Thursday’s Thread: Looking For the Ordinary When Life Feels Chaotic

I find myself longing for familiar these days more than ever!

Been walking through a lot of the unfamiliar lately and I feel my heart calling me back to what seems unchanged.

I’ve always thought I was okay with living life in spontaneity and yet I’ve never longed for consistency more than I am right now. 

In the past 8 years we’ve moved, changed jobs, had 3 sons graduate high school, 2 graduate college, another who will be graduating next month with his beautiful wife…3 sons get married and move away to 3 different states, both of my parents die and as I write this I am preparing not only for my son and his wife’s college graduation but our youngest son will be graduating high school and leaving for college in the fall two states away….an empty nester about to be happening over here.

To say my life isn’t screaming for familiarity, I’d be lying!

My heart seems to be lingering in the ordinary much more than I’d like to admit. It’s been calling me back to the simpler days of balancing laundry and naps, tending to scraped knees and breaking up arguments. Oh back then truth be told I felt it was all a little too chaotic but these days to go back to fixing snacks and feeding hungry stomachs seems like it would take away my hungering pangs that are keeping me up at night. It’s funny when we’re in the midst of the mundane and the ordinary, we long for the days that seem a little more uncommon and extraordinary. 

And yet I am reminded that in the middle of all the unsettledness it’s possible to drop an anchor down right here and find some steadiness in the storm.
I’ve been studying about anchors lately and finding my heart leaning into their purpose more and more.
Did you know some of the earliest anchors were rocks?
And these rocks were said to be so effective they’re often still used today along with an anchor when it needs extra stability and it needs permancy …to stay firmly planted.
In fact in the midst of a storm they’re so effective they say….
‘they’re nearly impossible to move’.

I want God to be my rock…my anchor
when this life seems to be changing all too fast and loss seems
to be the forces of my storm.
No matter the wind that is hurling against it if it’s firmly anchored the boat will stay put protecting it from damage. The boat may move ever so gently in the wind but it will stay put.
So it is in our lives too, we may feel the perils of the storms but oh may we anchor our souls in the strength of the Lord.

As I am writing this I have a reminder wrapped around my neck. My sister had it made for each one of us recently when my Dad died. He was a sailor for 21 years in the Navy and he always seemed to be our family’s ‘anchor’ -the one we felt secure in. And yet when he died my sister knew we needed a daily reminder that
God is the anchor of our souls
so that’s what she had etched on a chain for us.
I find myself grabbing it when life seems a little unsteady and I feel a little alone. It’s there in those moments I realize my ‘home’ has shifted a bit… and my anchor lies in the Lord.

The details of our live’s events don’t choose what is ordinary and what is not. It’s a choice to live in the present rather than wishing the days away!
Every morning is a day waiting for me to join into what it holds for me. Every day I am given another day to make an imprint on history and yet sometimes I live too many of my days lingering in the past. Somehow I just need to trust fall into this season and trust that God has gone before and behind me and goes with me too. A lot of days I’d rather just stay inside the comfort of what is familiar and attend to my wounds. But inside the confines of my security I can hear God calling me into a new rhythm for my days.

When I was having these 4 boys of ours, no one ever thought to tell me of the changes that were going to hit all at once, like the crushing of a violent storm. They told me plenty of times about how my hands were full taking care of four boys, you’d think just one of them would have warned me of the days of transition ahead, that were beyond the horizon.  I suppose their warnings would have been in vain overshadowed by my physical exhaustion and tossed aside as unmerited advice….after all we usually only live inside our present days.

Today as I was day-dreaming of boys hanging out of trees and gathering frogs in their boots, I was thinking how easy it is to memorize the days of old rather than living in today. That’s why I took out his small leather notebook this morning. It was one I had given my Dad when my Mom passed away. It was for him to begin again and to count his blessings.  Today as I reached into his dresser drawer I pulled it out as it was time for me to begin again and do some counting of my own.
I opened the half used notebook as an invitation from Dad to finish his words and count some of my own simple thanks….every one written as an arrival upon the pleasures God had given me….the sun as it warmed my face, the flowers that are scattered across my yard delicately decorating my path, even the breath I had just taken that filled my lungs…each blessing was a gift. I wrote down each one pumping hope into my veins.
After all we could all use some hope wrapped around our brokenness.

I’ve been finding the way out of my brokenness is reciting blessings.
Dad always told me when things were pressing down real hard to count my blessings and life would seem a little bit easier.
Perhaps in the process of being grateful God is somehow binding up all of my broken pieces like a rock anchored at the bottom of the sea…anchoring my heart and keeping it  steady in these storms.
When I spend my days looking to the beauty that surrounds me rather than the noise that’s wreaking havoc on my soul I find myself exhaling more than I am deep breathing…counting my blessings instead of keeping track of my losses. 

Sometimes just breathing speaks our desire to walk again.’ 

That’s what I said to her and she shook her head with tears streaming down her cheek. Loss was bigger than words can explain in her one life….she buried a child who’d taken his life and now she was losing one thing after another in her own life….her marriage, her job, a friend, a relative…burying them all inside her brokenness. Made my eyes shift off my losses and see deep within her heart….tears welled as I struggled to give hope. This woman had hope, more hope than I could have passed out that day and yet she was leaning into me for a little more….
Maybe our brokenness gets redeemed when we see a purpose it can serve!

My mind shifted to the boats that line the coast back home and I realize….
Anchors allow Sailors to count their blessings rather than their losses too!

Choosing to anchor my heart in Christ alone won’t prevent the storms from coming but it keeps me counting beauty rather than becoming a critic in the midst of all our craziness. And when I count good rather than hard my life gets resurrected to what God has set before me rather than feeling like I’ve died. 
After all this change, the one that needs to change is me and the only hope of becoming a new me is anchoring my soul in Christ. So the one thing I can do amidst the change and chaos is to pay attention to the beautiful things He’s surrounded me with.
Then maybe then I’ll hear His voice in my day a little louder as I walk with Him and in Him one step at a time…

then, pretty soon His steps will be mine and I’ll look a little more like Him.

Thursday’s Thread: The Road Back Home

Has God ever called you to go back home?

My parents had just spent five years of their lives serving in the inner city of Philadelphia when they heard God tell them to go back home.
Five years earlier they obeyed God when He told them to push pause on their lives, hold off retirement awhile longer and go to the inner city of Philly to serve there.
And now here they were just five years later being told to go back home…. It would have been easy for them to question God but they didn’t instead they graciously grabbed hold of God’s directing in their lives and headed home.
They felt God was leading them to their family. Most of their kids and grand kids lived in Maine and they felt a clear calling to make their family their ministry.
Just a couple of years earlier my Dad had suffered sudden death and spent 7 days in a coma.
When he woke up from being unconscious his brain had to relearn how to do some of the simplest tasks and yet Dad woke up with a distinct message from God, which he communicated, to all of us.
He said that while he was in his coma he heard God tell him that all 10 of his children would be walking with the Lord before he died.
I remember when Dad shared this with me I have to admit I was a tad bit skeptical of his encounter. I reassured him God would continue pursuing all of his children but it was up to them to follow God and have a relationship with Him. But Dad unswervingly held close this word from God and even spoke of it to his death.

I was raised in a strong Catholic family and although I grew up knowing about God it wasn’t until my Dad’s first heart attack when he was 39 that I heard of the idea of having a relationship with God and how much God loved me.
It was sixteen years later that Dad had his encounter with God. At this time very few of my brothers and sisters were walking in the Lord, I prayed for all of them to find God but I couldn’t imagine God would be so gracious to pass out such a promise to my Dad. I mean I’ve read that kind of stuff in the Bible where entire families came to the Lord but surely God couldn’t do that with mine! There were 10 of us kids, could God really work in all 10 of our lives?

I was recently reading a story in Mark 5 about a man Jesus encountered who had a legion of demons wreaking havoc on him and how Jesus set him free. Following the man’s healing he had a seemingly simple request of Jesus he asked him,
‘can I go with you?’
And to the man’s surprise Jesus replied
‘no’
and told him,
Go back to your home and to your family and tell them what the Lord has done for you. Tell them how He had mercy on you.’
Like this man Jesus also told my parents their ministry was back home.
Many of us struggle with this kind of mission. We want the exotic, adventurous assignments. The one where we evangelize to strangers and the lost yet not our families! We often neglect the sharing of our stories with the ones God has placed inside our family circle.
Yet that wasn’t so with my parents, it was so refreshing to see the fire in their hearts for their new ministry.
They returned back home after serving a five-year commitment in Philly and immediately began investing in my family’s lives.
They babysat grandchildren, extended love to the broken and began the ministry of reconciliation where it was needed.
Dad and Mom got involved in their church even traveling an hour and half to be part of a church.
My parents never claimed to be perfect they just gratefully embraced God’s amazing grace and love.
They served God even in their own brokenness this was where the beauty of their lives laid. They chose to set aside the lies the enemy often tells us that we can’t lead and serve in ministry unless we are healed and walking in perfection. Dad and Mom continued their ministry to our family until their deaths…Mom’s in 2015 and Dad’s recently in March of 2018.

Can you imagine if the once demon possessed man chose to keep quiet?
If he had returned back home and chose not to embrace the ministry God had given him?
Who would have missed the message of the gospel?
And just like him my parents had a story to live out back home, the gospel to be told through their lives.

As I mentioned my Dad recently passed away. Before he died I had the treasure of having him at my house for five weeks, it was a beautiful time of watching him live his ministry out all the way back home to Jesus.

Come in a little closer friends…. because the story I have to share is a very personal and tender one but I know it has the power to minister to some of you who are praying for your love ones to know God.
Until recently my Dad had been receiving treatments for his bone cancer back home and had decided to come and see us in the south for a few months to enjoy the warmer weather and a change of scenery. I was ecstatic; to have him closer and glean from his hope filled perspective.

A few days before my Dad came to Texas I sent him a copy of John Piper’s writing titled ‘Don’t waste your cancer’. https://www.desiringgod.org/books/dont-waste-your-cancer

I had shared it with my sister years ago when she had cancer and thought Dad would be blessed by it now.

He read the article the night before he came to my house and the following morning as my younger brother was driving him to the airport my Dad told him of his renewed purpose for his life. He told my brother about the writing and how it gave him a new perspective for his life.

John Piper writes….“Cancer does not win if you die.
It wins if you fail to cherish Christ.”

So that is just what Dad chose to do!

‘So it is with cancer.
This will be an opportunity to bear witness.
Christ is infinitely worthy.
Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life.
Don’t waste it.’

“If you don’t believe God designed your cancer for you, you will waste it.”

When Dad arrived he and I had a lot of conversations,
I loved talking with my Dad.
During one of our conversations I asked him if he realized everyone all of my siblings were seeking a relationship with the Lord except for one.
We both were kind of stunned…we hadn’t thought of it recently and were reminded of God’s promise to my Dad’s heart. You see my Dad wasn’t counting our faith like that, although he desired for all of us to follow Christ he just faithfully prayed for us all to truly know Christ. We rejoiced in this realization as a declaration of how God was fulfilling what He had told my Dad 26 years earlier. As we talked that day I told Dad maybe my sibling would find God through my Dad’s death and not his life…. that perhaps God would use my Dad’s absence to fill my their life with Him. Dad found comfort in this but didn’t stop living out his ministry to our family, which God had on his heart.

Just five days after arriving at my house my Dad went into kidney failure. We didn’t expect him to be dying so soon. He thought he had more time and more of his ministry to do. He was always looking ahead to what God was asking of him. One day in the hospital as he was really suffering I asked Dad why he thought God was having him wait to die, I wondered what was getting him through the hard of each day. He confidently told me ‘God has more ministry for me to do.’ Dad didn’t make our family his only ministry he served everywhere he was. He told countless people of God’s love from his sheets of his suffering, never missing an opportunity to credit God and pass out his love and grace. As his days grew shorter and nearer to his death my Dad asked for this sibling to come and see him he wanted to speak to them about God one more time. My brother came the following week and stayed for a couple of days. As my brother was leaving he gave my Dad a hug and as he hugged him my Dad whispered in his ear ‘Trust in the Lord so we can be in Heaven together.’ It was a message God had given Dad, he loved my brother dearly and couldn’t imagine Heaven without him!
Dad died two days later and just 5 days after that I got a text from my brother that read,

‘I wanted you to know I decided to trust the Lord.’


I still can’t write these words without getting teary…without joy bubbling in my soul. You see my sweet brother knows the grace and love of Jesus and is walking with Him. We all miss Dad but together we have Jesus. We may lose everything on this earth but we have Jesus together.

What ministry has God laid on your heart that you keep putting off until a later day? Who has He been nudging you to talk to?

No matter what our circumstances are… we have a purpose, a ministry here and just like Dad resolved to not waste even the very thing that was wasting his physical body away, we too have hard & holy things to live out.
Sometimes I can get so caught up in the here & now, the busyness and hard days that I forget people, I forget to love on those around me and I forget why God has placed me here.

