“Dearly, Deep Within”

Last week I was on a stateside mission trip in the Appalachia region with Appalachia Service Project, and even though we arrived home Saturday, I am still pondering, processing, and reflecting.  I had the joy of working on two homes and interacting a good deal with both of the families.  These individuals had faced difficulties, and yet, the children still smiled and the parents still had hope.

Luke 2:52 (The Message) says, “And his mother held all these things dearly, deep within herself.”  Other translations of this same scripture verse refer to how Mary “treasured” and “pondered” these experiences, the ones with Jesus, in her heart.  Right now I feel like I have some experiences of Jesus from last week that are held dearly, deep within myself.

As much as I want to put words to my emotions and experiences, I can’t seem to find the words to describe the depth of the poverty I encountered, the depth of the resilience of the human spirit I observed, or the depth of how challenged I felt to become a more grateful and generous person.

At one point, our directions to the home read, “Drive until you can’t go up any higher.”  I felt close to God as I looked at the beautiful landscapes and recognized the creativity of our Creator.

And now I’m back in the real world trying to blend together the rich experiences embedded in my heart with the routines of every day life and ministry.  Eventually, I’ll share more of the specific details of encountering Jesus during my ASP experience, and until then, I’ll treasure these experiences “dearly, deep within my heart.”

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My Redeemed Story

I haven’t blogged for a while. If I blog, I’m afraid I might reveal that I don’t have it all together.
Well, here is the truth: I don’t have it together. I’m a huge work in progress and so is my house and many of my relationships. I don’t have a plan of how to stay on top of everything and still find time to blog.
But despite the fact that my life is not put together perfectly, God is still redeeming “the years that the locusts have eaten.” Recently, I have felt redeemed enough from past wounds to start to share my story in healthy ways.
Yet, a long season existed where I told everyone all about my life. I exposed all my problems to anyone that would listen, and nothing about this season was healthy for myself or for others. Then I went into a deep, dark place where I was scared to tell anything about my story. I didn’t feel that anything would ever be able to put me back together again.
Then I really encountered The One who was to put me back together again. I am not sure exactly when or where it happened exactly. Rather I know that I am not the same. I had to learn to forgive. I wrestled with God about letting go of regrets, shame, and anxiety. Still God pursued my heart. He saw my mess as redeemable, and He never gave up on me, not even when I kept making mistakes.
So if you are struggling with what God wants to do with your story, don’t lose hope. The Writer is still writing words of redemption. How can you allow God to rewrite or keep writing your story?

Surrender the Worries Already

It’s almost 1 a.m. in the morning, and I can’t sleep. Perhaps I should have skipped my Sunday afternoon nap, or at least I should have shortened it significantly. Anyways, I am awake, and I have done everything I know to fall asleep except blog. So feel free to read on being forewarned that I am exhausted and may or may not be coherent.

Surrender. As I toss and turn trying to find some sort of sleep tonight, I find myself asking, “Have I surrendered everything to God?” As worries and panic continue to come in relentless waves, I declare once again to God, “I surrender, and I trust you with all my worries.”

Then I roll over, take some deep breaths, and I pick all of my worries back up. Some of my worries are more legitimate than others. But still, I can find rest in trusting that God indeed loves me and cares about me. He is working things out for my good and for the good of those who love Him! It is painful to wait on God’s timing as those I care about suffer, and yet, I see their strong faith and I’m encouraged. God’s solutions and plans are far better than anything I could create in my finite human schemes.

If I really trust that God’s got it, then why can’t I fall asleep? Am I supposed to be up praying for Track 1 year round students who start back to school tomorrow? Should I be praying for those I know who are facing difficulties? Or am I awake to start making the plans for VBS more concrete?

No matter why I am awake, I realize the blessings that I have this evening. I am thankful God cares about the worries of my heart. I am blessed to have a place to rest my head,

Thanks for reading to the end of my ramblings. I’m going to try to fall back asleep now, but if I can’t fall asleep, I can at least call my dad in a few hours when he wakes up for work.