Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When Your Heart Is Laid Bare (Part 2)

Hey Friend,

Last week I began Part 1 of this post.  In order for this train of thought to be cohesive, I encourage you to go back a week in the "Archives" to read the first part.  I left you as I was heading out of town to the funeral of Uncle Bob, my husband's uncle, who was like a father to him.  I posed the question as to whether there was a reason why we must suffer?  I related a story of my suffering and I admit, I've wondered at times if God truly cares about the suffering I/we endure?

Uncle Bob knew suffering.  After multiple strokes, he lived inside a body for sixteen years that couldn't walk or speak.  Look around and we see suffering every day...people struggling with degenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's, to name a few (not to mention their caregivers).  Many people silently suffer with mental illness themselves or have a loved one who suffers.  Prodigal sons and daughters break parents' hearts every day and gravesites are dug for children and youth long before their time. "Why?", we cry out.

Simply put, God does not cause suffering.  God allows suffering because He allowed us (mankind) to have free will and we brought sin/suffering upon ourselves when we disobeyed God. 

There is, however, an intricate and redeeming relationship between suffering and comfort.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  (2 Corinthians 1: 3-7)

Phew...there's a lot there that could take chapters to break down, but let's glean several nuggets of truth and hope.  Here are some things God has revealed to me...

The greater the pain of our suffering, the greater the depth of comfort we will receive.

If we fall into a pit that is ten feet deep, God's arms of comfort will be there to catch us.  If we fall into a great chasm, God will go down to the depths necessary in order to comfort us.  His consolation knows no bounds. 

In my life I have learned that there is a great correlation between suffering and God's love.

The greater the suffering endured = Greater realization of the depth of God's love for me.

Had I not gone through the trials I have gone through, I never would have known the boundless love, comfort, compassion, and consolation of God.  In my greatest pain, I have found the greatest love.  Certainly, there have been times when I've said, "I get it love me...could you remove this suffering please?"

God is the source of every comfort.  Comfort begins with God.  God does and will comfort us in every affliction so that we may be able to comfort others (in distress) with the very same comfort by which we have been comforted. In other words, God pours out His comfort on us and in turn we are empowered to pour out His comfort onto others.

By this painfully beautiful act of comfort being poured out upon others' suffering we build bridges of vulnerability, trust, and intimacy.

Still with me??

Once saved through grace, we are also called to grow in our likeness of Christ.

We can't be the hands and feet of Jesus unless we have walked in His sandals.

To do so, we must learn how to share in His suffering.  Christ endured the gruesome cross...through what form of suffering are you being conformed into Christ's likeness? 

Sometimes my suffering has been truly unbearable.  I'll be honest, I hate it when I'm IN the crucible.  That's when I need to cling to an eternal perspective - that these troubles will seem "seem light and momentary" when I burst through these shackles into eternal paradise and freedom with Christ.

My "patient endurance" is building character in me for the Kingdom work I will be called on to perform when the new heaven and earth come. 

A mentor of mine once said to me, "Girl, based on the suffering you have persevered through, God must have some mighty big Kingdom work in store for you in Heaven!"  You better believe I won't be sitting around on a cloud strumming a harp lol. 

This might be a little corny, but here goes...

When suffering makes you want to just QUIT...remember you are a KWIT (Kingdom Worker In Training)

On a more serious note, God knows and deeply cares about your suffering.  He is the God who truly sees.  He will go to whatever depths He has to in order to lovingly lift your head.  He catches all your tears and counts them.  He will match your suffering with His furious love.

From 1 Peter 5, read and...

...know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

How have you grown in God's love and comfort through suffering?  Are you suffering right now and need others to pray for you?  Please let me and others pray for you either through commenting or contacting me.

Be blessed...

ps.  Check out my two new tabs, "Missions" and "Comment"

Thursday, February 19, 2015

When Your Heart Is Laid Bare

Hey Friend,

Yesterday I read a very real and touching blog post by one of my favorite writers - Lisa-Jo Baker.  She wrote a post entitled, "For Those Who Feel Like They Are Dying On The Inside" on the (in)courage website. (See blogs that I follow).  The very first comment on her blog was from a woman who had just miscarried only 48 hours previous to her reading Lisa-Jo's post.  The woman, who was obviously grieving, dared to lay bare her heart on a public forum because she needed to know that someone out there cared.

282 more comments, pleas, prayer requests, and guttural groans followed.  It struck me that we live in a very broken and hurting world.  When someone answers, "I'm fine," chances are they are not fine...not fine at all.  Sin is in this world and it manifests itself in the form of pain and suffering.  The rain falls upon the just and the unjust and the fact that we have a relationship with Christ does not exempt us from suffering.

Sometimes I wish I was more like a duck - that things rolled off my back more easily, but I'm not.  I often felt a little like an alien in my family who held their emotions, like a poker hand, tight to their chest.  Me, on the other hand, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  It's hard being so sensitive sometimes because I feel things, like my and other people's burdens, so deeply. It was no surprise to me that when I read the woman's comment about losing her baby, tears began to roll down my cheeks.  My heart ached for her that she wouldn't be able to count those ten little fingers and toes and smell her newborn baby's tiny head.  
Though I have never miscarried, I felt the sharp knife of her pain. 

I do know suffering.  I've had many trials in my life and if triggered the right way, the pain can come bubbling to the surface like it was yesterday.  I remember in 1999.  My children were eleven and six years old.  It was the beginning of December and I had told my kids, in an attempt to keep Christmas as "normal" as possible, that we would go through the giant drive through Christmas light display.  It was a Christmas tradition, only this year we'd being doing it without their father because he had packed his things and left just two months earlier.   I was beginning to herd my children into the minivan when my neighbor came over.  I could tell by the look on her face that what she had to tell me was not good news. 

"I saw your husband with another woman,"  she began, "and I could tell it wasn't just a friendship relationship."  The sharp knife cut open my heart and it was laid bare before her.  She hugged me as I cried.  My kids, unaware of the bomb that had just been dropped, were calling my name to go see the lights.  Armed with this new knowledge I drove off into the darkness to see the light display with my children.  Thankfully the inside of the van was dark as the carols played and my babies oohed and ahhed at the light displays.  They couldn't see the tears burning their way down my cheeks. They couldn't see my heart laid bare.

So why am I relaying these stories?   What is the purpose of, and how can we find hope in suffering?  I have never done this before, but I am going to ask you to check back in next week for the conclusion of this post.  My heart is very heavy right now with grief over losing Uncle Bob - my husband's favorite uncle - who was like a father to him and who welcomed me into the family with open arms.  Our energies are needed right now to comfort our lovely Aunt Pat who lovingly held her husband's hand until he passed on to his Heavenly home.

I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.  (John 14:18) 

In His love,


ps.  Thanks for your patience as my blog site is "under construction".  I hope you like the new look, but again for reasons mentioned above, I have not had the time nor the energy to update my "Pages".  I ask for your blessed. 


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is A Little "Me Time" Selfish?

Hey Friend,

I have a confession to make.   Until just a few years ago, I had never been to a nail salon to have a manicure or, of all indulgences, a mani-pedi.  I seriously thought those were reserved for those who didn't do any work around the house or the yard.  When reading the "Mother's Manual", I mistakenly read "martyr" instead of "mother". 

On the rare occasion I'd treat myself to a coffee shop latte, I would see people sipping their specialty coffees as they placidly sat there reading a book or the newspaper.  Really??  I wondered, how do people do this?  Isn't the phrase "Idle hands are the devil's workshop" biblical?

Actually Thessalonians 3:11 says:  "For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies."

The idleness that Paul was talking about was being a gossip or a busybody.  If you were engaged in this idle behavior, you were wasting time that could have been used to help others and build God's kingdom.

Idleness is NOT the same as rest.

The Bible is very specific on advising people to rest and take a break from work - from hectic life.  The very first example of this can be found in Genesis, Chapter 2.

And on the 7th day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested...Then God blessed the 7th day and sanctified it...

Sanctified = to make holy; set apart as sacred

If God needed time apart to recharge His batteries, was it pride that made me think that somehow I was the exception when it came to needing a rest?  I think so.  Proverbs tells us that "Pride goes before a fall (or before destruction)."  How true.  I would go and go and go and then burnout and be useless for long periods of time...that was my M.O. What's your mode of operation?

The shepherds rested their flocks - so does the Good Shepherd want us, his sheep, to rest.

Taking a little "Me Time" is far from is God's will for us. 

Don't believe me...

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.  (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.  (Psalm 37:7)

Perhaps, this spoke to me the most:

And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while."  For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  (Mark 6:31)

How many meals have you eaten standing up?
How many cups of tea have you savored sitting down?

Physical rest, Spiritual rest, Mental rest...they are not a luxury or an I'll fit it in if I get a chance...they are a NECESSITY!

I challenge you to write the words "Rest in Me" on a sticky note (or several sticky notes if you're like me) and post it somewhere you'll see it all the time.

Fridge, bathroom mirror, steering wheel, on the dog...

