Author Archives: Eileen

I’d Lasso the Moon for You

“Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press, say, “Speak, Lord,” and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline, it is meant to get me to the place of saying, “Speak, Lord.” -Oswald Chambers

As I read these word this week some lyrics from one of my favorite Rend Collective songs came to mind, Second Chance.  Such a great song if you’ve never listened to the words before.

“When sin and ugliness
Collide with redemption’s kiss
Beauty
Awakens by romance”

I love how both the courtship and also the on going relationship we have with Christ is described as a romance.

Romance as a verb is defined as  “court; woo”

Romance as a noun is defined as “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.”

God’s pursuit of us really is a journey of our eyes and heart being awakened to the beauty and presence of Him in our lives. 

When sin meets redemption= unimagineable beauty is the result

I love how hearts are wooed to this place of beauty.  We are not guilt tripped into it,  pressured into it or deceived into it.  We are pursued by a determined suitor who shows us, in countless ways, how much He wants to spend eternity…with us.

“Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance.”

I love the reminder that choosing to listen to the Lord speak truth into our life is something we can look forward to with excitement and expectation because we know that the One doing the speaking is someone who loves us, cherishes us, and wants only what’s best for us.

The same one who placed the moon and stars in the sky desires to be with us and to love us in such ways we never thought possible.

For some reason as I wrote that last sentence, I thought about the old movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” when suitor George tells Mary that he would lasso the moon for her. It’s an absurd idea but the scene shows us the tender and determined love that George has for Mary during their courtship.

Jesus didn’t lasso the moon for you but He might as well have. He’s crazy about you.

 

This way you will know and understand…

“If I am not doing My Father’s works, don’t believe Me. But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.” John 10: 37-38

I think this is what delights and surprises me most about this journey and this relationship. There is so much room for doubts, questions, mess ups, learning and growing.  Trust doesn’t usually happen overnight in any relationship. It comes with spending time with someone, doing life with them, and getting to know their heart.

Are they dependable?
Do their words match their actions?
Are their intentions good?

I love the reminder above that there is plenty of room as we walk along with Jesus to have doubts, questions and set backs but if we are truly committed and humbly looking for His hand working and moving in this world and in our lives, we will “know and understand.”  I also love how, over the years, these “works” have shown up in my life in profound and deeply personal ways too.

Sometimes (or maybe I should say most of the time) the journey to knowing and understanding is not all sunshine and flowers.  The biggest faith building seasons in my life have not been when His works have fit nicely into “Eileen’s personal box of what it means to have a good life”. It’s not been when life has gone as I envisioned it.

Rather, the biggest times of growth and trusting more of Jesus’ heart have come during those times when there has been no rational reason why I should have hope or peace or joy and yet…there is no denying that those beautiful things are there. These are those times when faith has become sight in my own life. Those are the miraculous works that I have seen show up on this journey over and over again. It’s assurance that His unchanging, unshakeable love is with me always.  It’s evidence of a good Father when nothing else in this life makes sense.

It’s all those times in my life when His hand has held me through pain or has shown me beauty far beyond the undesirable circumstance or season I find myself.  It’s all those times when He has been true to His word:

Peace IS POSSIBLE even through this.
Freedom and healing IS POSSIBLE no matter how deep the pit or how tight the chains.
Grace and redemption IS POSSIBLE no matter how many wrong turns it took to get to MY door. 

 

Broken Roads and Broken Treasures

“We are not beggars on the one hand or spiritual customers on the other; we are God’s children, and we just stay before Him with our broken treasures or our pain and watch Him mend or heal in such a way that we understand Him better. ”  –  Oswald Chambers on prayer

We just stay before Him with our broken treasures or our pain and watch Him mend or heal in such a way that we understand Him better.

