Glimpses.

Chronic illness changes you. Betrayal changes you.

I miss her. Sometimes, I ache for her.

Her confidence. Her sense of spontaneity and sometimes even fearlessness. Her body free of physical scars and pain. The words that would once pour out and flow when she sat down to write, or as she encouraged a friend, or picked up the microphone.

Some of you reading this knew her. So you know.

Her deep love for people and connection became a fear of them.

But I catch glimpses of her sometimes. And more often, lately. She’s still here.

I see her when she pushes the nervous lump in her throat back and tries to still her shaky knees when she introduces herself to someone or shares a bit of her story.

I feel her when she has an unyielding desire for connection – not just connection between her and others, but among others.

I saw her when she recently looked across her home, filled walls to walls with friends who are now family, laughing and connecting with each other…and as she had to momentarily escape to a back room to shed tears of gratitude.

Community is powerful. There is a familiar quote that I believe is attributed to Oswald Chambers: “A woman’s heart must be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” Most people read that in the sense of a love-relationship between a man and woman. But I’ve always read that in a broader context of community. That’s who we are, this community of believers with hearts so hidden in God that we find each other here. The funny thing is…I’m finding her here, too.

A walled-off heart is different than a heart hidden in and under the care of God. It’s true that hurt people hurt people. But I want to dwell where healed people heal people. I want to walk among the healed and BE the healed. That place where the bricks and mortar of those walls fall away with the force of an angry two-year old demolishing a tower of Lincoln Logs. Those walls don’t protect me. They just keep the real me in.

So in this new year…I look forward to (re)discovering her.

Her deep yearning to serve and what that looks like now and in the future.
Her longing to cultivate a deeper intimacy and relationship with Jesus.
Her renewed capacity to love and connect with others. And herself.

If you feel like you’ve lost yourself in times of trial, please persevere in prayer, and seek His peace and wisdom. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12)

Love to all and a very Happy New Year. May we remember that our hope is not in a date on the calendar, but in the One who makes all things new!

Her Hands.

It’s her day. A day to celebrate a woman like no other … my sweet Mom.


This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom and me. I’m pretty sure I was about four years old here. And check out Mom’s bee hive – hubba hubba! But seriously…I have often said that I love her hands in this picture. They captivate me. Her hands reveal much more about her than her perfectly shaped hair or radiant smile. Her hands show the depth of her heart.

My mother’s sweet spirit and loving heart are so very apparent to all who know her. But only some know her story. Mom’s childhood was very difficult. Those beautiful hands had desperately tried to fight off abusers and bullies for many years. Those hands had shielded her own face in sorrow and shame. Those hands had begged and prayed for acceptance.

Jitterbugging to “I Can Help” (read about it here)

Yet even so…she overcame. Those once-earnest hands went on to hug me every single day…and to lovingly stroke the birthmark on my forehead as I fell asleep on her lap and to cradle me when I cried. Her hands held mine as we danced, and they pushed the swing as Mom sang our made-up song…”Mommy and Melissa, swingin’, swingin’, we’re having fun!” Her hands have always freely offered me the love and affection for which they had long ago grasped.

As far back as I can remember, her hands have created beautiful pastries and dishes. Mom would work so hard, for days and days, to prepare beautiful culinary delights for our family, neighbors, friends, and church family. She loved opening our home to guests and showing hospitality. Needless to say, our house was a favorite for sleepovers with my friends! Her hands have created beauty.

During my teen years, Mom and I weren’t as close. Like many teens, I “knew it all” and didn’t respect her much. I would give anything to get those years back. Even in the midst of my making some seriously DUMB decisions, she showed her love and affection for me, and I know that she never stopped praying for me. In my twenties, something just clicked and I began to see her differently. Although it had always been there, her ability to forgive and to love unconditionally began to draw me in to her in a new way. The Lord was working powerfully in her life, and although I didn’t realize it until later in my own life, she was Jesus to her wayward daughter (me) for many years. (For the other Moms of lost daughters out there…I pray that brings you encouragement. Don’t give up. I don’t know where I would be right now without the faithful prayers and love from my Mom and Dad.) Her hands have freely offered grace.

