3 Encouragements for Giving Wholehearted When Your Heart Wants to Melt

5 Day Guide to Offer your Gift without Losing your Heart

Hello dear Reader, The following post is something that’s been deep on my heart to share. It’s for all of us who want to be a blessing, but sometimes feel like our hearts are so messy in the middle of it. And in a way, this post is an invitation to join me in five days of sitting with this topic. However you choose to use the words below, I pray they are a blessing to your life of offering.

If you’ve ever just wished that you could offer yourself wholeheartedly but your heart just felt like melting, then I feel like we have so much in common and I’m so glad.

There was a day this month, more like a string of days, when my heart longed to be useful, to feel useful, but mostly all I felt was overwhelmed, falling short, limited, broken.

And in that place, my daughter asked me to read her a story from her children’s Bible. It was the story of the small boy with a small lunch, and for those few moments while I read it, it felt like I was that boy. It felt like Jesus saw all these pieces of my heart and still waited with a loving smile for what I had to give. And the tears came.

The beloved Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally L-J
The beloved Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally L-J

So I wrote about it and we made a video. I hope you enjoy it.

In case you’re hard of hearing the transcript for the video is provided at the bottom of this post. Below the video I’ll talk a bit more about those three things I’m still learning from that little boy and you’ll also be invited to five days of letting your heart sit with truth and encouragement as you offer what God has given you.

How do I give wholeheartedly when my heart just wants to melt? Sometimes I think I can never give wholeheartedly as long as my heart feels this way. I forget that the “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” (Ps. 34:18)

When we want to give ourselves wholeheartedly but our hearts feel all the things, here is what we can do:

1. Acknowledge the reasons our hearts feel like melting.

We are never more wholehearted than when our hearts are resting in Jesus acknowledging to Him every part of what lies inside. There is no safer place to pour out the depth of our hearts than in His own loving arms. He is the only one who can make good out of every part of what we feel inside us.

When we tell Him what our hearts are feeling, when we tell Him the things in life that overwhelm us, we acknowledge our own weakness and that weakness becomes a tool in His hands. The Bible never tells us to make our hearts invicible, it simply tells us to keep our hearts and to let Him use our weakness. (Pr. 4:23, 2 Cor. 12:9)

2. Give from our melting hearts.

We may not feel it, but we are so wholehearted coming from this place. We don’t have to have hearts that feel strong before He can use us. Because the strength of our heart does not lie in us. It lies in Him. When we don’t feel strong, we are invited to trust Him for the strength and keep on resting in the promise that He is using us.

Even when our hearts feel like they’re melting, by faith His strength holds them together and close to His own heart. Our own usefulness does not depend on our strength.

3. See Jesus meet us in the giving.  

Even as we may question ourselves, when we put our eyes on His faithfulness, our trust is not in ourselves, or in any outcome we can see, but in the simple promise that He is moving in our lives. We may not see exactly how He moves, but as we look to Him, He always meets us in the giving.

We look for Jesus in the giving and we become that little boy giving the little offering from our sack. Though our offering is so small, Jesus gives His big smile because while we don’t know just what He will do with it, though we may never even see how He does use it, He assures us with His smile… Yes, you are so useful.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If these thoughts speak to you, then I’d like to invite you to a personal, five day Bible study. I’ll share some of my own struggles in this and we’ll look at what Scripture says both about giving our offering and about how to keep heart in the ministry of life on this earth as one of His children. As children of God, there are areas where we can start to lose heart in the giving. We’ll look at five ways we can strive to keep heart even as we let our weak hearts rest in the strength of Jesus.

File_000 (37)

Each of the five days I’ll send you a (free) PDF that includes a short intro video, devotional thoughts, Scripture study and journaling prompts / meditation for your own heart in the offering. You can sign up below if you’d like to be a part. I would LOVE for you to join me.

And whether we are offering ourselves today as parents, friends, creatives, teachers, whether we offer ourselves behind a desk or on a stage, may we all claim it together by the strength of His love, “Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” (2 Cor. 4:1)

bible-study-header

Video Transcript

There is a crowd surrounding us, a swelling up of people who must surely know they’re purpose in this place. And in the midst of people, we strain to hear the One who leads. We are finding our way in the ocean of possibilities, hoping to stay afloat, our minds drifting and remembering again and again who we are here for in all the mess.

