Our Miracle in the Middle of Our Mess

When something hard crashes into our lives, what we choose to do in these moments matters and it makes a difference. 
It may not change the outcome, but it definitely changes how we walk through it. 

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That Tuesday afternoon we heard Joe’s diagnosis is deeply etched into our story. 
Neither of us saw it coming, but this is how tragedy often gets written into our lives.

It comes when no-one’s looking and when we least expect it.

I think this is why pain is so hard….It comes into our lives uninvited and yet it somehow finds a way of settling comfortably into our homes. 

I remember Joe repeating his disbelief even while we walked through multiple steps of this the process, even meeting with Oncologists, it still felt surreal. 
And I think this is because no matter how often we hear of tragedy in others lives, we feel disconnected, until it comes into our own lives. 

And it honestly doesn’t matter how many times you hear words like ‘rare’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘fastest growing cancer’- there’s still something inside you that wants to believe it’s not true.

During the initial days of waiting, we had several good meaning friends tell us how they believed Joe wouldn’t have cancer because they’d been praying big prayers for us.
And although I wanted their words to be true, because I wanted to receive them like a word directly handed down from heaven…I struggled with them. 

Because it’s scary when we don’t know what’s ahead or where we are going…

And honestly, I struggled, because I wanted nothing more than their words to be true. But I knew if God needed us to go through this valley, he would be there on the other side to see us through it. 

Because no one willingly travels into the valley and we honestly don’t want anyone we love to enter its darkness either.
In fact many of us will go to great lengths to avoid it. 

And that’s because its reputation holds a lot of suffering, pain and loneliness in it. 

Yet the best thing we can do when God’s walking others into these dark places is to release them into the care of our good Father, knowing he goes with them every step of the way. 

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There was a scripture which Joe and I discovered those first few days found in 2 Corinthians 4.7-12…
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’

You see, sometimes our miracle in the middle of the mess isn’t what we were praying for. Because friend our miracle isn’t always about the depletion of suffering, because suffering does something within us nothing else can do…
We pray for ‘no cancer’, ‘no death’, ‘no suffering’ because this is what feels right in the depths of us and this is what we think is best for us and for others.
Because all we want for those we love is for them to experience the best and most beautiful times of life.
We somehow believe our worth is equated to the good times in life.
We convince ourselves that people get lost inside of pain…

But friend what if the struggle is where the beauty of God is seen the most?

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Because of the aggressiveness of the cancer Joe had to be put on one of the strongest chemo regiments out there, which meant a lot of suffering. 
Which honestly felt overwhelming and daunting at times…
Yet friend, in some of the hardest moments of his suffering I’ve seen the most beautiful glimpses of God. 
And I think this is because when we walk through the darkest of valleys God gets seen the most. 

Joe and I’ve been learning what God’s needing from us right now is to be present in these days. 
It’s not for us to fully explain, because the truth is, we don’t have a lot of answers…our responsibility is to live out being human, with all the joy and all the pain it brings, because it’s here God sits with us.

I think something we all struggle with us wanting answers and certainties, but this friend is where God calls us to trust.
To trust him regardless of all the details…
And here in the middle of our mess is where life gets real, and it gets hard.

Its within this valley that God somehow gathers a community around us.
And friends its in these sacred spaces we’re able to endure greater suffering, deeper hardship and overcome many obstacles, because this is how we truly experience the presence of God in our lives. 

The gift of God meeting us in our pain is a visible display of his compassion for us.
And this same compassion we are gifted with is given for us to pass on. 

Our pain somehow gets redeemed through this gift of love from above. 

 

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What we need to remember is… on the other side of every valley is a hill…a resurrection from the dead.

So friend, if you’re in the middle of your mess looking for your miracle and you can’t see it anywhere around you…
it’s okay to let yourself bleed out for awhile and 
it’s okay to even let others see you bleed.

Because in the middle of our messes, with shrapnel laying all around us, it takes courage to open up and share our story.

And one day, sweet friend we just might thank God for the valley he’s brought us through…
Because the valley is where God does some of his best work and we find him the nearest to us. 
And this, friend is our miracle in the midst of our mess.

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It’s where God’s crazy power gets beautifully displayed for our broken world to see.

