Grace at His Feet

GOD IS AWESOME.

There are sometimes just not words. Those three words aren’t adequate enough. ¬†He’s more than awesome. ¬†He’s incredible. He’s consistant. He’s undeniable.

For the past few days I’ve been singing the song “It’s All About You, Jesus.” ¬†I’ve realized for about the past week I’ve lost focus. I start to hold on to “my” life tighter than I should. ¬†I start to think I can control how my life is going to go. ¬†This morning, I sat down to relax, not even intending to do devotions honestly. ¬†As I was sitting on my couch, that song came to mind again. ¬†I looked it up on youtube and just started to worship. ¬†I was brought to a place of repentance. It wasn’t harsh. ¬†It wasn’t demeaning. ¬†It was a gentle reminder.

For so long I’ve struggled with failure (I still do). ¬†I don’t like to make mistakes. ¬†I don’t like to do things wrong. ¬†I don’t like to be a “failure”. ¬†I hide my mistakes. ¬†I run from failure. ¬†This pours into my spiritual life as well. ¬†When I make mistakes I’m afraid to go to God. ¬†I sometimes don’t know how to initiate conversation with Him. ¬†I am so thankful for a God who speaks in the ways we are able to listen. ¬†He used music to draw me into repentance. It wasn’t demeaning. ¬†It wasn’t shame. ¬†It. Was. So. Cool.

I started to hear these questions:

Who is this life about?

Who are you living for?

What are you bringing me when you worship?

I just worshiped and repented. ¬†I asked that God search my heart. ¬†I told him that He is what is important to me and that if there was anything in my life that he didn’t want me to have, I would chose him. ¬†It’s a relief when I go back and give it all to him. ¬†I feel my grip on life loosen. ¬†I don’t HAVE to be in control. ¬†I don’t HAVE to worry about every second of every day. ¬†When it’s God’s choice, I’m able to relax.

As I continued to ask for forgiveness, I asked that the Holy Spirit speak to me.

Immediately God gave me a vision.

Jesus was sitting in front of me as I was knelt at his feet. ¬†He reached down to me, put his hands on either side of my face and kissed my forehead. ¬†Then…you know what he did?! Just like he’s done for so many others that come to his feet, He said, “I love you.” (*CUE THE SOBBING*) ¬†He’s gently reminding me. ¬†“There is grace at my feet. Humble yourself. Meet me here. ¬†I love you. ¬†I’m always going to be here. ¬†Come to my feet, Marti. ¬†Let me love you, Marti. Let me kiss your fears away.”

He. Loves. Me. 

It’s not about me. ¬†It’s all about Him. It’s all about Jesus.

I’m glad he brought me to his feet this morning. ‚̧

Maybe God Had A Flat Tire

Today I’ve spent time thinking about what happens when the feelings fade. ¬†I know I’ve talked before about how feelings lie. ¬†That concept was brought to my attention several months ago and I never understood what was meant by it.

Let me try to clear that up (Just as much for myself as for anyone else who randomly stumbles onto this post):

Let’s say you have a friend. (Most of us have at least A friend we can use for this scenario, so it seems a safe bet.) Anyway, you and this friend decide to go to dinner. ¬†You sit down at the restaurant, you order drinks for the two of you and this friend never comes. ¬†10 minutes pass, 15 minutes pass, 20 freakin’ minutes. If you are a friend like I am a friend, you’ve started to get frustrated. You’ve done called them. MORE TIMES THAN YOU SHOULD ADMIT! ¬†You’ve gotten no answer. ¬†You’ve texted and not gotten a response. ¬†Now you’re starting to feel not just mad, but rejected. ¬†You’re starting to feel like perhaps they forgot about you. You wait 30 minutes and FINALLY that stinkin’ friend of yours walks into dinner, hands covered in black grease and sweat dripping off their brow. ¬†

A flat tire…. DANG GONE IT.

So, did the friend reject you? Did the friend forget about you? No. ¬†The friend had a dead cell phone (because isn’t that just classic when you’re going to have car trouble!!) and a flat tire.

