“Grace, grace to it!”: a YouTube message

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the message below with our congregation.  Many people have since approached me to tell me that they were encouraged and applied the word immediately to their lives.  That, of course, is the best news I could ever hear!

  • Are you in a season that seems impossible?
  • Are you facing an impossible challenge that’s pushing you to the breaking point
  • Are there habits whose hold on you seem impossible to break?

God has promised to pour out a grace for the impossible, but we have to know what that is and how to access it

If you’re facing an impossible situation, I’m praying that you will be encouraged by this message. I hope that you will find something in this message that will not only give you hope but that you can apply to your life starting right now!

Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 2)

Two hands touchingContinued from “Open Wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)”

Let’s review and expand on my Takeaways from my husband’s hand injury:

  1. Men – listen to your wives! I try not to be the “I told you so” wife, but for some reason, when it comes to the care of my family, my gut has never steered us wrong.
  2. Every part is needful. One injured digit can hinder your entire life.
  3. Fake news isn’t good news; so don’t be afraid of the truth.
  4. Serious wounds should not be left covered.

I will resist the temptation to expound on Takeaway #1. (wink-wink!)

Takeaway #2: Every part is needful – one injured digit can hinder your entire life.

My husband has told me often since this accident how much of a hassle it is that he can’t fully use his dominant hand and how challenging it is to execute the most mundane tasks, like writing and shaving. My poor husband. He has seriously struggled to keep a level of normalcy in his life all the while being in pain, enduring swelling and pressure within the bandage, and having trouble sleeping and executing his everyday tasks. I have become a lot more conscious of what he cannot do in order to help him. I’m oftentimes in my own little world, so I’ve really had to concentrate on being aware of what he’s doing so I can step in to assist when he needs me.  Every part of his life has been affected by this temporary handicap which has really driven home the message that every part of the body is needful and that we take it all for granted until we can’t.

The same is true in the body of Christ, and I would even expand to say, any community that requires people to interact in an interdependent way. Let me ask us all this: Are we noticing the wounded? Are we on the lookout for those in our community who are missing, silent or seem to have slunk back into the shadows? And if we’re the one who’s wounded, are we seeking healing in a purposeful way? It’s so easy to remain wounded and, as a result, remove ourselves from being an integral part of our community. But the Lord is the Great Physician and He came to bring healing for our woundedness. He sets the lonely into families because the community needs us and we need them.

Psalm 68:5-6a (NLT) – Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

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Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)

“Cecily, we have to go to the hospital right NOW!”

My husband, John, was standing in the doorway between the mudroom and the garage clutching his hand in a towel. He was still wearing his snow blowing gear and furry hat.

It took me a few seconds to process what was happening. I had been upstairs, still in my pajamas with crazy morning hair, when I heard him shouting my name from downstairs. The tone of his voice was unlike anything I had ever heard so I came running. That’s when I saw him in the doorway.

“I cut my finger off. We have to go NOW.”

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. This isn’t happening. I ran upstairs to change into clothing and then oddly stood there paralyzed. What should I wear? Really? Can I really not find clothing – ANYTHING – to put on? I grabbed jeans out of the closet, a sweat shirt and a baseball hat to cover my bedhead.

Earlier that morning, John had gone out to snow blow our driveway and also the bottom of our neighbors’ driveways when the accident happened. I had taken the day off as a vacation day because we were scheduled to leave for a trip to New York City with my parents once the roads were clear enough to drive on. This is why I was still sitting in my pajamas in no hurry to get ready. But now I was in a hurry that made my thoughts blur.

When I finally got downstairs, John was already sitting in the car. I could hear moans that made my knees buckle.  Oh my God, oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening.

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Falling: How we fall and how we get up (Part 2)

Falling_ashley-bean

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23, 24 

Now let’s look at the fall. When I fell three years ago in my house, I fell so hard that my children who were in the basement came running up to see what happened. They said it sounded like something blew up in the house! The pain was immediate and the injuries were long lasting. The cost and time involved to remedy the injuries was extensive.

I have heard many Christians who have fallen in sin say that they couldn’t believe that they were capable of doing what they did. They say that their fall seemed to sneak up on them from behind and blew up everything in their lives.

Many years ago, I found myself in that situation. I became involved in an ungodly relationship. Two weeks after the sinful relationship began, I woke up from my trance. I looked at what I was doing and realized that I was at risk of losing everything! I felt as though a hex had been cast over me that caused me to act and think in a way that was totally contrary to all of the pursuits of my life to that point. Who was this person in the mirror that could be so vile and selfish and blind?

I had to face the sin, come clean, and go through a season of deep cleansing with the help of my Pastor. The cost was extensive. The enemy had set a trap for me and because my eyes were not fixed on Jesus as my All-in-All, I fell right into it. I felt as though one day I was walking well with the Lord and the next day I was lying face down in my sin.

