Sometimes Love Has to Look Away

photoA few years ago, Andy’s dentist experience had him trembling, wincing, clutching and resisting, as they pulled a tooth without any numbing injection. DJ (see pic) finally got to the point where he couldn’t look any more. So he turned and faced the corner. Sometimes love has to look away. There’s a heart-wrenching moment in the bible when Jesus was on the cross and cried out to God, “why did you forsake me?” I am not a biblical scholar but I would surmise that Jesus felt like God looked away. And maybe, as Jesus took on all the sin of the world, God did. But nobody loved Jesus more than God. But sometimes? Love has to look away. I’ve watched good, godly parents turn in their addicted, suicidal and even criminal children. As the authorities took their child away–in their undeniable love–they looked away. We can love others so much that to look at them in their suffering or struggle can render us useless. But to hold on to them and keep looking at them might prevent the best from happening. God the Father had to let His Son die on the cross. I had to let Andy’s tooth be pulled. Sometimes love has to look away. But for Jesus, it took him from a cross on Earth, to a throne in Heaven–and you and me from our wretched sinful lives, to eternal forgiveness and freedom. Love does that.

 

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The Addict’s Psalm

Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Psalm 107

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“The Soles of Your Feet”

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“I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads…I will not leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:3, 5

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Tiny Steps on Tough Days

img_9331Sometimes you wake up and you can’t get out of bed…so you talk to God and He helps you get your feet on the floor.

Sometimes you get your feet on the floor, but you can’t take a step…so you talk to God and He lightens your step so you can.

Sometimes, you start taking steps into your day, but you feel like you’re dragging your heart…so you talk to God and He carries your heart for you.

Sometimes, you make it through the day, but you lie down at night and can’t stop thinking…so you talk to God and He gathers your fears and He gives you rest.

Life is tough. With God, life is still tough–but not impossible. On the days that life hands us a tough one–God is the one who can walk with us through it. All we have to do is ask.

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah‬ ‭46:4‬ ‭

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Just Give Up Already

img_9306A 1-minute post by my friend and guest-blogger, Chantel Martinez

If anyone’s familiar with that thought, it’s me. I’ve visited and revisited this all-too-familiar territory more times than I can count. As a child I never thought I had a problem. My parents never thought anything was wrong with me. I maintained good grades, rarely got in trouble at school, and did my chores. I remember as a child doing things to harm my body. As a kid, you don’t analyze your thoughts, you just respond to them. My parent’s had no idea the torment taking place in my mind. It wasn’t until my breaking point in 2011 that I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. My mind was like a broken record repeating the words “Just give up already!” From sunrise to sunset they’d torment me, but I was not about to give up that easily and you aren’t either!

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I live by this verse! I believe it’s the reason I keep going. Believe me, there were numerous times in my life when I’ve felt I had thrown in the towel and given up on life. God used those moments to say to me “you may have given up on yourself today, but I NEVER will.” It’s okay to need some help in getting well. I still do. That doesn’t make us weak. We’re already too strong to take down and the devil doesn’t want us to seek anymore help. My friend, don’t give up. If you feel like you’re a total screw up. Like you’ve destroyed every good thing placed into your hands, or that you don’t deserve another chance. Believe me, I understand. Every second of every day I need to intentionally choose to ignore the pestering thought of “just give up already” and tune into God saying “just give it to me already.” I hope this encourages you today.

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Why aren’t we happy?

img_9260I’ve traveled some lately, which has me at airports, rental-car agencies, and hotels. Such places lend themselves to people-watching. People watching is bittersweet, it can entertain me for hours, but when I am done, I’m often burdened for the people I watched. I will see certain people, who I’m so impacted by, I will find myself praying for them the rest of the day and into the night. Why aren’t people happy? I see such heaviness in people. I know, first hand, as do you, that life is hard. But if I didn’t have my joy, my life would have stopped a long time ago. Life is going to be chock full of hardship for some, and intermittent hardship for others. But in between those seasons, and IN them, we have to have joy. There has to be joy in our bellies, to get through life on Earth. I don’t want to raise this debbie-downer observation without a solution. So as I head out to the airport tomorrow, I challenge myself with this: wherever I go, leave joy behind, because there’s people there who need it. And because my joy comes from the Lord, I don’t have to worry about it ever running out. “so that I may come to you with joy, by Godʼs will, and in your company be refreshed.” Romans‬ ‭15:32‬

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God, Why?

admin-ajax-phpI’m going through the book of Job, and my study-bible noted one of the life-lessons Job learned was this: knowing God is better than knowing answers …. WOW.
Throughout Job, he loses his money, children, friends, property, influence, and health. Although he does not curse God, he does wrestle, “God, why?” We all do. We all go through things and as it is approaching, as we go through it, and after it’s over, we wrestle, “God, why?” It is a legit question because we are not God and are limited to such finite explanation and reasoning. But that is why I have only deepened my relationship with God. I may not know “why,” but I know God does. Although God often doesn’t let us know, He’s still our God who knows. He’s still our God worth trusting because He holds the “why”…and He holds us. He holds us so close, that He loves us more than we love ourselves. One more thought: there are many times God has not answered “why,” but each time, I have known WHO. And if the WHO is the keeper of the “why” and He’s the WHO who took death on a cross for me in the most brutal, unconditionally loving way, then I’m sticking with Him.

