Real Joy, Real Pain, Real Life, Real Jesus

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imageThose nights when you can’t sleep because to everyone else your life on the outside looks so perfect, when in reality you’re dying inside and you just don’t know into how many more pieces your heart can break or just how much more sorrow you can take before it. all. comes. crashing. down.
I’m tired of the Facebook façade. You know the one. Where all is sunshine and roses and smiles and laughter. We thank God there IS a lot of that! But life is not a series of either mountain top or valley experiences. It’s not one or the other. It’s more of a journey going along on parallel tracks made of joy and sorrow running side by side each other often at the same time. So, yes, we have a tremendous amount to be thankful for and joyful over, while at the same time we continue to be blasted with enough sorrow and pain to last us a lifetime.
Personally, our story is one that we are still processing. It’s not ready to be told. If you know us, please don’t ask questions. Just pray for us. For our family.
We’ll be alright. We’re strong in the Lord. It’s in our weakness HE shows Himself strong. He carries us. HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT! Every single time.
Aren’t we all just broken vessels? And when we stop hiding the cracks and let our brokenness show, that’s when more of His light can seep out into the darkness around us, helping to illuminate  someone else’s dark path they’re on.
I’m afraid what spills out of my brokenness a lot of times isn’t the light and love of Jesus. It’s fear, doubt, and the anger of heartbreak. But I pray that through all this, He’s changing me.
In my brokenness and failures, I want HIS light to shine and for this earthen vessel to be softened, yielded to His loving hands shaping me into His image, not mine, using me to further HIS kingdom and plan, not mine, and to ultimately pour out comfort to others and bring glory to Him. That is what I pray is the end result. That’s the goal, right?
How about you? Need prayer? I don’t think FB (or in this case, a blog page) is the place to air dirty laundry but it’s okay to say things aren’t perfect and to admit you’re hurting. I know some friends who are. I know some family members who are. I am. Leave me a comment. I love to pray for people. I believe in it. I believe in the One Who hears our cry. My hope is in the Lord. Let’s pray for each other in the sweet, powerful, mighty name of JESUS believing that He hears, He cares, and He IS completing the good work He’s begun in us! Amen!

Love, blessings, and prayers to you.

Becky

 

The Great Cover-Up

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I love that God, in His Word, allows us to see some of the great men and women of the faith with all of their immaturity and imperfections laid bare. The Bible is full of incomplete, limited people. Broken people with rough edges and faulty thinking. People just like you and me. It’s true! Think of a favorite Bible character then ask yourself what endears them to you, why do you like their story? For me, it’s because I can relate to them. I venture to say you can, too. We are a lot like them, so their stories of redemption, rescue, victory, healing and restoration give us hope for our situation.

By being transparent, these men and women encourage us, strengthen our faith, and build our confidence in our God Who keeps His many wonderful promises to His people. Their stories enlarge our capacity to believe that He CAN, He DOES, and He WILL use inadequate people like you and me to spur others on when they have lost heart and their burden has become too heavy for them to carry alone.

Most of us feel inclined to cover up blemishes, don’t we? We use products on our bodies to cover up wrinkles, dark circles, discolored teeth, hair that’s turning gray, cellulite. You name it, we try to hide it. Me? I would buy concealer by the gallon and bathe in it if I thought it would do any good. I’ve jokingly told my family they will never know when my hair starts to gray, because I don’t plan on allowing it to go without color long enough to ever see it happen! People who tan say it makes them look slimmer. Tanning, concealer, veneer, dye, whatever the method, we try to cover a multitude of imperfection.

In our house, there has been a lot of covering up going on lately. We are putting down new tile and carpet on the floors. Walls that we didn’t realize were so dingy are suddenly bright and new with fresh coats of paint. Dings and scars are filled in and hidden… unless you look closely.

Trying to camouflage flaws we don’t particularly want showing on our body or things we don’t like about our home is really just a matter of preference or taste.  The process requires a lot of work and can really be tiring, but we figure the pay-off is worth it.  Hiding the condition of our hearts and lives is quite a different matter. To do so can be exhausting and the pay-off isn’t so great. We earn no dividends from putting up a front for our family, friends, or within our church walls or our circles of influence. We will come across to others as not able to relate, non-approachable, artificial.

