Saturday, August 10, 2013

Loving Others

Facebook is an interesting beast. The social networking site has brought me moments that have sparked great joy. It has also at times caused me to feel loss and heartache.

How grateful I have been to get to share in weddings, babies, and fellowship with friends who I haven't been able to see in years or decades. I have an amazing group of fifty or so moms, many of whom I have never met, who Facebook has allowed me to get to know and love deeply.

But as I was perusing the profiles of my friends this morning, I was struck with one of those heartbeats that hurts. The last eighteen months of my life have carried a series of difficult life events. They say that in moments of pain and trial, you find out who your true friends are. This has been abundantly true for me. I have lost people in my life who I thought would be close to me forever.

So as one of their pictures passed by me, I was captured by a swell of pain that I try to always keep buried.

Loss. Rejection. Betrayal.

As I sat on the couch, I thought to myself, "I would have laid down my life for her."

Though I am now reminded of the verse in John that says: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13), that wasn't what struck me in the breath after my thought.

What hit me was this:

Jesus did that. 

I might *think* that I would lay down my life for someone I love, but Jesus did it. 

He died for me. He died for you. 

He died for the men who nailed him on the cross. He died for the soldier that put the spear in his side.

He died for those who mocked him. He died for those who betrayed him. He died for the people who would never believe he existed.

He died for us despite the fact that we have rejected him. Despite the fact that his very name has become a curse our tongues spit out in anger. He died for us despite the fact that we were but a promise of the future.

And what were our Savior's words as he agonized at our hands? Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

The pain I have felt at the loss and rejection of a handful of people is nothing compared to the generations that have rejected him. Yet, to his dying breath, he loved and forgave us.

There will be a day when I will be reunited with those who have walked away from my life. That day might very well be the day we celebrate eternity in the arms of Jesus. An eternity only possible because God first loved us.

In the meantime, I remain grateful every day for the moments I have to love others, and for a Heavenly Father who will never leave me nor forsake me. (Deut. 31:6; Deut. 31:8; Josh. 1:5; Hebrews 13:5)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Who Am I? (Who I Am)

It was the most heartfelt, incredible birthday present I have ever received from a friend. She apologized as she handed it to me, shaking her head as she laughed about how life had gotten away from her and how she meant to give me this gift on my actual birthday instead of a month or so later.

I hardly heard her.

"It isn't much," she continued, not noticing the tears as they filled my eyes. "I hope you like it."

My hands trembled, the letter they held quivering with the emotion coursing through me. A letter where she verbalized the characteristics she admired in me; comparing our friendship to that of David and Jonathan. The love that she poured into the words she wrote meant the world to me.

I think I walked on clouds all the way home.

"Thank you, Lord," I prayed that night, "for giving me this amazing friendship."

The pervading peace I suddenly felt in the middle of what has been a very difficult time in my life was unreal.

The next morning I woke centered and grateful. I turned on my computer and opened my email. I began reading a message from a friend, my body going still as my heart began to race.

It was a letter written in love, but it called me to account for some choices I was making in my life that caused her to question my character.

The pain I felt coursing through me was indescribable. I felt wounded and rejected. I began questioning my worth as a person and a friend. I desired nothing more in those moments than to fix her opinion of me so that she and I could be on solid ground again.

"God," I prayed, "please help me through this."

Twelve hours difference. Half a day separating floating on air and buried alive.

It wasn't until days later, after apologizing to and making amends with my friend who had been hurt by my actions, that I recognized why I rose and plummeted so quickly.

We will all encounter people who love us and people who don't. We will have friendships that get stronger, and relationships that end. There will be times when someone gives us grace through our mistakes, and times when that same person calls us to account.

As much as the rise and fall of these emotions affects us, our *worth* is not in other people's opinions of us.

Our worth and our identity is in Christ. Who we are to Him is unchanging. Whether we have our feet firmly planted on His path, or we're tangled in the thorns five hundred meters from the road, His love for us remains the same. (Luke 15:3-7)

Who am I?*

I have been bought with a price. I belong to God. (ref. 1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am complete in Christ. (ref Col. 2:10)
I am free forever from condemnation. (ref. Rom. 8:1-2)
I cannot be separated from the love of God. (ref. Rom. 8:35-39)
I am the salt and light of the earth. (ref. Matt. 5:13-14)
I am God's workmanship. (ref. Eph. 2:10)

I am grateful for the times when my close friends pour their love upon me. I am thankful when they love me enough to hold me accountable for my actions. The fact is, everyone needs both grace *and* truth.