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Look at the Flowers, On Bad Brain-Days

img_8929It means so much to me that Raul looks out for our “outside-home,” making sure it’s decked with flowers. I love flowers. I’m not good at growing flowers, but I love them so much. When I see a flower bloom, I think of how much joy it must have brought Adam in the Garden to see ALL the perfect blooms all around him. Raul isn’t a good flower-grower either, nor does he share my affinity for flower-life. But he gets it that it means a lot to me. When we first moved to ‪Coral Springs‬, we didn’t have an “outside home.” Raul worked hard with our flower guy to create one. Today, we have magnolias, bouganviellas, hibiscus and Frangipani’s all in bloom! I can’t wait for the gardenia to come in. So why flowers? Because they are the antithesis of the dark places my mind can live in. Alot of people see “lit-up Heather,” but only a few see “dark Heather.” On certain days, my mind can go to acutely dark places. I have *learned* to give it life! One way is to go to my backyard and look at life in the flowers. Flowers are small tokens of bright, approachable, pigmented, fragrant signs of life that God put so much thought into. For me, they’re some of the best antidotes to dark days! Just like the flowers have encouraged me, I hope this 1-minute post encourages you: on the days your mind struggles in ANY way, look at the flowers.

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When A Lot Of Little Bad Things Happen

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This is not a post about the major event that blows up our lives. This is not about a crisis that takes us by surprise. This is about those moments when a lot of little-bad things happen at once. Both are inevitable in life (FYI). In Mark 4, there are a group of guys who just have a lot of little-bad things happen: it had been a long day, it’s night, and it’s safe to assume they’re tired (Mark 4:1-35); their boss gives them one last task (Mark 4:35), unexpected horrible weather interferes (Mark 4:37); the effects of the unexpected storm cause damage (Mark 4:37b), their only source of help, Jesus, is sleeping (Mark 4:38) and the oh-so-common human emotions of fear, stress and frustration kick in (Mark 4:38). What’s funny, is I used to think it was only a “girl” problem, i.e. “drama.” But in this text, it’s all guys! So these “lots-of-little-bad-things” know no bias. So what do we do? Well, therein lies the problem. Because WE can’t do anything, all at once. WE didn’t know it was all gonna go down like this, WE don’t have all the resources and mental wherewithal to handle it, and in our humanness, WE doubt that we can! Enter, Jesus. In these kinds of moments, Jesus knew, knows and will know how it works out. He is the ONE BEST thing in those “lots of little bad things.” I had one of these days recently. And I found myself going to the bathroom several times to just pray, “Jesus, help me. Take control. Take over. Give me a deep breath to keep going.” Now I didn’t have a “POOF” moment where all the little-bad things vanished. But I did feel Jesus fill me up with deep, fresh air and give me peace in my belly to take it ALL on, WITH Him, ONE little bad thing at a time. I’ll end with what Jesus said in Mark 4, “‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” That same Jesus can calm you and your moment, too. You got this.

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Say Our Name When We Want To Quit

img_8785I was thinking about something while leaving Orange Theory Fitness. On the final leg of our 25-minute cardio circuit, we were challenged to go a “bonus” round. Now let me pause for a little background… I’ve never played an organized sport in my life. So I’ve never been athletically benched, disqualified or beat. Conversely, I’ve never experienced team-victory, triumph or comeback. (That’s why none of my posts are about my “athleticism.” LOL!) Back to today…For the bonus-challenge, I was gonna pass, figuring, “Who’d care anyway? It’s just me against myself.” When I heard on the mic, from across the gym, my name: “Good, Heather!” And with that, I kept going. All Nicole said was my name. That’s all it took to not quit. God knows your name. He’s in the stands with millions of angels and biblical giants, believing in you. And the lap in your life where you want to quit, you won’t, because you’ll hear God say your name in your soul: “Go [insert name, here]!!” In life, we don’t quit until we finish the race…the Bible tells us so! So keep going – keep running – keep your eyes on the finish line. And keep your ears attune to your biggest Fan (GOD!!) saying your name.

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