The same thing happens in our spiritual walks. (I mean false feelings, although I am sure there is such a think as a spiritual flat tire.) ¬†God is always there. ALWAYS. ¬†There are specific times when God makes himself incredibly known. ¬†He needs you to feel his presence for specific reasons. ¬†Sometimes you’re going through a rough time. ¬†Sometimes you have a decision to make. ¬†Sometimes he knows you need to specifically FEEL his love. ¬†Other times, God is ever present, but we don’t necessarily FEEL things. ¬†That is where faith kicks in. ¬†I think those are specific moments where Christ is really asking us so step out in full faith and follow him not by sight.

He’s asking that we stop groping at the wall and using it as a “feel guide” through life. ¬†For some reason, that vision is really powerful to me. ¬†Rather than living a Christian walk where you are in the dark feeling your way cautiously down the hallway, dragging your feet on the ground to make sure you don’t trip over an unexpected bump, Jesus is begging that we grab his hand. ¬†Step into the light. ¬†And walk in faith.

That requires a lot. ¬†Sometimes that means abandoning some of the truths you’ve believed for WAY TOO LONG. ¬†It means embracing forgiveness and grace. ¬†It means being in a constant state of repentance and reconsideration. ¬†It means being in the word and taking in the things God wants to reveal to you.

Faith. 

Today I was reading Esther and a friend was talking to me about the Bible Study she is currently attending. ¬†They are studying¬†this chapter, and one of the things she’s learned is that this is the only book of the Bible where God is not specifically mentioned. ¬†However, that doesn’t me he isn’t present! The presence of God is all throughout Esther’s life and Mordecai’s (Esther’s cousin) as well. ¬†The importance of coincidences that are too big to be coincidences are ways that we know God is present. ¬†This is true in the book of Esther.

One significant part that stood out to me is that Mordecai (Esther’s cousin¬†who took her in as a child) was to be put to death by Haman, a royal official of King Xerxes. ¬†The NIGHT before Haman is going to hang Mordecai, Xerxes¬†couldn’t sleep. **This is where God starts to work. ¬†Sometimes it’s something as small as not being able to sleep.** Because he couldn’t sleep, he asked that the chronicles, which documented special events of his reign, be brought to him and read out loud. ¬†So, as Xerxes is suffering insomnia, he requests this book to be read (he could have chosen to do ANYTHING else with his time) and as the book is being read to him Mordecai’s name comes up. (You know, the same Mordecai that Haman wants to murder, yeah. Him.) Mordecai had earlier overheard a conversation between guards plotting the death of King Xerxes. ¬†He then sent word to Esther and Esther sent word to the king so that it would be avoided. ¬†This event was documented in the chronicles that are IN THAT MOMENT being read to Xerxes. ¬†Xerxes asks¬†if Mordecai has ever been thanked for his actions and the answer (OBVIOUSLY since Haman is trying to MURDER HIM!) is no. ¬†So!–Literally HOURS before he is to be hanged, Xerxes instructs Haman to show Mordecai the recognition he deserves for saving his life. ¬†(God’s irony is just so perfect sometimes. Literally the dude who was going to murder Mordecai now has to dress him in the best clothing and parade him around the city saying how awesome he is! HA!!)

Needless to say, Mordecai’s life is spared. ¬†The story get’s even better. Xerxes get’s mad he murders Haman and the Jews start kicking some serious butt. ¬†I would tell you the whole story, but maybe if I don’t, you’ll go get in the word yourself. ūüėČ

I specifically share this story to show you that even though the “high” of God’s AWESOME grace has worn off, He is still an awesome God. ¬†One that shows up and takes care of us through “coincidences” even when he is not specifically named. ¬†One that presents himself to us when we actively seek him. ¬†One that gives us gentle reminders as encouragement. ¬†One that is there whether we “feel” him or not.

Sometimes it’s helpful to pull back and see the coincidences in our lives that are more than coincidences.

Sometimes it’s helpful to remind yourself that feelings lie.

*shrugs* Maybe God had a flat tire and a dead cell phone.

Spiritual Journey Planning Guide

Journey: The act of traveling from one place to another.

I wanted to take time to think about what taking a journey means.  When you go on a journey (or vacation) there are things you do in preparation for that journey.

First you plan it:
-Who am I going to bring?
-What kinds of clothing do I need to pack?
-What do I need to know about the place I will end up?
-How am I going to get there?
-Am I going to make any stops along the way?
-Specifically where should I refuel?
-What questions do I have about the place I am going?

This came to mind to me this morning, because I have had an AMAZING week with Jesus. ¬†I blogged about it in the post He Calls Me Daughter. ¬†I am still feeling the love and grace from my sweet moments with the Lord, but I started to have questions. ¬†Then when I had questions I started to FEEL (remember, feelings will LIE) like maybe I wasn’t as close to God as I was even a couple of days ago. ¬†So, I started thinking and reached out to my cousin and ask that she talk to me. ¬†As I was talking to her, I started to think about the fact that everyone calls Christianity and the walk with the Lord a journey and how true that is!

Each of the questions I presented about an Earthly journey can be applied to a spiritual one. So, without further ado: The Spiritual Journey Planning Guide.

Spiritual Journey

-Who do you bring with you?Think about all of the people in your life who will support you, love you, speak truth to you and show you grace while you are on your journey. Who will REJOICE with you when God has broken you free from a stronghold?!  Then: INVITE THEM.  Stay in contact with them.  Talk to them.  Go to them when you have questions.  Build a Godly relationship with them.

-What kinds of clothing do I need to pack?This one is interesting, but I still feel like it was one that God placed on my heart. ¬†During the week that Jesus really spoke to me, I read the book Every Woman’s Battle. ¬†While there are still some things I am unsure of and wrestling with God over, there were some things I know he spoke to me about. ¬†Specifically about how we present ourselves. Dressing in a way that doesn’t cause our brothers in Christ to stumble. ¬†(I know!! I KNOW! Some of you are probably rolling your eyes. HEAR ME OUT!) ¬†I started to think about it from a SPIRITUAL, SOUL type perspective. ¬†Let’s think of everyone we meet at a soul. ¬†If you¬†go out wearing a shirt that is so low cut people can see a sliver of your nipple, just know that you are causing people to stare, which is ultimately the goal: Attention. ¬†BUT think about it from a spiritual context. ¬†Men are starting, but that turns to lust almost immediately. ¬†Lust has the potential to lead to other things and ultimately distance from God. ¬†How important is it that you wear that shirt now? ¬†I do believe it is our freedom to dress how we please. ¬†I’m not saying wear a burlap sack! PLEASE! Anyone who knows me, knows better!! I am saying, be mindful of the spiritual consequences. *shrugs* That’s all. Soooo, pack clothing for your spiritual journey that you would be comfortable standing in front of Christ in.

-What do I need to know about the place I will end up?How can you share with friends where you are going if you have no idea what that place is really like? ¬†Even as I am typing this God is speaking to me. ¬†How are we to answer friends’ questions about our journey and the destination, when we don’t know the truths ourselves? ¬†Start searching the Bible. ¬†Know what Heaven is promised to be like. ¬†Know what God’s promises are and start answering questions with the excitement I know will come!

-How am I going to get there?On a “regular” journey we have the decision of a car, plane, train etc. ¬†On a spiritual journey, things get a little more complicated. ¬†When I think about how I am going to get to the “end” of my journey, I think less about a mode of transportation and more about the kinds of things my soul needs to run. ¬†In a car, the car needs gas. ¬†The same is true of a plane and a train. ¬†All of the choices for transportation require the vehicle to be fueled in some way. ¬†So, similar to knowing where you will end up, fill your soul with the truths of the Bible. ¬†Other forms of fuel: Praying, TALK TO GOD OUT LOUD, singing worship songs, community with Godly friends, finding a support group, asking questions, reading a biblical story. ¬†Constantly fill your soul with Godly fuel.