I also challenge you to make a list of the things YOU would like to do to take a little "me time" and rest as the Lord would have you rest.  I'll get you started with some suggestions:

Knit or crochet
Take a bubble bath
Read a book
Take a walk
Go see a movie
Snap some pictures
Paint, sketch or draw
Play an instrument
Write something
Plant some flowers
Go to a sporting event and cheer
Learn a new language
Have coffee with a friend
Get your nails done (**note to self)
Sit in the sunlight
Lie on the sofa and daydream (aka do nothing)

Will you pray with me?  Lord, help me to set aside my pride that tells me the world won't get along a little while without me while I rest in You.  Help me to know, deep in my soul, that my worth does not come from what or how much I do, but from the simple fact that I am Yours.  Enable me to know that I am better able to bless others if I take some regular "me time" which is not selfish.  Thank you for this great big world that you have created for my good pleasure.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

In His love,


Comments:  Many of you have told me that is next to impossible to comment on my blog - especially if you don't have a blog or a "Google" or "WordPress", etc. account.  I want and need your input and feedback.  I want to learn from you too!  Question:  Are you good at taking "me time"?  Why or why not?  How might your life look different if you did take more time for yourself? 

Here's How: 
Go to Comment section
It will say "Comment as: Select Profile"
Choose option Name/URL (Enter your name and leave blank the URL space)
Hit Continue
Hit Publish
Prove that you are not a robot by checking the "I'm not a robot box" lol. (it may ask you to type a number if it is suspicious you are a robot)
That's it...Yay!!
Choose option Anonymous if you don't wish to leave your name.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Breaking The Grip of Perfectionism

Hey Friend,
While going through some boxes in the attic, I came across an aged and yellowed article from my old college newspaper.  In the feature were pictures of five young women, myself included, who were up for voting for Homecoming Queen.  Underneath my picture - the essence of a fresh-faced all American girl - was a list of all the organizations I belonged to and held leadership roles in.  It was followed by the various honor societies I belonged to.  I was even up for the award of College Woman of the Year.
One would think I had it all together...the picture perfect life. Actually, inside I was a massive ball of insecurities.  I had bought into the lie that in order to be worthy, I had to earn it.  My value as a person was based on other peoples' views of me.  By my early thirties I had accumulated such a resume of achievements that I literally came apart at the seams. 
Learning to insert the TRUTH where lies held sway for so long, became the truth that set me free.
Perfectionism, born out of insecurity, is a nasty, legalistic game.
But what about just wanting to do a job well I hear you asking?  Doesn't God want us to give our very best in whatever it is that we do?  Don't we all wish to hear some day, "Well done good and faithful servant"?
Yes, indeed.  But what is my motivation?  What is my starting point for wanting to do a good job?  I do believe that I possess the spiritual gift of Administration, but I was using my gifts and talents - not to glorify God - but to satisfy some lacking sense of self worth.  This is not God's desire for us.
There is a job well done and then there's perfectionism. 
My theory is that behind every perfectionist is a false identity and given time, that false identity is bound to unravel. to break the grip of perfectionism??
Start at the beginning.  What is it exactly that declares me worthy?
"Therefore, being declared righteous by faith (not works), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."  (Romans 5:1)
Definitions for "Righteous" include words like: just, pure, holy
Truth be told, you can't get more perfect than being just, pure and holy.
Note the key point - that righteousness does not come from our own works, it comes through Christ and His death on the cross for me.
Christ is my Righteousness.
Jehovah Tsidkenu = Our righteousness.
Somewhere in the depths of my soul I knew this to be true, but the enemy and the world are so adept at selling you/me a bunch of lies that if we are not aware and armed with Truth, we are tempted to buy into them. 
I love this quote I found in a recent post by Melissa Michaels:  "To be a fully devoted follower of Christ, we have to be willing to surrender the preoccupation with our needs, our weakness, our agenda, and our own insecurities so we can remember our purpose to show love to the world and rest in our identity found in Christ."
Letting go of lies and taking hold of Truth can and does break the grip of perfectionism. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  (Psalm 139:14)
When the lies begin to creep in...and they will...I need to meditate on God's truth about me.
You shall know the Truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
I guess you could call me a "recovering perfectionist"...a member of "perfectionists anonymous".  Hello, my name is Bev and I am a perfectionist.
We all have perfectionistic tendencies, but on a scale of 1 - 10, I'd say I used to be a 10. 
Thankfully through scripture, trials, prayer, mentors, and yes, falling apart...I have learned to rest in my TRUE identity that can only be found in Christ.  Anything else is a cheap imitation.  I am a work in progress, but the Truth is traveling from "head knowledge" to being "heart knowledge".  If God can do this for me, He can do this for you too!
Do you struggle with perfectionism to any degree?  If so would you pray with me?
Lord, I thank you that you alone are my righteousness.  I am not worthy because of anything that I have done, but solely because of what you have done which is dying on the cross for me.  Enable me to know in my heart that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that you delight in me simply because I am Yours.  Let me not settle for lies and imitations. Let me be set free by your Truth. In Jesus name, Amen.
In His love,
Welcome to the Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Club :)

ps.  If you would like for me to pray specifically for you, please don't hesitate to contact blessed!