Our Worship over Worry song today is Goodness of God by Bethel Music

Why a Heart in the Middle Needs Connection

A forever friend flew into town the other day and I honestly couldn’t wait for her to show up.
I longed for us to pour out our hearts to one another, because this is truly what I love about being human!
I love how deeply we can exchange pieces of our souls with one another and how something so deep within one soul can connect with another, as if it was their
own story being spoken.
Its in moments like this I feel the most alive.

This friend of mine, has lived enough life to be able to understand the condition of my heart even when I don’t have the right words to speak.
And there’s something special about finding this kind of connection in the middle of a struggle.

We met years ago and somehow we continue finding one another despite how many years go by in between. 

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As we walked into our neighborhood coffee shop that afternoon, I was approached by an older gentleman.
He asked me a simple question wondering how Joe and I were holding up these days.
He knows the battle we’ve been fighting and he was curious how we were doing.

And just like every time I’ve been asked that question lately,
I froze…
You see, I’ve really been struggling with this simple question these days.

And to this sweet older man’s defense or any other beautiful human who’s asking me this question lately, it’s really not them, it’s not even their question…It’s everything that’s twisted up in this question that has my stomach tied up in knots lately.

Because I honestly don’t know how to answer it. 

You see, most the time when we ask a question like this we want a quick and positive answer.
We want something we can tuck away, something to settle the unrest we’ve been carrying around for their ache honestly we just want that person better.

Because somehow if they’re better; our life is better too.

And the truth is, there’s a whole lot of mystery in this kind of living.

Because when our interactions happen in fractions of seconds a day, through a quick text or passing by, we can often miss how people are really doing.

Yet I get it.

And if we’re being honest, how can anyone put words around all the hard things we’re living through in a quick passing of our day?

Because we don’t always have the right words to say in a coffee shop full of strangers.

How could I tell all I was holding deep within my chest at that very moment?

And did he really have time to see all my scars and hear of the lingering wounds Joe’s been carrying around these days?

So, I settled with just an easy smile and ‘he’s doing well…’ because honestly some unpacking of our heart needs to be done when the ones asking this question can handle what we’re about to tell them with the understanding our soul is needing.

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And that’s just what my friend and I did as we comfortably settled into our chairs and opened up our hearts over a coffee and a tea.

She told me the feelings I’ve been carrying around lately were completely understandable. Her empathy offered me the permission to feel and process all the emotions I’d been wrestling within and wondered if it was normal to feel.

And when people give our feelings a place in our story its as if something beautiful comes alive within us.

As we left that evening I don’t think my friend really knew what she had done for me.
Because I think the art of connection and allowing another’s story to be heard really does something that is often overlooked and underrated.
But I truly believe if we’d do more of this there’d be a whole lot more healing happening around us. 

Because there’s something truly powerful about a story coming alive. 

I know this because the times others have been brave enough to show me their scars, it’s often the beginning of something big.

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Friend, we all have battle wounds to prove we’ve lived through some hard things of our own.

And this beautiful friend of mine is living proof of this.
She’s living through something many couldn’t survive.
I think that’s what’s always drawn me to her…

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For years we spent our days raising our families miles apart, both doing the best we could. 

Our lives overlapped so much it’s almost crazy how God let this happen, almost
as if he had a purpose back then
-for today. 

But then, an unimaginable tragedy crashed into her home.
For me it was something I never expected, but for her it was different.
Because when a marriage turns into a nightmare and you’re afraid for your life…the rescue God allows can come like brutal relief.

And watching my friend live out her own brave story has been life-giving for me as we’ve been living through this cancer scare.

When her news came over the phone, I knew I wanted to show up, so I went.
Because sometimes showing up, is all we know to do.

And this is truly often the invitation we’re all waiting for to split ourselves wide open.

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So, this Sunday evening when it was my turn to do the same, it seemed almost too easy to do.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when my words spilled out and they were graciously met with such
compassion and understanding… 
Because everything we live through is really an opportunity for compassion to be birthed…
those
bright red hearts we gain from our struggles.  

Because friend, life requires us to bravely live and part of doing this is sharing our story with others whom we sit across from.

Sometimes this means sharing our story of courage and other times it’s listening to the brave soul who’s courageously uncovering their wounds for us to see…regardless of which it is, both require us to live vulnerably amongst others.

Because there’s something we all do alike in struggles.

We make it past the initial shock of the beginning and find ourselves inside the
messy middle of something….

And it’s here we have this brave choice to live our unspoken life out loud for others to see God in these moments.

