Be Held

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She’s crying in the darkness. Big, raspy, gasping, croupy cries. My husband and I run to the bathroom and turn on the light and the shower. As I hold her, she clings tight and the tears slow a little. The steam helps, but still her chest heaves loud in the night as she gulps in air.

It’s a long, sleepless night. In the wee hours of the morning, the croup seems to worsen, and we decide to pack her up and take her to the hospital. But just as we are about to leave, her breathing steadies a little. Are we safe? The minute she lays down, the rasping and gasping starts all over.

I gather her into my arms in the darkness and hold her—this five-year old girl who seems so tiny tonight. For some reason, only the holding helps. So I hold her close until her breathing evens into sleep. And then, even then, I hold her.

It is morning when I finally close my eyes.

I understand the need to be held. We all need it at times. In the seasons of darkness, of deep-down disappointment, of hurt. Those times when our soul is gasping for air.

But always, in the blackness, there are arms waiting. In the good times, too. Strong, powerful, everlasting arms. Beautiful, scarred hands.

And a still, small Voice that calls us close,

Be held.

As I hold my daughter and listen to her breathe in the stillness, I can feel it in those deep-down places.

I, too, am held.

And there is peace.

Unraveled

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It has been a while. Maybe because I don’t have a lot to write. Or maybe because I have too much to write but not enough time? I’m thinking that this little corner of the web should be called, “The Unraveled Life.” The other day, for example, I looked away for about two minutes and my toddler coloured herself green. Not completely green, mind you. But there were big green splotches all over her entire body. She was so proud. And in case you were wondering, washable marker isn’t all that washable. At least she makes a cute alien, I told myself.

While I was scrubbing the toddler, one of my other daughters knocked over a glass of milk (that she had been instructed to finish an hour earlier…but I digress). Milk everywhere. On the floor, on the table and on some of the school stuff. I wrote on Facebook, the way milk multiplies when spilled is nothing short of miraculous. I’m serious. Next time we’re about to run out of milk and I don’t feel like taking two hours to pack up three kids for a five-minute trip to the store, I’m just going to dump the last few drops on the floor. Voila, problem solved. Milk for days.

Truth is, I’ve been a bit tired lately. It usually hits in wintertime, but for some reason, this summer has seemed long. And although it has been filled with many, many beautiful moments, there is always that undercurrent. You know? That feeling that you’re unraveling on the inside?

Sometimes, I’m unsure of how to handle these soul-weary seasons, especially when there’s absolutely no valid reason for it. What do you do when you’re doing all the right things and yet you’re desperately struggling to hold on to your joy? As David said, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”

David, a man after God’s own heart, knew what it was like to become unraveled.

But what I love about David is that he didn’t stop there. In his sorrow, he declared, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

Please note: David didn’t wait until he had it all together to boldly make that statement. He made it while he was struggling inside. And perhaps that’s the key. Not an empty faith declaration, but a reminder in the middle of it all that God is always faithful and that His love won’t ever fail. He is good. He is really, really good.

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“My heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Salvation from sin, most importantly. But also salvation from the tired that creeps in when you least expect it.

David did this thing called “yadah”. Yadah is a Hebrew word for praise. But it’s more than that. It’s offering yourself completely. It’s lifting your arms in surrender. In a sermon I heard recently, the pastor described it as raising your hands and launching your praise like an arrow.

Even when you don’t have it all together.

Because, really, aren’t all of us a little unraveled inside?

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been waking up to worship music. I sometimes fall asleep listening to it. I play it while I’m driving and while I’m making dinner. I play it while I’m sitting alone in my room. Yadah. Praise like an arrow.

Another act of worship—much less conventional—consists of taking photos of the joy-filled moments. When I get tired and my joy unravels, I look through those photos and remind myself that God is good. And my heart is filled with gratitude. Yadah. Praise like an arrow.

Praise is a powerful weapon against sadness and weariness. When your heart is filled with praise, your focus shifts from you to Jesus, and grace seeps into the broken places. Grace becomes the glue that holds you together. It allows you to put one foot in front of the other and keep on going.

It becomes your breath and life because it’s only in Him that we live and breathe.

Yadah. Surrender. Abandonment. Arrows of praise.

And a heart refreshed and restored to joy.

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Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

And here’s one more goody because I’ve been waking up to this song every morning these days and it just gets to me (in the best of ways) every single time…

The Most Humble of Things

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My daughter spotted it first, clinging to a wall beside an old railway track.

“Look, Mom,” she called excitedly. “Look what I found!”

It was just a common grasshopper. Nothing special. But as I bent close, I could see its leg quiver, hear a chirping sound. It’s called stridulation—when the inside of a male’s rear leg is rubbed against its forewing, it produces a rasping sound.

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I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple of pictures. My sister is the insect photographer. I’m not a photographer at all, nor do I have fancy photography equipment. But I like to try anyway.

It’s the detail that gets me. Every creature, no matter how tiny, is so intricate.

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Do you see the herringbone pattern on the grasshopper’s rear leg? People buy herringbone purses and jackets and yet God thought of it first. Effortlessly, this tiny insect is cloaked with beauty.

I was feeling tired and discouraged when I woke up this morning. The Lord has been working on my heart—teaching me what it means to lay down my life for others—and the lessons have, at times, been hard. As we were driving to the trails, I prayed: Lord, I’m so used to living just for myself. I didn’t realize that picking up my cross in the little things—the day-to-day things—could be so trying at times. You picked up the greatest Cross of all and I just desperately need You to help me put the little details of my life back into perspective.

As my daughter and I crouched on a railway tie in front of that low wall, my perspective began to shift. If God puts that much care into a grasshopper, how much more care does He put into me?

If He paints the butterfly’s wing so beautifully, how much more beautifully is He painting my life?

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Or, as Matthew 6:28 says, “Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.”

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God cares about the details. He sees me when I’m tired at the end of a homeschool day, when there is a sink full of dishes to wash, a basket of laundry to put away, children who need attention and an hour to make dinner and tidy up before my husband arrives home.

God sees the details. He gives strength for the day, grace for the moment, and those extra reminders of love when we need them.

Sometimes, those reminders come through the most humble of things.

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When You Feel Like It’s Too Late

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This is for the one who feels like it’s too late. You’ve missed too many opportunities. You’ve made too many mistakes.

When you were young, you were full of passion. You were full of idealism. You dreamed many dreams and they were big dreams.

But it takes time for dreams and reality to converge. And during that time, life happened. School. Children. A house. A career. These are all good things. They are great things. But still, when you step back and assess where you are, you realize that even though you are happy, you are not fulfilled. There is a difference.

You want more.

Because even though your dreams have changed, there is that one. The dream that is not just any dream. It is a God-given dream that seemed impossible then and seems even more impossible now.

You want to make a difference.

It has been so long. You’ve wasted time. And you can never get that time back. You wonder if you’ve missed the boat. So you try to tell yourself that the status quo is sufficient. But it’s not. Deep down, you know it’s not.

Because deep down where no one can see, the dream still flickers.

Is that you? Then there is something important that you need to know.

It’s not too late.

No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done and no matter how much time you’ve wasted, it’s not over until it’s over.

Are you still alive and breathing?

Then it’s not over.

You still have purpose and you still have destiny. You are still a vessel that the Holy Spirit can work through and you are still a vessel that He desires to work through.

You have gifts and abilities that are yours alone. God wants you to use them so ask Him, “Lord, where can I use them?” And then, step out.

You have a story to tell that is yours alone. God wants you to tell it so ask Him, “Lord, who can I share with?” And then, step out.

One tiny step. Once you’ve made the step, ask Him again. “Lord, where? Who? What next?” When He shows you (and He will), take another step.

Step by step by step. That’s how dreams are fulfilled. That’s how destinies are reached. Not overnight. Not with one giant leap.

With a series of small steps of obedience.

Don’t let discouragement stop you. Don’t let regret hold you back. People need Jesus and He’s living in you. Someday it will be over. But until then, it’s not too late. Small steps make a big difference.

So do it.

Take a step.

Make a difference.

And watch those God dreams come true.

 


God’s Word says:

  • “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone; the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25)
  • “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.'” (Jer. 29:11)
  • “In all your ways, acknowledge Him. And He will direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:6)

Breaking Limitations – Not I, but Christ

My husband and I stood on our cobblestone driveway watching flames curl around a measuring tape by our feet.

“I have been crucified with Christ,” I said softly. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

As the fire died down, my husband poured water on the twisted, charred plastic. It is garbage day today and, along with the trash, goes this symbol of the enemy’s whispered lies. I’m glad.

You see, the enemy wants us to believe in limitations.

I can’t meet that person. I don’t know how to make conversation.”

I can’t write for that organization. The articles are read by pastors and missionaries. I’m just a mom.”

I can’t apply for that job. I’m not qualified.”

I can’t mention Jesus to the neighbours. I’m sure they heard me raise my voice to my children yesterday. I’m such a big hypocrite.”

Do you notice the one thing that these limitations have in common?

It’s the word “I”.

Lies don’t have to be rational to be effective. They simply need to take our eyes off of Christ.

Last night at a prayer meeting, I asked Jesus to show me the key to overcoming the ever-present sense of failure in my life. Clear as a bell, the words came to mind, “It’s not I, but Christ.”

“It’s not I.” The truth is that we’re human. Humans have limitations.

But that’s not the end of it.

“Christ lives in me.” We have been crucified with Christ. That means that all of our limitations were broken at the Cross.

We need to take our eyes off of ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we “can’t” do something; we are dead! Our lives have been laid down at the cross. Jesus lives through us. His grace has covered us. His limitless power is at work in us.

A pastor who was praying for me last night suggested I go home, find a measuring tape and burn it to symbolize God breaking limitations off my thinking. As my husband and I stood under the night sky and watched orange flames lick yellow plastic, I felt such a sense of freedom.

This is a lesson I won’t soon forget.

There are no limitations. There is no measuring stick. There is only the One who overcame death and sin, the biggest limitations of all. There is only the cross. There is only Jesus.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

It’s not I, but Christ – the limitless love and power of Christ.

Making sense of it all…

When I look at the Christmas tree, that’s when it hits me. My daughter and I carefully decorated it. The lights twinkle cheerfully. The presents are wrapped and labelled and piled high until Christmas morning. Everything is ready, waiting.

When I look at the Christmas tree, that’s when the tears really begin to flow. There are parents out there who, like me, have carefully decorated their trees with their children’s help. The lights twinkle cheerfully at their houses too. Their presents have also been wrapped and labelled and piled high until Christmas morning. Everything is ready, waiting.

Everything is ready and waiting, but there will be no pitter-patter of feet running eagerly downstairs on Christmas Day. There will be no cheerful laughter to fill the air.

It will be the hardest at Christmas, I’m sure.

When I look at my tree and the presents beneath it, I grieve for the families who lost loved ones yesterday. It happened all those years ago in Bethlehem too, you know. The madness. The evil. Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more.

Children. Innocent children.

It’s just not fair.

I want to humbly ask you to do something. I want to ask you to click on the link below, to read a prayer that Max Lucado wrote yesterday. A Christmas Prayer. Something to make sense of it all. I want to ask you to read it and to make it your prayer. Because in the darkness of today, we need light. We need hope.

We need a Savior.

So won’t you click on the link and make this your prayer?

Please?

A Christmas Prayer