Friday, November 23, 2018

Chadash


Image result for highway in a desert



Chadash.

It's the Hebrew word for "new."

God is all about the Chadash business... taking old, worn out people and making them new.  Restoring the broken with new wholeness.  Replacing pain and sadness with new joy.   In fact, chadash is used 57 times in the Old Testament.  God must have truly loved that word!

What I love about chadash is that it truly means brand new.  A fresh, new thing.  So instead of restoring an old piece of furniture by slapping a coat of paint on it, it's like tearing that one up, throwing it in the fire, and building a completely new one out of new lumber.  New bones. New life. Fresh.

Jesus' blood does this for us.  His blood shed on the cross for us covers our sins and allows us to be in right standing with God.  We are given new life through Him.  New mercies.  New grace.  New chances.  The old has passed away, the new life has begun!

God has been doing a lot of chadash things in me recently.

Over the summer, He began to press on my heart to explore going back to school to pursue further post-graduate education.  I visited with a couple of my trusted grad school professors and friends who reminded me of my dream to become a professor at a university someday.  Teaching has always been a passion of mine.  But I've been a little busy raising babies for the past few years!  I have begun exploring Masters of Divinity programs that will eventually lead me into PhD programs.  I'm closer than I was over the summer, but still working on finalizing when, where, and how I will pursue that dream.

God has also pressed me to start looking for ways I can provide for our family.  If I want to go back to school, I need to find a way to pay for it!  Our family has never lived off of loans (with the exception of our mortgage), and we do not intend to start now.  So I've explored several ways I can work from home, or work out of the home with minimal hours, to allow me to stay with our girlies as much as possible.

Which leads me to this newest, newbie, new door God has opened for me!

I've decided to pursue starting a business with Young Living.  This is a multi-level marketing company that empowers so many people to earn a living simply by using products they love and sharing them with others.

My experience with Young Living is not fresh.  I've been using their essential oils for over three years now, and their cleaning products for over a year.  In the past, I'd either been gifted the oils, ordered through a friend, or purchased them at retail price from the website.  But one night a couple weeks ago it dawned on me: if I already love this company and their products, why not start benefitting financially?

If you know me, entrepreneurship is NOT one of my gifts.  Writing, teaching, encouraging... those all line up with my DNA.  But selling products to others?  Eek!  Totally unknown territory for me, which can also mean terrifying territory.

But, I am seeking to be obedient to a gift God has placed in my path that could lead to further blessings for our family and our family's future.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says:

"Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert."

I feel like God urging me to avoid the thoughts that I can't do this, won't be successful at this, and that I am going to fail.  Come on, those are lies!  God never calls us into something and then leaves our side.

But whenever we are about to start something new, isn't that when doubt starts to set in?  It's time to stop pondering things of the past, and look forward to the chadash moments God has for you.  Not the "thrift store new" or "new to you" things.... the brand-spanking, never-before-seen moments He wants to walk you into.

And just like God promises the Israelites to make a roadway for them in the wilderness, so I believe God wants that for me, too.  To show me an impossible way to accomplish this new task.  To be the One I lean on for guidance, wisdom, and encouragement.  To boldly step into something I'm not equipped to do without Him.  To swim in those rivers in the desert, being refreshed and made new.

As we close out 2018, maybe you're thinking of new things you'd like to try next year, new places you'd like to explore, new adventures to experience.  Maybe God is calling you to go back to school, or start a new business, or quit your job and find a new one.  Maybe you just found out you're going to have a baby, or you finally got a placement for a foster or adoptive child you've been praying for.  Maybe God is calling you to try going back to that church you've been invited to several times.  Or better yet, maybe you're finally ready to jump into this whole "Jesus-thing" I've written about so often in the past, and experience new life for yourself!  (If that's the case, I'd be so honored to pray for you).

Whatever chadash moments God has in store for you, I can assure you, you can trust Him to guide you through the desert.  And not just on a small footstep path where a few have gone before.  No, he promises a roadway- well-designed and engineered, sturdy, able to pass through whatever terrain is in the unknown.

Here's to new!

All for His glory,

Amy


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Set free...


