Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When God Came Down©

I've heard the stories. Flannel graph pictures depicting lives of people born years before were told each week in Sunday school. I've known the story of Jesus for as long as I can remember. He came as a baby born in a manger with a mission. I was told He would die to take my sins away.

The emphasis was salvation from my sins and entrance into heaven. Nobody really talked much about the relationship or the completion. Until recent years I didn’t really understand that it wasn’t my sin He was focused on, it was ME. Sin and shame blocked my heart from receiving. He came to clear the pathway, opening a way for me to get to His love. For God so loved, ME, He gave His only Son to clear away the effects of my sin.

In His unmerited favor I was given, life. Grace opened the door allowing me to receive all that He offers me. It's by His grace that I have been saved, not by anything of myself. As I trust Him with me, my heart has opened to embrace the love that has waited in the wings. As I have seen that my sin isn’t His focus I have been driven to run into His presence. He doesn’t care what I’ve done. He cares about me.

At this time of year the focus is on a baby born in a manger who would take away the sins of the world. But this year more than ever I am seeing the beauty of the story of this One who came to redeem my heart. Jesus came to love the world. Sin and shame were in His way. He had to stand against them once for all with the gift of His life. He’s not focused on the sin. He’s focused on loving those He created to love.

When Jesus stepped out of that grave, he left my sins behind, buried in the grave with death. They no longer keep me from Him. From that moment forward my offenses were covered forever. I no longer have to live in the identity of a woman covered by sin and shame. I was given the gift of a brand new life. I was invited into the embrace of love, perfect, unconditional love.

I am not loved less for what I’ve done. I am loved perfectly. My actions don’t please Him. I do. I do not have to do another thing to be pleasing to Him. The works of the law are fulfilled forever closing the door on performance based acceptance.

Unmerited favor is freely given. I can’t do one thing to deserve it. I can't earn it nor can I attain it. I just get it. It's not based on me and what I do. It's based on the heart of the Giver. I am invited to receive all that He freely gives.

Jesus invites me to live His life out of me. He reminds me when I fall He is there to pick me up, brush me off, wrap His arms around me and love me with truth of who I am. He constantly reminds me that my junk has been redeemed, forever. He desires that I live as He made me to be before sin wracked my mind, soul and body. He tells me often who I am to Him. I do not have to do any rituals to be close to His heart. I am already there. I am now invited to receive my inheritance.

The One who is perfect love came to this earth to redeem me from a life riddled with sin, guilt and shame. He took me off the gerbil wheel of performance. He perfected my imperfections. He gave His life in exchange for mine. My old stony heart was removed and His was transplanted in. When Jesus walked out of that tomb my life began over again.

He has made me holy, righteous, godly once for all. The requirements of the law have been fulfilled for all eternity. The Old Covenant has been replaced with a New Covenant. Love has redeemed me from the law of sin and death.

When God came down life was altered forever. For the first time since the sin of mankind perfect love was put on display for all to see through the life of one who came as a babe and grew to be a man. I rejoice as I consider what this little life meant to me. When God came down in the body of a baby perfect love invaded the world to change my life forever.

©copyrighted: 2010 Julie L. Todd

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seeing Anew ©

As I sit here contemplating life I am reminded of my son around 4 years of age. I see his little face looking up at me and winking. At first I thought it was adorable. But when it became more prominent I began to wonder if something was wrong. He was taken to a specialist who diagnosed him with a high level of farsightedness. His right eye was turning inward seeking to find it's focus. After several years the treatments stopped yet he continued to wear glasses.

We believed the problem had been absolved but it hadn't. Unbeknownst to us the brain had reverted back to it's previous, familiar focusing techniques. Bifocals were added to his prescription to force the right eye to focus correctly. In the process the doctor believed the mind would be trained with the true programming. He's been in this process now for several years. As time has passed we've seen improvement.

A month ago we went in to pick up a new pair of glasses. As he put them on immediately he struggled to find focus. At first we thought the lab had gotten the prescription wrong but upon further examination the Optician discovered the problem. His old pair of glasses had gotten out of sync. The bifocal line had moved altering his vision once again. The new glasses were correct. The old were not. It would take a little adjusting but in a matter of hours he should be good to go.

Immediately I knew it was a picture for my heart.

