Conversations

Thorny Trials

The landscaping in our front yard has a very beautiful bush that blooms the prettiest pink flowers and grows more like a vine than a bush. It is not a very friendly bush, however. It has what I consider “killer” thorns all over the branches. A few months ago, my husband was doing yard work and noticed this bush was starting to get a bit more unruly and decided to trim back the branches to keep them from overgrowing onto the sidewalk. Cleaning up was difficult and a bit painful when a misplaced finger got pricked by one of the thorns. We carefully got all the branches cleaned up and out of the yard – or so we thought. A few weeks later, my youngest was outside in her bare feet and all the sudden I heard a gut-wrenching cry. It was the kind of cry that makes you feel your heart drop into your feet and your stomach jump into your throat. I raced out to find her gasping for breath between cries and standing frozen still. I quickly discovered she had a half-inch thorn directly through the bottom of her heel. I went into full mom-mode. I pulled the thorn out of her foot and scooped her up tend to her wound, comfort, and pray over her. The happy end to this story is that she was completely fine. There were no problems after the thorn was removed and the wound washed. It was almost like it never happened. But the memory is still there.

I  recalled this story when I read 1 Peter 1:6-7 recently:
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

How does that work?

How can this work?

“…for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…”

How is a trial necessary?

Reflecting on these verses, this story with my own daughter came flooding to mind. I asked The Father my questions.

He whispered back, in His still, small, wise, loving, tender yet authoritative voice:

The thorny trial is not what is necessary. The trial is what happens in the midst of life. Just like your heart broke to see your daughter in pain, so does my heart break when I see you in pain. In the same way that she knew you would come to help her and comfort you, you know that I do that for you too, little one. You know that I care for you. You know that I weep when you weep and I rejoice when you rejoice. My precious one there is still good for you, yes even in the thorny trials because when you have one, your faith is strengthened. You see something more about Me that deepens our relationship and the joy you find in me. Those amazing worship experiences you have are often birthed out of a thorny situation.

You didn’t “allow” your precious daughter to step on that thorn. It happened as a result of nothing more than living her life unaware. But when it did happen, you came to her rescue and comfort. She learned an unfortunate but valuable lesson in wisdom but more important than that is that she knew once again her mom loves her tremendously.

The same is true for me, your Heavenly Father. Thorny trials in your life have and will come. But remember precious one, I was there with you for all of them and I will be right beside you with the next one. Remember, I helped you through it – I will help you through again. I cared for you, mended your heart, comforted you and restored joy to you each time and I will do it all again because I love you so much more than you know. Through every thorny trial, I have been The Rock you can cling to and The One you know you can cry out for. No matter how many thorns you encounter, I will always be your Rock, your Refuge, your Strength, your Joy, your Comfort, your Father who loves you unconditionally and forever. I will always be I AM.

Conversations

Best Day Ever

Come on. He whispers. Come with me. 

“Where are we going?” (For some reason I think I always need all the details)

We’re going for a walk.

I often find lots of excuses (I call them “reasons”) why I don’t have the time or focus or energy, but this time I wasn’t making any excuses! Yes, I want to take a walk with The Father!

We walk along quietly for a while. It feels like a slow, un-hurried, almost aimless pace. The weather is perfect. The sun is shining to keep us warm and the breeze blows every now and then making sure we aren’t too warm. There are no annoying bugs or critters and there’s what looks like a path laying smoothly in front of us. There is a majestic chorus being sung by the birds, not too loud to be distracting, more like background music. Its as if The Father is orchestrating, painting, and perfecting everything around us while we are walking! I stop for a moment, closing my eyes to just listen and take in the sounds all around me.

I couldn’t help but blurt out clumsily amid the chorus, “The music of the forest is beautiful!”

I am so glad you like it, little one. I made it just for that reason – so you could enjoy it. 

A slow, distracted smile forms on my face. I’m so glad I came on this walk today.

We continue walking and step through the tree line into a wide-open, spacious meadow filled with color from wildflowers and green grass with the bluest sky I’ve ever seen as the backdrop. It looks like we just stepped into a painting! I feel giddy with joy. I want to run and twirl and fling my arms open and fall into the tall wildflowers and soft grass. I look at The Father. He is smiling, almost chuckling as if to say “go ahead!”. I am giggling now running and twirling before falling into the soft ground looking up at the clouds. I’m not even wind

ed. And there The Father is, right beside me on the ground looking at the clouds with me.

 

“This is so beautiful! All these colors and the sky and the grass! Its so wonderful.” While I don’t feel breathless, its almost difficult to get the words out. 

I am glad you like it, little one. I made it just for that reason – so you could enjoy it.

“You make so many beautiful, amazing things. Thank you for bringing me on this walk with you today.”

It feels like time has stopped for a moment. As I lay here smiling and soaking all of this in, I start to wonder what could be on The Father’s mind? Why did He want to bring me on this walk today?

I can tell something is on your mind, little one. What do you want to ask me?

“This is such a wonderful, amazing, beautiful time with you. I really don’t want it to end, but I know we’ll have to go back soon but I don’t want to miss anything before we do. Was there a reason you brought me here? Is there something you want me to know or see or learn?”

Locking His gaze with mine He answers, This right here. He points to my heart and back to His creating a motion as if there were an invisible chord connecting our hearts.

This is what I want you to know. My heart is for you and I long to be connected to your heart in an unbroken way. I desire just to be with you. I want you to want to be with me and to enjoy my company. This moment right here, right now is what I want you to know. What do I want you to learn? I want you to learn that I love you and all this is for you. I want you to learn to be still with me. To seek out these moments and remember them, to hold on to them and foster them. I want you to know that the depths of my heart cry out to the depths of yours, longing for your heart to chase after mine because mine chases yours.

Our walk back was just as quiet as our walk here but it wasn’t an empty quiet. There was fullness in the silence. All that The Father had said still filled the air and my mind. My heart was full. What could possibly bother me or interrupt this great, full love of His for me? I felt safe in His presence. I felt strong in His presence. I felt peace in His presence.

We walked up the steps of the porch and sat together on the swing, examining the sunset together. Taking in the atmosphere with awe, I wonder how I could have never seen a sunset so beautiful, so colorful? I lean my head against The Father’s arm, soaking in every moment, trying to remember all the smallest details and every word, trying to hold it in my memory as if they were a jar full of lightning bugs like the ones now starting to flash in the dusk.

He wraps His arm around me and with a voice of tender reassurance He tells me,

No need to worry, little one. All you ever need to do is seek me out and I will tell you again how much you mean to me. I will always say ‘yes’ to the chance to walk and talk with you, to comfort and reassure you, to bring beauty and praise into your day, and to listen to you. Remember these moments. Remember I am always right here, always ready for the depths of your heart to cry out to mine, always ready for another afternoon walk or sunset swing. You are my most valued 

Conversations

I’m Tired

You [my enemy] pushed me violently so that I was falling,
But the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:13-14 (AMP)

I’m tired of healthy living.

I’m tired of doing chores.

I’m tired of struggle and pain and disappointment.

I’m struggling with the motivation to do things I know I should. Diet and exercise. Speaking with love and kindness. Being patient. I’m struggling with the simple motivation to just put things away. Really, I’ve wanted to just sit on the couch or porch until whenever…

God I just want some help. I need some answers. When…how…what…who… Where are you, Lord? Why can’t I seem to make progress? Why do I have to deal with this and that and all these things? Why can’t I hear you right now?

“Come and rest, little one. Come sit down and stay for a little while and just rest. Trust me.”

I do. But…

“Be still for a moment. Trust me.”

I struggle with it. I want to be better at trusting you, Papa God. I see all the things wrong or not done and I start getting worn down, worried, and overwhelmed. I think that is what makes me start to loose track of trust. Its not that I don’t trust you, its that I don’t remember to trust you.

“And that is why I want you to rest. So that you can take the time to remember. Close your eyes for just a moment and listen. What do you hear?” 

I hear birds. I hear quiet. I hear children. I hear the wind. I hear rain. … Wow. I can hear.

Thank you, Papa God for the gift of hearing. Thank you for the beautiful sounds you’ve created.

“Now open your eyes and just look around you. What do you see?”

I see sunlight. I see green trees and grass and animals. I see my home, my children, my stuff. I see your Word, open, prepared for me to read it. … Wow. I can see.

Thank you, Papa God for the gift of sight. Thank you for the beauty of creation that proves so potently that you are and that displays your might. Thank you for the opportunity to sit and soak this time of quiet in. Thank you for these reminders. Thank you for the ability to read your Word and learn from it. My thankfulness could go on for decades! There are not enough words nor is there time enough to convey all the things I could thank you for!

“Now you’re starting to get the idea, little one. You have a hard time remembering to trust me when you get tired. You get tired when you forget to be thankful. But when thankfulness flows, like a stream of cool water, you find yourself refreshed and able again to hear my voice and to trust. I know your heart. I know what it needs. I know that when your heart forgets my goodness, it feels sick and that is when you struggle with trusting me. That is when you become weary and worn out.”   

Thank you, Papa God for your Living Water that restores my soul. Thank you for drawing me in to your rest. Thank you for your Life-giving Word that is filled with truth and reminders of your goodness. Thank you for your mercies, new and fresh each day. Thank you, Papa God, for your overwhelming goodness toward me. Thank you for the hope that you give and the rest that is mine in being able to trust you. Thank you for the blessings you have already given me, those that I recognize, those that I don’t, and those that are yet to come.

Close your eyes and listen. Open them and see. Rest and remember.

What can you, Precious Reader, thank The Father for?

Conversations

Who Am I?

Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.
And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Galatians 4:7

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Who am I, really?

What am I doing?

Why am I here?

I can’t seem to do anything right. I’m just failing all over the place. What good am I?

These are thoughts I struggle with far too frequently. I am my own worst critic, especially when things aren’t going according to plan (specifically my plan). This morning, after what feels like a very long week couple of weeks, I was definitely down on myself again. I was thinking about all the things I’m not doing well – I’m not being a great mom, or a great wife, or excelling at work, or keeping my house clean… the list just seemed to go on forever.

I pulled out my Bible to find help and encouragement and read just a few short verses in Galatians chapter four, and paused on verse 7. “What does a good, well-rounded (not stuck up) heir to a wealthy fortune look like? How does someone like that behave every day?”, I asked myself. I came up with a few things: confident, secure, they know who they are, they know how their father is respected.

But right now, I don’t feel like I look or act that way at all. I feel like I’m “failing all over the place”, not measuring up. So I asked The Father, “What does this mean – that I am Your heir? How should I be acting?” I started to write down what came to mind: strong, loved, confident, teacher, encourager, learner, studier, held, wise, helped, capable…img_5407

This mindset shift reminded me of who my Father is which then helped me begin to remember who I really am. All that muck and self-guilt that I started my morning with – that is not what my Daddy-God says about me. That’s not who I am. “Failure” is not one of my labels. I am not a failure, because my Daddy-God is not a failure. I still have things to work on. I’m an heir, not a perfect heir. But I’m not useless, purposeless, or a “failure all over the place”.

Sitting on my couch with my coffee in hand, I thought “Yup. I do know this. Got it.”

I was thankful for the reminders and did have more peace, but I had an almost casual response. I still wrestled a little with my thoughts.

And then came the tap on my shoulder.

I was listening to the radio in my car (I rarely do that these days) and a brand new song by Lauren Daigle was playing. It was about what God says about us. It was exactly the things my Daddy-God had been speaking to me earlier this morning!

Tap. Tap.

“Are you listening to what I’m telling you, little one?”, says The Father. “You are MY child. My child is not defined by averages, successes, or feelings. You are my very own Daughter. There is nothing we can’t do together and I’m always right here to help you, to hold you, to give you exactly what you need to do all the things you need to do. Who are you? -You are loved, you are strong, you are held, you are able. You are Mine.”

To the Precious Ones reading this, if you are struggling with your thoughts today, know that you are His. You are held closely by The Father, who loves you so dearly, without condition. You are helped by Him. He is able to do anything you need Him to because you are His child. Who you are is not defined by the measurements of the world around you. Who you are is declared by your Daddy-God. You are priceless to Him. You are His very own precious, beloved child and all He has is yours.

What do you hear The Father say about you?