Yes, its hard but its where deep soul healing truly happens and where we often discover the hidden blessings God has for us. 

Because every time we tell our story a piece of our broken heart begins to heal.

What about you friend, are you in the midst of something hard, that feels like it may swallow you up?

Know -God has you, he sees you and you are deeply loved! 

And if there’s anything I’m learning these days is
…Go ahead, be brave and tell your story.
Because it’s in doing this you will truly heal!

 

There’s Struggle in the Valley, but it won’t Last Forever

Several years ago my family decided to make the trek up a high peak in the continental divide. I had heard tales of our son’s adventures up these mountains and I wanted to experience it.
I had no idea though just how much it would whip me. 
I thought I was in pretty good shape but I soon discovered I wasn’t entirely ready for what this mountain held.
It’s rugged cliffs and inclines challenged me every step of the way. 

And the closer we got to the top the more I wanted to turn back. 

Yet I’m not sure if it was the view behind me which looked so far away or the deep desire I had to stand on a mountain top
-whatever it was it gave me what I needed to keep climbing…

And sometimes, that’s how I feel life is.

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Somedays life honestly feels like its woken us up climbing an enormous mountain.

Lately Joe and I have been catching glimpses of ourselves in our reflections and we both keep wondering who the stranger is staring back at us.

We’ve caught ourselves not recognizing the person in the mirror multiple times. 

Because valleys bring about weathering. 

And honestly I sometimes don’t know what’s worse the hard thing we’re experiencing or the feeling that we’re in it alone. 
Because we all get lost sometimes walking ourselves through suffering. 
We get a bit confused and overwhelmed as we wander through our days, and we find ourselves feeling alone while we walk through the valley we’re in. 

I know because I’ve felt this lately. 

No matter how many texts we receive or kind words spoken….the way people have loved us has been humbling, but…
there’s some places God leads us alone. 

And I think that’s because the mountaintops are what we climb to see God; but the valley is where God meets US.

It’s in the valley that God reassures us we can make it through. He doesn’t beckon us from the other side of the valley or watch us while we suffer through the valley
-God goes WITH us.

You see, I truly believe people don’t like to say God leads us into valleys. 
They’d rather say its a place we wander when we’re lost. 

But I believe differently.

Because friend we can’t plan the days we will be led into a valley. 
They show up in our lives at the most unpredictable times, usually when we don’t really have time for them and we’d rather walk the other way.
Valleys are just like this, they show up at just the wrong time and in the wrong way. 
And it doesn’t make a difference how good we are or if we’ve eaten all the right things and kept ourselves in good shape. 

Because valleys aren’t choosy and they’re not predictable.

They don’t pick on an ethnicity, a gender or even a certain pay scale…because no one’s exempt from them.

Friend, valleys are hard and none of us make it through without picking up a few scars.
Because our scars tell the stories of the valley and they tell about how God brought us through. 

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In this valley we’ve been traveling through one of the craziest things is the people we’ve been meeting, pushing through a hard time of their own. 
Its always been amazing to me how people slice open their hearts when they see yours is broken too. 
Its as if being in a valley with someone else makes it better.

I truly believe that’s because in the depth of our souls lies an innate desire to know we’re okay and we’ll be okay. 

And when we meet people in these places our collective pain intertwines with theirs and it somehow fills a bit of the emptiness we’re feeling…
It somehow gives purpose to our pain and lets our ache find a tinge of relief.  
And honestly this can be a little tricky as we can convince ourselves that our wounds are healed when God’s just letting the bleeding stop for a bit. 

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And friend, if you’re out there hurting and wandering in a valley of your own…I want you to know you’re not alone.
And if you’re in the middle of a raging storm, know that all storms come to an end and you WILL be okay. 
Even though all of our storms end differently, they all end and you will survive
In fact one day you will show another hurting friend your scars and you will be the ONE who breathes life into another’s lungs. 

I know this because I’ve experienced this and I know you will too!

Because friend, there’s a big difference between ‘feeling’ broken and living broken. 
Those aching feelings you and I experience don’t truly make us broken
>>>they make us REAL.

And although being real hurts and sometimes feels like we’re bleeding all over our people, its okay.
Because being real, is vulnerable and its here we find connection and we connect people to God.
And It’s here in his blood that people find LIFE.

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 And the truth is…

Valleys are best spent with God; because the people we meet there are designed for his purpose. 

Two souls which find each other in brokenness still need God MORE than they need one another, because no other human makes us whole. 

