Sometimes Resurrection Requires Letting Go (Amanda Miller Garber)

3254a0cb305b209fbf29469efcfce9c0Mother’s Day is difficult for me.  Since it always falls on Sunday, I usually play hooky, so I wont have to put on the façade of “happy mom.”  However, this Sunday was different.  As fate would have it…or maybe God…this Sunday I was slated to help with communion service.  So for that reason, I sucked it up, and went to church.  “Let the acting begin,” I thought, as I walked through the door.

Now, you may wonder, why Mother’s Day is so difficult.  Several reasons.  One, my mom is dead, and yes I miss her, but, I also do tremendous guilt for not spending more time with her while she was alive.  Two, I miss my own children, who live far away, and I also do tremendous guilt for decisions I made in the past…decisions that negatively impacted their lives.   Some of those decisions needed to be made, but, none-the-less, I do guilt…and I do it well.  I usually hear from them…a text or a call, but I can’t help but wonder how Mother’s Day would be if I’d only chosen a different path.  It torments me.

On Mother’s Day I just want to crawl into a hole, but this year the hole sat empty, as I sat in church.  Listening to the pastor’s sermon, something she said jumped out at me, and caught my attention.  She said, “Sometimes, resurrection requires letting go.”  She asked the question, and I paraphrase, “What is keeping you from experiencing true resurrection in your life?  What are you holding on to, that needs to be let go?”

***

Today, intellectually, I realize I need to let go of the past, but I’m discovering it’s not easily done.  I guess, a good first step would be forgiveness.  Somehow, some way I need to figure out how to forgive myself.  My prayer is for God to show me the way.  I’m sure it’s not something that’s said and done, but rather, something that must be practiced on a daily basis.  I pray for God’s strength.

Just like a baby learning to walk, we have to let go, to move forward.  More often than not, what we desperately cling to is toxic.  If we fail to let it go, we begin a slow death that eats away our individuality, until we no longer recognize ourselves.

We all teeter on the precipice of transformation, but to get there we must let go.

***

“Sometimes, resurrection requires letting go.”   __Amanda Miller Garber

 

The God Who Sees Me…

“You are the God who sees me…” __ Hagar

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I’ve always felt a kinship with Hagar.  Hagar was the maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

This is her story:

Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was barren.  None-the-less, God had promised  that through their children would come the nation of Israel.  Abraham and Sarah had tried to have children for many years, but now they were old, and Sarah finally gives up hope.  One day, she tells her husband…  “The Lord has kept me from having children.  Go sleep with my maidservant (Hagar); perhaps I can build a family through her.”

[SCRRRREEEEEECH…]

[Pardon the interruption…it’s just my wheels coming to a halt!  Okay, if I had been the writer of this Genesis’ story, I would have written it, more to this effect,

“…go sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her,” said, no woman ever! 

Call it a hunch, but, I have a sneaky suspicion this idea was more Abraham’s than Sarah’s.]

[…now…back to the story]

So, Abraham, “obeyed” his wife, and slept with Hagar, and Hagar, became pregnant.  Of course, tension mounts between the two women, until one day, all hell breaks loose within the camp.  Sarah, in a jealous rage, mistreats Hagar.  Scripture gives no detail as to how, but it was bad enough for Hagar to run away, and hide, from her mistress, in the dessert.  Scared and alone, Hagar finally finds a spring of water and pauses  to drink.   God sees her at the spring, and begins a conversation with her.  It goes something like this: 

God:  Hagar, what has happened and where are you going?”

Hagar:  “I’m running away…”

God: “Go back… face the problem, and I will be with you.”

Hagar: “You are the God who sees me…”

And so, Hagar returns.  The problem doesn’t go away, but God is true to his word, and helps her every step of the way.  Eventually, she is blessed with a son, she names Ishmael, and through Ismael’s descendants the Arab nation is born. 

 

In my life, I have endured many “Hagar moments,” and I bet you have too.

How often I’ve felt…

  • …alone
  • …misunderstood
  • …unloved
  • …without hope
  • …a victim of circumstances, beyond my control
  • …an outcast
  • …ready to give up

 

When I read God’s words to Hagar, I read them as if they were written just for me.  He tells me, “Go back, my child, and I will be with you.  Don’t give up, I have a good plan for you.”

I’m so thankful, He is the God who sees me.

***

Daily Prompt: Measure

Everything we need is give through His good measure.

 

 

My Soul To Take

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Painting by Florence Kroger

 

Oh, that God would mold this clay,

nothing but dust, dirt and decay!

And yet, in me, He saw some worth;

He sent his Son, from Heaven to Earth.

