Friday, September 25, 2009

I stand amazed

In 8 days life as I have known it will change for good. My 2nd born daughter will be leave my home. She will become a wife to a wonderful young man chosen perfectly for her. Sorrow and joy mingle together in my heart. It's been a year of change, a time of saying "goodbye's"

My daughter got engaged 3 days before my father met Jesus face to face. Five months later my oldest daughter moved across country. In 8 days my 2nd "chick" will leave the nest.

Much has changed in these last few months. My mind tries to wrap around it all sometimes. Sadness mixed with rejoicing has been the journey. Jesus has been found there waiting in the midst. He has wrapped me up in His embrace until the pain subsided. He continues to enfold me as I watch my children leave my home one by one. A new day dawns. I wait in expectation knowing that Jesus will find me and pull me tight in His embrace as He & I together embark on a different trail. My days of mothering as I've known with these two will move to a different place.

It wasn't long ago that I wondered how in the world we would pay for a wedding on such a shoestring budget. I stand amazed at how lavishly Papa God has met each need.

My favorite story is of the wedding dress.

One Sunday in April, we went wedding dress shopping. I asked David, "what do I do if she finds a dress?" He said, "buy it and we'll figure it all out later." She found the wedding dress of her dreams. It was on sale at a very good price, yet I wondered how it would all work out. I've never been one who's been good at hiding what's going on inside me. As I made the purchase I hoped my concerns wouldn't show on my face.

My husband works for the telephone company here in town. Due to the economy, overtime has been eradicated. It's seldom that anyone gets any. But on this particular week, following our dress shopping, David happened to be on call, which meant he would get a little overtime. It would not be near enough to pay for the dress but maybe it would help.

At the end of the week a storm front came through these Georgia mountains, leaving people with all types of telephone, cable, internet problems. David was called in. He worked over 20 hours of overtime. The amount needed to pay for the dress was in the next paycheck. I stood amazed. It was as if Papa God was saying to me, "Rest Jewel, I've got you covered." He painted a picture of HIs heart, allowing me to see that His provision can be found even in the storm.

It's been that way all along. One thing after another has been covered. I stand amazed.

In the midst, I have been changed, yet even more. For once again, I have seen the hand of God in it's brilliance. He has come to reveal deeper truths in the midst of my inner struggles. As I have watched Him cover each detail of my life I am reminded, He holds me in His hands. All the while a deeper rest has come for my soul.

His beauty permeates my being as I find Him each detail of life. I'm finding in the deepest places of my soul that He has each and every facet of my life covered. The snapshots of His heart before me are more stunning than sometimes my mind can conceive.

We started out on a shoestring budget, we are ending with the wealth of a deeper knowing of the extravagant heart of a Father who loves.

I stand amazed!
Kevin & Courtney - October 3, 2009

©copyrighted: 2009 Julie L. Todd

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Let Me Tell You the Truth

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” It’s one of the most profound statements in the Word of God. I’ve come to discover it’s the key to unlocking the image of God etched on my life.

The more truth that comes, the more I realize how captive I have been. I am not who I thought I was. Much is being peeled away. With each layer uncovered, the beauty of God is manifested. He knows who I am. He’s letting me see too.

I’ve lived a bipolar lifestyle, spiritually speaking. I’ve lived in two extremities. We all do it. In fact, there’s only one who didn’t, Jesus.

One minute I live in the Spirit, the next I fall back into the flesh. One minute I live in the new identity, the next I’m back listening to the old man. It’s easy to run between the two worlds. After all I’ve lived most of my life reacting to the world around me. I became who my world told me I was.

I looked to other things for my identity. I didn’t look to the one who is truth. I’m learning what that looks like. The more I go, the more truth I find, the more release is realized.

What if my reality was, He was the only one I looked to? What if I took what I felt and asked God what He thought? What if I stopped trying to figure out my life and asked Him? What if I fought for weakness instead of strength, knowing that in my weakness He would be strong?

Christ was the strongest man who lived on this earth, yet He lived a life of weakness. He was totally and utterly dependent. He never looked to Himself. He never took care of things on His own. He didn’t react to His surroundings and what others said. He had only one place He went, to the one who is Truth.

My flesh is dead. Who I was no longer lives. Christ now lives in me. It’s now Him in me. A clean, slate, a fresh new start is my reality, whether realized or not.

Here is my actuality. If I am managing my world on my own, I am not living in who I am. For if I rely on my strength I do not live in His.

Unless I look to the Father I will not live in who I am. It’s that simple.

If I manage and control my life it will only hinder my revealing. When I rely on my strength, God in His totality becomes unrealized.

Many of us live unaware of who we really are. For if we did, we would know we are the objects of His deep affection. We would love ourselves. We would display freedom and life. Christ in us would not make a move without Him. It is He in us who reveals the truest things about us.

The truth sets free. I know, I’ve seen.

What if our lives truly did follow what Jesus knew. What if we tapped into Him in us. What if we saw what He saw, loved as He loved. What if we laid down the mantel of carrying our lives in totality and ran to Him in our weakness. What if we ceased our efforts, to save & protect ourselves, and rested in His? What if His strength could be realized in us as it is in Him. What if our old lives were completely exchanged for His?

It is the invitation of the gospel.

God knows exactly who we are. He knows the path that will reveal our lost identity. His invitation is there waiting every moment of every day. “Let me tell you the truth. It will set you free.”

©copyrighted: 2009 Julie L. Todd

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review of Bo's Cafe

When I saw that my friend John Lynch had written a book, soon to be released, I had to ask. "Can I review the book?"
Much to my delight, I found that he was delighted to oblige.
Soon after that brief email, my copy arrived in the mail.

I loved it from the moment I started reading. I could see my story written in the pages...

This is by far one of the best books I've ever read. Though written in novel form, it is filled with the truths of God's desire for shared relationship and healing.

It's a story of a man, named Steven, who is broken and doesn't know it. His marriage reveals it, but he's too blind to see. That is until Andy enters into his world.

This amazing book gives a beautiful picture of what we were made for. Created in the midst of of the Trinity, joined in relationship, their shadow falls on us. We were made to walk through the roads of life with others. Bear one another's burdens isn't just about taking a meal to a sick friend. It's about getting in the trenches of hearts, loving others where they are to where they were made to be. In the beauty of shared relationship we find healing. This book portrays the value of letting others know your story, past and present.

Everyone needs a "Bo's Cafe" in their lives.

Beautiful job, Bruce, Bill & John. It is a stunning portrayal of a shared journey. It is a brilliant depiction of how love heals. To be honest, I'm sad that I finished reading. Thank you for the honor of reading "Bo's Cafe". It has spoken my heart's desire. I pray that I can be an "Andy" or "Cynthia" to those Papa God brings across my path. Well done!

This book is now added to my "must reads" list. Get a copy. You won't be disappointed.

To find the book, check it out at: Bo's Cafe:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Love Never Leaves

When I first became a parent, I had no idea I would learn so much about God from my children. I thought I would be there to guide them into His heart. Little did I know that it would be they, who guided, me.

As they have grown over the years, so have I. My husband and I started out with behavior modification parenting. It was common to hear those around us talk of “breaking the will of the child”. Breaking the will seemed to be an accomplishment that would bring obedience. We set out to make that happen. I shudder even now as I think about it.

The sad reality is, we believed God was the same way. That is until He summoned us to enter into true, authentic relationship. In that place love is the motivating factor, not behavior modification.

I discovered something. God wasn’t after my will. He was after my heart. Obedience wasn’t the most important thing to Him, love was.

It was in that place I began to learn something new. God will never be disappointed with me. His heart aches to hold me close. In sin I separate myself from Him. He exposes it in order to bring me back into His embrace. For He knows that my perception of what He thinks of me changes when I am captured by sin.

There is never guilt, condemnation or accusation. There is only, always, love, mercy and grace. He reveals to return me to where I was meant to be. My sin is not His focus. I am. He didn't come to make me perfect. He came to give me life. Sin destroys life.

When I entered into the world of motherhood, I thought I would bring my babies into the world and love them. It all sounded so simplistic. Yet, it wasn’t. There were times when a child would stray off the path and look in other directions. Choices that cost them were made. I ached as I watched. I prayed, I waited to welcome them back in. All I wanted was to love them. Didn’t they know that? They judged my heart by the way they felt about themselves.

He thought He would bring me into this world and love me. I have often taken wrong turns. I’ve gotten off the beaten path. I looked for love in all the wrong places. Yet, He doesn’t see me covered in my sin. He sees me in a robe of righteousness. He does not separate from me when I choose to return to sin. He is not angered or even disappointed with me. His response is always the same. He pursues me to come back home.

Like the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son, He runs to meet me when I return to be held. For just as I could never turn away from my children because of my unending love, He cannot turn from me. His heart is filled with a love that cannot be measured or challenged. It is from everlasting to everlasting, not based on conditions or behavior.

He knew I would be imperfect. He knew that the lures of this world would pull me in. For when He created the earth, He knew my sins, past, present and future. He couldn’t bear for me to separate myself from Him. He devised a plan. It was His plan of rescue.

The cross has been misunderstood. It’s not about sin. It’s about love. Jesus’ blood was spilled to annihilate that which separated us from entering in as sons and daughters. Because of love He paid the ransom note to bring us back into the embrace of God. He came to restore us to life, to the full. It was the life He always meant for us, before sin entered into mankind. Love was the motivating factor of the cross. His love for you.

There has never been a time when I did not love my children. There is absolutely nothing that they could do that would change that. I see beyond the choices they make. I love.

There will never be condemnation or disappointment with God. There is always and only love. Love welcomes you back. With arms wide open, it runs out to meet you, to restore you to where you were meant to be, in the arms of God.

Sin is not His focus. You are.

Also posted at the Internet Cafe:

©copyrighted: 2009 Julie L. Todd