Valleys aren’t meant to swallow us up but to meet God.

Yes, we will struggle in the valley and we will even cry out in the valley, but God won’t ever leave us in the valley…because the valley is only temporary, it’s not a place we’ll ever call home.   

 

When Something Needs to Die

Sometimes we find ourselves standing in the middle of something we’d never pray for, never ask God for yet in the midst of it we uncover a hidden beauty underneath the mess…
Something which although we’d never want to go through ever again…we’re learning and gathering here is perhaps something we once spent hours praying for.

Please hear me, I’m not saying I’ve ever prayed for this disease or suffering to be in our lives but within this very intense season something bigger is being birthed. 
It’s when we acknowledge what this season is bringing into our lives and how we’re growing even in the midst of the deep ache we’re experiencing that we find purpose for the pain.  

It’s wholeheartedly believing these seasons which sometimes crash into our lives with a reckoning force that crack open our hearts bring a sacred invitation to join God in his holiest of work. 

In no way am I over-magnifying this work to elevate anything we are doing but what I am saying is perhaps the seeds God calls us to sow in times of heartache and suffering grow something far greater than we would’ve ever expected. 

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Here I am in the middle of watching my husband struggle through pain, here I am in the middle of the wounds that come with fighting against something so brutal that I often miss how God is healing us in ways that will carry us for years to come. 

Being able to see our lives through the steps of growth we’re taking rather than the pain we’re struggling through is making all the difference for us.

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God loves to put a new song into our hearts but the process of ‘moving’ one’s heart is a tender work that sometimes requires pain.

Because movement within us arouses our sometimes sleeping souls and awakes us to people we would’ve never stopped to notice before…

Now changed we get invited to be moved by his Spirit.

Why does this matter?

It matters because there’s a lot of broken souls surrounding us and God desires for us to leave our self-focused lives and enter into other’s pain…uncovering unseen brokenness.

We come alive in this work.

Because as we begin to uncover other’s pain we discover something born out of our pain, giving it purpose beyond the devastation of it coming into our lives. 

Our lives become far greater than a search for its meaning as we find life resurrected from a hard season of plowing, awakened and released to embrace a new beginning, a renewed ministry to those who are broken. 

God does his best work in bringing life from death, because death always precedes resurrection…

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We are finding this true in so many ways as we are walking through this cancer journey.
When we were first told of the aggressiveness of his diagnosis, doctor after doctor spoke of its rarity and aggression. 
And honestly we both were overwhelmed with their concern.
We’d always heard the words aggressive and cancer used together in rather hopeless situations. 

So, when our Oncologist explained with the aggressiveness of his disease it could be treated with an aggressive chemo we were hopeful, but there was one thing
-it was going to take all we had to fight it. 
(And boy has that been true!)
He said the treatments he would endure would attempt to kill all of his cells to bring him back to life, to heal him. 

The details of this disease shouldn’t really surprise us…

You see God’s been calling Joe and I to the work of restoration since we first came into ministry. 
We didn’t always know this or even see it.
In fact it wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that Joe first spoke of how he felt God had designed us like this.
And once he spoke it out loud we began tracing this truth throughout our lives and were surprised to find it even within the tiniest of details.  

You see, God’s given us a love for this kind of work whether it’s the beams of a house broken at its foundation, the soul of a shattered person broken beyond belief or even the heart of a church splintered needing its heart revived…

So why were we surprised that he would need us to experience this same kind of  work in our own lives too?

And the interesting thing is, even though Joe and I are going through these days right now side by side next to each other, we’re experiencing this work in two totally different ways…him within the minuscule cells of his body and me within the secret places of my soul. 

Because the work of restoration is as unique and distinct as the cells he’s placed within our bodies.

And the truth is each of us goes through our own kind of restoration…

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Because death always comes before a life is resurrected and the question which remains is…
Are we willing for something to die to find life?

Who am I to think that the road to finding new life would be anything less than paved with the pain of death? 

And even though a death of something must happen for life to find its way to emerge, there’s something truly beautiful that gets birthed when we live a life surrendered to this kind of dying. 
We clasp arms with the restorative work of our Savior who he himself chose death for life. 

So, friend if you feel a part of you is dying or even more a piece of you that you know has needed to die for years
-know although the process may take all you have
the life you’ll find after the resurrection is a life worth dying for….