To lay down his life, upon the cross,

to thirst, and bleed, and suffer loss.

And so for me, His Glory awaits;

one day I’ll walk, through pearly gates.

So nothing to fear, because I am free;

His rod and His staff, they comfort me.

The shadow of death, there is no escape,

But God’s in the valley, my soul, to take.

***

As a tiny girl, often, my mom and I, prayed the prayer, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”  I was always comforted by this bedtime ritual.  As an adult, when I think on the memory, I find I am blessed just as much now, as I was then; perhaps even more.  Thus was the inspiration for this poem.

“Mama, thank you for the foundations of strength you’ve given me.  I am a better woman because of you.”

now i lay me down

(Daily prompt: Luck)

Luck has nothing to do with my spiritual life.  It is orchestrated by the hand of God.

 

You Are a Masterpiece

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Little Lisa

My morning devotional, that I try to consume every day with a cup of coffee, told me,  “We can live by the truth of God’s word and not by the way we feel.”

I grew up with low self esteem.  I never felt good enough.  As a child, I didn’t understand this to be a lack of self worth, rather it was just “my normal.”

One of my earliest memories of this was when I  was in kindergarten.  A symphony came to visit our school.  It was a beautiful day outside, so the group set up their instruments and played under the pine trees of our school yard.  As a poor kid, living in a cotton mill town, I had never heard such beauty.  Spellbound, I sat crossed legged in the pine straw, trembled, and thought, “This is too beautiful, and I’m not good enough…” 

At five years old, this was my realty.

Forty some years later, my knee-jerk reaction is to fall back into that same crippling mentality.

  I want to be a writer and I think…“I’m not good enough…”

I want to be an artist and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

I want to be a friend and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

I want to be accepted and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

and the list goes on and on…

Now, that I’m older, I realize I can rise above these feelings, …but sometimes…sometimes…I…. well, sometimes I just don’t…

So, it’s always refreshing when I read or hear words of encouragement.  They become a balm, soothing and healing my soul as they are applied.

Eagerly, I hold fast to what God says about me.  I eat it all the day long.  I breathe into my being.  I long for it to become my reality.

What does God say about me?

You are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Guess what?

Whatever God says about me, He also says about you.

You are a masterpiece!

***

Check out what Joyce Meyer has to say about this subject:  :   Finding My Identity in Christ

It was a blessing to me and I think it will bless you as well

Daily Prompt: Tremble

More Than a Conqueror

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photo from: http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/5-easy-ways-to-build-your-inner-strength/

For the past week I’ve lived a defeated life.  I’ve lived as though my fears had come to fruition, and those things I dreaded the most, had arrived and taken their abode in my life.

In truth, I had surrendered, even before the battle had begun.

Yesterday, a friend sent this text, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ.”  It touched and warmed my heart, but still I continued my day as a lamb headed toward its fate.

This morning, I got out of bed with the same mindset.  Like a zombie I dragged toward the coffee maker, and set it in motion.  As my coffee brewed, I mindlessly began to fill three bowls with kibble and hefty dollops of beef stew from a can.  Three wagging tails increased pace as I set the bowls on the floor.

Coffee in hand, I sat to read my morning devotion that was slated for this second day in February.  (I have the app “Power Thoughts” on my phone and try to read it everyday)  The words I read, roused me from slumber…

“The Bible states that we are more than conquerors, and we are to reign as kings in life, through Jesus Christ.” 

There it was again, “…we are more than conquerors…”

Coincidence?  Some may say, “yes,” but for me, it was a gentle shake of my shoulders, waking me to reality.  I am the child of a King, and my Father wants me to live as such.

Come what may, poverty, loneliness or any other trouble, still I am more than a conqueror through Christ.

In this life, He lives within me, and in the next I’ll live with Him, forever.

***

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8: 35;37

Cleanse your mind of negative thoughts, one at a time.

 

The Day I Floated

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Today’s word, float, reminded me of when I truly put my trust in Jesus.

I was sitting in a revival service, and the evangelist was teaching from the text of, II Kings 6:5-7.  I listened as scripture was read and this is what I heard that night:

 But it happened that as one was cutting down a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Oh no, my master! It was borrowed!” The man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron [axe head] float. He said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out with his hand and took it.

In the story, the man of God, Elisha, asked the one who had lost the axe head, “Where did it fall?”  The individual, extremely upset because the axe was not his own but borrowed, pointed to where it had fallen.  Elisha then, threw a stick into the water, and the iron axe floated.

Somehow, sitting in that service, I identified with the axe head that had fallen into the water.  I felt lost, heavy laden, and unable to save myself.  I recognized my helpless plight and called out to Jesus.  Jesus, by his Grace, lifted me from the water, my sins fell away, and I was safe in his embrace.