But the reality is that for a season of time I had not been guarding my heart and dealing honestly with my thoughts. The ground was beginning to freeze all around me and I wasn’t paying attention to the chill…until I slipped and fell. I was not taking sin seriously. I felt that I could handle it. Until it handled me.

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Falling: How we fall and how we get up (Part 1)

Falling_ashley-bean

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23, 24 

I caught myself just in time. My foot started to slip out from under me as I walked to my car on our snowy driveway, but I managed to catch my balance before the slip turned ugly.

I live in New England and winter here can often mean slipping and falling on ice and snow. Therefore, after driveways and walkways have been shoveled, we bring out the salt and sand to ensure that people can keep their footing and not take a header due to slick conditions.

I have been fortunate this winter in that I haven’t slipped or fallen even though we’ve had record amounts of snow and a layer of ice underneath that snow. I’m so grateful for the fact that I haven’t fallen and here’s why: I fell three years ago – in my own home, of all places!  It took six months, hundreds of dollars and countless hours of office visits to recover my strength and the fitness level I was at when the accident happened.

So why am I blogging about NOT falling? How is that interesting at all? Well, this morning, I was meditating on the Scripture in Jude 1:24, 25: To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—  to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Underline mine)

God keeps us from falling. That’s really good news! Obviously, the writer of that scripture is talking about spiritually falling, so that makes this even better news! But we have a part to play in cooperating with the Lord as He works to keep us from falling.

Let’s look at the results of falls first and then make the correlation to what happens to us spiritually when we fall.

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Workout your thought life!

Workout2If I could stay in bed, sleep in and still stay fit, I would do it. While I enjoy the camaraderie of my workout classes, if I could avoid the intense exertion five out of seven mornings a week, I would totally do it! But because I enjoy being fit and keeping my weight and mental clarity at a certain level, I make myself rise at an early hour so that I can have time with the Lord and also have time to exercise every day. I say, “No”, to hitting the snooze button 14 times for the greater “Yes” of feeling good after a hard workout and for the rest of the day.

The other morning, when I was doing my devotions, the thought came to me that we can put our thoughts into the same workout regimen that we put our bodies in.  The same way I control what I put into my body and how I exercise it to stay in shape, I can control what I put into my mind and exercise those thoughts to get the flab out of my thought life. Just as my body without exercise would revert to a state of untoned muscles, my mind without exertion becomes slack and untrained. My thoughts will automatically go towards negativity, fear, and low self-esteem. That’s what my mind looks like when left to itself.

But God has given me a great “gym” for my thought life. It’s called the Word of God. For every flabby negative thought that wants to keep me in a cycle of failure, I can purposefully replace it with God’s thoughts about me and my circumstances. But those thoughts aren’t natural, just like working out doesn’t feel natural. I have to MAKE myself dig into the Word and find God’s thoughts on a matter and then I have to WRITE them down so I don’t forget them, and then I have to REHEARSE those words over and over until they get into my brain. Eventually, my thoughts will get into godly shape.

But here’s what I see so often…many of us hear the Word on Sunday and think that a one-time hearing is going to make a change. But let me ask you this: if I went to the gym once a week, do you think I would notice any measurable change in my cardiovascular health or in the shape of my physical body? And if I ate junk food all week and then expected that one visit to the gym to work magic, do you think I would see the results I hope for?

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What About Woundedness: How to Find Healing For Our Soul

Life wounds every one of us.Broken heart

Disappointments, betrayal, our own mistakes, and the selfishness of others can leave deep and lasting wounds. Oftentimes, we think we have moved on from the situation that caused the wound and feel that time has healed it. It’s just water under the bridge. But underneath the scar tissue of the memories lies a festering sore that has not healed as we thought. We are not even conscious of the wound’s existence or its effect on our lives. But if we are honest, we can see how in certain areas of our lives we are being held back from our highest and best. Something seems to always hold us back that little bit. We’re not experiencing complete joy. We’re not experiencing our complete potential and prosperity. We continue to fall back into old habits and negative mindsets. We continue to repeat the same cycles and mistakes.

So what causes these limitations and repeated ‘trips around the mountain’? I believe many times the issue is woundedness. Like an infection seeping into our system and causing widespread and varied symptoms throughout the body, the infection of woundedness keeps us from the complete freedom that Jesus purchased for us. The enemy has a goal and a plan: If he cannot take our eternal identity, then he would like nothing more than to see us lead an impotent life bound in misery until we die.

But God’s plan is the opposite. Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV) That abundant life includes healing for our woundedness. I don’t know about you, but I realize where I am wounded by how I react when life presses on a certain spot. Just like a bruise that doesn’t hurt until I touch it, certain wounds seem to be gone until life presses on them. And then all of a sudden, I am keenly aware that I am not as healed as I thought! I know I’m wounded when I find my faith in certain areas becomes hard to walk out because of past failures and disappointments. Or when I find that my love walk is hard to maintain because of past betrayals. Or when my identity in Christ becomes hard to hang on to because of my awareness of my own personal failures and areas of unworthiness.

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