My Thoughts

Recently I feel as though my spirit had an upgrade. Perhaps an epiphany of sorts.

Several.

I’m seeing the evolution of my faith and understanding. It rattles my comfort but satisfies my thirst. Greatly.

I’ve written in several blogs that my life “is still being written.” And from my perspective, it’s true.

But it’s not. It is all already written.

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

He already knows.

As I seek Him, I can trust that my desires will line up with His in time. So I can thank God in prayer and ask for preparation in receiving it. And all of my needs are known. Even in what appears to be unmet, it’s no surprise and has a purpose.

None of us have to worry one second longer.

And…for many years I struggled with seeing God as a giver. I bought the lie Eve did; God withholds or takes good.

Not exactly.

Follow me for a minute. I finally realized that God is a giver of good (Matthew 7:11). He doesn’t withhold good (Psalm 84:11). All good and perfect gifts come from Him (James 1:17). Yes, yes and yes.

The devil, our enemy, is a taker. He steals, kills, and destroys (John 10:10).

Ok. So God is a giver and Satan is a taker.

Not exactly.

God also restricts/withholds. Satan also gives (though the end result involves a taking.)

If God only gave, we would be overwhelmed. If He only withheld or took, we would be desolate.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Sometimes God asks us to trust Him and rest in His grace, His empowering to carry us in life. His withholding is in His plan.

Lastly…God really does want me to love myself (in a non narcissistic way.)

It’s ok to love who I am and know my Creator loves me. And I’m called to live loved.

Live loved by God.

When you know you’re loved, it frees you to be yourself. To be me. Healthy me. The me that emulates Christ and radiates the fruits of the Spirit through my own quirks and expression.

Proverbs 19:8 Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good.

Ephesians 5:29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church

Bringing it all together.

God is outside of time. He’s eternal, and has already written the book of my life. He chose me, gave me gifts and talents, and is guiding my steps. He gives good, but His love is in His restrictions, too. The enemy masks as a giver, but only eventually takes. And, I can love myself without being selfish, self centered, or unhealthy. In fact, it’s healthy in balance.

That’s a lot to chew on. I’m slowly savoring this, lingering on the texture and taste of what I just experienced.

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Yes, the Lord is good. Very good.

Never Forsaken

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

I was scrolling through on Facebook and saw a rather funny post. The New York Public Library shared some old inquiries that they received dating all the way back to the 1940s. Some were incredibly funny.

  • Are women mammals?
  • How many buildings are in the shape of vegetables?
  • Are black widow spiders better off dead or alive? (I say dead.)

I wonder if people just casually scrolled through and hit the “like” or “laugh” button without really reading them all. There were about thirty-five in total. But the one pictured above stood out to me. It pierced. Made me wonder. The amount of laughing reactions saddened me.

The abandoned woman.

Abandoned: having been deserted or cast off.

What caused that person (assuming the inquirer was likely a woman) to ask that? Did her husband or boyfriend just walk out on her? Someone die? We don’t know.

But something else struck me.

Lifespan.

This person asked about lifespan. Were they sick? Afraid they’d die of a broken heart or lack of support? Chances are this person may not be alive anymore as it was asked back in 1963. Or they are elderly.

I’m wondering.

How many people in this world are brokenhearted and abandoned? Alone? Lacking support? How many people do we encounter each day in our lives that are desperately broken and wounded? Needing love?

People need to know God’s love. They need Jesus (Yeshua.)

I can only imagine what motivated a person to call the library over lifespan due to abandonment. But what I do know is this….

God never abandons us. Human love fails. His doesn’t.

But this leaves me pondering. God uses people. The Body of believers are His hands and feet. How are we loving others?

How am I loving others? Am I taking the time to see the broken, wounded, needy, and lost?

God help me. I could do much better.

This brings me back to two wonderful truths in scripture.

  1. God will never leave or forsake us.
  2. We are called to love God, love people (by making disciples.)

Matthew 22:37-40 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Today, in this moment, I’m sitting in a chair with the sunlight streaming in on me. I’m thankful that I know the Creator. The One who made that sun that shines. Who made me and you. I know that I’m never alone. God will provide. But…He uses people. I pray that I will be obedient to be the part He asks me to be when needed. And I pray you are sensitive to His leading also.

We are never abandoned by God. But far too many don’t know that. May we tell them, in words and actions. Always.

John 15:12 ESV “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

The Time That’s Left

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

This morning, for some reason, a story that a visiting pastor-Marcus Mecum-told at my church months back was burning in my spirit. It’s as if God put an exclamation point on this.

Marcus shepherds a large congregation in Kentucky. One day while traveling he met a young woman named Makayla (I think I’m spelling it right) on an airplane. She lost both of her legs to cancer. If I recall correctly, she lost almost all of one leg and the other below her knee. She wore metal prosthetic legs.

I don’t believe in God.

That’s what she finally told the pastor. She was abandoned as a baby and neglected in the foster care system, getting cancer that wasn’t properly treated.

Why would God do that if He was real?

That seemed to be the unanswered question Makayla carried with her.

God didn’t do it.

We live in a fallen world and there are spiritual and physical laws. Within those parameters, sometimes people get very wounded. In some cases a believer can, in Jesus/Yeshua’s name break off enemy attack or oppression. Other times we must wait for the fullness of God’s promises in eternity.

Psalm 33:5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

She needed a bike.

Makayla trained for cycling events. She loved to ride bicycles and race. But due to her physical limitations, she needed a special, rather expensive one. The pastor decided to write her a check for it and offered to follow her on Instagram where she posted her races. She, in turn, followed him. Occasionally she’d even like or comment on one of his sermons posted.

Pastor Marcus didn’t hear from her in a while. Then, she messaged him a couple of times asking him to call.

Busy.

He was busy. Busy with large church issues. The building needed to look right. Be impressive. The church sign. Lighting. Sound. Carpet.

Then she died of cancer.

He saw a family member post of Makayla’s death.

What did she want? Did she know Jesus? Could he have given her comfort and led her to Christ?

No one knows. But of all the people she knew, she chose to reach out to him on her deathbed.

This is a scar and reminder this pastor carries with him. Life is short. Time isn’t promised. Obey the Holy Spirit when He nudges.

This morning I’m asking God to show me anything I’ve been ignoring or refusing to obey. Has He been speaking to me and I’ve been too prideful to hear?

God forbid.

Today, I want to encourage you to stay tenderhearted and sensitive to God’s voice. We never know when we will meet someone we can affect eternally. Or when our last conversation will be.

The world is full of hurting people, needing God’s love and hope. May we be obedient to share it before it’s too late.

James 4:13-17 ESV Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Home

Luke 14:13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind

Years ago I felt led by God to share His love and truth with others. I always loved writing. I was quietly hoping that God would lead me to study deep truths of the Word, especially Torah, to share. And I do study when I can.

But He didn’t.

I wondered if I should learn more about calendars, feasts, Hebrew, Greek, ANE (ancient near east) culture, linguistics etc to communicate knowledge. Bring practical information. Although I share a small amount, that hasn’t been where God led me.

Hmm.

What do you want me to say Abba?

I recently asked Him this again. While scrolling past some wonderfully written educational posts I got the urge to study. Throw myself in that pool.

“I have something else for you.”

That couldn’t have been clearer. But what? What?!

I have called you to be a home.

A home?

Someone who has been coaching me shared that she sees the call for me to communicate a sense of belonging. Connection. It rings true in the deepest places of who I am.

Belonging? Connection?

At first, I thought it was simple. Insignificant. Undesired.

Who needs that?

Many. Far too many.

I had basically resented God for many years, until relatively recently in fact. I didn’t like the pain I had to endure from my past. I don’t like the struggles of trying to measure up with an ASD child who tests every boundary and ounce of patience you have. And I didn’t want to fully admit how dependent (aren’t we all really) I am.

Healing is a lifelong process for some.

But…dare I ask…what if my pain isn’t bad? What if it reveals truth and teaches me how to love? Forgive? Give mercy? Compassion? Tenderness?

A sign of being healed is the cessation of pain. It is God’s will that I’m whole. But what if the journey is beautiful? What if the only way I can truly give belonging and connection is to feel the opposite? To understand what is by what isn’t. As a new friend shared…

The process is the goal.

A woman told me about a homeless person who once asked for help. As she offered to, she asked for the other woman’s name. This lady was so used to being invisible that she was ministered to because someone asked for her name.

How sad and striking.

Knowledge is great and useful, but risky without being tempered by wisdom. Study is a good thing and something to some degree we all should do. But we are not here on this earth to communicate information.

We are to communicate transformation.

So, I’m finding myself praying in a new way. “Father, help me to speak Your love and truth and bring belonging to those who need it. Help me tell others what You’re doing and have done in my life.”

I obviously cannot be and am not a literal home. But, I can open up my doors and show people Yeshua (Jesus.)

There is truly no greater honor. Sometimes the hurting stay that way because they won’t face what is needed to be free and whole. But there are those who are so hungry and thirsty for more. For truth. For the Good Shepherd. They just need somewhere to belong.

For that, I am choosing to be a home.

John 13:35 ESV By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

My Sabbath Journey of Rest

Sabbath is approaching in a few hours. It’s the 4th commandment and one I value. But I admit, resting has been a surprising battle for me.

Shabbating.

That’s a new word I’ve learned in recent years. It’s basically resting before God on Sabbath. But far too often, I find myself doing anything but resting. I’ve got small children ranging from age 10 (next month) to age 2. There’s messes. Spills. Piles of toys. Needs. Many needs.

In the past I literally could feel my anxiety level kicking up as the dishes piled up in the sink and the floor was covered with toys. As soon as Sabbath was over I’d be cleaning up and catching up. I felt like I was trying to break even.

Then came Shabbatzilla.

Heard of Bridezilla? It is a television show about normal women who become a controlling, stressed out, monster or Godzilla.

Sheepishly I say…I’ve been that. I went through this season.

It’s Sabbath! Don’t make that mess. Just sit there. I don’t want to clean that up later. I’m tired. Can’t you see mommy is tired?!

Rather than resting, Sabbath was a reminder that I can’t rest. If I rest, there will be more work later that I am too exhausted to tackle.

Praise God I outgrew that.

But I still had a lot of learning to do. No, I don’t need to browse online for deals. I don’t need to look at negative news stories. I don’t need to argue. I’m a pretty easy going person. I don’t like conflict. But when I was more immature I’d debate over just about anything.

Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Where I am now.

I think I’m finally really understanding what resting is about. My final hurdle on Sabbaths was being mentally still. My mind was working so many times when my body was idle.

Shalom in the home is so important. And I’m appreciating the beauty of Shabbat.

It’s not a burden. It’s not a pain to keep. And it’s a blessing.

Isaiah 56:2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

This Sabbath, I’m thanking God that I see this truth and get the honor to keep it. I pray you learn to rest too. Sit at the feet of Jesus.

Matthew 12:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Luke 10:38-42 ESV Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?

Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

After the Rescue

Exodus 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

This message was strong in my spirit today.

Never forget where you came from.

As I was doing devotions two stories came to mind. The first is Pharaoh’s hardened heart at the miracles God did and the second is the one leper among the ten who came back to thank Jesus.

What will we do when we’re rescued?

These two stories have something in common. Both cried out for respite. Both asked God to relieve their suffering. The Samaritan leper returned to give thanks. But Pharaoh, upon receiving relief, turned back to his sin.

Oh how quickly we forget our dependence on God until our flesh is uncomfortable.

We are always in desperate need of our Maker. You and I are breathing because He created our lungs and wills us to be here right now. If He didn’t, I assure you we would not.

But…pride.

Pride causes us to think we’re something we aren’t. That we can live without God and are the reason for whatever we achieve.

Daniel 4:29-31 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you,

Ask King Nebuchadnezzar. I wonder what he’d say now if we could ask him. I’m pretty sure he would testify of God’s greatness and his human frailty.

We are not as strong as we think we are.

It scares me a little, to be raw here, that human nature leans so heavily to pride. As I’ve been crying out to God in my wilderness season, I wonder. What happens when I’m not in this season anymore? It keeps me seeking God daily for brokenness. The world doesn’t need more of Laurel. It needs more of Jesus shining through me.

Today, I want to encourage you to never ever forget where God brought you (and is still bringing you) out of. Your car, house, title, responsibilities, social status, struggles etc may change. But don’t ever let your heart harden. Don’t forget the hurting. Needy. Lost.

Helping hurting people, setting the captives free, and making disciples is why we’re here.

God doesn’t care about what we know. He cares about what we live out.

Keep seeking God for whatever you need. But just like physical seasons, seasons of life change too. When your winter is over, never forget it was God that kept you and brought you out. Live a life of thankfulness. And while you’re in the spring, someone around you is in their winter. They need you to remember.

Give thanks. Remember.

Luke 17:12-19 ESV And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Invitation

I couldn’t sleep. The nudge to draw closer was strong. So I talked to Abba. I said quietly to Him….

I want to really feel your love in a special way.

It wasn’t like I was seeking arms from Heaven to bend down and give me a hug. I desired something. I’m not quite sure what. But after a few minutes in silence that felt like eternity, I looked out the window.

I saw stars shining brightly through the light pollution of the city. All of a sudden I felt so small. I understood how insignificant and finite I am. My life is but a vapor compared to eternity. I am just a speck in the universe. Just earlier this week a polar vortex plummeted temperatures to lows I’ve never experienced before. It doesn’t take much to see the mercy we live under.

This night I’m warmer. I have some rare quiet and solitude. I feel so overwhelmed sometimes. So small. So limited.

I want to feel your love.

That desire was replaying in my very core. But then I realized something.

The God who created everything I see, who can’t be exaggerated and has no equal knows me. He died for me. I am speaking to Him.

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Before I existed my days were already written. Everything I’m going through, have been through and will experience He knows.

Yes, He knows.

I don’t have to bang on heaven’s door in desperation. I don’t need to panic or worry.

What if God really does know what He’s doing? What if He has a plan after all?

I can’t understand it or see it. But I get it. He chose me. He calls me significant. Valuable. Special.

El Elyon, God Most High made me on purpose and loves me. No matter what I’m facing I can say that YHVH is with me.

Do I “feel” His love? No. But I don’t have to. I have something far better, and that’s what I’m resting in.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV 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 by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.