Just one in the world who can be so uncertain, we need one hope to cling to for the noise that swirls around us.

And the leading one holds a dear child close, lifts him up as treasured. What sweet joy to be that one, to be so treasured by him. Yet, the heart of the idea is slapped by a whispering accuser. Perhaps the voice is true. Perhaps my heart does want the praise of all these people. How can I deny that such broken feelings rise inside me?

But when I look up at him, he still gives his gaze my way. Still the smile rests on his face, as he seems to know what’s in my heart. Those eyes don’t look to accuse me, nor do they give one reason to stay away. I look down on what I have to give. Maybe he knows what I hold inside.

Still, I wonder. Still the courage is not inside me, but you, my friend, come close with kindness. You point me on to trust those eyes. A smidge of courage rises in me. And it is not my own. For it was sent through you.

I take a step, clutching the bag in my hand. Ducking through the field of people. For all the assurance my kind-eyed leader seems to give, there are so many calling for his attention.

Seeing a man who knows him stand quiet to the side, I make my way there. As I stand there in the presence of this man, he looks down waiting to see why I have come. My hands tremble to reach for the contents of my bag, for I know they are so small.

With such doubts inside me, I remember your encouragement friend and I look again to the One I’m doing this for. I lift my package and pull it open, to show these two small fish and pieces of bread to the man before me.

The expression on his face seems to be one that has questions too. Yet, he gives a kind smile and takes up my offering. Stepping away from me, he goes on to carry it for me. Beyond the broad shoulders of this man, there is the one who I hope can use my offering. One more time, he gives me the happiest smile I’ve seen from him.

I don’t know what he will do with my offering, but what I do know, is that smile he just gave me makes every part of this story worth it.

For all the broken feelings inside me, for all the ways my offering may be flawed, for every part of my steps to get here that were so imperfect, he treasures me and he treasures my offering.

While we paused in the questions, he already knew how he planned to use our offering. And he waited, without an ounce of judgment on us.

He waits in love for each offering from us. For we are all the little boy with our bits of bread and fish.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Why the Heart of America Still Stands Strong

File_000 (33)

The following post is something I wrote a couple months ago and never shared. But in light of the events of this past weekend, I pulled it back out. I think it’s a good time to share it. What took place in Charlottesville is heartbreaking and it’s a good time to remember the goodness of what it is to be American. It’s a good time to feel the heart of this country with the heart inside our own skin, and sit in the quiet of how God is using the past weekend in our own lives. For this is where battles are won. May we face the small feelings it meets us with and bring them to the one who is Light.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sat on the wooden staircase, veiled and dressed in white, waiting for my dad to say it was time. In just a few minutes, I would live the freedom that did not exist for the nation just five decades earlier. Fifty years earlier, we could have been arrested for a day like this. But this is America, where our legacy has always been in striving to put away our prejudice and call all people equal.

Luiz and I were made for each other. We just happened to have different skin colors.

Taking my dad’s arm, we walked to the chapel doors. And when those doors opened to begin a new chapter of life, they opened to a freedom that had been fought for by generation upon generation of Americans who held tight in their hearts to the belief that people of every color, creed and nation were created in the image of God, just the same as they.

This belief in equality gave the strongest fight, not on a battlefield or in a war of words, but inside of individual hearts. It fought strongest in the hearts of people who admitted the prejudice inside their own mind, and determined to war against it.

Because of God’s grace, lived out in those people, I got to live my wedding day so freely. I walked the aisle of that chapel to take the hands of the one I loved. On that stage, I looked into his eyes and spoke my vows. There was one simple line that I was so proud and grateful to offer in front of so many witnesses. “Your people will be my people.”

The life my husband and I know today would look so different if America had not chosen this. My children’s lives would look so different. I am grateful to over two hundred years worth of a nations people who have lovingly sought to stand on the ground of equality.  