Years of living a religious life has left it's effects on my mind. So many "should's", "ought to's" and "musts" have been pounded in. For the better part of life I had been trained to think a certain way. "I need to make who I am better." "I need to strive to be pleasing to God." "If I do enough right things maybe God will be happy with me." "If I study, pray, and read enough maybe it will be enough." It was a life about what I could and would do that would make the difference. It was bondage at it's finest. It caused me to live with a ruler that measured everything and hoped it would measure up.

That is until God added bifocals to my prescription. It was then I first began to see.

At times it feels as if there is a boatload of mismatched thoughts floating around in my brain. Years of knowledge have programmed my thinking. It's easy to revert to the old way of seeing pretty quickly. But as God sifts the wheat from the tares my focus begins to change as my mind is renewed with truth. It's a process I'm certain will go on until I meet Jesus face to face.

I've begun to see things I'd never seen before. I cannot make who I am better. The old me was crucified forever. I was made new. My past and all it's effects have been removed once for all. The sins I have done, the sins that have been done against me are forever absolved. I will never, ever be able to do enough to make God happy with me. For it's not about what I do that makes Him happy, it's about who I am to Him. I don't have to pray or read to find Him, He's inside me all the time. His Spirit has made His home in me.

Everything now becomes an invitation at His initiation. His Spirit indwelling woos me to walk with Him into new places. He allures me to a life that requires nothing of me but to receive all that Christ gave to me when He was crucified, buried and rose to new life. As Jesus was buried so was my past. When He rose anew, I did too.

I'm trying to wrap my mind around it all.

Sometimes these lenses get out of adjustment and my mind wanders back to the old way of seeing. Gently, lovingly He takes my face in His hands to direct my gaze back to where it needs to be. Slowly but surely my mind is being reprogrammed by each new prescription. Moment by moment I am seeing anew.

At times it overwhelms me. At times it feels as if there is too much out of sync in my mind. It's then I remember that God comes for me in the out of sync places to tell me what is true. The gift of His Spirit indwelling will always guide me into to the path of life. I rejoice as I see it is He who connects the dots inside my mind. His Spirit makes the way into understanding. He leads the blind along the unfamiliar paths. I see I am right where I need to be. I am desperately dependent on Him in me.
©copyrighted 2010, Julie L. Todd

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Puzzle in the hands of God©

I’ve always enjoyed a good puzzle. There’s something about watching the pieces come together to form it’s picture that gives you a sense of accomplishment. It’s rewarding to watch the segments fall into place.

A few years back I bought a 1,000 piece puzzle and brought it home for the children and I to work. As we dumped the pieces onto the table a daunting task lay before us. Could we put it all together? It became a contest to see who could put the most sections together. Mountains, fields of flowers, blue skies and clouds made up the scenery.

At the onset it was easy. We placed the edges together first setting up the exterior frame. Once the frame was in place the difficulty of matching up the rest of the pieces came into play. The greatest challenge was the solid blue sky and the field of flowers. We began to wonder if we would ever find the pieces that would fit. At times we wanted to give up. But there was something about seeing our puzzle’s completion that kept us persevering till the end.

Victory came the day the last piece was entered into the picture. Fields of flowers had been matched, mountain tops displayed, blue skies conquered. Every piece had found it’s place. It felt good, really good.

Life has felt a bit like that lately, since God started awakening my heart to my reality. I am a new creation. The old me has been crucified with Christ.

Sometimes I feel as if I am in between two worlds. Much is being restructured in my life as I walk away from trying to make the old me better. I’m learning to embrace that I am already made new. In these last few years I’ve come to understand that God is crazy about me, just as I am. It’s been quite the paradigm shift from the religious order of things.

Years of discrepancies had been pounded into my head. Old Covenant teachings had been mixed with New Covenant realities. The two don’t mix you know. One was fulfilled by the order of the other. No longer is my walk with God about what I do. It’s now about what has been done for me. No longer do I have to make who I was better. I get to start over and live in what’s already true about me. I am the completed Christ in Julie.

Sometimes the two worlds collide and I find myself wondering which way is the right way? What’s really true about me? I so desperately want to see myself in the new creation that God has made in me. Yet so often the old, programming finds it’s way in making things a bit confusing.

It’s then God reminds me of how perfectly He has cut each of the pieces that make up my life. He tells me that it’s not up to me to figure out what this crucified life looks like. It’s His to open the eyes of my understanding to reveal the truest things about me. He’s got each piece in His hands. His Spirit which dwells inside will make all things known.

I am taking baby steps into my reality. I am learning how to live all over again. For I am new. If it were not so, the Spirit of the living God could not dwell in me. But it is true, therefore He can and does. All that was required of me through the law is fulfilled. I am forever free from the shame that has blanketed my soul.

As far as the east is from the west are my sins and the sins of others removed from my life. No longer does my sin stand between God and me. Jesus now stands beside me with His arm wrapped around my shoulders. We now look at my sin together. He waits to show me a better way. He loves me into what has always been true.

I am being reconstructed, one piece at a time. The best news of all is that I no longer have to figure out where the segments fit. It is the work of His Spirit.

He who formed every piece is placing them one by one right where they belong. In the process He unveils the scenery that makes up my heart. Little by little I am becoming who I was always made to be. I am learning to live anew.

©copyrighted: Julie L. Todd; 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Hidden Places of the Soul ©

It's been 2 months since I have written a post. I've ached for words to fill my mind and spill out onto the page, yet none have come. I have to admit I've wondered if the season of writing has moved on in my life. Though I don't know why anyone would want to read these musings of my heart, I love putting them down on the page. It's like walking into my garden and seeing a seed come to life.

The absence of words have been a result of this season I am walking in. Endurance has been a frequent visitor here where I dwell. I live in a broken world. Sin broke God's perfect order. I feel it as broken places are being made known.

As I try to put into words what is being experienced in my life I once again remember when my mother, sister and I cleaned out the attic in my grandmother's house. In order to find the treasures that lay hidden inside, the remains had to be sifted through. As we made our way through the layers of artifacts from years of life, there was much to be discarded. There was much that had no value.

So it has been with our little family. God has been shaking all that could be shakened so that only that which is lasting will remain, (Hebrews 12:). I have felt the shaking of the sieve that contains my life. Though I know the hands have been gentle as they have held me, the sifting has at times been vigorous. It's what has been needful to remove the affects sin has left on me and mine. Sins I have done; sins that have been done against me have left their messes. Lies about who I am have lain hidden in the crevices of my mind.

Hiddenness seems to be a safe place to be, yet it's not. For in the concealed places of the mind, the pain is there even though no one really knows. Hidden away hurts are never gone. It's only as I allow the Spirit of God to bring them into light that they can be exposed for what they are. It was made to happen best in the context of relationship.

It's much easier to hide than to let others know what's real inside of me. Shame blankets the mind convincing me that if anyone knew they'd run. It doesn't help that a few people who I've opened up to have appeared to run. It's hard to let people get close enough to see. It feels as if I'm standing out on a street corner naked while others stand there fully clothed gazing at me. What will they do with what I share? Is it safe to tell? When I share my life with someone and they withhold themselves I feel the stark nakedness.

Stepping out into the light, allowing another to know me, exposes the dark things hidden inside that continue to hold me captive. It exposes the voices in my head. It opens the doorway for love to have it's way. It gives another the opportunity to tell me what is real and true.

That is where David and I have been walking these last few months. We are stepping out of our hidden places into the light. We are exposing the dark places of our soul. We are risking, trusting that in the process we will be found. As a result we are finding a touch unlike any other.

Too many years of wearing our masks, trying to be who we thought we were supposed to be has kept us from the freedom to be who we really are. The guilt and shame of sin had told us a story that was far from true. Hidden away underneath all the rubble lies the beautiful identity bestowed on us. Slowly but surely the messes in our lives are being discarded and treasures are being found.

The Rescuer is coming for us, just as the team went for the miners of Chile. He knows we are hidden away and need to come out. So He drills down deep, one layer at a time, to find us. Some days the road feels arduous. Some days we want to give up. Some days we feel that we will never get out of this dark cave.

But just as the darkest hour of night is right before dawn so it is with the pitch black hours of the soul. At just the right moment a shaft in the mine opens, the Rescuer reaches down and brings me out to the brilliant light of a fresh new day. I am found.

What about you. Are you allowing yourself to come out of hiding to be known?

©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Freedom of a Child©

My fifth child came out of the womb looking to give affection. There’s just something about touch that is in her dna. Even as a teenager she still likes to come, climb up in my bed after waking, and snuggle. As a younger child, no matter what was going on in her day she was often drawn to where I was. She wanted to be with me.

In the late afternoons I would steal away into my bedroom for a little down time before the arsenic hour of dinner and bedtime hit. It wouldn't take long for my little one to come toddling in looking for me. The ways she came varied depending on what was going on inside her.

Sometimes she would come in wanting to talk to me. Other times she would walk in to see what I was doing, give me a hug, a kiss, then leave. But her favorite times were when she would hear me chatting on the phone with a friend. She would grab up her blanket, toddle into the room to climb up into my lap and rock. Laying her head against my chest she would just sit. There was something about those moments that beckoned her away from her busy activities into my embrace. It was the moment of stillness where she could just be, with Me.

As I chatted away, she snuggled down close, allowing my voice to reverberate in her ears. As my heart strummed it's steady beat, soothing her body, she would often ease into a sweet rest.

I loved how she came. I didn’t keep track of how often she chatted with me, or how frequently she climbed up in my lap. I just loved that she knew her place with me. I loved the ease in which she moved into what her heart stirred her to do. She didn't wonder or question. She lived in the comfortable freedom to be who she was in the moments never wondering if it was acceptable. She came just as she was longing to come.

It has taken me a while to get here but I’m finding my way into the childlike faith that knows the ease of being with One who loves them beyond any fears or expectations that might tell them otherwise. I'm finding that it requires no real discipline to follow the heart. Regimen requires discipline while the Spirit's urgings of the heart evoke following. The longings of the heart well up inside luring you to be where you need to be.

In these beautiful moments I find His invitation is extended wooing me to follow Him inside me.

As I grow into this love that takes my breath away, I’m finding life with God is much simpler than I've known it to be. He invites me to be with Him as my heart beckons me to be, for it is after all where His Spirit dwells.

In simplicity I am finding the beauty of the invitation of His Spirit made known. This beautiful, childlike faith is drawing me into a place much like my daughter has lived with me. Sometimes the Spirit lures me to look to see what He’s doing, give him a hug, a kiss then leave. Other times I come to talk to Him about what’s on my heart. But my favorite times are when I hear His voice and ease up into His lap. The sound of His voice soothes me into a stillness unlike any other.

As I delighted with my daughter's varied responses He delights with me. No records are kept, nor are there any agendas waiting to be fulfilled. He delights in seeing me come as I long to come. It's a stunning transformation. Day by day, moment by moment, I'm learning to live in the comfortable freedom of a child again. It's in that freedom I am learning to be.

©copyrighted: 2010, Julie L. Todd

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Update/Courtney & Kevin

Just a quick note to thank those of you who have visited Courtney & Hannah's blogs. You have blessed them so much! Also, I wanted to tell you of an amazing thing that is happening in town.

Courtney & Kevin, as you know, are in the process of raising support for their 6 months' missions trip to Europe and the 10/40 window. A local restaurant/pub heard of their endeavor and wanted to help raise funds for them. They decided to do a raffle with all proceeds going to Kevin & Courtney. The prize is a week's vacation in a condo at a resort in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

I've attached a copy of the poster/brochure they've posted in their restaurant/pub.

I'm just so blessed to see this local business want to come alongside Kevin & Courtney, it's just amazing!

Thanks again for your love and support. You've blessed us all!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Captured by His grace©

It happened again this past week. Another one of my babies became an adult. It's a bit more daunting this go around. I must let go, trusting that this man-child whom I love will find his own path. It leaves my heart feeling torn as I rejoice over his time to fly, yet grieve for the life I've known with him, changing in an instant. It's a bitter/sweet moment in the life of a mother.

I came at some things later in life. Now in what feels like the last few moments of influence there is one piece of wisdom that resonates from the depths of my being I yearn for him to know. It is in utter dependence on the One who formed him in my womb that he will find his life.

I've walked the path of the capable, independent life where self-effort leads. I know it's cost all too well. Grace is not realized there. I see those things trying to make their way into my son's life as he tries to stand on his own two feet. As I watch, I yearn for him to know what I didn't know. In need he will find his path.

The emotions welled up inviting the tears to cascade down my cheeks. In a moment it hit some place deep inside me as I realized. These aches I feel for my boy have been God's for me. In patient love He has waited for me to come. I am astounded as I understand more intimately this unconditional love that watches, waits and yearns.