I’ve felt death within the deepest places and God is showing me how what is rising within me is far more life-giving than anything I once carried around. 

Because what we are finding these days is for us to feel fully alive,
a death must painfully come first…

 

Though You Overwhelm Us, We Will Praise You

Worship accomplishes what we cannot do for ourselves. 

And perhaps this is what our battles are about more than anything else.

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Worship Over Worry…it’s a phrase that’s made it’s way into our daily lives as it’s etched itself upon our hearts and our walls. 

This woven beauty was delivered to our house just last night as the kids at VBS strung this truth around its nails telling us what we speak matters even in their lives.

Because honestly we can sometimes forget we’re leaving trails of crumbs for those that come behind us to one day feast upon.

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I can’t really put into words all it means to us these days. 

You see, sometimes something finds its way into our lives and it’s not until we recognize its worth we’re fully able to see why it had to crash into our home. 

But sometimes….Life has to change for hearts to change. 

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Before Joe’s cancer arrived and changed our schedules and how we were doing most everything, I thought we were handling life pretty well. 

Sure there were the daily stressors, as well as what comes with restoring  a church in the middle of the city. 
We had four sons spread across four states, we’d lost my mom four years ago and cared for my dad in our home through his death and I guess I just kept taking things to God knowing the pain would one day ease.
We attended weekly worship services and Bible studies, we cultivated deep friendships, we were leading a church through the power of prayer, but somehow we were missing our deep need for God’s presence in our lives.
You see we were placing ourselves in God’s presence personally but somehow we missed how much God wanted us to invite him into our presence…
It wasn’t until we began this journey that we realized there’s some letting go that happens in the act of worship. 

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I’d struggled with worry for years. 
I wrestled with it, hidden it, numbed it with all sorts of things and even reasoned it out but when our family chose to empty our lives of worry and choose worship
-BIG things began to change.

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Dallas Willard says it perfectly…
“If we don’t come apart for while, we will come apart after a while.”

You see sometimes God needs to pull us away from all we are ‘doing’ even ministry itself to do an important WORK within us.

And although rest like I’ve always known it to be is not a word I’d use to describe what we’re living through, it’s been finding its way into our conversations lately.

Because rest isn’t confined to physical bodies, it begins inside souls.

It’s where minds and bodies find rest together right in the midst of worship that we truly understand what we were created for. 

Have you ever wondered why heaven is often depicted as a place of endless worship?

I’ve heard many people try to talk around this idea as if it would be endlessly boring,
but what if our idea of worship is warped? 

What if we have never truly experienced worship like heaven is waiting to share with us?
What if worship here and now is a gentle invitation to experience a sliver of heaven?
What if worship is one of God’s gift for our daily struggles?
What if God’s given us worship to refocus us from our world’s suffering onto him?
What if worship is God’s ointment given to soothe our brokenness?

Friend, its hard to imagine that we are finding any semblance of rest these days in the middle of this chaos and pain but God has been calming us in it all. 

Because worship has become the melody God’s using to fill our empty pits of worry. 
Worship….
Is giving us the words to pray.
Is leading us to trust when we lack answers.
Is teaching us to call upon all of heaven and trust they’re fighting on our behalf. 
Is the answer to our anxieties.
Is the hidden blessing we often miss when we’re tangled up in what-ifs. 

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Friend, whether you’re wandering through mountains or through the roughness of the valley’s terrain know that although your heart’s inclined to worry God didn’t intend for you to live this way. 

Worry leads us to believe there’s no way out and we’re trapped inside a pit but it’s not true!
Because WITH God there’s always a way out of the lion’s den and through the fire unscathed.

You see, it’s in between two walls of swelling waves God’s done his greatest work and it’s the same in the hard spaces of our lives too. 

In the beautiful place of worship our troubles lessen and God increases.

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Home in the presence of God…
Is where we’re planting our feet these days, inside the longest days of our lives and yet inside the most beautiful miracles God’s doing in our midst, even in the deepest pain.  
Come on Home with us friends.
Home to the heart of God. 

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Worshipping to One More Time by the Katinas these days.

 

What Suffering is Teaching Us

No matter how many times I recover there’s always these moments in the hard days when I have to do a whole lot of talking to myself and recount the ways God has brought me back to life before.

Because its way too easy for us to feel swallowed up in our struggles and get lost in our hurt.