Around 9am

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve sat down to write a blog post.  Ummmm… longer than I care to admit!  But I’m sitting down on a Saturday morning, baby and husband still asleep upstairs, and toddler happily playing with a toy she hasn’t seen in awhile, and I just felt compelled to start typing.  I may not get to finish what I’m starting here in one sitting, but the point is, I started.

I can hear a good friend’s voice in my head this morning, encouraging me to just start, as she has recently started her own commitment to write a book by next spring!  Sometimes, we just need to start.

So what’s on my heart this morning? Hmmm…. Lots of things.  It’s been a pretty emotionally charged week in the social media world after the events in Charlottesville last weekend.  I’ve seen a LOT of people share how they feel on their statuses and in their own blogs.  I have thoughts and emotions about these events, too… but I don’t think that’s what I’m supposed to write about.  It’s not that I’m choosing to stay silent (as so many this week have encouraged us not to do), but I’d rather have conversations about racism and current events one-on-one, where both voices can equally be heard.

What else?

I couldn’t fall asleep last night as I had a friend on my heart who needs urgent prayer for healing in her body.  I’m devastated for her and her family for what they’ve already gone through, and what may lie ahead.  Cancer SUCKS.  It’s scary.  It’s real.  And it’s so so sad (that’s not even a strong enough word) that we all know at least one, but most likely MANY, loved ones who have suffered.  I lay in bed last night asking God to heal her… miraculously… WHOLLY…. Every molecule and cell in her body.  God, the Creator of the Universe, can do it.  So I prayed into that Truth.  It doesn’t do any good to pray with unbelief in my heart.  So I prayed for a larger faith last night.  Faith that believes God can Heal.  Or course I know He can heal…. But there’s the imperfect part of my soul that has unbelief, doubt… wants to reason with God. Make a deal.  Ask Him WHY.

I knew not to go there last night. I don’t always.  But last night, wisdom kicked in. 

So I prayed for healing.  For wholeness.  For restoration in body, mind, and spirit.  For all of those suffering from disease, cancer, viruses…

It’s funny… my two-year old little girl just came up to me and asked me to play “dance” music on our Google Home (I know, 21st century children these days)… “Plee dance goo-goo,” she asked.  How could I resist?

So I asked Google to play “Christian dance music.”  Trying to keep it clean this morning!

A song I’ve never heard came on that sang “I’m standing on your promises…”

2:05pm
As I predicted, I had to stop writing because the baby woke up and needed to be fed, and then life kicked in and got busy this morning.  My husband woke up and asked if we all wanted to make a Target run so he could return something. Duh… I’ll never pass up a trip to Target.

As I was getting in the car, I noticed a missed call from one of my closest friends here in Virginia.  I called her back as I was sitting in the driveway, while Jordan was busy locking up the house.  She told me this friend I was just writing about above had passed away in the wee hours of the morning.  Little did I know, my restlessness last night was during the time of her passing.

I’m devastated.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around her loss.  Her family’s loss.  Our church’s loss.

I was just writing about her a few hours ago.  Jeez.

I got in the shower this afternoon and just broke down and wept. I felt Jesus whisper to me, “I’ve healed her… I’ve heard you all… she’s finally WHOLE.”

Jesus, Jesus… hug her tight for us.  We will miss her here on earth… we’ve been changed because we knew her.  I’ll be wearing the clothes I inherited from her give-away pile last fall with sweet memories of the day she gave them to me and joked about how they were out-of-style, that’s why she was getting rid of them. 

I didn’t even know her on a deep level like many from our church do, but because Denise was such a light, and such a beacon of faith and hope…. as our pastor puts it, a pillar of our church… she touched all lives who knew her even just a little bit.

There’s a reason we feel stirrings in the middle of the night.  Sometimes there’s a reason we can’t sleep.  There’s a restlessness that calls us to action. 

I felt it last night as I was praying for you Denise… as Jesus was calling you home after so much physical suffering here on earth.  I didn’t know what was happening to you, but the Holy Spirit was prompting me to pray.

And so, even now, I have learned something from you still.  My faith is deepened…

We love you, sweet friend.  Dance with your Savior, now.  You are set free.


“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Good.



I was just reading Psalm 73 again tonight, and this verse jumped out at me:

"But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all your works."
Psalm 73:28

I remember a good friend of mine, Sharon Thomas, preaching about this entire psalm last year at our church, so as I revisited it again tonight, her sermon buzzed in my ears.

What really got me tonight was the NASB's (New American Standard Bible) way of translating this verse.  "The nearness of God is my good."

"My good."

Good.

My Good.

The original Hebrew word that was used for "good" in this verse is"towb" (pronounced like "tove").  Its definition means a good thing, welfare, prosperity, benefit, pleasure...

It's the same word used in Genesis when God created the earth and "saw that it was good."

It's also used to describe good and fertile land.  If any of you know me even a little bit, or have read previous blogs of mine, God is always using anything having to do with fields and land in the Bible to speak to me. So this particular definition intrigued me the most.

In this Psalm, Asaph (the writer) goes through a period where he was not near to God, and all he could see in front of him was the "prosperity of the wicked." 

Indeed, it is hard to see the goodness of God in this world when you are not walking a life that is near to Him.  Tempers are shorter, relationships are tested and seem to be disappearing, undone chores seem like someone else's job to blame, the debt you're in seems like an endless pit you're drowning in, you're scared to try new things, your world becomes smaller and smaller... life is lonely... you ask yourself, "who really cares about me"?  Everything that could go wrong, does.  And anything that might be a glimpse of light and hope, you are afraid to cling to because you know that too, will disappoint or disappear. 

Maybe you can utter these same word's of Asaph's yourself....

"When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You." (v. 21-22)
Life. Is. Hopeless.

Without God.

But Asaph learns that when he enters the sanctuary of God, his private time and space with his Creator, new glasses are set on his face.  God speaks Truth to him there.  He realizes that God is ALWAYS with him, and has never left his side... even when he didn't feel like looking up.  God wants to redeem him.  God desires a relationship with him.  God can pull him out of the pit of despair.  God intends to give him good things on this earth, a heaven now. 

Our hearts are weak, friends.  Without God.  Our attitudes are weak at best, people.  Without God.  Our situations really are hopeless.  Without God.

Even King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that everything is meaningless without God.

So where are you putting "your good"?  Where is your wealth? Where is your heart really invested?  Is it in the temporary things of this earth? Is it focused on the success of others, therefore reflects envy in your heart?  Are your eyes fixed on chasing after bigger and better, but bigger and better seem like they can never be reached?

Asaph understood that his earthly heart and his earthly body would eventually fail him (v.26), but his relationship with God is forever!  Now that's something worth investing in!

The nearness of God in my life is my good.  My life is so much more fertile (if you will), abundant, joyful, peaceful, and gentle with God in my life.  Is it perfect? Far from it... because I am made of flesh that is weak and sinful and temporary.  But God through his Son Jesus Christ redeems my flesh, draws me near, and becomes my refuge.  He gives me hope that this temporary life on earth is not where my journey will end, but where it begins. 

I seek refuge in my God who delivers me from the darkness and gives me hope.

And because He is good,  I (like Asaph) am compelled to sing of His works forever! 

What about you?



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"I have found myself..."


“I have found myself…”

These past three weeks have been nothing short of the most difficult days of my life.  After years of praying for a child to come, I never thought we would have this sweet baby and I would be on my own to raise her for the first few months of her life.

I have found myself calling on the Lord in desperation lately.  Sheer desperation.  When my daughter is screaming inconsolably in the car seat, I shout to the Lord for wisdom in what I should do!  When she is so exhausted and fussy she can’t calm herself down enough to eat, and the hours keep passing by, perpetuating the problem… I have been singing songs of invitation for the Holy Spirit to JUST COME and bring my daughter peace.  And while He’s at it, bring me some peace, too!

I have found myself relying on the Word of God like it’s the air I breathe.  I take any spare moment she is sleeping to open my Bible and try to catch up on my reading plan.  This morning, I even sacrificed going back to sleep so I could eat (yeah, I gotta do that too) and read my Bible.  I knew I’d have a better day if I started it off praising God for getting me through another night.

I have found myself standing on a watchtower, waiting for God to move.  This morning I read the book of Habakkuk (if you think I’m making up this name, get familiar with your Bible! The prophets are good stuff!).  OH SWEET JESUS… it was exactly what I needed to read this morning.

Habakkuk was a prophet sent by God to speak to the people of Judah.  I’ve written a lot about these people in my posts about the book of Jeremiah (refer to my “Buying Fields” posts).  He had a tough job speaking to a hopeless people about hope!  In fact, this book even starts out with his complaints to the Lord! (I’ve found myself doing a lot of that lately, too!)

But this verse just STOOD OUT to me this morning:

“I will climb up to my watchtower
            and stand at my guardpost.
There I will wait to see what the Lord says
and how he will answer my complaint.” – Hab. 2:1

It made me think about how even just a few hours ago, as I was struggling to get Natalie to sleep, I was pacing around my bedroom, bouncing bouncing bouncing this baby like I’d been doing all day.  And my tears just started to flow (I’ve found myself doing a lot of that, too).  There was no one I could call last night.  And I certainly couldn’t talk to my husband.  So I just started praying, “Lord, would you please just help me! Calm her down, or give me grace to keep going! If anything, heal my back from the pain I’m in from bouncing her all day!”
I’ve had many prayers like this these past few weeks. Like I said… prayers of desperation.  And I’ve found myself standing on my watchtower, just waiting for the Lord to move. I’ve had no other place to go!

God had pulled through in so many amazing ways when I’ve called on him like this.  He has spoken wisdom through other people to me.  He has brought relief to my back.  He has caused Natalie to latch and eat after hours of fussiness. He has provided me with an amazing church family who has certainly gone above and beyond to support me!

And I just wanted to encourage any of you reading this today, to stand on your watchtower, and wait on the Lord.  Because He WILL MOVE. 

Habakkuk ends with his praise to the Lord with this verse:

“yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
            I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
            He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
            able to tread upon the heights.” – Hab. 3:18-19

If you’re finding it hard to even climb up on your watchtower this morning, just call upon God to even help you get up there… making you surefooted as a deer, able to trek up to the heights, and wait upon Him!



Monday, August 10, 2015

"Be strong and courageous."


I just gave birth to (in my unbiased opinion) the most beautiful baby girl in the entire world.  Her name is Natalie Jean, and she graced my husband and I with her presence as the sun was rising on a Monday morning, July 6th, 2015. 

Throughout my pregnancy, my husband and I prepared and planned and prayed for a completely natural childbirth.  There were many reasons for us choosing this path, but most importantly, I wanted to deliver my baby without medical intervention because I truly believed God had this experience designed and laid out for me!  He created my body to deliver my baby, so I prayed into that Truth, found a Midwifery Center that supported natural childbirth, hired a doula (a woman who serves as a birth coach), took an 8-week childbirth class, and read a lot of books about natural childbirth!

Maybe someday I’ll write about my labor and delivery experience, but that’s not why I’m writing this post today.  For now, I’ll just leave you with the short version: Natalie was delivered without intervention, IV, needle, pain reliever, or tearing of any kind!  We praise God for His faithfulness to carry us through the entire way, from first planting that desire in our hearts to fulfilling the ability to deliver her completely naturally.

The first immediate hours after delivering Natalie were a blur.  From the skin-to-skin time to getting myself showered and cleaned up, by the time the room cleared, Jordan and I were completely spent… and starving.  With Natalie all swaddled up and adorable in her new pink hat, we laid our heads down and rested while we could. 

As I was falling asleep somewhere in those first hours, I very clearly felt the Lord whisper these words into my heart: “Be strong and courageous, Amy.” 

I felt Him repeat those words over and over again to me as Jordan and I learned how to take care of our precious little gift, and not stress too much when she seemed to cry for hours without reason. 

“Be strong and courageous, Amy.” 

You see, as soon as Natalie was born, my heart started to be anxious and count down the days, hours, and minutes we had together as a family before Jordan would leave for a 3-month deployment: 29 days, 8 hours, and 15 minutes to be exact.  And every minute that passed made me more and more sad that he was going to leave us, and we would miss him more than words can describe.

“Be strong and courageous, Amy.”  

In those sleepless hours with Natalie, I began to ask the Lord why He was commanding me to be strong and courageous.  I mean, I already birthed my baby without pain medication… wasn’t that pretty courageous?  Didn’t I prove my inner strength?

God pressed back on my questions.  It became clear to me that God would not ask me to be strong and courageous if He were not about to send me into a season that would require both strength and courage. 

I am about to raise my baby without my husband or her daddy around for 90 LONG DAYS.  This is both terrifying and deeply saddening for me, as Jordan is not just an amazing husband and father, but my very best friend in the whole world.  The amount I’m going to miss him terrifies me.  There, I said it.

Am I the first woman to ever have to be alone with her newborn while her husband is on deployment? Absolutely not even close.  There are many women who even have to birth their babies without their husband present.  My heart goes out to these strong and courageous women, who have had to press through even harder seasons than mine.

But for me, this deployment is a first.  The first time Jordan’s deployed, the first time we’ve ever had a baby… the first time he’s ever deployed while we have a baby.  You see where I’m going? These firsts terrify me.  And the only things that are going to get me through this season are supernatural strength and courage that come from God alone.

The words “be strong and courageous” might be familiar to those of you who read your Bible.  God spoke them to Joshua as he was about to enter the Promised Land.  Joshua had just become to new leader over the Israelites.  Moses had led them through the wilderness for 40 years, and now Joshua had to finish the task and bring them home.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9


I noticed that God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous three times in this first chapter.  Sometimes it takes God repeating Himself a few times for us to finally grasp His message.  But I also find the power of repetition to be really encouraging!  I know the more times I am told something encouraging, the easier I will believe it!

The time leading up to this deployment has been like my wilderness period.  Like the Israelites, I have complained a lot about this upcoming separation.  I have questioned and doubted God, even when He has done nothing but provide for me!  I mean, I was pregnant with a baby I prayed and prayed and prayed about for years!  What gets more clearer than that?! God has been with me always. 
And yet, I doubted God’s plan.  Would He really give me a baby and then take my husband away for the first few months of her life?! 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about God is that His plans are perfect.  His thought and ways are nothing like mine.  They are higher!! (Isaiah 55:8-9) So I have to believe He is sending me into this new season for a reason.  Even though it sucks… even though it is scary… God has promised to be with me every day, hour, and minute that Jordan is away from us.

It might sound crazy, but it’s hard to believe and have faith in such an amazing God without strength and courage.  Strength to endure the hard days when Natalie fusses and cries for no reason, and courage to believe that God hears me even through her loudest wails.

So onward we press… and count down the days until Jordan returns.  But I am confident God is going to teach and mold both Jordan and I in ways we never would be changed without this period of separation.  And I’m so thankful for a God who gives me strength and courage that are not of this world!




Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Buying a Field" Part II


**This is another installment of a lifelong story God is unfolding in our lives about our future children.  To catch yourself up, check out a few of my previous posts: "Another Anniversary" and "Buying a Field- Part I" !

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

About 6 months into our journey of trying to have children, Jordan and I were driving around the streets of Anchorage (we lived there for two years), and discussing baby names.  Since the beginning of my memory, I have had a girl’s name picked out that I have loved forever: Natalie Jean.  Natalie is just a name I love, and Jean is my middle name and my mother’s.  So when Jordan and I started dating, I jokingly told him our future daughter would definitely be named Natalie and he was just going to have to get on board! 

            But on this day, Jordan suggested the name Leeland for a boy.  We first heard of the name because it’s the name of one of our favorite Christian bands.  Leeland Chase.  Chase is Jordan’s middle name.  I fell in love with it.  And then we kind of tabled that discussion for the next 15 months.

            When we found out we were pregnant for the second time, we brought up the name Leeland to our friends we were visiting in California.  They asked me what the name meant, and I was surprised I hadn’t even looked it up yet!  Sitting there on the couch, I grabbed my phone and Googled “Leeland.”  The first site that popped up said Leeland meant “pastureland.”  I thought to myself, “that can’t be right. That’s really boring!”  So I looked at another site and it said “meadowland.”  Again, I thought, “Really, Lord?  A meadow?  That’s not exciting or beautiful at all!” 