That’s the part that resonated with me this morning as I read this short devotional on prayer. As many of you know treasure is my One Word for 2017.  So, of course, anytime I read, see or hear it mentioned this year, the eyes and ears of my heart “prick” up.  I’ve read, seen, and heard it many times too. And, each time, if I’m willing to pause long enough to let the words seep in, I usually discover lessons and treasures waiting to be found.

Pressing pause now…

What are broken treasures?  When I think about broken treasures I think about broken offerings, broken concepts, broken perceptions, broken lives, broken hopes, broken dreams, broken expectations that Jesus invites us to humbly bring to Him.

We come…not knowing all the answers and not even close to understanding all the reasons… but we come...that’s the key.

Sometimes we come with confidence and a faith that’s solid and firm. And then other times, we come on weak knees with mustard seeds so small that you wonder how can you work with this, Lord?

And then He shows us…again.

It’s not the size of our offerings but the greatness of Him doing the redeeming work.  “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Him.”  (Colossians 2:3)

The next thing that came to mind when I thought about broken treasures was the verse in 2 Corinthians 4:7

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.”

I think it’s interesting to compare our broken treasures with this treasure in clay jars.  We have the power of Jesus Christ living, moving and making his home inside our fragile and broken bodies, bodies that get beaten down, deteriorate and fall apart. Our weakened and limited-in-power and strength exteriors become the perfect showcase for God’s glory. And if we have hearts ready to receive, we can recognize His power and His majesty shining through.  We realize that the beauty and hope breaking through the darkness is not of ourselves but solely because of a power greater than ourselves that is constantly working in us and through us…wooing us to Himself.

He takes our surrendered and broken treasures and introduces us to the Perfect Treasure, one that never fades, a living hope walking this broken and beautiful road with us.

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable,uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.  You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials  so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Pet 1:3-9

 

“We just stay before Him with our broken treasures or our pain and watch Him mend or heal in such a way that we understand Him better.”

I’ve probably shared this song a half dozen times on my blog. I’m sharing it again. 🙂  It comes to mind whenever I think of broken roads and beautiful destinations.

“And on the road to beautiful
My seasons always change
But my life is spent on loving You
To know You in Your power and pain”

Working on Our Appetites

appetizers

I heard this word at two specific times yesterday.  The first time I heard it was while I was driving into work and thinking about an old post I wrote and shared several years ago called The Lost Sheep.

You can read it HERE. It’s about this time when I was living back in North Carolina and came across a lost sheep standing by himself on the side of the road.  The Lord used that strange, out of the ordinary scene as a teaching moment. I was convicted of all the times I miss pursuing and engaging the lost sheep, to take care of them, direct them, and feed them.

I thought about the verses I had originally referenced in that post.

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.”

“Feed my lambs,” he told him.  A second time he asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.”

“Shepherd my sheep,” he told him.

 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

“Feed my sheep,” Jesus said.   John 21: 15-17

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I then thought about the group of host team volunteers I get to serve with every Sunday morning.  I thought about how they have this beautiful opportunity to feed sheep who walk up the sidewalks and through the doors of Rock Bridge Community Church.  I thought about how Jesus is our perfect example of how to tend and feed sheep too.  When he first appeared to his disciples that morning on the beach, he didn’t launch into a lecture of all the ways they had failed.  No, instead, He loved them and served them.  He met their needs (gave them the fish) and then said “Come and have breakfast.”

Jesus is always giving us examples of how to be the church.

I then thought about how the first impression team, by shaking hands and being friendly and helpful really is the appetizer of even more to come.  It’s a crucial taste of love that whets the appetite and opens hearts. Welcome! There are more good and tasty courses still yet to come.  

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The next time I heard the word appetizer yesterday morning was during the sermon.  Our pastor is doing a series called Heaven & Earth. One of things yesterday’s message talked about was how heaven is for thirsty people.  “Heaven is for people whose thirst for God ‘wins” against the thirst for the world and all it offers.”  One of the takeaways  from the message was that we need to “move past the appetizer” when it comes to our relationship with Jesus.  We need to experience, for ourselves, the goodness of God.  We need to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. It’s a great message series and you can watch Part 1 and 2 HERE.