From that point on, I wanted to study her, and I have been ever since. I cannot describe the depth of my love for my mother.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of observing those same hands lovingly and oh-so-meticulously create unique and beautiful crafts and arrangements and beautiful treasures that have brightened the lives of so many.

Unbeknownst to me until around the time I turned thirty, her passion for cooking and hospitality had taken root in my heart as well. I began to see my own hands mimicking my memory of hers, as she intricately and carefully thumbed through cookbooks, writing menus, creating masterpieces in the kitchen and crafting beautiful presentations at gatherings of family and friends… infusing a piece of her heart into every touch.

And most beautifully, I have studied the hands that faithfully pray. My sisters and I joke that Mom must have some sort of direct line to God, because when she prays (and she prays all the time), stuff happens! And her hands lift in praise, too. From my hospital bed just a few months ago, as four doctors pushed Mom and Dad away as they surrounded my bed during a critical complication, I caught a glimpse of her. I was so scared. My eyes searched to find Mom and Dad standing together. Dad, bless his heart, was weeping and I knew he was praying. I was so comforted by that…he was fighting for me, as a good Daddy would. But Mom…Mom had a huge smile on her face as her eyes gazed upward, with her beautiful hands lifted. Mom was lifting me up and praising Jesus on my behalf…praising Him even in advance of His blessing.

Her hands have loved well.

I heard someone say once that “One day, you’ll be putting on your coat, and you’ll look down to see your mother’s hand come out from under the sleeve.”

I hope so. I really hope so.

Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:28-31 NIV)

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving me like Jesus then and now. Thank you for being my most faithful cheerleader, mentor, advisor, encourager, and friend. I can’t imagine my life without you. I love you so very much, and I am proud to call you Mom.

True Horizon

We vacation each year on a very secluded and sparsely populated section of the Gulf Coast, about 25 miles down a long, narrow peninsula, far away from everything. We don’t mind sacrificing the long drive to “civilization” for the pure, unobstructed views up and down the beach and out into the horizon.

I’ve always been so fascinated by the mystery of the horizon. As my father (a former seaman) has explained to me over the years, the “true horizon” is the actual point on the line at which you can no longer distinguish the earth from the sky. On most days, if you fix your eye on the clearest, sharpest part of the line, you will see a beautiful halo effect coming out from it. Where the halo is, the “true” horizon is.

On our last trip, with an impending tropical storm out further in the Gulf, we experienced very high winds and therefore, very rough water and high waves. I was fascinated to observe that the true horizon never disappeared – halo and all. It was right there, amidst the huge waves, just as it was on the previous days when the ocean was as smooth as a big sheet of glass. Regardless of the circumstances of the weather or waves, that mysterious, magical line was there and visible. And beautiful.

As I thought about it, I realized that the true horizon line at which Earth meets Heaven is in me, too. Some days, I’m the trusting, loving smooth-as-glass girl. And on others, I am one scary raging rough-water lady. But that place where I let go and disappear into Him is always beautiful.

You see, if we really believe what we say we believe as Christ followers, then we become that place where Earth meets Heaven because His spirit is in us. We are a place at which the beauty of His Creation disappears into the deeper and eternal beauty of Heaven.

The place where the truth of hope and healing found in the Lord heals the brokenhearted.

The place where the richest, most unexpected blessings are found in the midst of the deepest of suffering.

The place where the angels become our dance partners as we celebrate His blessings, presence and love.

The place where the peace that passes all understanding miraculously overtakes the things of this earthly life that seem impossible to bear.

The place where I end and where He begins.

Embers

I never should have said it out loud.

I said to my counselor and mentor, “I really believe I have finally figured out what joy really means. It’s not what I always thought it was. It’s not always belly laughing or dancing – sometimes, it’s just knowing. I think I’ve reached a place in my walk with God that no matter what may come, nothing can steal my joy.”

Just a few days later, on Sunday October 16th, he sent me a text early in the morning that said “Melissa, you came to my mind this morning. Here are some verses I believe God wants to seal in your heart. 1 Peter 1:3-9.” As I read these verses that morning, I reflected back in time over the previous two years. Years of breakthroughs and learning how to dream again. I read these verses through a joy-filled lens, and the words held me.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A little more than 24 hours later, on October 17th, 2011, I got the phone call that would change my life forever. “Melissa, you have cancer.”

My Protector, My Comforter, My Healer knew that I would need those verses, so He made sure they were planted in my heart. I read those verses again, but this time through a grief-filled lens. And again, the words held me.

I had said it out loud, that nothing could steal my joy. It was so much easier to make that proclamation on the “through” side of breakthrough than on the “break” side. Or so I thought at the time.

Today marks one year from that day. I have thought and prayed about what to post today, because I could write a book about what the Lord has revealed to me this year. But He just keeps bringing me back to one central truth to share with you today.

That thing I said out loud? Well, it’s true.

I realize that years ago, when I invited Him into my heart, my soul, and my life, He took me at my word. So what I receive in return is an intimacy with Him so close that it’s hard not to see Him, even in the midst of cancer. A presence so deep that it’s hard not to feel Him, even when my heart is broken or my dreams for myself shatter in front of me. And a voice that is now so familiar that it’s hard not to hear Him, even when He quietly whispers.

I have come to understand that faith is not always like a raging fire in my heart. You know what I mean – those mountaintop moments when our felt connection to His presence is so thick and His goodness is so great that it’s almost too much to bear. But after the raging fire has been smothered by rain or snow, when only a faint glow from one single burning ember remains – well, that’s faith, too.

That one tiny, glowing ember that remains still moves mountains. I know, because it moves me.

Sometimes, it’s not too much. But it’s always just enough to get me home.

Hello, My Name is…

In my home office, framed diplomas and plaques hang above my desk.  Each bears my name and represents my professional and academic accomplishments. In my office in the city, a nameplate outside of my door bears my name and title, which for some reason causes others to respond with respect and recognition of my “status” in the company. My name is written on these symbols of accolade, and I am rewarded. And to be honest, I am proud of those achievements. Perhaps too proud.

My name is written in some places that I’d rather it not be, as well. On the hearts of ones I love, whom I have hurt with my words or actions (or both), and their remembrance of my name may bring pain. Or during the years when I was far from God but still called myself a Christian, spending time with “friends” and making choices that now make me cringe to even think about. When those friends think upon my name, do they remember someone who acknowledged Jesus with her lips but denied Him by her lifestyle? And let’s not forget those few but memorable instances when others unjustly and dishonestly represented my name in a deceptive way. My name is written in these dark places, too, and I would give anything to be able to hit the “delete” button and clear my name.

There is yet another place where my name resides, though.

With the One who chose it.

With the One who bought it.

I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…
(Is 49:15-16 NIV)

Regardless of what our name represents here on earth, our name belongs to Him – because He is in us and we are in Him. And here’s the best part – ultimately, whether I or others celebrate or despise my name here on Earth, there is an audacious promise from God to us that not only will He redeem and restore our names on Earth for His glory (Romans 8:28), but we as believers in Christ are also promised a sweet heavenly reward.

Whoever has ears, let them hear … I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. (Rev 2:17 NIV)

One of our rewards in heaven is a new name. Our God-chosen name.  Our untarnished name.  A name so uniquely chosen and set apart that it is known only to Him and to the one who receives it. 

“I will also give that person a white stone…” In those times, it was customary to cast a vote for someone’s innocence or guilt by using black and white stones. If a black stone was cast, the vote was guilty. A white stone meant that the person on trial was voted blameless. Pardoned. 

Much like the Hebrews were given a name that revealed their purpose, we too will receive our heavenly name. Here on Earth, as a body of believers in Christ, we already share some names that I think sound pretty heavenly.

Redeemed.

Forgiven.

Beloved.

Grace-Given.

I can’t imagine that I have been given a heavenly name more beautiful than those, but the promise says I will. And I believe it.

Yet as awesome as that truth is, there is an even more powerful promise.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. (Rev 3:12 NIV)

There is also a name of God that has never reached our ears. One that has never been profaned or mocked. I believe it will be so beautiful that my earthly ears couldn’t bear to hear it. More melodious than the sweetest song, and more beautiful than the gut-deep utterances and cries of “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” or “Abba” that cross my lips in my most intimate moments with God.

May we receive the promise given, that nothing can separate us from our names in Christ – our names are graven on his scarred hands.

May we, with excited anticipation, receive God’s radical love given through the beautifully mysterious promises of what awaits us in heaven.

And may we press on and into Christ so that we may live up to the potential of our new heavenly name.

Our white stone awaits.

Speaking in Pencil

She called me today, heartbroken. Words had been spoken – cruel ones. The kind that leave a wound, then a bruise, and then a scar that remains to maliciously remind.These words had wounded a loved one, and I was overcome with conviction and repentance when she shared her deepest ache through sobs of pain at the effect of the soul-crushing comments.

You might be thinking that she is the grieving recipient. She isn’t. She is the grieving deliverer. Her cries were so gut-deep that I could barely understand her.

“Oh Melissa, I hurt the one I love so badly. How do I fix this?”

My heart aches for her. And for the one she loves. And for me. Because I have been that person. I am that person. While there is a population out there that would boldly proclaim that I have spoken encouraging words over them, there is yet another population (hopefully much smaller) that can describe the painful marks left on their hearts by my ruthless words. And usually to the ones I love the most. I don’t even like to think about it.

Even with the most sincere of apologies offered, and even with the truest of repentant hearts, the memory lingers in the heart of the wounded. The scar is left to remind, and from that point forward it becomes a battle within that the wounded must fight when someone or something unknowingly opens that scar.

We write on the slate of one another. We can trample a heart with

One.

Single.

Word.

He entrusts us with words. His words. Words to edify, exhort, and encourage one another. Words to build up, inspire, and to humbly lead. Words to offer hope, comfort, and words to heal. Words to proclaim the Truth of His love, mercy, and grace. Yet with the same mouth that we share His words, we shoot sharp darts that can brutally pierce the heart of another.

SometimesToo many times, I wish I could speak in pencil. That eraser would be so handy. As the magical word-remover leaves its evidence of black flecks where punishing words once were, we could point to the dust and show the unlucky recipient the proof that the word was no longer there.

“See, look, I didn’t mean it. It’s gone! We can just forget this ever happened…”

If only. Unfortunately, indelible ink doesn’t have a handy little eraser.

I have some good news, though.

As powerful as our words may be, they are powerless in the presence of the God of the Redeemed…the God of healing and restoration. No wound is too deep for Him to touch.

For our harsh words, there is grace and forgiveness to cover our sins. Period. Done.

And for the wounded — with faith, prayer, time, and forgiveness, God can heal a wounded heart. He has healed mine, and He has healed the hearts of those whom I have wounded with my words.

May we be reminded today, to pray His words:

May the words of my mouth and this meditation

of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord,

my Rock and my Redeemer.

(Psalm 19:14)

Dad and the Boats.

We sat on the beach this past October, coffee in hand, talking about the water and the boats.  My grandfather was a merchant seaman, and my Dad – back in the day before he met Mom – was a commercial fisherman as well.  Specifically, a shrimp boat operator off the coast of South Florida, where I was born.  I could listen to his stories about his experiences as a young boy and young man, and his escapades in Miami, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables back in the 40’s and 50’s for hours…and he loves telling them! 

By time time I was born, I was the third girl, and I guess Dad knew a son wasn’t going to happen.  I was supposed to be a “Derek”.  Oops.  Poor guy.  He survived three daughters.  I’m pretty sure he deserves a medal!   As the “son he never had”,  I have so many memories fishing with him (and going to the races, too), both of which I still love.  

There’s something about being on the water with Dad.  Anyone in our family will tell you the same thing.  He transforms…comes alive…his whole demeanor changes, relaxes.  Mom said recently that he was born with sea air in his lungs (although fresh water will suit him just fine, too), and a fishing rod in his hand.  And I think she’s right!  

On the beach that day last October, our family was struggling.  I had just learned of my cancer a few days before our trip, and we were all grieving in our own way and trying to figure it all out.  I remember sitting with him that day, just the two of us on the shore, and the water had turned pretty rough.  Although I love to look at the ocean, being in the water frightens me a little, and there were boats out there – I became concerned for them as the waves grew higher and the sea became more and more angry.  I began to ask Dad about the instruments on a boat and how (technically) a boat navigates the waters to determine its location and finds its way home, out of a storm.  So Dad started sharing the names and functions of the instruments…I have to admit, I was only half listening, because a larger truth struck me as he spoke.

As he talked, I was flooded with memories.  Our memories.  

As a little girl, sneaking in to the living room while he slept, lifting one of his eyelids up (literally) and saying “Dad, are you up?”   

Giggling with my friends as he snored, napping in front of the TV.   

Watching him completely destroy our kitchen when he tried to make breakfast.   

Running to him in my little yellow daisy nightgown, with a tray of pretend treats I’d made him in my play kitchen – and he pretended to eat every single one, even when he was so tired!   

Walking proudly with him into the Kay’s Drug Store lunch counter every Saturday for our date.  

Hearing his voice cheer for me louder than any other Daddy when I played softball.   

Eating fruit cocktail with him on our deck in the summer.  

Seeing him and Mom sneak kisses when they thought we weren’t looking.  

Crying on his shoulder when I broke up with my first boyfriend in junior high (and several after).   

In the hospital after his stroke, with about 20 tubes attached to him, as he insisted that he get on his knees to pray (and did).  

Finding a heart-shaped box of candy for Valentine’s Day on my doorstep the first year I had moved away from home.  

And the hours and hours of talks about life, and God, that we’ve had as two adults.  

It all just came rushing back.  My Dad.  My Daddy.  I love him so much it hurts.  Each of those little memories came together in a flood of reassurance that this man I sat next to…my Dad…had authority over my life since my first breath, and that I have a humble warrior whom I call Dad to walk with me through this.

But that wasn’t all … In that moment on the beach, I realized something else.  My Dad was speaking with authority – he KNEW those instruments and how each of them worked.  As he spoke, my concern for the boats lessened, because my Dad convinced me that they had the tools they needed to find their way home.  

And in that moment…I knew I did, too.  

My heavenly Father has been my Daddy, too, since before my first breath …my Abba… lovingly readying me for such a time as this over many years before.  My future?  It’s His memory.

I have what I need to get Home and all the shelter I need for the journey.  As my earthly father spoke with authority about his knowledge of how the boats find their way in the storm, my Heavenly father speaks with authority about His promise that I may soar on wings like eagles to rise above it. 

The rough waters?  They aren’t nearly as uncharted as we think they are.

Hallelujah.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.   

Thank you for fiercely fighting for me and our family on your knees.   

I am a woman richly, richly blessed and proud to call you my father. 

Big Eyes and Belly Laughs

In the waiting room of the hospital, a very curious little three-year old approached me, with her head tilted, and asked, “What happened to your leg?” So I explained to her that I had surgery and was still healing. We had a lovely conversation, asking each other about our favorite colors, favorite cartoon characters, and favorite games. Before I knew it, she crawled up in my lap. Her mother apologized and moved forward to retrieve her, but I assured her it was fine with me if it was OK with her. And I was so grateful that it was.

As Eva sat on my lap, I decided to try out one of our little family traditions on her. Mom used to do this with us, and in all of her years teaching children has had a 100% success rate with the giggle factor on this little gem. Some of you may have heard of this little song/game. I have no idea of what original context the song was written or when it was written…but it goes like this…

I had Eva hold her cute little hand out, palm up. I gently traced a circle on her palm with my finger as I sang, “Round round circle, put a penny here…” and then, slowly…very slowly, “walking” my fingers up her arm toward her shoulder, I sang “one step…two steps…” and then, unexpected to Miss Eva, I sang “tickle under here!” and tickled Eva until I heard the BEST SOUND IN THE WORLD…the belly laugh of a child!

Of course, you know what happened after that, right?

“Again, Miss Missa!” (She had a little trouble pronouncing my name – so sweet.) So over and over again we went, and each time, when I got to the “….two steps”, I would pause dramatically, purposefully making her wait until she was about to come out of her skin with expectation. Her eyes were huge with anticipation about the best part — the inevitable tickle-fest to come! She knew that after that second step up her arm was done, it was all about belly-laughing joy.

I drove home thinking about Eva’s big eyes and belly laughs.

Do I anticipate the next move of God’s hand with that kind of anticipation?

Eva knew the game. She knew after the first time that the outcome resulted in her joy. In her mind, it was simple: “Miss Melissa did it last time, so she’ll do it again.” And each time, she believed the outcome was going to result in her joy. She trusted me to deliver it. So every single time, her eyes grew big in anticipation of what was to come. Because she remembered the last time.

God has always brought joy from waiting, uncertainty, or darkness in my life. There has not been one single time in my life when I have sought Him and not found the doorway out of the valley and into hope. I’ll bet you can say the same thing. How quickly we are to forget it. Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t take long for me to lose my focus on Him and gaze at the struggle instead.

How quickly I forget that I’ve been here before.

How quickly I forget to look into His eyes and remember that He has never, ever let me down.

How quickly I forget that I can be confident in my current circumstance because of God’s past performance on my behalf.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! (Eph. 3:14-21, NIV)

This morning I caught myself belly-laughing in anticipation of what God has waiting for me on the other side of the door.

Because I remember the last time.

Thanks for the reminder, Eva.

Walking Wounded

In the first twenty minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan, an extremely graphic scene of the Omaha beachhead assault of June 6, 1944 is depicted. Although it was nearly fourteen years ago, I vividly remember seeing this movie on the big screen and will likely never forget some of the images in those first few minutes. The directors of the movie explained that the intensely graphic nature of the opening scene was so that the viewer could truly understand the reality of war and the raw nature of wartime violence and death, which was critical to the viewer’s connection with the main storyline for the film.

The images that I remember most from this powerful movie are those of the walking wounded in that opening scene. Like the soldier who lost his severed arm and searched for it, found it, picked it up, and carried it with him as he sought shelter from the enemy fire. Broken, dismembered bodies with one goal – survival. With severed limbs, trying to find refuge in the midst of warfare that they had grossly underestimated.

All of us have walked, are walking, or will walk the long journey from the valley of woundedness and pain to the refuge of hope. Like the walking wounded in this movie scene, those of us walking in emotional and spiritual woundedness seek shelter, but with broken hearts and crushed spirits. Like the walking wounded soldier, we, too have one goal…survival. With shattered dreams, trying to find refuge in warfare that we had grossly underestimated.

When we’re in survival mode, living isn’t really living, it’s more like just … existing. The difference between broken bodies and broken spirits is that we can hidea broken spirit. We can appear to have it together spiritually. But inside, we’re dying. And too proud to tell anyone about it.

If our wounded hearts are walled with pain, shame, and guilt, and our wills are walled with fear and anxiety, then where do we go for refuge and healing? Usually not to the One who can heal. Usually, to other people to fill the void that has consumed us, because even though we are wounded, we still crave love, joy, and peace. God created us to crave it. But we forget that there is only one True Source for our wholeness. We forget that He created us to crave it from Him. To seek it from Him. Sometimes I lose sight that although God gives me the amazing blessing of experiencing love from others here on earth sometimes, that it will never be truer, deeper, or wider than His love, His joy, or His peace available to and flowing through me all the time.

But there is good news.
Great news.
Wonderful news.
The BEST news.

The heart of the Holy Spirit lives in those who believe and call upon the name of God and His ultimate sacrifice, the risen Christ. The heart of the Spirit in me…and in you…gives us direct access to the healing that can only be found through the mind and heart of Christ.

God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:10-16, NIV).

As believers, we talk about the “power” of the Holy Spirit, and often. May we remember that the power of the Spirit comes from the heart of the Spirit, who always only wants the best for us. If we allow our heart to meld with the heart of the Spirit, the walls come down. We receive his heart toward us, so we can give it to others. The way we give to and receive love from others is radically changed.

Our goal becomes SO much more than to just survive.

We are no longer the walking wounded. We are alive, and we love without walled hearts. We live and love from wholeness.

The heart of the Spirit makes us whole.

My Offended Heart

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm…” (Song of Solomon, 8:6)

A few years ago, my pastor asked me for advice on how to teach about finding contentment with being single.  My response?  I laughed. That sort of laugh when you find yourself somewhere you never in a million years thought you’d be.  It had been a long journey to contentment in this area of my life. 

You see, for my entire life, I have longed for a husband and family. Even though many would testify that I am a woman of strong and committed faith and have been for a long time, the truth is that I placed my pursuit of a husband much higher than my pursuit of God for many, many years.  To be quite honest, I resented my single status for a very long time.

It was not uncommon for me to cry out the same prayer over and over again during the dark seasons of loneliness and depression that would pop up rather frequently. “Deliver me, Lord, because I can’t do this for one more day.

But one day, about 3 years ago, it was … different.  On that day, as I cried out that familiar plea, the Lord gave me a vision of a woman crying out just as I did, as she looked at her husband.  She too cried, “Deliver me, Lord. Because I can’t do this for one more day.”

This old girl is rather stubborn and hard-headed, so I don’t have many “in that moment” transformational experiences that “stick”.   Usually, God has to knock me over the head several times before I really get it.  But not this time.  In that one single moment, my entire paradigm changed … and my heart changed.  I could no longer view myself in a category that is “less than” my married friends.  I realized that I am not unique. We all feel lonely sometimes. We all feel envious or jealous or offended by what someone else has sometimes.  And we’re all in this together.

In that one single moment, the Lord transformed my offended heart.

I stopped being offended by those who had what I wanted and began to trust the One who knows exactly what I need. Instead of being so focused on scanning every room I walked into for men without a wedding ring, I am now able to be fully myself and fully present in the moments of my life in the way that God has designed.

And y’all… It’s SO much better this way.

It was the beginning of a freedom that I never knew that I didn’t know!

The freedom in finally realizing that my heart’s true and deepest yearning was for the Husband – “the One” – that I already have.  Jesus.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm… (Song of Solomon, 8:6)

And as a bride vows to her husband on her wedding day, I have finally learned to allow Him to be the husband that He always has been.  He’s a really, really good catch, and I fall more in love with Him every day.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  God did not change or take the desire from my heart for marriage.  Quite the contrary.  But He has changed the desire and moved it to a different – and its rightful – place.  

With every ounce of who I am, I want Him more.  I can say with 100% honesty and enthusiasm that if God does not call me to marriage, then I am content and full. I used to say that because I knew it sounded like the “right answer”.  But now, I actually mean it.

I am so thankful that He heard and answered my prayer … “Lord, Deliver me. I can’t do this for one more day.” And that’s exactly what He did.

Are you struggling with an offended heart today?  I promise that if you will allow Him there and allow Him to breathe new life and new Truth into your heart, He will.