Friday, March 31, 2017

A shipwrecked prayer

God, I want to be a ship wrecked for your purposes.
The cry of my heart is to be driven into the bottom of your sea of grace so that my life may reveal eternal treasures. I long to let all that I am sink under the weight of who You are.
Lord, break into my life and disrupt my journey of pride and will. Crash my claim to myself into the ground of your providence. Destroy all that I am and use my shambles to reveal all that You are.  Use the wreckage of my desolation to honor Your Great Name. Transform the broken, battered, bruised pieces of my life to shine like gold for Your glory.
My Savior and My God, I surrender to the ship wrecked voyage of Your will. I give my life to be broken and beaten against the rocks of Your purposes and plans. Use me in my brokenness. Drive me hard and fast to the bottom of your sea.

God, I want to be shipwrecked for you because I see that there is no good in me. There is no value in my earthly treasures. There is no goodness in my mortal soul. There is nothing that I can offer this world that will endure the winds and storms of the ocean.
But there is everlasting life in the one true treasure, Your broken and beaten Son, Jesus Christ. In His shipwrecked body is gold that does not tarnish. In His resurrection is the only diamond that glistens with eternal brilliance.
Driven with nails and bruised by man, it was Jesus Christ who was first shipwrecked. He was ruined, utterly destroyed, for Your glory. His will, His right to Himself, His perfection was driven into the shore of Your ultimate plan of salvation.
Jesus was shipwrecked for your purposes. Jesus was shipwrecked to save me.
And now, God, all I want is to be wrecked, too. I want to follow the path of Jesus and be ruined for Your glory. I want my life to be Your treasure, driven into the ground so that the world can come discover Your riches.

God, I surrender and ask that you take over this ship. Drive it into your sea so that the world can see You, the true treasure, and praise you eternally.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Treasure in the trash

God has a way of showing up in the most unlikely of places. Take, for instance, the trash. Specifically, in this case, the recycling bin.
This "God meets recycling container" encounter happened on an ordinary, drizzly trash collection day. After the garbage truck made its rounds through my neighborhood, leaving behind overturned trash cans and stray pieces of debris, I made my way to the curb to do my duty and collect my reciprocal containers. The cans stunk as they always do on rainy trash days. The leftovers of a week's worth's of soggy trash is never appealing. With my nose plugged I said silent "thank yous" to the garbage men as I dragged the cans back down the driveway.
I made it all the way to the garage door before I peered into the cans. I assumed they were empty but out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of something white in the bottom of the blue recycling bin. Soaking wet and stuck to the bottom of the container was a familiar white envelope - familiar because it had my hand writing on it. Despite the odor, I moved my face closer to the opening of the container in an attempt to make out the words I'd written. "This is all about your Heavenly Father and who He is." The sentiment was as true soaking wet and stuck to the trash can as it was the day I'd penned the words in the comfort of my bedroom. This - my whole life, the whole world - was and is about God. He is the purpose. He is the reason. It's all about Him.
But it wasn't the message on the envelope, true as it is, that amazed me most of all. It was how God preserved the envelope, and His truth, through the wind and the rain. God protected His truth from the ultimate fate of the landfill. Besides that one paper the can was empty. No other stray garbage had fallen along the pavement in the wake of the garbage truck. Just that one soggy, sloppy paper remained. One precious paper penned with God's ultimate purpose.
The survivor at the bottom of the recycling bin was such a precious picture of God's power to preserve and endure that I quickly forget about the stench of garbage. In that moment the recycling can was no longer a reciprocal for trash. It was a protector of treasure. I reached into the can and extracted the stray envelope, God's gift reminding me that even in the trash, truth remains.
Whether it is in trash cans flipped over on the side of the curb or in life's smelly, stinky circumstances that look and appear more like trash than a treasure, God's truth remains. His ultimate purpose of life cannot be thwarted. This - my whole life and yours - is about God and bringing Him glory. That truth never changes. It endures every obstacle, storm and trip to the trash. It is the ultimate truth and nothing in the world can change it, overcome it or send it to the landfill.
God, His purposes and His truth, have and always will survive - even in the trash.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Oh so thirsty

I was thirsty. Oh so desperately thirsty. When was the last time my body had experienced the fresh, thirst quenching renewal of pure water? I couldn't remember. It had been too long. My lips, as dry as a flower in the hot summer sun, were proof.
Inside I was languishing. The systems of my body were begging for renewal. My organs crying out for water and hydration. Every fiber of my being was fading fast. I was in critical need of water and I knew I couldn't go on much longer without it.
So I frantically began to search for the liquid gold my body so desperately needed. I saw a grocery store off in the distance and was sure they would have a plethora of bottles of fresh water to quench my thirst. I ran to the entrance and pulled on the handle of the big glass doors but the door didn't budge. Locked. Closed.
I looked around and saw another building off in the distance. A gas station. Certainly they would be open so I moved as quickly as my weak body could take me to the promising future of the station's convenience store only to find that the inside was dark and empty. The gas station pumps covered with plastic and "Out of Service" signs. They had no gas and they had no water. My hunt would have to continue if I wanted to find relief.
With more urgency than ever before I started to get creative. I saw some cars parked in a nearby lot and thought maybe a kind stranger would have a bottle of water in their trunk. But there wasn't a single car owner in sight. So I moved on to the downtown city park in hopes that its fountain would provide relief only to discover that I was once again out of luck. The foundation was turned off and the park was deserted.
It was getting dark, late and cold and my body was giving out. My lips were so dried up and cracked they were bleeding. My mouth was so course I couldn't even cough. I couldn't keep running. My body wouldn't allow it and my heart couldn't handle it. Without a glimmer of hope or a drop of water in sight, I gave up. In the middle of the park I collapsed on the ground, too exhausted to go on.
The hunt was over. My body defeated.
I'll never know how long I laid on that cold pavement in the dark of night. I must have fallen into a dehydrated trance or a thirst-induced sleep because the next thing I remember was something moist touching the skin on the back of my exposed neck. I blinked my eyes a few times. Was it a dream? What was this wet dew? I lifted my weak arm, touched my neck and nearly jumped out of my skin.
A drop of water on my neck. Adrenaline went pumping through my veins as I rose to the tops of my my knees. And then, one by one, the water started falling. Just a drizzle at first, falling from above and then a down pour. The water fell in buckets. Buckets upon buckets of fresh, cool, rejuvenating water fell from the sky.
I rose to my feet and threw back my head. I didn't even pause to look for a cup and I didn't bother holding out my hands. I just opened my mouth, stuck out my tongue and drank in the cascading rain. My throat rejoiced. My lips sang praises! So overcome with joy and relief was I that I started dancing. Yes, dancing, right there in the city square.
My body came alive with an energy and vigor I had never experienced before. I was alive!
I had given up, believing I was going to die but I didn't. I thought I was out of hope but I wasn't. I was convinced that my search had been entirely futile and was going to end in tragedy. But it didn't.
I lived.
Face down on the cold hard ground I received renewal and rejuvenation. From the pit of certain death I was covered with fresh springs of new life. I was showered with an abundance of gracious, merciful, life-giving water.
At my most critical time of need God stepped in and saved me with His soul-quenching water, ensuring that I am eternally hydrated and forever freed from thirst.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kissing cheating goodbye

I have an admission to make.
I'm a cheater.
I'm not proud of my actions. Oh, how I wish I could tell you it was a one time mistake, that remorse and regret immediately taught me my lesson. But my infidelity has been recurrent. I've been a repeat cheating offender. On countless occasions I have given my heart to another and let my eyes wander away from my first love. Over and over again, I have broken my vow to remain forever true. Without hesitation I have jumped into bed with a lover not my own. With passion I have abandoned loyalty and thrown caution, and commitment, to the wind.
I have cheated. I am a cheater.
And I've cheated on the perfect love, my one true love, God.
To add insult to infidity injury, I've committed my affair with the cruest of lovers.
Worry isn't really a lover at all. He's a hater, really. And I've been giving my heart to him over and over again. Full of concern and anxiety I've run into the arms of worry without a thought for the true love left behind.
When challenges and struggles have befallen my relationship with God I have turned my back on Him. Instead of remaining committed, I have fallen prey to the allure of an anxious soul. Willingly I have embraced fret and foregone faithfulness to my one, true love.
And what has my cruel lover given me in return? What have I received when I've turned from the truth to embrace a lie? Not a kiss on the cheek. Not a hug to comfort me. Not a moment of joy. Not a glimmer of hope. Not a peace in my soul. Not even one single beautiful flower or ray of sunshine. Worry has given me nothing and robbed me of every good thing.
As the saying goes, full me once shame on you. Full me twice, shame on me. Well, worry has fooled me countless times but I'm done giving him the pleasure of victory.
I'm done cheating on God. I'm done falling into the arms of worry.
I am finished with false love that only wants to steal my happiness and contenement. I am no longer sneaking off to worry when the going with God gets tough. I'm going to stop seeking comfort in a lie, giving up the everlasting peace I have in the truth.
Yes, I have been a cheater. A no good, downright rotten cheater. I have looked at the lover of my soul, my perfect first love, and turned my back on His affection. But no more. No more cheating, lying, and running to another.
Right here, right now and forevermore I am ending my dishonest relationship with worry. I am closing the book on our scandelous affair.
Worry, consider this our breakup letter. And don't expect it to be sealed with a kiss because you've been nothing but a hater, through and through. You've left me with nothing but heartache and disappointment. You've delivered nothing but lies.
But now we're through. We're over. The story of you and I has reached "the end."
Now begins the real story of my love life that I know is going to end in a happily ever after because I'm going back to true love. My first love. I'm going back to God and remaining committmd to my vow, dedicated to His devotion. I am running into the arms of truth and grace. I'm seeking forgivness and laying down in a bed of comfort, peace and joy.
I'm going back to be with God forever. And to be to Him I will be forever true.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flying United

Dozens of planes sat in a row, lined up by gates as airport attendants, fueling trucks and baggage handlers rushed across the pavement. Arriving planes were quickly being emptied of their luggage and travelers. Departing flights were boarding and readying passengers for flight. The scene was a flurry of air-travel activity.
As I waited for takeoff I watched the airport world unfold from my up-right positioned window seat. Then the boarding door on the EMB-145 closed, engines roared and the plane pushed back from the terminal. We taxied out onto the tarmac, leaving the parked planes, and the bustling activity, in the distance.
The plane moved swiftly towards the runway, then made a sharp turn to the right, and stopped as the pilots voice came over a fuzzy intercom. “Second for take-off. Flight attendants take your seats.”
In that moment, the world around me froze. The plane made its brief pause, stopped on the cusp of the adventure and excitement of lift-off. I could practically feel the impending sensation of the wheels scooping up off the pavement. Suspended between stillness and soaring, anticipation left me breathless.
And then there was movement.
From the soles of my feet I could feel the buzzing of the motor’s engine. The propellers outside my window spun with such force the whole plane shook. With power and determination, the plane picked up speed, moving fast and flooding the cabin with the sound of wings meeting wind. I closed my eyes as I breathed in the thrill of flight.
And then I felt it. Wheels up.
I spread my eyes open wide and eagerly peered through the plastic windowpane as I watched the line of planes below fade off into the distance. With each passing second the grounded massive machines made of steel and rubber became smaller.
And that’s when I noticed it.
Written in bold, painted in blue on the side of every plane lined up along the edge of terminal two was one word. United. Each plane with its own unique destination and flight path was flying United. The dozens of planes below, destined for their own adventures, charting a one-of-a-kind course. They all were United.
And so was I.
From seat 5C, aboard the air-born EMB-145, I glanced out the window to see the plane’s wing and saw the trademark blue and yellow design of United Airlines that claimed ownership of the plane and the flight. Just like the parked planes at the terminal and the string of planes lined up along the runway, I was flying United. Each one of us bound for a unique adventure; each one of us flying under the same banner of ownership, control and protection.

In life no two passengers are taking the same course. Each one is given a unique path to travel. Each is on a one-of-a-kind route, with take-offs and landings, unlike any other. But each one of us can fly united. We all can fly under the same banner of ownership, control and protection. We can all fly united with Christ.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Peep for all people

Peeps come in a variety of marshmallow-ie flavors and forms. There are Peep Chicks and Peep Bunnies. There are Peep delights, dipped in chocolate, and Peep pops, conveniently stacked on a stick. There are big Peeps and little Peeps. There are orange Peeps and blue Peeps. Sweet Peeps, sour Peeps and even sugar free Peeps - an oxymoron if there ever was one. Marshmallow lovers can have their Peep in nearly any flavor they crave and the adventurous can even bite into a gooey surprise mystery flavored Peep.
Here, there and everywhere there are marshmallow Peeps for all people. Unless you don't like marshmallows. Then you are peeping out of luck.
Now, for those who don't salivate at the thought of a corn syrup chick shaped marshmallow mess, you need not feel left out. Contrary to what you might believe, you can still enjoy a Peep - a very special Peep. The good news is this Peep doesn't come with preservatives and is naturally sugar free. This one Peep suits all taste buds and is relevant past Easter. This one variety of Peep  never goes stale and doesn't need the excuse of a bunny hoping holiday to be enjoyed.
For you, both marshmallow lovers and marshmallow adverse, God is your Peep.
God is the Peep that doesn't stick to your teeth. God is the Peep who doesn't leave hands sticky. God is the Peep that isn't on every diet's "don't" list. God is the Peep that never runs out of stock.
Have you ever enjoyed God as your Peep? He promises to be satisfying. And He'll never leave you with a tummy ache. He comes in one variety but takes all forms. You'll find God your Peep while walking through a store or in the church sanctuary. You can find God outdoors. You can even find God, your one and only Peep, in the solitude of your bedroom. He isn't stuck in a package and He isn't exclusively kept in the company of white rabbits. God is every where and always present.
If you haven't had God as your Peep, what's stopping you? Why wait to enjoy the world's most soul-satisfying sustenance? Why fill up on this world's marshmallows when you could have the eternal sweetness of the heart?
Trust me, no matter what flavor Peep you pick up on the shelves this Easter, God is the everlasting Peep for you.

With or without evidence

Eight years.
Eight years without a menstrual cycle.
Eight years of infertility.
Eight years post menopause.
And I'm only twenty six, almost twenty seven, years old.

According to human logic and medical science, my reproductive system is as good as dead. That determination was hinted at in the very first year I lost my womanly flow. By year five doctors stopped hinting around my bleak child-bearing future. The fact of infertility was stated as plainly as "The sky is blue." No emotion. No consolation. No hope for a different future.
I remember laying on the table in the gynecologist's office when she flatly stated that I demonstrated all of the signs and symptoms of premature menopause. The night sweats, the lack of a cycle for years, my hormones and my physical condition all led to the same conclusion. My body's reproductive system had skipped decades. Now the deed was done and my ability to bear children, over.
I asked her if this could be reversed. She told me no, that this is a permanent condition. Once the die is cast there is no going back.
Her response wasn't surprising. Upon further investigation her understanding of the reproductive system and its charted course is the standard in the medical world. Even the Mayo Clinic doesn't hold out hope for premature menopausal women. All they have to offer are experimental fertility treatments with discouraging success rates. Doctors focus instead on the risks of wasting bones and coping with emotional instability. In other words, just manage it. Fill this prescription. See this therapist. Check back in six months. But don't get your hopes up.
I left that appointment under a cloud of defeatism, never to return again. I wasn't willing to come to their conclusion. I decided right then and there to choose a different conclusion: hope and trust God to determine the future of my fertility.
Now it has been seven years since I lost my reproductive functioning and the cycle hasn't returned and, quite frankly, there is not a shred of evidence that it ever will. Still, I have hope. I still have faith that God can work a miracle if He so chooses. I still believe that God is in control of the inter-workings of my body. Without a shadow of a doubt I know that God has the power and ability to intercede on behalf of my reproductive system. He can, at any moment, step in and change the course of my fertility future.
The trust and confidence I have in God does not conform to the logic of medicine. What I know about God is not written up in medical journals. The assurance I have is not based on testing and doesn't rest on a diagnosis. The solid rock on which my faith stands is rooted in the Almighty God.
Flow or no flow. Cycle or no cycle. Evidence or no evidence. I trust God. I trust Him with my fertility. I trust Him with my future. I trust God, my truly great Physician.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The goose on the road

From the driver's seat of my car, traveling at a quick seventy mile an hour clip, my eyes took in an unlikely sight. A goose crossing the interstate highway. The goose was traveling solo and headed right for my lane. She slowly waddled and wobbled across the first lane of highway, dodging the busy Saturday afternoon traffic. She barely escaped the grill of the Dodge Ram dully truck speedy ahead of me. I watched as cars swerved violently to avoid a feathery crash.
Meanwhile, the goose seemed to be absolutely oblivious. She swayed back and forth, pausing mid-lane. She took a few steps forward then a few steps back. It was as if this silly goose wasn't even sure it wanted to cross the road. Her pace was entirely noncommittal. And although I assume she could fly, her wings showed no signs of an impending flight. She just shuffled along, halting here and there, causing dozens of near accidents.
When it was my turn to play Dodge Em' with the goose I let my foot off the gas, checked my rear and side mirrors, then performed the driving equivalent of a bob and weave. Success. I missed the goose who was still lingering on the dotted line of the northbound lanes.
Intrigued by the goose's journey, and hoping her trek wouldn't end in tragedy, I slowed down and watched from my rear view mirror as a dozen cars, trucks and vans entered onto the highway. In the flurry of motorized vehicle activity I was sure the goose was toast. For a moment or two I couldn't see her at all.
But then a miracle. Out of the zooming and speedy cars the goose appeared, not in the air and not in the grill of a truck, but on the shoulder of the highway, upright and unharmed. She was still waddling and still oblivious. The goose emerged victorious from the traffic and onto the safety of the highways brim without a single feather out of place.
This silly, some might say stupid, goose who had no concern for the dangerous traffic and no understanding of the doom of walking on the interstate highway, stepped off the pavement and into safety, completely unharmed and entirely unfazed. The goose played a real life round of Dodge Em' and won! She survived a miracle and she didn't even know it.
With the goose out of danger and safely on her way to her next death-defying adventure I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of her journey and the amazing similarity it has to my own. Although I've never tried to cross the interstate on foot and I've never waddled (at least I don't think), I too have traveled through life in imminent danger without knowing it.
As I watched the goose in my rear view mirror I saw in my own past the death-defying journey traveled in complete oblivion, unaware of the risk. I tried to walk through life outside of God's will. I stepped off His path and immediately entered an interstate highway with evil threats and doom speeding at me with all of the force of a Hemi engine.
And there I was, as ignorant as the goose on the interstate. Without a care in the world or a thought of God, I traveled alone, pausing here and there, indifferent to the danger swerving and zooming all around me.
But that's when a miracle occurred. The miracle occurred.
My salvation.
It was while I was standing in the middle of the highway with death and destruction hurtling towards me that Christ rescued me. He swept in and saved me. The dangers were coming fast and the traffic was overtaking me but Jesus provided me a way out. He carried me to the shoulder of the road. He won for me the ultimate game of Dodge Em'.
The goose on the highway eventually faded out of my sight but her waddle hasn't left my mind's eye. I am that goose. I have been rescued, saved and redeemed. I have been given another chance at life. I have been given the amazing, miraculous opportunity to take another adventure and see another day.
And this time I'm taking a different journey. On this adventure I'm staying on God's path and off of the world's highway. From now on I'm fleeing from the danger of the interstate and staying beside my Savior because I know He can keep me, and the goose, eternally and everlastingly safe and sound. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Have you been thinking about eating a promise based diet?

"Stephanie, have you been thinking about eating more plant based?"
My e-mail inbox is always asking me questions and addressing me by name. If you ask me, it's a bit disconcerting that the internet knows so much about me and my eating habits. And that I'm a hopeless sucker for email marketing campaigns. So, despite being perfectly content with my plant to non-plant based food intake ratio, I open the email.
Thankfully an evil spam scheme is not underway and my computer is not hijacked by an unseen intruder. The email is just the latest newsletter from Nature's Path Organic Foods encouraging me to eat more greens. The email instructs me to, "Leave the earth better than how I found it." Clickable spring-themed pictures of beets and rhubarb attempt to persuade me to follow the link and switch to a plant based diet. A bounty of fresh produce accompanies promises of five solutions for plant-based diet deficiencies. A hearty bowl of peach oatmeal beacons me to tap my mouse and enter the world wide web to discover the coconut topped recipe.
But the newsletter's messages fail to entice me to click, read or share. The pretty pictures and professional graphics don't compel me. Instead of following the links I tap on the trashcan.
I suppose it was silly to ever open the email in the first place. I haven't been thinking about eating a more plant based diet. I haven't been thinking about diet at all. Well, not my physical diet. I've been more focused on improving another area of my nutrition - my spiritual diet.
Organic food and plants may be the best fuel for the body but what about for the soul? Even the juiciest peaches mixed with the best oats and freshest flaked coconut can't satisfy the spirit. Switching to a plant based plate won't change anything in the heart. Fixing the deficiencies in my diet does nothing to solve the deficiencies of my immortal soul.
The most important diet, the diet that will bring me true health and wellness, is the diet that nourishes the spirit within me. The sustenance on my soul's plate is of eternal value and so I'm choosing my meals wisely. I'm deciding to feast on God's promises.
Unlike plants and the food of this world, God's spiritual food will never rot or spoil. His promises never go bad. The diet He has perfected never changes. It is not subject to the comings and goings of the latest superfood crazes.The goodness of God's eternally nourishing diet is the same today as it was yesterday and it will be tomorrow. I need not wait for the latest newsletter from God proclaiming the latest promises. They are already written in His Word as fresh today as the day they were penned. The promises of God are always in season, a never ending bountiful harvest.
God's promises give new life to body and soul. His truth breathes enduring health and wellness into my eternal spirit.
So the truly important question is this: Have you been thinking about eating a more promise based spiritual diet? I promise you it is a diet more enriching than a hearty bowl of coconut topped peach oatmeal. Beloved, when you and I feast on God's Word and His truth our hearts will be well fed, without a single deficiency.
Give God's diet a try. Switch up your plate. Change what you're feeding your very soul. With God's promises as your nourishment you will be eternally satisfied and forever filled with God's enduring truth and everlasting goodness.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spiritual Equipment

In a past post I shared about a unique item I keep in my car at all times - beach glass. For years I have kept a few stray pieces of beach glass in the center console to remind me that God can make the broken beautiful. It is His specialty and every time I look down and catch a glimpse of the tiny pieces of smooth blue and green glass I remember that God will use the storms and waves of my life to make me beautiful, too.
Beach glass is an essential part of my car's equipment, as important to me as the jumper cables I keep in the trunk and turbo engine under the hood. The beach glass is my car's spiritual equipment. Since the beach glass has been such a blessing and encouragement to me throughout the years I decided to dedicate more of my car's center console space to God's promises.
So I bought a little silver cross necklace and placed it among the beach glass to serve as a constant reminder of Christ's sacrifice. When I look at it I remember to put the cross always before me and to live for Christ alone. The world and all of its trouble fades into the distance when my gaze is fixated on the cross.
And then, just a few inches from the cross and the glass is a stone, smoothed and perfected by a skilled craftsman. On the stone is written a Biblical promise, a simple verse, Proverbs 2:8. "For he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Each day I climb in and out of my car countless times and if I'm honest most times I fail to actually read the words on the stone. I glance down at the gear shift and my eyes catch a glimpse of the sand stone keepsake in the center console but they fail to pause, read the words and internalize the message. More often than not I throw the car into drive or reverse and never meditate on the truth staring me in the face. 
But today I turned the car on and, just as I was about to put my foot on the break, something inside of me paused. I pulled my foot back and gazed down. First I saw the cross, then the beach glass and then the stone. Slowly and deliberately I read the words silently to myself and a flood of relief washed over me. It was as if I were reading the stone for the very first time, as if the message were entirely new. As if it were the first time I had heard the good news of God's steadfast protection and provision. 
I realized in that moment how often I read God's word, see His goodness and take in pictures of His sacred truth and fail to internalize the message. I go through the motions without letting the magnitude and gravity of the promises of God settle in my heart and give me true peace. God is constantly flooding my life with love letters and daily reminders yet in haste and routine I so often miss them. If only I would pause for a moment I would see that God is all around me offering me the bedrock of His promises and truth.
If today you find yourself feeling abandoned, wondering if God has left you alone on your car ride of life, I promise you He has not left your side. Remain faithful and remain fixated on His promises. Take a moment before you put the car in drive to look to your Guide and Protector and remember that He is there with you. He'll never leave you alone on your journey. 
Sometimes you and I fail to see Him. We go through the motions and never stop, look and listen. We look right past the Cornerstone. We just want to drive. But God is patient and He is waiting for us. His promises aren't going anywhere and neither is His protection. Remain faithful, dear friend. Remain faithful and fixated on Christ, the solid rock on which we can always stand.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

God's salt for life's ice

A fresh, foot deep blanket of snow nearly kept me from venturing outside to take the dogs on their daily walk. I looked out the kitchen window and saw a blowing, blustering scene of freezing flakes. Beneath the snow covered roads I was sure slick ice lay in wait, ensuring a treacherous trip around the neighborhood.
All morning long I avoided the routine walk until afternoon rolled around and pathetic puppy eyes beckoned me to put on my boots and bundle up. I put on the mindset of the mailman and claimed their motto as my own pledge to my pups. And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. No, I would not let a foot of snow, freezing temperatures and gusts of windy white stop me from my daily dog walking rounds.
One minute into our walk and my concerns were confirmed. Ice. Lots of ice. As we walked I carefully placed my feet to catch the snow but that created trouble of its own. The thick, heavy snow made every step laborious. The walk was quickly becoming a workout and not even my winter-loving Schnoodles seemed to be enjoying it. But I was determined and dedicated so the walked continued.
The wind was nearly blowing us over as the dogs and I made a right turn onto the main road of the neighborhood and that's when I saw it. Ice-free, salt-covered, snow-less pavement. The sight was so marvelous I blinked twice just to make sure it wasn't a mirage. But it was real. Winter's warrior snow and salt trucks had swept the surface of the road with relief for this weary walker and her frosty pups. I stepped onto the black pavement with confidence. The soles of my boots gripped the salt and kept me steady. My steps were no longer heavy and labored. It was easy walking all the way down the road.
The dogs and I took the main roads as long as we could until we had to turn back up a side road. Back on snowy, icy ground we slipped our way up a little hill and into the driveway. Once through the front door the dogs went racing into the living room where they bolted around the house with all the enthusiasm of released hostages. Or cold Eskimos finally exposed to warmth.
Although it took me a few more seconds to untie my boots and discard my winter garb, I shared in their relief but for an entirely different reason. I was full of relief because of the salt that covered the ice. And I don't mean the road salt that covered the icy pavement. I was relieved because of the salt of God's Word that covers my icy heart.
On that walk as I slipped over ice and labored through heavy snow I saw what my life is like apart from God. Without His help, trying to push through trials and struggles on my own, my journey is tiresome, toilsome and not very enjoyable.
But God wants to help. He wants to cover my life with the salt of His Word and the promises of His truth. God has the power and the will to clear the snow covered lanes of my life with the indwelling of His Holy presence. He wants to help me as I walk. He wants to guide my steps and make way a path that is peaceful and steady.
On my walk through the snow, faced with gusty winds, I saw that God can make a way for me even when life is blustery. He is mightier than snow plows and salt trucks and He can sweep away trouble even when the snow is falling. When I call on God in the storm He shows up and clears my path. He gives me salt to cover my heart and steady my steps so I to walk down His road with confidence.
Road salt is good and plows are a blessed sight but the salt of God's Word and the plows of His promises are infinitely better and eternally necessary. In every season, in every storm God is always available with rich storehouses full of the heavenly salt and holy plows to make our journey down His path one of peace and assurance.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A sacred smile

Every time Ellen walks through the door I'm blessed. She always comes bearing the gift of a smile and an aura of peace. There is something special about her smile that exudes joy and contentment. When I look out the window of the coffee shop and see her approaching I can't help but smile, too.
Ellen's effortless smile radiates everywhere she goes but it might go unnoticed if it weren't for her most obvious attribute - her walker.
Ellen was born healthy with full functioning of every limb and organ. She was adventurous and outgoing all throughout her growing up years. As an adult she enjoyed friendships, romance and a life full of dreams for the future. But one motorcycle ride changed everything. One summer night's drive turned Ellen's world upside down.
The accident happened in an instant. One moment Ellen was on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle and the next she was hanging on for dear life. The future looked bleak but Ellen pulled through. She spent months in the hospital and celebrated multiple birthdays in a rehabilitation facility but she survived.
Doctors didn't hold out much promise for Ellen but she defied the odds. They warned her family not to get their hopes up. Ellen would never walk again and might never talk. At least that's what they thought. But Ellen proved them wrong. She didn't let defeat stomp on her determination to begin again and start over. Ellen refused to be defeated by pessimism. She didn't give into pain and suffering. She persevered and she did it with a smile.
Today Ellen walks and talks. She enjoys friendships and grabbing an afternoon latte at the local coffee shop. With the help of a walker her paralysis-afflicted left side is kept upright while she browses store isles and makes her way down sidewalks. And she does it all wearing a smile.
For years I have watched Ellen come into the coffee shop and order her favorite green tea latte and for years I have marveled at her courage and contentment. She has an unspeakable peace that I would have missed entirely if it weren't for the cumbersome walker she pushes. I would never have recognized the joy on her face if it weren't for the paralysis of her body. It is because of her struggle that I have been blessed to see the spirit in her smile - the spirit of sacred suffering.
A smile is easy to wear when there is no pain and suffering. There is no need for a supernatural indwelling to wear a happy face when life is trouble-free and the body can move with ease. But when the going gets tough, life takes a dramatic turn toward tribulation, that's when a smile is more than a facial expression. It is a expression of the heart and soul. A struggling smile is a sacred expression of the spirit's trust and assurance in Christ.

Every afternoon I look forward to looking out the window so I can see Ellen and her smile. She is my daily reminder to wear a smile on my face and, more importantly, a smile in my heart. Whether my life be overcome by struggles, suffering or pain, Ellen reminds me that I can smile from the very core of my soul because it comes from Christ and His indwelling. It is by the power of my suffering Savior that I can claim a life of joy, peace and unshakable faith that radiates in a sacred smile. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Not my will, but God's

I want to run and not grow weary.
I want to mount up on the wings of eagles and soar!
I want to experience life and vitality in these dry, weary bones.
I want to live with strength that is renewed each morning.
I want to breath in air of power.
I want to conquer the highest, steepest mountains.
I want to thrive with flesh that will not fail.

But most of all, I want God.

I want God even when I can't run.
I want God when I'm worn out and weary.
I want God when I can barely stand let alone fly. 
I want God when my bones are frail.
I want God when the morning doesn't bring bodily strength.
I want God when the air I breath doesn't make me feel very powerful.
I want God when the mountains I must climb don't conform to man's idea of adventure.
I still want God most of all when my flesh is terribly weak and failing.

Countless times I have asked God to give me the health of my heart's desire. I've placed before Him my list of wants and asked that He fulfill my requests. I've asked for properly functioning digestion, increased weight and calm muscles.
Oh, how I've asked!
I've asked Him to take this cup of physical suffering out of my hands. Through tears and pain I have asked God to send me relief.
But at the end of every prayer and petition, no matter what ailments and symptoms were on the day's list, my asking always ends the same way. It must end the same way.
It has to end with His will.

As Jesus prayed to God on the eve of His betrayal and ultimate suffering He asked God to be relieved from the terrible crucifixion to come. Jesus, being fully man, knew the unspeakable pain that was set before Him and, wanting to avoid such agony, asked God for a different way. But after He put that request before the throne of God He spoke the most important words of surrender ever uttered. "Not yet my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42).
Jesus wasn't relieved of the rescue mission that He had to accomplish by way of the cross. To purchase eternal salvation for the world Jesus had to give every breath in His body. He had to be spent till His blood ran dry and His body went cold. The only way for God to save the world was for Jesus to suffer the ultimate pain and submit to the cruelest form of crucifixion. The cup, the cup of sacrifice, could not be taken from Jesus.
God's one and only Son, His cherished and beloved Son, was not spared. God's most precious child, His very life blood, was spent till His last breath.
But Jesus rose again.
The cross, as brutal a punishment as it was, didn't end Jesus' story. His prayer spoke to God did not return void. God took that prayer and protected it so that it could be glorified on the third day. Jesus' longing to be relieved from the darkness of death and hell was brought to life when the stone of His grave was rolled away to reveal the Savior - alive!

For God's will to be accomplished and the salvation of mankind to be purchased it took suffering; the ultimate suffering of a perfect Lamb. It was the suffering of Jesus that made way for salvation. It was His pain that ushered in perfection. God took Jesus' prayer and stored it up in Heaven where the two are seated today, giving life to weary souls and strength to failing hearts.
It is because Jesus' choose the will of God that I can have everlasting life. So Lord, not my will but Yours be done.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Heart on Fire

I'm afraid. Trust me when I tell you that I don't relish being a scardey cat. It pains me to admit to you and myself that I am terribly fearful but I can't deny the truth.
And, Lord, the truth is that I am truly afraid. Downright petrified. I am scared because I fear that the fire you've set within my heart will die out. I am afraid of losing this all-consuming passion within my heart that burns for you.
Through the heat of trials and tribulations You have shown me what it is like to be made truly alive in You. With matches shaped like struggles You've started fires of faith and hope within my heart. The embers of Your grace and peace have been stoked with the tools of hardship and suffering. I have experienced true joy, unspeakable joy, that can only be found in the heat of Your flame. You, God, have blessed my life with Your soul-burning heat, a heart-transforming inferno that consumes me with your love.
God, when I am caught up in this fire all I see is You. All I want is You. All I need is You.
But what would happen to my heart if you stopped lighting matches? What if there were no fire?
I'm afraid of what my life would be without Your mighty hand lighting glorious matches. I'm fearful that without the burning embers and roaring flames the fire in me will weaken, diminish and even go cold. I'm fearful that without the heat of trials I might fail to live in the presence of Your perfect joy and peace. I'm afraid that if you cease adding new logs to the fire in my heart the inferno won't last. I fear that I could so easily fail to faithfully fan the flames of Your Spirit in me.
Oh, Lord, please help me. Please don't let this fire within me die!
God, now that I have experienced life in the middle of Your burning bush the cold world will no longer do. The only life I long to live is the one surrounded, consumed, and overtaken by your flame. The one thing I desire is to be perpetually stoked and stirred with passion for You. My most fervent prayer is to never let the inferno of my soul lose its strength.
Lord, relieve me of my fear of a fire-less life and keep me in your heat. Fan the flames of my heart with Your Spirit that I may forever burn brightly and brilliantly for Your glory.
You, God, are my King and You alone are the reason my heart is on fire.

Your Beloved daughter,

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My name is Stephanie...Not Skinny

It should have been an uneventful, simple introduction followed by an exchange of first names, concluding with a customary "nice to meet you." But not today. Not this interaction. Not this new acquaintance.
The dialogue began ordinarily. I greeted the new face before me a with hello, soon followed by the traditional trading of names, "My name is Stephanie." As expected, the woman replied by providing her name and a friendly "nice to meet."
Most introductory stories would end at this point but it was at this moment that a commonplace conversation took an unanticipated turn.
"So your name's Stephanie?" the woman said. Before I could reply she went on, "Or maybe you should be called Skinny?" I responded with a little chuckle and a vague, noncommittal response that my new acquaintance missed entirely because her soliloquy was off and running. 
"People must think you're a kid... You look like one. You probably wear kids clothes. I mean, come on, you can't weigh even 100 pounds. You don't, do you? No, you just couldn't."
In the matter of seconds every thought this woman had about my petite frame was out in the open air. Her words came out so effortlessly, without even a moment's pause. She had never laid on eyes on me before, barely knew my name but was entirely comfortable making personal commentary on the very form of my being. One quick visual inventory and this woman's thoughts and opinions were off and running - out loud and without any filter.
At one point in my life, a point not so long ago, this style of tactless bombardment would have brought a lump in my throat as I fought back tears. But not today. Not after seven years of rude, thoughtless, heartless commentary aimed in the direction of my weight and size. Not after countless sets of eyes judging my frail physique. Not after being stared at and approached by complete strangers on the street airing their thoughts and base-less opinions.
"I have MS... That's why I am so small." I paused, giving the woman time to respond, but for the first time since our conversation began she didn't have anything to say. So I continued, "You just never know what truly causes a person to be the person you see."
The rest of the exchange with my new, unfiltered acquaintance was minimal. She never offered up an apology, although she admitted that her comments probably sounded rude. I neither affirmed nor denied the analysis of her statements. I just smiled an effortless, genuine smile.
It was at that moment, when confronted with hardness and opposition, that I had a beautiful realization. This woman's words had no power over me. They didn't hurt me. They didn't rob me of peace or dampen my joy. They didn't shake my spirit. Her words didn't bring even a hint of a lump to my throat.
This woman is just one of many in a world obsessed with making criticisms and judgments for every shape and size. When given the power to do so, their harsh words can can cut to the core and cause the spirit lasting pain. 
But God tells me to pay no mind to the comments of the world. Listen only to the Lord's voice and hear His life-giving truth.
The truth is that God sees my heart, knows my size down to the ounce, and doesn't call me Skinny. He calls me Stephanie and He calls me His beloved. God doesn't look at me like the world looks at me, judging by my outward appearance. God looks exclusively at my heart.
Beloved, when you and I are fully known by God we need not fear the comments of man. United with Christ, identified with indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can claim the freedom and peace of His acceptance and grace. By the power of God, you and I can be bombarded with the war of the world's words and smile with genuine joy because we are confident in whose we are and who we are in Christ.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Have you written your testimony?

Have you ever stopped and thought about your testimony? Not your pulpit-ready testimony that provides listeners with a recounting of experience or statement of belief. Don't get me wrong, I love those testimonies. I love the conversion testimony of Paul. Had I been among the church in Galatia reading it in Paul's own hand in the letter penned by the former-persecutor I would have been on the edge of my seat. I love to hear first-person accounts of being lost and then found, blind and then restored to 20/20 spiritual sight.
Years ago I wrote down my testimony. I even read it in front of my church congregation on Mother's Day. It was a duel testimony giving witness to God's ability to rescue and restore and the power of a Mother's prayers. My Mom cried (tears of joy) and I experienced the overwhelming peace of proclaiming my belief and faith in Jesus Christ.
Before I gave that testimony I thought long and hard about what I would say. I looked back at how Paul described his experience and I read his many letters attesting to the power of God. I wrote out rough drafts and crumpled up pieces of paper written with conviction until the message was just right. It was important to me that my testimony be communicated accurately, telling the whole story and the truth, nothing but the truth.
I can say with certainty that I stopped and thought about that testimony but what about that second testimony? The most important testimony I will ever write, and the one that will be of infinitely greater impact than any word I could ever say, is the testimony I tell each day with my attitude and actions. It is my unspoken witness for Christ that makes or breaks the written testimony. The testimony I tell with my tongue lives and dies by the sword of my everyday life. The person I am said to be on paper is known as fact or fiction by my behavior.
It is a daunting thought, don't you think? I can know every Bible verse and reference by heart (which I don't) and that wouldn't make my testimony great. I could have thousands of followers on this blog and books published with my name on the cover and chapters dedicated to faith and still that wouldn't write my witness. It couldn't because my witness can't be written in black and white. My testimony isn't the sum of what I say. It is in who I am when no one is looking, in the places of my heart that no one can see. My true testimony is the way I treat others and the look I wear upon my face. My testimony is who I am known as. Or, more importantly, whose I'm known as.
The only testimony that I want to tell, that is worth telling, is Christ in me. The only possible way I can tell that story and write that witness is to let the Holy Spirit have His way in my life. Total, unconditional surrender is the only way to write this witness. When I try to write it on my own by good deeds and worthy intentions the story never ends well. I'm proven to be a fraud. My witness doesn't hold up in the court of public opinion.
But when Christ has my heart He writes the story, tells the testimony and provides flawless witness. He doesn't need a pen and paper. He certainly doesn't need a pulpit. He needs my every breath. He needs the moments when no one is looking. He needs my obedience. He needs me to be fully committed to His love and a consistent giver of His grace.
Then I will have a testimony. It won't be one I will ever need to write on paper. It will transcend words. It will endure forever.
So, have you ever stopped and thought about your testimony? Your real testimony - the unspoken testimony of who has your heart.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A strange thing happened in the shower...

A strange thing happened on my way to cleanliness in the shower. I scratched my cornea. How the damage occurred and which wash cloth and/or bathing product is to blame is a mystery. All I know is that one minute I was basking in the heat of the shower's strongest water pressure and a moment later I was cringing from an unrelenting stabbing pain torturing my left eye.
Houston, we have a problem.
Immediately I knew something was terribly wrong. This wasn't a simple soap-sud intrusion. This pain was fierce. Out of the shower and staring in the mirror I searched my bloodshot eye for any signs of debris but came up with nothing. I tried dropping solution in my eye and winking with the enthusiasm of a flirtatious teenage girl. Nothing seemed to help.
Three hours later and the pain was still causing me grief so I decided to take drastic measures.
I called the eye doctor.
Typically I'm not one to run to the doctor or call on a Saturday and beg for an appointment but the acute attack on my delicate orb had me worried. Thankfully one patient had just canceled. Could I be there in an hour? I could have been there in five minutes.
An hour later I was sitting in the big chair and dark room of the doctor's office. She flooded my left eye with all sorts of drops. One to numb, one to flush, one to illuminate. The fluids stung and made me flinch but the doctor never let a drop miss my eyeball target.
A few minutes and "hmms.." later the kind doctor slid away from her phoropter machine with a conclusive look on her face. On a pad of paper she drew a picture of an eyeball with a cornea in the center. Then she drew little lines all over the cornea and on the edges of the eyeball. "See those lines?" she asked. "Those are abrasions. You have them all over your cornea."
The doctor went on to confirm that the many little lines on her drawing were indeed the cause of my pain. That was the bad news. The good news was that the cornea is a quick healer. So off I went with a temporarily numbed eye and a prescription for eye drops to see me through the pain of recovery.
Ever since the scratched cornea proclamation I've been racking my brain, recalling my pre-pain experience in the shower. I've been going through the lathering and rinsing in my mind, asking myself, "When did it happen?...How did it happen?" And I keep coming up with question marks. I don't have a clue yet the evidence is there. The scratches are visible and the pain is undeniable. There was a precise moment in time when the incident took place and the damage occurred but I can't explain the how of it all.
Sometime during my brain-racking a little song began to play in my mind. You'll probably remember it from the grade school playground. "This is the song that never ends...and it goes on and on my friend." I remember being so annoyed by that song as a child. Kids would sing it over and over again and if you told them to stop they'd just increase their volume and turn the refrain on repeat a few extra times. But today when the song came to mind it didn't annoy me. It made me laugh because, for the first time in seven years, I saw my life in that song. The irony of my health condition is that song come to life. This condition and the saga of my symptoms go on and on, my friend. Somehow it started, I'll never know how and I've often wondered what it was. But the saga has continued being belted out forever just because...
Just because God has allowed it. Just because God has a purpose for it. Just because God intends to take every symptom, struggle, sage and scratched cornea to strengthen my faith. This ongoing refrain that God has allowed to play on repeat in my life has baffled me from the start. For years I have been as confused by the multitude of symptoms plaguing my body as I have been about the scratches on my cornea.
And yet the song plays on. God has taken the little sing-along ditty of my youth that drove me bonkers and used it to drive me to the foot of Christ's cross. I don't know if this song will end or when but I know Who is writing it and as long as He keeps playing this refrain, I'll keep singing along.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

One Special Card

To celebrate my sixth date-less Valentine's Day I came up with an idea to honor the holiday and spread God's love. I purchased stacks of blank greeting cards, stickers and heart shaped stampers and wrote on the inside of each card a scripture about love. I searched my Bible concordance and Google and filled the cards with verses revolving around accepting Christ's love, sharing God's love and living a life of love.
After writing over fifty verses on fifty blank cards I took them and my Valentine's Day card decor to church where I grabbed the old and the young, the willing and the reluctant, to add whimsical stickers and rosy colored stamped images to the front of the cards and envelopes. Personal messages were encouraged but not required.
Once completed, our decorated scripture cards were delivered to men in the local drug rehabilitation program at our city's Christian rescue mission. I delivered the cards to the receptionist at the front desk who counted them out. We had made just enough with three to spare. The receptionist thanked me for the gesture, returned the extras cards and passed out the rest during the resident's morning meeting.
Making those cards, as simple as an act as it was, made my Valentine's Day. For the rest of February fourteenth I thought about the men who would receive a personal message of hope and prayed that they would find encouragement in the truth of God's word. Little did I know that is just what one of those cards would do for me nearly a month later.
My own card delivery came on a windy afternoon standing on a city sidewalk. As I struggled to my car with a bag full of books and assorted papers a massive gust of wind came and nearly knocked me over. I caught my balance - barely - but couldn't catch all of my papers. I looked down to see that the wind was carrying away three envelopes, two red and one white. The left over Valentine's Day cards.
Before I could reach them all the two red envelopes went flying up and away. I scurried ahead to the pavement ahead just in time to catch the last envelope, a white one with two cartoon stickers. I froze when my eyes caught site of the hand writing. It was my own.
Out of fifty decorated card the only one that remained was one decorated and written by me. I clutched the card extra tightly for fear that the wind would snatch it out of my hands. Still sealed shut, I hadn't a clue which verse would be inside my special card and I couldn't recall if I had written a personal message to a mystery recipient. But I knew that whatever was inside that card was meant for me. God had preserved and protected it specially for me.
Once out of the windy city street I pulled out my card and ripped open its seal. I had decorated the blank cover with a pink stamper displaying the words, "made with LOVE." I smiled, knowing that the sentiment was true, not just an empty claim.
Inside I found the scripture that God had kept just for me. 1 Corinthians 13:7, "Love...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  Then I saw a message, the personal message written by my own hand, that said, "God is love!"
I folded up my card and caught the lump in my throat. Yes, He is. 
On the Sunday afternoon that I wrote that message I could never have imagined that it was penned for me, to be received on a windy street on a day when I so desperately needed the steadying hand of God, His hand of love, to encourage and sustain me. But God knew. A month ago when my hand grabbed a purple pen and a pink stamper God knew who would be opening up the white seal of that white envelope covered in stickers.
For a month God kept that card waiting till just the right moment, just the right windy day, when He would deliver it to the pavement in front of my feet. He left just enough seconds for me to grab hold of His message of love and truth. Inside He gave me just the right words to still my soul and give me peace.
God is love. He is love for me and He is love for you. The message may not always come in a wind swept card. Sometimes God sends His message of love in a rainstorm and sometimes it comes in the warm rays of the sun. In every season, on every sidewalk, God has a message of love because God is love and He always protects, always trust, always hopes. And He never, ever fails.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Balloons Part 2

For weeks I have taken my daily walks and past the big oak tree that provided me with the balloon epiphany I told you about last month (see: Eternal Balloons, Endless Hope). Yet for all of my strolls past the bare tree I haven't really taken a look at it. In fact, until this morning, I can't remember one single walk that I have scanned the leaf-less branches for a sight of my colorful bunch of balloons.
Until today. On today's walk I looked back to the tree and there they were. The balloons - my balloons.
A few weeks back, when I first spotted the balloons, they were freshly released, still in their helium-filled state. Had the inflated balloons freed themselves from the oak's arms they would have drifted beautifully up into the sky. But tangled on the bare branches of the tree, the balloons couldn't fly. It was in those trapped balloons that I saw a vision of how God has been holding my hopes and dreams in His outstretched arms. By letting go of the balloons I had inflated with my heart's desires and deepest longings I had expected them to float off into the oblivion of the sky but that wasn't their fate. God had caught them, trapped them, keeping them safe ever since. 
But today as I looked up into the tree my eyes beheld a very different scene, followed by a drastically different epiphany.
The balloons were still there alright but they were a little worse for wear to say the least. In the weeks spent in the branches of the tree the bundle of balloons had been beaten by storms and ravaged by winds. For weeks the elements took their toll on the flimsy rubber, leaving them deflated, punctured and completely flat. The words and cartoon images that once covered the colorful air-filled decorations had been washed clean. In their current depressed state the released balloons wouldn't have soared beautifully into the sky. They would fall to the ground in a heap of trash.
But somehow in those balloons I could still see my dreams. Beaten down, battered and broken, those balloons still looked like the hopes I've released to God. Like those balloons, my deepest longings have been held in His arms during fierce storms and ravaging winds. He hasn't let them go. Through temperature changes and deep freezes God has kept my dreams alive. Through every relentless, ravaging trial God has sustained me and my hopes.
Today, years after releasing my dreams and hopes into God's care, my heart's longings have changed. Like the balloons held in the grips of the oak's branches, my hopes have been deflated of the puffed up air that won't last. My dreams have been purified. The deepest longings of my heart have been cleansed and washed.
And God isn't done yet.
I need not fear what He has planned because nothing - not a wind, rain, sleet or hail storm on earth - has the power to disrupt God's will. God has a plan for me inflated with the promise of His eternal hope for the future. Despite the passage of time and the passing of storms, God has not forgotten a single one of my heart's desires. The Almighty God, the keeper of my balloons, is protecting my hopes, purifying my dreams and transforming me in the process.