-Am I going to make any stops along the way?–What stops do you want to take along your journey? ¬†Is there a forgiveness pit stop on your journey? ¬†Is there a rejoicing pit stop? ¬†Maybe God wants you to take a pit stop to learn how to read the Bible? ¬†Maybe God wants you to take a few days of solitude to privately JUST. SEEK. HIM. ¬†Pray (out loud, verbally) and ask God what stops he would have you take in your journey. ¬†He has BEAUTIFUL things to show you!
-Specifically when should I refuel?–I remember taking vacations with my ex-husband and his family to Florida (if you didn’t know I had an ex-husband, I blogged about the grace God has shown me through this situation in this blog post). ¬†Every trip they stopped at the same gas station to refuel the van. ¬†I believe it was in West Virginia? ¬†Either way, the reasoning was that this was the cheapest gas station along the trip and the further south we went, the more expensive the gas would be. ¬†Even if the van still had half a tank or more, we still stopped there! ¬†Be mindful of where you refuel in your spiritual journey. Don’t wait to refuel when you are completely empty and now you are so far south it is going to be so costly to fill all the way back up. ¬†Keep a watchful eye on your spiritual tank and know that you can refuel even when you still have a lot of fuel left. ¬†Our spiritual tanks are similar to car tanks. ¬†As we take our stops along the journey, it will cost fuel. ¬†What is different is that at every stop, we get filled up and our tanks are able to “runneth over”. ¬†Don’t just fill your tank when it is going empty. ¬†FILL IT WHEN IT’S ALREADY FULL! Let God make your tank so full it is bursting at the seams!
-What questions do I have about the place I am going?–First, know that it is ok to have questions. ¬†It is OK to have doubts. ¬†it is NORMAL. ¬†What you do with these questions is way more important that the fact that you have them. ¬†Know what your questions are and then take them to a reliable source. ¬†If you had questions about a specific vacation, you wouldn’t ask someone who you didn’t trust to know the correct answer. ¬†Gather your questions, and find a TRUSTED source. ¬†Probably one of the people who you decided to take on the journey with you, that is always a good choice. ¬†Also, GO TO GOD. ¬†All day. Every day. ¬†Take your questions to him. Remember to be honest and transparent. ¬†He will bless you.

This entire post was stemmed because I had doubts and was feeling unsure about where to take my questions and through out the time it has taken me to write this blog, I feel like God has spoken directly to me through my writing.  He then has confirmed my thoughts through a Godly cousin and trusted friend.  The doubts I have now seem so far away, but God has also provided the answers that I needed to hear.  I took my questions to a trusted source and God has been faithful to show grace, but still give me the hard answers he requires of me so I may have the best experience on my Spiritual Journey.

Start your journey!  I promise it will be the best vacation you ever take!

He Calls Me Daughter!

This week has been the HARDEST and yet the most blessed week of my entire life. ¬†Have you ever wanted something so badly it physically pained you. ¬†You’ve longed for it. ¬†You’ve fantasized about it. ¬†You’ve spent time planning it. ¬†You’ve even gone as far as to “place an order” with God. (*I’ll take a Tall Dark and Handsome with a side order of kindness, a HUGE dollop of unconditional love and joy sprinkles on top. K thanks.*) ¬†Have you ever experienced a longing that deep?

I have.

Have you ever then decided that you could figure it out all on your own? ¬†You already KNOW what you want. ¬†You’ve only spent your entire life dreaming it all up, so why aren’t you qualified to do it all on your own?! ¬†You know why? ¬†Because this life simply isn’t about you.

**SLAP** (Yes. That was a slap from Jesus.) ¬†Jesus has slapped me in the face this week with that reality, but let me go back to the beginning. ¬†Jesus didn’t slap me at all. ¬†He so gently has guided and directed and whispered and begged for me to talk to him. ¬†God has given me scripture and peace and comfort. ¬†Jesus has met with me in my quiet place and shown me visions of his love. ¬†What I so desperately long for; He so desperately wants to give to me. ¬†When I am seeking him first. ¬†

The past couple of months I have been constantly reminded of the story of the woman in Luke chapter 8 who was very sick and bleeding constantly (12 YEARS of bleeding. ¬†Imagine having a period for 12 years straight. I don’t know if it was period bleeding,but seriously ladies..could you imagine bleeding for TWELVE YEARS?!) Anyway, she believed¬†that Jesus could heal her. ¬†She believed that just touching the bottom of his robe when he walked by would heal her. ¬†When she reached out and touched his robe, Jesus could have done so many things in that moment. ¬†He could have scorned her. ¬†He could have mocked her. ¬†He could have politely told her he was too busy. ¬†How many times in our own lives have we “gently” avoided someone in need because we were on our way to do something. ¬†Jesus was a busy man. ¬†He had an entire human race to save…it LITERALLY doesn’t get any busier than that! In that very second he was actually on his way to save a DEAD GIRL…and you know what Jesus did in those sweet, sweet moments?

DO. YOU. KNOW?!

He looked down at her and he called her “daughter”.

Let. That. Sink. In.

“Daughter”

¬†For me, this speaks to my entire core. ¬†To the deepest parts of my soul. ¬†I have a father who has so many worldly addictions that he has chosen over me time and time again. ¬†Wounds that literally cut to the bone. ¬†And here is a man who wasn’t like on his way to grab a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, but on his way to RAISE A GIRL FROM THE DEAD and he still, still took the time to heal her and call her daughter.

God has been so sweet to me. ¬†So sweet. ¬†Constantly I think I am able to do this thing called life on my own. ¬†I stumble. ¬†I fall. ¬†I make an idiot of myself. ¬†I hurt people around me. ¬†And Jesus shows me grace that I just plain don’t deserve.

The second story God has brought me to just this week is of another woman who is at the feet of Jesus.  She is a well known sinner in the town.  (Go Here to Read the Story) and she finds out that Jesus would be eating at a Pharisees  house.  This woman determines that she has to see Jesus and upon entering the house she falls at his feet, sobs and wets his feet with her tears, then dries them with her hair.  She then puts perfume on his feet.  The entire time these men at dinner are talking about her and scoffing.  Again, Jesus shows this woman compassion.  He sticks up for her against the other men in the room!  And you know what else? He gives her grace.  He forgives her sins.

Jesus has just constantly been reminding me that there is grace at his feet.  That when I humble myself not only is there HEALING, but there is forgiveness.  I cannot adequately convey the overwhelming feeling of unconditional love I have felt this week from a Jesus I thought I had known since I was a child.

So, you ask.  What does this have to do with my original question?

It’s this:

God knows the desires of my heart. ¬†He knows what I want. ¬†He knows what I desire. ¬†And as I have poured out to him this week, he has poured into me. ¬†As I have begged him this week for clarity, he has shown me grace and mercy. ¬†I go to him broken and he has healed me. ¬†I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus is going to give me the desires of my heart and it is because for the first time in my ENTIRE life, I am able to say I’m not afraid to let him have control.

SERIOUSLY I COULD JUST SCREAM HALLELUJAH!!

God knows what he is doing and my job in the meantime is to seek Him first. ¬†In seeking Him I am preparing myself to be the kind of woman who is suitable to be married. ¬†When I think I have it all figured out and attempt to do it on my own accord, I am a FRACTION of the Godly wife God wants to shape me into. ¬†My future husband deserves more than that from me. ¬†Beyond that, marriage isn’t about me anyway! ¬†It is literally a bonding of two people to be a light in the darkness! ¬†Marriage is supposed to represent the church. ¬†Marriage is about honor, and respect and love and (dare I go there) SERVICE to your spouse and more importantly…your GOD. ¬†Lord, forgive me for ever making it about me! ¬†This is so not about me.

This week, I have found comfort and grace.  I have found peace and love.

The following are specific words God gave to me as I was driving home from Graduate school tonight:

It’s not about me.
It’s all about you.
Why can’t I see it?
My days here are few.
Feelings are fragile.
Feelings will lie.
When I am weary,
The truth is my guide.
No longer a sinner,
but I am Christ’s Bride.

God knows my inner most desire.

And, guys:

He calls me DAUGHTER!! ‚̧

Go Now and Leave Your Life of Sin

Some scripture that is speaking pretty clearly to me tonight…

John 8:11–After the woman who was found guilty of committing adultery is brought before Jesus to be stoned.¬† He told them that whoever hadn’t sinned could throw the first stone.¬† Every last man disappeared.¬† Jesus asked her “Has no one condemned you?”¬† When she answers no, this is the sweetest response Jesus could have given.

He says to her, “Then neither do I condemn you.”¬† And then this–This spoke to my very core.

GO NOW AND LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN. 

And that right there is how Jesus works.

Mark 7:6–When Jesus witnesses the Pharisees practicing in rituals before they eat he tells them that they are hypocrites.¬† “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.¬† They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”¬† It’s too easy to fall into this ritualistic behavior and then go into the world looking just like it.¬† I’m guilty.¬† I struggle.¬† There are times no one could tell me apart from anyone else.¬† This spoke to me.¬† I don’t ever want to be guilty of this scripture.¬† I don’t want my worship to be in vain.

Mark 5:34–There is a woman who had been bleeding for many many years.¬† She had spent all of her money and had seen several doctors without any relief.¬† She knew that if she just touched Jesus’ cloak she would be healed.¬† When she touched him and was healed, Jesus wanted to know who touched him.¬† The woman approached him afraid, but she told him everything.¬† His response to her, I can’t explain the feelings it gives me.¬† Mostly because he calls her daughter.¬† “Daughter, your faith has healed you.¬† Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I have several prayers tonight.¬†¬† As I am sorting through all of the messages I received this weekend, I want to hear God’s voice.¬† I want to recognize him talking to me.¬† I also want to have faith that is strong enough that I can be freed from my suffering.¬† I want my faith to be strong enough that I can “Go and leave my life of sin”.

I Want to Obey

Last week there was a discussion about forgiveness.¬† Forgiveness is done not for the other person, but for yourself.¬† That is something I have heard and experienced a few times in my life; however, last week there was a conversation that really stuck with me.¬† Forgiveness is about your relationship with God and ultimately it is between you and him.¬† That is something I hadn’t really considered.¬† We are called to forgive.¬† Therefore whether I forgive will ultimately effect my relationship with Christ.

This is the other thing that stuck:¬† You may not have it in you to forgive.¬† You literally may not have the feelings necessary to forgive.¬† You literally don’t feeling like doing it. That gave me so much freedom.

This is a journey that is between me and God, which means I am able to be honest and say “I don’t have it in me.”¬† I can tell God, “I don’t feel like forgiving.¬† I literally cannot feel what it takes.”¬† I can come broken.¬† I can come stubborn.¬† I can come honest.¬† I can come repenting and begging for help and every time he welcomes me back.

Tonight I am struggling with anger.  Anytime there is conflict and injustice the rage comes streaming back.  Anytime I see my sisters fighting to feel love and acceptance from our own mother I am sickened.

I am taking time to blog and open up to God via this little slot on the internet so I am able to process some of my anger and know that forgiveness is something that is between him and I.¬† I don’ have what it takes to forgive tonight, but I do have the desire to obey and build a stronger relationship with him.

So I think in this moment, it begins with honesty.¬† I want to obey.¬† I want this ache in my chest to go away.¬† The anger I feel is only killing me.¬† I don’t want to forgive, but I want to obey.

It begins with honesty.

It’s Worth It

I wasn’t sure how to start this post, but here it is.¬† The lyrics of the song Come As You Are by Crowder touched the depths of my soul tonight.¬† As I was driving home from graduate class, processing the hour long conversation I had during counseling earlier in the day I began to cry.¬† The kind of tears that are big and fat and turn your cheeks into rushing rivers, those are the kinds of tears I was crying.

Grief.   Utter Sorrow.

I took a few minutes and allowed myself to feel sad.¬† I allowed myself to come as I was and I showed my broken heart to God.¬† I laid down my hurt and I found mercy.¬† My pain isn’t instantly gone, but I just kept telling myself that God knows every tear.¬† I couldn’t make legitimate words, but as the tears fell I thanked God for his ability to decipher tears.¬† I am thankful for a God who is patient.¬† I’ve been fighting so hard.¬† I’ve been telling God how scared I am and he’s still, even in my reluctance and my BLATANT disobedience, been faithful in showing his love to me. Even as I am sobbing driving down the highway, God was wrapping his loving arms around me.¬† The lyrics of this song washed over me and covered me like a warm blanket after playing in the snow too long.¬† I cried harder out of gratitude and just soaked in the lyrics:

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are
There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are

I never wanted to believe that the people who are closest to me that I love the most may literally be incapable of providing my needs.¬† For a few weeks now we have been talking about how God will meet those needs.¬† How God will provide what I need.¬† How I will find validation in Him.¬† I believe those things.¬† A couple weeks ago Jill told me a story of how God showed her love through the comfort of her pet.¬† I began to think of all of the ways that God has shown me love and I’m making a list.

My Sisters- The love that I feel for each of my sisters is so strong it is something that I will never feel again and for any other people.  This is the kind of fierce love that I can imagine God has for me, except WAY stronger, because his love is perfect.  Also, how much must he love me to GIFT me with them?  They are mine, God gave them to me and I cherish each of them.

My nephew- It is absolutely impossible to not feel the love of God in the little boy.  When he giggles the pure JOY that he brings is just unbelievable.  He has created such a bond with each of us and brought my sisters and I closer.  I know that he has been an absolute gift from God and I am so thankful.

My Cohort- My graduate class is wonderful.¬† Each week we become closer and closer.¬† I love the community and the unity that I feel week after week.¬† The understanding that is provided through these people is a gift.¬† My need to be understood, loved and needed is met through different people within my group.¬† I literally don’t have words for the thankfulness that I feel towards each and every one of them.

My students- Some of my best and worst days are given from my students, but I have learned so much.  I know that each and every one of my students has been a gift in one way or another.  They have taught me things about myself, about the world and about teaching that I will always cherish.  Each and every one of them a gift from God, a God that loves me!

He is a God that understands each of my needs and meets them in very REAL ways.¬† It’s just taken me some time to realize.¬† I don’t understand the love of a parent well enough to understand what love has looked like outside of what I have tried to fill the void with, but as I’ve reflected on Jill’s story about God meeting her needs with the love of her pet, I began to see that NOTHING in my life has been an accident.¬† I don’t understand why my life has been what it has been and I may NEVER understand, but what I AM starting to understand is that God has placed people, and very specific circumstances in my life to meet every need that I have if I am willing to grasp onto it and hold it close.

Tonight, I am brimming.  I brought my broken heart to Him.  I came to him JUST as I was (blubbering, tear stained cheeks and all) and he comforted me.

Maybe you need to hear the song.¬† Maybe you’ve had a tear-streaked-cheek kinda night too.

Come as You Are.

It’s worth it.

Marti’s Messages

Week 3 of the rest of my life:

It goes a little something like this. Struggle, hesitance, fear, resistance‚ÄĒCounseling. Jesus. Prayer.

This week I really struggled with the thought of giving up the old. The old has ‚Äúworked‚ÄĚ for so long. The old is ALL I KNOW. All of these coping mechanisms, all of these masks are being taken away. It‚Äôs down right terrifying.

How will I feel loved? How will I know I have value? How?! For so long I’ve met these needs through people pleasing, working super hard, trying to overachieve, seeking approval, sexual relationships. It’s filled the void for so long. How will I understand who I am without everything I’ve ever known?! You’re telling me Jesus really does this? I’ve learned the idea of it. I’ve heard the stories. I believe the stories. I just don’t think I believed them for me.

Tonight I was introduced to the Core Needs:

 Love

Significance

Belonging

Understanding

Safety & Security

Purpose

 Then I was introduced to the idea that we are given messages about our worth and ourselves starting at a very young age. Who gives us these messages?

Parents

Siblings

Church

Neighbors

Friends

Co-Workers

Then‚ÄĒThe hard part. The painstaking part. The part where I have to analyze what my messages have been. The negative ones. These are the ones she wants to know about, because there stems the dysfunction. In those messages are the roots that have borrowed so deeply into my soul causing this constant treading of water.¬†¬† Immediately I felt fear. I know what my messages have been. I know what‚Äôs happened. I don‚Äôt know that I‚Äôve analyzed them quite on this level and certainly not in front of someone I‚Äôve only spoken to 3 times.

But‚ÄĒI did it. In this, there is healing, one painstaking adventure at a time.

The Following is:

Marti’s Messages

The message of abandonment: being left and forsaken.

The message of insecurity

The message of being unattractive and overweight

The message of being unimportant, uncared for and unloved

The message of being a disappointment, excluded and not fitting in

The message of guilt and feeling responsible

The message of being unwanted and undesirable

The message of not being good enough and being misunderstood

That‚Äôs a pretty hefty list of GROSS messages. Here is where I find peace. We didn‚Äôt leave the session on that note! After we read off every nasty, horrible, despicable message I‚Äôd been given, she looked at me and said ‚ÄúI want you to picture your nephew.‚ÄĚ

..Immediate tears..

She said to me ‚ÄúI know he means a lot to you. I can tell you love that little boy and he holds a very special place in your heart. You want nothing but the best for him and you would do anything within your power to make him feel loved. To let him know he has significance and belonging, and that you understand him and want him to feel safe. That his aunt Marti always has his back.‚ÄĚ

As much as you want all of those things for him, God wants those things for you more. She began to quote scripture to support what she was saying. I am the apple of his eye. Jesus came so that we could have life and have it more abundantly. She let me know that there is a pure kind of love that God wants to provide in my life and that his love is without condition. God understands the importance of feeling adored and admired. These are innate needs he placed within us, which also means he can fulfill them.

The journey is still hard. I am still hesitant. I still scare easily and worry that completely giving up my power means I may not get exactly what I want.

Either way Marti’s Messages are slowly being re-written.

One page at a time.

Overwhelmed

In a good way.¬† The past few weeks I’ve talked a lot about being overwhelmed in a bad way.¬† Life has a way of getting in the way of things, ya know?!¬† Well, this week I’ve been studying and praying a lot and I constantly am getting two reminders from the Lord.

1.) Cast ALL your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you

AND

2.) Rejoice!

This morning in church, the first song we sang was Rejoice by Dustin Kensrue. (Video!!)¬† It’s amazing how when God is speaking to you, He will constantly reiterate what He wants you to know.¬† This week God really wanted me to hear that He’s already got it under control.¬† He really wanted me to just rejoice in Him and enjoy everything that He is.¬† He is, He was, and He is to come.¬† Jesus is everlasting.

This morning as we were taking communion, I was rejoicing in the Lord.¬† Thanking Him for everything that He has done for me and continues to do.¬† Thanking him for the strength to face each day.¬† As I closed my eyes to pray, I began to see a vision of Jesus on the cross.¬† I was knelt before the cross and I was handing EVERYTHING over to him.¬† I should preface this by saying that for weeks now, as I’ve prayed I’ve been getting this constant vision of myself literally with both hands palm side up handing Jesus my mother.¬† I am on my knees, my head is bowed, my arms are stretched high above my head with my palms up giving her to Him to care for.¬† I’ve been putting her in Jesus’ capable hands over, and over, and over in my prayers.¬† So today as God was showing me another vision of handing her over, I was knelt before the cross as he’s nailed to it and I am handing EVERYTHING to him.¬† Not just my mom, not just my anxiety, not just my depression, but EVERYTHING.¬† My house, my schooling, my LIFE.¬† I left everything at the cross this morning and I heard scripture in my mind “Surely, He was the Son of God”.

SURELY HE IS THE SON OF GOD!!¬† SURELY!!¬† This morning, my circumstances haven’t changed.¬† It’s like I’ve said a million times, circumstances my not change, but your heart will!¬† And this morning…my heart is changed.¬† Surely, Jesus is the Son of God, and¬† It.¬† Is.¬† Finished.

Your sorrow, your pain, Jesus carried it up the hill.¬† So, rejoice in Him.¬† Be OVERWHELMED with his love and sacrifice for you.¬† He cries with you.¬† He sobs with you.¬† He’s suffered with you.¬† He died FOR you.

Be overwhelmed by him this morning.

I know I am.

Happy Tuesday Friends

God works in some pretty awesome ways!

This morning as I am reading scripture before work, I started in Acts 2:14 where Peter is addressing the crowd that had gathered outside of the upper room where the disciples had begun to speak in all different tongues as the spirit had fallen on them.

The most comforting part of the entire passage was when Peter is quoting what David had said about Jesus.

“I saw the Lord always before me.¬† Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Aren’t you excited about that this morning?! I know I am.¬† I will not be shaken today.¬† All that matters to me is Jesus and doing exactly what he has planned for me to do.

He continues with this:

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices.” (REJOICE!! Rejoice this morning in his love and promises!!) ..”my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.¬† You have made known to me the paths of life: you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

I encourage you this morning to live in hope. To rejoice in the Lord.¬† To live in the comfort that he will not abandon you at the grave and to walk the paths of life he has made known to you.¬† Even if you don’t completely understand.¬† This is only the beginning!

Happy Tuesday Friends!