Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Lord, All I Wanted Was . . ."~

Sometimes,
most times it seems,
we get handed more
than what we bargained for.

Me,
all I wanted was a burrito.

Stopping by a favorite breakfast spot
my husband and I frequented
whenever we were blessed with mornings that "matched",
I stood at the counter
ordering my favorite burrito to go.

I've done this on occasion,
every other two weeks or so,
off and on for almost a year and a half now.

But yesterday,
as I was reaching into my wallet to pay,
the waitress who had waited on my husband and I
time and time again,
reached right into my heart.
As I handed her the money,
she unexpectedly handed me this:

"Are you dating?"

No doubt,
if I'd been eating my burrito at the time,
I would have choked.

"I'm sorry, what?
Dating?
Hmm.......no."

"It's time.
You need to be.
You're still beautiful and young and he would want you to enjoy your life.
Do it.
It's time."

With that,
she reached over the counter,
swallowed me up in a hug,
handed me my burrito
and sent me out the door.

With a burrito in my hand
and unsolicited words in my heart,
I made my way to my car.
And, I just sat there.

"Lord, all I wanted was a burrito."

The words tumbled out of my heart
in a prayer that said what all the rest of me couldn't.

Minus the burrito part,
it's a prayer the Lord has heard frequently
over the past year and a half.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Rushing home from work to get my husband to the hospital . . .
only to be too late.

Happily serving the Lord in ministry . . .
only to be let go.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

As I sat in my car,
my burrito getting colder by the minute,
God, in the most amazing way,
began to warm my heart
with reminders of other times
I had spoken this exact same phrase.

Wanting a few extra days of paid time off after my husband's death
only to be given this
and several weeks more -
a gift from my gracious co-workers.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my airfare to Delaware covered for my speaking engagement this past March
only to be given this
and a $400 honorarium, and $300 love offering.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my expenses covered at a women's retreat I spoke at a week later
only to be given this
and a $100 honorarium, and a $550 love offering.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my roof repaired and a damaged ceiling patched up, dry-walled, and painted
only to be given this
and the ordering, delivery, and free installation of a new air conditioner,
a leaky faucet repaired, blinds hung, and so much more.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord.
"And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
~Isaiah 55:8-9

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
~Psalms 23:1

Sitting in the parking lot
I began to see the "extras" in my life,
all of them, -
those that I didn't want,
those that I felt left me coming up short,
and those that I knew were over the top,
all in the light of the Good Shepherd.

How could I possibly know what I want?
How could I possibly know what I need?
How could I possibly know
what God has purposed,
what God has planned,
what God has prepared for those who love Him?

The Good Shepherd knows better than me
what I need,
what is best,
what His purposes and His plans are.

Even more than me,
He longs for me to be
whole,
complete,
lacking nothing.

He longs for me to follow Him.
He longs for me to trust Him.
He longs for me
to see Him,
to hear Him,
to experience Him
in each and everyone of the "extras" of life.

I placed my key in the ignition
and buckled by seat belt.

Yes, sometimes,
most times it seems,
we get handed more
than what we bargained for.

May we learn to thank God for the "more" -
no matter how it comes packaged,
believing if we follow our Good Shepherd,
we will never "want".










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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Every. Single. One.~









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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When It IS What It IS~

A man cave?
No, my husband definitely wouldn't have referred
to our spare bedroom as a "man cave".
After all,
it didn't have a big screen TV,
pool table or dart board.
But, make no doubt about it,
it was "his" room.

All the signs were there.

One wall was home to a gun rack
which was home not to guns,
but rather several bows,
and a pool stick
(even though we don't own a pool table).

One wall showcased three different sets of deer antlers,
a mounted deer head,
and a mounted rainbow trout.

One wall displayed canvases turned art,
painted by his very own sister.

It was definitely his room.

And, I say was and were  -
not so much because he is no longer here,
but because a leaking roof
and now,
this week, plans for new drywall and paint -
had me removing everything
that had always been
from each of these walls.

Not an easy task,
especially for one like me,
who is so sentimental and
who has been trying to hold onto
all the "normal" I can.

And sure, after the work is finished,
I can "put back" everything
in the same place it was,
but in my heart,
I know it won't be the same.

It will never be the same again.

And this is what has me struggling the most.

As I stared at the blank walls,
the words I spoke to God
echoed back at me as though I
was standing in an empty cave -

It's just you and me, God.
It's just us and
that wall and that wall and that wall and that wall.
And, Lord, You and I both know,
I'm never going to get everything back on the walls
in the exact same place and exact same way they were before.

No matter how hard we try,
we can't hold on to what once was.
We just can't.

Nothing stays the same.
Life is a constant ebb and flow of change -
day and night,
spring, summer, fall, and winter,
birth, childhood, adulthood,
life and death.

As I stood in this barren space,
wiping one tear after another,
God, as only God can do,
began to whisper to my broken heart.

You're right. 
You're absolutely right.
You won't be able to re-create the room
to the way it was before
because you don't have his touch.

But, think of the possibilities, sweet girl.

And honestly,
do you really want a mounted deer head
hanging on your wall?

Truth -
when it hits you,
it hits you.

And those fishing rods,
and bows,
and all of the rest -
they are just things, sweet girl.

They aren't him.
Having them in this room
is not going to bring him back.

Seeing them everyday is not going to 
take away the ache,
take away the lonely,
take away the want.

Look at these walls -
what do you see?
What can you envision doing with this brand new space?

Catch a vision, sweet girl,
not of what was,
but of what can be.

And I realize once again -
something that I now realize
I am going to have to keep realizing
over and over and over again:

God is doing a new thing.

IS -
not might,
not may one day,
IS.

This IS my reality.
Four blank walls surrounding me
and a blank life out in front of me.

Think of the possibilities, sweet girl.
You're right.
You're absolutely right.
It's just you and Me,
and yet,
I'm the one who can do immeasurably more
than you can think or imagine.
It's not going to be the same,
but it's going to be more than ok.
Keep holding on to Me
and together we'll hang up one day of life
and decorate one wall of this new season,
one moment at a time.

Look at these days spread out before you -
what do you see?
What can you envision doing with this brand new space?
Catch a vision, sweet girl,
not of what was,
but of what can be.

Little by little,
I begin to see it -
a chair there,
a writing desk here,
a canvas print of one of my photos on this wall,
and that wall,
and maybe that wall, too.

Little by little
I begin to see this, too -
God and I ministering to hearts
here,
there,
and maybe even over there.

And,
most surprising of all,
I begin to feel it -
a teeny, tiny tinge
of excitement,
an itty bitty bit
of anticipation,
a smidgen of
yes,
(I think it is),
joy
at the vision I am beginning to envision.

I have a feeling,
once it's all in place
and God and I have made it "ours",
my handsome honey wouldn't even mind.

"Enjoy, Beautiful, Enjoy."

"I will, Handome. I will."

You know,
come to think of it -
I've always thought our garage would look nice
with a mounted deer head hanging in it.

I think it's time to find out.









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Monday, July 10, 2017

An Open Letter to A Grieving Mom

Oh, precious one -
You have been on my heart
and in my prayers non-stop.
These words - simply an expression of my heart.

When a child loses a parent,
the new "title" given is orphan.
When a husband loses his wife
or a wife loses her husband,
widow.

And yet,
when a parent loses a child,
the loss is so indescribable
there is no word in the human language
associated with this unthinkable loss.

And loss - no matter how it comes - is something
no one truly understands or
truly knows how to react or respond to.

It changes everything - forever.
It changes you - forever.

People on the outside of your heart
looking in,
see your hurt.
No doubt,
they feel your pain.

Many are grieving with you,
shedding tears of their own.

But the thing is this:
no matter how much they long
to comfort you,
to ease your pain,
to shield you from this excruciating,
almost unbearable heartache -
they can't.

Because you see,
no one but you,
knows the true extent of your loss.

Only your heart knows
the love you had for your precious child.

Only your heart knows
the fullness their life brought
and the complete emptiness their absence brings.

Only your heart knows
the little things shared
between their heart and yours.

Only your heart knows
all your hopes and dreams
for days that were yet to come
and the bitter sting of unfulfilled moments
and never to be made memories.

Only you and you alone.

As hard as it is to admit this to be true -
there is not one other person
on this planet who understands
what you are going through,
what you are feeling,
what you are thinking,
what you are experiencing,
because no one knows you
and no one knows the child you are grieving
like you do.

No one.

No one, except God, that is.

Without you trying to finds words,
He knows.

Without you trying to express
what can never truly be expressed,
He knows.

Without you even knowing how
to help Him know,
He knows.

And, He's faithfully present 24-7,
all day,
all night,
always.

He listens.
He understands.
He comforts.
He gently holds.

And in moments of anger and
 "why, Lord, why",
He draws especially close.
And I imagine in these moments -
the hard moments when your heart
longs to understand,
it is then,
most of all,
He sheds tears with you,
just like He wept with Mary and Martha
when they lost their brother, Lazarus.

And, I have a feeling,
because He is the only one
who truly understands,
He grieves more than anyone,-
maybe even more than you and I do.

Oh sweet heart,
you have already lost
the most precious one to you
this side of Heaven.

 Don't lose The One most precious, too.

Hold on to God
with everything you have,
and all that you don't.

Having God in your life
isn't going to change your situation,
isn't going to take away
the pain, heartache, and emptiness,
isn't going to replace what you have lost,
isn't going to make your feel suddenly better.

Having God in your life
is going to change
your ability to cope,
your desire to get out of bed in the morning,
your resolve to keep breathing and living,
your willingness to give up the need to understand,
(which will only hold you prisoner until you do)
your ability to let go of guilt and regret,
(which will only hold you prisoner until you do)
your steps moving forward from here.

Having God in your life is going to change you.

When no one else can,
not even you,
God can.

When no one else will,
not even you,
God will.

When no one else - period,
not even you,
God.

He is your only hope.

And yet,
when you have your hope in Him,
you will find,
you have all that you need.

I love you and I am on my knees for you.








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Saturday, July 8, 2017

When Going Deeper Takes You Higher~

We come to know God
at the deepest level
when we experience Him
during our lowest lows.

It is during need,
we come to know Him as our Provider.

It is during sickness,
we come to know Him as our Healer.

It is during uncertainty,
we come to know Him as our Counselor.

It is during chaos,
we come to know Him as our Peace.

It is during battle,
we come to know Him as our Defender.

It is during heartache,
we come to know Him as our Comforter.

It is during wandering,
we come to know Him as our Shepherd.

It is during abandonment,
we come to know Him as our Abba Daddy.

It is during heartbreak,
we come to know Him as the Lover of our soul.

It is during judgment,
we come to know Him as our Righteousness.

It is during loneliness,
we come to know Him as our Friend.

It is during rejection,
we come to know Him as our Redeemer.

It is during shame and guilt,
we come to know Him as our Savior.

It is during darkness,
we come to know Him as our Light.

It is during trials,
we come to know Him as our Refiner.

It is during identity-crisis,
we come to know Him as our Creator.

It is during challenges,
we come to know Him as our Father.

It is during sinking,
we come to know Him as our Rock.

It is during confusion,
we come to know Him as our Truth.

It is during "I'm not able to",
we come to know Him as our great I AM.

And, when we come to know God
at the deepest level,
we find he always takes us
to our highest highs.










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Sunday, July 2, 2017

If and Only When~

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

As we sat in Children's church,
reviewing the fruit of the Spirit,
I asked the following questions:

"What kind of fruit would an apple tree grow?"

"An apple!!!" the children replied.

"What kind of fruit would an orange tree grow?"

"An orange!!!" the children said is unison.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

It wasn't the answer I had in mind,
but it was more than an answer to the question I had asked.

If we as Christians,
allow the Holy Spirit
to have His way,
to live in us and through us,
to grow
love,
joy,
peace,
patience,
kindness,
goodness,
faithfulness,
gentleness,
and self control in us,
we will indeed grow other Christians.

When hate is answered back with love.
When despair is answered back with joy.
When strife and unrest is answered back with peace.
When short-tempered is answered back with patience.
When meanness is answered back with kindness.
When doing wrong is answered back with goodness.
When betrayal is answered back with faithfulness.
When sternness is answered back with gentleness.
When human reaction is answered back with self-control.

This is when Jesus is seen.
This is when hearts are drawn to know Him more.
This is when a seed that will produce a "Christian"
is sowed into another heart.

But - sadly,
we don't always choose to represent Christ
in the beauty and truth
of who He is.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

His words broke my heart.

Partly because I have been in his shoes,
but mostly,
mostly because I could only imagine
how this whole scenario
must have broken the heart of Jesus, Himself.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

A grown man,
he told the story of growing up in church.
How each week his Sunday School teacher
scolded him,
pointed out every wrong thing he did,
and told him
if he didn't straighten up,
he was going to Hell.

One day she added,
"What's wrong with you, boy?
Don't you want to be with Jesus?
Don't you want to go to Heaven?"

A mere six year old,
he lowered his face to the ground
and shook his head, "no".

The teacher was appalled.

"You don't want to go to Heaven?
How could you not want to go to Heaven?"

This young boy,
with all the innocence and honesty
his heart could muster into words,
looked up at this "woman of God" and replied,
"Well, you're going to be there, right?
I, uh well, I just don't want to be there.
I don't think I would like it there
with you and Jesus,
especially with no way to leave
or ever go home."

And, who could blame him
for coming to this conclusion,
for deciding if Jesus was anything like this woman,
he didn't want anything to do with Heaven,
or anything to do with Jesus?

Thankfully,
as a child,
most of the people who told me about Jesus,
not only talked about Him,
but walked out the beauty and love of Him
in their lives.

Sadly,
as an adult, however,
this hasn't always been the case.
Those professing to be Jesus followers,
those serving in His name,
those called into ministry,
have been some of the most un-Christlike people
I have known.

If they were the only view I had of Jesus,
if they were all that I glimpsed of His character and heart,
if they were who I thought Jesus was like,
just like this young boy,
I wouldn't want anything to do with
Jesus or Heaven, either.

Especially not forever and ever and ever and ever.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

And, I sit here thinking of me.

What is it that people see
when they watch my life?

How is this Jesus I talk about
being conveyed
to their hearts?

Am I a deterrent?
Am I causing people to turn tail and run
as far from God as they can?

And, I'm reminded again of the answer given by a child -
so simple and yet so profound we cannot afford to
simply skip past it,
simply chuckle at the simplicity of it,
simply move on.

The value of a soul depends on us
unwrapping this,
unpacking it,
digesting it,
and living it out in our life.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

But, 
if and only when
the Holy Spirit is living in our heart.








  
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Tucked in With the Thorns~

Sometimes,
God's blessings come packaged in ways
that cause us to question His heart
or wonder what good
could possibly be hidden inside.

And yet,
if we trust our Father
and receive of His gift,
we discover the treasure inside
is beyond anything
we could ever have hoped or imagined
it to be.

God is all knowing,
all loving,
all the time.

Trials,
heartaches,
disappointments -
not gifts we would welcome into our life,
but gifts, none the less.

As we unwrap these gifts,
we unwrap the heart of God.

We discover anew
His faithfulness.

We experience deeper
His joy -
a joy that remains in spite of.

We build a faith that
is able to thank God
in the midst of
for the good that is sure to come.

Rest assured,
our Heavenly Father always blesses us
with that which matters most.

We just need to be willing
to open our hands
and receive His gift.









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Monday, June 19, 2017

Answering the Call~

"You're moving to New Jersey?! Are you kidding me?!"

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice
as she asked what seemed to be a more than valid question
of her then 22 year old daughter.

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This native New Mexican packed all she could
into all the suitcases she had (a whopping count of two!)
and flew to New Jersey.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What?! You're taking a teaching job in Wisconsin?!
Are you kidding me?!"
(Aren't you so glad, that in a constantly changing, unpredictable world,
our parents stay predictably the same? Me, too!)

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice as she asked,
what again,
seemed to be a more than valid question
as I launched into my teaching career.

"I just know God is calling me there."

This time,
before I could continue,
my dad interrupted with a one liner
packed to the brim with truth.
"Darlin, it snows there."
I knew what he was saying.
It snows in New Mexico, too,
but Daddies worry about their daughters
moving to a place where IT SNOWS,
like in Wisconsin.

"I know, Daddy.
But, I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there,
amongst all the snow drifts,
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
Once again,
this native New Mexican packed all she could
into a U-haul trailer and headed west -
in a truck driven by her mother,
and shared with her little sister.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What? You're moving to New Mexico again?!
 WONDERFUL!
When should we be there with the truck and U-haul?!"

(Amazingly, sometimes parents can even be predictable
when their response doesn't mirror words you've heard before,
but their heart cry does.)

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This new found lover of snow
re-packed all she had
and placed them back in another rented U-haul
hooked up to the same truck
that had brought her to Wisconsin.
And truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

Not because each place didn't have a newness to overcome and challenges to face.
Not because being so far away from "home" was easy and comfortable.
Not because stepping out on my own was anything I ever wanted to do.

But, because God was calling and God met me there.

"You're moving into God's calling? Are you kidding me?"

Now, the voice I hear
is none other than my own,
although in the quiet of my own heart
I can hear tinges of my mom in these words, too.

"I have to." I tell myself.
"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down His call a zillion times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me to follow His lead,
to step out in faith,
to go where He calls
even though I have no idea where that is,
to call me again.
And, HE DID.
(Over and over and over again, HE DID).
I have to go."

So, here I am.

Remembering God's leading in the past to find courage to step out into the future.
Realizing God's call has always been just where I needed to be.
Celebrating God's guidance and ever continual prompting of my heart.
Anticipating God's provision, blessing, favor, and love in calling me forward.
Knowing God's call - when lived out, and looked back on in retrospect,
will have me, like so many times before, ready to do it all over again.

Did I know a thing about New Jersey? Nope!
Was I equipped to handle the bitterly cold, snow filled winter of Wisconsin? Nope!
Has living in my home state been a skip down easy street? Nope!

But, in all these places,
and in all the faces in each place,
and in every situation and all circumstances,
my God was there.

And, me, I have grown.  Oh, how I have grown.
And me,
(ME - the one God hand-picked to
move to New Jersey,
to head to Wisconsin,
to return to New Mexico),
I have a heart full of memories.  Such sweet memories.
I have seen the undeniable move of God.
I have felt His nearness and have been held by His faithfulness.

And, I say all of that to say this:
If you would like me to come to your church or your town
to speak at an event or for a woman's retreat,
this girl will pray and then,
if God says so,
she will pack her suitcase,
and go wherever God calls her.

Do I know how this is going to work? Nope!
Do I know all the details? Nope!
Do I feel equipped for the job at hand? Nope!

But, as my Handsome Honey would say,
"You'll be fine, Beautiful. You've got God."

Yes, I certainly, amazingly, thankfully do.....
and God is all I need.



For more information, visit my "Speaking Page."







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