Through Every Season

Tag: Loss of Joel (Page 1 of 6)

Choosing Where My Triggered Thoughts Take Me

I drove by a yard decorated with plastic tombstones for Halloween this week. It was hard on my heart.

It triggered thoughts of death, darkness, and the deep pain of losing someone you dearly love.

Innocent pastimes like Clue, the Mafia party game, and Murder Mystery Dinners are no longer innocent or mysterious for me. I do still really enjoy seeing kids’ creativity and joy in dressing up in some of the nicer Halloween costumes and I’ve already bought glow bracelets, temporary monster tattoos, candy and tracks to pass out to the neighborhood kids.

I dreaded the drive back home past the play cemetery the other night. Then flenched when I saw it a second time and I prayed for those I know who are hurting this season. I acknowledged in my heart that the decorations aren’t going to get any brighter as the years go by and determined that I needed change what seeing death celebrated triggers in me.

I asked myself, “What thoughts can I connect to tombstones that would help heal my battered soul?” My heart answered, “The death of death! The day God swallows up death forever! The day we will celebrate Jesus’ victory over death, our last enemy! The day God will tenderly wipe away every tear from our eyes!” Oh, how I long for that day!

I compiled a list of “Death Swallowed in Victory” verses to help my heart in those triggered moments. Training my mind and renewing my heart will take a while, but I know Jesus gives beauty for ashes. I included a photo above showing how I use Google Keep to keep lists like it in my phone. Sharing it here for those like me who may need the brighter thoughts they inspire:

Revelation 21:4 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.

Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. For Yahweh has spoken.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Isaiah 60:20 Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not wane; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will be over.

Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies; and every one who is living and is a believer in me will never, never die. Do you believe this?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Psalm 16:7-11
I will bless Yahweh, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

I have set Yahweh always before me.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be moved.

No wonder my heart is glad
and my glory rejoices;
my body also rests in safety.

For You will not abandon
my soul among the dead,
nor allow your faithful one to see decay.

You cause me to know the path to life;
fill me with joy in Your presence,
everlasting delight at Your right hand.

Much love and grace,

Jenny

Tears Answered in Jesus

My tears have been my food day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?” – Psalm 42:3 ESV

What do your tears say to you? What questions do they ask? What do you do with them? Do you swallow them down or pour them out?

We have cried many tears since the death of our 20 year old son. The first question our tears asked was, “Does God understand how much this hurts?”

Maybe your tears ask with the psalmist, “Where is God?” or maybe they ask:
“Does He hear our prayers?”
“Does God see?”
“Does He care?”
“Did I do something wrong?”

The psalmist turns from swallowing bitter tears to pouring them out before God while repeatedly encouraging himself to “Hope in God” (Psalms 42:5, 11).

Shortly after losing our son, Joel, a clear choice presented itself to us:

a) We could turn away from God, swallow our bitter tears and go to a very dark place or…
b) We could turn to God, pour out our bitter sorrow and encourage ourselves to hope in Him.

This was a choice we had to make many times over; often within a single day.

As we continued to turn to God with our bitter sorrow and place our hope in Him, our tears were answered with God’s love shown to us in Jesus.

In Jesus, we see the sacrificial love of the Father for us (John 3:16).
In Jesus, we see God’s care for the very hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7).
In Jesus, we see Him weeping alongside us at the grave of those we love (John 11:35).
In Jesus, we see Him carry all our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4).
In Jesus, we see Him providing forgiveness for our sins at the cross (Luke 23:34).
In Jesus, we see our Resurrection and Life (John 11:25).
In Jesus, we see our Eternal Salvation (Hebrews 5:9).

In Jesus, we have the promise, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

In Jesus, we have a “firm and secure” hope as an “anchor for our soul” (Hebrew 6:19).

We know that God understands how much this hurts because we see Jesus during the days of His earthly life offering “up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death” (Hebrews 5:7).

We know that God hears our prayers, because this same “Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).

What will you do with your tears? Will you turn with us and pour out your bitter sorrow to God, commit to encourage yourself to hope in Him, and allow His lovingkindness in Jesus to answer your tears?

Much love,

Jenny

Reasons Not to Seek a Medium or Spiritists

When you are suffering or have lost someone you dearly love, there can be a temptation to desperately grasp at any means of comfort. God may feel distant, inaccessible, or we may honestly not be on speaking terms with Him. Seeking a medium or spiritists may sound like a good idea, but the reality is that it can be devastatingly dangerous. What we need when our hearts are broken is nothing short of a miracle. We need the comfort that only God can give.

God is not distant or inaccessible. Jesus died on the cross so that nothing can ever separate us from His love again. All we have to do is ask and He will come to our rescue.

I am not saying that our journey through suffering to comfort will be quick or easy, but if we will continually turn our hearts to God, He will be faithful to meet us and minister to us as only He can.

I was so blessed a few years ago when I read a Kim Nolywaika’s “Eight Reasons Why I Will Not See a Psychic Medium” that I wanted to write a similar post of my own. I hope this line of thought helps you as it has me. Kim’s post can be found on her blog at: https://youcantrusthim.com/2017/03/09/eight-reasons-why-i-will-not-see-a-psychic-medium/

Download my page of reasons below as a pdf here.

In His love,

Jenny Coleman

Trust the Engineer

It can get really dark on this fallen planet, but those who trust in Jesus are only traveling through.
The darkness is not our destination.
Eventually, if we trust our Heavenly Engineer and don’t jump off, we will find that He is the Everlasting Light at the end of our tunnel.

 

Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not wane; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will cease. – Isaiah 60:20

But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. – James 1:12

All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. – Hebrews 11:13

I ask that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe. – Ephesians 1:18-19

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. -2 Corinthians 4:6

Love and grace,

Jenny

2018 A Year of Focusing on God’s Love (Truths I must recite to my own heart daily.)

I have a habit of spending the last several weeks of the year in prayer asking the Lord for direction for the new year. Last year He answered, “Whatever 2018 brings, focus on My love for you.”

Although the first part of His answer was full of reminiscent premonition, He gave me the grace to trust and obey. I’m so thankful. Some long, hard days and weeks were made bearable by the transformative grace of focusing on His love. There were a few days where I lost focus. He was faithful, so faithful, to redirect me back to His love. [PDF of verses on God’s love here.]

Suffering calls into question God’s motives and authority. It begs the same questions that the serpent asked Eve in the garden: Did God really say? Is what He said true? What is He keeping from you? What are His secret intentions?

How do we turn these questions over on their head?

We choose to view our circumstances in faith through the lens of His great love by skillfully wielding His Word. Like night vision goggles, His Word pierces the darkness and collects the hidden rays of Light and Truth.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. (Lamentations 3:21-22 NLT)

God loves us. There is no shadow of turning in Him. Jesus is proof of His love. If we ever doubt His love for us, we can look at Love come down in the flesh suffering the cross for us. He loves us all the way from Heaven to earth and back. His arms are stretched wide bidding us to make our home and find our rest in His love.

He saw us, knew us and called us to Himself before He formed us. Before the foundation of the world, God knew that having us for His own treasured possession would cost Him the life of His only begotten Son and counted us worth it.

Christmas is Immanuel, God with us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Our High Priest understands our weakness, knows that we are dust, made Himself nothing, took on servanthood and became obedient to a terrible, shameful death on the cross. The same God that determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds with His love.

He is the Good Samaritan who sees us suffering on the side of the road and is moved by compassion to save us. Unlike all others who turn away and pass by on the other side, He runs to us, pours Himself out for us, clothes us with His own robe of righteousness and seals us with His promised Holy Spirit.

He has set His love on us. We are the joy for which He endured the cross, the apple of His eye, His promised bride. Nothing touches us that doesn’t touch Him. His wings are our refuge. He sees our tossing and turning through the night and collects our tears in His bottle. Nothing can snatch us out of His hand.

In all their suffering He also suffered,
and He personally rescued them.
In His love and mercy He redeemed them.
He lifted them up and carried them through all the years. (Isaiah 63:9)

In this fallen world, suffering is the price of love. The cross is proof that God sometimes allows what He hates in order to accomplish what He loves. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. His intention is to conform us into the image of His Son who suffered and died for us.

We endure suffering and become more than conquerors through Him who loved us by fixing our eyes on Jesus as our highest joy and great reward. We know that though weeping endures for a night, joy comes in the morning. One day soon all pain, sorrow, morning and death will end. He will personally wipe away our tears and give us a great and glorious inheritance. These truths are a buckler for us through our suffering. We pray daily for others to know and rely on them.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:16-18)

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps. (1 Peter 2:21)

Praying that this year will be a year of transformative grace as you delve in deep into the truth of His love for you.

I collected a list of 100+ verses to help me meditate on God’s love and posted it as a PDF for you here.

Jenny

Even the Prickly Ones

One way I meditate on the Word is by illustrating verses with watercolor. I included succulents with this verse because it feels prickly to me. The idea that God is sovereign and had my life planned out before I existed both comforts and frustrates me. I don’t always like His plans, but if I could control everything, what would the repercussions be? How many things would I mess up?

I am comforted when I remember that God is good and loves me so much that He gave His own Son for me. He has all my moments planned out, even the prickliest ones. He will walk me through them step by step. I can rest in His competence, trust and obey.

My vision is poor. His is perfect. I can’t understand all He does or allows, but I can trust that He is a Master Redeemer. He does all things well. In Heaven, my faith will become sight and I will be awed by His glory.

Much love,

Jenny

Cinderella’s Hopeful Perspective

The story of Cinderella is one of my favorites. I love it because it’s a picture of Jesus and His bride the Church. We may be living in the remains of fallen cinders and ashes, but we were created for a wonderful Person and Place. Underneath our ashes there is beauty waiting to be revealed. The whole earth groans to see it (Romans 8:19). One day even our fallen cinders will be redeemed, set free from the curse and made new.

“Look, I am making everything new!” – Revelation 21:5

Jesus, the prince of our real Story, has made all of this possible. The Desire of the Nations, left His heavenly kingdom to seek and save the lost (us). He paid our debt of sin (the death penalty) on the cross and rose again to set us free from our bondage and slavery.

Jesus, the One who was dead but is now alive, has gone to prepare a place for us and has given us hope for our ashes and a promise:

“When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” – John 14:3b

The best part of Cinderella’s story is the anticipation and hope of the “happily ever after” that’s coming. Remove the hope and the “happily ever after” ending and the story changes from a beautiful story of redemption into a horror story of loss, slavery and death.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

We are to “encourage each other with these words.” The promised hope and “happily ever after” gives us the strength and courage to keep pressing toward the goal when all we see for miles is the remains of fallen cinders and ashes. Without hope we are living in our own horror story.

Cinderella has an enemy, her wicked step mother. She lies to Cinderella and steals her inheritance bit by bit. She tells her there is no chance a prince would ever even consider looking her way and dashes her hopes of ever being free. Her wicked step mother does all she can to keep her oppressed and enslaved.

We, too, have an enemy – the devil – the accuser – the one who:

“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44c

He has accused and lied to us about every part of our Story and endeavors to dash any hope of a “happily ever after” to come.

His accusations are the same as they were in the garden (Genesis 3). “Did God really say?” “You won’t really die.” “God is holding out on you.” “His intentions towards you are less than honorable.” “He is not sovereign or holy.” “Sin will empower you.” “Doesn’t it look good?”

He has oppressed us and enslaved us and accused us of being unworthy of anything more than cinder and ashes. He has accused Jesus of being at best disinterested in us. The devil was kicked out of Heaven and resents all those who will inherit it, so he has accused it of being filled with nothing more than cherubs strumming harps while floating on clouds. He makes it sound excruciatingly boring and insipid. Who would ever want to live that f-o-r-e-v-e-r? How could that kind of heaven even begin to inspire us to press towards or through anything?

Something has gone terribly wrong in our real Cinderella Story. Too many have bought into the devil’s lies and their longing for our Bridegroom and His Heavenly reward has been turned into loathing. The good news of the gospel has been reduced to a lesser hell; a horror story. Believing that there is nothing after this and that there was never any god sounds more appealing.

Reclaiming a biblical view of our Story, Heaven and the New Earth is essential. Without it we have no hope, no motivation to tell anyone the good news of the gospel and no motivation to press towards the goal (Philippians 3:14).

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:19

God created us for so much more than insipidness. He created us for a wonderful Person and Place full of beauty and adventure. We need Cinderella’s hopeful perspective to help us persevere through our Story of fallen cinders and ashes. We need a biblical view of Heaven and Jesus and our Cinderella-self.

I have known that Jesus was my Prince and that I was His Cinderella bride to be since I was a little girl and looked forward to a “happily ever after” with Him. I was fortunate never to buy into the lie that Heaven was insipid. But my understanding of it was ethereal at best; a great retirement plan for when I was 90 or so.

It wasn’t something I could sink my hope anchor (Hebrews 6:19) into when the storms of this life toss me violently around. It wasn’t something that could strengthen and encourage me when all I saw for miles was the remains of fallen cinders and ashes.

When our very real boy moved to Heaven, I realized I needed a very real idea of where he had gone. I needed the “eternal perspective” that understanding God’s redemptive plan for our resurrection and Heaven come down on a New Earth affords to carry me through the valley of death’s shadow.

I’ve slowly gained that. Spending time meditating on the Word with an eye towards gaining an eternal perspective helped. Reading strongly biblically based books like Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven” helped. I can see now that the place we live.. this earth.. is the thing that is vanishing like a vapor and our glorious resurrection, Heaven and the New Earth are the real, solid promise and hope that hold my anchor secure.

Our life here is passing quickly away and our lives in Heaven and the New Earth will be the ones that last forever. Joel is more alive now than he ever was here. Heaven is more enduring than anything we’ve ever experienced.

Jesus said:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

If we fail to gain Cinderella’s hopeful perspective and fail to love the Person and the Place we were created for, then when trouble comes we won’t have anything to sink our hope anchor into. Jesus’ “take heart!” will leave us stupefied and lost in our ashes.

We are in enemy territory surrounded by fallen cinders and ashes. We live on a cursed planet. Trouble will come. We have a Prince who has overcome it. We have something to “take heart” in. We need an “eternal perspective.” A hopeful perspective like those who love the Cinderella story have. One that can see through the lies of the enemy to a very real, solid, promised and true “happily ever after” that is coming.

Link to Randy’s book:

Image 1

Much love,

Jenny

Trusting that God Has Done the Math

In the first few days and weeks after we lost our youngest son, the fact that I continued to wake up each morning bewildered me.

It seemed like the world should have stopped. Oh, how I wanted it to stop and let me get off. The world as I knew it had ended. I didn’t understand how or why I continued to live. Breathing was hard and involuntary. Giving it up would have been a relief.

After a while, it dawned on me that the reason I kept waking up was because God’s purposes for me on earth weren’t completed.

God spoke to me through Psalm 139:16:

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

I knew the verse well. It comforted me to know that God had planned out Joel’s days before he was born. He is never taken by surprise. He has planed out every moment of our lives; the ones on earth and the ones in Heaven.

Suddenly, I realized that if God knew all of Joel’s days and all of my days, He must have done the math.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
Psalm 139:17-18

God knew I was going to continue to live on earth after Joel went Home. He had planned out the days I was going to live as a bereaved parent before I was born. This was comforting because I didn’t know how to live those days. I had no plan.

I have a God who knows me.. has known me from my mother’s womb.. who knew I would live on the earth longer than my youngest son.. has planned out a path for me to walk.. a way for me to live. Every day I wake up.. He is still with me.

Getting this revelation was a small victory; a step towards living the life God planned for me.

The journey towards life and healing is not a sprint; it’s a cross country marathon. It requires LOTS of patience, forbearance and longsuffering. These are fruits of the Spirit that can ONLY be produced through spending TIME WITH JESUS. The small victory of revelation came through spending time with Jesus, meditating on His Word, pouring out my heart to Him, and quieting myself so that I could hear His Holy Spirit speak to me through His Word.

I’ve learned to celebrate these small victories as milestones in my journey. There is something about celebrating small victories that releases healing and even more victory.

Zechariah 4:10 says,

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…

The LORD rejoices. He sees small beginnings and He rejoices!

He watches infants grow in the womb. He probably sees an eyelash begin to form and leans over to Jesus and says, “Look at that! An eyelash!”

The very hairs on our head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30) His thoughts about us cannot be numbered. We are always on His mind; never hidden from His sight.

We serve a God who celebrates small beginnings. When we celebrate small victories, we are joining in what God is doing; we are aligning our hearts with His and releasing power for more victories. Recognizing and celebrating small victories in the middle of our valley infuses our inner man with strength for the road ahead and propels us forward in our journey towards life and healing and the final victory.

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

There are still days when I wish the world would stop and let me off. I work hard at keeping my eyes on Jesus, at hearing His voice, at obeying His instructions AND I STILL STRUGGLE through valleys.

I don’t believe I am alone in this. All my favorite Bible heroes and saints (including Jesus) are my favorites because I know their stories of struggle.

During the days of Jesus’ earthly life, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. Hebrews 5:7-8

The journey towards life and healing is not a sprint; it doesn’t follow a straight line. It’s more like a cross country marathon that winds up and down craggy mountains and through dark valleys.

If there were never any mountains to climb or valleys to struggle through, where would we win the victories that God longs to celebrate with us?

Even in the darkest valleys, I can trust that He is choosing the best path to life and healing for me.

Even in the darkest valleys, every day I wake up.. He is still with me.

Even in the darkest valleys, I can keep my eyes on Him and I can trust that He has done the math and has a plan for me.

Even in the darkest valleys, I can trust the God who knows me, the One who saw me in my mother’s womb. I can trust that He sees and knows my heart, my joys and my sorrows. His thoughts about me can’t be numbered.

HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT ME CANNOT BE NUMBERED!!

HE HAS DONE THE MATH!

HE HAS A REDEMPTIVE PLAN FOR MY LIFE AND HEALING!

In the darkest valleys, the atmosphere is so heavy that it’s nearly impossible to breathe or think or move. The darkest valleys can feel like backward steps, a failure or a waste, but with God nothing is wasted. He works everything together for our good. (Romans 8:28)

We know this because God took the worst thing that ever happened on our planet (the crucifixion of His Son) and resurrected it into the best thing. That’s what He does. It’s His thing. He has this amazing way with math and planning. We can trust Him with it. Every painful, awkward step through the valley is a step towards life and healing in disguise.

James exhorted:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:2-5

And this is the thing.. when we understand that God is this amazing mathematician with a carefully planed out path for us that sometimes goes through valleys that lead to victories, we can rejoice in middle of the darkest valley.

We can rejoice because God sees us and His thoughts about us cannot be numbered. We can rejoice because we know that steps through valleys are small beginnings that lead to greater victories. We can rejoice because we know that God watches over those small beginnings.. not with an eye to despise them, but with a heart that rejoices over them. We can rejoice because everyday we wake up.. He is still with us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

In the valley, it’s easy to forget the things you learned in the light. It’s easy to forget that God has done the math and has a redemptive plan. In the valley, the father of lies says things like: “You must have really messed up this time because God has obviously turned His back on you, forgotten and abandoned you.” His words echo in the darkness and it’s hard to see through to the light. His lies are against not only our hearts but God’s. His accusations cause stress, guilt and feelings of inadequacy and distrust. His lies INTENSIFY the pain and struggle.

There are times when we need to get loud and declare the Way, the Truth and the Life to our darkest valley. There are times when we need to SHOUT OUT OUR PRAISE to the One who has seen us and known us from our mother’s womb and carefully planned out paths to life and victory for us. There are times when it takes a big, joyful celebration of a small victory to drown out the lies of our enemy and give us a taste of the victory that is coming to keep us going. There are times when we need to stand on the fact that every day we wake up.. He is still with us. There are times when we have to lean in and trust God’s heart and redemptive plan for us even when we can’t understand His ways.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish, till He leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope. Matthew 12:20-21

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

I Stood at the Door and Blocked

I am allowing myself some time to grieve today. I need it. Pushing myself forward isn’t always the healthy thing to do. Ignoring grief doesn’t make it go away. It only builds under pressure.

We can’t pick and choose which emotions we feel. Pushing down painful emotions suppresses the good ones as well. If I want to “feel” loved by God, I have to work through my painful emotions to get there.

Recently, I’ve slipped back into stoicism and found myself unable to feel. Twenty moves may have something to do with my practice. I’ve learned to gird myself against the loneliness of moving to a new state, against the sadness of leaving friends and this time precious children behind, against the fear of not knowing who I can and cannot trust with my fragile heart.

Just learning my way around town and where basic staples are located in local stores can be a daunting task that demands more mental strength than I possess. Town? Stores? Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find my way around my own kitchen while preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Door after cabinet door was opened before finding the things I needed. Add to that the downsizing we’re doing and I can’t remember if or not I still own the thing I am searching for.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

Mourning with a humble heart before the Lord puts us in a position to receive God’s comfort.

His “com” from the Latin word meaning nearness – “fort” from the Latin word meaning strong.

His strength near me; fortifying me.

Pushing through while pretending that I am okay denies not only the mourning, but also the comfort my heart so desperately needs. Insensibility makes it nearly impossible to sense His nearness and receive His strength.

Sitting humbly with the truth of my mourning makes room for the Comforter and Spirit of Truth to lead me into all truth (John 16:13).

Psalm 119:28-29
I am overcome by sorrow;
strengthen me, as you have promised.

Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.

I am always asking God to speak His truth to my heart. I am always listening for His still small voice spoken through the truth of His Word.

One of the more powerful ways that God speaks to me is through pictures. One picture is worth a thousand words. A story or a picture can speak to my heart for days on end.

A few weeks ago, God showed me a picture of myself. I was standing at the door of my heart. The door was cracked open, but my foot was barring the door; blocking Jesus from coming in. “I stand at the door and knock” echoed through my heart though all I could “see” was my foot barricading the door.

Much like the church in Laodicea, I was neither hot nor cold. My fear of being overwhelmed by emotions had stifled them.

The first emotions I let in after “seeing” myself and my foot barring the door were anger and frustration.

Cold. It was something. I was feeling again.

Revelation 3:14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

I desperately WANTED and DIDN’T WANT Jesus to come in. I was at the door. It was cracked open, but barred. I wanted to remove my foot, but I didn’t know how. I wanted Jesus to comfort me because I was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. But the position of my foot said, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. Who, me, Jesus? I am good. I’ve been doing this grief thing for awhile now. I’ve done this moving thing SO many times. I am pushing through. I don’t need to feel right now; not grief nor comfort. I’ve got this.”

I’ve got nothing.

I am wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I am weak and vulnerable. I am afraid. I am easily overwhelmed. I am not the person I was before. My heart is shattered and broken. I miss the old me. The blissfully ignorant me. The me that knew nothing of being wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I miss the me who was confident in her unshaken faith. I miss the me that didn’t needed time to mourn so that she could find comfort.

Verse 18:

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

How do we “buy” gold refined in the fire?

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

We receive the love of God in the form of a rebuke and discipline. We repent earnestly. We change our minds by renewing them in His Word and allow Him to transform our hearts.

In this way, we become truly rich.

We listen to His voice and open wide the door to our hearts. We invite Jesus in and “sup” (KJV) with Him. We eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:56).

We REMEMBER Christ broken and crucified for us; just as the bread was broken and the wine poured out for us (Luke 22:19). We rejoice “inasmuch as” we “participate in the sufferings of Christ” so that we may be “overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. – 1 Peter 2:21

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

Not blessed are those who never suffer, who never mourn, who never need comfort.

We remember:

In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. – Isaiah 63:9

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – 1 Peter 1:6

I shouldn’t miss her. I should count her crucified with Christ. I should count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, my Comforter, who now lives in me (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 3:8).

I should joyfully embrace the new, refined me that is coming out of the fire with a proven, genuine faith which is of greater worth than gold. The one not made “rich” by her own failing strength or “clothed” in her own failing righteousness… but in His.

Partaking of the suffering that I have been called to in Christ, welcoming His comfort, is becoming a salve to my eyes so I can see.

Truth spoken to my heart is this: I’ve mourned a me that I believed was a stronger and happier me, but who in truth was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Unproven.

It’s only through trials that we can buy what is genuinely real; of greater worth than gold. Untested faith is not proven faith. Genuine faith, real strength comes through the fire when our pitiful, human strength is consumed and we learn to draw from His supernatural strength and comfort. It’s only there that we learn that His grace IS sufficient. It’s only there that we learn that He will faithfully and lovingly carry us through ALL our days.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Before losing Joel, I thought grace was the power to float through life. I believed grace was the gift of self sufficiency.

I am beginning to see that grace is the “gift” of sharing in Christ’s suffering. It’s the gift of finding the end or our own strength and sufficiency and the beginning of His. It’s the gift of a “thorn” that keeps us from becoming conceited.

2 Corinthians 12:7b Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

His strength in my weakness far surpasses the strength I thought I had before I suffered. His glory far surpasses any fading human glory.

My heart struggles to see how tragedy can bring glory to God. I used to believe that the kind of life that would bring the most glory to God would be one where His children lived fairytale lives; free from weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. I believed that was the kind of life God most desired for His children.

But I am beginning to see that fairytale lives produce an arrogance; a self-sufficiency that says, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” They produce a blindness to our wretchedness, pitifulness, real poverty, blindness and nakedness. Fairytale lives fail to produce a proven faith and strength that can only come the desperate need to draw from God’s real, tested comfort (near strength).

The people who I have always most admired are people like Corrie Ten Boom and Joni Eareckson Tada who have been deeply broken and have found God to be their source of continual strength and comfort. I see more of His kindness, mercy, empathy and goodness in them. I see a deeper faith in the broken; roots that have dug in deep and grown strong through terrible storms. I see a glory and a radiance that can have only come through the testing of their faith; Christ residing in and strengthening them.

So this striving against my brokenness …against my weakness; this longing for my old, less tested faith; this pining over a the loss of a more “fairy-tale-ish” life has to come to an end. I must consider it all as loss. I must let the truth sink in.

The truth is every good fairytale is filled with danger and hardships and every hero emerges out of difficulties and testing.

I must offer my struggle as a sacrifice. I must mourn. I must submit to my need for God’s comfort; my need for His nearness and strength.

The secret of contentment with weakness and vulnerability?

“I have strength for all things in the One strengthening me.” – Philippians 4:13 (Berean Literal Bible)

The only way I can remove my foot from barring Jesus’ entrance through the door of my heart is by embracing this new, broken me; embracing my weakness, my need to mourn, and my need to receive His comfort.

My weakness opens the door for His Spirit of Comfort and Truth.; makes way for His glorious strength.

He has counseled us to buy from Him gold refined in the fire so that we can be truly rich and wear the white garments of His righteousness and strength and have salve to put on our blind eyes so we can see.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Love,

Jenny

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A Psalm of Jenny: December 7, 2016

God, thank you for tears.. for the creative way you designed us to release emotion. Like a refreshing rain, they release my soul from the muck and mire… mostly because I know that You give them audience. You listen to the prayers I can’t pray. You listen to my tears.

Thank you for collecting them in Your bottle.

Thank You for giving them audience.

God, I need help. I am desperate for help.
There is so much I don’t know..
How much more sorrow is left?
How I am I supposed to face it?
How much more will you ask of me?

I’ve had to let go of so much this year. I’ve had to trust you through such a weighty fog.

It’s hard.. you’re asking a lot.. but I see the proud gleam in your eyes that says that you ask so much because you know I love you that much.

Thank you for speaking to me with your eyes.. for letting the fog dissipate a little.. giving me a glimpse of Heaven.

Lord, I don’t know how much I love you. I really don’t. And it bothers me. I wish that I knew deep in my inner being that I loved you with all of me.

All, Lord? The truth is that losing Joel has taught me that I know very little about what is deep inside of me. My inward parts are so much larger and more unfathomable than I ever imagined.. an abyss.

Consuming love, fierce longing, profound sadness and fountains of joy all fit inside of me? Sometimes, it frightens me.

I possess so little of my heart, soul and mind.

Who can offer or even hold so great a possession?

So much of me is shattered. I don’t know what part will function from day to day. I am continually faced with walking so precariously close to this confounding precipice.

Rope? What rope? There was a rope?

Is that why you asked us to love you will all our heart, soul and strength? To cause us to look inside and be amazed at how little we control.. even inside ourselves?

I am learning to push away the care and worry of this journey. I am freer because you’ve taught me that all I can do is continually:

Put my hope in You..
Fix my eyes on You..
Lean in..
Press up against Your wings..
Cast my burdens..
Come to the only One who has living water for the weary..
Remember that You are good..
that You are holding me..

God! You must be so BIG!

SO, SO BIG to hold so much.. so many!

Lord, I know that it’s good to count the cost.. and that You are asking us to do that now.

It’d be easier to wrap ourselves up in a little bubble. Just the two of us.. off on romantic getaways.. or maybe with friends who like to talk and eat.

Lord, it sounds so nice. But in reality it is shallow.. a broken cistern that holds no water.. a dirty, dusty shadow of a well that can never satisfy the abyss of longing in my soul. Food, friends, talk.. can never be enough.

You are asking for more.. and offering more. It is costly and rewarding. It’s so strange to think about.

I don’t even know what You are asking yet. I only know that it’s going to cost more of me.. more than I possess. I only know that it’s going to mean drawing near to the hurting, hurting with them (compassion – “suffer with”) and comforting (“strengthening”) them with the comfort You are giving me.

Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Lord, thank you for creating us with this incomprehensible worth and loving us so extravagantly. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made and loved.

Thank You for giving up everything to come..  for being moved by compassion.. for humbling Yourself.. for not counting Your position.. or even Your own comfort as something to be grasped.

Thank You for becoming flesh to comfort us.. to “suffer with” us. Thank you for laying down Your life to redeem us.

Thank You for coming as a babe and for Your promise to come again so that we can be with You in Your Father’s house where He will wipe away our tears and sorrows.. where mourning and death will be no more.

Thank You for being our strength… our comfort.. our joy.. our salvation. Thank You.

Lord, when I meet You face to face, I want to have given all of me freely. I want to obey.. to follow in Your footsteps.. to be conformed into Your image.. to love like You.

Lord, I don’t know.. can’t fathom.. what I have to give, but I want to see it redeemed and used for Your glory. Redeem what is left of me. Work every thing together for good as You promised. The promises that You are working and will return are the promises that consume me with longing. My eyes strain to see them fulfilled.

Lord, help me to remember that the I that I used to be no longer lives. Help me remember that I was crucified with You on that cross.. and that it’s You that now lives in me. Help me to see with Your compassionate eyes and love out of Your extravagant love. Help me to let go of the false comforts that my flesh grasps for, so I may receive the much greater comfort of You living in and through me.

Be with us today.. and every day.. as we are missing Joel and he is celebrating 4 years of living in Your house.

Held together only by Your love,

Jenny

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