I am not saying that we should spill out all of our past and present heartaches, failures, messes, trials, and those of our children to everyone we meet! But we need to be sensitive to times He may be leading us to share with other hurting people how He brought us through those things. People who are hurting, struggling and walking through a dark time are in need of the comfort which we ourselves have received (2 Cor. 1:3-5 ). They need hope. They need a little light for the path they’re on. They need to see God’s light shining through our broken places. And they will if we let the Lord turn our mess into a message.

The Bible calls us earthen vessels, clay pots (2 Cor. 4:7). Over time, due to daily wear and tear, clay pots will crack. So will we. What happens when you hold a cracked pot up to a source of light? The light shines through the cracks! As believers, Jesus is our source of Light.

He uses our transparency to shine His light into the darkness others are experiencing. 

So while God is continually filling in our hollow spaces, healing our breaks, binding up our still-fresh gaping wounds, and giving us beauty for ashes (Is. 61:3 ), we need to allow others to see that because of Christ in us  joy, life, and hope can and do co-exist with pain, tears, and trials (2 Cor. 4:10). 

You are a work in progress and you can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Do others see Jesus’ life at work in you (2 Cor. 4:11-12)?

May we always be ready to give someone a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15 ).

Hope and blessings to you,                                                                                                                         Becky

He’s Got This

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The words of Jeremiah 29:11 have become so well-known that you can probably quote most of it, if not all of it. It is a popular verse, I’m sure, because of its encouragement and comforting promise from God.

Most of you probably know it best from the NIV version which says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you (NASB says, “plans for welfare and not for calamity”), plans to give you  hope and a future.”

Do you have the Amplified Bible? It’s a wonderful version for giving you a vivid word picture of the original meaning of a passage. It says, “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”

Finally, look at the KJV, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

I want to focus on a few key phrases that are very exciting.

Notice the first few words, “For I know… ”  Think about what the Lord is saying here.  He knows. He knows, and He knows you!

“… the thoughts and plans I have for you…” He has thoughts about you. Almighty God thinks about you. He has plans for you and He knows what they are! You don’t have to know them all yet.

They are plans to prosper you. The definition of prosper in my 1828 dictionary sheds an interesting light on the word. It did mention “to be successful” and “to succeed,” the usual definitions we think of associated with the word prosper. I love the fact that this old dictionary uses a lot of Scripture as a way of making the meaning of a word more clear. It quoted a verse from Genesis 39, “The Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand (speaking of Joseph).” Another example shown is from Proverbs 28, “He that covereth his sins, shall not prosper.”

There is nothing wrong with prospering by being successful. God loves to prosper His children with riches, land, and houses when He so chooses, for His purposes. But our thinking is flawed if that is the only way in which we think of prospering.

The word prosper comes from a word which means “to carry to” or “toward.” Knowing that, already causes you to think about it a little differently, doesn’t it? Add these definitions and you’ll really have something to think about: to grow or increase; to thrive; favored; advancing in growth, wealth, or ANY GOOD!

So ask yourself these questions: Am I or is my family growing or increasing in any area? Am I thriving in any way? Have I been favored? (Being favored is being supported; aided; supplied with advantages; eased; spared; regarded with kindness.) Am I advancing in growth, wealth, or in any good thing? I’m feeling more prosperous already and I hope you are, too. God’s Word brings such joy!

Now, let’s look at the rest of Jeremiah 29:11. Besides prospering us, God’s plans for us include welfare (which means “a good going”), peace, not calamity nor evil.

This last part is what I really want you to see today. His thoughts and plans for us are to give us hope in the final outcome of our situation. I’ll take hope, won’t you? He planned it for us. He IS our hope.

I love what the KJV says at the very end of this verse. He plans to give our circumstances “an expected end.” Don’t miss this! An expected end. See, He knows what to expect even if you don’t. He knows how this will end. He is never caught off-guard. He’s never left wringing his hands, fretting about how He’s going to handle what just happened to you. He expected it, and not only that, He has an expected end for it.

Who expects it? You? Me? Maybe, but more often than not, no. Sometimes the way our situation ends is the last thing we expected. That’s where trust comes in. That’s when our faith has to show up. Remember, His plans are to give us hope in our final outcome.

It’s not for you or me to expect a certain ending to our “this.”  This moment, this set of circumstances that you didn’t see coming, this thing that has your head spinning and your life turning upside down, this situation that’s left your heart broken and you gasping for breath…

Whatever your “this” is, He’s got it.

Rest assured, my sweet friend, He’s got this.

Prayers and Blessings to you,  Becky