Thoughts on Genesis 16:1-16

9.29.15

As I think about the story of Sarai, yes I can see God’s promises revealed, yes I see His plan ultimately came through. And yet, I am stuck on the ways of the heart. I am aware of what was culturally acceptable. I am aware that it was not so outlandish for a wife to give her maidservant to her husband. But from one woman to another, how much pain do we not see in the story? How much pain do we not see in the faces of others in our own world? What I am discovering as I dig deeper into God’s Word, is comfort in knowing that I am truly not alone in my secret places. That God will use our pain to refine us, and our faith will be tested, but God does see our hearts. He knows when we choose badly, and He loves us even still. He comes to us softly when we need His comfort. He shakes us awake when we slumber in sin. It is His plan and His creation, we walk on holy ground, yet we feel like queens of the universe and take things into our own hands. Unless we are seeking God first, our eyes will fall on the best we can come up with in the moment, usually driven by emotion. Our emotions fuel us too quickly in the wrong direction many times. A decision made, done. And we are left with the consequences. We are left staring into something that can never be undone. But God. He is our rescuer. Our knight in shining armor. Our Prince. Our King. And His power is awesome. His love covers and conquers. Scars remain but life will be sweeter in the places He heals. We just have to accept what is, and lean into His arms, and let what will be, just be. His story for us will end well. And we will see that the end is not a stopping point, but the beginning of a beautiful ever after.

(Freedom Reigns)

Heart walks wild envisioning gladness

reaping rewards of following sadness

led through the mazes of beauty and pain

no rest for the weary, walk on through the rain

guided by glimpses, sun glowing above

journey again to a promise of Love

heart takes the challenge, risky and bold

fight through the darkness, fight through the cold

shedding the layers of envy and hate

bear only pure love, the hour is late

burning ablaze, stoking embers within

truth burning fire, freedom reigns once again.

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Thoughts on Genesis 16-21

9.28.15

I am struck by the entire story. One I have read many times before, cringed through the details, wading through the sins of others, evil unspeakable acts, and yet a beautiful story emerges. My heart is left raw and vulnerable. After 13 years of marriage I have no children and my marriage is hard. Difficult truths have emerged, my faith is being tested. After 42 years on this earth, I have sinned and walked in darkness many times, and yet a beautiful story emerges. In the barrenness of my moments I have been brought to my knees. I have gone to my Lord and I have been redeemed. The salvation gift came to me many years ago, but recently I have been freed from many things I did not realize were weighing me down. I have come to know grace deeper, mercy closer, faith stronger, and love greater. I know compassion and humility better, joy and forgiveness quicker, and Jesus is more real to me than ever. The key to this life hinges on prayer, which brings intimacy with God, which brings life. Beautiful, true, bright and shining life. I pray for the hearts seeking, the eyes looking, the ears listening for some glimmer of hope. Hope is here, hope is now… just like the song goes, it is. Jesus paid the price for our restoration and He is our hope. No matter what this life brings, there is an everlasting Happily Ever After.

(The Work of His Hand)

She wanders, heart empty, through libraries, books-

Seeking and searching, taste words found in nooks.

Another day lived, as her soul is struck thin,

Feels her way through, wondering where to begin.

Step back and you watch her, confusion and grin-

Your own life is halted, interruptions within.

Orderly patterns, the American way-

Keeps dreaming in check, plan your life, plan your day.

This creature before you, seems lost and confused,

Poor soul needs some coaching, some wisdom to use.

And you, so helpful, you’re way sets things right-

Strategy and planning mask conviction and might.

Glimpse life without judgment, expecting what’s real.

Leave room for your heart, glimpse wide without shield.

Step forth and approach an open new gate-

Move boldly in, to prepared fertile blessed fate.

Your God who created you, knew you’d be here-

Placed hazel eyed Jennifer where you would be near.

No plan you envisioned nor life had you planned

Could stop this unfolding, the work of His hand.

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Thoughts on Genesis 3:8-15

9.25.15

There was a trust and friendship between Eve and the serpent. This thought is difficult to even type, because it seems so wrong. It doesn’t make sense. I always thought of the serpent as an evil antagonist who tricked Eve. And this is true. But as I think of Eve, I try and picture myself there, as Eve. She is talking with the serpent and she is listening. This is what women do with friends. Our friendships are profound because we open our hearts to each other. When we are talking, we are sharing ourselves and there is intimacy. And so I realize, Eve’s heart was open and vulnerable. In her doubt, she was thirsting for something that agreed with her temptation. This desire she must have felt deep within her, that there must be more to life than this… Seems so familiar doesn’t it? That if only I had more of something, I would feel satisfied and complete. Even in the most perfect Eden, Eve’s heart wanted more. The lesson for me here is to remember that desire is a beautiful part of our story. But desire can lead us into very bad places. If we learn to let desire be what it is, and turn the desire toward God, He will fill us with His love. The joy He gives will fill our hearts in a deep and profound way. This is the mystery. This is the truth. Our spiritual journey can only be made when we let go of our pride. The movies that seem to transport us, or the music that seems to speak and move us, all tell of a happily ever after we hope to find someday. The truth is, happily ever after will come. Our lives here matter, but they are only a stepping stone path leading us into the everlasting. And in this I hold as pure hope.

http://www.ifequip.com/3200

Thoughts on Genesis 4 (Eve)

Our faith journey. The journey. It is impossible to know someone’s full story. More than what we can share with each other is what is shared with God. In the deep and secret places where we sit with our thoughts. Our prayers. Only God can hear the joy of our heart praising. Our words cannot express. Only God knows the depths of pain we feel. Words cannot express. Only God hears our bitterness and doubt when loss rips away our life. Words cannot express. Only God can beckon us into the Light. Words cannot. It is in our spirit where the battle rages. Why me? Why her? Why not me? Why not her? In this life we are faced with too much to bear alone. Joy feels too much, our hearts feel too full sometimes, even when its good. Pain feels too much, our hearts too heavy to carry. And then we have Jesus. I cannot imagine Eve’s faith journey without knowing what we know now. We can rest assured that Jesus will walk us out into the unknown. Joy or pain. Faith or doubt. But Eve, to journey into a stronger faith after losing one son and being given another. A beautiful restoration story. A beautiful reminder.

Eve’s Daughter

Eve2

The questions remain

Lodged deep in her heart

Where did I come from?

Where did it start?

There must be a reason

My soul feels alive

In the purest of moments

With nothing to hide

Raindrops on oceans

A knowing glance

The simplest notions

Not fate, not chance

A movement inside you

Tears rushing tide

Emotions tip rising

Heart open wide

The remnant of Eden

Anchors my soul

Created for beauty

I am His. This I know.

Eve

Eve

In the beginning there was beauty

There was man and Eve

Life given in such magnitude

And freedom

Her Creator, her Maker

He designed her in Love

In His image she was formed

Eyes to see color

Ears to hear melody

Hands to touch softness

Feet to journey

Heart to fill with delight

Beauty to share

A man to love and be loved

But darkness loomed

In a moment of temptation

Eve chose the serpent

She lost sight of God

All seemed lost

Shame and guilt covered

Eve is exposed

And yet her story

Does not end in guilt

She is redeemed

She is restored

She is renewed

She is our mother of life

And her story is not over

Neither is ours

Our daily hope

Is Jesus.

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Thoughts on Nehemiah 13:1-14

I see the struggles as part of the process, the adventure of life as I go through my days. Moments of clarity and certain direction can easily give way to changed emotions. My spirit is affected by circumstances, and my reactions spring from thoughts, turning to actions. It is easy to hope and be inspired when working for a large goal, something good right in front of me that must be done. But when the initial goal is completed and I begin to coast on the comfort, I can get lost in the smiles and satisfaction. What I have learned is that this beautiful life is not always beautiful, but there is always beauty. When I am caught up and distant from God, He still loves me. Beautiful. When I sin, there is forgiveness. Beautiful. When I fall or my heart breaks, there is healing and restoration. Beautiful. When I lay down my own life and humble myself to serve another, there is honor. Beautiful. When I cry desperate tears, there is comfort from Jesus who cried desperate tears too. Beautiful. When I lead and not one seems to follow, I can still follow my loving Leader, My Shepherd, who will never leave me behind. Beautiful. My heart is so tender towards all the beautiful hearts of women who are seeking to know God’s will. To live and love, to find healing and hope, to seek fellowship and encouragement in places like IF:Equip. I am thankful for each of you and I pray you feel God’s love and grace today.

 

(Life. Hold On.)

Celebrate your every breath (we should)

Take it as it comes (we don’t)

Live every moment as if it’s your last (regrets)

So why don’t we do what we say (advice)

Rush in, rush out, breathe in, sigh out.

Life passing fast, slow down to a crawl

Stay close to the ground, notice detail

Tiny fragments wisping by, moments

In danger of losing, stop the madness

One life to live, each ticking second to grasp

And hold on. Precious simplicity

Found in these tiny fragments ( life).

 

9_10_15

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Thoughts on Nehemiah 11:25-12:26

Names. Each of these names in the story are tiny glimpses of bigger stories. Here these names are listed in God’s story of rebuilding a city. I dig in a bit deeper and imagine walking through the new Jerusalem, seeing the faces of these named people, and I wonder. What would they be doing? What would they be saying? I can almost hear the buzz of conversations, the planning of how to make this new life work. The meeting of new neighbors. The uncertainty. The excitement.  And this is our life too. Each of us stepping into the world each day, living in our stories. Our own names are written into God’s story. Where does my name appear in the story? What is my impact in this life? My current prayer is that God would reveal His path of life to me. For so many years I barreled along, seeming to progress and move into a future I had imagined. Somewhere along the way, my dreams got left behind. My heart was broken when I smashed into reality. My story had been hijacked, and although my story contains pain and life felt stolen, I realized the hijacker was Jesus. I found that my path of life was not following God’s story line. I chose the wrong adventure. Waking into my new story has brought me hope. My role has been repurposed, rebuilt, redeemed, and renewed. The memories of the paths that brought me here are part of my current story, character building memories filled with lessons and also love. I have never walked alone. I have never walked without love. Its just that I lost my focus, and I made some wrong turns. God has used each of the places I have been to build in humility, compassion, and understanding all woven together with grace and love. And I am ready for today. I am trusting God for tomorrow and each new day He gives as I follow His story.

(Life That Lasts)

Sweetness lies in memories,

Trigger feelings, jolting life awake-

Bright spark, heart responds.

Looking back into life,

In moments, recently passed,

Or further back in time, you see.

Reflecting, thinking, smiling in jest.

Don’t dwell in weakness, chase joy.

Focus on goodness, and dim the rest.

Gather your treasures, and keep them close.

Treasures of light, and sometimes in darkness-

Glistening jewels need shadows, to gleam.

Beaming rays shine brightly, at night.

If you look, you will find your love.

It’s not too late to make new memories.

It’s not too late to dance, or sing out loud.

It’s not too late for love to blossom.

God will take your pieces, scattered along-

Strewn like chaos, like feathers in the wind.

And He will weave them, into beautiful

Living fabric, life giving life that lasts.

http://www.ifequip.com/3159

Victory in the Middle

8_24_15

I am struck by the truth of how easily our strength fades in the middle. We all have those moments of clarity, inspired by God’s word, spoken deep within us, and we know what we are to do! We step out in faith, we begin the work of rebuilding, or loving in action, or we forgive what seems unforgiveable. And then the sun rises one morning, the once beautiful rays of light have been darkened by clouds. Thunder rolls in the distance and you wonder. Discouragement sets in, doubts fog up our minds. How easy it would be to just give up, give in, go out, and live like your neighbor who seems to be doing just fine. But, we are the women who know our God. We have studied and we have prayed. Our hearts have been guarded well, and so the attacks of our enemies, the Enemy, cannot breach our souls. God will fight for us. He who wants to destroy us cannot have a victory in us. It is time to get back to work. It is time to get back to Love. Take up the weapons, put on the full armor, and this time do not lay them down until the work is complete. Beginnings are full of fresh ambition, building seems worthy, but just as a lavish dinner with friends is wonderful, the time of enjoyment must turn to cleaning up. This is part of the process. Memories planted in our hearts are not erased by taking out the garbage. Part of the building includes removing the rubbish. Making room for the firm foundations to be set, an integral piece of the larger goal. Remember why you started. Remember your people, remember the love, and remember what Jesus did for you. For us. So much love through pain. The victory is not always found at the end, but right in the middle where you did not give up.

(We Are The Women)

Smack dab in the messy

We show our selves real

We take what we’re given

The cards in the deal

We are given one life

One great story line

That one is yours

And this one is mine

We are the women

Who live from the heart

Brave and courageous

For every new start

When life tosses toughness

We catch it with strength

Turn it and mold it

Stretch love with new length

I’m not saying easy

Not giving a shrug

Just one step, then two

With a God given hug

We treasure our friendships

Hold close to a few

Makes mornings more lovely

Like freshly formed dew

And so retreat daily

Into God’s loving hands

Fill empty places for

New mornings, new lands.

(Nehemiah 4:10-23)

Thoughts on Nehemiah 3

Good morning 🙂 This beautiful account of the builders begins with a godly leader. Eliashib the high priest leads the way by setting aside his position. Instead of pointing and directing he puts his own hands and feet to work. He rose up and worked. More than 50 others followed. A few things stand out to me. The work begins with the gate, the critical entry and exit point, and then the walls. The work was recognized as special and set apart for Gods glory (consecration). 5 times it is mentioned that workers began in front of their own homes. None of the builders were professional construction workers and all had diverse backgrounds and trades. There were women. Some workers were noted for making “repairs”, the Hebrew word chazaq, which means something like strengthening, encouraging, or making something strong. Some were building up and some were making it strong, working together in vital harmony. The Tekoites were noted “repairers” whose nobles that were with them were recorded as doing nothing, and these who did not join in were still recorded in the story.
I do not want to be recorded as one in the story doing nothing. And since this is only one story in the history of the world I realize that every act is seen. Every day counts. And so I must do something. Sometimes it’s doing and sometimes it’s standing. But always for the Lord. If the nobles had been recorded as praying or serving water for the builders it would have played into the beauty of the process. But they “would not bend their necks” to what God wanted them to do. And it was noted. Later we see the Tekoites repairing another section of the wall. As if making up for their nobles bad example.
I am convicted to pay closer attention to my section of the wall. To do my best work. Going through the motions won’t cut it. Nowhere in this account does it mention the trials or pain that must be present in some of these people’s daily lives. Nowhere does it say “in spite of this” they worked. It just shows them working together toward a Godly mission. We all have problems in our lives that could easily get in the way of rebuilding, but I know that when I let Jesus have my burdens and pain, I am freed up to do the next thing. My heart is open with space available for God to fill me. My spirit is able to hear His call. Lord lead me to your voice calling in the wilderness. Let your will be done. Let me be your example by being faithful and humble enough to do your work. I am letting go of the heavy and opening my hands to You.
A poem for you I wrote when life was feeling heavy. May you find new strength as you go.
(Shake Open Hands)
Let go, loosen grip, and untighten the hold
Fists clenched in clinging, turns inward, heart cold
Cinched in, and cramped reeling, aching for peace
If only, hold tighter, squeeze life, no release
Step back, breathe in, forced air into lungs
Envision your hands, letting go of the rungs
This ladder you climb, is taking you where?
Are you headed toward freedom, or hell unaware?
Heavy load burdens, drags closely behind
Collected and carried, for life hoped to find
Fall to your knees, hands and face slam in dust
Tripped by your pride, presumption you must
And yet as you finally, force in the still
Stay in place for a moment, pause quiet until
Hazy view, clearing slowly, glimpse blurry at first
Sudden eyes have new vision, cease thinking the worst
Light gleams before you, hands reach from above
A Savior reminds you, of unfailing Love
Stand and release, tight grip holding your heart
Let His grace revive you, heavy load, ripped apart.
Shake open hands, stretch fingers out wide
Walk into new freedom, where God will provide
Peace will cover, like new fallen snow
Renewing soul weary, new strength as you go.

  IF Study