Thursday, September 18, 2008

My "Something More"

      There’s something inside me that remains unsettled with life as it is.  It’s this place deep within that knows there’s something more; something more to this life, something more to me.  It often calls out to me with a yearning to know what’s on the horizon.  What is my future?

      It’s overwhelming to admit it.  But deep inside me there’s this place that feels left undone.  Like a novel that is part of the way written. A chapter at a time is surfacing, and yet something tells me there’s still more to come.  

      I see God building a story in me.  It’s His story.  I know some of the main characters, myself, my husband, my children.  Still some of the characters have yet to show up on the pages of my life.

      These last few years Papa God has been uncovering my heart.  It was buried in a pile underneath the rubble.  It reminds me of the pictures I saw of the aftermath of the World Trade Center.  Rescuers dug down into the rubble looking for life.  Some were found, many were not.  They wouldn’t leave the job undone.  All efforts were spent to rescue the lost.  It’s a picture of what He has done with my heart, what He desires to do with yours...

      So many lies have filtered into my life leaving me lost to who I am, who i was created to be.  His valiant efforts to recover and restore have been relentless.  As He pulls away the lies, He reveals the truth.  I am learning to embrace who I was always meant to be.  A love for myself is developing, which frees me to love others.  As He opens my eyes to see the ways I’ve been put together, giftings are unveiled.    And still there’s this spot inside that believes there’s more to come.

     The stirring inside me to move into that “something more” surfaces frequently.   Do I tell people where I am gifted?   Do I push to try and make something happen?   It’s hard not to try to push forward and “flesh” it out.  It’s hard to wait.  He keeps saying to me, “Jewel, like a doorman stands waiting to open the door, I AM.”  “Wait for the doors to open.”  “I’ll open every door that I want you to walk through.”  “Wait, Jewel, wait.”

     Another quote from “Anonymous” speaks to me....

     “Something in surrendering to hiddenness strengthened Jesus to not make a name for himself, to not be his own PR person.  Something in embracing that prolonged season of obscurity enabled Him to appear to be less in order to be able to do more.  Hidden years, when heeded, empower a soul to patiently trust God with their press releases.  All that waiting actually grants us the strength to wait a little longer and not rush God’s plans for our lives.”*** 

       Sometimes I feel like the butterfly who is cramped inside the cocoon, longing to break free and fly in all that I was created to do.  But often He says “Wait.  “It’s not time, the transformation is not complete.”  “In time, dear one, in time.”  “Be still, settle down, rest in Me.”

      As I settle more into His embrace, the waiting gets easier.  No longer do I have to make a name for myself to prove I have value.  I see that my value was settled before I ever entered this earth.  I am here because I have value.  I burrow down close to Him and rest, knowing He has my todays and my tomorrows.  For now, He wants me hidden with Him.  It’s a sweet place to be really, nestled in the embrace of the one who loves me perfectly.  There’s a stillness there that allows me to hear His heartbeat.  The sound of His heart beating soothes that place inside me pushing to hurry things along.  I find  that sweet peace that passeth all understanding as I wait.  It’s there I discover that HE is my something more.

      What about you?  How settled are you?  Is there someplace inside you wrestling to discover and move into something more.


***Quote from "Anonymous" by Alicia Britt Chole

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd


Monday, September 15, 2008

His Unique Shadow

    When my children were younger the church we were attending put on a yearly play.   As the summer moved into fall, one of the first things on their minds was the upcoming play.  What play would they do?  What part would they have?  Excitement filled the air as each anticipated their performance.

     It all started with a meeting where the musical was presented for the children to hear.  Afterwards they were sent home with cassette tapes and the assignment to consider what part they would want to play.  When they returned they were supposed to tell the director their heart’s desire.  It was always interesting to me that none of my children ever wanted the same role.  Each had their own idea of what their part looked like and none matched.

     The following week the director would gather the children together and listen as they told her their desires.   Whether singing in the choir, a solo, a speaking part or the lead role, each child had an idea of just what they wanted to do.

      Once she had gathered all her information she would begin the chore of dividing up the parts.  It always amazed me at how she would work it out.  If there were not enough solo parts she would split up the verses of the song to fulfill each child’s aspiration.  It wasn’t about the performance.  It was about giving the children the desires of their heart.  

     As the day approached for the parts to be announced the excitement in the house grew.  Each child wondered if they would get “their” part.  The next Sunday,  chatter filled the car ride home confirming that desires had been met.

     In Genesis 1: God says “let us make man in our image”.  The word image means “shadow”.  I find it astounding to think that I am created in God’s shadow.  Just the sound of that brings a picture to my mind.  Can you picture it?  If we all lined up outside with the sun on our backs casting a shadow on the pavement, none of our shadows would look the same?  No two shadows are alike.  I have my own unique shadow of God.  So do you.

     I cannot get over the fact that there is no one like me.  I am my own unique shadow.  I have my own fingerprints and heartbeat.  No one else shares it.  I shadow God unlike anyone else.  So do you.  There is no need for comparison.  There’s no one to compare to.  There’s no one like me.  I am, you are, one of a kind.  Because of that, my part in the play will not look like your part.  Even if we have the same part it will not look the same.  We are not the same.

      One year my youngest played an angel.  There were several young girls who played the part of angels.  Though they had the same role in the play, none of them looked like the other.  Each was their own one-of-a-kind angel.

      I believe that God puts the desires in our hearts that He has for us to live.  In this grand play of life we show up and ask Him if we can do what our heart’s desire.  He orchestrates everything just so and then invites us to play that which we yearn to play.  Isn’t that just amazing?

     The beauty is we do not need to be like any other, not even Jesus.   God doesn’t want us to imitate Jesus.  He wants us to let Jesus live his life through us in such a way that Jesus is seen in us.  Even that  will have it’s own shadow.  His Spirit will be reflected in each one of us distinctly.  It’s all so amazing isn’t it?  The God of the universe chose you and me to display His shadow and we don’t have to do it the same way.  We are free to be who He made us to be and play the part He wrote especially for us.  

       With that in mind, what role do you want to play in this grand play of life?  What does your shadow of God look like?  What desires has He placed in your heart?  There is only one you.  Be who He made you to be.  Because if you do not live in who you are and what He has placed within you, the world will live without it.  You are His shadow to the world, His masterpiece.  Live the canvas of your life, it is His image etched on you.

       “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps.139:13-14

     Papa, thank you that you allow us to bear your shadow.  Thank you that your image is imprinted on each of us uniquely.  May we bear you well.


also posted at Heart of the Matter online

***Thanks, Sandy for the picture!

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Digging out the roots

     One of my favorite things about the yard of a former house was the garden adorned with large rocks and rose bushes.  Though neglected, I knew I would discover beauty hidden underneath the cold, winter ground once spring came.  

      As the flower bed erupted in color, violets began weaving their way through irises, tulips and daffodils.  I was elated with this flowering ground cover until they took over, spilling out into the yard.  They moved like a curse, stealing the view of my beautiful flowers, soaking up water and choking out life.   No matter how much I weeded, they multiplied.   Each plant shoots off a root, forming it’s own grouping.  To eradicate them you had to discover and remove each group.  It was a daunting task.  

     Years later God reminded me of that garden with truths that opened my blind eyes. Unforgiveness is like the violets.  Left hidden underground, it sprouts resentment and bitterness, weaving it’s way throughout my soul. It clouds my vision, distorts my perspective, and robs me of the most vital thing of life, love.

     Holding out on forgiveness doesn’t affect my offender.  It affects me.  It’s not for them that I forgive, it is for me.  If I don’t forgive I bear the weight of the offender’s actions, not them.  Forgiveness frees my heart from the prison of pain that holds ME captive.  As long as I hold the culprit in contempt, I keep myself in bondage.  Until I forgive I cannot move forward in healing. That’s why God asks me to forgive.  It’s for MY heart.

      Forgiveness is spiritual warfare.  It releases my imprisoned heart to freedom.  When I release my offender, I don’t let them off the hook.  I turn them over to God, trusting Him to be the one who judges justly.  I Peter 2:23 says, when people hurled insults at Jesus He didn’t retaliate, but entrusted Himself to Him to judges justly.  Unforgiveness is covert retaliation.  

      Like a clogged artery, unforgiveness blocks my heart from receiving and giving love.  No one can live a vibrant life with their arteries clogged.  Just as the violets blocked the beauty of the flowers, unforgiveness blocks the beauty of His love flowing in and out.  Nothing can flow through blocked places.    

     Though forgiveness is one of the hardest things I will ever do, I do it because God asks me to, not because I feel like it.  Who ever feels like forgiving?  It all comes down to a choice.  I make the choice because I want His life.  In that choice, MY heart is released.

     I’ve had some difficult moments of choosing forgiveness.   I had been hurt and betrayed.   I couldn’t go there on my own, it took an invitation from God.  He lovingly beckoned me, “Come and let me touch you.”  “Let’s let this go so you can grab hold of Me.”  Each time He invited me to  walk into the garden of my heart to forgive, His healing hands carried me. 

     He brought the roots to my attention showing me where they had been buried.  It’s wasn’t my work, but His.   When He wanted me to see a place of unforgiveness He brought it to surface.  His revelation was an invitation to healing.  The work was His, but the choice was mine.  Would I dig where He showed me to dig, pulling up the roots allowing the soil of His Spirit to fill the empty space?  The choice was immediate, but the healing was a process.  It took time to heal.  Part of the process was assessing the damage done to my life.

     As He & I sat in my heart’s garden, He invited me to see the damage done to me.  How did the offense cost me?  What did I feel?  What did I hear?  What did I believe about myself?  He waited for me to remember and discover.  Then He pulled me aside to intimately whisper the truth.  He told me what He thought about it all... and me.  As He pulled out the pain, He poured in the healing.


     It’s a profound mystery, pain and healing coexisting. As his healing poured in, spring came to my heart.  No longer were there overbearing roots of unforgiveness.  The fruit of His love had now spilled into those broken places, emanating the beauty of a heart set free.

     What about the garden of your heart?  Are there roots hiding underground?   Have you assessed the damage done and heard His truth?  Do you hear His invitation?  It is for your freedom that He appeals to you.  It is for love.  

     Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

      Papa God, thank you for the sweet forgiveness that You have offered to us.  May we in turn forgive others with that same forgiveness.  Heal our hearts, O God, that we might live in love.

    Also posted at Internet Cafe:

©copyrighed 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Flight of Freedom

     I have this fascination with butterflies.  I especially love the Monarch. Papa God has talked to me about them.  He knows how much I love them.  I think He put that love in me because He knew He would use them to speak to me.

     A couple of weeks ago we were visiting the Tennessee Aquarium’s butterfly room.  As I walked in and moved about, my eye caught different types of butterflies.  Instantly I began snapping pictures.  They are so exquisite and individual in their beauty.  Beautiful blue morph’s, swallowtails, painted ladies and buckeyes flitted around me.  Though mesmerized by these beauties what I really wanted to see and capture was my Monarch.

     I perused the room as I walked around, straining to catch a glimpse.  Suddenly a beautiful Monarch flew above me.  I began to follow it.   As if to tantalize me, it would fly down, catch my eye, then disappear, soaring above the flowers.  It was not to be captured.  It was free.  After several minutes of waiting, I realized there would be no picture.  Disappointed, I had no idea that there was a purpose in my not capturing the photograph, but Jesus did.

     As I read another chapter of Alicia Britt Chole’s book, “Anonymous” her words hit me yet again.  She said, *“Jesus’ hidden years empowered Him to live a fruitful life.”   As I sat with Jesus journaling my heart, tears of gratitude poured down my cheeks.  It was then that my eyes were opened and I could see.  In these years of winters, deserts and wildernesses a transformation had come. 

     All of a sudden I could see what these hidden years have done for me.  Once a woman who sought value in what I could do, I realized that I have come to a place of rest in who I am.  Sobs of joy engulfed my body as I came to the awareness of what Jesus had done in me.  I am at rest.  I am free.  The bondage of performance has been stripped away and now I just want to be.  I understand now that I am not made to imitate Jesus.  I am made for His life to be lived through me.  I can rest.  It is His work in me.  This realization that I have moved from striving to rest, is indescribable.

      The butterfly that could not be captured surfaces in my mind again. It’s clear to me now the picture Papa God wanted me to capture that day.  It wasn’t of His beautiful Monarch in a photograph.  It was the flight of this exquisite creature’s freedom.  Lighting on a flower, flitting down to dance in front of my eyes, soaring to the top again, just being a butterfly, was a picture of what Jesus had done in me.

     It was then I heard His voice, “You delight me, Jewel.”  “Just as you were delighted when you saw that Monarch, I delight in seeing you.”  “The way you chased it down to see it; that’s me with You.”  “You loved watching it fly about and got so excited when it came close to you.”  “That’s me with you Jewel.”  “I love watching you fly free in your beauty.”  “I delight in watching you just be who you were created to be.” “Enjoy what you see, and where you are.”  “Spread your wings and fly above.”  “You are free to be.”

     Had I captured that butterfly in the photograph that day I would not have this picture seared into my heart.  His purposes show up everywhere.  With gratitude I thank Him for not allowing me to catch the Monarch down close. He has allowed me see through His eyes and capture His picture.  What was once a disappointment has now turned into precious delight.  I see His heart.  I see His new creation in me, a picture worth more than a thousand words.

     What about you?  Do you see His delight in you?  Do you see Him chasing you down, watching you fly in all your beauty?  Do you see yourself through His eyes?

     Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.


*Quote from: Alicia Britt Chole, "Anonymous"

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd