Finding Joy in Him

Through Every Season

Month: December 2014

My Good Samaritan

One of my most prayed prayers since losing Joel has been that Jesus would come be my Good Samaritan; that He would bind up my gaping wounds and pour in the healing oil of His Holy Spirit into my crushed heart.

Sometimes I feel Him take my hand and the warm oil of His Holy Spirit rushing in, others I feel like I am drowning, alone in a sea of tears.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  Psalm 34:18

In the beginning… God introduced Himself as Creator. It’s such an important concept; one the enemy of our souls has fought so hard to take from us.

He created us
In His own image.
He KNOWS us.
He LOVES us.
We have purpose.
The Eternal One has
Breathed us to life.
We were created for Eternity.

No one KNOWS us like our Creator does.
To love someone you have to know them.

Jesus
came
incarnate
to know
to make Abba known
to experience our suffering
to transform it into redemption.

One of the things that has brought healing into my life has been creating; making quilts, needle arts, drawing, painting signs, scrapbooking, and digital art. There is something about taking time to see and to touch created things while listening to my Creator and allowing Him to create something new through me that is healing.

One of the first things that I created after losing Joel was a bracelet. I made it using beads from a broken necklace and two bracelets I seldom wore. Something new created out of brokenness. I call it and another bracelet that I made and now wear often my chains of hope.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.  Hebrews 6:19-20

My recreated bracelet wraps around my wrist like a tourniquet representing the tourniquet my Good Samaritan is wrapping around my wounded heart.

The stone and glass beads create a band of color that reminds me that there is still color in the world after all the color leaked out of my broken heart and all that was left was gray and muddled. I only recently noticed how muddled even it’s colors are.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

There is key on one side representing the key to my heart given to my Lord and a guitar pick on the other (for my heavenly guitar player) decoupaged with portions of

Psalm 84
How lovely is Your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints.
for the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh cry out
and sing for joy to the living God…

and

Revelation 21:3-5
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them.
They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said,
“I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Together they create a set of wings for my soul.

Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Psalm 55:6

Late last summer, I felt the Lord drawing me to start painting as a creative way to heal. A short time later, I learned about a new Facebook group started by Shanna Noel of shannanoel.blogspot.com that is creating worshipful art journaling in the margins of their Bibles.

It has become my happy place. 7000 members who love the Lord and His Word and purposely set aside time to prayerfully meditate His word and express their hearts to Him in art. 7000 members and growing. Many tell prodigal stories of reading the Word for the first time.. and others share what they are now teaching their children; happy joy.

I bought myself some watercolors and pens with my birthday money. And yesterday I created my first painting. I amazed myself, and that doesn’t happen often. James was impressed and encouraged me to include my bracelet in my painting because it is “me.” Judi said I needed lessons. Ouch. With that repeated, I won’t be pointing out my mistakes.  🙂

“Deeper” by Delirious? had been on my heart for several days. When I first heard it over 10 years ago, it inspired me to take the kids down to our neighborhood pool, face my fear, and jump off the diving board into the deep end of the pool.  Not exactly the smartest thing.. because I really “don’t know how to swim” but how I long to dive deeper into God.

It’s a painting of what I am choosing to believe.  Mostly what I feel is the drowning and the trying without success.. not a lot of the holding, and lifting, and saving.

Although, I had imagined Him rescuing me many times, actually painting God’s arm was a truly spiritual experience.

I felt His presence;
His flesh pushing through the heavens for me.

Painting was an act of lifting up my colorful chains of hope.. of pointing the wings of my soul towards my Help and He responded by giving me a little deeper revelation of Himself.

Psalm 63
1 O God, you are my God;
earnestly will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
my whole body longs for You
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen You in the sanctuary,
beheld your power and glory.
3 Your steadfast love is better than life,
so, my lips will praise you.
4 I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 You satisfy more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

6 I lie awake thinking of You,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 My whole being follows hard after You
and clings closely to You;
Your right hand holds me securely.

Thankful for my Creator Abba, Who so loved me that He sent Jesus to became flesh and rescue me.

Love,

Jenny

My Cautiously Thankful When it Comes to the Temporarily Temporal Heart

This is our last night in the Smokys. My mom, dad, sisters and their families left for Texas this morning. The rest of us leave for “home” (Alabama) in the morning. Seeing our family this year in December for Josh’s graduation was a special treat. We don’t normally see each other until the spring or fall when the 1000 miles of roads between us are less likely to ice over.

Have you ever thought about the connection to Jesus’ birth and the “longing for home” theme in so many of the Christmas songs? I’ve worked hard at ignoring the “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” songs over the years and taught myself to be thankful for just us.. the six of us.

For many years I was able to ignore the bad.. the hard.. the sad.. and the lonely and work at cultivating a thankful heart by focusing on the good. I was able for the most part to be a blissfully happy and thankful version of myself. I was that blissfully happy and thankful person that last day between Thanksgiving and Christmas before everything came crashing down. I was standing beside Joel in the kitchen just a few hours before, admiring the person he was becoming and expressing to the Lord with a thankful heart, “I like him so much.  I feel honored just standing in his presence.”

Shortly after losing Joel, I had what I called a “Pollyanna” anointing and was overflowing with thankfulness. I was thankful that my son was the only one who died at the birthday party.. that my other children were okay, and so on. I had guarded my thankful heart as one of my most prized possessions for many years and had almost envied Pollyanna’s thankful view of the world in spite of the losses she’d suffered. I didn’t realize I’d have to suffer so much to experience that same anointing.

A few days after losing Joel, my shattered heart ran out of thankful juice and I lost all sense of hope. How could I hope when there was a possibility that everything could come crashing down again? This bad/hard/sad/lonely was too big and painful to ignore. I worked constantly at keeping my focus on Jesus and being thankful that He came, but I’d lost a part of me; the blissfully happy part. I was now broken and so wounded; vulnerable and lost. Mike and I chose to stand together in trust and obedience in the midst of it all.

Our first Thanksgiving without Joel, I earnestly searched for something “safe” that I could be thankful for. Something that wouldn’t crash my world again, if lost. I finally decided on my KIA Soul. It’s my first car. Before it, I drove the family van. I really do like my little car. It’s fun to drive. It’s become my safe place to express all my deepest sorrows. I picked the green one because it’s easy to find in a parking lot. And now that Joel lives in Heaven, it reminds me of him. Green was his color. Green is the color of everlasting life, and I like being reminded of him and our eternal reward. If something were to happen to my KIA, it wouldn’t be big deal. It is “safe” to be thankful for. I wouldn’t be crushed if I lost it.

I am slowly finding other “safe” things to be thankful for in the reality of this broken world that I am being forced to live in. Things that God is using to slowly heal my heart:

Being thankful for my “Soul” was the “vehicle” that helped me find a way back to the anointing that bubbled up from my thankful heart those first few days. I don’t believe I will find that blissfully happy self here on earth again. I’ve been smitten with a homesickness that can only be cured by my real home. I can no longer push aside the groanings that now resonate in my inner man, but I can be thankful for the things He gives me grace to be thankful for in the midst of the longing.

Romans 8:22-24 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”

I am hopeful that learning to lean into the longing and stay connected to my still wounded – slowly healing – cautiously thankful when it comes to the temporarily temporal heart will yield lasting fruit. Hopeful that facing the bad/hard/sad/lonely here will lead to a firmer grasp on our real Heavenly hope to come.

1 Corinthians 15:53-54 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

The “longing for home” theme in the Christmas songs has struck a chord in our hearts this season like never before. The “Home” we really want to be in is the one where our family will be whole again. It still feels “unsafe” to say I am thankful for my family (although, secretly in my heart I am). So, this week I chose to be thankful for what I was able to be thankful for: “time with my family” knowing it would come to a temporary end either when they drove home to Texas today, went back to work and school, or when another one of us goes to our real home in Heaven.

Maybe this verse is why Christ’s birth is connected to so many “longing for home” songs.

John 14:1-4 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And since I’m going away to prepare a place for you, I’ll come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going, and you know the way.

6-7 I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.

Love,

Jenny

Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

Praying that you are in good health and good cheer. We are very excited to have a new college graduate in our home this week, even though he has several more years of school left before he has his masters and possibly doctorate. 🙂  We are very proud of Joshua.  It’s been a long hard road.

It’s been a hard year for us.. missing Joel.. pushing through the heartbreak.. searching for and choosing to trust God in the middle of it all. And I know that it’s been a hard year for many of my friends and family who are going though their own hardships this year.  You are in my heart and prayers.  I love you dearly.


I came across a poem I wrote a couple of days before the sentencing of the young man who murdered our Joel while praying about what to write this year and felt a tug on my heart to share it with you:

Come
Tuesday April 9, 2013

My old friend, the Morning, now stings with
Reality that I so long to see erased.

Lord, Jesus, come.
Be my Sun.

Tuesday, only Tuesday, how the days drag on.
When will I see your face?

Lord, Jesus, come.
Be my Sun.

Tears and more tears; sorrow clouds Joy.
But is not It’s undoing; only hate.

Lord, Jesus, come.
Be my Sun.

Lord, Jesus, you alone are my hope, my joy, my song,
The Morning, that I so long to see dawn.

Lord, Jesus, come.
Be my Sun.

Only Your loving kindness can make my heart,
my soul, my mind new.  Come.

Lord, Jesus, come.
Be my Sun.

Come with Your peace.
Come flood me with Your joy.

Come let Love begin It’s healing work
On the ache from deep with in.  Come.

Lord, Jesus, come.
Be my Sun.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how glad I am that it’s not our place to judge or as Mike said, “or to even ‘fix’ people.” Our ONLY job is to LOVE them. Mike and I were thankful for the roles the justice system, the judge and the district attorney played in our case. We didn’t want the responsibly of judging or deciding the sentence. None of that would have brought Joel back. Our only roles were to love and to offer the forgiveness that Jesus extended to us and we were thankful for the grace God gave us to enable us to do just that.

I’ve also been thinking about the way Jesus loved us.. by entering into our world.. into our suffering and SUFFERING with us. It’s that kind of love that keeps me going each day. Seeing Jesus strip off his glory, put on humanity and submit himself to suffer and die for me.. it.. woos me. It’s a whole new kinda of glorious. It’s a beautiful, crazy kind of love with abandon like none else.

He didn’t judge us or fix us first.. He SO loved us.. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I read a devotion last week about Jesus’ bold love for Zacchaeus.  He was a scoundrel, a liar and a thief. Not only that, he was one of the ringleaders. Jesus never even mentioned any of those things to him. He led with, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19).  He called him by NAME and invited HIMSELF in.

The crowd was horrified,

“All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’”

But look at the results!

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

“Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”

Jesus’ bold, uncondemning love rocked Zacchaeus’ world. All the years of hatred and scorn from his peers did nothing for Zacchaeus. Jesus’ seeking and loving and climbing onto His own tree did it all. That’s the kind of love.. the seeking.. saving.. glory shedding.. mind-blowing.. sacrificial kind of love.. that heals us and makes us whole.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

That’s what I am in training for. I am broken. I miss up a lot. But I am learning to see Jesus looking at me not with disapproval, but with the kind of love that rocked Zacchaeus’ world. And I am learning to see the way He looks at the broken, hurting people around me.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17

We need saving. We need His love. We need the Healer of the Brokenhearted to come and make us whole.  He is our only hope. We can not fix things.. especially ourselves. All we can do is trust and wait and obey in the waiting.

Isaiah 30:18-21 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Much love and prayers..
and wishing you a Merry Christmas.

The Colemans

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