Vacancy

I drive past this old house so often.  I have no idea how old it is… but as one of my kids has said, it’s WAY old.  For many, many years there was often a vehicle parked beside the house.  I can’t say I ever saw anyone sitting on the porch but upon occasion I would catch a glimpse of someone in the yard, as I zipped past.  I’ve never known who occupied the house, who for years cared and kept and made it a home, but for whatever reason, it always caught my eye.  It wasn’t flower beds I was seeing, which is often what I’m glancing at, because there was never really anything blooming.   The yard, although always mowed, was not manicured or flashy.  Even though I rarely saw someone, the signs of life were there.  It was a home and a sanctuary for at least one soul.  Suddenly the other day the overgrown grass and trees and the deeply vacant feeling that this house now emits struck me.  Obviously no one lives there anymore.  Now it is striking that it’s so obvious that there is no life there.  I have pondered that for days now, asking God why He was showing me this vacancy and what it meant.   Am I showing life?  When others pass me by or pause to glance at my “house” are they seeing life?  Is it obvious Who lives within me, whether or not they interact with me?  For all those many years, that old house showed signs of life.  Are those who cross my path enticed to know the King of my heart, the giver of my life?  What a lesson, with a reminder I see so often, that it’s not an option to mirror Jesus, but a command. Others should see the Way, the Truth and the Life in my walk, in my talk, in a chance moment as they zip by.  They must see a life tended and watered, weeded and fed by time spent alone with the most High King.   For a period of time, after that house sat empty, it’s emptiness wasn’t apparent as I passed by, but time has shown the vacancy, the lack of life.  If I ignore my King, if I choose to go my own way and abandon the life giving flow, I will appear vacant as well.  I praise God for the reminder that because His breath is within me, that His life sustains me, I must strive to live a life that speaks out ‘I am alive because of Jesus”. Father God, let me shine “life” for Jesus sake and for His glory. 

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Just a bottle of water!

It was just an oversight; he didn’t hear me ask for the bottle of water so it was no big deal. I just sort of smirked at him and figured I would get it after a bit. I was thankful for Jesus taking that whole thing captive in my thoughts. In the past, I would have been very irritated and called him selfish. And it was just a bottle of water. I chatted with a dear friend and waited for the play to resume on the court. After a minute or two my friend smiled a big smile at me and said “you’re getting ready to get a gift”. Her joyful expression made me grin and puzzled me at the same time. Her always-thoughtful husband, who I didn’t realize had gone out, came walking up and handed me a cold bottle of water. Ever had a bottle of water take your breath away??? God will use ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to remind us of His love and care and this friend’s quiet attention to a simple desire will be used in many ways to touch others in the future. So yes, it was just a bottle of water… but it was SO much more! I’m sure glad God didn’t let my husband hear me ask for it so that He could instead bless me and teach me lessons to ponder and recognize future simple desires that I can fill! God’s gift of Jesus came into the world without the world noticing, quietly, although I’m pretty sure those angels singing to the shepherds were awesomely loud as they gave God Glory!! Please Jesus, help me take every quiet, simple opportunity placed before me to pass on the gift of your love, not just at Christmas when we celebrate His birth, but every day You grant me breath.

Lessons…

I remember this day like it was yesterday… even though it was years ago!

I hit snooze so many times that I came to the screen that didn’t even give me the “snooze” option. In order to continue in my ridiculous pattern that morning, I simply reset the alarm so I could begin the cycle again! I KNOW BETTER!  I know what skipping my appointment with Jesus causes and yet I selfishly chose that rocky path anyway. Frustration filled my morning, as well as that of my kids since Mama was snapping at them rather than encouraging a great day through a great attitude. There were too many tasks that needed doing before we left and many were left undone. We left late and quickly realized that it seemed other families on our route were running behind as well. I had willingly chosen to skip my much-needed infusion of Jesus and was paying the price. As the last student on my route found a seat, I turned to see yet another roadblock to getting to school. A train slowly made its way into view just down the road and my heart sunk as the reality of arriving in a timely manner moved further out of reach.   I groaned and headed slowly toward the train. It was then that the train clearly became a gift to begin again as we sat waiting. I asked the kids to be quiet and bow their heads and we prayed together, giving our crazy morning over to Jesus and asking for a re-start of the day so that from that moment on, our day would give glory to God. The sound of all the kids echoing my “Amen” was as sweet as any heavenly choir and the air was fresh with Jesus Spirit as we rolled forward and on into the day. Thank you Jesus for trains and precious moments of time. Lessons… that I keep trying to learn.

