Take Heart, Daughter

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Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Social media has been a hard place lately. Between the news stories and political happenings and the responses of friends and family sharing their own stories and then the responses to the responses of friends and family, there is one thing that has been made so overwhelmingly clear.

It’s something that can’t be debated or doubted or downplayed and it’s this–there is so much hurt out there.

With each new secret shared, my heart is continually being brought to its knees.

But as a society, pain makes us uncomfortable so our first reaction is to discount it or rationalize it away. We tell ourselves there are ulterior motives or political manipulations.

I just want to stand on the roof of my house and shout.

STOP. EVERYONE JUST STOP FOR A HOT MINUTE.

Your neighbor. Your babysitter. Your mother. Your mail carrier. People are hurting.

And they are vulnerably and courageously bringing their broken pieces out into public view. With trembling hands, they are offering up their stories and holding their pain up to the light.

Just stop for a second and consider what you’ve been hearing from the people you pass on the street, in the grocery store aisle, in the halls at work.

So many people have been going about their lives, never letting on that they were carrying these heavy, heavy burdens.

But Jesus sees those broken places inside us and wants to heal more than just our bodies. He wants to heal our souls.

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22 NIV)”

This woman had suffered from a bleeding condition for twelve long years. Her physical pain must have been great. Her body must have been struggling with all sorts of issues resulting from continuous blood loss. This is what I’ve always tended to focus on when I read her story—the obvious need for physical healing.

It’s hard for me to imagine the modern-day equivalent of the crushing loneliness this woman must have lived with for the last dozen years. In a time when bleeding women were considered unclean and sequestered in isolation, the last twelve years of her life must have been a nightmare.

But Jesus knew. He not only addressed her physical healing, but with a single word, he addressed her emotional healing, as well.

Daughter.

With that single word, he banished loneliness and isolation and brought her into community. In the presence of so many witnesses, he deemed her wanted and welcomed. As far as I can tell from my limited knowledge and research, she is the only person Jesus referred to as “daughter,” and she just might have been the one whose heart needed to hear it most.

We all have our scars and broken places deep within us. Lately, more and more of those hidden wounds are being brought out into the light. It’s been overwhelmingly heartbreaking to see just how many have been carrying such heavy burdens of pain, often silently.

Take heart, daughter.

He sees the invisible and hears the silent. He heals the hidden hurts.

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Connecting with God When All You Have Is a Moment

dawn-nature-sunset-womanOnce upon a time, I was an adventurer. I was fearless. I lived each day to the fullest. Carpe diem and all that. I climbed mountains and flew across oceans. My passion to share Jesus was a fire burning, and I wanted to spread it across the world. I prayed aloud all the time, whether in the arms of my dearest friends or with complete strangers at the next gas pump.

As time passed, though, that fire died down until it seemed only embers remained. I think I got lost in the haze of day-to-day life. Over the last decade, my adventures have consisted mostly of navigating Walmart with three kids without causing a major public incident. The only mountains I’ve climbed have been the lofty peaks of laundry I step on to get to the dryer.

When I became a mother, I think I hit a pause button on being me. I think this self-imposed hiatus is something to which all caregivers can relate. It’s in our nature to give and give and give to our families. That’s part of what makes being a wife and mom so fiercely beautiful. This system we’ve set up seems to work–until the time inevitably comes when we have nothing left of ourselves to give.

That’s where I was just a short time ago. Drained. Short-tempered. Exhausted. Spiritually parched. Easily frustrated. One day, I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d prayed aloud. There were the bedtime prayers and meal blessings with the kids, but other than that, it just didn’t happen anymore. I’m not sure why. With church and small group and Bible study and MOPS meetings, there were plenty of opportunities. I would just sit there, though, with the weight of the pause pressing on my shoulders and the heat of the moment burning my cheeks. It’s not like I thought my friends or church family would jump to their feet, laughing and pointing at me. Why was I so self-conscious? I realized it was because I was out of practice.

I was disconnected. In my frantic need to take care of everyone else, I wasn’t making time to connect with God, and that disconnect was spilling over into all the other parts of my life. My identity is found in him. Unless I am spending time with the One who created me, I am bound to lose myself…

This post was challenging for me because it felt very vulnerable. Vulnerability is scary but authenticity is so worth it if even just one person is encouraged or says, “Me, too!”

To read more of this post, please visit The Glorious Table:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/06/connecting-with-god-when-all-you-have-is-a-moment/.

On Mountains and Faith

mountains blogEver since I was a little girl, I have been drawn to the mountains.

Maybe it’s because of the happy memories of camping trips with the whole family, cousins and all. We’d set up tents and immediately start hunting fireflies. Then we’d move on to building dams in the creek for all the fish we’d catch with our bare hands. (None.) There was the annual fierce competition of putt putt golf followed by a Dreamsicle bar and a Mello Yello. There would be campfire stories and roasted marshmallows. We’d spend entire afternoons swimming at the bottom of freezing waterfalls with whoops and squeals echoing off the hills. Then, pruned and shivering, we’d soak in every last drop of warmth from the sunbaked rocks.

Or maybe it could have something to do with our trips with the youth group that encouraged me to find alone time with God alongside creeks and waterfalls to pray and to listen. That silence you find on a hillside is amplified when you were just in a room with hundreds of middle schoolers singing Higher, Higher at the tops of their lungs. I’d walk out of the stone auditorium and find my favorite spot and just breathe in the silence. The only sounds were the wind in the trees and the birds singing and the creek bubbling over the rocks. It always seemed easier to hear God from the top of a mountain.

And now I can see those blue ridges on the horizon from the Walmart parking lot. And from the windows of Chickfila. And when I take the kids to school. It puts a song in my soul. (Mostly Nickel Creek and Wailin’ Jennys.)

We’ve lived here for a month now and I still annoy the kids to no end. Every time we round a curve or top a hill and the mountains are there. Claps, giggles, and squeals just bubble up and out and the kids groan and I tell them to just get used to it.

This last week, it’s been cloudy, misty, and a bit rainy. The kids were more than a little relieved on our last trip to town when we rounded the curve and topped the hill and couldn’t see more than a mile or so down the road. The mountains were swallowed up by the haze. My sweet children took that moment to point out, rather gleefully, that my mountains were gone. “Ha Ha, Mom! No cheering for you today! The mountains are gone!”

And as so many times before, the mountains made me think of God.

Just because the mountains were covered with a blanket of clouds and mist didn’t mean they weren’t there. Sometime soon, the sun will come out and the fog will fall away and the mountains will be there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.

There have been times in my life when it felt like God was far away, covered in fog, and I couldn’t see Him or what He was doing. But just because we can’t see doesn’t mean He isn’t there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.

I shared this insight with my kids and I felt so proud to be able to grab onto a teachable moment about faith. Surely they would stand at the gate and sing my praises. Or give me a gold star or something.

Feeling so warm and tender in this Hallmark moment, I asked them if they had any questions.

“Yes, Mom. I have a question. What’s for lunch?”

Planting seeds, people. We’re planting seeds. I just know it.