But I am learning that what others think of me is not a reflection of who I am in Christ.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT)

*Taken from

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Failure to Thrive

She came to us at a little over four years old. The shirt she was wearing when she walked in our home for the first time was sized for an 18 month old. She didn't yet weigh twenty pounds.

She was the sixth foster child we cared for. Diagnosed with Failure to Thrive, it was our job to increase her weight by encouraging her to eat.

But, oh, was she a feisty one.

We would put the food in front of her, and she would stare at us defiantly. Eating was her method of control, and she was determined that she would win. And for a while, she did. How do you force a child to eat?

You can't.

So we did what we could do...we made the food available to her. We created it, and portioned it. We sat her in front of it, and we encouraged her. We surrounded her with siblings who ate with gusto just hoping it would motivate her to join them.

In the end, it took some tough love to get that little girl to pick up a fork. We set a timer for fifteen minutes. If she didn't finish her miniscule portions, she stood in the corner for two minutes. When that time was done, she got another five minutes to eat her food.

We did this cycle for a while, but she caught on. Within a week or two, the timer wasn't even necessary. And, miraculously, she started going back for seconds with the other children.

The scale started moving. A healthy glow flooded her cheeks. The doctors and her birthmom were thrilled. She was thriving.

It wasn't because of us. It was because of her. We loved her; we disciplined her, but ultimately she made the decision. And she reaped the rewards.

This little girl's story hit me personally a few weeks ago. I hadn't thought about her in over a year. Ultimately she and her brother were joyfully reunited with their mom, our moment in their lives complete.

But God's teaching moments are never finished. And He used my foster daughter to drive home a point I'd been slow in realizing.

I have had some Rough Moments in the months since my last blog entry. There were times during those weeks that I wondered why God seemed silent.  Wondered why I was struggling; feeling like I was failing to thrive.

In the midst of these ruminations one day, I realized it had been a while since I had opened the Bible. It struck me, in that moment, that perhaps it wasn't that God was silent...but that I wasn't listening.

So I opened the Word. And God said...

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ..." (1 Peter 1:6-7 NASB)

And God said...

"After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10 NASB)

And God said...

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9 NASB)

R.C. Sproul summed it up nicely in a sermon Steve and I recently listened to. He said, "Spiritual milk is not high on the list of dietary pleasures. But if you have tasted of the Lord, as the psalmist said, and know He is good, how can you taste of Christ and not want more?" (see Matthew 5:6 and 1 Peter 2:1-2)

We gave our foster daughter food, but she had to choose to eat it. God gives us His Word, but we need to choose to consume it. We won't thrive unless we do.

Everything we need for spiritual health and strength is right in front of us.

Sara Groves puts it aptly in her song, "The Word":

          And I think it's very odd
          That while I attempt to help myself
          My Bible sits upon a shelf
          With every promise I could ever need.

Sometimes His love compels us. Sometimes He needs to discipline us in order for us to look up at Him. But no matter what avenue it takes, He's waiting with open arms. And in His arms, we thrive.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


The first cracks come unnoticed.

Quiet, unassuming, minuscule. Hard to even see unless you look really, really closely.

But the thing about even the smallest cracks is that they compromise the solidity of the entire structure.

And so, as we allow the breaches in our lives to accumulate; as we permit the hurt and pain to penetrate us, what once was an unnoticeable line begins to spread.

Cracked and broken by disappointment, anger, bitterness, is so easy to lose sight of the beauty of what God has created when the faults shoot through us.

Until everything shatters.

Cracked, we feel compromised.
Broken, we feel defeated.
Shattered, we feel unworthy.

Unworthy of the love and affection of the very One who gives it freely. Unworthy of the healing power of the only One who can fully restore.

God doesn't ask us to come to Him whole and perfect. He doesn't ask us to wait until we can stand before we kneel at His throne.

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

We can come to Him shattered. We can offer him only our fragments. When we have nothing to give, He will take us anyway.

"He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power." (Isaiah 40:29)

The world can glue us back together. The world can help us to appear nearly faultless. But only God can restore. Only He can make us seamless.

We just have to surrender. He's waiting.