Failure

Much of my life was lived with a clear and certain assurance that Jesus was my Savior but alongside that assurance was a long-fought battle with deep feelings of failure. It was very easy to reduce me to tears simply by pushing the right buttons, by pointing out anything, no matter how minute, that I may have done wrong. Often I received things as criticism that were not even intended to be such, simply because of the cloud of failure over me. I’d dwell on mistakes for far too long, often long after others had completely forgotten them. I would rarely say no when asked to do something because I could often successfully accomplish projects and do them well, all the while failing at easy but ongoing tasks at home that would overwhelm me. No matter how many projects I did, nothing ever covered over or filled up the wounds left by never feeling good enough. I somehow kept missing the victory! I could sing that old song Victory In Jesus and mean every word and then sink back into failure mentality in a flash. As is always Jesus’ way, He ever so gently, yet so very powerfully breathed the truth to me. Then in moment after moment, He revealed the truth of what His victory really means for me and how revisiting those feelings of failure would only cause me more hurt. All those projects faded and had never made me more worthy. Truthfully, without Jesus, we’re all unworthy. Only His blood, His sacrifice and His love made me worthy as He breathed life full and redeemed into me. Suddenly HIS love was what mattered; obeying Him because of how much HE loved me made every decision placed before me so much sweeter. It surely didn’t mean I made every choice correctly or as He would have wished. Living free in His Victory means looking out with glimpses of His vision, seeing others pain and discerning things previously hidden, striving to be quiet and listen, to hear Him and move as He leads. Is Victory yours? It’s free from Him, bought and paid for with indescribable, willingly endured pain so you and I can live more than worthy, full, free and victorious!

Thanksliving!

This has been rattling around in my thoughts all weekend and during worship at church yesterday His love and sacrifice for me came together once again. I can breath deeper with joy as the truth of God’s love once again speaks so clearly into my life.  As I’ve pondered all the many things to be thankful for, I kept getting in my own way by recounting my faults to Jesus along with my thanks. Sort of takes away from the praises doesn’t it? While doing a reality check is important and obedience to the path Jesus has placed me on is even more vital, getting lost in self sabotage isn’t how He wants me walking! My list of thankful things is huge… I bet yours is much the same! While some have no home, we are warm and dry. While some await medical reports, we are healthy. While some have no family, we are richly blessed.
During worship, the Holy Spirit powerfully reminded me of who I am, because of Christ Jesus. I AM A Child Of God!!!!!!   Nothing else matters except that I fulfill His will for my path here as His Child.  A Child of the Most High King!!!   This is not a small thing!!!  Joy overflowed!  With this joy firmly in place of who my Father is, as the pastor spoke to us about Naomi, Ruth, Boaz and baby Obed, my thoughts were taken to how the world reacts when someone of royalty has a baby.  It’s all over the news when a certain royal family expects a new child and masses await the first glimpse as they emerge from the hospital and announce the name. Some will remark how they wish they were born into such a place, such a heritage and affluence, not taking into account the public fishbowl that accompanies all of that. Money and position don’t necessarily make for easy breathing like we might assume do they?  So as the pastor connected our thoughts from Obed to Jesus Christ and I thought of His great love for us and the power of truth set in motion for Him to redeem us eternally, I sat in overwhelm. I AM in that place of royalty, I AM a child of Almighty God. I AM redeemed me! So as the Christmas season unfolds, may our thoughts be of Him, that baby who was born for one reason, to be sacrificed for us, for our life and freedom. None of this is new news, but it’s fresh and amazing once again and it’s a gift to be shared, not hidden away. May I hug a little tighter, love with renewed purpose, and LOOK for those who need Him. When they are revealed, may I then act, all because of a baby, born in a stable who bought for me the name “Child of God”.

Shallow Breathing

Let’s be realistic. Not every day, or even every week is filled with days of deep breath moments. Some days it feels like I just go through the motions and then there are the shallow breathing days. If you’ve given birth or coached someone who has, and did any of the natural childbirth breathing, you already have a breathing pattern beginning as you read this. You know what I mean. As labor progresses and the contractions strengthen, you can no longer breath normally. You need to make certain not to take a deep breath … because if you do, the reality of the work your body is doing right at that moment zaps you. The instances or days where shallow breathing becomes necessary for me are those times when my children are threatened and when God allows life to be tossing some tough stuff at me. We have all been there. Each event is different but our responses are similar. Should I feel that way? Should I NEED to breathe short, light wisps of air rather than long, deep controlled ones? For me, it’s like survival mode. Often I don’t feel like I can catch my breath as my brain whirls with scenarios of how to overcome, how to fix this, simply how to gasp enough air to keep going.   When I feel my heart headed towards those shallow breathing times, I know I’m to run to His shelter, to get under His wing and find that place of protection and peace. I often stay far too long in that place of “I can handle this” when in reality, without throwing myself in God’s lap, I can handle nothing! Even in childbirth, in the middle of those crazy contractions, God designed bits of time in between for a deep breath. One day, in the midst of a major shallow breathing period, He brought me a deep breath from a place least expected…from a child under attack who had been stealthily bullied. As I sat with scrambled thoughts about what to do, even how to guide, a moment of a song on the radio is heard and the volume cranks up with a joy-filled “that’s the song”! “Love is Here, Love is Now…pouring from His hands…from His brow”   And there it is, God’s deep breath once again pouring into me from Him, through another, firmly planting me in His lap.   This breath brought reminders of the peace of Jesus that is needed to clearly examine all the angles and calmly approach the throne for His plan. Glory to God!

On The Way To Better

A business nearby had been adding for years to their collection of old, seemingly abandoned houses. Some had been for sale but all had sat still right where they had been deposited on the property. It became quite an eyesore for the community. Suddenly, in a matter of days, all the trees on the land were removed, one home was moved away and the shells of the others began to be disassembled piece by piece. I laughed as we drove by on our way to church that Sunday morning when my husband voiced his feelings about the piles of rubble and mess that were not helping the appearance of the area. “It takes a mess to get to cleaned up” I told him. Since he’s “blessed” with living with a “messy” wife, I could giggle at him. Over the years, I have developed a plan to try and help protect him and us from causing any undue stress when I decide I have to attack a closet or reorganize cabinets. It’s best done when he is gone overnight or longer since it’s really hard on him. His efficient mind and planned out thoughts can only visualize the finished, neat and orderly end result. The process of getting there is more than he can witness. We’ve all got different formulas for reaching the end but for me, I’ve got to empty out the whole closet and use the Keep, Toss, Share bins. I do better if one or more of my kids who is less attached to the contents can help me be a bit ruthless in filling the toss bin! I’m afraid I’m quite guilty of putting far too much back in once I’ve sorted. As I laughed and looked at those half dismantled homes, I thought about Jesus love, how He takes all my mess as He dismantles my hurts, binds my wounds and heals me from the inside out. I was reminded of how I must sadden my Savior, how I struggle to breathe as I think of causing Him pain when I pick up old habits and struggles that I’ve left at His cross. Only Jesus can clean up a junk filled life without making piles that others have to see. He cleanses and washes us instantly with His forgiveness and then He gently takes us through the process of showing us more junk we’ve hidden away in the nooks and crannies where we mistakenly believe He may not look. Thank you precious Savior for the freedom you pour out and the way you wipe away the messy piles of our lives.

Intimate Breaths

He reaches out his hand each time the pastor begins his prayer. As he slips my hand into his… this man who really does not like to hold hands at all… I am overcome with the joy of feeling protected, covered and filled. In the past, I would often reach out for his hand but had, for whatever reason, stopped doing so a while back. He began reaching out for my hand and I love it! I realized that within moments of his hand reaching out for mine, I instinctively draw in a refreshingly deep breath. I was silently praising God for this man and for our spiritual intimacy that is such a gift from God, this connection that transcends anything mere words can describe and there it came, this full breath that can only be from Jesus!   When we fall in love we can think of nothing but that person, our thoughts are taken over and it can be hard to focus on anything else. God ordained for marriage to hold the ultimate physical intimacy as a gift to us, but it also holds a lesson for us of what our relationship with Him should be. The beautiful thing is it’s a gift for all… we need not be married or in a relationship except with Jesus!  Will I be that open, can I expose everything? Or will I think that I can keep segments of life to myself? God already knows it all, He actually knows me better than I know myself and He longs for me to make Him my total focus. It’s only with my eyes firmly fixed on Him and my thoughts totally engulfed with Him that all the rest of life comes into clear focus. He has his hand reaching out, enfolding mine in every moment, with every breath of each day. I must continue relinquishing control and laying my hand and heart in His, moving through each day with that full feeling of complete intimacy, being eternally protected, covered and filled by my Savior! I’m blessed with the best of both worlds, a husband who loves Jesus more than me and a Savior who loved His father enough to obey and set us all free.