As an American, the grace that can work through my one heart is the same as it was in all of those who made the freedom of my wedding day possible.

As an American, and even as my husband’s wife, prejudice tries to live in my heart too. It finds the most success when I say it’s not there. As much as Luiz and I are proud to belong to each other, and as much as we are proud to call each other’s people our own, we very much need each other’s help and accountability to see every kind of people with the same love.

Prejudice tries to creep in any way it can and it happens with more than just race. It wants us to suspect things about a person simply because of the family they came from, a group they belong to, or a word they said. It wants us to look at any part of them other than the heart inside them that was made just like our own.

But we have a God who is bigger with a love that is stronger than any prejudice we have ever known. He is able to give us the grace to take up the fight inside us, where the battle is really won. A legacy has been created in America because this is just what He has done in so many hearts already.

My husband was not born here but he is so proud to call himself an American. It is not a perfect country, nor does it’s legacy perfectly exist in every part of it’s soil. But the blemishes will never change the legacy that has been made here, the legacy that gave freedom to the open doors on my wedding day. To be American is to be part of all of this.

To be American is to stand in the beautiful victory already won by the years of battles in so many hearts. To be American is to continue to take up the battle to let God’s love pour through our own hearts to all the wonderfully made people in the world who are just like us.   

File_000 (32)

File_001 (4)

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

This is why I still feel like a child

File_000 (28)

Is there ever a child who does not hear it with the growing of her body? The voice that says her heart is out of place. For do we ever lose the heart we were born with, the one that wants to hold and be held, the one that yearns to love and be loved, the one who gives herself to the world without a thought for how it all comes out.

For all of us living this life, perhaps the child we used to be still lives inside us enabling us to feel this life.

My own life took me from being a high school student one year, to being an adult, a wife and a mother the next. I don’t regret it and I wouldn’t change it, but my soul still feels the sharp turn life took and stands in great need of moments when I can curl up into my child self and say it honestly that I just don’t know exactly what I’m doing and this new road I’m on is still so unfamiliar and just a little daunting sometimes. There is something beautifully comforting in those moments felt in the presence of Jesus.

There was a moment I spent today sitting at the coffee shop when a lady came up to ask for the chair next to me and I began a delighted “How do you do? What’s your name?” conversation only to realize her intention was to take that chair to another table to sit with someone else. And suddenly the child inside me is more alive than it was before, and my heart turns to find comfort in Jesus in a way it hasn’t yet that morning.  

Perhaps the secret of growing up is not in being more adult-like but in staying awake to the child inside you that enables you to feel the whole process. Because there is something about feeling this life before Jesus that can bring his presence into a place.

A child’s heart is beautiful.

File_000 (25)

My Amayah, she gives herself honest and beautiful. She is cautious with her stare that observes and does not try to impress. She will not fake a smile or a kind word. No, she will watch until she’s ready, but when that smile does break through, when those words of love come out her mouth they are pure gold, for there is no question that they were meant from the bottom of the little heart inside her.

My Liesel, she meets the world so open-hearted. When she gives her love, she gives it so freely. She hurts deeply for the moment Mommy is not there to hug her just when she needs it. She has no ounce of hesitation to run into our arms when the broken world has hurt her. Embarrassment plays no part in the times she cries out in need of comfort. And the open desire she comes with makes her little life so beautiful.

And my Gideon, he is still in my womb being nourished inside me, and no doubt he has no shame in the constant dependence he lives with. And yet his little life is being used in the world even as an unborn child, because God is always using the child’s heart no matter how small it is.

The world will make us think we must lose our child’s heart that hurts and cries and feels the imperfections of this world so deeply. But, the opposite is true. For the greatest secret of this life we’re given is to never lose our one child’s heart. Never is the tender pain inside us not worth it, for this is where we love, this is where we are loved.

One child’s heart is what we have with which to know and give love. One child’s heart is all we have to know the sweetness of the relationships we find here on this earth. One child’s heart is the gift we are given to receive the love and grace of Jesus that fills every hurt and flaw inside us. May we not despise the child inside us, for this heart we are given is beautiful and every hurting moment is a gift, an empty vessel we are given with which to receive more of Jesus and bring more of him into the hurting world.  

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Remarkable Faith (A Book Review)

Where I am a sheep and my Shepherd seems to call me down a path…

I follow Him, looking desperately for assurance of the sight of His feet ahead of me. I catch an occasional glimpse of His sandals lifting from the dirt, sometimes I can even hear His staff as it falls to the ground. I ache to see His leading with crystal clarity.

Sometimes I wonder if I really did see Him there ahead of me. Sometimes I even pause in following Him because I’m afraid to trust that it really was Him, afraid I’m getting it all wrong…

File_000 (24)

He is faithful to give me assurance on the path – a loving pat, a quiet whistle – but sometimes in the fog of everything surrounding me, I’m afraid to trust that it really was Him.

The doubts that want to rise in me call out their questions. What if this is the wrong way? What if you’re way off the path? What if what you’re following isn’t Him, but something that will only lead you into trouble? What if you misheard Him? What if when you get where He seems to be calling you, He won’t be there to meet you?

These questions had been calling out to me for weeks when I began to read the pages of Shauna’s book.

I wasn’t met with someone who told me I was ridiculous for feeling these questions. Shauna didn’t even tell me that I should go on as if I had never heard them.

She simply showed me broken people in the Bible who heard these questions too, broken people who encountered Jesus face to face. And when they met Jesus with their questions, He wasn’t disappointed. Rather, He marveled at their faith.

He didn’t tell them what failures they were for pausing at the sound of the question. He didn’t tell them to ignore the questions and get with it in following Him with haste. Jesus found value in them. Found value in the fact that they felt the questions and yet, continued on in their broken state…

File_000 (23)

Jesus valued that they longed for Him so earnestly, valued that they were well aware how broken and sinful they were. He honored their doubts, almost as if those doubts played a major part in their faith.

Shauna’s words bring tears of healing to my heart. For I had felt guilty for listening to these questions. For my guilt, she simply shows truth through moments from Jesus’ life.

“Remarkable faith is the braided strands of doubt, hope and wonder.” – Shauna

Her book fills me up with Jesus’ love as she looks so closely at His words and actions towards the doubts of the people He met. With eight stories from the Bible, she draws me into His grace. And with words of hope she points me on down the path. The questions of doubt will come. Sometimes I’ll wonder about the path. But He is still the One I continue on for, the One who loves me in my questions and values my weak faith. He is my hope. He is why I have faith.

“Refuse to be ashamed if you come to Jesus with questions and doubts, wondering if he can and if he will. It is not always for us to know the how, the why, or the when of his work. The fact that we seek him, with questions swirling about our hearts, is evidence of the seeds of faith planted and waking up in the fertile soil of trials and trouble.” – Shauna

Shauna Letellier’s book has been such a blessing to me and I’ve so enjoyed the gift of being acquainted with such a kind writer.

I pray you’ll be met with the blessing of her words yourself. Perhaps you have a friend who would be blessed by them as well.

You can find her book through the link below and you can read more of her words by clicking here.  

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When You Need to be Needed

File_000 (22)

We all need to know we’re needed and when we don’t feel it from someone we love, it can get to us in the most tenderly painful way. It happens in grown people and babies alike.

It’s such a gift to see the useless feeling in another human being and know we’re not alone, especially in the vulnerable tears of a baby.

My toddler likes to insist on keeping her own little responsibilities at home. Especially when it involves something small and simple that she can do all her own, like throwing away mommy’s trash.

I changed her diaper one afternoon and when big sister took her job of trashing the diaper, she threw herself on the floor with the biggest tears. Her job that made her feel so important and useful to me was gone and she wasn’t able to offer her help to me the way she hoped to.

I saw her crying on the floor and while normally I would have been frustrated that she reacted so dramatically to something so small, that day I could relate to exactly what was happening inside her heart. I wanted to feel needed too…

File_000 (21)

That morning, with an earnest longing inside me, the question had found a place in my heart. God, do you need me? How can I truly believe that I matter to You if You’re so self-sufficient that You have no need?

I wanted to find healing from my hurts and look at the ways I mattered, the ways I was needed. For how can I matter if I am not needed?

That day God showed up for me in the tears of my little girl. Her tears spoke truth to my heart that I needed to see and feel, not just hear in words.

I spoke over my little girl who she was to me, and God spoke over me who I am to Him.

If this topic speaks to you, I think you’ll enjoy hearing this month’s audio story in the “Notes to my Shy Self” series. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen.

If you’re already subscribed to the series you’ll receive the audio in your email just as before or you can sign up below.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Where Truth is More Than Words

File_002 (1)

Eliab had harsh anger stirring his heart when he spoke the words to David.

“Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” (1 Sm. 17:28)

Pastor Jeff read the old story of David and the giant his last Sunday preaching for us, and this was the verse that got my attention. Eliab speaks just like the voice in my head.

Take one step toward the giant, and though you lifted your foot to take that step in faith that God could use even you, by the time you set that foot down, your enemy hurls these same thoughts at you.

Why have you come down? He questions your importance and the value of who you are to take that step.

With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? He identifies your role as small and unimportant and accuses you of failing to be responsible even in that role.

I know your presumption and the evil of your heart… He accuses you of taking that step with a heart of wrong motives that only wants recognition for yourself.

For you have come down to see the battle. He finds a specific accusation to try to dig his foot into, even a weak spot where you have struggled with desire before.

Yet, met with these accusations that can tear people apart, David met his brother with a few short words and continued on in the same determination. Though he was called conceited, David pressed on to ensure that this giant who challenged God’s people would see the power of the God he was fighting against.

What makes a heart so confident in the belief that He will be used by God?

File_000 (19)

David’s legacy has lived on most in those dozens of prayers found in the psalms. A man of honest, heartfelt prayer, David let his feelings pour out before the Lord. He prayed his anguish and his hatred and his brokenness. And his prayers always brought him to knowing the place he truly stood before his God.

He prayed his feelings… “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs on my head; my heart fails me.” (Psalm 40:12)

He lets the feelings pour out before the Lord, and as he pours them out God meets David with hope in his very own words of prayer…  “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40:17)

Just a few lines after giving his honest plea from his heart that feels so broken, those feelings have led him through that sweet communion to the truth God had for him to treasure in that moment.

May we know, just as David, that these feelings are not unwanted in God’s presence but welcome. May we bring the feelings so often to God that we are rooted in the truth of who we are even as the enemy throws those accusation at us.

In prayer, God teaches us to not just hear and know truth, but to feel it with our hearts.

Truth becomes more than words, as we pray from the feelings inside us. As we pray each unimportant feeling, He fills that place inside us with the confidence of who we are in Him. As we pray our useless thoughts, He meets us there and lets us know inside our hearts that we are useful.   

In prayer, we do not just know, but we can feel the truth of this…

I am His valuable bearer of fruit right here, right now.

The role He has given me to play is an essential part of His kingdom, and He calls me faithful.

The imperfect steps I take to offer what I can are the sweetest of offerings in His presence.  

My past mistakes are not a hindrance to His ability to use me; it only makes his light shine more brilliant through my darkness.

Teach us to pray as David, that we may feel with You through our hearts, all the way to the heart-deep hope You store for us there.

File_006 (1)

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When life asks us who we are: An Offering

File_005

File_003

File_001

Life has its ups and downs and the downs can have a curious way of getting our attention. Sometimes it starts with a life-shaking circumstance, but more often it’s much smaller than that. The feelings find us when we’re doing life happy, sure that nothing can deter us. Out of the big world around us, they surprise us with thoughts that make us feel a need to pause. They ask us if we really are doing this right, if there’s something wrong with us. At least that’s how it happens in my world. Maybe you know those times too.

I was in that place the evening it happened. Coming from such a great day, I sat with a group of women. Feeling an urge to reach out to the one on my right, I tried to make a connection. Once then twice, I tried. But the first time, right as I opened my mouth she had a sneeze attack that required a search for tissues. Then again after that settled, I spoke up at the same moment as the lady on the other side of her who had a louder, more noticeable voice than mine. Then the tide of the room changed.

