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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Fruit that Remains: Excerpts from my journals that nourished me and might encourage you, too!

grapevine-with-detail-of-grapes-picjumbo-com

Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.

 

I can’t take it anymore! I’m so overwhelmed I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown!

Have you every felt like that? I have – many times! On one such occasion, I had been trying to make everything work in my own strength but I was in a season where there were too many demands and not enough of me to go around.  I had too much on my plate and plainly needed a clone of myself to get all of my work done, let alone things at home and in ministry. It was just TOO MUCH. So I brought my anxiety to the Lord.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

So in this instance, here is how the conversation went down in my journal:

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Do it like Daniel: Dedicated prayer brings discernment and answers

The praying woman

Sometimes when I’m reading the Bible, I am prompted to write out the scripture as a prayer or a declaration for myself or for someone else. Other times, what I have read prompts me to write a prayer of dedication as I did in the journal excerpt below.

As I am reading in Daniel chapter 10, I see examples of what happens in the heavenlies when people pray. I see angels sent to bring forth Your word, to do warfare, and to deliver messages, encouragement and direction. I see the angelic host being withstood by the demonic host. But I also see that you have victory over all the power of darkness even if for a time darkness seems to be winning. I know that your word is filled with wisdom, insight, and revelation about spiritual warfare. I believe that through Your Word I can learn how to be successful in spiritual warfare. I pray dear Jesus, that I would learn, that I would devour your word in the area of spiritual warfare that I may become bold and wise in how I pray and intercede. I want a hunger to be placed in me to see your kingdom come and your will be done on this Earth as far as it concerns me. Help me to grasp the hidden mysteries in your word as revealed by your Spirit and to live my life according to that truth. Regardless of what I see with my eyes, let me lean completely into your truth. Let me burn with a zeal in my latter days that will bring revelation and freedom to the captives. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Now you:

  • Do you desire to learn how to pray so that things change?
  • Rather than throw up weak, faithless prayers that you’re not certain even get heard, do you want to learn how to be led by God’s voice into a strategy that impacts your world?
  • Do you believe that God still moves today?
  • Do you struggle to believe that God hears you or cares about the things you pray for?

The first step in successful spiritual warfare is to learn to discern the voice of God from all other voices that would seek to keep our attention. Yes, we have an enemy. And yes, we need to realize that he hides in camouflage so as not to be discovered. But the Light that you have on the inside of you, if you are a child of God, is so much greater than the darkness, that we needn’t spend all of our time in prayer combatting the devil. In fact, Daniel wasn’t combatting the principalities during his three week fast and prayer vigil.  He was seeking the Lord’s face and answers for the condition of his people. Let us be like Daniel, discerning the times, bringing our concerns to God in faith that He is able to make a difference and then let God and his angelic host do the part we cannot do. Ask God today to give you heart to see His Kingdom come and His will be done on the earth. That’s a big prayer…and we serve a big God who told us to pray that way!

I encourage you to read Daniel chapter 10 and then use my prayer of dedication as your own or write a prayer of your own to pray!

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Jesus isn’t Spider Man – He is the Son of Man: So how did he do the miracles he did?

Spider ManWas Jesus like Spider Man?  Was He human one minute, changing into a superhero the next?? I used to struggle silently with these questions because it made no sense to me how Jesus could operate at such a miraculous level.  It seemed to me as though God gave Jesus an unfair advantage during his life on earth that I don’t have. I mean, how can I be expected to live like Jesus? I’m not the Son of God, right??

But here’s the truth that I have been wrapping my brain around for last number of years: Yes, Jesus is referred to as the Son of God, but his favorite moniker was Son of Man.

Jesus was fully human every minute of his earthly life, whether laughing and walking with his disciples, or walking on water, or making a mud pack for a blind man’s eyes curing his blindness. He did everything as a man.  It’s a mystery to me how He could do this; but somehow He left his glory with the Father and took on human flesh. He chose to have to live as we do, reliant on the voice of the Holy Spirit to relay the will of the Father and empower Him for miracles.

As a result of that choice, we now have an example of what God’s glory shining in and through a person completely surrendered to Him looks like.

Just because it’s hard to imagine how he could live a perfect life as a man like us doesn’t make it untrue. Just because you’ve never walked on water doesn’t mean that Jesus used cheater powers to do that.  If Jesus did the miracles that he did using a power that we don’t have access to, then we could be impressed but unchanged and un-challenged.  But knowing that he completely shed his former glory while living as one of us on the earth, makes us accountable and challenged by the life he lived.

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Yikes! It’s time to make a change: How to find the strength you need

Feet overlooking waterHave you ever known that there is a change that you need to make in your life but you have absolutely NO desire to execute that change? Have you ever wrestled with the impossibility that you will be able to follow through or be successful in making the change you know is needed? Maybe you know that you need to start an exercise regime, but you’re completely overwhelmed by the prospect of all that is involved with getting to the gym, going out for a run or walk on a regular basis or of sticking out the commitment to be physically fit.  Or maybe there is a habit that you know-that-you-know you need to quit but the thought of living without “…” is daunting and totally unappealing.  You hate the habit but you NEED the thing you’re attached to, and it makes you almost panicky to think of life without it. Or maybe you want to add healthy choices into your life like better ways of eating, being a more connected friend or serving in your community, but the thoughts of what the cost will be and everything in your life that will have to adjust in order to make room for this new lifestyle is keeping your feet in the blocks.

If any of these life challenge screen shots describes you, I GET IT!! I have been there in each and every one of those tight squeeze places where who I am and who I know I am supposed to be are as far apart as the edges of the Grand Canyon.  But I have a word of encouragement for each of us.  The good news is that God knows that we cannot traverse that chasm in our own strength.  He sets the vision for the next place that He wants to take us and He is fully prepared to get us there.  The problem is that since we’re locked in these things called “Time” and “Space”, we get freaked out when the change doesn’t happen overnight.  We would prefer that the moment the revelation hits that we should start to exercise, cut out sugar, stop cussing, turn our gossiping and critical mouth into a thankful and praising mouth, or start being faithful in reading the Bible and prayer, that the desire and the ability to execute would also be there.

But it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, I have found that the Preview of Coming Attractions comes way before either the desire or the ability.  And even once the desire comes, it can be quite a while before the strategy or the ability come as well.  And that can cause a lot of frustration (What is wrong with me? Why do I still fall short in this area? Why can’t I quit “…”? Why can’t I start “…”? and so on).  But from this frustration is born the moment of choice that God needs from us. He will never shove His will down our throats.  He simply pulls back the curtain and lets us see the better way but at the end of the day, it will always be our choice whether we want to go down the path that will bring life and freedom or remain in the place where we are.

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Victorious: A word to the Church for the days we are in

Girl praying.jpg

On Sunday, August 20th, the Lord impressed this word on my heart and I shared it with our congregation.

I, the Lord your God, am a consuming fire. I am the God who makes days, times and seasons. And your times are in my hands.  The times of all creation are in My hands.  Make ready your hearts.  Make ready your homes. Fill your lamps with oil, says the Lord. Fill your lamps with oil for yourself, for your families, for your neighbors, for those I am calling. There is abundant supply. Access the abundant supply. Not just enough for you, says the Lord, but enough to give away, enough to draw the nations. My heart, My heart is crying out for the lost and you are the answer. You are the healing. Your hands are my hands, says the Lord.  Our feet are My feet. Where you go, I go. I send you, says the Lord, not in your own strength, but in My strength. You are not as you appear. You are Jesus on this earth and nothing, nothing can stand against My church.  You go now. You go now in the strength of My Spirit and nothing can withstand you, says the Lord.  There is no power in hell that can stand against you for all has been defeated and you are in Christ.  You are Mine. And I have made you for this day, I have made you for this time. You are where you are because I have placed you here. And there are those you will touch, there are those you will speak to that you have been destined to minister to. You are My children and you have been marked with the seal of My Holy Spirit – My Holy Spirit. My Holy, Holy Spirit lives in you. You are My vessel. You are pure. You are refined. You are sanctified.  You are marked with the blood of the Lamb and nothing will stop this mighty moving force that is My church, says the Lord.

Now you:

  • Do you believe that these are the last days as referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy?
  • Do you know that you are the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth today?
  • Do you know that God has placed you in the family, the job, the church and the neighborhood where you are so that you will be His representative on this earth? If we are His body, what would Jesus do for your family, your friends and your colleagues if He were here in the flesh? What problems would He solve, what healing would He bring and what truth would He convey?

Even though I was the one who delivered it, this word is challenging me in considerable ways.  When the Lord says, ‘Get ready’, we better take note and get ready. When he tells us that we are able to accomplish our assignment and that nothing will be able to stop us, we need to quit making excuses.  I am challenged and taking this to prayer.  I am asking the Lord to help me make changes and evaluate my life properly.  This life is not a dress rehearsal.  We have one shot on this ball of water and dirt and I personally don’t want to abuse the privilege of carrying the presence of Jesus in my mortal body.  I want to represent the Father and Jesus well and be His hands and feet on this earth.  I believe you do, too. Let’s pray.

Father, we can do nothing without you, that we know. But we forget is that WITH You, we can do mighty things.  You are waiting for us to get up and do those mighty things and live out the truth that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us.  Let us grow in devotion, in passion and in boldness to bring your goodness into this lost and dark world.  You have prepared good works for us to walk in.  Help us to see what to do and be obedient to do it. Help us to be relentless in cleaning the junk out of our hearts and minds so that your Presence can flow through a pure vessel.  You are good and patient and we thank you for your mercies that are new every morning! Amen.

Stamina: Strategically increasing our stamina gives us the strength to finish well

Stamina is an urgent need if we are going to finish the race that the Lord has set before us. Therefore, we must increase our stamina.Running man.jpg

To illustrate what I mean by increasing stamina, let me use my friend as an example. My friend runs long distances and has a trainer. When she began training for her first marathon, her trainer explained to her that she would have to increase her stamina by 10% every week – and no more. Her trainer strategically increased her body’s muscular ability to handle longer distances by making gradual and consistent demands on her stamina. He gradually increased the distance that she would run and then the pace that she would run each new distance. His goal was to prevent her body from collapsing and becoming injured. Injury caused by overzealous training would backfire and take her out of the race completely. But by the same token, not pushing her level of stamina consistently enough would cause her to be underdeveloped when faced with the pressure of race day.

The same is true for us in the things of the spirit. We must consistently and strategically increase our stamina in the things of God. But let me say this: increasing stamina is never fun and it requires focus and self-discipline. It requires vision for the goal that we wish to attain. Do you wish to be closer to the Lord? Do you wish to hear His voice more clearly? Do you wish to shed unwanted habits or sin? Then increasing your stamina in prayer, in worship, and in directing your thoughts toward God will be key. Coming into His presence regularly and increasing the amount of time that you can focus your thoughts, your worship and your praise upon Him is critical for increasing our spiritual stamina.

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