What is God asking you to put in this space?
Don’t waste your______________!’

I know there’s a lot I could fill in the blank with right now…. my time, my hurt, my unforgiveness, my losses, my pride, my selfishness…. whatever it is that He’s calling you to not waste resolve today to live through it…a recent diagnosis, a recent layoff, an addiction that’s ruining your life, a broken marriage, betrayal…whatever it is I challenge you to resolve it within your heart
-to make every moment,
every gesture,
every conversation count and matter.
Because when we make all things count we make Jesus’ sacrifice matter!

Thursday’s Thread: Life Beyond Brokenness

What’s this?
It’s my youngest son’s gear all ready for a few days out in the woods.
He’s packed and ready.
He’s spent the past few months prepping for this trip.
Sometimes the anticipation for a trip is just as good as the trip itself.

That’s what we told Dad when Mom died.
If he could plan some trips to visit family, he would be encouraged and life without Mom wouldn’t feel so lonely.
So that’s just what he did!

We had the pleasure of having him accompany us on trips to our son’s graduation from Combat Dive School, Ranger School and his College graduation. He came with us on vacations, went to our two sons’ weddings and even spent time at our home. It was great to see Dad enjoying life again. Mom had been sick for quite some time and Dad had cared for her so sacrificially, even giving up planned vacations and time with family to care for her.
But that’s what love does….it has a way of grabbing hold of hearts and moving them to suffer alongside others.

So, when Dad became sick, love stepped in from his 10 kids.

Ann Voskamp beautifully says…
Passion embraces suffering because there’s no other way to embrace love.’ 

Dad quickly began to need someone with him as he went through chemo appointments and the various side affects that were hitting him left and right.
It took all 10 of us to care for him at times.

It was November 27th and I was headed on a flight to Portland, Maine to take care of my Dad who had ended up in the hospital from low blood pressure resulting from his cancer and treatments.
I was reading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, one of my favorite writers. She has a crazy way of speaking the words in my heart aloud. As I placed my seatbelt on,
I read these words….

The wounds that never heal are always the ones mourned alone….you can go ahead and strap into a plane heading east, leaving the safety and comfort of home, because you’re doing whatever it takes to move higher up and deeper into trusting God, what it takes to be in a different place by your next birthday…’

Yes that’s it!
I wanted what I was doing to not only be a kind act towards my Dad I wanted it to reach deeper within and change me. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re living until you step aside from your everyday life and you read it on the pages laying upon your lap…until your life has slowed down some and you have time to impress your back up against an airplane chair and look outside the window to see all the clouds that are hanging above. You search for the imprints of God on them wondering what it’s like to walk beside Him and then you realize that’s what you’re doing….You’re walking with Him alongside another weary soul!

All the things taking shape through my altered schedule were breaking and shaping me into who Jesus needed me to be not only for this season but in the ones to come.  I was relearning compassion…A deep need within every heart, to be heard and matter…the unseen relief we all crave. I was seeing beyond my own brokenness and yet being healed by Jesus’ compassion at the very same time.

That day on the plane I was compelled to write a note and leave it in the back of the seat in front of me for the next passenger but in all of my scattered feelings I must have tucked it back into my book that day never to be thought of until last night when I discovered it.
It was a note I wrote intending for someone who needed to be reminded of our Father’s love…last night when I found it stuffed inside the pages of my book I wondered if God really had me write the note that day for someone else or was it written by God for me?

I had torn out one of the pages of the book I was reading as it was the only paper I had with me on the plane that day.
Because when I feel led to write I’ll write on anything just to release the words.

Etched on the front of the note it read…

Just for you!’
and inside it the words said….
To the one who follows me…today I prayed for you.
You need to know someone cares.
I know you might be feeling a little worn out and broken but rest your weary soul as you lean back in your seat because God truly cares for you.
He sees all that is going on in your life and knows your pain.
Dear one- you are NOT alone.
Though your life may feel like it’s shredding by the seams know He is here with you and goes beside you every step.
So today as your heart beats in anxiety, exhale all your cares to Him..for He truly cares for YOU!
Look for Him today because if you seek Him, you will find Him!

Blessings from Heaven today!
Live like you are loved!

I am baffled by the compassion of God.
Tucking this note inside a book for me to uncover one month after my Dad laid eternally asleep within the walls of our home. And as if my Father in Heaven Himself penned these words for me to find, to heal my wounded heart and usher in His sweet compassion.
Oh to understand the depth of His love is healing!
It’s just like Jesus to come after the ONE and leave the ninety-nine…as I contemplate being 9th out of 10 children, I see His great compassion. And yet He sees each of us with such love.
Compassion is never general in it’s giving, it’s always specific to the need…it’s God coming into our heart and hurting inside it with us.
And this same compassion compels us to dive inside of another’s heart and hurt with them…
the dive within will be painful, but it heals wounds.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I never thought of having four sons, it didn’t even cross my mind.
Yet, now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

Being a boy Mom you would think I’d be used to all of their wild risk taking adventures, but I’m not!
I still hide my eyes and plug my ears when they start sharing what they’ve done or are planning to do.
The more they feel like they’ve ‘lived’ through an adventure the more they love it!

And…you’d think with the fourth I’d be used to their departures, numb to their leaving…but I’m not.

As our youngest dips his feet a little deeper into his days of leaving for college, I realize the loss that will come will too be met with God’s great compassion.
Our hearts can endure far greater pain than we can sometimes ever imagine because of their ability to store love!
With more brokenness we receive more of God’s love and it’s in suffering we are able to let ourselves bleed out love to others.

It’s here I have to be split wide open not only for myself to find healing but for the rooms full of people searching for relief from their brokenness.
Without this intimacy in Christ’s suffering people lose sight of His gracious love for them.
The fellowship found in our vulnerability intertwines us to another pounding heart looking for Him.
The way of the Cross is through His suffering.
We can’t control our brokenness we can only surrender our hearts to the One who is committed to come inside and make them whole.

I wonder if all along as I’ve tried to keep it together, to keep my heart bound from being broken, God’s intent has been to unbind it, unravel the twine I’ve wrapped intensely around it. As each broken moment arrives in my life He loosens it a little more letting it fall until it’s split in half, so He can heal me for real.

Maybe it’s here in our brokenness we find the compassion for ourselves that Jesus has for us. We give ourselves the grace to be healed and experience brokenness again and again, knowing His grace will always suffice our soul’s need for Him.

As I sit this morning upon the exact spot my Father’s hospital bed laid and inches away from where my son’s backpacking gear was piled, I can breathe a little easier knowing He gives me what I need.

We are never alone, never abandoned for He goes with us every step of the way.
He comforts our fears every time, returning time and time again restoring us through every brokenness we experience.
God is a God of all comfort, a God who is for us and who heals us!
The pain we sometimes endure is only a greater moment for Him to sit beside us, more time for Him to pour out His love upon us and it’s in His great compassion we are able to do the same for others. It’s through our wounds, we are able to risk everything for those who sit outside our walls and who need the radical love of God.

My heart is finding a new way of beating these days,
the way of beating with those around me….

Thursday’s Thread: Finishing Our Father’s Work

Dad looked forward to finishing his work more than anything else and as
his life here was coming to an end,
He was busy doing just that. 

It was a sunny and beautiful day,
Dad loved this kind of weather and so did I.
Though the steps to the street corner were each a challenge, he was anxious to get outside and feel the sun shine on the back of his neck.

As we walked, we talked.
It was what we both loved to do.
Most of the time we talked about what God was speaking to us and that day was no different.

Dad was feeling very weak and as I held his hand and he steadied himself on his cane we talked of how his earthly body seemed to be wasting away but he was inwardly being renewed day by day! <2 Cor 4.16>

It’s funny when eternity is staring you in the face, nothing else seems to matter….

The truth is…
<<<O
ur lives are fully lived, when they’re lived in what’s meaningful>>>.

In Dad’s final weeks,
he felt so close to God…he said, ‘closer and closer every day’.

He even used the description of being,
intimate with God’.

During this time, God was shifting Dad’s eyes from
…what was earthly
to… 
what was eternal.

I saw God drawing Him nearer.
Through tears Dad would split his heart wide open.
It was almost as if he thought others needed a look inside to see God.

And as he grew closer to Jesus,
he brought you closer to Jesus too!

I think that’s what I’ll miss most about Dad, is his closeness to God and his steady endurance to finish His work.

It reminded me of Christ needing to finish the work of His Father.

On our walk that day,
there was something else Dad said ever so quietly, in a weakened voice.