And if we’re being real its easy to crawl into bed at night wondering how we will ever be able to survive another day like today and yet discover the beauty of how the morning has a way of washing it all away.

Friends, this is the rhythm that’s been happening all too often for me.
In fact it was the story I told myself just last night and Joe can speak to its truth.
The poor guy is fighting his own kind of battle and then he has to hear me spill my aching heart out…
but we’ve always done it this way.

No matter what kind of battle we’re buried in we’ve learned we’re better when we fight it together.

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It can be really hard to walk through the pain of suffering.
It’s much easier to look for a way around it, another path to walk or to even find a detour so we can avoid it all together.
We love to pop cheap pain-relievers and find antidotes for suffering.

Because as humans we’re more comfortable with a cure than with healing.

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No joke this just happened…as I sat here tonight at a cafe trying to find a moment to myself and type this thing out a minister who I’ve spoken to a couple of times walked over and asked what the Drs were saying about Joe’s curability.

And honestly I get it-
I’ve been there so many times.

I too want to know how this thing is going to really play out…not just in the days to come but in the months and years as well.

You see,
I used to pray for God to take away all of our suffering, all the hard and ugly days that never seemed to fully leave.
I used to beg for him to bring us peace from seasons like this so we could move onto the ‘better days’ of life.
I really truly believed that we somehow got lost in the hard while others were living their own version of the ‘good life’.

I used to pray for God to cease these kinds of interruptions and tests until I realized these ‘interruptions’ were the work he’s been doing inside of us.

These unexpected seasons have been the shaping and molding within our hearts…
where wounds call for deeper understanding, where worries search for deeper worship and where burdens find their deeper joy.

But I’ve been finding its within our deep suffering we are given deep places to minister from.

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You see friend, every one of us has a beautiful, yet often unawakened gift to care, to sit inside another’s pain and the ability to listen to another’s wounded heart.
Because as humans I believe we’ve been gifted to feed the masses and even feed a stranger with our compassion.

Those who can sit with others in silence often not knowing what to say but knowing their presence is enough have the power to revive crippled hearts.

But why do we keep these gifts hidden embarrassed this is the gift we have to give?
Why is it that we will hand over a package of crackers before we’ll look into the eyes of a broken soul?
Why are words of comfort so hard for us to speak?
Why are we so quick to overlook one another for something greater and more pressing?

Perhaps, its because you’re a lot like me and we’re so full of our own stuff we struggle to clear enough room in our hearts to let another’s soul in.

You see, for us to truly receive another’s soul we must first choose to empty ourselves.

And friend, this is hard.
I’ve been trying to work on this myself lately.
Because the truth is sometimes its easier to draw a circle around us and forget the hard that’s surrounding us.

But this season of suffering didn’t come to us for us to separate ourselves like this…we’ve been entrusted to be a blessing.
And this is the hardest lesson of all.
That we might not wait for this season to pass us by for God to be seen but that even WITHIN the hardest of days we would allow God’s strength, his power and his Holy Spirit to be experienced all around us.

And some days I honestly don’t get this thing right, because the human side of me wins.
But I’m learning every day that a piece of this is gracing myself with the same amount of compassion I’m sharing with others and it’s doing something beautiful inside of me.
It’s ministering within the walls of my soul as it bleeds over to those closest to me as well.

And sometimes its funny but God does the amazing work of allowing my shortfalls to become the sweetest place his miracles are seen.

Because forgiveness isn’t felt unless its needed.

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So friend, if you’ve been wondering if you’ve been doing this well I encourage you instead of measuring it by the things you’re getting right try counting the ways God’s being seen through your brokenness.
And perhaps through our mutual sharing of vulnerability God will be seen the most vividly through our weaknesses..

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This sweet friend is really where our worship over worry has been the most real for us.
Because its when our hearts have been feeling all too heavy and our hearts have felt overwhelmed with questions that we push play and fix our hearts and minds on Him.

It’s where we feel the most alive
-where God is reviving our hearts and breathing life into our lungs.
It’s where we climb into heaven’s presence and let them do the fighting for us and we surrender all control to God.
We do this not as ones who have arrived but as ones who are seeing glimpses of what is to come, ones who are finding the source of where our joy comes from and ones who know we can’t make it without the ONE we find here in our presence every.single.time.

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Our song this week has been Whole Heart by Hillsong United.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Life Honestly

There are times in our lives when everything’s going great and we want more of God…you know more of the GOOD more of his BLESSINGS more of his STRENGTH,
so we ask him to work in our lives. 

But we overlook something vital…
-in order for God to do this…we must become weak for him to become strong

And when this truth begins to unfold and we see what might have to happen in order for God to bring those blessings…
we find ourselves in the middle of something far beyond what we ever hoped for and we cry out to God from the valley.


We wonder how he could’ve ever misunderstood blessings for suffering strength for weakness or the hills for the valley…

We find our self broken with our ourselves in the middle of a valley but THIS friend is where God works…

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Let me invite you into our story a bit deeper…
just beware it may cause you some conflict and even bring forth a rush of uncertainty because honestly that’s what faith under fire does…

And please know I’m not here to give you answers to all of these uncertainties.
I’m merely here to let you know that if you’re feeling a bit worn down by life, a bit unsure of what’s to come or a bit unseen…I’m here too.

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Joe and I came to Dallas nine years ago. 
At the time God was calling Joe, I was resisting.
And honestly it was because we had served God for over twenty years and I was ready for an easier assignment. 

I wanted blessings without suffering. 

I wanted an easier assignment with a beautiful house, a big front porch to drink our tall glass of tea on. 

I wanted an assignment near family, we’d lived apart from our family for so many years and I longed to spend holidays with our family surrounding us. 

I wanted to serve God in a healthy church that was full of blessings.

Friend, truthfully I even sketched these desires on the pages of a journal asking God to give them to us.

Because we had spent twenty or more years serving God and depending on him in ways and honestly,
I was worn out. 
Tired of being surrounded by brokenness, tired of being hurt even by those inside the church’s walls and ready for him to rescue us…
I felt we deserved a break from the struggle, relief from this kind of living…

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Have you ever been here?

I’m sure you have because we all have battles we’re fighting…
Some in the walls of our homes and some waging so big inside of our hearts and minds we long for our brokenness to be redeemed. 

But friend, the way God does his work isn’t ever the way we would and thank goodness it’s not.

Because nine years ago if we’d followed my leading, my wants oh what a mess we’d be in…
We would be left celebrating others’ stories of bravery and we would have missed the story he’s writing in our lives. 

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Sure, we’re breaking but we’re also healing. 

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Because sometimes friend we can break from this kind of trial so much we see his   testimony happening within us as he puts us back together. 

And that’s what’s life about sometimes, isn’t it?

It’s about him being seen in the reflection of our lives more than us…

And I’ll admit lately I’ve felt so many times as if my heart couldn’t break any more until I remember God knows how to put hearts back together because after all he is the maker of them all…

So, I’ve been walking through these days a whole lot different lately realizing this is where true blessings get birthed…
Because friend, even though our feeds are full of people ‘living their dreams’ buried beneath their bright and shiny filters are hearts full of brokenness too. 

Inside each of us lies a deep need for God who restores us through and through. 

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When Joe’s cancer first began and we first learned of how they were going to aggressively treat it, Joe asked his Oncologist a question that surfaces almost daily.

He said, 
Doctor if you’re killing what’s killing me, what’s going to bring me back to life?

Because friend, when life feels like it’s crushing down on us so hard it’s pressing the life out of us
-we all want to know how we’re going to survive…

And to our surprise the Doctor responded to Joe with…’Joe your blood will..’

That’s right even in the midst of the treatments killing every one of his cells somewhere long ago, God made a way for Joe’s blood to save his life.

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You see when our arms are lifted up in complete brokenness-
this is where God puts lives back together. 

And friend it’s in these seasons of suffering when God crashes into our lives and leaves not even one ember of the fire on us as he walks us out the other side… 
Yes, I’ve felt weaker than ever friend but it’s in these times of utter exhaustion God is working the most. 

And it’s here we uncover his blessings, blessings so different than the world offers and yet felt so much more deeply too. 
Because these are the kind of blessings that heal broken marriages, bring children back home to God and the kind of blessings that heal broken bodies. 

Because God always brings unusual blessings.

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And nine years later I can truthfully say
-we are seeing these blessings…
We are experiencing restoration all around us and even within ourselves down into our cells. 

So friend, if you’re in the middle of something and wondering if God got it all wrong I encourage you to come along side of heaven and worship Him. 

Press play on that playlist and remember his goodness and faithfulness…

Because whether you’re in the valley or soaring over mountain tops God is worthy of praise…

And know sweet friend you are never standing in this alone.