Open Wide Your Mouth

 

“Open your mouth wide and see if I won’t fill it. You will receive every blessing you can use!
Oh, that My people would listen to Me! Oh, that Israel would follow Me, walking in My paths! How quickly then I would subdue her enemies! How soon My hands would be upon her foes! 
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before Him; their desolation would last forever. But He would feed you with the choicest foods. He would satisfy you with honey for the taking.”
Psalm 81

I received a text message from my best friend, who is too far away from me at the moment, telling me that Psalm 81 showed up in her devotions for that morning.
Having not read my bible yet, I flipped it open to this Psalm of Asaph.
My eyes welled with tears as my lips mouthed the words, unraveling a song that sounds like a prayer my soul had been longing to pray.

These were the words of a man who knew, really knew, His God.
Who had tasted the sweetness of His goodness.
Who had seen the faithful hands of His provision.

I prayed with quivering lips,
“Oh Lord, I thirst for faith like that.”

In that moment I was both humbled and ashamed by my impeding lack of belief, much like Simon Peter when he found himself face down before the feet of Jesus in his fishing boat.
Let this story paint itself before you.

Simon and the other fisherman had been working under the heat of the sun until the sun began to escape them. Not one fish had been caught.
Exhausted, Simon was given the honor of lending his boat to Jesus to preach upon.
There was at least one good use for the boat that day.
After teaching, however, Jesus looked at him.
“Simon, sail out into the deep waters and let down your nets for a catch.”
Let down the nets?
The nets that produced nothing that entire day?
“Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”
The nets dropped and caught what seemed to be every fish in the lake, spilling over and tearing the ropes.
Simon fell to the knees of Jesus.
“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”
Simon saw the power of God’s providing hand and could hardly be in His holy presence.
Not with his sin.
Not with his doubt.
But he was called a disciple.
And he won something far greater than fish that day.

Friends, God invites us to let down our nets and watch with expectancy.
Watch the good He will bring.
Watch the people He will put in our paths.
Watch the assignments He will give us.
Watch the abundance of life fill us until we are bursting at the seams.

What would it look like if our prayer life was saturated and shaped by that faith that God is capable of doing whatever we humbly ask for and more in His name?
Now, this is not to be said that He will always answer with “yes.”
He may still answer “no.”
He uses noes for far better things than we can imagine.
But, like the Father that He is, He desires to hear the requests of His dearly beloved children.
Can’t you just hear him?
“Oh, my child, would you tell me what you want?”
He longs to hear your heart. Won’t you share it with Him?

Your life may not seem to be fruitful at the moment.
All you see is dry.
All you hear is silence.
All you know is failure.
But, when Jesus calls you to something that seems beyond your reach or impossible with your given circumstances, would you do it anyways, just because He said so?

Would you open wide your mouth?
Cast deep your nets.
Stretch far your hands.
And watch. Expect. Receive.
And when you receive whatever He brings, would You praise Your Father from whom it was given?
He who loves you with a relentless love is worthy of it.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
Matthew 7:1

Sparrows and Lilies

I love peace.
Peace and quiet. World peace. Peace signs. A piece of cake….Oh, wait.
And I like to believe that I’ll gain this sought after tranquility when every square inch of my life is in order.
When the work is finished. When my to-do list is checked off.
When I’m sitting on the beach, listening to waves, sipping on a cup of tea.
Yeah, I’ll take a piece of that.

But what happens when the work is not finished? What happens when my to-do list is left unchecked? What if my very best effort and all my spare time is not enough to accomplish what needs to be done?
Can I find peace in that?

Joyce Meyer, a woman I’ve grown to cherish, whose words have quieted my anxious thoughts and led me to Jesus’ cross time and time again, says yes.
She says yes.
In one of her books, she describes two paintings in which the artists were asked to paint “peace.” One of the paintings portrayed a scenic mounting view, complete with a glassy, smooth lake. The other, however, displayed a “raging, rushing waterfall.” On a branch that hung in front of the waterfall rested a bird in its nest.
She asks, “Which one truly depicts peace?”
The peace of Christ. The peace that passes all understanding. The peace Jesus gives His disciples, not ever something this world could dare offer.
That peace belongs to the second painting.

Dependent, confident rest in the middle of chaos.

Sweet friends, that is the peace that is ours for the keeping in Christ.

In Luke 12 we find Jesus preaching a parable on worry.
The Message version says this,

“Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.”

“Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it….If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you?”

I love this parable. I was reading it one morning on my back porch while observing the birds in my backyard trees. Have you ever watched how they fly about from branch to branch, singing melodies as they go?
Jesus’ promise of peace means that we can live even more carefree than that.
Jesus’ promise of peace means that we can live like that bird resting in its nest in front of the waterfall.
Resting with confidence and dependence in the midst of chaos, knowing that our Savior values us even more than the birds. Even more than the wildflowers.
And if He provides even for them, how much more will He provide for His own children?

When you ache from the weight of fear and you long for peace, remember that “He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, and do His best for you.”
Remember those words, those promises, and rest in them. The Lord, God over the birds and the flowers, is God over your very life. A life that He loves. Saved. And is using for His beautiful purposes.

And, my friends, that is the promise that brings true peace, peace that will sustain you.
That is the peace that will quiet your weary soul.

And maybe a piece of cake, too.

The Answered Prayers of a Contrite Heart

Have you ever found yourself in the beautifully awkward predicament of having an encounter with the Lord in a very public place? You know, when your sniffling isn’t cute anymore, and you’re probably distracting the family behind you, and your running mascara (by now, I should know better than to purchase anything other than water-proof mascara) has successfully ruined both your makeup and the sleeves of your shirt?

This was the predicament I found myself in that Sunday morning…and it wasn’t the first time. Although tempted to be a little frustrated by my properly functioning tear ducts, I was reminded that my tears were the natural response to an answered prayer. And my prayer went something like this.
“Lord, break my heart.” 

I walked into Sunday’s service unaware of the scripture we would be diving into, but as the time of confession during worship approached, I began to feel the weight of my sin, leading me to pray.
“Lord, break my heart.”

I realized how quickly my receptive heart had turned from willing obedience to selfish contentment the past week. I knew how I was supposed to respond in certain situations, how I should have treated other people, and how I was needing to be spending my time, but I simply became uninterested. I constructed idols out of my desires and offered them my thoughts and devotion. With every nudging from God, convicting and encouraging my heart to respond to His call, I turned my head. While at first I recognized the sting of refusing God to pursue my own selfish ambitions, with every turn away the sting reduced until it was barely there.
My heart became nearly numb to God’s nudges.

However, I believe God had faithfully answered my prayer before I even uttered a word that Sunday morning, placing a mere crack in my heart just to recapture my attention. I began to desire that crack to give way to the complete shattering of the stone inside my chest, longing to feel His pull and hear His call once again in my life.
“Lord, break my heart.”

That Sunday’s sermon was on Psalm 51, a Psalm of contrition.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise.” (vs.1-2, 17)

As the words were spoken aloud, I knew God, in His perfect sovereignty and timing, had orchestrated that moment for me to humble myself in repentance. That He would gently and lovingly lead me to the place where my heart would be utterly broken over my own sin.
It is God’s means of grace that He would break our heart over sin. And I believe David truly recognized the beauty of this truth. For it is the pain of a broken heart brought forth in repentance that reaps the joy of forgiveness.
It is the work of the enemy when God’s children believe in the lie that they are required to be shackled and enslaved by that brokenness, that they cannot be mended, and that they cannot have their joy and freedom restored to them. True remorse over sin is the evidence of God’s handiwork in our hearts, but that remorse is a means to an end. And that end is forgiveness. Forgiveness that reaps praises of joy, freedom, and peace.
On David’s heart was sealed the truth of this forgiveness, which spills over into the Psalm.

“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice” (vs.8)
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (vs.10)
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (vs.12)
“Open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise.” (vs.15)

David came before the Lord completely broken. His heart torn. His spirit downcast. But His prayer reveals the hopeful expectation of God’s forgiveness and all that it entails.
God longs for our broken prayers and crushed spirits, for it is in that woundedness that we encounter the goodness of His mercy. His forgiveness and grace that He lavishes upon us when we come to Him in humble repentance is like a cool spring to our desert souls.
The sin that breaks our heart is blotted out. Washed away. Forgotten.
In it’s place God creates a pure heart. He restores to us the joy that comes from Him alone. He renews a steadfast spirit in us. Our lips that once spoke of our shame now declare His praises.
And He does this for us time and time again.

By His grace alone may we pursue righteousness relentlessly and find the courage to allow our hearts to be broken over our own sin.
For when God tenderly breaks our heart, He is desiring to restore it.

When God Throws You a Surprise Party

There I was, sitting in the car, crying over my Chicken Soft Taco from Taco Time, unable to finish it. Yes, I was that upset.
Worry hung over me like a little large black rain cloud, its rain flooding me with doubt and discouragement. I had taken a quick peek at my bank account after a rather impulsive purchase, something I hate doing….Looking at my bank account, that is. I love impulsive purchases. The number was small.  And the enemy decided to use that small number to pick me apart piece by piece.
This is what I began to hear.

“Undisciplined.”
“You won’t ever be able to flourish with such irresponsibility.”
“How can you expect God to work in you and for you when you’re lacking self-control?”

“You’re failing. Falling behind. Look at how hard everyone else is working?”
“Any efforts you make amount to nothing.”

 As I grow, both in years and in faith, I become increasingly more aware of my problem with discipline, or lack thereof. It is this awareness, however, that I have seen God use to humble me, gently convict me, and tenderly shape me more into His very likeness. Most days, I marvel and rest in this truth, thanking God for weaknesses that fasten my dependency on Him, but also for His strength to fight the urge to let those weaknesses define me. Other days, days like yesterday, the enemy rolls in like thick fog, clouding over any light of this truth.
And, for a time, the enemy “wins.” I feel defeated.
In my defeat, I weep at the feet of my Savior, praying that He would wash over my sin, make me new with His mercy, and help me begin again. Help me keep walking forward. Even though I know Christ died for this grace to be freely mine, I doubt, feeling like there will be consequences for such foolishness.
I’ll have to pay. God’s blessings simply can’t be for me anymore.

But then I hear Him whisper, “My grace.”
I get off work today to receive a text from one of my best friends and future roommates that we had found an apartment. This has been an unexpected burden to bear the past several weeks after our original housing arrangements fell through.
After weeks of searching and no openings, God opened a literal door. The door to our new home. The door to a place that meets our unique needs in specific ways.
I hear Him whisper, “My grace.”
After sending in applications and payments, I spend the afternoon with my best friend from Whidbey. She surprised me with a date, very much like The Bachelor, she added. We went to the beach and flew $1.50 Barbie and Cinderella kites till the wind turned our faces red and our hair into a mess.
I hear Him whisper, “My grace.”
We then drove to a little cafe to warm up over hot chocolate. Not only did our friend who worked there give us a discount on our drinks, but she brought us out a scone. For free. I’m telling you, God knew I didn’t have money to spend. He peeked at my bank account with me.
I hear Him whisper, “My grace.”

God’s grace is like the most perfect surprise party you could ever dream to receive.
After what feels like the billionth time I’ve failed Him, He reminds me,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
Grace is the very gift of God. Unable to be earned and impossible to drive away.
My sin, my foolishness, my unfaithfulness, my lack of discipline, cannot stop God’s grace. Which means my works, though works and growth is to be praised and is God’s mercy through sanctification, cannot earn God’s grace.
It is His gift to give and ours to receive. With humbleness, thankfulness, and an outpour of praise.

So, humble yourself. Repent. Walk in the forgiveness and freedom of God’s grace. And be surprised with what He will do in you and for you.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your mercy, which is new with every sunrise. You are God above the failings of my life, and You choose to not only work in spite of them, but also in light of them. Thank You for singing over me with Your unfailing love, reminding me of the joy and freedom that is to be found when I walk humbly in Your grace.

And thank You for surprise parties like the one You threw me today.
I was, indeed, surprised.

Be All There

I’ve been sitting on the lobby couch since 7:30 this evening.
I’ve been working on my TPA and cursing the state of California for making it so difficult to earn a teaching credential.
It’s been a great Friday night, friends.
In the midst of all of that loveliness, however, I witnessed various conversations and events throughout the evening on my floor.
And it made me stop and realize how much I appreciate the community I find myself in.
I witnessed girls rejoicing over new, Christ-centered relationships forming, along with the butterflies in their stomachs. Girls laughing as they skipped to the bathroom well past midnight with hair dye in one hand and snacks in the other. And girls returning from Friday night adventures, resulting in good food and even better conversations.
It’s things like this that make me cherish where I’m at.
I can feel the pull of age and reality tugging at me, and slowly drifting  me further away from the care free youth I once blissfully lived as.
And while there will be abundant blessings to experience in that future ever drawing nearer, I have some pretty great ones to be rejoicing in right now.
Blessings like late nights, hair dye, Taylor Swift albums, bags of chips, and new dreams that seem large enough to challenge us, but close enough to taste. Blessings that have not been tainted by future worries or doubts, but that are being enjoyed for what they are.
Right now.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me here. Keep me present. Keep me thankful.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
Matthew 6:34

Extraordinary Transformation in an Ordinary Life

I tend to find joy in really simple things.
Tea.
Park benches.
Saturday Farmer’s Markets.
Watching Hallmark movies with my family.
Sunday morning church in my hometown.
Pretty ordinary things, really.

And somewhere along the line I started feeling guilty about it.

Was I missing out on “life-changing experiences”?
Was I living boldly enough for Christ?
Should I be dreaming bigger?

For a girl who is anxious enough on her own, these thoughts significantly added to my anxiety.
I never felt like I could truly delight in the ordinariness of life because I felt like I should have been doing something bigger, bolder, newer, and more courageous for Christ, in order to be transformed by Him.

But then, I was assigned a book to read in my Theology II class, a book that felt like it was tailored just for me.
Good News for Anxious Christians
I’m anxious. I need good news. I like this book.
Each chapter digs deep to get to the heart of ideas that some Christians tend to adopt as “good” and “healthy,” but they often leave us feeling, well…more anxious.
One of the ideas that the book addresses is how our consumerist culture tells us that we constantly need to be “transformed” through new experiences. The newest. The latest. The greatest. You know, the life-changing, faith-growing, all-emotional, heart-transforming experiences.
But Phillip Cary, author of Good News for Anxious Christians, challenges that idea by reminding us that our faith is not based on experiences.
His words on the subject were like cool waters rushing over the dried up desert of my anxious soul.

“What faith gives us is Jesus Christ….the Christian life is our life in Christ as well as Christ’s life in us…And now, yes, you have a whole life to live with Christ, our Bridegroom, and it will have to be different from the old life. It may not look so different at first. But you’re in this for the long haul-all the way to life eternal- so what you need is not a bunch of great new experiences, but a whole lifetime that grows out of the newness of Christ, like a mighty tree growing from its seed or a house built on a firm foundation. The process of growth and building is long and slow, and it’s hard work: it’s life’s work, not an experience. It’s not anything that can happen in one moment or one meeting or one experience.”

Isn’t it refreshing to be reminded that your growth as a Christian is not based on a continuation of new experiences? That growth comes from being renewed by the newness of Christ throughout your whole life, and that this can happen while you’re daily living what seems to be an ordinary life in the eyes of society?
But, here is the beauty and strength of ordinariness,
It’s lasting.
It’s a long-haul kind of thing.
It’s not a moment, or a fleeting high, but the process of a lifetime.
And it is in the process where Christ renews and transforms us.
And remember, your initial, ultimate transformation in Christ has already happened and it cannot be undone or lost.
Cary says,
“If Christ is in you, the greatest transformation of all has already taken place: you are born again into eternal life and you have become a new creation in Him, a new human being, united with Christ in a kind of spiritual marriage, having become one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17), together with all His people.”