Blown Away

I know so little of God’s word. I love it and God has given a greater hunger and thirst for it and I am so thankful for that but I’m such a beginner. That reality makes me sad since I’ve known Him for so long as my Savior. It wasn’t until the last few years that I listened and obeyed God’s call to know Him more deeply. Little did I know how God would use this simple desire I wrote down on an application for a Spiritual Renewal weekend. “I want to move to the place where it’s simply not possible to breathe without knowing and sharing that it’s God who grants that breath. Jesus is so Amazing.”   I genuinely meant what I wrote, I just had no knowledge at that point of the depths He would take me to prove His love and His desire for me to breathe deeply! I certainly never dreamed it would mean you would be reading about it. How great are HIS plans and how small are my thoughts!

I’m more and more convinced that Jesus must love to see the joyful shock on my face and in my heart when He reveals something to me. They are my personal “shock and awe” moments with Jesus and I love them. If they bring Him joy and glory, I pray He continues to grant them. In a Bible Study on the movement of the Holy Spirit, after many amazing lessons from Jesus through the years, Jesus granted one of those breaths that again showed me how very little I know and how much more I desire to learn.   In the study we were taught that the word for “breath” that is used in Genesis 2 when He created Adam is the very same word used in the Acts 1:8 for the Holy Spirit. Talk about awe!!!   I sat there silently caught between breaths as I let that thought sink in. How had I missed that truth before? Was it that my heart was not ready until then? Oh the joy that this one fact brings, to know that this same breath of God that gave Adam life is the Holy Spirit who guides and leads us to eternal life with Christ. I’m seeking Jesus face for deeper understanding of how this must affect my every thought. Not how it should, but how it must change me and for the wisdom to use what He gives. This revelation also drives me to move on from “beginner” in my understanding of His Word to so much more. Unlike the most amazing char grilled steak or delightful dessert, I don’t have to resist more of this table set before me! What a blessing! I long for more moments where He takes my breath away and fills me with His own and He can enjoy my shock and awe for God’s glory.

 

First Dance

I kept hearing the invitation… come dance with me… I’d laugh a little doubting “Sara of Scripture laugh” and go on about my tasks. Then it would come again .. Come Dance with ME,   and I’d laugh again. “No, really, put out your hand and come. “But Lord… I don’t know how… I’ve never danced a step and I’m not sure that lessons would even help me.” “I WROTE the steps, He softly spoke… and there is only one move you have to make. It’s the move I long for most from my daughters and my sons. Now, please, come dance with me”.

So I walked into that room, with all this open space. I listened quietly and began to hear soft rhythms … a familiar, almost heartbeat like tone that engulfed me as I drew in a breath. It was as if the beat made its way through me and settled in my feet. I felt no fear or unrest but my mind wondered how my untrained feet would find their way to dance. As the beat was joined by soft engaging music, my hand lifted and He whispered, “I have ordered your steps, now remove your shoes so you’re free to feel me as we dance on Holy Ground… you need only to obediently follow my lead” and we began to move. Slowly at first, as is always His gentle way, then swaying and twirling and moving with a grace never before known. I was swept away into a most precious place, carried by the arms of my daddy on High. “Never fear the dance, my child, only fear if you refuse my invitation and choose to disobey.” Carried with strength that knows no limits, and filled by His abundant breath that replaced my own I was lost in the sea of His love. As gently as it began, He guided me until our movement stilled. My eyes remained closed and He spoke oh so softly “listen, obey and wait on me, my daughter, for our dance has only begun.”

Thank you Abba Father… thank you… thank you…