Here’s My Heart

heart

This morning I am thankful. I’m walking into my sixth year with the Lord and marveling at what a sweet, powerful work He has done in my world. In my heart. From the beginning, maybe because I met Him in a time of intense gratitude, it’s been easy to hand over my heart. And easy to take His.

Jesus seems above all else interested in the condition of His bride’s heart. He longs for sincere relationship. He delights in actions that are born out of a true desire to relate to and please Him, not the people around us. Our walk with Him should be full of joy, even when it’s not easy.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
~Jesus, John 10:10

We’ve spent thousands of years focusing on and treating symptoms instead of addressing the source of the issue. Whether it’s “good” or “bad”, WHY are you doing what you are doing? How is your heart?

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

There is a mindset that God detests. It’s been hard to wrap my mind around that because I prefer to focus on His love for all people. But here:

“For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
~God, Psalm 95:10

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
~Jesus, Matthew 23:27-28

When He talks like this, it’s to people who know Him only “on paper”, who may be walking through the desert but are grumbling the entire time. Who may be behaving perfectly and checking off all the right boxes, but it’s only out of show or fear. He wants sincerity in His relationships. Don’t we all?

It was just a nice reminder today stay focused on keeping my heart pure. It’s my favorite thing about Us.

Sustain Me!

psalm-51

The other day, a friend noticed my sink wasn’t draining properly and opened up the cabinet to check it out. Ack! What had been so painstakingly organized just two years ago looked like a jumbled mess of garbage. Over the course of too many busy days, the extra razors or toothbrushes or mouthwash bottles had been tossed in there with full intentions to put them away properly… “soon”. I went through it all yesterday, and you wouldn’t believe how many good, important things I found. Completely unused, utterly forgotten.

It’s heavy on my mind this morning. That lackadaisical attitude is one of my biggest fears – I fear it creeping into my life, into my walk with the Lord, into relationships.

The joy of newness is sometimes overwhelming for me. I remember when I first met Jesus – there were times that I thought my heart was going to explode from too much joy. The intimacy of new salvation was so sweet, so strong. I intentionally cut out all distractions, intentionally listened for his words and nudges, intentionally gave him everything. I confidently knew I would never lose that intense connection. Sigh. How easy it is to get caught up in the routines of life and lose focus.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation…
~Psalm 51:12a

Intentionality requires effort and is easily overlooked or procrastinated. This morning I am hoping that in two years, the doors of my house, my heart, and my relationships aren’t opened to find another mess of awesome but unused and forgotten treasures. I am praying for diligence, strength, and a willing spirit.

…And sustain me with a willing spirit.
~Psalm 51:12b

Walk in the Promise

It is with a whisper that I write tonight. There’s a hesitancy to put words to something so precious and at my fingertips. It’s dreams, being fulfilled, before my eyes.

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psalm 37:4-5

Oh, for the ability to encourage us all to hold tight to his promises, to believe that those dreams in our hearts will come true, uncompromised, if we carry on in alignment with him. If we allow him to refine and prepare our hearts for them.

One thing I have learned this month, and I believe this applies to any dream the Lord has given us: It’s not ok to let compromise creep in. If you’re like me, it feels self-centered, picky, mean, and frankly crazy to pass up on “pretty darn good” when there is nothing remotely like the dream around. Where I wanted to believe I was helping God out by giving time and energy to one compromise after another, I was actually demonstrating a lack of faith. I didn’t trust his insanely beautiful promises to be possible, not for me anyway. I am reminded of the impossible promise made to Abram and Sarai, and the mess they made trying to reinterpret and help it come to pass. Lord, help us believe you have our best at heart, and help us trust in your timing!

Put your hope in the Lord.
    Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
Psalm 37:34

Each day I walk with Jesus, the promise for my partner becomes more clear and (frustratingly) more uncompromising. Seemingly unattainable. I’ve struggled with impatience, being fulfilled with his sweet and perfect covering, but distracted by the dream of sharing this path with a partner. A dream he has put in my heart. And one I am finally believing he will deliver…without compromise. As I’ve walked toward his promises, his promises have been walking toward me. Jesus is at the center.

So yes, I whisper the way you might in a cave surrounded by priceless treasures, so delicate anything louder might shatter, so pure and beautiful it seems disrespectful to even share. There is no grasping and no fear, just a wide-eyed fascination as the promises unfold, and an overwhelming gratitude I can only utter in fragments.

Untangled

knot

 

 

 

 

 

Hello stranger…it’s been a while.

Wow it feels good to step back on to this virtual hiking path. For almost 4 years it has been a place to share my journey, planting little flags along the way to remember where I was. This year I have done a lot less writing here – I’ve been off-roading and exploring things less easily shareable.

A friend calls it “untying the knots of my soul” – y’all, my knots had formed knots. And that’s ok. I’m becoming increasingly untangled.

The other day I experienced one of my most uncomfortable parental situations. I watched one of my children try to quiet a disruptive group without being offensive to the group, mostly through silent, smiling gestures. She was there through a shared affiliation, and she wasn’t contributing to the disruption, but it became clear that she had no idea how to improve the situation OR remove herself from it. [I’m not criticizing – sweetness is something she comes by quite naturally, ha!] I’m sure I didn’t handle this the best way, if there is one, but I pulled the mean mom card and asked her to come sit by me. It was hours before we had the opportunity to sit and talk about it, so for those hours we walked together in an awkward state of misunderstanding. She thought I was angry and disappointed in her, she was hurt and angry with me, she believed my intentions were to punish her. I finally got the chance to remind her of this underlying truth:

I AM ALWAYS ON YOUR SIDE.

I said that repeatedly and with variety the rest of the evening before she allowed it to penetrate her heart, which frustrated and frankly astounded me. Doesn’t she know that at this point?? Before I go further…I’m not saying I think she’s perfect and every other kid is wrong. I’m not pitting her against other people. I just mean that I want the best for her, and will act toward that goal, always. My actions were made in an effort to protect her, to teach her it’s ok to step away from situations that are not in her best interest. It was not a fun lesson for either of us, but I’m thankful for the chance to have that conversation. She is entering a season of increasing independence.

Today in my prayer closet (aka the shower), I was thinking about yet another personal situation which has left me confused, hurt, angry, and sad. I’ve been silently slushing through those feelings for a couple days now, and I finally asked God for a little help understanding. Guess what started playing through my mind? That experience with my daughter, of course. I have been walking hurt with no idea of the full truth, making assumptions based on my very limited perspective. Is it possible that the universe/God/my authority is really not out to punish me or withhold something sweet from me at every turn? Could he even be protecting me from (or FOR) something I simply can’t comprehend today? These thoughts rolled out, the weight of comfort and revelation with them, and then there was a tiny pause.

I AM ALWAYS ON YOUR SIDE.

I wonder how many times and ways he’s said that to me today waiting for me to hear it. Unlike me, he wasn’t jumping up and down or doing cartwheels or getting frustrated as it worked its way into my heart. God is beautiful and patient, and loves loves loves until we get it. Another knot untangled.

Nice Speck!

pointing-finger

I am so thankful for how messed up everyone around me is!

Please don’t unfriend me yet.

I’ve actually been sitting on this blog for a few weeks now because, while learning it, the rug began moving under my feet again. If you’ve gotten tired of hearing me say things like that…trust me. I get tired of living it.

I recently decided that I want a purer heart – I want to love better, learn better, do life better. I made a declaration of war on anything clouding up the vision of my heart. Purifying hearts is really not in my job description, so I prayed this promise, “If you show me, I will look.” I’ma be honest…I didn’t expect to need much time for this task.

I should know better at this point than to underestimate that prayer! Why I go into these exercises believing they will be fun or easy, I have yet to understand.

In the following days and weeks, I started seeing an explosion of ugly, awful, sad, hypocritical things…in you!! Well, not necessarily YOU, but you know, everywhere I looked. Witchiness and magical thinking in the church, paralyzing insecurities, heartbreaking patterns, narcissism. Oh man. Do you have any idea how much I want to pretend those things are just in “them”?

There they definitely are, but … and here’s where the rug starts spinning under my feet … they are just little tiny midgets pointing at giants in my own heart and soul. That I see them at all is important. That I see them first in others means I’m human. That I can now see them in me is the first painful but life-changing step toward freedom.

“Ask, and it will be given to you.”
[The way I read that today: “You’re welcome.”]
~Jesus, Matthew 7:7a

It’s taken me a few weeks to connect the dots between awareness of certain issues around me, and seeing that they’re also rooted (exponentially larger) inside me. These are not new things – they’ve been in and out there all along. They are just things I’ve been blind to.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
~Jesus, Matthew 7:1-5

I hate that the only way I’ve been able to see gigantic stumps in my own heart is by first seeing a tiny speck in someone else’s, but that has actually been a huge part of this lesson. I’m learning the problem is not seeing someone’s speck, but failing to look at my own. 

These days when I see something unsettling, I don’t just assume I’m gifted at seeing everyone else’s flaws and weaknesses like I did once upon a time. Now I pause, I cringe, I look at myself even if it seems ridiculous, and I am thankful when a blind spot becomes visible.

So, while I’m not necessarily thankful we’re messy, I am thankful we have each other to rub against and learn from.

Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

And I’m thankful for another concrete example of answered prayer, even one that didn’t go quite as I was expecting. We will find if we sincerely seek.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
~Jesus, Matthew 7:7

Kiss of Life

What a gorgeous Passover weekend this is! It’s bright, sunny, and bird-chirpingly perfect. I have been easily distracted with everything else I can possibly do this morning, running from what he keeps putting on my heart to write.

See, I’ve always had this thing about feeling sorry for the villain. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t excuse hurtful choices or condone evil actions, and I do believe in appropriate consequences. But still, no matter what has been done, I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness even for the criminal. I can see the brokenness, pain, and loss. I can feel the darkness in their life and heart. I can smell their sickness and bondage. Try as I might, there are very few people I can see as unredeemable “monsters”. I want better for them. I wish they were healed and free.

I have lived a long time with shame for empathizing with those others revile. Even today, I struggle to write it for all to see. But I’m learning to think differently about it.

This weekend, I’ve been stuck on Judas. My heart aches for that man. And his story should be, quite frankly, more terrifying to us than it seems to be.

We see him through the lens of his last weekend on earth, and what others (looking through that lens as well) had to say about him in hindsight. I grew up thinking he was the worst person in the Bible. He is forever labeled a thief and the ultimate betrayer.

But remember! He was one of 12 imperfect men chosen by Jesus to form his inner circle. Just like the other 11, he left everything to join and follow Jesus. He was trusted enough to be the keeper of the money. He was actively involved in every mission, witness to every miracle, and lived and served with Jesus for 3 1/2 years. Until that Passover weekend, he appeared no different than any of the others. He looked like a PERFECT DISCIPLE on the outside – so much that when Jesus tells them very clearly that Judas will betray him, no one gets it.

Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
John 13:26-30

That’s what is scary. That one can walk alongside, act exactly the same, point others toward truth, so perfectly look the part…and still not know Jesus.

On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:22-23

I’ve tried to understand the motivation behind Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, and I have been struck with a couple thoughts.

  • Judas went to the chief priests immediately after being rebuked by Jesus. Judas was upset with Mary for anointing Jesus with perfume worth a year’s wages. He was given 30 pieces of silver, which was half a year’s wages. He may have been banking on Mary’s offering.
  • All the Israelites were looking for a Messiah – a leader to deliver them from Roman oppression. Most, including the disciples, expected that to come in the form of a military leader, not a spiritual one. Jesus was utterly disappointing in that regard (that time, anyway).
  • Judas seemed sincerely surprised that Jesus was condemned. I can’t help but think of the times Jesus “slipped away” from those who tried to arrest him. [When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” Matthew 27:3-4]

Judas betrayed one person with a kiss. And do you know what I find? Jesus still loved him – before, during, and after the betrayal. Jesus knew the bigger picture, that the kiss leading to his death would bring LIFE to those who truly follow him. It was in the plan all along.

He teaches me grace everywhere I look, and inspires me to stop labeling and lumping people into categories for my own convenience. He motivates me to look beyond the easy story and see what he’s really teaching. Judas’ story is a warning, a call to wake up! Be intentional about who you are following, and why. Check your heart and let him clean it. Don’t be the enemy’s plaything. And finally – embrace empathy. There is so much to learn when we stop judging others.

Spring Cleaning and the Next Step

So I’ve landed. Now what?

The last year has felt like a crazy, floundering mess. I kind of picture my soul (mind, will, emotions) as three gears that fit together. My gears had gotten bent out of shape and needed some retooling. They had gotten coated in layer upon layer of gunk and were no longer turning smoothly. Allowing those parts to be pulled, examined, scraped, and hammered was definitely hard and messy work. But, in the grand scheme of things, not much harder than living stuck, and definitely worth the effort.

I’ve entered into spring with a renewed spring in my step. Excited to move forward into the next assignment. Which is…completely unknown. Ack!! I have found myself almost obsessively asking for a glimpse of the next step, just a tiny sliver of insight. I wanted to believe I was doing that out of diligence, until the Lord showed me otherwise in a sweet but very clear moment. I’ve been asking out of a desire to control my little world and, really, out of a lack of trust. He asked me to surrender the whole idea of “the next step”. It was like he had his arms wide open and said, “Step into THIS! Your next steps will be born here.” Gives a whole new meaning to baby steps!

See, I am doing something new!
    Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19

I look outside at the trees and flowers budding into new life, and they are tangible expressions of this concept for me. It’s pretty simple – they need water, air, and sunshine. Not a step-by-step plan of their next season.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.”
~Jesus, Matthew 6:30-34 (The Message version)

I love that he didn’t tell me to stop moving…but instead redirected my steps and my eyes back where they needed to be: into and onto him. Because we are going further. This is just the beginning of a new season, and it’s going to be a good one.

spring

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries