Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peace Produce

Well, my first update on our negative neighbor has come much quicker than I anticipated! But it's a good one!

I was mowing yesterday in the early evening--the part of the yard that is close to the dreadful fence, the breach that Wendy crossed on that fateful day! So as I made laps around, I couldn't stop glancing toward the neighbors' house, which I knew was either going to make me very angry or cause me to feel compassion for them. One thing about being God's kid is that He likes to talk to you, even if you are honest and don't really want to hear from Him in the moment and would rather sulk around in your kiddie pool of misery and bitterness!

I kept feeling this nagging on the inside that maybe I sorta kinda got a little bit hot and maybe I sorta kinda shouldn't have. And if you've ever felt that way, you may agree that it's a rather uncomfortable feeling. I knew that I needed to talk to God about it and see if He wanted me to get rid of any feelings I was carrying around (but boy, they sure were justified feelings!). So sure enough, when I asked Him if maybe I let my anger grow a little much and needed to ask forgiveness, the answer was a quick YES. (Don't you hate when that happens? You might ask God a question for weeks and not hear anything and then you ask Him something you don't want the answer to and He yells it at you right away!) So I started asking Him to forgive my anger and replace it with love for her. I asked Him to give me a new heart toward her, to help me see her the way He sees her.

But let me tell you, I had no idea how quickly He would delight in answering that prayer!

I rounded the field I was mowing once more and I saw movement to my right. Here she came on her four wheeler up my driveway. I thought, "Oh boy--here we go! Lord, give me strength and patience and please guard my tongue!" She came to a stop and pointed at me to come to her. I killed the engine of the mower and reluctantly peeled myself off the seat to go see what punishment I needed this time!

She had a 5 gallon blue bucket sitting on top of the four wheeler, and the closer I got to her, I realized she had brought something to me in the bucket. I waved and said Hi as I reached her, still not completely sure of what on earth she was about to say or do!

It may be that new heart I prayed for, but y'all, I swear she almost smiled at me! She pointed to the bucket and said, "These are terrible tomatoes, but I wondered if you'd want 'em. I was just going to throw them away."

I maybe could have wet myself with excitement! I didn't care how terrible those tomatoes were, I wanted them! Look at that--peace tomatoes!



I took the handle of the bucket and lifted it off the four wheeler as she said to go put them in something else and bring her bucket back. Yes, ma'am! I literally ran up to the house to grab a container for the peace offering (I mean, I didn't want to take too long and make her mad, right?!). I laughed the whole way. God absolutely cracks me up! I dumped the tomatoes into a different bucket and then hurried back to her. Kate and Caleb had kept her company while I was gone (I'm sure she was delighted about that!). Caleb told her, "We keeped the dogs away" to which she almost smiled and said, "Thank you."

I handed the empty bucket back to her and said thank you probably 29 times. She isn't much for social banter, but I learned several things in the next few seconds that are very useful and will indeed help me love her more. She actually said, "I shouldn't tell you this, but just below those trees is a garden spot. My mother gardened it for years when she lived here." I grinned and pressed for more information, just to be sure, you know. "On the other side of those trees?" I asked. "Yes, all you have to do is break it up. I don't know why I'm telling you that." I can't figure out why she wasn't supposed to tell me about the garden spot! Maybe she's worried I'll have a better garden than her one day? LOL! But she did tell me, and that seems like a pretty solid neighborly thing to do, don't you?

She is funny, y'all. She's so serious, and I realized that it's like she couldn't figure out why she was doing something nice. It was against her will, I think. But something made her come over and be nice. :) She shouldn't tell me about the garden spot, and the tomatoes are horrible ("I don't know what the h*** is wrong with them this year" she said!), but she did tell me about it and she did bring tomatoes!

Isn't God funny and also really nice to us? I hopped back on the mower to finish mowing after she left and I could not stop grinning! I hoped she wasn't sitting over there watching me and thinking what is wrong with that girl?! God answers us when we ask Him for help, doesn't He?

I'm thinking of 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 "...if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time."

Wow. I know that's a little out of context, but I also believe the Word of God is living and active and relevant in all situations and can speak of many things at once and at all times. I think God was asking me to be humble, and almost the very moment I obeyed and humbled myself and prayed, He answered me with tomatoes! Tomatoes! Ha! You might think that was just a coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences! I believe in a sovereign God who is alive and listening and who has a sense of humor!

I rode around the next half hour thanking Him and saying, "You sure do like her, don't you, Lord? All right, all right--I like her, too."

"And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:18

 Peace of Christ to you,

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mountainside Mayhem and our own little Ninevah

Okay, okay--I may have deserted you for a time, but I'm determined to bring you back into the loop with this post!

So, we have moved to the mountainside, and let me just say: God is so good to us! Our entire family absolutely loves it here! We are still wrapping our minds around the way God brought this place to us out of thin air and with a big grin landed it squarely in our laps! Thank you, Lord (and my parents who hugely helped us with this dream!).

Something hit me the other day: You know we lost all of our possessions and home in May of 2013 in a whirling tempest (sorry, tornado--been reading in Jeremiah lately!). Well, Matt's aunt Karen said something to us on that shock of a day--before we even had seen the devastation--that I believe was prophetic and I'm so grateful to look back on it now. She reminded us of Job and how though he lost everything he owned and even his children--which we did not thank you, Jesus--the Lord restored to him everything in a double portion. The Lord has done the same for the Yakel family, y'all. We now own TWO homes after losing ONE home. He is so gracious, and it knocks my socks off!!

Anyhoo...there is this one little bitty problem, though. And that's why I'm blogging today. I have a feeling God is up to something either awesome or hilarious or both, and I thought it'd be a blast to drag you along on the journey...

Everything is absolutely perfect out here on the mountainside. Everything except this one little thing: our nearest neighbor. (I'm not at all concerned that she has Facebook or blogging, so don't panic about her reading this. Just trust me on that.) She's an older woman who we hope lives many many more years here on the mountainside, but as my husband noted, her ability to panic in minor situations could possibly be a slight health hazard. We'll have to do more situation assessment and get back to you on that.

Let me paint the mountainside picture from my vantage point for you, mkay?:

I'd say there is approximately 1 acre between our home and hers. (We have 10 acres in all, some woods and some farm, which is super funny because I had lamented to my husband only days before finding this place that my dream plantation would be 1/2 woods, 1/2 farm land! I love the Lord and His care for details, don't you?) Ok focus, Cara: I have two little dogs, one whom you know as Tornado Wendy, Wendy who survived the Big Windy, Wendy the Tornado Dog, Wendy the Weather Channel Celebrity among other titles! And also recently to enter the picture was Ginger Snap, the Easter gift. Ginger is feisty to say the least (she is none other than a Feist breed after all)! So, she's a hunter. Yep, a very very very speedy hunter. Did I mention, she's fast? And not exactly, shall we say, trained? ahem. The dog doesn't obey ANYONE. She is hilarious, though, and actually really cute.




See? Adorable.

Anyway, it's apparently NOT adorable if she wanders over into my precious neighbor's yard and asks the cats if they want to play. I didn't know this, but cats don't like to play with dogs. Who knew, right? Okay, so that unfortunate incident happened once. And believe me, I foresaw the calamity and doom that would be birthed from it and ran my posse right over to retrieve said adorable playful very very very fast disobedient dog. Of course this was no easy task, and I wish I had a video of my chasing the little devil around in circles yelling really loving affections at her the whole way. I finally caught her, patted her gently, and returned her to her fenced in yard. But of course not before precious neighbor came out and with shock and awe spread on her face, educated me on how expensive her cats are and that they may have just had a heart attack, which would be the end of her existence...or that's what I came away from the situation with. Moving on: Sweet Ginger Snap has not left her yard or gone over there since that day.

But y'all, yesterday was a fateful day, and you won't see this one coming. While Ginger Snap sweetly sat snugly in her back yard, Wendy the Tornado Dog somehow became disoriented while outside and horrifically and unforgivingly wandered over onto precious neighbor's back yard. Yes, she did. I actually watched this go down with the appropriate response of shock and horror on my face, and I promptly beckoned her back to safe ground, our side of the barbed wire fence. Let me insert here that if you don't know Wendy, well...I'll just show you and you'll probably guess what I'm about to say.



Okay, it may be hard to discern from this shot, but Wendy has a bit of a weight issue. She's fat, y'all. And lazy. I've never in my life seen her chase a cat. There's really no point in her because they won't give her kibbles. So, anyway, Wendy the Tornado Dog did not indeed chase a cat while her paws were on the other side of the fence. She was looking for me and most assuredly was in a mild panic attack since I was nowhere in her line of sight. Once she heard my voice, she galloped back to my presence where she desires to be anyway--not with fluffy cats.

I put her in the house, but I had a bad feeling Armageddon may be around the corner.

I was right.

I heard the engine of the side by side coming up the driveway and I knew I better either go get my husband or quickly dig a bunker to hide in.

The woman was hot, guys. And possibly a little drunk, but that's beside the point. We were chewed out, threatened, pointed at, glared at, despised, told of the gun that will be used on the dog, etc., for a good solid 5 minutes (which is a long time when you're being verbally destroyed mind you!). I nodded and agreed that yes this was surely an atrocity and it won't happen again. I even asked her to forgive us, to which she was obviously quite bumfuzzled. She will NOT be tolerating or putting up with this ridiculousness. She simply will not, and that's that.

My in laws were present for the circus, and my hilarious father in law almost made the fatal mistake of trying to be friendly to her, to which my mother in law kindly brought him back over to safety by a stern warning to sit down in the lawn chair. He caught on and made it out safely, so don't worry.

So our family stood together and made a determination: we will not repay meanness with meanness. We will heap coals on her head with kindness instead. And this is why I thought you'd like to ride along on the adventure! God has such a sense of humor, I have figured out. He totally did this. He set this whole thing up, grabbed his popcorn and lawn chair and said, "Let's see how this goes down!"

This morning I read Jonah. Mmhmm. Jonah. No Compassion Jonah. Love that guy, bless his heart. He cared more about a plant than 120,000 people who were doomed to die. I'm just saying, God may be doing something here, and my Ninevah is a little closer in proximity than Jonah's was to him. I checked and there's no body of water for me to jump in and escape, so I might as well head on over with some homemade cookies probably, right?

We had planned to bake some cookies and deliver, but then the first time we met her, her first words to us were that she was coming over to say hi and be neighborly because she's not, but she just wanted to make sure we knew that snakes live on the mountainside. :D

Don't worry, I won't be sitting under a plant and calling for her destruction. I'll kill her with kindness. And it's sure to be a fun ride, so stay tuned!

"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." Proverbs 25:21-22



Peace of Christ to you,

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Twirl

I'm just gonna throw this out there: If you ask the Lord to speak to you, He just might do so through a piece of...trash.

True story!

I sat on my front porch (which I haven't gotten to tell y'all about yet--for shame!) and soaked in the spread of mountains before me, as I often do in the mornings. I nestled into my worn-in white rocking chair and scanned the carved horizon for a sigh from the Holy Spirit, anything He might be saying to my heart.

And this scratching noise caught my attention to my left. Kind of an annoying scratching noise, mind you. Not soothing. Annoying. I peeled my eyes away from the sanctuary-view before me to see a clear piece of trash on the porch beside me. It delicately bounced around, this way and that, tossed by the intruding wind of the morning. I acknowledged its existence and returned to behold the far away beauty of the Lord's hills.

Scratch. Scuttle. Scratch.

I found the piece of trash on my right side now, twirling at this point this way and that in a circular motion.



Fine. I'll watch you. 

It danced off the porch into the grass, then back onto the porch again, and when I thought it would blow down the whole length of the porch and be gone forever, suddenly it would jerk back toward me and come careening into my rocking chair abruptly. It must have circled my vicinity twenty times as I sat, now completely enamored by this little nuisance turned intriguing.

And that's when the Lord whispered to me:

That piece of trash isn't just a piece of trash. It's a lot like you, as a matter of fact.

Me? How?

See how it keeps swirling around, and just when you think the wind will cast it away forever, it somehow finds its way back? 

Yes, it's annoying actually.

So is my love. My love is fierce and it's unrelenting. And I will not stop using my love to show you that I have not thrown you away or cast you off to never be seen again. My love is a current that sweeps you up and doesn't drop you, doesn't cast you aside. I will keep using you over and over again. 

Because I love you and I see the value in you. 


You know, that piece of trash's dance was one of the most beautiful things I have seen.

Its cadence was love. 
Its choreography was surrender. 
It completely submitted to what it could not control.

God wants us to completely submit to what we cannot control: His love. His love is fierce and His love might take us places that are unpredictable, but He will never cast us off or throw us away. And tucked up into His love, though it may look bumpy, is the safest place you can be.

And you know what else? The world may see a piece of trash in you, but that's not what the Lord sees. He sees beauty. He sees someone He can take on an adventure, someone He can twirl around. Someone He can create beauty out of where there was once ruin.

You aren't dispensable. You aren't worthless. No, you are beautiful, expensive, rare. And He wants you!

The God of the Universe, the One who knows all things, who made all things--that same God wants to sweep you up in the whirlwind of His unrelenting love.


The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you with his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17


He sings a song of Love over you, and He asks will you twirl with Me?


video

Peace of Christ to you,

Thursday, November 19, 2015

God knows my name.



Do you ever think about your name--what it means, where it came from, if it really matters? What if you go by a different name than you started this life with? Did someone have to send God a memo so He wouldn't accidentally call you Gertrude when you've vehemently denounced that name and warned everyone to please refer to you as Trudy? ;)

But seriously, though. Sometimes I wonder because I was actually born with a different name than the one I now use. Well, they're spelled differently anyway. So God does know how to spell it, right? And my middle name is different--much better, by the way.

This morning while reading about the Resurrection of Jesus, I fell in love with this story about Mary and I realized just how deeply He knows our names:

I love Mary Magdalene. She isn't the most popular, the best all around, the most valuable player, the beauty pageant winner. She has dealt with shame, demons, and quite possibly with being the butt of others' jokes. But there's a particular passage in scripture that defies all these societal claims and labels that have been placed on her, and it's one of my favorites.

It's early, still dark outside--Sunday morning. Mary's heart has been broken--her Lord, her Rabbi, her friend has been ruthlessly slain. With her heart raw and in shreds, she carries the burial spices in the black of the morning--the sun still hiding behind the hills--expecting to add them to Jesus's tomb. Because that's what you do for the dead.

And Jesus was dead.

No angels had shown up and carried Jesus off the cross. It seemed that nothing extraordinary, nothing miraculous would happen after all. Not for Mary, anyway. When someone murders you, you truly die. The miracle did not come. Death had not been defeated, the odds had not been defied. All that was left was a cold grave with the most precious person she had ever known--the one who had loved her despite her flaws--laid inside. 

But the next few minutes will change Mary's life forever, no doubt. Mary finds the tomb stone rolled away, so she runs to fetch Peter and the other disciples to investigate what has happened to Jesus's body. 

He's been stolen! Who would do something so cruel?

And so scripture says she stands outside the tomb in shock and filled to the brim with grief. A new grief, one that cannot believe someone could add such insult to an already unimaginable injury.

"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing him to be a gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away'" (John 20:11-15 ESV).

Wow, so much to take in here. Mary is not looking for a miracle; she is looking for the dead. Maybe she doesn't even believe in miracles anymore. Her heart has been broken and she is empty. She just wants to get Jesus's dead body back so she can tend to it. Is that too much to ask?

But Jesus has saved His greatest miracle just for her!

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher)" (John 20:16 ESV).

Did you see that? Mary turned from the tomb and looked Jesus in the face and she didn't know Him. She thought He was the gardener, and begged this man to tell her where her Lord had been taken.

Her grief was so palpable, so overwhelming, that she could not even see the truth in front of her!

But there is one moment when she finally recognizes Him: 

When He says her name.

Oh, the beauty wrapped up in this one word: Mary! Jesus knows her name and says it in such a way that she also knows Him. I wish I could hear this exchange, to see the love on His face as His lips form the sound of her name! And what I wouldn't give to see her eyes widen and light up as she hears her name with such tone that no one else has ever used. I wonder if it sounded like singing.

Honestly, Mary seems to be a common name in scripture; the writers of the gospels differentiate her by adding Magdalene to her name, which also tells us where she's from. But Jesus didn't need to add that; He didn't need help distinguishing which Mary she was. And how extraordinary, how unique her name must have sounded when Jesus said it!

Mary. That's all Jesus had to say. He knew her in depth, He knew her heart like no one else, and He could prove it just by saying her name.

And you know what? Jesus knows your name, too. And if you let Him, He can call you in a way that no one else is capable. If you let Him into the deepest hurts, the darkest truths of your heart, He can call you by name and make it sound like a brand new identity. He can put joy and hope and purpose right inside your bruised heart if only you'll let Him. He can replace your sorrow, your disappointment with the greatest miracle you've ever witnessed.

And in turn, we can say His NAME and mean it in a way some can only marvel at. Jesus was "Rabboni"--Teacher to Mary.

I want Him to be Teacher to me, and I want Him to say my name like that. 

Don't you?

 Peace of Christ to you,

Monday, November 16, 2015

At a Distance

This morning I noticed something I hadn't before while reading the account of Jesus's arrest and trial before his crucifixion.

It's one subtle little line, but it whispered to my heart with tremendous weight.

"Peter followed at a distance" (Luke 22:54).

I can just imagine this scene in my mind, the tension disrupting the velvety night, how Peter must have trembled and his heart must have hammered in fear-stricken anticipation. They were dragging Jesus away, and Peter must have been rewinding the events of the past week in his mind, meticulously searching for Jesus's specific words of warning about this very moment. Had he misunderstood Jesus? Was this really the way it would all end? Surely Jesus could not be overtaken! How would he get out of the officials' grasp?

Peter showed his fierce love for his Master and his hot temper before; but this time was different--more final. There were no more rehearsals or lectures; this was the big production and the final examination. Time had run out, and Peter was panicking.

I read and re-read that statement: "Peter followed at a distance" again and again. Could Peter have not followed at all? Could he have run off and hidden himself away, shutting out the reality of what was happening to his friend? Maybe in body, but I don't believe he could have in spirit. Because when you love someone so fiercely and your very purpose is wrapped in something--someone--you must follow. You must see what is to come, what is next.

Even if all you can muster is to follow at a distance.

I don't know what would have been done to Peter had he followed more closely. Maybe they would have arrested Peter as well. I'm guessing that was his fear. I do know that he had followed close enough that Jesus could later turn and look at Peter.

That just chills me. I cannot imagine the despair I would feel in Peter's position at that moment of gaping open exposure. He could not hide, and he had spent every denial afforded him by Jesus's own prophetic words. There was nothing left but to stand in the nakedness of the truth--he had denied his Lord, his friend.

And it had begun with him following at a distance.

I wonder if Peter had somehow had the courage, the boldness to follow on the heels of Jesus instead of at a distance, if he somehow would have mustered the courage to stand with Jesus? I wonder if he had not allowed himself to be deterred by fear, if Peter would have turned other hearts toward Jesus in those hours rather than calling curses down on himself?

Of course we know that this happened to fulfill Jesus's words that Peter would indeed deny Jesus three times. But what about us?

What if we had the courage to follow on the heels of Jesus rather than at a distance? What if I allowed His teaching, His leading to be enough authority for me to follow closely and obey fully?

What if I wasn't afraid of what would happen to me if I followed my Savior a little more closely?

Like Peter, I know I must follow because Jesus is who He said He is. I must follow because He has seized my heart and I am drawn to Him. Because I know the truth and cannot deny it.

But how closely will I follow? That, I get to decide. And so do you. How intimately do we want to see Jesus's works, His miracles, His plans? My heart screams that I want to experience them right on His heels! But my fear warns me to shrink back, to allow some distance for safety...just in case. Scripture says that even if I do follow at a distance, His grace is sufficient for that. He will look on me with love even if I am tangled in my fear and can only stumble along behind. Because He understands us and He loves us in our afflictions.

But how will He look on me if I break the heavy shackles of fear that slow me down, if I shake them off and run to catch up to His side?

Jesus, may we follow you fiercely, may we drop the heavy blanket of fear that weighs us down and run with the freedom and weightlessness that will propel us forward closer to your side. So we can hear your words up close, even your sighs and your gentle whispers.

May we follow on His heels and not at a distance.
Peace of Christ to you,

Monday, November 2, 2015

If You Ask Me To


There's this Canaanite woman in the gospels and she is my favorite. Seriously, we could be BFF's.

Why? Because the woman just doesn't give up. I like that. Plus, she is catty. (I learned about being catty from my precious grandma, thank you very much!)

I imagine that she's spent her whole life living under the suffocating stigma that she is less than, a curse, and unworthy. But on this particular day, she is determined to change her legacy.

For starters, Jesus was trying to keep his presence a secret at the particular house into which he entered. Nice try. For some reason, people flock to brilliance; have you ever noticed that? I love how Mark puts it: "He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret" (Mark 7:24 NIV).

So Miss Canaanite (which essentially means Miss Cursed, mind you) decides she will bombard Jesus with her current emergency of a demon possessed daughter.

Okay, can we pause and appreciate the tenacity and desperation of this momma for a moment? I mean, Lord bless her, can you blame the woman? We've all had that moment where we'd do anything to make the crazy in our child stop, right? (Don't shake your head, you know you have. Remember that day in Target on the Disney Princess aisle? Yeah, that's what I thought.) Anyway...

I love how Jesus acts like He doesn't hear her. Isn't that cute? I think He could totally hear her; He just wanted to see how desperate and committed to this she really was. I also think Jesus appreciates wit, don't you? You remember those lists we used to make for our potential boyfriend or spouse? We'd write down all the things we hoped our future mate would have. I've had one of those stored in my head about God for years, and a sense of humor ranks among the top for me.

_____________________________________________

THE GOD I WORSHIP MUST HAVE'S...
1. Must be powerful
2. Must have sense of humor
3. Must be capable of calming my high-strung butt down

_____________________________________________

See what I mean? This Canaanite woman no doubt had a list like mine.

Because I'm no biblical scholar and I think I'd butcher this, here is a brilliant explanation of this exchange in terms of society's political and religious atmosphere at that time from Dr. Allen Ross in "An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew":

Jesus wanted the disciples and the woman to understand fully that His ministry in the brief time He had on earth was very focused. He was the Son of David, the Messiah. That fact did not admit this Canaanite woman to the benefits of the covenant made with the Jews. The kingdom had to be fully offered to them first, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom. (The passage is like John 4:22 where it was recognized that “salvation is from the Jews.”) So all the woman could do is ask for mercy, general mercy as a non-Israelite.

So basically, she was asking for something that didn't have her name tag on it.

And you know, I love how Jesus has the ability to make a new name tag right on the spot, don't you? He is the Son of God, which gives Him power and authority to do His Father's will...and we now understand that His Father's will is that all would hear and be saved--even the Canaanites or the pagans (Matthew 18:14; 2 Peter 3:9). I sorta think Jesus knew that at this moment; He was just prodding the Canaanite woman to press into Him and ask for it, to truly want what He could offer.

Anyway, when Jesus gives her an excuse of why He maybe can't help her, her cattiness comes out with claws. She essentially takes her political and societal labels and maneuvers them into a loophole where Jesus has to help her.

"'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table'' (Matthew 15:27 NIV).

See what she just did there? She is saying that she knows full well what her place in society is (under the Jews that is), but she is desperate enough that she'll take home a doggy bag. She doesn't even expect to order from the menu; she'll settle for the true diners' left overs.

She knows that even a smidge of His grace will do the trick.

See why I like her so much? She isn't high maintenance. She just needs a little.

And so Jesus does just that. I imagine His smile and His white flag admission: "All right, all right. Good one," as He chuckles to Himself.

I have a feeling she was one of Jesus' favorites, too.

You know what this woman teaches me? She teaches me that it's okay to bombard Jesus! He can hear, and He is capable of taking on whatever burden I'm hauling around. He has the power to grant whatever it is that we need, no matter if it seems like something completely out of our reach or not! If what you need is out of reach and has someone else's name tag on it, Jesus can add yours and He can hand it to you.

But you must ask Him to. He wants you to ask Him to. He wants you to confess that He is actually powerful enough to rescue you, to save you, to heal you, to carry you through the dark hours of your life--whatever that hour looks like.

If you ask me to, I will.
Peace of Christ to you,

Friday, October 30, 2015

He Heals, and He Also Confirms

Y'all know I'm a Baptist girl, right?

Well, I am. Sort of.

I never understood the Holy Spirit; maybe I was afraid of Him? I'm not sure, but after spending a secluded weekend retreat with God recently, the Lord finally helped me grasp some understanding of that part of His person. He poured fresh revelation in me, and now I get it. He's so good to reveal Himself if you earnestly seek His wisdom and knowledge. Scripture says that if a son asks for a loaf of bread, the father does not give him a stone (Matthew 7:9).

Our Father is the same way; He gives what He knows we need. So if we ask for what we truly need, He is sure to grant it.

Well, I needed some Holy Spirit, y'all.

I needed some healing from anxieties, from subtle fears that were controlling me. I knew they were controlling me, but honestly? They were comfortable. They were my security blanket. I am not convinced that I knew how to function without them. They were second nature for me.

We have an enemy who loves to convince us of these lies. As long as he can keep us bogged down by something--anything--well, what can God do through us? Not much. And that's where I had pulled up a nice comfy chair. But because of His great love for His children, He won't leave us there...if only we'll trust Him to give us a better seat, He will.

After the pivotal moment where I knew God had begun His healing work in me, I thought of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. I wondered at what point she knew she had been healed; was it instantly or did she realize the full extent of it later that day? Then, of course, today her story was included in my daily reading plan!

"'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering" (Mark 5:29 NIV). The ESV words it this way: "And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease."

Nothing non-Baptist happened to me while I prayed and asked Jesus to heal my issue of fear, and I honestly think that caused me to doubt a bit. I mean, I was done with this stupid fear--I was desperate enough to leave behind its bondage that I was ready for something crazy to happen to me!

I didn't fall on the floor or do back flips, but you know what did happen?

I felt in my body that I was freed from my suffering.

It was subtle; it was gentle, tender. He is gentle and tender with us because we are His daughters, His sons. He cares for us as we care for our children, just so much more deeply.

I walked away knowing He had healed me, from deep within. Incredible warmth had melted something cold from the depths of my chest and permeated through the rest of my form. It caused me to breathe deeper than before, cleansing breaths that brought rejuvenation and fresh energy.

As I went on my way in the days that followed, I experienced brief moments of doubt that I truly was healed (and I believe healing is also a journey we must traverse alongside Christ, so I was not expecting to literally never fear anything again). But each time I brought my experience back to the Lord and asked Him what He had done, He confirmed it.

He confirmed that He was indeed healing me.

And guess how He responded to the woman who touched His garment? He gently whispered, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" (Mark 5:34 NIV).

He confirmed her healing, too.

I don't know about you, but I'm a doubter. Without His confirmation, I might have convinced myself completely that He had not done a work in me. I'm so thankful that He not only heals, but He also confirms. He doesn't just care about the first encounter with Him; He wants you to stay in close touch with Him. He wants to continually heal you, to continually remind you of the work He is doing in your life!
Peace of Christ to you,