Needing Jesus

Jesus. Every hour I need Him. I know it doesn’t make sense to some. Some see this as the epitome of weakness. But the truth is, my weakness is the very place in which He steps. He becomes the strength I lack. He is not my crutch. No. He is my spine, my very support for this imperfect body. I need Him, and I am not ashamed to need Him. Every hour. Every day. #Christinme

 

Blessings,

Angie signature

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Throw it

What’s weighing you down today, friend? Throw it upon Jesus. Throw. it. Throw it and don’t reel it back in. Don’t stand there and watch to see if He catches it. Don’t wait or hand it to Him slowly. Cast your cares upon Him. Because He cares for you. You don’t throw your cares upon someone who doesn’t care for you. You throw your cares at the One who is waiting for you to throw them upon Him. He cares. He cares.

Strong’s Greek Dictionary: 1977. epirriptw epirrhipto, ep-ir-hrip’-to
from 1909 and 4496; to throw upon (literally or figuratively):–cast upon.

Cast your cares

Blessings,

Angie signature

A Heart Full and Empty

 

matt airfield3-2
Matt getting lessons on flying at the RC air field with the plane he won through a contest at our local library. 

This is my 7th Thanksgiving without my son. He would be 22 years old, and I find myself wondering (as always) what he would look like, how he would sound, and where he would be working. I wonder where he would be living, and if he’d be bringing a girlfriend home for Thanksgiving dinner. I wonder what kind of car (or truck) he’d be driving, and how tall he would be. I wonder if he’d play with his younger brothers after dinner and tease (torment) his sisters. My heart aches with longing, and most days I don’t allow myself to “wonder,” but these significant days, like holidays, birthdays, etc., I need to wonder. I need to grieve. I need express what is in my heart.

I don’t remember the first Thanksgiving after Matt died. But I do remember not finding anything for which to be thankful. When grief is fresh it paints your world black. There is no light, no world outside of your loss. There is just surviving, even if there’s no desire to. You simply go through the motions of living. All I wanted was for my child who had died to be “un-died.” I just wanted him there. I still want him here.

Some of you won’t remember Thanksgiving 2017. Some of you will ditch Thanksgiving and break with tradition. Some of you will stay in bed the entire day. Some of you will put on the “mask” of the bereaved and show up with a smile that hides the ache. And some of you will celebrate with your family while your heart silently longs; each beat of your heart echoing a quiet “whoosh-whoosh” of their name.

It’s okay. However you spend Thanksgiving this year, it’s okay. I’m giving you permission to spend your Thanksgiving doing what feels right for you this year. (As long as you’re not hurting yourself or others.) Just keep leaning into the One whose heart breaks with yours. Give yourself grace because He does. God knows where you’re at; He knows the jumble of emotions you’re experiencing, for He made you to feel. He just wants you to come to Him. Bring whatever it is you’re feeling, and give it to Him. Yes, even if it’s anger, disappointment, or bitterness. Throw it at Him. He will catch it. God isn’t asking you to do this Thanksgiving thing alone. He’s asking you to do it with Him, for He sits with you. He sees the empty chair. And He invites you to dump it all on His lap. Let Him provide the strength for today.

Seven Thanksgivings without my son is hard to fathom. Every one of those Thanksgivings has been different. Every one of them has been difficult. But every one of them has been filled with God’s presence, provision, and power. My heart overflows with gratitude for what remains and for what God promises will come. My heart aches, but it is also full. I am grateful. I am grieving. I am thankful.

A gentle Thanksgiving to you, my friends.

Angie signature

Thanksgiving 2017

Deuteronomy don't forget

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, our pastor preached Sunday on Deuteronomy 8, drawing upon Moses’ reminder to the Israelite’s to remember God’s faithfulness in the midst of their impending abundance. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelite’s were about to enter the promised land. The people had only known God through their experience of hardship and daily dependence on Him. Every meal, every footstep they took, depended on God’s provision and guidance. The desert was a harsh place, but God was their all in all. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell. (Deut. 8:4) The place of barrenness was the place of God’s presence.

The desert, their place of hardship, was difficult and dangerous.

“…the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water;…” Deut. 8:15

But the place of hardship had purpose:

“…that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.” Deut. 8:16b

The times of trouble were not without God’s presence, provision, and power. Moses instructed them to remember where they had been, but, more importantly, to remember who had delivered them, provided for them, and given them great abundance.

“Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God…” (Deut. 8:11a)

God was about to fulfill His promise to His people; they were about to enter “into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” (Deut. 8:7-9)

Life was about to get good, really good, for God’s people. And the temptation when things are good is to forget God. Moses warned them not to forget where those good things came from, not to forget from whom those good things came, and not to become proud or believe that these good things resulted from their power and own strength.

We, too, need to remember God’s provision. It’s tempting to complain and focus on what we don’t have, but it’s a dangerous, slippery slope on which to stand and only leads down hill. When we are intentional in calling to mind God’s faithfulness, it reinforces truth and strengthens our faith. In the darkest time of my life, when my 16 year old son died, God provided His presence, power, and provision. I can tell you that it isn’t easy giving thanks when your world has shattered into a billion pieces and you don’t understand what God is doing. But I can also tell you that it is possible.

Yet the dark times and times of testing are not when we’re tempted to forget God. Times of abundance and prosperity, of goodness and wealth, are when our hearts’ inclination is to become proud and forget Him. Friends, whatever your situation this Thanksgiving is, whether you find yourself in want or in plenty, remember to give thanks. Whether you’re struggling or experiencing the best time of your life right now, do not forget “the Lord your God.” Remember all that He has done for you. Remember and give thanks.

Blessings,

Angie signature

Attitude is half the battle

I’m not sure who authored the phrase, “Attitude is half the battle,” but there are days where I wonder if fifty percent is far too small a percentage. Some days, I’d say attitude is ninety percent of the battle. You know those days, right? The days before you even wake up, you know it’s going to be a struggle. The lack of sleep, the lack of sunlight, the lack of right relationships, or the worries from the day before encroach upon your thoughts before consciousness has had a chance to awaken. Though the clock may say it’s a new day, you certainly don’t feel like it is.

It seems like I’ve had far too many of those days lately, friends, to be honest. I’ve had my Light Therapy lamp going for a few weeks, and, while it’s helped greatly, it’s not a cure-all. I continue to battle depressing thoughts and a negative attitude. I know, too, that my over-scheduled calendar is a huge part of the problem, but frankly, the calendar isn’t going anywhere. More than that, even though I do daily morning devotions, I’m not currently in a Bible study. This, I’m realizing, may be the biggest problem. Not studying God’s word and making it a priority is the real issue, for when I center my thoughts on the world and it’s cares, I am not held in place. I feel as if everything is spinning out of control, like I’m caught in a horrible case of “life” vertigo. God and Christ Jesus are the center of my gravity; they hold me steady, but I have lost my balance, my center of gravity.

I am frustrated and reaping the fruit of a life without margin.

So what do I do? Light therapy helps, and self-care is beneficial, but there is more I need to do. I play worship and praise music throughout the day and, again, it helps, but it is not a replacement for the study of God’s word. I need more. I need more than “quick fixes” and a carbohydrate style of filling myself spiritually. I need margin, the margin of God’s word. His word provides margin where there is none. 

Remember this visual of putting important things first?

I haven’t kept the study of God’s word a priority. And nothing else fits. Because His word is the biggest thing. His word is the most important thing. And when you don’t keep it first, all the other “stuff” will squeeze God right out of the way. Little by little, before you know it, you’ll have tip-toed your way out of His presence; one small, quiet step at a time. I don’t want God to be an acquaintance. I want Him to be my most intimate of friends. I want Him to be the first person I run to in the joyful and sorrowful moments that fill my day.

When I am not reading and studying God’s word daily, I am left feeling empty. My soul hungers for Him because I am not feasting on the Word.

Honey words

That feeling of satiation? It’s what’s been missing. Don’t get me wrong, worship and praise music and daily devotions are wonderful, but I dare say they are my “carbs.” They are good, and beneficial, but are not meant to be a substitute for being in God’s word. I can’t rely on them alone for providing what I need. I need the “meat” of His word.

My attitude lately has, quite frankly, stunk. It’s one thing to say attitude is half the battle, but it’s another to admit that the battle isn’t won by attitude alone. It takes standing next to the One who has already won the battle.

Blessings,

Angie signature

Every day

I ran an errand before 7am this morning. It was still dark as I drove to the store, but as I drove home after having finished shopping, day broke. I saw light radiating across the sky, and I thought, “Every day the sun rises. Every day. Every.Day. Every day.” I kept repeating it, trying to wrap the magnitude of that simple thought around my mind. Every day the sun rises. Every day. Even though I don’t see it some days. Even though the darkness hides it, the sun rises. Even though a blanket of clouds may cover the sky, the sun rises nonetheless.

For some of you, that thought is amazing, exciting, and awe-inspiring. For others, that thought is overwhelming, too much to handle, too much of a burden. The spreading out of a new day feels painful, like the prying open of hands, arthritic fingers unable to straighten. The light of a new day isn’t a welcome sight, but a painful glare causing you to turn your head, eyes clenched shut in protest. A new day? No. Just another day of agony, of pain, of the same horrible situation. Day after day, the same thing. Day after day, no rescue in sight. Day after unending day.

You don’t see the light, dear friend. But it’s there. You wish the sun wouldn’t rise, in fact. How you scoff at the “Pollyanna’s.” If only they walked just one step in your shoes, right? Oh, my friend. DO NOT DESPAIR. I know you are weary. I know how you think hope is a thing of the past. But God has not forsaken you. He has not forgotten you. He has not found you a failure.

You are remembered. You are loved. You are His. The sun rising daily? It is but God reminding you of His faithfulness. Every day. Every.Day. Every day.

He who promised is faithful

Blessings,

Angie signature

Running to His arms

Are you hurt today, friend? Have the words someone has spoken to you hurt you? Are you tired? Worn out, exhausted? Had enough? Has life gotten overwhelming? Are you afraid the multitude of plates you’ve been spinning are going to come crashing down on you?

Oh, I’m there with you, friend. Too many sharp words, too little sleep, and an over-filled schedule squeezes the heart and mind. The temptation to bury the barbs of hurtful words is hard to ignore. The commitments of daily life overwhelm, and our patience with others runs thin. My schedule, though filled with all good things, chafes the definition and boundaries of this season of my life. Are you with me?

The burden, whatever it may be, isn’t meant to be “pushed through.” It isn’t meant to be carried alone. As we face the cares and concerns of this life, feeling the weight of heavy things, let’s not fail to do this: run to the right person with the hurt. That right person? It’s Jesus. Run to God. Run to Him with the pain, the burdens, the stuff of life.

 

He is enough. My heart will sing.

Blessings,

Angie signature