Moving past the appetizer requires that we spend time getting know the One who feeds us.

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This morning I thought again about appetizers.  I thought about the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus taught his disciples that, “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6   I love how the Message version phrases this verse. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

Lord, thank you for all the ways you whet our appetites!  But help us to not stop there today. Help us to seek out and be filled by the more you are offering each of us. 

“All eyes look to You,
and You give them their food at the proper time.
You open Your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”  Psalm 145: 15-16

All the way down to the ground

“Yet a God-box is still a God-box, no matter where you position it in your faith. Limiting our view of Him to the stupendous is not really any different from limiting our view of Him to the monotonous. He doesn’t exist only in the stratosphere of extravagant need. His ability comes all the way down to the ground, to the places we live on regular weekdays while working, playing, eating, and engaging in ordinary realities.”–Priscilla Shirer

His ability comes all the way down to the ground…

I think this is the part I’ve had a hard time recalling lately.  This is the part of the faith journey that makes an ordinary day anything but ordinary when I choose to actively observe or actively participate in it. This is the part where my spiritual eyes have the opportunity to tap into the holiness of every single moment.

It’s not just a walk to the mailbox.  It’s not just a drive to work. It’s not just a rainy Sunday morning. It’s not just a trip to the post office. It’s not just another load of laundry. It’s not just a morning car rider line at school. It’s not just dinner with the family.

All of the justs are opportunities to catch glimpses of His glory working in and through a moment of time.

And, sometimes, I feel like my heart shows up late to these moments. Or, in some cases, I have this weird hindsight feeling that a particular moment was almost close enough to touch but I zagged when I should have zigged.

I love the apostle Paul’s encouragement  to believers in Ephesians about being unified in Christ. And that, in him, we are are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

 “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. ” Ephesians 3:14-19 Message 

I love the reminder in this passage that it’s where our feet are planted that will matter most on whether we are able to “take in the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.”  This is where any adjustments need to begin when we seem to be missing the moments all around us of God’s love bending down all the way to the ground.

Am I firmly planted on love today?

When our feet are firmly planted on love, when we make a choice to live, move, and breathe from this point, we begin to see how beauty can grow up in some of the most surprising places. When we start from a place of love, the mundane becomes extraordinary and full of holy treasures…gifts that won’t fit in a box but gifts that can forever transform a heart.

You are not under attack

You Are Not Under Attack

“Too often I hear you and others say, “I’m under attack” when the enemy is harassing you. That’s not a victory mind-set, and you should not go into battle declaring you are under attack. Beloved, the attack is under you.

The enemy is under your feet, and you are seated above him – in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So change your perspective. Yes, the enemy may be attacking you, but you are not under his attacks – you are over them. Speak and act as if you believe that.” ~Evenings With the Holy Spirit  (scripture references Eph 2:4-6, Rom 8:37, 1 John 4:4)

As I read these words this morning I immediately thought of the words from Psalm 18 “they fall beneath my feet”

“I pursue my enemies and overtake them;
I do not turn back until they are wiped out.
I crush them, and they cannot get up;
they fall beneath my feet.” Psalm 18: 37-38

Psalm 18 was one of my go-to chapters in the early days of my recovery.  It’s about a big God going into battle with us and kicking butt. It’s about a big God fighting on our behalf, rescuing us, protecting us, sustaining us, saving us.

I love how the devotional I read this morning said “Yes, the enemy may be attacking you, but you are not under his attacks – you are over them. Speak and act as if you believe that.”

I could not agree more with this!  “Speak and act as if you believe that”

Psalm 18 contains much needed words of truth when the enemy whispers lies into your heart.

Here are some of the lies I listened to prior to surrendering my addiction and trusting fully in a big God:

You’re not that bad. You’re certainly not as bad as that person over there. You can control this. You can hide this and still live a good life. Once you figure out the why then you can fix the situation…just keep trying to figure it all out. 