He told me he was sorry that he was failing physically and that he was so much work for me. I reminded him of years ago when he wrote a letter to his Mother in Illinois who was diagnosed with cancer asking her to come and live with us.
Dad wanted to walk her to Jesus…
I asked Dad if he would have done it differently now knowing how hard it was to care for his Mother-
OR
would he do it again?

He said, he’d absolutely do it again!

I squeezed Dad’s hand and said…
‘then let me do it now for you’.

From then on we did just that.
We walked through Dad’s journey to Jesus together and it was such an honor to be able to!

This is what Jesus must have felt
~the closer He walked towards the Cross,
the closer He got to His Father.

I now get it!
I understand why it was so important for Dad to finish His work…

Because…..
a Father’s work is never done until His children know they’re loved and matter.

And…
when God sent Jesus here to finish His work it was
for us to know
we are loved & we matter!

During his last month Dad was finally able to sum up how he was feeling about dying.
He found his words through the keen

words of Billy Graham who was also nearing death. 
When Billy Graham was
asked if he was afraid of death he said, 

No, I am not afraid of death I’m afraid of the process of death.‘ 
When Dad was handed these words he felt relief to finally be able to communicate how he was feeling. 
I think for many of us this is true. 
For we know where we are going,
we are just anxious about getting from
here to there. 

This too was Jesus, 
as he went to his secret place to pray.
Jesus didn’t struggle with why He was dying or even if He
should die,
Jesus’ heartache laid in the process of death…
He was in the flesh, like us. 
His burden was could He humanly make it through. 
In this small space of time, He deeply felt His flesh;
and wondered if 
He could do what He was about to do.
His reliance upon His Father was greater
during this process of His death, more than ever.

There is nothing confusing about this…

Jesus didn’t fear the Cross as the Son of God, 
His concern was as the Son of Man. 
It’s where God in Man collided in the depth of His soul!
It was here at Gethsemane Jesus fought His
last battle of His flesh with Satan, for us. 
In this fight Jesus depicts for us that Satan can
be overcome, not only as the Son of God but like us as a Man.
Through Jesus, God fully took on our sin!
This was Jesus’ struggle…
He felt the full weight of going through the process of death into life.
He did this
SO THAT….we might have this same hope and SO THAT….
we might live!

And now it’s our turn…our story,
to finish our Father’s work.

img_7964

When someone you love dies you want their life and their death to change you…

I want Jesus’ life and death to change me, like it changed my Dad.
It took a broken Man and made him whole AND only Jesus can do something like this!

We all have been given a life…
sometimes they may seem a little too broken and busted up to use,
but God has a way of taking even our shattered messes
and making them beautiful again.

May we take this new life we’ve been given and finish Our Father’s work…for it’s here that we let His death & life truly change us!

Thursday’s Thread: Finding the secret truth- ‘i am a child of God’


<dedicated to my 3 brothers & 6 sisters who’ve been on this journey with me>

Although I spent years knowing about God,
it wasn’t for some time that I began finding Him for myself….

I first found Him as my
Spiritual Leader at 16 when I decided to serve Him in the Inner City of Philadelphia

then I found Him as my Provider when I was 20 as He so graciously gave me a Christian husband who I had prayed for when I was only 12
I found Him as my Lord and Savior at 21 when my husband baptized meI found Him as my Healer at 21 when He began healing me from an eating disorder that I had suffered with for years
I found Him as my Sustainer when I was 23 and had our first son and then had 4 miscarriages that He brought me through and then to later have 3 more sons whom He’s given me the strength to raise up in the Lord
I found Him as my Restorer throughout the years but even greater at 44 as He is restoring me from years of sexual abuse
I found that He alone is my Peace at 46 when my Mom’s aorta was torn from top to bottom and she died and now at 49 I am currently discovering yet another significant attribute of our Great I am….   

Have you ever wondered who you are?

I think at one time or another we all wrestle with this…
what defines us,
what fills us and gives us purpose.

I remember being 16 and reading philosophy books.

What kind of teenager finds pleasure in reading that stuff?

I think the only reason I did read them was to somehow ‘find myself ‘…it was a desperate reach to discover who I was.
At that time, Psychology was just beginning to find its place in our society and seeping into our homes.
People were discovering a safe place to talk about their feelings and their pain.
I found relief in this. I’ve always been a verbal processor and this gave me a place to process the inner spaces of my heart.