And just like that *snaps fingers* my anxiety fled and peace flooded my soul once again.
I have been transformed. I am a new creation. And I am continually being renewed by the newness of Christ as I pursue Him and His glory in daily, enduring habits. Habits to choose life, to love God with my whole self, heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love His people.
And this doesn’t have to be found in an experience.
But in my ordinary life.

An ordinary life that happens to include
Tea.
Park benches.
Saturday Farmer’s Markets.
Watching Hallmark movies with my family.
And Sunday morning church in my hometown.

Pretty ordinary things, really.

Serving Jesus While Serving French Fries

At 17 years old I got my first real job.
At 21 years old I still rock that adorable ascot and visor with the golden arches.
You’ve guessed it. McDonald’s.
Many have a negative connotation with fast food, McDonald’s in particular. Some people cringe. Some people laugh. Some people sue.
It’s the last place people would expect to find Jesus, but I have had the privilege of serving Him there.
“Wait a minute. Did you just say you served Jesus at McDonald’s?” 
Why yes, I did.
Whether I’m serving up Big Macs for the late night crowd or dishing out hash browns for the early morning regulars, I’m still serving Jesus.
It seems like the oddest place for Him to reveal His promises and statutes, but for over four years, I’ve encountered Him there.
While there are countless stories to share about my experience as a McDonald’s employee, here are three significant values that the Lord has taught me during my time there.

1. Love Your Enemies
Sometimes your enemy doesn’t always threaten your life. Sometimes your enemy threatens your patience, however, as he cusses you out because you forgot his Sweet and Sour sauce for his Chicken Nuggets.
It’s in those moments when Jesus whispers, “Show him My love, today.”
I’d like to show him something else.
As hot tears rolled down my cheeks, I walked away to recompose myself. I realized that it probably wasn’t even about the Sweet and Sour sauce.
I could not step into his shoes and know all the burdens he has carried in life. I will never know what made him lash out over something so, well…ridiculous. And, while I could never excuse this poor man’s behavior, I can extend grace and forgiveness.
can show him what my Jesus’ love looks like.
The love that poured out forgiveness on the ones that cursed and mocked Him as He hung on a rugged tree.

2. People Matter
French fries will get cold. Orders will be messed up. Our food may not always be considered “fast.” But, people matter. People are eternal. And I have the privilege of serving and working alongside them every day at work….Well, technically five days a week.
My mission field may not have brick red, dusty roads or shacks for homes, but the people I serve still need Jesus’ life breathed into them.
My co-workers that greet me as I walk through the doors at 5:45 in the morning need to be shown Jesus’ unwavering peace.
The young, single mother holding her child as she waits in line needs to be shown Jesus’ saving grace.
The tattered homeless man that searches for enough coins to pay for his coffee needs to be shown Jesus’ radical redemption.
The people who come in and out of McDonald’s doors every day, employee or customer, matter. Their lives have purpose.
And God loved them enough to send His Son to carry the weight of their sin in order that they might encounter true Freedom.
I have the absolute honor of serving those people. And while I may not be able to read them the Gospel, I am able show them what a person transformed by the Gospel looks like.
I am able to plant seeds of Freedom, one kind word and tender smile at a time.
And I pray that as I plant the seeds, the Holy Spirit causes them to bloom.

