I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about Vaseline but, I guess, it doesn’t surprise me either. Nowadays, I just go with it and see where the path will carry me. Honestly, if dirty feet can be a topic then why not Vaseline?
I have a small round and metal travel size container of vaseline. I bought it in the Spring of 2016. I misplaced it awhile back but came across it again not too long ago and put the container back in my purse. Each time I go into my makeup bag to retrieve some balm for my dry winter lips, I think about my dad. I bought the container at a Walgreens in Arizona while visiting my dad. It would be my last visit with him. He would pass away just five months later. I had no idea that that particular visit home to see him would be the last.
For some odd reason, it’s comforting to pull this Vaseline out of my purse. There’s relief and comfort in that jar, not just for my chapped winter skin but for my chapped winter soul. It’s comfort that shows up and speaks directly to that part of my heart that never stops grieving this side of eternity. The part of my heart that knows death and sorrow is a part of life but equally knows, with a deep assurance, that one day it will cease. No more pain, no more tears…our healing journeys complete. No more cracked skin, no more cracked and weary souls.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
“Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born;
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night Divine.”
I had the beautiful opportunity to share a portion of my journey with a group of ladies at a Christmas gathering over the weekend. After the talk, I had a young lady come up to me and thank me for mentioning that one of the dysfunctions (along with with many others) that led to the ending of my first marriage was verbal abuse. She shared with me how she had been in a verbally abusive relationship not too long ago and how so many people have a hard time recognizing it as abuse. We also talked about how this abuse simply becomes “normal” and a “way of life”. Doesn’t everybody get called horrible names when they have an argument? Isn’t that just part of fighting, to sling hateful and degrading words at a person that you claim to love?
Yet the truth is…NO. As a matter of fact, it is not normal. It is not healthy. It is not a behavior that any human being should ever sit back, settle for, and think “well, that’s just the way things are.”
Fear will make us do crazy things sometimes. Fear tells us that we don’t have any other choice. Fear will often tell us to venture down a particular road when we never imagined we would ever find ourselves walking down that road. Fear will even tells us that the road we are on is as good as we could ever hope for. Fear tells us to settle for the way things are (no matter how uncomfortable or painful it might be) because it’s most certainly easier, less painful, and less scary than venturing out of our comfort familiar zones.
Fear tries to convince us that simply existing and making it through another day of settling is actual living.
Fear is most certainly a liar.
Fear is also a thief. Fear robs us of the hope and joy of the better life that Jesus promises is available to everyone.
“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10
I’ve shared this quote from Seth Godin multiple times but it came to mind again this morning. “If you think you have no choice but to do what you do now, you’ve already made a serious error.
The challenge for today: Refuse to settle for anything less than His best for you. Keep your eyes and your heart focused on the One who knows this best path even before you step foot on it.
One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is that I become more keenly aware of the great lengths Jesus (Emmanuel) went in order to be with us. I am reminded that someone who would go to such lengths to rescue us is not going to give up on us or abandon us part way through the journey. He is fully committed and that never changes… no matter how broken, how scared, how lost, or how unworthy we might feel some days. The rescuing is all HIM; we just grab on and refuse to let go.
Yesterday at church, I was talking to one of our connection team volunteers and another attender. We got on the subject of fear and how the enemy and his lies will lure us away from the truth. The connection volunteer told us about a new song that recently resonated with her called “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams. As she told us about the song, tears fell from her eyes. As I thought back on that special moment yesterday morning, a quote I shared at the event on Saturday came to mind again. Several folks have shared it since the event, so I wanted to share it again here.
“My brokenness is a better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.” – Sheila Walsh
This coming Saturday I have the honor of shouting His praises to a room full of ladies at a special Christmas event. After being asked to be one of the speakers a few weeks ago, the excitement of being given the opportunity to share a portion of my journey with other ladies has been slowly growing. I am pleasantly surprised that the overriding feeling I am having is joy and excitement and not fear and sheer terror. 500 of people signed up for the event. I have never spoken in front of that many people before. This is definitely a faith stretching, get out of the boat moment for me personally.
Last night was the first indication that there might be some underlying nerves starting to build inside me. I had an anxiety dream about the event. In my dream, everything that could go wrong went wrong. I was never handed a microphone. There was this weird wall down the middle of the auditorium and I wasn’t quite sure where I was supposed to stand. Then, when I started to speak, I could not, for the life of me, form a complete sentence even though I was looking right at my notes. Words came out of my mouth but they were all jumbled up.
When I woke up, I thought “well, that was kind of amusing in a terrifying way” and then the next thing I hear were these words playing on repeat.
“You are the only King forever
Almighty God we lift You higher
You are the only King forever
Forevermore, You are victorious”
We lift our banner high
We lift the name of Jesus.”
The Truth showed up to serenade my heart.
My prayer for tomorrow morning is that Truth shows up, gives us His words, and serenades every single heart in that room.