God has yearned for me to need Him for all things, not just the things I could not manage on my own. He never intended that I figure out this life I've been given. He's longed for me to know who I am to Him. He's waited for me to utterly need Him in the depths of my being. For it is need that opens the passageway to receive His beautiful grace.

Self-effort kept me off the path of life. Independence bolted the door. Being a capable woman hindered my rescue.

Need led me to the door of life, humility turned the handle while trust opened my heart to receive. It was then that grace began to be realized in me. Grace is Christ's efforts that fulfilled all things, given in exchange for mine.

Humility is not the absence of pride. It's being desperate enough to receive from God and those He places in my path. Trust is the driving force that allows me to receive Christ's life in it's totality. Without trust I will live between two worlds; the world of trying to do all the right things to please God with my righteous acts of service and the world of grace where the life of Christ is lived from the inside out. They are two very different worlds.

It's one of the most vital things I've seen in my life. My attempts have kept me from the beautiful life of Christ inside me waiting to be lived out.

Christ has done it all. It's over. It really is finished. Every requirement that was placed on mankind has been satisfied. It's not what I do that pleases Him. It's living in who I am. The old covenant is fulfilled, and never to be mixed with the new. Everything started afresh at the resurrection.

The slate was wiped clean, and continues to be each and every moment of each and every day. There are no record of wrongs kept. No longer does shame cover me. I am righteous, holy, godly not because of what I do but because of what He did.

I have encountered Him in my midst. I have found the beauty that lies within weakness and need. It is in that place He comes in all His glory to awaken me to all of Him in me.

He has captured me with His grace. Step by step I am learning to walk, sometimes baby steps, sometimes strides. I have wrestled with God. He has overcome me. Though I may still walk with a limp I will never be the same again. Slowly but surely, I am learning to live from the inside out. As He yearns for me I yearn for my own. May they too will be captured by His beautiful grace.

©copyrighted: 2010, Julie L. Todd

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Meet My Daughters:

Hello my friends, I just wanted to take a minute to introduce you to my two daughters' blogs. Both are on a God journey.

My girl, Hannah is walking a difficult road after her engagement was broken this past May. She is writing the musings of her heart as she seeks to find God in the midst of her brokenness. Her posts are raw and vulnerable as she honestly reveals the battles and questions she faces. If you'd like to visit, her blog is: Walking Into Freedom:

My Hannah:

My girl Courtney and her husband Kevin are following God into a new adventure. This past April, at 12 weeks into their pregnancy, they learned that they had lost their baby. They were told that they would have to wait a year before trying to have another child. They began to seek God's heart on what He would have for this season of their lives. They felt Him leading them to go overseas for a YWAM Discipleship Training School/Outreach. They are currently raising support with plans to leave in early October. They are writing of their journey from marriage to miscarriage to missions. You can visit their blog here: Together In Him:

My Courtney:

My girls have walked some tough roads these last few months. I'd love to have you visit them and share the love that you have so beautifully given to me. If you stop by their blogs, please tell them you are a friend of mine. Thanks, friends for loving on my girls!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Fabric of My Life

An adorable little blonde girl sat contentedly on her father's lap eating her doughnut, not a care in the world. As I looked down at her small feet slipped inside her white sandals memories of years gone by flooded into my mind. Wasn't it just yesterday that my own girls wore cute little sandals much like hers?

God's timing is so impeccable at times that it overwhelms me.

I had just been having a conversation with Him about my children and the years that had passed. When my children were the age of that little girl I didn't know much about grace. I wish I had. My life's path as a mother would have taken a much different turn. I would not have been so focused on modifying their behavior. I would have spent my time telling them who God saw them to be and what Christ's death really meant for them. I would tell them that they didn't have to get it all right, because that's what Jesus came to do. I would tell them that their sins will never define them, that God defines them. I would speak of His delight in them, telling them that He would never, ever, ever be ashamed of them for their mistakes. I would invite them to live in their reality, Jesus in them is their life. He wants to live from the inside out in them.

But I came into grace too late for their early years. I couldn't give them what I didn't have. Sometimes it feels like too much water has passed under the bridge.

How does one reconcile the years gone by? What does one do with the tangle of threads they've woven into the life of another, especially when it is their child? How would one untangle such a mess? As I contemplate it all, feeling the overwhelm, I am reminded of when my grandmother taught me how to cross stitch.

She started off showing me how to look at the pattern and count each square, placing the thread right where it needed to go. Once my lessen was finished I was sent home to work on my own. When I returned for my next instruction she turned the fabric over to look at the back. She immediately saw that I had been carrying threads across the fabric instead of taking the time to cut them close. The result was a chaotic mess. Patiently, Grandmother took the tangled threads out and wove them in neatly right where they needed to go. By the end of my first project the back of my tapestry was as neat as the front. Each and every mess had been resolved.

It's what I imagine Papa God does with the threads that I've woven into my life, and the lives of those I love. Somehow, someway He takes those threads and intertwines them into the fabric of each life weaving His story of redemption.

In some unfathomable way there is never too much water under the bridge for any life. God is the God of my yesterdays, my todays and my tomorrows. He weaves His story of restoration in ways my mind cannot comprehend. As He does with me, so He will do with my children. It's that which gives me hope.

Nothing I do will ever fix a thing in my life. I cannot make who I was better. Jesus died so that I might have a fresh, new start each and every day. He fixed everything and now offers to live His perfect life through me. I get to step into what He has done for me. He makes all things new.

One by one He's taking the threads of my life, unraveling them, cutting them close while weaving them into a unique tapestry. It is the story that tells of how He came for one stuck in sin and shame and brought them out. As my children watch they are given a picture for their own lives. He is the God who makes all things good.

I live to tell, for I am His story of redemption.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Confessions of a Child©

When I read about the disciples I don't feel so abnormal. They walked with Jesus for 3 years in the flesh, yet sometimes they were really clueless. One day they were debating who was the greatest among them. Jesus' response is classic. "Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." His words take me back to the early years of my children.

My children wanted protection and guidance. They took my extended hand when it was offered.
They knew they didn't have all the answers. They were inquisitive. They wanted to be taught.

They didn't have their own provision. They came to us to be taken care of.

They didn't try to figure out their lives. They needed guidance to tell them where to go, what to do. They trusted the one who guided them.

When they were in pain, in need, in fear, afraid of the dark, they cried out. They were humble.

They weren't ashamed to come as they were to climb up my lap. They didn't question whether I wanted them near, they just came. They loved to be loved. They loved to love.

They wore no masks. They played no roles, they simply were who they were. They knew their place with me.

They believed. They trusted.

I see it so clearly now that I've lived it so wrongly. It's not just about salvation. It's about my identity. Unless I become like a child, I will never fully enter into the kingdom of Christ which now dwells in me.

At 23, I walked through the door of salvation, with the heart of a child. Immediately I began to live as an adult. I took care of myself. I didn't have a clue how to need. I leaned on my own understanding. The "shoulds" of the law captured my heart and life became about me and what I had to do to be right and pleasing to him. I began to try and sanctify myself by trying to make my "old man" better. I lived from the outside in.

I put on my masks to cover my shame. I played my roles, the ones that gave me some sense of value and fulfilled expectations. I protected myself. I trusted myself. Before I knew it I had forgotten what it looked like to enter in as a child. I quenched the very kingdom of heaven that made it's home in me, yet I didn't have a clue.

At 52 years of age, Jesus is bringing me back around. I am learning how to become a child again.

I continue to come back to this thought. Jesus said He had to leave in order for something better to come. He ascended into heaven. His Holy Spirit descended upon the earth. No longer would I have to experience Him from the outside, He would come to my inside. He would tell me who He knows me to be. He would teach me, counsel me, guide me into truth, leading me through the paths of life. After all He said He leads the blind on the unfamiliar path.

To inherit the kingdom is to live Christ in me. To live Christ in me, warrants the heart of a child that trusts out of a desire to be loved. He beckons me to come out from underneath my masks and be real before Him and others. He invites me to learn how to need again as He waits to take care of me.

Trust is the key that opens that door. Without it I will never believe. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. He is the way that leads me into the truth that gives me life.

I'm coming back around now to where I once started. I'm learning to trust, really trust. I long to be loved. I long to give love. I have no resources of my own. I need and I need desperately. I have no role to play, no ministry to fulfill. I don't need them anymore. I am learning how to be who I am in the moments of each day with a Spirit who inhabits me.