Jesus lovingly tells us, “Verily, verily, I say unto  you, he that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

My prayer:   Lord, thank you for speaking to my heart that night.  Thank you for lifting me up, so that I could pass from death unto life.  I was lost, but now I’m found, and it’s all because of your love and grace.  May I fall more in love with you, as each day, of my earthly life, passes.  Amen 

(In participation of today’s daily prompt: Float)

 

 

Confident and Full of Hope

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Photo from: http://www.supernaturalmothering.com/is-your-future-full-of-hope/

Good day, dear friends!  Here we are at close of another year.  We’ve run, walked, and sometimes crawled these past 365 days.  Now we find ourselves tying the bow, on the box we call 2016, but before we put the box upon the shelf,  may we take a moment to ask the question:  What has 2016 taught us?

Well, I can’t speak for you, but here are just some of the lessons I’ve learned from 2016:

  • Strict New Year’s Resolutions never last.  Most New Year Resolutions have something to do with diet and exercise. I begin the new year with strict rules as to what I’ll eat and what I’ll not eat.  I plan a strict regime of running with at least three days of strength training per week.  I start out with the best intentions but as the weeks pass so does my determination, and I eventually find myself paying $20 a month to house a treadmill I rarely use.  So this year, my resolutions are not as strict.  Instead of limiting myself to a 1000 calories a day, I’ll pay more attention to eating healthier…you know, more vegetables and less junk food, and most of my exercises will consist of doing those things I love like playing with my dogs and taking long walks in the park.
  • True friends/family still love you, even when you’re ugly.  I’ve never been as ugly as I was on election night 2016.  That night I sat in front of my TV, and as I watched state after state vote for Trump, I entered into a downward spiral, one that wouldn’t stop until I drowned myself in gin and vomitted obscenities all over Facebook.   Friends, it was ugly…very ugly.  I was ugly.  If you’d like to read the sordid details visit my post Vomiting All Over Facebook  After that night, I was unfriended by many, however my true friends, understood I was in pain, and that the pain must have been great, for me to do something so out of character.  My true friends didn’t judge me, but rather offered a shoulder for my tears.  Most importantly, they gave me the space to hurt, while lingering close enough to feel their love.
  • Depression fades with passion.  I’ve battled depression for as long as I can remember.  I use to think, if I awoke in the morning with a feeling of depression, that I was doomed to spend the rest of that day feeling sad.  This past year I’ve learned, that my depression fades and sometimes, even disappears, when I’m doing the things I love, like painting, writing, reading, cooking, gardening and taking long walks.  The hard part is making myself begin, as the depression I battle begs for solitude and darkness.  The key, for me, in 2017 is to have the initial will power to set my passions in to play.
  • Making a difference in the world, happens one person at a time.  After Trump’s victory I fell into hopeless despair.  The very next day, I hid within my home, crying and thinking America was lost.  I worried for my fellow-man.  I worried immigrant families would be torn apart.  I worried suicide would increase  within the LGBTQ communities.  I worried, my rights as a gay American would be stripped away.  I worried young girls would lose self-esteem in a world that judged them by their  appearance. I worried for my Muslim friends…would they be sent to internment camps?  I worried for all out-casts…myself included.  I worried so much, I became debilitated with fear.  The third day after the election I forced myself to go outside.  As I drove, I noticed a homeless person standing on the side of the road, holding a cardboard sign with the words, “homeless and hungry,” scribbled across the front.  With tears running down my face I handed the gentlemen a twenty-dollar bill, our eyes met, and as we stared at each other, I felt the fear inside deminish. I smiled and he smiled and I felt hope.  I realized in that moment that, yes… “we are stronger together.”  Regardless of who our president happens to be, we still have the power to change the world…one person at a time.

Everyday I try to read something encouraging and then spend time in prayer.  The last day of 2016 I read a portion from “My Utmost For His Highest,” a devotional book written by Oswald Chambers.  His words gave me hope for the coming year.  When I sat down to write this blog, my intentions were to simply share this hope with you, but one word led to another, and so after 725 words, I still haven’t shared Mr. Chambers words.

His words reminded me, that our future is not contingent upon our past.  We are not bound by the mistakes of 2016, but rather we can be transformed by them.   By God’s Grace we have been given a new slate to write upon in 2017.

May his words bless you with hope for the coming year…

“…Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.  But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future…As we go forth into the coming year…let us go out with the patient power of knowing that God will go before us.  Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us.  It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.  Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”  ___  Oswald Chambers

Friends, let us go into 2017, confident and full of hope!

(May hope fill the interior, and radiate outward.)