It wasn’t until years later that I would discover who I was in Christ though.
Not who He says I am if I walk a rigid road of perfection, but who I am when I fall short or even when I am a complete mess.
You see, God loves us even when we are broken and limping along.
It’s here,
when our hearts are split wide open we find ourselves in some of the most holy & beautiful moments with God; where we are wide open enough for HIm to come in…it’s inside these broken & holy places we find that
Christ

is right beside us.

A year after my Mom died, my Dad got diagnosed with a type of Bone Cancer. We all were just learning to live without Mom and now Dad’s life was shortening too.

During his recent time in Dallas with me, I witnessed Dad leaning into God deeper than ever and as I cared for him I grew closer to God as well. I’ve always heard as a Christian draws nearer to their death they draw nearer to God.
I saw this with my Dad.
The shorter his time with us was, the more intimate He was becoming with God.
And yet the week my Dad was dying, I kept feeling an odd sense of being orphaned…this was a new and strange feeling for me.
I am the ninth out of ten children and I’d never experienced this before.

My mind began wondering….

If my life suddenly falls apart who was going to come and put it back together?
If I get lost who was going to send a search team out until I was found?
If I lose everything I have who would come to my rescue and restore me back to life?

This kind of stuff happens, everyday it does and somewhere in the midst of losing my Dad these questions were haunting my thoughts…

Then just a week ago Sunday as I was standing in worship,
I found myself singing the words
‘For I am a Child of God…’
and they struck up that feeling again, of being an orphan.
As I struggled to mouth the words, tears began rolling down my cheek.
Not because I was sad but because for the first time ever I realized that’s…..who I am!
These familar words took on greater meaning.

Yes, I am still a daughter of my Parents, Phil and Barbara Julian, but even more I understand how I am a Child of God too.

As I’ve recently felt God’s presence walking me intimately through this hard but beautiful time this new realization gave me a fresh understanding of who I am.
This detail especially hit close to my heart as my Dad became a Christian at 39 when some of his close friends who were visiting him daily in the hospital, told him how they were praying for him to know God as his Heavenly Father.
This idea intrigued my Dad, because he had lost his Father at 13…he was a teenage boy right in the middle of trying to figure out who he was.
And yet here he was at 39, floundering through life, laying there with a physically broken heart and God brought someone into his hospital room to tell him, he was a Child of God.
What a God we have….who meets us in our tender and broken moments to remind us who we are and whose we are!
The Great I am took time away from ruling the Universe to tell my Dad he had a Father in Heaven who loved him. And this same I am has reminded me again and again who He is throughout my life.
Knowing that I am a visual learner God has illustrated who He is to me through pivotal moments in my life. Realizing I am a Child of God has replaced the orphaned feelings with a sense of belonging, it has reassured me that I am His and it reminded me of the Inheritance and future I have in Christ.….An inheritance that we all share in as His family.

He who defines us also describes us as His own…He takes our brokenness and makes it better!

If this is striking a chord within the secret places within….
Know that you’re not alone and know that God is right beside you in your hurt and in your brokenness. And…. He wants you to knowyou are a Child of God too!
We’re never truly orphaned,
never
, ever abandoned
-for Our Heavenly Father is with us forever.
Just as He was recently beside me through my Father’s death, He is with me in my Father’s life in Heaven too.

And when we’ve forgotten who we really are, He enters into our lives and reminds us that our real identity exists in Him.

Our heart’s are restless until they’re able to rest fully in Him.

For, I am a Child of God!

Thursday’s Thread: Our Final Words

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My Dad recently came to visit me in Dallas from Maine. He was diagnosed with Cancer over a year ago and had decided if he was going to continue receiving chemo he may as well do it in a sunny place for the Winter.
He planned on staying in Dallas for three months, yet that quickly began to dwindle into weeks, then days until we only had hours and minutes together when he suddenly took a turn for the worse.

As Dad’s time began to shorten, he became closer and closer to the Lord. He described it as an intimacy with God that increased daily and felt ‘so nice’. He spoke of it as a closeness that ‘felt so good’. 

My Dad walked with the Lord for years and spent time daily with Him, but what he was experiencing now was different….As his days on earth shortened, He grew more and more intimate with God.
It was truly a beautiful thing to watch….we spoke of how his earthly body was wasting away, yet spiritually he was being renewed day by day!

As his time with us was lessening, his words increased with an incredible richness and intentionality.

Just three days prior to his passing he sent a text to each of his 22 Grandchildren-
a message that was heavy upon his heart….what he labored in prayer for them.

The text simply read…

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They were personally addressed to each one of his Grandchildren and held similar words asking them to consider their relationship with the Lord.
My Dad bore no regrets, he had scattered the seeds he was sent into their lives to sow and now it was their decision to walk and trust in the Lord.

As the Grandchildren began replying to him, you could hear their serious consideration and appreciation for his heartfelt request.  

It reminded me of how Jesus must have felt as he was preparing to leave the disciples…

how we all might feel when it’s our time to leave our earthly homes and families.

It has caused me to wonder what my final words will be?

Will they be words that cause others to dig deep within themselves and reflect upon life through a renewed lens?

Our Final Words contain the ability to impact and change the course of another’s life, yet  the life lived behind these words are what will bring life to them. 
My Dad’s life reflected a humble man who had known a wayward path yet found redemption and restoration through our Heavenly Father.
He never lived his life above others rather he found great pleasure walking beside people, he longed for others to know the freedom and life he had found in Christ.

His Grandchildren knew well of his calling, as he lived it out daily in front of them, from his deep and loving prayers to his bold conversations filled with loving compassion for them.

My Dad loved God deeply and shared Him at all costs, he scattered Jesus wherever he went. I have had the pleasure of walking beside my Dad for years and I have heard his testimony spoken whether it was to an esteemed Dr. or to the hospital staff. He didn’t see a difference when it came to their need for the Lord, he knew ALL needed JESUS!

So, as I reflect upon the power of final words I realize a truth….

Today,
I realize our final words one day,
will ultimately flow from
-the life we choose to live TODAY!

Thursday’s Thread: Trust in the Lord

‘Do you trust Him?’

God has always been someone I looked up to….someone who has provided all I need….someone I could lean into and someone I even worshiped.
Yet it wasn’t until I had walked into my thirties that this question became real to me…

And years later those words still ring boldly in my ears….

My husband was direct in his question to me that day and
I so wanted to answer him confidently,
‘Of Course I Trust God!’

But there were so many emotions running through my chest that I couldn’t even mutter the words.

So, my husband prodded a little harder….
‘Ruthann has God ever proven Himself untrustworthy to you?’

I thought hard and long about this question. It even took me years to find my answer. It wasn’t that I hadn’t seen God do some amazing things in my life, it was just I held onto some hard situations and events of my past that challenged his question.

My heart was tugging against this quandary.

‘Do I trust God?….Has He ever proven Himself untrustworthy?’

These were such complicated questions….

You see,
life can be so hard, we all have desires we wish would turn out differently….
the hard, the suffering….the betrayal….the tragedies.
They all line the layers of our thoughts….
I know God didn’t create suffering, pain or even death….
None of them are part of His plan,
yet brokenness and evil creeps into all of our lives and this can cause our complete trust in Him to be threatened too.
……..like what happens when a baby dies far too soon and
a woman’s longings are left barren,
or when a defenseless life stands alone and no protection arrives or
you find yourself fighting a deadly disease that seems to be winning over your body?
…..it’s here we catch our breath, wondering where is God?

As I was searching for resolve to my husband’s inquiry I recalled a hard event from my childhood that continued to surface with this question. So I began searching for God’s protection in the loss of my innocence.
As I skimmed through the details of this memory, I caught shadows of Him there with me, I began to recognize a hint of His presence and where I once thought I was all alone, abandoned in my shame- I suddenly began seeing glimpses of His love.
Emptiness became a shield that was engulfing me, there lying curled up in my pain my Heavenly Father was covering me from…..
more.
….in my shattered mess the outlines of His fingerprints were all over me.

Rather than questioning where God was I fell onto my knees in humble worship praising God for protecting me from MORE pain, MORE hard than I could have ever had to bear.
So although the damage was done, there came an ending to my suffering as God Himself was crouched down beside me and over me as He spoke the words,
‘No More!’ to my offender and I was freed from His grasp ever again.

This truth I learned from my husband’s question that day is what is carrying me through my hard days now.

As my Dad is passing through his last days with us, he asked me to type these words to each of his 23 grandchildren…whom he’s entrusting to God……

’Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, soul and mind, so I can be with you in Heaven. Love you!’

……what words will fall from your lips as you close the last chapter of your life here?

My Dad continues to teach me in these days more than ever before and my heart cries  out with all my being, as I confidently exhale relief beside my Dad…..

’Yes, I trust you Lord more than ever  before!’