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.

Love With Abandon

Love is in the air.  It’s almost Valentine’s day and the color of the world right now is RED.  I can taste the dark chocolate and smell the pink roses.  Yet, somewhere in my brain, I can faintly hear Tina Turner singing “What’s love got to do with it?  Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”  Can you relate?   What do you see, smell, taste, or hear when you think of Valentine’s Day or love?

God is love.  In 1 John 4:7-9 it says:      God’s Love and Ours

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

He created us to love, and to be loved.  It’s our heart’s desire, but sometimes heartache and pain can make us withdraw from giving love, receiving love or even feeling loved.   I can see the red, taste the chocolate, and smell the flowers, and dance the Valentine’s Day Dance anytime, but can I really FEEL the LOVE???

A few days back I woke up in the middle of the night with this thought:  Love With Abandon.   I typed it on my phone and went back to sleep.  I woke up thinking “love with abandon” –  What does that even mean?

Love with abandon.   Merriam-Webster defines abandon as : (noun) a feeling or attitude of wild or complete freedom

Love with Wild or Complete Freedom.   Love With Abandon.   Love Big, without worry.  Love without fear …take it all in, and don’t hold anything back.   Complete freedom in a wild and reckless way.

Sometimes, I think heartache or pain causes us to all shut off parts of our heart, and we start to build walls and keep an arm’s length distance to connecting and feeling love with others – especially when it’s risky.  Throw God in the mix, and we shut Him out too.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”  

When He knocks and we open the door and let Him in, He doesn’t want to be invited in just to linger in the foyer where there’s no clutter or dust.  He wants all of your heart….not just the parts you are comfortable sharing.

Origin of Abandon (from Merriam-Webster.com):  Middle English abandounen, from Anglo-French abandoner, from (mettrea ban dun:   to hand over, put in someone’s control.

What does it look like to hand over your entire heart and being to Christ?  How can we love Him with abandon and surrender all to Him?

In Mark 12:30 Jesus says the greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” 

It doesn’t say love him with the part of your heart that functions well, or the part of your soul that is alive with joy, or the part of your mind that understands, or with some of your strength.  He wants you to love him with the broken and torn apart pieces of your heart.  He wants you to love him with the parts of your mind that scream WHY???, and Where were you??  He wants you to love him with all of the weary in your achy soul. He wants you to love him when your strength barely exists, and every muscle burns.

Love with abandon.  Don’t hold anything back.  Love Him with all of it.  When we are able to love Him with abandon, then we will be free to love ourselves and others, and receive love with complete freedom!

What about you?  Is he knocking?   Have you already invited Him in but left Him lingering in the foyer where it’s nice and clean?  Take Him into each room of your heart – under all the beds, into all the closets, down into the basements, behind the shower curtains.  Let Him go with you to all of the places you closed off.  Take the locks off, open the boxes of pain and let His love in.  Give Him everything.  Love Him with abandon.  Love with complete freedom!

Take a moment to listen to this song by Hillsong Young and Free – Sinking Deep.   As you listen, think of how you can love with abandon.  I have had this song on repeat this week.  The chorus gets me every time:

I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace

And all my heart is yours

All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into

Your love, Oh, your love

Lean into His love as you listen:

Be.Loved

It was almost a year ago when I realized for the first time in 39 years that I could truly be.loved by Christ.   Not just because He loves all the little children of the world, and not just because the Bible tells me so.  I knew because He spoke it straight to the core of my being through a beautiful pink sky.  It was that pink sky post that started this blog and started my true journey to healing.

Jesus Loves ME!  I remember taking that in and letting it permeate all of the doubts, misconceptions and lies I had believed for years.

He created me in the secret place.  My frame was not hidden from Him when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  (Psalm 139:15)  

My birth was not planned, but I was no surprise to Jesus.  He created me, and nothing about my life is a surprise to him.

The writing prompt at Faith Barista this week is beloved.  As soon as I saw it I immediately thought, “No thank you, I’ll Pass”, but it has come to my mind a lot these last few days and all I can hear in my head is Maroon 5 singing, “I don’t mind spending everyday out on your corner in the pouring rain….look for the girl with the broken smile, ask her if she wants to stay a while, and she will be loved, and she will be loved….”  over and over and over in my lyrical brain.

The girl with the broken smile.

Broken.

When I think of Beloved, the first thing that comes to mind is  “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Song of Songs 6:3.  As I was reading that book, I found a verse I had written at our ladies bible study recently and stuck in my bible.  We were shown several verses and were told to write down the one that is hard for us to believe.

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Holy, Blameless.  I looked up the verse in my Bible, Ephesians 1:4  “For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

In his sight.  I am His Beloved.  He sees me as Holy and Blameless.

I was looking in the back of my Busy Mom’s Bible and saw this in the 5 minute reflect and pray section on authentic living:

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Now we have hit a nerve.  And Maroon 5 is only getting louder in my head.  “And she will be loved.  She will be loved.”

Song of Songs: 4:12 You are a garden locked up, a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.

Those are boundaries.

Song of Songs 3:3  Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

That is a warning.  It appears 3 times in the book.

Song of Songs 8:12 But my own vineyard is mine to give.

That makes my chest pound.  Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

I struggle with being loved and being beloved, because boundaries were broken.  Trust violated.  Heart shattered.  Maybe you do too?  This book, Song of Songs, is about wooing, and freely giving.  Sometimes in life, vineyards are stolen.  Trampled on.  Disregarded.  Used.  Harmed.

He created me and He made me to be wooed.  He calls me His Beloved.  He knows everything, and He still calls me beloved.

Song of Songs 8:6-7  Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.  It burns like blazing fire; like a mighty flame.   Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot sweep it away.  (Read that and listen to You Won’t Relent by Jesus Culture – worship pink girl, worship!)

No matter what – He loves me.

No matter what  – I am His Beloved.

He is patient with me, and he knows my struggles.  He longs for me to see the vineyard he created and designed.  He loves me.  He picks up the broken fences, busted locks, and broken glass and holds each piece in His Hands.  He holds each jagged piece and my beloved cries out to me, “Arise my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.  See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.”  (Song of Solomon 2:10)

He takes me to the garden and restores the beauty.

He mends the broken.

He reminds me Spring is near.

Song of Songs 4:7  You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

So beloved, be.loved and be love.

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And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” By Hillsong United

Choose Love

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Sometimes, if we just keep it simple, we remember.  We repeat.  We sing it.  We pray it.  We think about it, and we let it roll around in our brains and on our tongues.  We are reminded and we are quick to remind others.

A few times recently, the kids were fighting constantly – and nothing seemed to work.  Separating them, sitting them down, sending them to their room – was all just a temporary solution to a louder BUT SHE!!  and WELL, HE!!! rebuttal.

One day I walked into the kitchen and I wrote two words on a sheet of paper and I put them on the refrigerator.  CHOOSE LOVE.  I sat them all down and I told them with urgency (because those two words are mostly for me too) that we must choose love.

Before any unkind word is spoken, Choose Love.

Before any harsh word is yelled, Choose Love.

Before any feelings are hurt, Choose Love.

Be intentional and be reminded in our words and actions to simply Choose Love.

It started out with reminders.  Now instead of them running to tell me that “someone” wasn’t sharing, they looked into the eyes of “someone” and said Choose Love.  When they did run to me with the latest complaint, or injury – I would hold my tongue thinking Choose Love, and cup their chin gently in my hand and say Choose Love.

It hasn’t been perfect but it has been perfectly better.  The best was when our four year old prayed at bedtime, “help us to choose love”.

Two simple words to ponder, and to remind us of what we are called to do:

John 13:34  A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 

Romans 12:10  Be devoted to one another in love.   Honor one another above yourselves.

Ephesians 4:2   Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  

Hebrews 10:24  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  

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1 Corinthians 13:13  And now these three remain, faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

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