However, true healing and freedom only happened in my life when I began to live and act as if the battle I was in was truly life or death. A life or death situation isn’t the time or place for excuses and delays. Excuses and delays during a battle could get you killed. In life or death situations you cling and hold onto the only One who is capable of saving you. You commit to turning up the volume on Truth because the truth leads you to freedom.

Amazing things began to happen in my own story when I actually began to act and believe my God was bigger than my attacker.

“…The One who is in you is greater than the one in the world” 1 John 4:4

Speak and act as if you believe that.

shackles break, pits are left behind, prison doors spring open

feet dance free

Beloved, the attack is under you.

 

Embracing the Elephant

RecentIy, I stopped by the cafe area at church and spoke briefly with one of our coffee volunteers.  In the few minutes that we chatted, our conversation went deeper than most conversations will usually go in a whole days worth of conversing with someone.

I like those kinds of conversations the best. I love when you can by pass a lot of the small talk and get to the soul talk instead.  I love when you get to unexpectedly hear a part of someone’s story. I love when you discover a common thread.  What a gift.

In our brief conversation the other morning, we talked openly about death and grief. It was a refreshing conversation.  I discovered that we had both lost our moms at a young age. Her dad had died at a young age as well. In our conversation, we both expressed our frustration with the fact that the majority of people in life seem to avoid conversations about death. Which, by the way, has always seemed odd to me since it’s the one thing we as humans all have in common. We both admitted that even though others avoid talking about these hurts (especially as more and more time passes) the ones who are grieving would still love to talk about, be asked about, and remember their loved ones.  People think that mentioning the name of the loved one will open an old wound or make the griever sad but what they don’t realize is this lost loved one is always on the griever’s heart. The griever doesn’t forget.  The elephant, so to speak, is always in the room.

This transparent conversation I had with a volunteer last weekend was just what my heart needed.  I was reminded of some words I shared on my blog last year after my dad died in a post called Waves and Elephants

Today I know…I don’t have to stop talking about loved ones after they die. When my mom died there were times when folks would avoid the conversation…thinking if they didn’t bring it up, it was, somehow, the polite or loving thing to do.  Years ago, I took this to mean that I shouldn’t talk about or bring it up anymore either. I thought since others avoided the topic, then I should too.  I know differently today.  So I will talk about it and bring it up as often as need be.

Grief doesn’t heal when you sweep it under a rug.  It took me a decade to learn that the first time around.

Today, let’s not pretend (and I’m guilty of doing this too because sometimes it’s the easier more convenient route) that the grief elephant has left the room when you converse with a friend who is journeying through a valley. That elephant?  It’s there. It’s always there.

 

 

that which is faithful and true

I turned into psycho mom this morning when my scatter brained middle schooler forgot about something school related until just before heading out of the house to head to school. Then we hopped in the car and we saw this and I apologized to him for over reacting and flying off the handle. Glad “mercies are new” not just every morning but every moment too. Dropped son off and then heard on the radio about the massacre in Las Vegas. Got to work and texted my son to apologize again and to remind him how incredible he is. Sigh

I shared those words and that picture on Facebook yesterday morning.  Several friends commented with some grace-filled words. It happens to all of us. I know how you feel. We aren’t perfect and we all have moments when we lose it. 

This morning, I was skimming through the online devotionals on YouVersion and trying to choose a new one to read.  And wouldn’t you know, out of the hundreds and hundreds of options available, I opened up and read a sample from one titled “Evenings With the Holy Spirit.”

New Beginnings

“You can have a new beginning. It doesn’t matter how many new beginnings you’ve had before. Don’t believe the lie that you can’t have any more. Jesus’s work on the cross paved the way for another new beginning and another and another – as many as you need. Our Father’s mercies are new every day…”

The scripture references at the end of the devotional came from Lamentations and Revelation

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!
 I say, “The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in him.” Lam 3: 22-24

“Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” Revelation 21:5
 

Two things stuck out to me about these passages.

First, I love how the Lord reaffirms this Truth in my life and in my story. His mercies are new every single day. His great love and His grace has paved the way for each and every one of us.

Second, I never noticed the second part of Revelation 21:5 before.  “He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”

I know those words weren’t directed towards me but as a writer they truly had a way of reaffirming my heart this morning of the reason I am compelled to sit down and write…
because these words are faithful and true

I then went back and read Revelation 21 in context.

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.”

Again, these verses prompted some more thoughts.

First, I immediately noticed the words, “God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them…” I was reminded of how the word dwell was the word on my heart one day last week and I wrote a post about it.

Second, I thought about the senseless, horrific killings in Las Vegas. In times like this, I cling to the promise and the faithful and true words that one day “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more”

I can’t explain this tragedy. There are no words for evil like this.  But I can, however, keep my heart and my eyes focused on that which is faithful and true. 

The Happiness Hoax

If all the energy we spent on chasing happiness was instead placed on intentionally getting to know Jesus as our closest and always accessible friend and confidant, what would the impact be on our attitude, outlook, and level of contentment?

I ask this question not because I always get this choice right. I don’t. I still, sometimes, get caught up in running after the world’s standard of happiness and quick fixes and gratifications. And yet, each time I do, I learn the same lesson over and over. That way over-promises and under-delivers… which eventually results in discouragement, discontentment and emptiness.

So I ask the question again.

If all the energy we spent on chasing happiness was instead placed on intentionally getting to know Jesus as our closest and always accessible friend and confidant, what would the impact be on our attitude, outlook, and level of contentment?

I came to give you life abundant. I am joy. I am light. I am chain breaker. I am fountains of cascading hope. I am healer. I am love. I am peace. I am bread. I am streams of living water.  

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 28-30 Message

Dwell

Lord I love the house where you dwell, the place where your glory resides. Psalm 26:8

I read that verse earlier this week and, immediately, an old memory from nearly 15 years ago came to mind.  I could recall sitting in a small group leader’s living room, a guitar strumming, and a group of us singing a song together. I paused and waited for the memory to fully form. At first I could not remember the words to the song; I could only hear pieces of the melody.

I know from past experience to trust the melody when the words aren’t there to grab onto.  And, slowly, the words did come back.

How lovely is your dwelling place
Oh Lord almighty

One thing I ask
and I would seek
to see your beauty
To find You in the place
Your glory dwells

Better is one day
in your courts
Better is one day
in your house
than thousands elsewhere

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Then yesterday morning,  it was this verse that stood out to me from my devotional reading.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory,the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

The word glory has always had a way of capturing my heart’s attention but this week the word my heart seems to be lingering on is dwell. 

I love the reminders this week that wherever His presence is, then His glory is also present.  There is never a time when the Lord and His glory aren’t a “team.” Glory is His character and His nature. We find Him… then we find His Glory, the splendor of His holiness, as well.

While out on my run yesterday morning, I thought about how the Lord, in all His glory, chose to come down to us, to walk among us, to not only make a way for us…but to be the way for us, to love us, to die for us, to make His home in us. Emmanuel…God with us.  

His mission from the very beginning was to dwell with us and to be our home.

Better is one day
in your courts
Better is one day
in your house
than thousands elsewhere

I thought about one of my favorite Psalms “You protect me with your saving shield. You support me with your right hand. You have stooped to make me great.” Psalm 18:35

The Lord, in all His glory, stoops down for us.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.  I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit,  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love,  and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 14-21

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. Psalm 29:2

Lord, may they sing about what you have done,
    because your glory is great. Psalm 138:5

Shout to God for joy, everyone on earth!
     Sing about the glory of his name! Psalm 66: 1-2

“Your love is a symphony
All around me
Running through me
Your love is a melody
Underneath me
Running to me
Your love is a song”– Switchfoot