When God Hears

God, please send me the right friends for this time in my life,” I prayed one day as I pulled up to my counseling appointment. 

We all know what it’s like to know many people, yet realize that certain people are tailor-cut for specific seasons of life.

I’d been at work so I devoured my lunch as I waited, observing the carpenter working on the interior walls of the church building. A pastor walked by, and I stood to introduce myself, as I’d just been in a leadership meeting with his wife, and greatly admired her. 

The carpenter walked over. “I’ve been wanting to meet you,” he said. “I read your article in the newspaper and purposed to meet you, but wanted it to happen organically.”

Then, he spoke a few words in my mother tongue (huge surprise), and we chatted for awhile. 

Both of us knew our meeting was no accident, so a few days later, he and his wife met me for dinner and we all became fast friends–probably the life-time kind of friends! They offered assistance in any area I needed it, and I accepted. 

My car is giving trouble, and I know little about cars,” I said. “If you could give me some advice, I would so appreciate it.” 

My van continued to get worse, and before long,  I knew the time had come to get rid of the old van and purchase something else. 

Willis and Greta were up to the task, and quickly had my desk loaded with print outs of cars for sale. “No mini van!” was my main request. Somehow, I needed to drive something different.

You need seven seats,” he said. “I will find several cross-overs for us to see, and we will make up our mind from there.” 

Greta and Willis spent the day traveling with me, and after traveling to different cities and back to the same one three times over, we finalized a deal. The car was not only affordable, but had a lot of life left, and I genuinely loved it. 

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I hugged them both as we parted ways on the ferry. “You will never know how much this means to me,” I said.

Willis’ eyes became teary. “You know, when I do this, I feel like I’m doing it for Crystal.”

Willis and Greta’s only daughter had passed away many years ago, and their hearts still ached. She was an angel of a child, and greatly missed. Today, they are an answer to my own prayer, but God always turns giving around to bless the giver, as well. 

I nodded my head. “I receive it,” I said softly.

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I drove home in the dark with Christmas music swirling in the car. In the midst of great heart ache and loss, God came with his own touch to let me know I was not alone, and he was intimately involved in every detail of my life. 

Friends, we can trust him. In the light or in the dark, he is there. Whether we feel it or not, he is there. When we need him, he is there.

We are never alone. Ask him for a touch today, and you will receive it in one way or another. And when it happens, put your roots of faith a little deeper than before. 

You are loved.

Jesus has already been where you need to go. He leads you, walks beside you, and declares his love over your life. You are never alone; if you know Jesus, you are held by the best companion you will ever know.

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He leads you on. One day, trials will dissolve—but until that day, He walks with you to fill in the gaps. Trust him, and sooner or later the clouds will part, truth will reign, and you’ve only to make certain you’re on the winning side! 

Fully Seen by God

I’m willing to be nothing,” I told the Lord over and over again. And strangely enough, He’d ask me, “Are you willing to be something?

It took me aback, but I’d say, yes. Whatever the Lord wants, but why would He ask me that?

Did you know that true humility isn’t conditional on being unseen?  True humility happens when you don’t really think about whether or not you get seen, admired, or praised. You don’t focus there, and you stay real. You don’t care about that side of earthly kingdom stuff, because you are engaged in the heavenly, where all is love.

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As God asked me whether I was willing for both, my life boomed with my fondest dreams, and I began to walk through all kinds of doors. One after another, my dreams came true. I wrote books, and I spoke at conferences. I had a radio interview and an offer for a potential television interview. My soul was alive because I was doing what God asked me to do.

Then, a life circumstance crushed me and swept me away in a torrent of grief.  Godly friends rallied round me and held me up when I could not so much as put one foot in front of the other.

I entered a quiet season, one where it was God and me, alone. One where I woke up with tears and went to sleep with a dull ache in my heart. One where, rather than being asked who I was because they had heard my name somewhere, I was asked how I was doing because they had heard about my circumstance, somewhere.

Oh, friends. Can we except the trial as much as the triumph? Can we embrace the quiet as much as the quest? Can we, really and truly, live for the honor of the Highest One, in whom we live, and move, and have our being?

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I don’t really need the action, I need the Activator. When He activates, all is well. When he quiets me down, all is well. Because all is well where He is.

True humility serves Him well more than it is served well by what He does for us. And in eternity, our focus is on Him, and Him alone. His glory will burst from our beings in eternal hallelujahs round the throne, all for Himself.

This is why our focus here is not on our lives, but on His LIFE. Our reward is not from what we do, but from what He’s done. Will you say it with me, “Lord, I’m willing to be seen or unseen, whatever makes you FULLY SEEN.”

Medicate Your Trouble?

So hey, soul!

What are you medicating your troubles with? Because I know that, for many women, the holidays are a most painful time of reminders for what should have been.

So, yeah. Some of us may want to eat our hearts out while others of us get nauseous and can’t eat enough.

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Some of us may shop our credit cards dry while others of us save each penny in an attempt to feel virtuous.

Some of us may want people to surround us while others of us crawl into a hole too small even for our own hearts.

God means to lead us straight to his heart instead of into the chocolate cake (though that helps, too!). He wants us to purchase things money can’t buy with currency of another kingdom, and the more we feel like paupers, the larger His gift of riches.

I want us to see His faithfulness when others are faithless.

See His care when you’re not cared for like you need to be.

God’s no is never meant for deprivation, but is an invitation to wholeness, instead.

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Whatever God says is meant to lead you into better places, deeper graces, and larger love.

Catch the devil red handed in his lie that if you listen to God, you’ll miss out. Tell him to his face that if you don’t listen to God, you’ll end up in a worse place just like Eve did when she didn’t listen. Allow your own Eden to remain by refusing temporary gifts offered in disguise.

You will never eradicate your pain by medicating it with earthly gain. But you can hallow your places when you choose heavenly graces.

Bite into that chocolate, but allow your soul to sink deeply into Someone surpassing all earthly comfort. Thank Him for leading you to deeper grace in spite of your place!

 

How to Pray When You Don’t Know How

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7, ESV

Ever listened to someone pray while squirming with uneasiness in your spirit because you could sense in your own spirit that they were praying more for man than praying to God?

Ever knelt on your own knees, wondering how to reach the heart of God?

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I wonder why we try to pray just right when God’s eyes are already roaming the face of the earth looking for His daughters whose hearts have been made right by His love? Look at how simply Jesus tells us to pray:

He wants His name to be hallowed.

He wants us to ask that His will be done on earth, just as it is in heaven.

He wants us to ask for our needs.

He wants us to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive those who’ve wronged us.

He wants us to ask for protection from evil.

He also wants us to keep asking, like the widow who bothered the judge for bread while he was in bed. She didn’t turn away after he refused to come. She kept asking, and then, he came. (Luke 18:1-8)

Jesus tested the faith of His daughter when he told her that it wasn’t right to give the children’s bread to dogs (implying she was a dog rather than a child [Matthew 15:26] ). She pushed through and told him that even the dogs get crumbs. He immediately gave her what she wished for, while praising her for her faith in Him.

Keep coming, but don’t worry about how you come. God’s spirit intercedes for you with groanings even He cannot utter.

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In your weakness, you are covered by Someone who knows how to touch the heart of God because He is part of the Godhead, Himself.

When you have no words to utter, know that the Spirit utters even better ones for you.

Just keep coming!

Honest and Honorable

Sometimes, you get to pull away from work to do what you love–speaking and writing.
Sharing life with others means others share life with you–and all of us get to share Christ’s life, together. 

I stood there with words of life to share, but they came from a place of brokenness, and I said it, loud, “Ladies, I don’t share from a place of knowing it all–this is what I’m going through.”

I sit down, wondering why God leads us to be real in our rawness. The things we want to protect with our pride are the very things God uses to take our pride away, until we say, with Paul,

                         “I glory in nothing but Jesus Christ, and I’m here for Him.” 

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She comes with her own story, then another comes, and another. Because when we share our stories, others share theirs–and life is suddenly fresh with love because we all connect with the soul of another more than the accomplishments of each other.

The honest life is the honorable life. 
The authentic life is the beautiful life.
The bare life is the blessed life, because God always clothes His people. (and He clothes the naked with the most beautiful, because they have none of their own garments, and His are best). 

We can only be fully clothed with his garments when we first strip off our own. He’s waiting to clothe us with better.

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All of us are drawn to the soul of another more than the accomplishments of each other.

Share your good and hard, and you’ll get to walk alongside others through their own good and hard. You’ll get to walk up, look up, urge another to look up, and then, grow together. 

We’re here for each other, and God is here for all of us. Always.
#livereal #lovebold #listenwell

When Women Love Well

Sometimes, Instagram is inspiring.

Peace and love without truth end up being a distorted version of love. Kinda like labeling a septic tank with the name of your favorite drink, and trying to convince someone of your good intentions for their health as you hand it to them in a wine glass.

Or, like trying to feed someone a plate of sugar coated dog poo with verbalized concern for their enjoyment, health, and well being.

No one is silly enough to judge a person for refusing the margarita labeled sewer water even if it’s served in a wine glass. Or, for turning away from the plate of dog poo even if it’s coated in sugar.

We don’t accuse them of judging, but applaud them for speaking out on what’s really inside that wine glass, or under that sugar. Yet, if people dare speak up on things that really matter, they are instantly judged for judging.

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This girl loves so well on all accounts! 

 

Weird how people who say they hate judging end up judging others so harshly.

When peace, love, and truth all mesh together, someone ends up looking like Jesus, who spent his days healing people who needed Him, but speaking out against sin because it destroys hearts and lives.

People, did you know we can love the sinner but hate the sin? Another world view instantly removes our ability to stand against anything, including murder, pedaphelia, or any other crime.

Loving people like Jesus did means we love all people but we don’t love all things people do.

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People do all kinds of things in the name of love–but only God gets to define love, since it wouldn’t exist at all had He not created it to begin with!

#truthbomb

Derive Your Value From His Heart

I see her standing there, silent and calm, in the larger Swiss airport where chocolate lines shelves in the shops and little outfits hang to remind people of Heidi running the snow covered Alps.

Quebec was elegant with its French language and wine, but Switzerland is charming and peaceful. Even in the airports, one can pick out certain cultural qualities and appreciate them. But always, I notice the women.

Some are confident, marching along in slacks and brief cases for business. Others wear the exhausted look of a traveling mother. Some are clearly retired, with an older but carefree expression on relaxed countenances. For them, life was well lived, and now, enjoyed without work or pressure.

In Quebec, I headed to the wine bar for some Chardonnay, but in Switzerland, I head to a well covered nun to see if I can find something to relate to her with.

She’s shy, and immediately tries to cover her mouth with her hands as she speaks. I look past her fingers to yellow teeth and wide open gaps. She’s a dear, quiet soul who somehow has given her life to service—and I wonder, who will love her?

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Our plane lands in Tanzania where women live in poverty and cultural manners are distinctly different from America. The airline worker bumps into me on numerous occasions—and she, too, wears the dead pan look of a woman who’s deepest longings have long been lost.

The cook at the shack where we stop to purchase breakfast of soup and chapati is a prostitute. At night she sells her body and in the day she sells soup out of a smelly little shop looking more like a barn. Men with no integrity line her tables, and we choose a side spot to avoid stares.

I’m thinking back to the beautiful, smartly dressed woman in America who waited behind me in line at security. Confidence oozes from her persona, beauty emanates her being. She’s loved, admired, beautiful, and comfortable.

But what about the nun with silent longings and wide gaps between her teeth, who never feels beautiful and lives a hidden life of service to others? Is she less of a woman?

Or does God speak something of value that reaches every woman?

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Opportunity varies just as much as culture. Culture varies from one continent to the next, and a girl can’t choose her country any more than she can choose her parents. We are born where we are, and life begins, there.

How is it possible, then, to place greater dignity and value on one woman than another?

I’m wondering if Jesus weeps a little (or a lot) when he loves his daughter so passionately that he designs her in the womb with thought and detail, then she enters the world and never receives the slightest resemblance of love from those surrounding her.

The little African girl seated at my sister’s table with her own five kids eats quietly, gratefully. Just a few years back, she roamed her village while her mama ran off to live another life and her little brother and young uncle cared for her. She slept with them in a small mud shack, and basically survived.

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Today, because someone chose to love her, her eyes hold a little more light. But there is still the old-soul suffering in her young countenance as she silently chows down as much food as she’s allowed. If she wasn’t guided to stop, she’d get a tummy ache.

Do we know this little girl, sleeping in a mud hut with her little brother, is worth as much as the little girl dancing in the studios back home, face alight with happiness and body clothed in princess attire? That the color of her skin makes no difference to her worth, and her limited opportunity does not equate limited value?

And you, sister, who’s been rejected and left behind—do you know that in Christ, you are sought after and claimed? Just as opportunity and culture cannot determine a child’s value, so your circumstance cannot determine yours.

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What a culture says to you, or what a man gives (or doesn’t give) to you can in no way define your worth.

Many of the women in Africa walk about with life-less eyes. They are used by men rather than loved by one man. And they tell my sister, “Your man wants only you, only one? You are so lucky!”

If I knew Swahili, I’d make it my mission in the next two weeks to assure every single woman that her worth isn’t measured by a man, by her circumstance, by her house, food, clothing, or opportunities.

It’s unbelievably cool that in the eyes of God, the lady chanting loudly to sell her wares outside the compound is worth every bit as much as the lady standing behind me in the airport dressed in smart business attire. One may despise the other, but God loves both equally.

I chat quietly with the nun, wishing there was more to bridge the gap between us. I wave to the lady balancing a log atop her head while she swings her youngster onto her hips—without losing balance. I smile at people behind me in long, weary lines.

Because the people of God are called to live out the heart of God, called to love each person equally, called to value, honor, and cherish each individual life whose worth began when God decided to create that life.

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The nun with crooked teeth may know, just as well as the girl dancing in the studio, that she is loved with deeper love than she could ever imagine; a love not based on humanity but on a God from whom all humans owe their existence.

If you owe your existence to His handiwork, you may as well go one step further and derive your value from his heart!