Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Distorted Vision

      A recent examination of my son’s eyes revealed they weren’t working as designed. The esotropia that had been diagnosed as a child was subtly plaguing him. His right eye was turning in while reading. Like a hidden pest, it was unseen to the onlooker and doctors, for years.

     All this time I thought his vision was OK. After all the doctors told me all was well. I know it’s had an affect on him, though he has spoken little of how he feels. My heart struggles to reconcile his loss over the years.

     Sounds like my life’s story. I accepted Jesus’ offer for life and was doing my best to grow & learn. But I had a vision problem. I couldn’t see myself the way God saw me.

     I really identify with the Prodigal Son story. There are 3 sons in the parable. The first son is a slave to love. He’s telling the story. He sees clearly and knows His identity with His Father. The second son is a slave to sin. He doesn’t see his place with the Father. He doesn’t see the Father for who He is. He wants to forget his heritage and go after things he believes will fulfill him. He is more geared to indulgent living, numbing out with things that feel good. The third son is a slave to earning. He sees his place with the Father being dependent on what He can do for Him. If he can work hard maybe it will be enough to find his place with the Father. He spends his days as a reliable worker striving in the fields , hoping his efforts will take him into the Father’s embrace. I identify the most with him.

     The Father shows the perfect picture of how our God sees. When he sees his son on the horizon returning to love, He runs to meet him pulling him into His embrace. He doesn’t care what he’s done, he only wants to restore him to his place. As the older son watches, he is tormented. He sees that no matter how hard he worked he’s still outside the Father’s embrace, while his brother just enters in.

     Angry, he approaches the Father with his complaints and hears, “You are always with me and all that I have is yours”. The Father was telling him, “All I’ve ever wanted to do was love you, but you’ve been too busy out in the fields trying to earn my love.” “Just enter in as you are.”

     Few of us live in the embrace of the Father’s love, like Jesus. Many live as the older brother, uncomfortable with who we are. Working for God makes us feel worthy & significant. Since we look through distorted vision, we don’t see what the Father sees in us. We see ourselves through eyes of the flesh, seeing the weaknesses, sin and shame. Because our perception is altered, we think he sees us the way we see ourselves.

     Papa God sees us through eyes of love. His vision of us is as ones perfectly restored. The Father wants to reprogram our minds, telling us of His perception of us. He wants to show us what we look like through His eyes. He wants us to come as we are and let Him reveal to us who He made us to be. It’s not how He views us that is our problem. It’s how we view ourselves.

     So, which son are you? Are you comfortable in the love of the Father and who you are to him? What would happen if you left the fields of your efforts and entered in as you are? Does it feel easier to earn the Father’s love?

     My son’s issue is not his eyes. It’s the programming that tells his eyes how to work. Once his mind is reprogrammed the way it was meant to be his eyes should work together as God designed.

     How is your vision? Is it clear? Can you see how intimately and desperately you are loved? It’s in knowing who you are that you can be who He meant you to be. Can you see Him running out to pull you into His embrace? Can you see yourself through His perfect vision

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Monday, May 26, 2008

Isolation or Relationship

It's funny how different conversations run together in the same theme. I met an old friend for lunch the other day. We've walked some hard roads together in the past. We no longer live in the same city so our visits are sporadic. As we sat over our meal the conversation turned to a discussion on relationships with other women in our lives. She asked, "What is it with female friendships? Why don't we seem to get to the deeper things?" My friend, Tiffany (Titled: Too Tired To Care), wrote about this too this week.

Often I hear women talk of not having that "really close friend" to share heart connections. Most seem to have no problem sharing the good things they are learning. But how many do you know that reveal their deepest struggles, desires, longings and fears? Isn't it easier to talk about how we're growing? If you have a friend who you can share the depths with, savor the relationship. They are a rarity these days. More and more women find themselves alone relationally.

We were made in the image of relationship. Trinity gives us a picture of what Papa desires for us. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one, all with separate distinctions, yet connected in unity and purpose. We were created in the image of relationship for relationship. Not just intimate companionship with Papa, but with others. We were meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Isn't it true, that most of the time we don't even know that people around us are hurting. After all, Sunday morning church we show up, and enter into worship. It's not really a place to "let it all hang out", now is it?

My husband and son went caving with some of friends a few weeks back. They met up with another group of people. Somewhere along the way part of their group had gotten detached and lost in the darkness of the cave. It's easy to get confused in a dark cave. Things get distorted. The perceived way out isn't really the way out. Instead it leads you further in. My husband's group stayed to help. They made a plan, set people in certain places, and went back in to find them. Several hours later everyone emerged from the cave. The lost had been found.

It's a perfect picture of what Papa intended. The enemy always seeks to distort what Papa deems good. He whispers lies to us to keep us isolated and alone. They sound like us. "Nobody else seems to be talking of their struggles". "What will they think of me?" "I don't want to bother them, I know they're busy." "I'm OK, I can do this by myself." "I don't need anyone."

I called to check on a friend the other day. She had been struggling all week. No one knew. She finally admitted it and said, "I kept telling myself I was OK, but I wasn't OK." "I should have called you." I wish she had. I could have helped her find her way out. I could have told her what Papa says is true about her.

The shroud of isolation leaves us vulnerable to the lies that get us stuck in a dark cave of despair, hopelessness, disappointment, fear...etc. Like the group in the cave we get turned around and struggle to find the way out. No matter how hard we try, we find ourselves dazed and confused, unsure of what the way out looks like. We need allies in our lives to come looking for us, reminding us of what is true, leading us out to daylight. Papa knew that, that's why He created us in the image of relationship.

It's sad how women are in friendships today. Not many allow that need for intimacy to emerge. More often than not we have just enough communication to make us feel relational. But not many of us venture into the depths with each other. Like my friend we sit alone with our lies telling ourselves, "I'm OK".

Genesis 1: says we were made in the image or shadow or relationship. Our lives were made to cast a shadow of intimate companionship with Father, Son & Holy Spirit indwelling us. How's that going in your life? What shadow are you casting? Are you one who gets stuck in the cave of isolation? What holds you back in relationships?

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness." Genesis 1:26 a

©copyrighed 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Healing the Brokenhearted

I grew up in the era of black and white westerns. As battles ensued, arrows flew through the air occasionally lodging into a cowboy’s body. Grabbing the arrow and breaking it off, he would continue fighting with the arrowhead lodged inside. After the battle, he would have the arrowhead cut out. As I watched, I had no idea I was being given a picture of what happens in life.

There is a story of God written on our lives. We bear in our bodies the image of the living God. The enemy fears God’s image and wants to destroy it, so he sets traps to steal, kill and destroy.

Things happen in life. We get hurt. Arrows carrying messages of rejection, abandonment, failure, etc implant into our minds. As the arrowhead pierces through, the message embeds. Like the cowboys we break it off and keep pressing on. The problem is the distorted message remains inside and we don’t even know it.

When things happen to us as children we reason through a child’s mind. We don’t see things as they really are, we see them as perceived. Things get mixed up and It’s hard as a child to know what’s truth.

Most of my life I lived thinking there was something wrong with me.  I was told the story of how I got my name.  My parents were expecting a boy so they didn’t have a name picked out.  From that point on I believed that I wasn’t what they wanted.  I wasn’t what was planned.  On top of that I was more active than all my siblings, therefore I wasn’t like anyone else.  For 40 + years of my life I didn’t know that what I perceived was not true.  All I knew is that I didn’t feel acceptable.  As hurt people do, I built a wall of self-protection.  I became a hardworking, efficient, striving woman.  Everyone loves a good worker.