3. Small Things for God’s Glory Matter  
It took years before my eyes were opened to see God’s purpose for me at McDonald’s.
I spent my summer asking people, “Would you like to make that a large meal?” All the while, I was green with envy and filled with self-pity as I watched my friends travel to impoverished countries, eager to serve Jesus’ people and share with them His truth. I was just serving french fries.
This rotten attitude was the outcome of jealousy. The product of comparison.
“Why can’t I do something radical for Christ?” I asked myself.
My friend’s missional lives felt important. My fast food life felt…trivial.
It wasn’t until this summer that the Lord graciously revealed to me just how damaging that outlook was and just how precious my work is.
Before I left for home, a friend from my Grace Group lent me a copy of The Practice of the Presence of God. Little did she or I know how the Lord would use this book to reshape my heart.
As I read, I stumbled upon this.
“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
Brother Lawrence spent a good portion of his life working in the kitchen of a monastery. To some, his life may have looked insignificant. Small. Trivial.
But God looked upon his life with great honor, for Brother Lawrence had labored with great love.
The Lord sees whatever is done for His glory, whether you’re caring for orphans in Ethiopia, filing paper work in the office, or even flipping burgers.
So, just as Brother Lawrence happily washed dishes and scrubbed floors, aware of Whom he was truly serving, I too found joy in my own work.
Because I have learned to do it with God and for God.

And I’m lovin’ it.

Life Unhurried

“I just can’t wait until…”
How often do we find ourselves saying this about a number of things in our lives?
“I just can’t wait until the weekend.”
“I just can’t wait until I earn more money.”
“I just can’t wait until I get married.”
The list goes on.
Or how about this one?
“If I can just make it to…then I’ll be happy/successful/fulfilled.”
You fill in the blank.
We find ourselves believing that if we can simply move past whatever place we’re in, and onto some place we conceive to be far better, than we will find happiness. But that is not true happiness at all.The weight of a hurried life is a heavy burden to bear, my friends. And, if I may suggest, it is an unfulfilling way to live.
If we’re constantly in a rush to make it to the next best thing, we will miss the lessons and rich moments to be experienced in the often trivial or challenging times that are presently before us.

When our eyes are too fixed on what lies ahead, we may not catch God’s steadfast love beautifully on display right before us.
When our minds are too concerned with hurrying through difficulties, we miss out on the opportunity to exercise our trust in the One who is sovereign.
And when our hearts are too discontent with the place we’re in, we bypass the joy found in offering praises of thankfulness, even when circumstances tempt us to do otherwise.
I believe Brother Lawrence puts it best in The Practice of the Presence of God.

“The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable. It is the way we look at them – through faith or unbelief – that makes them seem so. We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits trials to come our way for our own good.”

The situation itself may not change. The trials we face may still be wearisome. The tedious hours of work ahead of us may still be taxing. But, when we shift our mind away from rushing through it, and redirect our gaze toward our Maker, we will find joy. True joy that is not dependent upon circumstances.
When we practice being still in God’s presence regardless of where we are, we find the peace of an unhurried mind. One that is no longer so desperate to move past what is at hand, but gratefully embraces it, with all its lessons, joys, and graces.

Friends, I invite you to be still before the Lord.
Moving at His pace.
Finding joy in the unrushed act of waiting.

“Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him to act. Don’t fret and worry….those who trust in the Lord shall be given every blessing.” Psalm 37:7&9 (TLB)

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; 
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 (ESV)

Finding Grace in a Clean Room

 

Yesterday, my sister showed me what it looks like to love like Jesus loved.

I pray that the Lord will continually keep my heart soft toward my sister. Some days it shows. Some days…not so much. And even after the “not so much” days, my sister gives me glimpses of what it means to have a child-like heart. One that forgets mistakes and still pursues love.
This is one of the many examples of that heart.

“Dear Mary, I want you to know what a blessing you are! You have such a soft, tender spirit, always thinking of how you can bless others, so I wanted to bless you! Faith”

As I read the words colorfully printed on the dry erase board, I was amazed. Stunned. This girl, after all she’s seen of me, is able to say that I have a “soft, tender spirit, always thinking of how (I) can bless others.”
Conviction hits me, but it feels good. It cuts deep, but it is seasoned with grace and inspiration.
She calls out from her room,
“Open your door!”
I open my door and find that my room is clean. Bed made. Blanket folded. Clothes hung up. Counter organized.
This kind of act reveals Christ’s love at work in my sister’s heart, and reveals how I need that same love to work in my heart like it is working in hers.
I’m instantly reminded of 1 Corinthians 13. The love chapter. Among the list of attributes that love is clothed in, I’m drawn to one in particular
Love “keeps no record of wrongs.”
My sister showed me that.

I have a record of wrongs. It’s a long list, my friends. It’s a list I try to keep neatly tucked away where no one can see. But my sister has seen it. I wish she hadn’t. I wish that I could have prevented so many of those wrongs from ever happening.
But, my sister reminded me that love, even upon seeing the endless list of my wrongs, keeps no record of it. Chooses to forget it. Just like God.

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  Isaiah 43:25

I am thankful that the Lord reveals Himself to me in my sister. His unconditional grace can be seen in the tasks that seem small, but unveil a much greater picture.
God has seen my list of wrongs. Not one of them is hidden from Him. And yet, He chooses to forget them. Forgive them.
My heart is a messy room. Clothes lying on the floor, bed unmade, dust gathering on the shelves. But God, rich in grace, surprises me. I open the door to see that my room, my heart, is clean.

Now, we’re still sisters. Our rooms get a little messy sometimes.
But I’m thankful that God’s grace is the perfect cleaner-upper.
And I’m thankful that He’s taught my sister to be a cleaner-upper, not only around the house, but around our hearts.

When God Meets You In a Lavender Field

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“And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t He more surely care for you?” Matthew 6:30

My best friend decided to take me on a “filed trip” today.
Little did she know that God had divinely appointed that “field trip” to speak comfort to my soul.
We hopped in the car and began driving. She drove us along West Beach, up the hill, past the strawberry fields where I used to spend my summers, until we finally reached our destination. My heart leaped with joy as I saw the sign up ahead that read, “Lavender Wind Farm.”
This girl, she knows me.

We spent the afternoon with our friend strolling through the lavender farm, soaking it all in. Breathing in the heavenly fragrance. Delighting our eyes with spectacular color and beauty.
And the Lord met me there today.
I have been drawn to the wonder of creation, more so than ever this summer. And I believe this shift in thought, this unexpected awe, has been the Lord’s faithful answer to my prayer.
I left school with uneasiness weighing heavily upon my heart, leaving me anxious about returning home. It felt difficult to uproot myself from a place I had spent the last two years in. It was where the most significant growth in my life had occurred. It was where the joy of deep friendships were rooted. It was where the support of my church family was established. My life felt rich in meaning there, full of purpose and spirit.
Leaving that behind felt a little hard.
Going back felt like returning to the old me, the worst of me, the me that disappointed. Struggles that found themselves far behind me in California always seemed to reemerge when I found myself at home.
Impatience.
Selfishness.
Lack of discipline.
Absence of faith.
I have been praying that the Lord would change my heart and attitude. And slowly, He has begun to.
Now, I’m not a finished canvas. I can still count plenty of moments where the qualities mentioned in that list get the best of me. However, the Lord is faithful to work in us when we simply come to Him with the desire to be changed by His grace. That’s all He asks. If we come to Him with willing hearts, open and ready for transformation, He is sure to bring it about.

 “May the God of peace Himself make you entirely pure and devoted to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept strong and blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back again. God, who called you to become His child, will do all this for you, just as He promised.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

You may ask, what does this have to do with lavender? I’m brought back to Matthew 6. When we gaze upon the elegance of these flowers, do they not magnify God’s providence? The Lord is faithful to nurture the blossoming beauties of this earth, clothing them in splendor and glory. He provides the rain to make them sprout and the sun to sustain them as they grow.
How much more does our Heavenly Father love His children?
If He is faithful to do all this for flowers, which are here in summer’s season and gone by the chill of winter, how much more faithful is He to us?
As I beheld the treasure that stood tall and marvelous before me, I was filled with hope.
I am even more cared for by my Maker than some of His finest masterpieces. When life presents challenges, hope can be found in His faithfulness.
Faithful to be present in all things.
To bring peace in the midst of uncertainty.
To breathe life into the tired soul.
To transform even what seems to be the most calloused heart.
To make me look more like Him, which is far more splendid than even the loveliest of flowers.

And that, my friends, is true joy.
Unwavering joy among every season of life.