3 am thoughts

Have you ever took up your life, forgone the seatbelt and purposely crashed into a wall?

Metaphorically speaking. …I believe we all have at times.

You see, unwise decisions and habitual sin lead to devastation.

Injury.

Death.

And, I have done it myself, speeding along at my will, wrecking my life, and all the while God is watching and allowing me to be wounded by my carelessness.

For example, I’m a writer, and I have many pieces that I’ve written that have not been shared. Many are too personal and many are simply waiting to be finished. Many are finished and the timing isn’t right.

Whatever the reason, when I read over them, I am remembering the WHY of why I wrote them. I can see them for what they are, as well. I know when they are ready and when they need work. I know when, let’s be honest, the written work is not very good. The intention and labor behind it was good, but the body needs a lot of work.

My whole point here is that God knows us and knows when we need work. He knows, probably like a writer too,  that even the best piece can be better. But,  at some point, the piece is just ready, and the refining will come along the way.

And I, in my humanity, can’t wrap my brain around this. I can’t comprehend how I could possibly be ready to serve him and so fallen, so imperfect and so undeserving of his attentions.

Especially, knowing that nothing is hidden from God and that on my own, my righteousness is like dirty rags…. God knows this about me, you, for we are all a people naturally bent towards rebellion.

Even more so…..

God knows us and our capacity to forget him.

Can you imagine? What if you had a spouse, and you knew that your spouse’s natural tendency was to forget you? What if you caught your spouse cheating, but it didn’t shock you because you knew it would happen?

But, what if you still loved your spouse anyway? What if you let it go at his or her own detriment, knowing all the while the damage they would do, but vowed  to wait for their return, anyway?

Wouldn’t we question the sanity of the faithful spouse I just depicted?  Yet, that is exactly what God is like. He is our faithful bridegroom.

We deserve divorce papers, but instead, he draws us into his will

We deserve separation, but instead he bridges the gap between heaven and hell with his own body, bent and broken on the cross for his glory and for our benefit

Yet, we continue to turn away from him;  we have little indiscretions, big ones, and sometimes, we plainly forget Him.

Yet, there he is..still waiting, still faithful, and still loving us without wanting to shame us, beating us down with “I told you so’s” or making us atone for idolatry because Jesus….

Because Jesus……who left his glory in heaven to walk the roads of humanity and than later… to die for us all, even those of us who spit upon his brow with our total rebelllion.  He embodies true mercy.

True mercy….

I don’t know about you, but I can’t fathom that. I don’t want to most of the time. True mercy is scandalous and makes us want to say  “he doesn’t deserve it! She doesn’t deserve it.”

But,

mercy doesn’t accuse and it doesn’t follow human moral codes of justice.

Instead, it comes, undeserving and so beautiful…and

It’s for those of us, just like me and like you ….who are violently driving themselves towards their death, ready to wreck against an iron wall upon our own violation.

I see that ….

God has allowed me to be the driver to my own death. I see now that He didn’t swoop down to pull me out at certain times.

And, in light of this, I can see that God allowing me to wreck myself is one of the best gifts he has given me.

Because only in the midst of my deep forgetfulness, can I remember how MUCH I need the wonderfulness of his mercy.

God, may your mercies work miracles through me….

-A

Hosea 11

Sow in me righteousness,

Reap in me steadfast love,

Break in me fallowed land

 

It is time to seek You, Lord…

 

Come like the rain,

Your goodness pouring down.

 

For though I run, scattered in sin,

You do not lose me.

 

Your faithfulness reels me in,

Your fences protect my life

The boundaries of Your mercy secure me,

Your blood brings me into Your family.

 

O tender love of God,

It is time to seek Your face.

Even the Wanderer… A Hosea Response

And a wanderer was I,
Living in a house of rebellion
                                         Reclining on furniture of shame,
                                   Snuggling with blankets of humiliation,
                                                                And
                                              Sleeping in chains of sin
Let the sun come up
And shine on me,
For this darkness needs light….
I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
So far away was I
But drawn near to the Messiah
By the blood of Christ
You beckon me to my true home
And
Father, I’m coming, I’m running back
Oh Let the sun come up, 
And shine on me
For this darkness needs light
I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
It’s the great exchange:
My rebellion for contrition
My disobedience for repentance
My sins forgiven,
My humiliation forgotten!
My heart, for Your kingdom
Your plans for my own
My life for your instrument
My wandering for Your home…
For I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
And
I’m coming, I’m running back
HOME.

Unedited: “The Sower of the Wind.”

After work, I’ll probably be annoyed that I posted this morning’s journal entry without bothering to edit it. I am compelled  to share this in its raw form though…and I hope even there, that it resonates with someone.
DAY 11, #Shereadstruth devotional
“They sow the wind and shall reap the whirlwind.”
Hosea 8:7
 Here I am, more often than not. Sowing the wind. Plowing through air, planting seeds of air, weeding seeds of air, and, sweating,  toiling and struggling, thinking I am sincere, but forgetting something.
 The WIND is an immovable force of nature,  and here I am sowing into her with abandon and all-intention, putting myself in harms way ….
 IN the face of God, his assurance and hope, his wisdom and beckoning call, I fail, time and time again.
 I try to construct my own safety nets. I run to the sight of false hope, disguised as eternity when in reality they are temporary distractions. I hire out for myself lovers, paying them to fill the void within me, when I should be running and skipping back to the cross, where the stripes of Jesus paid everything in my name….
 And, as I do so, my appetite for destruction grows to such an extent that I began to operate from what I need instead of what I’ve already received. I began to operate as a child of a temporary, fading world instead of a child of an eternal, expanding Kingdom.
 Until I see I’m standing in the path of the whirlwind, her winds turning and funneling before me, swelling and growing and whistling with danger.  And then, I look at my sweaty hands, my calloused palms and remember the LORD.
 And in the light of repentance, I see that I’ve placed my hope in the wrong things. I see that I’ve lived so much out of my own strength until I became the mini-little g- god in my own world. Controlling, stabilizing, manipulating, shopping, laboring at the plow trying to produce security in this fallen world , sowing the wind, and working so hard to fight against the pain in this world that looms like a big dark shadow over me.
 But, at the feet of Jesus, my eyes are opened and I’m so ashamed of what I’ve brought to the throne of grace that I began to fall away. And, as I kneel, bits and pieces of my broken heart, my sinful flesh began to fall and I lay before him in jagged fragments; discarded pottery at the foot of the LORD, I am….weeping and ashamed and SO wrecked before Him because NOW I can finally see and it’s not good folks.
 It’s not good. One glimpse into His glory and I break like glass before His face. I can’t handle all that grace, all that mercy , all that FIRE of truth burning before me. So, I break and then I wait for his hand to sweep me away or to do something with all these pieces that are SO shattered it would require divine patience to mend.
 Then, like a warm oil, I feel His hands. The hands of JESUS, who came for sick, broken people like me. The hand of Jesus, with scars from nails driven in, who know how to minister to pain. The hands of Jesus, who are imprinted with hope and mercy for the undeserving.
 He slowly begins to piece me together, taking choice pieces and leaving out others. Even in the remaking, I do not fear. Even in the discomfort, I do not shy away. For I am in the builder’s hands now and He knows what He is doing. And when all that is usable is done, he sanctifies me for his bidding, filling every empty part with the Spirit of the Living God; tracing over every seamed together piece with fingers readied to forever HEAL..
 And when I say, “Lord, look at what I’ve done! Look at who’ve I’ve been! I am not worthy to be YOURS”… He said I’ve made you worthy. 
 And when I say, “But Lord, my flesh is sinful; I am not holy!” He says, I’ve made you holy!
 And what I say, “But Lord, who am I to be with you? ” He says, YOU are mine.
 And before me, he shows me a cross. He shows me everything I’ve done, the sin I’ve confessed and the secret shames I’ve hidden. He shows me every.single.sin nailed to that cross, and I recoil back in shame as I SEE the face of my sin, JESUS, covered with my shame and everything I’ve ever done…
 You see, even though every bible book has told me,  even though I already knew, I realized I didn’t really KNOW.
 But this isn’t the end because the LORD doesn’t’ leave us in grief, to agonize over what JESUS did for us. You See, this is a gift meant to be received with JOY!
 And as He shows me that NOW, because of THIS, I am free, I am accepted , sanctified and that the beautiful process of remaking was because of JESUS’s work at the cross…
As He shows me that I was able to break apart before him and experience his tender hands of grace….
As He sings his song of love over me…As He rejoices over my deliverance with me …
 I weep and sing and dance, simultaneously experiencing joy and agony because this is what it means to be a child of God…
 Being so full of JOY that you shine like the sun, but so in agony over the destruction of sin that you burn for righteousness; this is my heritage.
 And I, the sower of the wind, am now the sower of righteousness now. Planting seeds of hope and eternity, I labor without exhaustion for the LORD is REST for my soul.
 Indeed.
 Amen.

Healing In Our House, an appeal for Grace

Release grace upon my tongue

Welling up in me

Kindness and tenderness

Be upon me

 
In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me

 
Release wisdom upon my heart

Curating me

Patience and understanding

Be upon me
 

In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me


Release yielding in my spirit

Mercy filling me

Peace and humility

Be upon me

 
In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me
 

Under God,

May we repair, restore,

Mend our brokeness

Every injury- tended

Every failure-  forgiven

Every appeal-  in compassion

Til there is healing in our house.

Daughter, Arise!

I come to you,

Jesus.

falling at your feet,

Jesus.

Fearful and trembling,

Jesus.

– You have every reason to condemn me.

“You harlot!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You sinner!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You leper!”  they say

BUT….

– What will You say?

– Will You say I stole a blessing?

– Will You say my touch has made you unclean?

OR

– Will You call out for, murder, “OH, those righteous stones!”

– What will You say?

But I can’t care! I’m pressing forward,

All I have to do is touch Your robe!

I don’t care, I’m pressing forward,

Because standing there before me walks living hope.

And I’ll risk it all.

I’ll risk it all.

Just to hear You call my name,

“Daughter.”

Glory speaks…..and the heavens rejoice.

Glory speaks…..”Oh, the sound of HIS voice!”

And,

You’ve called my name.

And,

 

I come to you, Jesus.

Falling at your feet, Jesus.

Fearful and trembling, Jesus.

Your glory running through my bones.

Your glory; I’ve seen the face of GOD.

Your glory; I hear my name….

Daughter, arise…

From the ashes, arise…

From the pit, arise.

From infirmity, arise....

From your prison, arise…

Daughter, arise…

Your faith has set you free.

 

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is : God’s Son.

Jesus is : The Mediator between God and man.

Jesus is: The only Being to have lived a life of perfect righteousness.

Jesus is: The Slain Lamb;  The Perfect Sacrifice.

Jesus is: The Atonement for the sins of the world – Once and for all!

Jesus is: ALL authority in heaven and on earth.

Jesus is:  The Living and Appointed Heir of all things.

Jesus is: The Ruler over every corner of creation!

Jesus is: Supreme; He is he ultimate in glory, the ultimate in power, the ultimate in authority!

Jesus is: The Head of the body and the church,  The Beginning and The End, The Firstborn of The Dead!

Jesus is alive! 

Our minds cannot grasp His fullness! Our hearts cannot replicate His goodness! Our souls will not perish in His presence!

Jesus is: the very picture of Grace! He makes us alive, by His grace! Using our tiny seeds of faith, He makes us who were dead in our sin alive in His righteousness!

This is Jesus! He is the Alpha and Omega! He is the Lily of the Valley! He is the Great I Am! He is Ruler, He is Provider!

He is Comforter! He is Rapha-Healer! He is The Chain Breaker! He is the Soul Savior! He is the Death destroyer! He is the Grave Leaper, our Liberator and Emancipator!

He is the Sun of Righteousness! He is The Judge, The Advocate! He is the SIN BEARER!

He doesn’t turn away from the stench of our sins! He isn’t repulsed by the smell of death!

Death cannot arrest Jesus!

Death has no hold on His life! He gave His own life up! He laid His own life down! And He took His own life up again!

Ha ha! Jesus is The Laughter in The Face of Death!  Because of Jesus, we can shout

Death! Where is your sting!

Because of Jesus , we can sing:

THE last enemy of death HAS BEEN DESTROYED!

Who is Jesus? This is Jesus! A worthy-to-be-praised JESUS!   And, this is what Easter, Resurrection Sunday says of Jesus!

This is Jesus; and He has overcome.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness. This year, this Advent, this Christmas, I hear the whisper of forgiveness abounding into theme. Forgiveness. Recently, my oldest and dearest best friend came into town to visit. We finally got a few hours of some deep conversation, and we began to talk about my parent’s divorce and the impact it had on my sisters and I. I won’t go into much detail, but after my parent’s divorce, my mom moved very far away. The move was not revealed to us until after it happened, and it was a huge shock to my sisters and I. My friend, who is great at asking questions in ways that provoke reflection, asked:

 “How did you come to the place where you were able to forgive?”

Forgiveness…… When my mom moved, I was angry at her and with God. Three years later, I joined the military, and I was still ANGRY. Five years after that, I got married and although my anger had subsided, I was sailing on an ocean of hurt. I sailed on this ocean for another three years or so. Then, I asked Jesus if He had room for me in His heart. And with Him at my side, I finally came to a place where genuine forgiveness planted and grew. And then, my daughter was born. I still remember her first cry and the relief that coursed through my body. She was alive! She was here!  My tiny daughter, a mystery for 9 months, finally whole in my arms! As the weeks followed and as all parents do, I spent many late nights with my daughter. As I would hold her tiny, sleeping form,  I would often find myself weeping, the pain of my mother’s choice to leave unannounced suddenly back. The loneliness of my adolescence seemed to loom over me, reminding me of the hopelessness I felt as a young girl. At some point, in the middle of the anguish, in the middle of the weeping, I became angry again.  How could my mother leave us, without a word, without a hug?  How could any mother look upon the face of her children, promising to return, but resigned not to? The anger fled….but once again, the pain remained. As the months went by, I turned to the only constant Source.

God.

He reminded me… I desperately needed FORGIVENESS.  I longed for FORGIVENESS.

Forgiveness….

  • I know whats its like to need forgiveness so badly.
  • I know what it is like to be so ashamed of my mistakes and past that I feel like I am unusable. Yep.
  • I know what is like to want to reconcile and yet, be rejected.

And then…

  • I know what it is like to be forgiven.
  • I know what it is like to be forgiven when I totally don’t deserve it.
  • I know what it is like to be forgiven AND be re-welcomed back into a fellowship.
  • I know what it is like to be forgiven by my husband, my friends, those in authority, co-workers…

And even worse…

  • I know what it is like to burn in anger against God, to purposely turn my back against God, to intentionally choose rebellion.
  • I know what it is like to take small baby steps back to God and then large, running leaps backwards.
  • I know what it is like to feel guilty, to struggle with sin, and to make bad choices.
  • I know what it is like to question my salvation….to be completely confused by the horrible theology I was given in my youth.
  • I know what it is like to feel like I’m too tarnished to be used to minister to others.

But thankfully….THANKFULLY,

  • I know what it is like to be forgiven by a Savior.
  • I know what is is like to be eternally forgiven, the past forever forgotten.
  • I know what it is like to be so humbled by the tenderness of God.
  • I know what it is like to be beckoned into His arms, even, when in my eyes, I’m not worthy to receive Him.
  • I know what it is like to rest in Forgiveness.
  • I know what it is like to be assured, validated, and re-made, all for God’s purpose and all because of His great love and affection for me.

Forgiveness is the best gift I have ever received and a gift that is eternal in it’s giving. I can live my life forgiven because God loves me that much. And my mother? When I consider her life, her raw experiences, the abuses she endured as a child, I am in awe of the survivor she is. When I see my lineage reflected in her, hear about our ancestry, and continue on traditions she started, I am thankful. When I see the love she bestows on my daughter, so pure and beautiful, I am healed. When I just sit and spend time with her, sharing our life and stories, I am at peace. When our first daughter was born, she was there. Cooking, cleaning, listening and supporting. When we lost our 2nd baby, she came right away and tended to the house while I healed. When birthdays and events arrive, she excitedly prepares to be there. When my daughter takes her by the hand and leads her to her room to play, she plays. The best part of forgiveness is the consequences of it. I love my mother. I am honored to be her daughter. I am blessed by her love.

Everyday.

So…finally, back to the question my friend asked.

“How was I able to forgive my mother?”

 The reason I am able to forgive is because I know just how much I need to be forgiven. I forgive much because I have been forgiven much.

Want to give a good gift to someone this Christmas? Give forgiveness. There is no sweeter gift. This I know.

#TBT….A “Throwback Tuesday”

Today, I was looking through old emails trying to find something specific for a friend. And, then, I found this old email entitled:

“How God Changed My Life.”

From seven  years ago…

Seven years ago, I began to get to know God and fell in love with His heart.

Then, I sent this email to my friends and family to let them know of my new life.

Seven years ago indeed….

Here it is:

I wanted to send this to all of you because you are people in my life that I can trust, that will not judge me, and you are people in my life who I have a great love for.

 

This morning, I was doing my “God time” like I do every morning….for the past couple of months. I didn’t start this because our preacher suggested it, but because I listened to God, who directed me to do it. I sometimes feel a little silly for saying things like this, but I really have been hearing God lately, and during my God time, a verse inspired me to write about how God changed my life.

 

I really wanted to share it with you because I have never shared it with anyone in its entirety…and it still really amazes me!

 

Genesis 3:8

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God in the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 

How many times have I hidden from God? How often did I hear him say, “Where are you?” Not often, but for years I remained hidden, lost really. But, I would still pray, asking God, where are you?

Then, I was running. Yes, literally, I was outside doing my morning run, and I called out to God to give me strength. But, after I did this, I heard Him!

At first, I heard Him, sensed his presence, but I could not really understand.

            Throughout the day, I felt God’s presence, but I could not talk about it. I just didn’t want people to think I was crazy, including my husband.  Part of me wanted to push God away. I felt like, why me? I had been hiding, living a Godless life for so long.  Why and how could this be God talking to a person like me?

            I felt an overwhelming desire to find a church and go to it.  I didn’t realize that God had already started working on my heart.  The whole day, I felt overwhelmed with tears, but I kept them pushed inside.  I cannot explain this presence, God’s presence around me. I have never felt or even heard God in my entire life before, so how could I hear him and feel him now? That is one of the questions that was on my mind.

            The next morning, I ran again.  I called out to God again, and I heard him again!  But, this time I understood.  That morning, I prayed, “God I need you, please help me to finish.”  And, I heard him say loud and clear, “I have been here all along, but where have you been?”

 

            Without realizing it, I began to cry.  I must have looked so silly!  But, I ran home, and cried.  I wasn’t crying because I was ashamed or sad.  But, because the words of God were so powerful and so overwhelming.  No words can explain hearing God speak to me.

            I repeated his words to myself all throughout the day.  Where have I been?  I knew that my life had begun to change already.  That day, I began to look for a new church to go to.  I knew I couldn’t keep going to St. Brigids. The only other thing I knew was that I longed to continue to feel the presence of God.

             For some reason, a church I had passed, the BRCC (Bandera Road Community Church), stood out to me. So I got on the internet, found the times, and Chris and I went to the church on that Sunday.  As soon as I walked into the church, I felt the presence of God magnified by many times. I had never felt this feeling before…I had never felt God in my life before, even when I was going to church regularly and reading my bible regularly. That Sunday was the perfect service for me. I know now, that it was all because of God. As I cried in church that Sunday, I didn’t feel alone, discouraged, or even sad.  Being in the presence of God is the most magnificent and amazing experience ever, indescribable, and I yearn to continue to stay in it.

            I still wonder why, though.  Why did God choose to speak to me?  How could I even hear him, how did I know it was him?  I know God has a use for everyone, and I feel special in a way… because God spoke to me, and I heard him! Now, I speak to God everyday! It’s amazing, and ever since I started having my God times, I feel God’s presence, especially during my quietest, most mundane parts of the day.

            What could God have in store for me? What is he calling me to do? These are questions I never asked myself before, but now I can’t wait to find out.

My whole life has changed since then.  It’s amazing how quickly and easily this has happened. And, all because I was vulnerable again. I came out of hiding, when I thought I was the weakest, and asked for Him.

            I once heard from my pastor that God will break you, so that he can rebuild you and use you.  Well, I have been broken in so many ways before.  There are things I have even kept hidden from my sisters, my dad, to keep my burdens off of them.  I was for a very long time, so angry! I was angry at the people who have hurt me and broken my spirit, and even angry at God. The past year or two, I was just beginning to let go of all my anger.

            But, now, I understand. God didn’t abandon me. He was there for me, giving me strength, and carrying me when I couldn’t carry myself.  He has a plan for me. And, now I understand this.

            Amazing Grace…..It is truly amazing.  And, when I hear that song, I truly understand the words now. I almost feel like the song has been written for me.

 

Thank you so much, you guys, for reading this. I love all of you, and I wish I could tell you much of an inspiration all of you have been in my life. 

Alicia

 

 

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 2

1 Kings 19:5-8 New International Version (NIV)

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

My response:

The angel said,  “Arise and eat.

But the message from God was  “Arise from this pit of despair. Take from my strength and feed yourself. Rest and be replenished.”

God,

When we allow fear to settle,

when we hide in shame and despair,

when we are drowning in doubt,

may we always remember Your response,

A Stephens

The spirit needs to be fed, and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters; it may seem to some people that I ought not to mention such small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant of God.” (Spurgeon)

“It was very gracious for God to deal this with his servant. We might have expected rebuke or remonstrance, chiding or chastisement; but we would hardly have expected such loving, gentle treatment as this.” (Meyer)