In the midst of group conversation, she opened up deeply and shared some hard hurts and criticisms she had been dealing with. She was trying so hard to do what was best and felt so much criticism from the people she loved. I wanted even more to connect and offer what I could to encourage her. I had to let her know that I believed her, that though there were so many ways people could judge, I knew she was simply trying to do the best she could.

When the conversation quieted down, I reached for her arm and gave her the first words that came to mind. It felt a little awkward coming out, but I offered what I had to give. Though she didn’t quite know what to say in response, she was kind. She walked to the other side of the room to grab something after that. And though we were in the same room the rest of the evening, we didn’t speak any more to each other that day.

It was such a small encounter, and she didn’t do anything wrong or unkind, but that night I felt so many questions rise up in my heart. What did I say wrong? Why do I have so much trouble connecting with people? What’s wrong with me? Why do I always say things at the wrong times and in such awkward ways? Why do I have to be so quiet? I felt like I was failing so much to be useful to my God and I ended up traveling through the memories of some of my most inadequate moments and some of my worst failures…

File_000 (15)

Maybe you’ve had interactions that felt so similar, that made you feel your own questions and travel down your own memories. Maybe you can relate, and if you can I have something I’d like to offer you in the best way I can right now.

The encounter I had that night ended up being such a sweet journey. It led me through the crushing I felt and to a place of looking up where I shed so many grateful tears for what I could see because of it all. I’d love to live it with you more than just what I can say in a blog post.

With the help of my husband’s audio work and his beautiful guitar picking, I’d like to speak these next words to you, to tell this story in another way that will help you feel the beauty of it more closely.

I hope you can listen to these four minutes with your cup of coffee or your morning walk… whatever your quiet moments look like. And I hope they speak sweet love into your heart for the moments that felt as if they wanted to threaten who you are.

To receive the audio in your email, simply scroll through the next picture and sign up below.

Love and grace to you sweet friend,
Maggie

P. S. This is the first in a monthly audio series. By signing up you will receive this audio as well as one audio in your email each month. You may unsubscribe at any time. I respect your privacy and will never share your email. By signing up you are offering your support for my writing in a non-monetary way and I so appreciate your sweet encouragement.

File_000 (9)




My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When life hurts: the binding secret

File_000 (8)

Sometimes an old pain echoes back through my mind. Sometimes I want to bring out my claws and growl and let the hurt rebound out from me to cause more hurt. It can feel that to put down my claws is to say that nothing unjust happened to the people I care about at all. It can feel that to not fight back is to give up on the hurting people the situation still represents to me.  

Yesterday, the question of my heart was “how?” How can I carry a burden for a group of people without carrying bitterness for those who can appear to stand against that same group?

I couldn’t sleep last night and two words kept singing to my heart… love believes…

File_000 (10) 

File_000 (12)

Bitterness cannot live towards a person when you are believing in the beautiful creation they are. Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:7) When we love our neighbor we believe they are created in the same image that we are. We believe in the image of God inside them.

The question posed back to my heart today… Even more than carrying your burden, do you carry the love of Christ for the people who may not share that burden at all? Do you believe in them?

We are all people who are broken and make mistakes. Yet, we are also all people who seek to be honest, who want to give the best to our families, who want to play a useful part in this world. While that desire may not be apparent in every life, I believe that somewhere in the heart it’s what every soul wants. We are all people who are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are people who are made in the image of the same God of love. (Gen. 1:27)

We have different ideas, different views and faiths, different cultural identity, different pasts, different personalities but we are all more alike than we are different. Love sees his neighbor and love believes. Love sees that you’re the same more than it sees that you are different. And when love does see where you are different, love doesn’t see a threat, love sees someone searching for the same place that it has searched for – the same place where you are known and loved and welcome.

Love looks at his neighbor, whatever life he may come from and says you are just like me. Whatever differences stand between you love believes and love sees someone just like them.

Isn’t that the encouragement we all look for to help us live the life we’re made for? I think it’s what we all want. For someone to care to step into our world against all odds and say ‘Friend, I believe in the work being done in you.’

It’s so easy to see the things that divide and hardly notice the things that bind, when the binding part is what we need.

When I see the dividing lines first, I feel rejected and the insecurities rise. And from that place, love is hard to welcome. But with eyes on Jesus, I see the One who binds with His own life, and from there my eyes open to the binding all around me.

From His own binding, flows the love that believes and binds across the differences and we find ourselves seeing each other the way we want to be seen – with the identity we were created for.   

So today, may we keep our eyes on the One who believed in us enough to die for us and bind our own wounds and from this place, love will flow and create binding places in this broken world. Love will flow out from us as we believe in the ones around us just as the Savior has believed in us.

Love believes. And the believing binds what once was broken.   

File_000 (9)

File_000 (11)

File_000 (6)

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When you wonder why you’re made that way

File_000 (3)

File_000

Sometimes my prayers look like questions. When I feel like I could be more useful as the girl who could connect with people deeply and quickly, but no matter how I try it doesn’t seem that is the person He made me. When I want genuine conversations to be a normal part of life but instead they come slowly and take much more time. Sometimes the prayer is why did you make me this way?

I’m glad to read about Moses who only stood before Pharoah with his brother to speak for him, and I’m thankful for Paul who wrote strongly in letters, but trembled to speak in person. It’s beautiful to have a Bible that shows me God using all kinds of people with all different personalities to carry out the story of His kingdom.

And this past weekend, the scene of the cross brought me here, where believers played purposeful roles in this story that took on all different forms.

File_000 (2)

Peter was passionate. He was rebuked for wounding a soldier. And after fighting for his Lord, he hid in the shadows and denied knowing him. We don’t know just where he is when his Lord is on the cross, only that he is remorseful of the person he’s been during these hours. And three days later, when told the tomb is empty, Peter is the slow runner who bounds straight into the empty tomb of Jesus. He is the one abandoning ship and diving into the water when he sees Jesus on the beach.

Mary Magdalene valued presence. She is one who stands there at his death. She valued presence in His last moments. She valued what she could offer his dead body. When she saw the empty tomb, she ran to the ones who would care, then she came back to the tomb. She was the first to see her Lord risen. Though by his direction, she had to go on without his embrace.

The thief was the one who stepped into heaven as the empty-handed criminal who had no good works to his name. He died next to Jesus on the cross and asked simply to be remembered. And for two thousand years, his simple story has been one that testifies to some of the sweetest mercies of Jesus and brought so many lost souls to the cross themselves.

Thomas was the doubter. Again we don’t know just where he was when Jesus was on the cross, though we know he was one of the twelve who were closest to Jesus. And after Jesus rose and witnesses testified, he said he would not believe unless he had the physical proof of Jesus standing before him and could touch the scars in his hands and side. Because of Thomas, we see the mercy and love Jesus showed to a doubter.

Nicodemus had been a Pharisee who had visited with Jesus in the dark of the night. And though he had been one in the group that had it all wrong with their rules and religion, he loved the Lord and he was there to tend to his body after he died. The man who had first given his life to rules denying grace, now came to the body of the one who gave his life so even he could know that grace.

Joseph of Arimathea had been a believer in secret. His love of Jesus was not something many knew about, but at the death of Jesus he came forward and asked for the body. And he provided his own tomb as a resting place for the body of his Lord. Though he had been so private about his faith, he played a major role in this story. His own tomb was where the resurrection happened.  

John, the disciple that Jesus loved, was the only apostle we see in the Bible being there at the feet of Jesus at his death. He was by his side at his last supper, one of the ones closest to him during Jesus’ prayer in the garden. With the rest, John had fallen asleep when Jesus told him to watch. With the rest, John fled when Jesus was arrested, but at the cross he was there. He was addressed by Jesus from the tree, entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother. At the scene of the tomb, John was the fast runner who arrived at the tomb before Peter and stopped in his tracks at the site of the empty tomb.

Mary was the mother watching the torturous death of her own son, watching the very body that was formed and nourished from her own be destroyed. The heart of her own heart beat it’s last before her very own eyes and she lost the son that was promised her as a young girl. She was the confused mother, who didn’t know how to understand the promises of God right now when her son was supposed to be the Savior. In Jesus’ dying moments, some of His last words, he reached out to make sure she was cared for.

The death and resurrection shows us Jesus loving people from all walks of life. Both the lowest of the low, and the one who had been highly esteemed for all the wrong reasons. Both the ones who failed Jesus again and again, and the ones who were there by him the most. The one who doubted, the one who denied him, and the one who had followed him in secret, they all played a role in making the story what it is.

And no matter who we are, what kind of role we play in this life today, He gives every child the joy of being a part of His kingdom in their own special way. He uses the failures, the insecurities, the personalities, the love of each and every one of His children and He treasures them as they are. He receives love from each of us given in the way we know how to give it and He values and redeems each and every part.  

File_000 (4)

File_000 (5)

File_000 (1)

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Life is not an impossible climb

IMG_7043

I think I was fourteen. She was pointed out as a such a strong Christian who did so much for Christ, who heard God’s voice, who followed His lead. While I wanted so much to be like her, somehow, I felt so small inside.

A year or so later, a girl I knew asked me if I had ever heard God’s voice. I didn’t really know how to answer that. I was afraid to say no because perhaps that would make me less of a Christian. So I answered yes. Yes, I had.

Not long after that, I sat with a friend and expressed what was, in my mind, my concern over some girls I knew, but deep down I knew the words came from a place in my heart that I didn’t want anyone to see.

I wanted to be what they all called a strong Christian but more than seeking the God who is Love, I was afraid, afraid I could not live up to the expectations. So often, more than Love, I had fear.

I didn’t want to give in to the idea that I didn’t have what it takes to be a spiritually strong person. The idea scared me and I fought against it with Bible reading, and ministry opportunities. I gave my greatest effort to fighting against this fear of mine.

And as I kept fighting it, instead of feeling better about my own spiritual condition, I only felt smaller and more afraid that people were going to see through me.

Friendships, marriage and motherhood brought me face to face with my inability to be strong. One thing they taught me was how much I could hurt people. And it felt like I had no choice but to give in. Maybe I never could be strong spiritually. Maybe life is designed to point us here.   

Because we are not made to live as people who fight to hold a spiritual state. We are people made to be free, made to freely delight in the graceful One who delights in us and calls us His own beautiful sons and daughters.

We are made for this… “Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” (Mt. 5:3, GWT)

IMG_4137

FullSizeRender (41)

IMG_4254

Maybe we can delight in Him most freely, maybe we can enjoy fellowship with each other most freely, from this place where we see that we are all spiritually poor people who get to receive the gift of being His and being used of Him in each small, unique way He chooses to use us.   

Maybe it’s not as much about how much of my Bible I read, but more about my soul desperately longing to hear the truth of it’s words because I am in need.

Maybe it’s not as much about ministries people see me involved in but about my heart desiring to work in step with the Spirit because this is what I was made for, whether it be in the quiet of my home or with my children at the library or in the home of the neighbor down the street.

Maybe it’s not about climbing a spiritual ladder, but about finding anew each day that I am more and more in need so there is more space in the soul to receive more and more grace.

And the one ladder I know of in the Bible that went from man to God, did not involve the man Jacob climbing up to God, rather it involved God pouring blessings of promise down on Jacob. It was not a ladder that was climbed by man, but one that man stayed at the foot of to receive from God. (Genesis 28)

Maybe the point of us here on earth is not to climb a ladder towards our God, but to receive the graceful place where we know we only fail at climbing the ladder and He says He’ll climb it for us. Where we don’t try to climb any longer, but sit at the bottom of it all and receive grace from the hand of God.

Life is not an impossible climb.

Life is a journey of receiving the grace that Jesus made the climb for us.

And the small feelings that I thought were foe point me to this sweet place, where grace is not something I have to strive to give enough of, but something that I need most to receive. For when a soul is filled with how very much she has been given, that grace overflows in her and multiplies beyond the one, and on to the ones she sits with.   

FullSizeRender-10

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.