I was driving through the early morning fog the other day and there was a point along the journey when the fog lifted, my view ahead became clear, and pre-dawn light brightened the path ahead of me. As visibility improved, I immediately thought of the Message translation of 1 Corinthians 13:12
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
I was thinking about the things we don’t like about fog. It’s inconvenient and tends to cause delays. We may not reach our desired destination as quickly as we hoped or anticipated because of this lack of visibility. This lack of sight can even cause us to drive with an elevated level of anxiety or tension.
Then I thought about the “good” thing about fog. It causes us to slow down and to become more aware of our surroundings. A typical on auto-pilot journey becomes a fully engaged, fully present journey.
I think that’s the whole purpose for our foggy faith journeys. The fog keeps us living more in the present moment. The fog keeps us relying more and more on the only One who is sovereign over every twist and turn and every uncertain step stretched out ahead. The fog will teach us more about dependence than clear skies ever could.
If the wind and waves obey him…surely the fog does too. (Matthew 8:27)
I read these words from Louise Giglio the other day. It’s referring to waiting but I think we can also apply it to delays and inconveniences caused by fog.
“If we are honest, we all hate to wait. In fact, most often we say something like, “I can’t believe this is taking so long; it’s costing me time I don’t have!” That’s because most of us consider waiting to be wasting. But it’s not so with our God.
God works while we wait. Even when you can’t see what He is doing, God is always orchestrating the events of heaven and earth to accomplish His purposes for your life. Trust in His unfailing love—love that moved Him to send a Savior from heaven to restore and rescue you. God’s plans for your life will not be thwarted. Wait patiently, knowing that waiting is never wasted when you are waiting on God.” Louie Giglio
I love this reminder: “God works while we wait. Even when you can’t see what He is doing, God is always orchestrating the events of heaven and earth to accomplish His purposes for your life.”
I know I’ve written about this before but it’s worth remembering again. One of my favorite parts about wintertime and the house we live in here in Georgia is the fireplace. I love my little routine of getting out of bed, turning the fire on, and sipping coffee. The turning of the knob to ON in the fireplace is one of the few tasks where I am completely in the moment. Some times there are tasks we seem to do on auto pilot but this is not the case with the fireplace. Time seems to slow down for a second and I become fully aware of the activity. It fills me with a sense of joy and anticipation.
Today we will put our Christmas tree up. Plugging the tree lights in every morning gives me the same exact feeling as the turning of the fireplace knob. It’s not an autopilot task; it’s a full of expectation task. I am on the cusp of something beautiful and my heart knows it.
This morning, I sat here comparing these two tasks to my love of getting up early. I have always loved waking up before the sun rises. I’ve noticed how there’s an underlying joy present in my heart much like the turning of the knob or the plugging in of the tree. I love watching the darkness become filled with light.
I can’t help but think of Jesus and all the times we read in scripture of Him being the light of the world and how this light triumphs over the darkness. I love how He promises that those who walk with Him will never walk in darkness but will carry with them this light of life. I love the promise that this light is offered to everyone. I love how this light can come into a life an illuminate a heart and give knowledge and understanding of God’s glory. I love the incredible hope that this offers us. Darkness is not our home. The dawn is always upon us. The knob is always turning on. The lights are always being plugged in. Again and again and again.
“The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16
“Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness.” John 12:46
For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.” 1 John 1:5
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
What makes a spacious place so spacious is not the absence of trials but the constant presence of our Sustainer, Redeemer, Healer, Restorer. He supplies rest and peace regardless of our circumstances. We are comforted in the valley, held through the pain, filled with living water in the desert, and given strength and courage for the battle.
He goes before us, widening the path ahead.
He walks beside us, teaching us the way.
He stands on guard behind, protecting and defending.
I spent some time in Acts 3 again this morning reading about the lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate. This account is one that has always had a way of touching my heart in such a personal way. I’ve written about it many times.
His story collides with our stories. This beautiful collision results in healing beyond belief.
He doesn’t give us what we think we need; He gives us what we truly need.
He doesn’t give us what we expect; His gift far exceeds our expectations.
Each time I read through the first few verses of Acts 3, I get this feeling that I’ve only scratched the surface. I feel like the lessons, the depth of love, and all the good waiting to be discovered goes so far beyond what my mind has the ability to comprehend. I get this same feeling whenever I read the word glory too…like my heart has only managed to catch a small glimpse of all the beauty and goodness.
I wonder if that feeling we get of only scratching the surface and only seeing glimpses is all part of God’s beautiful design? Surface scratches and glimpses create an ache inside us for more. We uncover a sliver of treasure and this sliver creates a hunger…so we keep coming back, we keep digging, we keep seeking.
If we aren’t hungry, then we stop searching for food.
Lord, thank you for the surface scratches and the glimpses. Keep us hungry for more.
“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
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.
“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.
“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 deadand 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”