And in one split second, the Lord spoke to me.  “Amy, Leeland means field.

I dropped my phone, and started crying.  My friends stared at me, wondering what the heck just happened to me!

Leeland means field.  God asked me to buy a field this year.  I made the sacrifice.  He brought the promise.

And if I had looked up the meaning of Leeland 15 months ago when we first talked about the name, it would not have nearly the same meaning or impact.

Oh Lord, I am in awe… complete awe of the way you work in my life!  How you knit all the details together, and reveal Yourself at just the right times!  You reminded Jeremiah after his prayer to you in chapter 32, verse 27: “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world.  Is anything too hard for me?” 

And You make this promise:

“I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury.  I will bring them back to this very city and lead them in peace and safety.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.  And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.  And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them.  I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.  I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly plant them in this land.
            This is what the Lord says: Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them.  Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you not say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.  Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too.  For someday I will restore prosperity to them.  I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 32:37-44, emphases mine)

For the next three months, I prayed over the name Leeland and this testimony God was revealing to me.  Could our baby really be a boy?  For years, Jordan and I had always pictured our children as girls.  At least the first one.  Through many many dreams we both had, God had shown us we would have a daughter.  Never had we even thought of a son. 

Slowly, I began to accept that God really could be giving us a son and started boldly sharing this with friends who asked what gender I thought the baby could be.  I wasn’t afraid to admit that God told me I’d have a son.  His name would be Leeland.  He was the field God promised me.

But Jordan remained hopeful through this entire time that the baby could still be a girl.  I don’t want this to sound like he didn’t have the same faith I did… I actually think he had more faith in these moments, as he clung onto promises we heard from God long before we even got pregnant!  I would laugh every time I told someone the baby would be a boy and he would immediately chime in, “OR a girl!”

So you can imagine my shock and surprise when the ultrasound technician revealed to us that our baby was in fact a girl! 

I was SO SURPRISED.  What about this testimony, Lord?  What about the field?  Was I just totally OFF?  How did I miss the mark that bad? 

Have you ever had a moment like this when you thought you clearly heard one thing from God and it turned out to be the complete opposite?

Over the past several months, through more prayer and sanctuary time with the Lord, I have received so much peace from God and here is the message on repeat He has been giving me:

“I AM in control, Amy.  I am always in control.  Someday, there will be a son… a Leeland.  But Natalie’s little life is a testament to my faithfulness, goodness, and sovereignty in your life.  I make the decisions.  I have had this little girl ready to enter your world forever.  She is my gift to you, my child.  She is my promise to you that you will even have more than one child!”

I have been overwhelmed by God’s power and control in my life.  Praise God that I do not have to have all the answers figured out, and I am not meant to know the future!  I just have to trust that God’s plans for my future, my children’s future, and our future together as a family are amazing!  They’re already laid out… the blueprint has been drawn.  Hallelujah!

Bring on the fields, Lord.  I am ready!



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Broken.

Last night, I asked Jordan to help me hang a new frame on the wall behind my dresser in our bedroom.

A simple task, really.
Oh how naive I am.

First, we realized our leveling tools were cozily stashed away in the camper sitting in our backyard, which was even more snugly tied up in tarps and bungee cords for the winter.

Then, on his way into the garage to collect the rest of the supplies we would need (nails and a hammer), he shouted back at me to look up how to hang a picture evenly without a level.  Something about tape or string, or??

This Google search lead me to finding an app for my phone that actually worked as a level! Score!

Ok, phew. Passed that hurdle!

So we head upstairs with our tools and phones in tow, and begin the process of hanging this frame.  I showed him where I wanted it... that I had already planned out exactly how to find the "center" and how high it should be.  All he had to do was bang in a couple nails.  Simple... right?!?