He has made me new. I am learning what that looks like, living from the inside out with the One who knows the path of life. In this magical place I am rediscovering the kingdom of heaven, Christ in me, is the hope of glory.
©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Cries of the Heart©

Before I had children I often heard women speak of the different cries their children had and how they knew what each one meant. I couldn’t fathom how one would know the difference. Then I became a mother and I understood.

There were different cries for different needs. I knew them all. Even when they could not speak a word I knew from the sound of their tears what they were crying out for. Their need warranted my coming for them. I didn’t wait for them to express what was going on correctly. As their cries resounded, immediately I ran to gather them up.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, yet more than 6 years have passed. Times were tough and life was hard. I could feel the effects of the storms we found ourselves in the midst of. On this particular day I had reached the end. I felt the tears waiting just behind my eyes. As bedtime approached I started the water in the tub. I needed a place to escape and let loose. Once I stepped in, the dam of emotions broke loose sending it's rivulets down my cheeks.

It didn't take long for the sobs hidden someplace deep to find their way up and out. As I soaked my body, my soul released the longings of my heart. There were no words to speak. I was void of them. Where was God? I didn't have the energy to pray as I had been taught to do. Truth is I couldn't even breathe the word, "help". Wasn’t I supposed to cry out for help in order for God to come? What would happen to me now? I was about to find out.

I didn't do one thing, I didn’t utter one word, yet Jesus came.

It was the beginning to an end for me. All these years I’d been trying to do and say all the things I was supposed to so that He could show up for me. Yet when I couldn’t do any of them He came in the most beautiful way.

I was totally and completely bereft of words, actions, godly attitudes and choices, yet God came near to me and lifted me up into His arms' embrace. I didn’t do one thing and still He came. It was in that moment I began to see something new and fresh. It's not about what I do that makes the difference, it's about who I am to Him.

I couldn’t get over it. I still can’t.

Tears are the language of the heart. Jesus knows what they mean. He reads them and rides on the heavens to save me. I don’t have to say the right words or have the right posture. I simply need. It is my need that warrants His rescue.

As a mother comforts her child, so He comforts me. His great love stands ready, listening for my deep need to be made known. It's absolutely mind blowing when I think about it, just as I heard the needs of my children in their tears, He hears the cries of my heart.

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help

you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deut. 33:26-27b

©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Interwoven Life of Us ©

I've already raised two teenagers. I am currently raising two with another waiting in the wings to start her journey in about six weeks. Regardless of their gender they've shared a generic phrase during life encounters; "I know".

My teenagers think they know alot more than they really know. That is until life proves otherwise.

It's really not just a commonality with teenagers. It was true for the "learned" in Jesus' day.
It's true for me too.

Knowledge became my goal. I believed that if I learned enough about God I would be loved. At least I would prove my allegiance, hopefully pleasing Him. Had I lived in the days when Jesus walked the earth I think I too would have been a good Pharisee.

Once I came to the end of my quest it was there I found love.

As I considered this paradox the other day Jesus sweetly began to reveal to me what knowledge had done to my life.

"Knowledge puffs up, Jewel." "It's often the hindrance to the encounter." "It's not about trying to understand me to know what I want from you." "It's about being open to receive me as I am in you."

"You've spent most of your life trying to understand me so that you could be like me.... do all the right things, make all the right choices..."

"That's not it, Jewel". "That will take you into a life of knowledge much like the men of my day." "They thought they knew so much about my Abba, yet they didn't have a clue about Me." They didn't see me for who I was." "They were looking for something they had learned." "I was there in their midst, yet they didn't see me." "Their knowledge puffed them up and kept them blind."

"Knowing about Me and living in Me are two very different creatures." "One requires Me, the other requires you." "Seek me to know me in you, not to know about me to imitate me." "You cannot imitate me." "I've lived my life, now you must live yours..." "It's the life of you and I interwoven together as one."

"As the Father was in me, so I am in you." "The Father was reflected in me as I lived our life together." "It's the same for you, Jewel." "Dependence is the key." "Knowledge just puffs up."

"Encounter me in you." "That's the ticket." "The people of my day had me right in the scope of their eyes and they had no clue." "They could have encountered my Abba through me, but they didn't."

"I'm in the scope of your eyes, too Jewel. I'm in you." "Live out of that." "Don't try to figure it all out yourself." "You'll never figure it out." "It is my Spirit which was given to you that reveals all things." "Listen to My Spirit within you." "He will guide you into all truth." "You need Him in order to live this life." "Don't forget that."

Jesus told the disciples that He had to leave in order for something better to come to indwell them. No longer is Jesus on the outside living His life. His Spirit now lives in me. His Spirit waits to reveal what that looks like, allowing me to live from the inside out.

Maybe that's why Jesus told us to become like little children. Little children look to their parents to guide them. They need.

It's in the need that I am finding my release. I can't figure out this life. I have no clue. Honestly I don't want to have a clue anymore. After all, having my own ideas kept me from the beauty of encounters.

The Spirit of the living God resides in me. He was sent to comfort, guide, counsel, teach. I have access to Him every moment of every day. It is He who guides me into all truth. No longer do I have to lean on my own understanding. I don't have to get it right or figure it all out. I am now invited to need Him to live. By His Spirit alone I live and move and have my being.

Life bearing encounters are making their way into my life as I awaken to this beautiful Spirit that chooses to make His home in me. As He engages with me in the moments of life I am finding my way into the stunning discovery of this interwoven life of "us".

"Knowledge puffs up by love builds up."
I Corinthians 8:1

©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Loving the Impromptu©

I gathered my things together and headed out for my normal Friday Starbucks day. I knew my 1st and 3rd born children would be standing behind the counter, waiting to serve me. I was surprised to see my 2nd born married girl walk through the door. She'd stopped by to sit with me on her lunch break.

What a gift it is to have impromptu times such as these.

We grabbed a table and within minutes my oldest took her 10 minute break and joined us.

The 3 of us sat talking, laughing, enjoying the sheer pleasure of being together. It wasn't what we talked about that brought me joy, it was the gift of comfortable conversation and love shared.

My heart was taking it all in, relishing the gift of this time. I had no record in my mind of how long it had been since we had all been together like that. I didn't really care. The truth is all I care about at those moments is the pleasure of sitting there with my girls.

It's in times like these my heart sees a clearer picture of the One who loves me beyond measure.

So many years of my life I went to sit with God due to a requirement I was encouraged to fulfill.
I was told often that if I loved Him I would spend at least 30 minutes a day in "quiet time", preferably in the morning. So, I did. I wanted to prove my love for Him.

When I missed a day, guilt came after me. If I missed several I often chastised myself. I didn't deserve for Him to talk to me. After all I had neglected Him for days. I had no idea how wrong I was about Him. But now, as I move into this place of intimate relationship He opens my eyes to see things I've not known.

He's not waiting with a record book to see if I will come. There is no data kept that tells Him how frequently I've visited Him. There's no agenda that needs to be discussed, no right words to speak. His heart is the one that beats in me. He loves it when I drop by for a visit. He relishes the impromptu visits led by the heart.

The words spoken in conversation are not even what it's about. The sheer pleasure of having me come to hang out with Him is.

The truth is, He's just plain delighted to see me.

As Hannah's break ended, Courtney's time was up as well. Hugs and kisses goodbye, "I love you's" spoken left my heart full to overflowing. My girls came to hang out with me. There is no greater gift for my mother's heart.

I love the impromptu moments of the heart's leading with my children. What if I required them to come and sit with me? How would it fare? Intimacy would be replaced with expectations. It just wouldn't be the same for my heart, nor theirs.

Days will go by before the next opportunity comes. Impromptu times have no routine for they happen as we live in the moments. It's times like these that fill the soul unlike anything a schedule could ever bring.

"Come as you are, Jewel." "It's what my heart longs for." I hear Him say.

His Spirit indwells us. He said He had to leave in order for something better to come to us. Yet far too often I've not even allowed this Guide inside me to invite me into the moments of the impromptu. I've met requirements for the better part of my life. Intimacy, true deep heart igniting intimacy, has been held back.

It's in the moments that my heart cries out to "be" with Him that I am finding a love that leaves me undone. For in those moments, those beautiful moments I see that all He ever wanted was for me to come as my heart beckoned me. It's in that place I find the sheer pleasure of His delight.

As I relish the impromptu moments of with my children it's then I see, so does He.

I really am the image of God.
©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd