Lift me

Psalm 142:1

Warm water splashed my tears in the shower as I prayed out loud, “God, I am in a funk.  Please help me.”

I don’t think I have ever said it quite that way before, but that was my sentence this morning.  It may as well have been my sentence each morning for the whole week…. but this morning I said it, and I asked for help.  Out loud.  In tears.

Maybe you have been there, in a place that sinks low in the quicksand of despair that makes its way to the chin.

My head knows the truth.

My eyes see the truth.

My ears hear the truth.

But my heart is squeezed tight in a vice and the tears will not stop.

I listened to a lot of worship music.  I compiled a list of Bible Verses for a conference that is coming up and I soaked in the truth of each verse. I ate bagels. I had my hair done, and my nails painted red (for love) and I went and picked up this book “What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days” by Holley Gerth.

To me.  From me.  For me.

What your heart needs by Holley Gerth

I read Chapter 1:  God Wants to Lift You Up When Life Lets You Down, and it encouraged me.

What your heart needs

I went for a lovely walk with my oldest and we had great conversation and discovered delicate beauty together.

It was a lovely evening, and then once the kids were tucked in bed… I went to my room and closed the door.  I sobbed and sobbed, and ate a cookie and continued to cry tears into my pillow.

Later that night, a friend who was not aware of my tears, texted that she had prayed extra for me that night.   And she texted these words… “He is with you.  He knows.  He will lift you up.”

I trusted He would…I just needed him to as soon as possible.

I woke up and the heaviness was still taking up places in my heart.  The Bible Verse of the day was “lift” too:

Psalm 121

Thankfully, my Thursday at 10:30 am counseling session was scheduled, and I could hardly wait.  Entering that room is like entering the work zone with no hard hat required because it is safe.  For two years now that room is where pieces of broken debris have been sorted and connected.  The middle of the couch is where I can sit and whisper at the window and today I tremble and cry.

She helps me trace the pain.  She helps me see all that triggered this funk, and when all of the world around me seems to fall away, she helps me to see Him with me then, and Him with me now.  She helps me see His LOVE.

I walk out and on the magnetic wall someone has started “Love is” but they haven’t quite finished it.  So I crop it and add the verses from 2 Corinthians 13:4-7 (MSG).

Love is...

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Everything that describes LOVE is GOD.

GOD is LOVE.

We miss it.  We mess up.

Others mess up.

He doesn’t.  Ever.

God is love, and no matter how we feel, or how it seems, He is with us.

His love never fails.

Ever.

That lifts me.

God is My Shade

I have been unpacking my heart from the She Speaks 14 conference, and quite honestly, this was a part that I had not intended to unpack here.  Until today.  In reading Psalms this morning I tweeted verses about God being my hiding place and being close.  (Psalm 32:7 & Psalm 34:18)  I made this picture and sent it to a friend and said, “Wow, that’s a promise!” to which she replied back, “Yes, and true to the end…. not some but ALL.”

Psalm 34:19-20
Psalm 34:19-20

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And then I see a tweet that reminds me to unwrap a scroll that was tenderly wrapped just for me.   Just the thought of that paper delicately rolled in twine overwhelms my heart with love.

Unroll Your Scroll
I took this picture when I saw it. I knew it would be amazing. It was. #UnrollYourScroll #UYS #SS14AP

The week before She Speaks, I wanted to run.  Those seven days were filled with anxiety, insomnia, and panic.  This sentence ran marathons through my mind the entire week – “WHAT AM I THINKING?”  I wanted to go, and was excited to go until it came right down to going and then I was afraid.  Thankfully, I remembered Jonah.

I remembered reading about Jonah just a few weeks before.  My last post before She Speaks was “God Comforts.”  I read this verse in Jonah and it jumped off of the page and rocked my world.

Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant.  Jonah 4:6

This verse stirred this fresh hope in my soul:  God doesn’t make us comfortable, but he does ease our discomfort.  

We visited Duke Gardens and my son helped me capture this reminder:

Jonah 4:6
Jonah 4:6

It made me think about all the leafy plants God provided to me for shade in my life. It made reflect on all of the ways He was with me.  God knew Jonah was uncomfortable.  He was right there.  He was aware, and He used this simple plant to provide joy for Jonah in his discomfort.  Jonah was very happy about the plant and it helped him to endure.

On the night before She Speaks, I was trying to get everything ready.  After staring at a blank screen for way too long, I finally decided to break away with my husband and go eat dinner together.  As we got out of the car, my heart was filled with peace at the sight of this puffy love in the sky.

Job 37:16
Job 37:16

These clouds reminded me that He has perfect knowledge and can be trusted.  After taking a break for dinner, I was able to go home, finish everything and pack.  I was ready and I was excited.  I was headed to She Speaks!

As I walked into that big room on the first morning, I took a deep breath.  The beauty and the detail on each table alone was incredible.  The bird-cage, reminding me that I am free.  The candles, reminding me to let my light shine.  The empty beautiful bottles, reminding me to be filled with Him.  The gorgeous flowers, reminding me to bloom where he plants me.  The new friends and faces around me, reminding me that I am not alone.

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Beautiful Details. #SheSpeaks14

And then this scroll, for me.  It was wrapped with love, and randomly placed into my hands.  For such a time as this.  This scroll, reminding me again that He is my comfort.  He is my King Jesus.  I am His princess.  He is my shade.

IMG_2598
Psalm 121:3-5 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

Can you see the ways God has provided leafy plants for you?  Have you experienced His shade in your discomfort and pain?  Maybe God is telling you to go to Nineveh, too?  Go, and trust Him.  He will be there with you, always.  He will be there to ease your discomfort.  He will be your shade.

God Comforts

Praise to the God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

 who comforts us in all our troubles,

so that we can comfort those in any trouble

with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant

and made it grow up over Jonah

to give shade for his head

to ease his discomfort,

and Jonah was very happy about the plant.  

Jonah 4:6 (NIV)

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.  

Isaiah 51:3

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

 

He sees me.

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As tears filled my eyes on the way to counseling last Thursday, I captured this photo.  I sent it to a friend and said, “He sees.  He weeps. He knows.”   I later sent the picture to her in an Instagram message with this verse:  Psalm 32:8  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go.  I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

This morning I was reading the OWNit365 One Story reading plan in Genesis 16 about Hagar,  the slave of Sarai. Here’s a brief summary:  Sarai had her husband sleep with Hagar so they could have a child.  Once Hagar became pregnant she started to despise Sarai.  Sarai started to mistreat Hagar and so Hagar left.   The angel of the Lord finds her, and calls her by name, and asks her where she is going.  She tells him she is running away.  The angel of the Lord tells her to go back and submit.  He told her she would have many descendants and to name her baby boy Ishmael (which means God Hears) because the Lord had heard of her misery.

He heard her.  Maybe she cried out to Him.  Maybe she just cried.  Maybe she had prayed over and over for relief and for help.  Maybe she screamed.  However she expressed her misery, He heard it, and He saw her.

Then in verse 13 and I read her response:

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,”  for she said, ” I have now seen the One who sees me.”

He sees me.

He knows.

I matter.

Hagar, who was a slave.  Hagar, who was pregnant by Abram – Sarai’s husband.  Hagar, who was mistreated.  Hagar, who ran away to escape.

The angel of the Lord pursued Hagar and found her.  The angel of the Lord called her by her name.

He sees.  He hears.  He knows.  He is always aware.

The name she gave her Lord that day is the God who sees me.  

El Roi – The God Who Sees

I thought about that verse all day.   Then, at dinner tonight, my son said, “We had an interesting discussion about Abraham today at school.”  Part of the discussion was about Abraham having two wives, and then I chimed in and told them the part about El Roi – The God who sees!   We can be sure God sees and that He is with us.  I made sure to clarify that He sees everything – not just like Santa when you are naughty or nice…but when you are hurting, lonely or sad.  He knows.  He sees.   We are never alone.  El Roi – The God Who Sees.  What a comfort!

Psalm 56:8 (MSG) 

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights,

Each tear entered in your ledger,

each ache written in your book.