As I was craftily holding my phone with its new level tool app open, it slipped from my hand and crashed down onto the dresser, meeting its foreseen demise somewhere on the floor in that deep dark abyss I like to call the "never-look-under-there" place. You know, in between and under furniture? ((Shudder))

After fishing my phone out and dusting it off (seriously, ew), I was happy to find the pink case I had on it did it's job and the phone was okay!  Hooray!

However, in the process of dropping my phone, it sent one of our most beloved memorabilia from our honeymoon also crashing down, and breaking into three pieces.  It was a figure of a man and a woman embracing each other carved out of black polished stone.  (Insert crying emoji here).

The saddest part about this event was that this was not the first time this figurine had broken.  Some years ago, it had fallen... or was dropped... or was thrown (who really remembers the details?) and had broken in the same three places it broken last night.  I was devastated this happened again and was sure there was no way it could be repaired.  I picked up the pieces and sat on the bed as the tears started to well up.

Jordan came over and sat next to me, taking the broken pieces from my hands and started showing me how they can be glued back together.  Then he said, "See? Just like in marriage, things break, but we just take the time to put them back together again."

It would have been easy to just give up on that darn figurine and throw it in the trash.  But my dear husband lovingly took the pieces into the garage and carefully super-glued them back together... again.

What he said just got me thinking about brokenness and restoration.

I just came back from an amazing women's conference in Virginia Beach with the ladies from my church.  The theme for the conference was "Extravagant Love."  It came from a verse taken from Joel 2:13 in the Message Bible: "God is kind and merciful.  He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, this most patient God, extravagant in love."

I was overwhelmed by the messages given by the speakers.  Here are just a few key truths:
  • God is sovereign.  He has seen ALL OF TIME- and He's in CONTROL of all of it.
  • LOVE is WHO God is, NOT what He DOES.
  • GUILT tells you you've done something wrong; SHAME tells you you are something wrong.
  • God's patience is more greatly displayed in what He doesn't do- what He doesn't give us (which is what we deserve)
  • Jesus has PERFECT PATIENCE; God has MORE THAN ENOUGH patience to deal with me.
I really felt the brokenness of my humanity spotlighted this weekend.  I am so so sooooooo far from perfect.  I make so so soooooo many mistakes on a daily basis.  In my words, relationships, thoughts... what I do and don't do... it's astounding.  I am broken.  We all are, thanks to the Garden and Adam and Eve.  God really does put up with a LOT!

But God never gives up on trying to put me back together again.  No matter how many times He fixes my heart, sets me on the right path, places my gaze in the right direction... I inevitably crash down and break into pieces again.  But God's Word tells me I am lovely... He loves me enough to send His Son down to this earth, die for me on a cross to forgive the sins of all, so that He may have a relationship with ME (John 3:16)!

As Paul writes to the early church in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, he says, "We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation-- a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth" (emphasis mine).  In other translations, "holy" is traded for "sanctification"- a cleansing or purification of the heart.  Ultimately, God's Spirit cleanses us and sets us apart (restores us) when we believe in the truth of the Gospel.

This salvation Christ gave us is like the superglue that holds us tight to God our Father.  And when the glue becomes dry and brittle... or life hits us with some really hard stuff... there is an unending amount of glue left to put you back together and draw you back into relationship with Jesus.

It would make sense for God to give up on me.  To see that even after a second, third, or fourth chance, I still remain broken and sinful.  But His love never runs out.  There is always enough... and He will always take the time to put me back together, and place me high on a shelf where He sees I belong.

Jordan has been able to glue the figurine back together so well that no one would notice its cracks unless they were pointed out.  Those cracks are just for us to notice, every now and again, to remind us we aren't perfect.  They're sacred.  Just for me and him.

My brokenness is sacred, too.  Many times, I am healed in moments of privacy and intimacy with my Father, who lovingly puts me back together again.  It doesn't mean I appear perfect on the outside, but I have the permission to be imperfect in front of Him.  Amazingly, this love gives me the freedom to be imperfect to the world as well.

My dear friends and readers, if you're experiencing even a shred of brokenness today, let me encourage you that there is always hope.  With God's love, there is unending patience for your situation, trial, or hardship.  There is unconditional love from a God who never gives up; He just takes a deep breath, offers you the glue to put you back together, and loves you... extravagantly.