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Sometimes we gain perspectives and wisdom from the length of our journey. And then there are hardships that teach us lessons we never knew we needed to learn. For Grandmama, I think it was a combination of both.


By the time I was in my twenties she was half way through her eighties. Her pilgrimage included multiple mountain top and valley experiences. As a result, she possessed a quiet strength coupled with a knowing that even if things weren't well, they would be.


"....even if things weren't well, they would be."


Grandmama sat in the passenger seat with her arms gently crossed underneath her chest. It was a portrait of contentment and ease. I, on the other hand, was a worried mess. We were traveling back to my new home and thoughts of the long winding road were getting the best of me. I knew something that fear previously wouldn't allow me to admit. But after we buckled up, I blurted it out,"I don't drive that well."

"We'll be fine" she countered back, "I think you're a good driver.

 

Her response reminds me of the Angel's words in Judges 6:12 to Gideon, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." It was an odd greeting given Gideon's circumstances.


You see, Israel's disobedience landed them in the hands of the Midianites. Even though their oppressors didn't inhabit the land, the strategy they used was crippling. The Midianites allowed the Israelites to work and plant their fields. And just when the harvest was ripe, they invaded and completely destroyed everything, including the livestock. This went on for seven years.


When the Angel encountered Gideon, he was threshing wheat in a winepress. Wind was essential to the process, so under normal conditions this task was done in an open space. But since the enemy was lurking, Gideon found refuge in an unlikely place.


The Angel's words were far from Gideon's reality. It appeared as if Israel's suffering was hidden from God. And by Gideon's own admission, he didn't fit the bill of a mighty warrior. - Judges 6:15


But God had plans for Gideon. And when the Lord's Angel spoke, he awakened the warrior resting inside. The Angel didn't speak to Gideon's current condition. He spoke to who he was destined to become.


"The Angel didn't speak to Gideon's current condition. He spoke to who he was destined to become."


For an hour an half I clinched the steering wheel, not so gracefully, navigating the curves. Gideon struggled with doubt and lost soldiers he thought he needed to defeat his enemies. Thankfully challenges don't dictate outcomes.


Over the years I've traveled those country roads countless times. Eventually I realized what Grandmama knew all along.


Gideon was afraid but, he pushed past his fears and leaned into the presence of God. With only 300 soldiers, he defeated an army of 135,000 because, "the Spirit of the Lord clothed him with power." - Judges 6:34 NLT


 

Are you feeling unqualified or ill equipped for a task? Does your calling seem impossible? Do you have difficulty seeing yourself the way God sees you? Just know things often appear completely different from what God promises. Focusing on what we see has a way of pulling us off course.


But, meditating on God's Word provides an anchor for the soul. His truth reminds us that we are treasured. We're strong because of His strength. We are chosen and forgiven. We are loved. And we are His. That's who we are. That's who you are.


Your Sister Friend,














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Our Bayley loved bandaids. We put them on fresh "boo-boos", old "boo-boos", and none existence ones too. And if her dolls had an accident that may or may not have been caused by their little human friend, we put a few on them as well.


The boxes were full of Hello Kitty and Disney Princess goodness. I like to think of them as medicinal Cracker Jack boxes!


It made perfect sense to our toddler to place the bandaids all over her body. And since they were inexpensive pleasures, I bought a lot. The bandaids covered minor injuries and made Bayley feel better about what previously caused tears.

 

There are numerous things that thrive when covered. And there are others that require exposure in order to be healed or in Lazarus's case .... come alive.

 

“Lord, the one you love is sick.” - John 11:3

This was the message Mary and Martha sent to Jesus concerning their brother Lazarus. The scripture intentionally describes their relationship. He "loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus." - John 11:5


We could easily overlook the power in this verse. But let's sit with it for a moment. Three people with three personalities and struggles received the same unconditional love. That's good news! It means we don't have to mimic Martha, compete with Mary or compare ourselves to Lazarus. Jesus loves us for who we are.



".....we don't have to mimic Martha, compete with

Mary or compare ourselves to Lazarus."



Just a few verses later, the conversation takes an unexpected turn. "... he stayed where he was two more days". - John 11:6

Jesus waited. And by the time he arrived, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days.


As Mary and Martha met Jesus, they echoed the same desperate cry, "if you had been here our brother would not have died." - John 11:21


To be honest, similar sentiments escape my mind and slide right out of my mouth. Thankfully, Jesus isn't put off by such honesty. And even more so, he already knew the Father's plan to "awake Lazarus from his sleep." - John 11:11


However, the resurrection required participation. The mourners and bystanders had to roll away the stone. And so do we.

 

Like our Bayley covering herself with bandaids, we become masters at masking. We hide our trials and traumas, as if pushing them in the recesses of our minds will cause them to disappear. They don't.


Instead they linger and decay. They "stinketh." - John 11:39. And what we thought was buried leaks on top of new places, things and relationships. It's a slippery slope that leads to disappointment.

 

"How can I heal what you won't let me touch?" That was a question the Father asked during a particularly challenging season. It hit hard. A whole Selah moment. I was hiding what he was willing to heal.

 


 

You don't have to answer out loud but, how many memories and traumas have you buried? Are you willing to show the Father where you laid them? Exposing our pain to him is a safe place and even though it doesn't feel like it, the uncovering brings freedom. When the stone was rolled away, Lazarus emerged from his grave healed and restored.



"God is our safe place and strength." - Psalm 46:1 -NLV


We're all presented with the same options. Either we hide and retreat into the shadows or we roll away the stone and embrace our healing.


Hide or heal. The choice is yours. But, hopefully you'll join me for a life lived out loud in the sun.


Your Sister Friend,



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It would be nice to have options as it relates to trouble. But to tell you the truth, even with a multiple choice scenario, I’d choose None of the above Every. Single. Time.


Unfortunately it’s not a matter of if we’ll experience difficulties … it’s when. John 16:33 makes it clear,.“we will have trouble”.


I’m not sure if anything could have prepared us for the insurmountable losses, shortage of every day necessities and the lack of fellowship 2020 threw at us. Yet there was more.


 

The words in the Bible were blurred although not enough to raise concern. But when the stained glass windows concaved and disappeared in the center, I knew trouble was paying a visit.


A hole in the macular was the cause of the distortion. If the thought of inserting a gas bubble in my eye wasn’t enough, the recovery process was a bit overwhelming.



 

As the surgery approached, we prayed for a miracle. The morning of, we did the same. But the situation and the remedy remained.


Non stop had been my mode of operation. The diagnosis created an unexpected pause and then everything came to a screeching halt. God was demanding my attention.


Honestly, I believe my vision was distorted for a few reasons. And, God was about to get me all the way together.


 

Posture

Sit up straight. Shoulders back. Don't slump. Does this sound familiar? Studies say improving your posture helps maintain a stronger core. It enhances productivity and boosts our confidence and self esteem. The same is true when we align ourselves with God.

 

My posture for healing was different. 45 minutes out of every hour I drapped my body over a facedown chair. Busyness had created distance between the Father and I. Bowing my head was the prescription for my eye but, it was also the posture of worship and surrender that provided long overdue soul rest. I needed time to hear. Slowing the rush made space for beautiful conversations.


 

One Direction

The first few days I couldn't see anything. It seemed as if my left eye was under water which caused a great deal of strain on my right eye. The best option was to keep both eyes closed or look down. My gaze was set in one direction. Isn't that what Hebrews 12:2 instructs us to do anyway? "Look to and fix our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith."


Distractions have a sneaky way of easing into our lives. And before we know it, the volume of the world becomes more prevalent than God's Word.


Being intentional about a God focused gaze gives us the reset we need. Does it mean we don't partake in every day activities or responsibilities? Absolutely not. It's just means God is our center and first priority.


 

Position

The doctor reminded..."I can perform the surgery but the healing depends on you...on whether or not you stay in position."


That week my face, neck, back, shoulders, knees and bottom ached. Finding a place of comfort was difficult at best. Yet I stayed. What I thought I had to do no longer mattered. Everything waited while I waited.


I could have gotten off the facedown chair at anytime but, I wouldn't have gotten the desired results.


Can we just be honest? Staying isn't easy. Sometimes receiving the things of God require more than we want to give. The process comes with undesirables like pain and extended discomfort that tempt us to call it quits before the work is complete. In these seasons it appears that everyone else is moving on with their lives while we remain stagnant.


But instead of bemoaning the wait, I changed my perspective. I used the 45 minutes to plan, listen and rest. Podcasts and sermons became a whole thing. During the 15 minute break I executed what I planned and then repeated the process over and over.


The renewed mindset made the wait take on a whole new meaning. Instead of having to wait, I was given the privilege of waiting.


 


 

As the days passed, the fluid decreased in size. On the last day of recovery I saw the bubble do a little dance in the center of my eye, float to the left and vanish.


We can't control what comes our way. There are places of uncertainty and times of indefinite waiting we all endure. But we can manage our responses. Adjusting our posture, staying in position and setting our gaze on the Father may or may not change our circumstances. But, it will cultivate a deeper relationship with God and that's what matters most.



Your Sister Friend,


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