the operating room.  What better way to get someone prepared for what can be a terrifying situation?  I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face and laughter still lingering in my heart.

As I woke up in recovery, I can remember opening my eyes, and the first thing I could hear the staff discussing was the opportunities for foster care and adoption.  Again, I instantly began smiling.  My husband and I have recently started the process of fostering, and it was as if God was using that moment to give me confirmation.  Still being a bit groggy from the anesthesia, I’m not at all positive what I said, but I do know that I interjected myself into the conversation.  They smiled and happily allowed me to join in.  Possibly just for entertainment purposes, nevertheless, it was very kind of them.

Once I had spent the necessary amount of time in recovery, they wheeled me up to my room where my parents were waiting for me.  At that moment, my new nurse walked in.  As she was introducing herself and starting to take my vitals, I can remember looking up at her and wondering why she looked sad.  She was never rude or cross in any way, but my mother and I could tell something just wasn’t right.  She seemed very busy and was struggling to juggle everything.  It also appeared as though she might not mesh very well with the other staff members.  It was apparent that she was the outcast and the sadness was from being lonely.  She was always surrounded by people but still felt alone.

I went out of my way to smile and talk to her.  I told her what a good job she was doing and to take her time.  I told her to go finish up whatever it was that she needed to and not to worry about me.  I wasn’t going anywhere.  She cracked the first smile I had seen from her and sighed a breath of relief.  As she would walk in and out of my room, bringing me things to sign or asking me questions, it appeared that she walked a little taller and was even beginning to laugh a little.  She thanked my mother and me for our patience and instantly tried to make us understand why she was struggling.  We again encouraged her and let her know that she has a tough job and is doing the best she can, and that’s all that matters.

God blessed me with so many compassionate people as I was going through that procedure.  Maybe He sent my mom and me there to be a blessing to that nurse.  All I know is when we left, and she wheeled me out to the truck, she hugged me and had a smile on her face.  Even if that smile only lasted a few minutes, I am thankful that God chose to use my situation to put it there.

Could I have been inpatient because I was in pain and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible? Yep.  Could we have treated her like everyone else had been treating her, perpetuating her misery just because we were too worried about ourselves to notice? Yep.  Do people do that to her, and others, EVERY single day because we live in a society that is so consumed with self that we aren’t even able to see the pain and heartache of those around us? YEP!

We often ask how things have gotten this bad or why everything and everyone seems broken.  We live in a world that simply doesn’t show or receive enough kindness.

We go about our days with our headphones in, and instead of being aware of those around us, we often choose to exist in our own little world. Sometimes we’re just not conscious of our surroundings, but often we are entirely aware but make the conscious decision to stay introverted and ignore the fact that there are people besides ourselves on this planet.

People who are hurting.  People who may be doing just fine. People who may need a kind gesture or smile.

Despite the needs of others, we often choose to be stingy with our acts. Why are we acting as though kindness is costing us time or money?

So, to sum up these ramblings… compliment someone’s shoes if they stand out to you. Share your umbrella with the person without one. Strike up a quick, cheerful conversation with the cashier who probably feels invisible a good part of time unless someone is irritated. Reach out to those in need. It may not seem like much, but these little compliments, gestures, and conversations could go a long way in making someone’s day and changing the world.  Who else is going to do it? BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THIS WORLD!

”Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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Your First Ingredient is Brokenness

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We must be broken in order to be made whole.

A Sociologist named Brene Brown said, “We are ‘those people.’” The truth is… most people in our world are one paycheck, one divorce, one addiction, one mental health diagnosis, one serious illness, one hurt, or one bad choice from becoming “those people”— the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our children play with, the ones we don’t want living next door, the ones we know deep down need our love and God’s love more than anyone, but we can’t approach “those people.”

Our minds are so sensitive to the quiet voices telling us to keep up appearances, keep ourselves busy if we don’t think about it; it’s not really there, it will eventually get better.

Our generation has become artists of illusion, masters at covering pain, self-medicators, slaves to their finances, and lost in loneliness even when we are surrounded by those we love. All because we can’t seem to realize that the only solution for being broken is… brokenness.

We can never truly be whole until we’ve been broken. Those in this world that can make the most significant difference have not only risen to the top but have also fallen to the bottom.

Jesus makes the broken whole again. He takes the overlooked, the undervalued, the left out, the written off, the damaged and devastated, and then He does what only He can do.

I know this may not sound like it makes much sense, but brokenness is the first ingredient in a miraculous transformation. I am living breathing proof of that. The fact that I am alive, sober, full of peace and joy, and madly in love with Jesus Christ is all the proof I need. But in order for God to build me up and bring me this far, I first had to be broken down. Through loss, pain, anger, doubt, and tears I was not only broken…I was shattered, fractured and in pieces.

It was in that darkness that Christ’s light shone the brightest — illuminating each piece, gracefully fitting them together to form a new creation. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Not only that but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.” Colossians 1:20-23 (The Message)

The best part of all, the part I still can’t believe most days, is that time after time God chooses to use the broken things. The ones that when asked how they have made such a miraculous transformation, they can only point to Him. That is why I am thankful for every tear, every heartache, every circumstance that broke me.

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“If grace was a kingdom
I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made

Oh but I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use

It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside”

Broken Things – Matthew West

It Took a Broken Foot to Run For God

My pastor recently gave a message describing how Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Being different than a hired keeper who might run away in the face of danger, the flock belonged to the shepherd who would stay and defend them. He had a genuine loving concern for what belonged to him. Jesus is that loving protector and caretaker for His flock. Jesus, the good shepherd’s purpose, is to give life and protect from destruction.  And although this next imagery may make those of us animal lovers shudder, it helps to confirm that sometimes love is shown in ways we don’t always like.  A shepherd would often break the leg(s) of his sheep to prevent them from running off into danger.  He would then carry that sheep over his shoulders down the path each day until its injuries healed.  While being held, the sheep grew to love and rely on the shepherd like never before.

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Oddly enough, I believe Jesus did this very thing to me.

Five years.   I had been living in this small town in Western Kentucky for five years and had yet to make any meaningful relationships.  I not only avoided bonding with the people; I also lacked a REAL one on one relationship with God.  I was, what I like to call, a “baby Christian” who had a history of anger and atheism, with little to no guidance and the life choices to prove it.  I had always been very independent and didn’t really care about having friends because I didn’t trust people.

Feeling convicted about not being a part of a church family, my husband and I began visiting some in the area and knew we had been led to the one we now call home.  After just a few weeks of attending, the Lord brought several women into my life that completely changed my heart.  My relationship with them grew stronger and stronger as I began to experience what can come from real love and encouragement.

One Sunday morning, one of those women invited me to a Run for God class. I wish I could illustrate the facial expression I made. You see, my words say one thing, but my face speaks from the heart. I laughed and said, “The only time I run is if something is chasing me.” With persistence from my friend and growing pant size, I conceded.  The way I understood it was that it was basically a couch to 5K training program with a devotional.   Little did I know that God was putting something into motion that would altogether transform my life.

I showed up for class each Saturday morning, bright and early (also outside of my character).  With each devotional and time spent running with God, it finally clicked. I can run because I am doing it for God.  I can make real friends because I am doing it for GodWhat would happen if I did everything in life, FOR GOD?

Ten weeks into the class, we all registered for a 5K in our town that promoted to suicide awareness.  As my first race ever, I had zero expectations for my outcome.  I just wanted to finish.  As they were calling out awards for age groups, they called my name as the third place winner.  It took me by surprise, but it didn’t take long for my pride and competitiveness to kick into overdrive.  I was already plotting the demise of the two women who beat me for first and second place.  Just as the Lord revealed what life could be like when you do it all for Him, He let me know very quickly what can happen when you begin to do it for yourself.

The very next day, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my foot.  I would not be able to complete the 5K for our Run for God group.  Even though I was discouraged, I continued to go to class.  While others ran, I sat.  I sat and encouraged them as they struggled13237875_10208110454498173_1769253948085201728_n through the long runs. I SAT and read the Word.  I SAT and prayed.  I SAT, growing closer to God every day.

While still in what I called “the dreaded boot,” I sat and cheered as all of my new friends ran past me to complete their race.  My heart was full.   God had set me on a different track.  A race towards Him and onto the path He had planned for me.

We quickly started a second class, and I was asked to help instruct.  Still unable to run, I knew God meant for me to focus on the “God” portion of Run for God. To show others that training to run successfully mirrors training ourselves to walk successfully with Christ.  It takes work, commitment, sacrifice, discipline, and occasionally a boot.

Learning to put God first and dedicate all I do to Him, the ability to stand before a group and teach due to the confidence I gained through the Spirit, the forever friendships that I have made, are just a glimpse into how God transformed me…. all through a broken foot.

John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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Hearing the Heart

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I think the worst downfall for me is a transition. I mean really how much of us like drastic changes? I know for me I fight with all that I have and the funny thing is I always end up loving the difference. That is where I am currently, right smack dab in the middle of hard change. ( I am sighing at this moment whispering. It is, what it is.) One of my commentaries said: ” Sighing is just groan for home, a cry for redemption.”

Psalm 38:9 ESV

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

 

Even my subtle sigh is heard, nothing missed by the sovereign ears of God. There is great comfort in that for us today. That we would be understood by the creator of life, acknowledged by the lifter of our head’s. It seems when I am tossed around in the waves my heart goes directly to the Psalms, such practical and heartfelt cries to the Lord.  That He not only hears my physical cries, but even more, He actually listens and knows the ache of the heart like a melody.

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Psalm 139:3-4 TPT ( Passion Translation)

You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

 

I am reminded to give Him the invitation to search my heart throughout my life. Not just while the ache is the loudest, but when the ache is dull. Continually search and know my heart, Lord.

Psalm 139:23 TPT (Passion Translation)

God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.

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I invite you today, maybe if you are in the middle of rough transition and your heart is just aching. I merely want to remind you we are all on a journey. A journey with God through this life into the next. A mission is often long and challenging, but it is worth every step. Don’t give up now! Just because you are on the beginning of a new path doesn’t mean that He is not with you. The route could be dark with a blanket of dense fog appearing, but what gives illumination is the beautiful unfolding of His word. It will cast light on the next step. Hang in there, keep praying, keeping reading your Bible, most of all keep worshiping through the transition there is power in His presence.

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Psalm 119:130 ESV

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

 

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This simple truth sets an aching heart upright and redirects us right back into the loving gaze of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Psalm 46:10 ESV

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”