     Jesus said He came to heal the brokenhearted and to set the captives free.   Our emotions are like the lights on the dashboard of our cars lighting up to tell us that something is not right under the hood. It’s an invitation to look and see what’s really going on.  Anger is a strong indicator of unhealed hurt.  So often I don’t know why I am angry, I’m just angry.  If I take my anger or other emotions, to God and ask the questions, often a distorted message is revealed.  That is what He’s coming for.  He wants to expose those old beliefs in order to redeem them with His truth.

     I’ve learned that journaling is a great way to process what’s going on inside me.   “Why am I so angry?” “What am I feeling?”  “What am I hearing?”  “What am I believing?”  The goal is to expose those distorted messages that have been planted inside me and renew my mind with His truth.  In order to do that sometimes I have to go back to that painful memory.  When He wants me to go there, He brings the memory up.  In remembering He is able to give me His eyes to see what really happened.  He exposes what I believed about myself and compares it to what He says about me.  He loves replacing the lies with His truth.  It sets my captive heart free and heals my broken heart.


      The enemy has tried throughout your life to mar your image of God.

You have an identity all your own, a unique shadow of Him.  Jesus came to restore you to your true identity.  Who does He say you are?

      “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners.  Isaiah 61:1

      Are you aware of the broken places in you?

      What are the messages you hear over and over?  

      What lies have you embraced as true?


       Papa God, thank you that you sent Jesus to heal our broken hearts and set us free from the enemy’s traps and lies.  Thank you that you see us as we really are.  Give us eyes to see what you see.  We love you.

This is also posted at the Internet Cafe
©copyrighted 2008 by Jule L. Todd

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Heart of a Mother

My Siblings and My Mother: I am in the middle:

I want to pay tribute to my mother. Fifty years ago God used her as His vessel to bring me into this world. She was His life-giver. But physical life was not all that she bore to me, spiritual life was breathed into me through her life's example.

There are some favorite pictures of God that my mother gave to me.

I remember the time when her best friend had died of cancer. Before her death she promised to her that she would make sure her boys were taken care of. The husband remarried a woman who had also lost her husband to death. Each had 3 children. When the new stepmom entered the scene she decided she didn't want the middle son living with them so they sent him off to military school. At 15 years old hurting and confused he ran away from military school. My mother found out and went to his father to ask if she could bring him home to live if she found him. He consented and thankfully she found him. He lived with us for 3 years, God stole His heart while living with us. He was loved well. My mother showed me what it looks like to go after the lost sheep. She modeled God's heart.

As a child we were often welcoming missionaries into our home to stay. It was fun to have people who had traveled to other countries telling us stories. I still remember Jesus Loves Me taught to me in a foreign language, I just can't remember if it was Korean or Chinese. My mother showed me God in the way she offered what she had in hospitality.

There came a tough time in her life later on. It was a time when she could have walked away and closed the door on a relationship. She had been hurt, painfully. She held her head up and chose forgiveness, knowing it was the way of God.
As I watched her forgive in a place that many refuse I was changed in the midst. From that point on in my life I knew that forgiveness was the way of God. My mother showed me His forgiveness displayed in beauty, compassion and love. The relationship was restored and people were changed in the midst.

My mother has often seen the hurting and reached out. God has poured into her a heart of mercy. She displays His mercy.

I have heard it said that the greatest act of submission for a woman is submitting your body to pregnancy and childbirth.
In it you are willing to lay aside that which brings you comfort to bear life for another. My mother surrendered her body 4 times to bring forth physical life. She has born spiritual life all along the way, not only in us her children, but in those who are in need of love.

Mom, I honor you this day. You taught me that the only way in life was with God. You have contributed much to who I am today. You have shown me God and for that I will forever be grateful. I rise up and call you blessed, Mom,

I love you,
Your Jewel

The accomplishment of my physical life has been the five blessings that I have been given. When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a mother. It was all I thought about. I was never into a career, I only wanted to have babies to love. God heard the cry of my heart and gave me 5 wonderful children. Each is embarking on a different journey of life this year. Each are my treasures. You see pictures of them on the right hand side of my blog as they look today. I wanted to stroll down memory lane a bit and show you some of my favorite memories of years gone by. The years have flown by. Some days I would love to go back to hug tighter, sit longer, rest and enjoy the moments. In the blink of an eye they are gone. I have always loved you my treasures.... and my love grows stronger with each day. I love you individually, not for what you do, but for who you are... my gifts of God, my glimpse of Him.






I love you, my treasures,

If you want to participate in the Saturday Meme of honoring your mom go to Internet Cafe

Monday, May 5, 2008

You are His Love Story


      “All You Need Is Love”; “If You Say You Love Me”; “What the World Needs Now Is Love”; “I Just Called To Say I Love You.”  Love songs are ageless. Long after their hit season, the words continue to be remembered.  Everyone wants to be loved.  Women love a good love story.   In the core of your being you long for love.  Because you were created in the image of love.  

      Once upon a time there was a beautiful love story.  You were the delightful daughter.  He was the loving Father.  A villan entered the story and whisked you away.  He told you lies about who you were.  He tried to distort your beautiful love story.  But the rescuer came and rescued you back.  Now you are His.

     In the beginning, you were created for love.  You were created in love. You were brought here to be loved.  At the very core of your existence you are the object of His great love.  Your life is the greatest love story ever told.

      In the beginning God created, for love.  It was the love of the Father that made all that we see each day.  He had you in mind when He formed the earth.  He made it for you.  The beauty of the mountains, the depths of the sea, the blue skies that never end, beautiful sunrises and sunsets are offerings of His love.  But you, dear one are His masterpiece.

     Do you know how deeply you are loved?   It is for your heart that He comes.  In the beginning, in the shadow of the Trinity, you were created.  All He has ever wanted was to love you.  Are you comfortable in His embrace?

     Many years of my life were spent seeking to be loved.  I didn’t understand that I was wanted and pursued.  All I knew was that I wanted to be enough, and do enough to be an acceptable gift to Him.  My efforts and what I believed about myself held me back from fully entering into love.  

     Love at it’s core is a gift.  It’s not love if it has to be earned.  It must be received.  Earning holds us back from the full embrace.  Many live as the older son in the prodigal son story, hoping somehow that their hard work will help them to be pleasing enough to enter in.

     How does the mind grasp it all?  How does one move forward to receive that gift that seems so costly?  Shouldn’t they have to do something to pay Him back? Shouldn’t it cost them something?  He just wants me.  He just wants you.

     He invites you in.  He relentlessly pursues you with His love.  He does not see you as you see yourself.  He sees you in the light of who He created you to be.  He dances over you.  He sings over you.  He is enthralled with your beauty. 


      In the stillness of His embrace, you discover His life.  It is that “be still and know I am God” place, where His work is enough and you can stop yours.  His life begins to be offered through you, showing you the things that matter.  He doesn’t want what you can do to earn His love, He just wants you.

      God is all about relationship.  Relationship is about response.  He has no expectations on you.  His expectations were fulfilled by Christ.  Because He has no expectations on you, you never disappoint Him.  Can you grasp that? You are never a disappointment to God.

       You have been lied to.   He loved you first.  You are here on this earth because He loves you.  It was love that formed you and brought you here. From the moment He laid eyes on you, He has been pursuing you.  He waits to love you.  It’s not you that invites Him into your life, He invites you into His.  Do you know that He moved heaven and earth to come to you personally, individually, by name?

     What holds you back from entering in to be loved?  He has thought of you for a long time.  He has known you for a lifetime.  Will you let Him love you just as you are?  That is the invitation.

     The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love,  he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Why I Love Being A Mom

I am entering Extravagant Grace's Mother's Day giveaway. Why I love being a mom: One of the reasons I love being a mom is because my children show me God.

I wrote this article about my daughter in Jan. when I first started blogging on my previous blog. She left on January 17th to go on a 5 month's missions trip with YWAM overseas. She is currently in Poland. I have not seen her since I put her on the airplane, so this Mother's Day, for the first time ever, one of my little ones will not be with me.

I remember when it came time to stop nursing my firstborn. It was the first opportunity I had to allow my child to not need me. Though I knew it was time, there were emotions that rose up, a sadness crept in as I said goodbye to a precious season of comfort and intimacy. My daughter was no longer an infant. She had entered the stage of "toddlerhood". It's funny how it all works out. You know in your head that it is the right move for your children to let them go, but there's a tug of war that goes on in your heart.

Years progressed and there were more opportunities to let go. Leaving her with her grandparents for the first time overnight, spend the night times with friends, going in a car with someone other than her dad or I. All these moments were natural moments that were part of living and letting go. 

When she was 12 years old she went on her first outreach. Three weeks away from home, though not out of the city, my daughter embarked on her missions trip. It was another monumental time of allowing my daughter to stretch her wings a little in preparation for the day when she would move into who she was created to be. She thrived in this environment. I remember I wrote her a card for every day of those 3 weeks to open and read from me. I wanted my heart to go with her.

The teenage years brought on another type of letting go. This time it was behind a vehicle that could not only kill her, but another, if not handled properly. I will never forget that first day when she drove off by herself to work. I sat waiting for the phone call that said, "I'm here, and I'm safe." You know you never stop being concerned for your child's safety, you just learn to trust God with it all.

Not long after that, came graduation and entering into legal adulthood. No longer a child, I had to let her become an adult. In some ways this stage wasn't as hard as the other stages. She was ready. She needed to be set free to live in the responsibility and freedom. She needed to be her own person, following her own dreams

Soon after becoming an adult she decided to move into an apartment with another co-worker. I didn't expect the emotions to be as strong as they were. After all she was only going to be 30 minutes away. I hugged her goodbye, got in the car and drove home . It was a helpless feeling that came over me. I realized at that point that I could no longer protect her. She was no longer under my care. She was on her own. Would she be OK? Would she be safe? Would she follow God? Had I taught her enough? Had I done enough to prepare her? Fears, questions, and doubts rose up within me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My little girl was all grown up. She was moving on to live her own life. I cried like a baby. I grieved the loss, it was part of the process of moving on.

Now 2 1/2 years later she will begin the largest adventure of her life. In 3 days she will fly across the ocean for a 5 month missions trip, a YWAM Discipleship Training School. She has always been within an hour from home. I have seen her almost every weekend for years. I will not see her for 5 months. I cannot call her at a moment's notice. What will it be like to have one who was carried close to my heart so far away? How will it be not to hear her voice throughout the day. 

It is time to let her go. She is going after God. What more could a mother desire? I know it is good and right, but my heart aches. My baby is going to spread her wings and I won't be there to witness it.

All of her life has been leading up to this. I always knew this was a possibility. She had talked of missions work as a young child, wanting to be a veterinarian missionary, who cared for the people's animals while she told them about Jesus. Yes, she was a very creative child.....still is.

As we stood worshipping in church out of the corner of my eyes I saw her surrendering her life to be a beautiful display of God to others. With my hand upon her head and my heart praying her release, God came, for both of us. We held each other close, she wept, tears filled my eyes as I tried to retain some composure, for fear I would surely cry the "ugly cry" in a room full of people.

You know no one told me about this part. I mean I knew that you let go and everything. After all I don't live with my parents anymore. I left home... So I know it is a natural part of life. But I never knew it hurt like it does.... In just a blink of an eye, time has moved in warp speed and those little ones are leaving home to live their own lives. I didn't know when I had toddlers that life would move into warp speed.

The emotions are lying underneath the surface. I can feel them. I know they are waiting..... another time of grieving and rejoicing is on the horizon. Another opportunity of letting go. 

May I let go with grace, Papa, like you do.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." II Corinthians 9:8