Friday, March 19, 2010

A Mosaic in the Making©

Sometimes I feel so out of sorts. So much of me has been changed that at times it's hard to know what is normal, if there is such a thing.

Ministry that I thought I would be doing, I’m not. In fact those desires that I once held close seem to have disappeared completely. Currently. even the stirring to write feels distant. Words that once awakened me seem to have fallen asleep inside me. With a bit of sadness, I sit wondering if my writing season has come to an end. It's been on my mind lately. For oftentimes in the stillness it's hard to see that anything is moving forward.

Yesterday, Jesus brought back a memory of a time much like I find myself in today. I was sitting on a porch overlooking a pond. I felt what I saw displayed; stagnant and unmoving. I begged God for something that revealed that I was was where I needed to be. It was then He met with me as He drew my eyes to a spot in the pond.

Suddenly the pond was set in motion when something lighted the surface. At that moment, from that one touch, the waters started rippling out. As I watched their path I saw something that was absolutely stunning. The water rippled across the reflection of a brilliant red-leaf tree, creating a beautiful mosaic on the water.

Immediately He spoke to me, reminding me of the beauty of stillness. He told me that Mosaics capture beauty through their broken pieces. For in a Mosaic, pieces must be broken to fit the picture.

Yesterday as the memory faded, He brought fresh words to this current contemplative place. "Jewel, the new wine can't be placed in old wine skins." "The outer is wasting away while the inner is being renewed."

“Old ways, things, and habits must waste away.” “Don’t fret this season.” “Pieces are being broken off as part of the fashioning of your life's Mosaic.” “Some pieces didn’t belong there.”

“It’s time to remove the old wine skins.” “They won’t hold the new wine that ferments inside you.” “This is a time of ceasing of life as you’ve known it.”

It’s an awkward place for me sometimes. So much of my life has been doing that often the being catches me off guard. I feel like I SHOULD be doing something, yet I feel no stirring to do those things I once considered. Am I really supposed to just sit back and wait for something to hit me? It's so foreign to my normal way of thinking.

At that moment He answered my questioning with such simplicity. “Why not, Jewel?” “What if that’s all it is about” “What if you were in tune with my Spirit in you and then waited until the stirring hit you before you moved?” “Would that be horrible? "What if it were left up to me and not up to you?" "Could you trust me to move you when you needed to move?"

A picture flashed into my mind as if He wanted to sear all this into my very being.

I have a salad dressing cruet that I make Italian dressing in. In the middle of the lid is an attached stirrer. Once I have poured in the ingredients, they immediately begin to settle and separate. Therefore, before the dressing can be served it must have a vigorous stirring. Once everything is stirred up, I then pour.

Can it be that simple, Jesus? Can I really wait for your stirring? It almost sounds too good to be true.

“You can’t patch the old on the new, Jewel.” “It may feel as if the outer is wasting away.” “That’s a good thing.” "Your "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" old flesh needed to die." “Take heart, your inner man is being renewed on the outer.”

His words strike a place in my heart that once again bring me to that place of rest. This current place that sometimes feels too still is His appointed place, where beauty is unfolding inside me. The outer garments that I have worn for so long are wasting away, while He renews my inner man. The wine that ferments inside cannot be placed in the old wine skins. Therefore He takes the pieces that fit my life and fashions them to one day display my own Mosaic, Jesus in Julie. It's who I long to be.

©copyrighted: 2010, Julie L. Todd

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Journey of Grace: Rebuilding the Ancient Ruins©

When Jesus called me out of religious activity, life began anew for me. I began to realize things I’d never known before. When at Calvary Jesus said, “It is finished”, He meant it. When He walked out of the tomb His completed life was made available to me. I could now lay mine down. I’m still learning what that looks like. I guess I’ll be learning until He takes me home.

All the years of trying to be something for God had left me empty. I was ripe and ready to need, though I didn’t have a clue what that looked like. I didn’t know how to be different I just knew I wanted to be. I entered into a road where dependence would be the key that would unlock the doors to my freedom. I would never be able to figure it all out. It would be up to Jesus. I needed and I needed badly.

Everything around me was affected by that one choice, especially my children. For the first time they were given the opportunity to be seen in who they really are, apart from their performance. It’s a domino affect after all. What the parent experiences trickles down to the children. If we don’t live in our true identity, our children won’t be allowed to either. I won't ever be able to give something that I, myself am not experiencing.

One of the hardest parts of it all has been seeing the affects that my captivity cost my children. My performance-driven lifestyle had spoken to them in so many negative ways. I wish it weren’t true, but it is.

When I do not live in the finished work of Christ in me, I will hurt those I love the most. I have passed along messages that were far from the truth. Words and actions really do affect children. I’ve seen it. I know. My love for them is not based on what they do or don’t do, I love them because they are mine. They haven’t seen that. They have a chance to now.

I can often feel the regrets of the years that have gone by. Sometimes it's hard to understand why it took so long for me to get to this place. The damage could have been much less had I gotten this sooner. But even that His grace covers. I was reminded of that this past weekend when my oldest came home with her boyfriend for a visit.

As I shared some of my story with Nathan, I verbalized that I wished things had been different for my children. Immediately my daughter responded, “It’s OK, Mom, things are different now. I see a difference.”

Such tender words remind me that God paints a picture in the midst of the mess that opens eyes of those around us to see, “there’s a difference.” He even uses my blunderings to show His character. The mess of my flesh allowed my girl to see that God really does make a difference.

It’s that mysterious thing that God does with His grace, as He makes all things work together for good. My children see what life lived in one's own strength looks like. It never works, it never will. It puts expectations on people. It hurts.

But best of all they now get to see that God really does make a difference.

I've often contemplated what it was that catapulted me into this newfound change? What was it that finally made things begin to click? It's simple, really. My point of reference changed. Instead of seeing myself in all my broken places I began to ask God what He saw in me. I started learning to love myself the way God loves me. In the process I’ve discovered something. Who He tells me I am is so much better than who I've thought myself to be.

Learning to believe what He said was true has allowed me to learn to trust Him. It has opened me up to be a lover. Now it’s trickling down affecting those I love deeply.

The rebuilding continues as layers of flesh are being exposed and peeled away. He has come for me. He won't stop until I see Him face to face. He has changed my heart. I will never be the same again.

The Restorer is rebuilding the ancient ruins of my life. This time it's built on a firm foundation. He is the builder, not me. My regrets are turned to joy as I see that nothing is wasted in His economy. He really does make all things good. His grace covers everything, even the ruins of my past.

©copyright: 2010, Julie L. Todd

Thank you to all who have taken the time to read my journey into grace. From time to time I've had people ask me questions about things I've shared in my story. I would love to open my blog up for that. If you have a question, or would like to know more about a specific thing I've written about, simply write a response to the post and ask away, or you can email me if you prefer. You can find my email address on my profile page.

To read previous posts, click on the titles below.

A Journey of Grace:

Part One: In The Beginning:

Part Two: My Fig Leaves:

Part Three: Lost In Translation:

Part Four: Let Freedom Ring:

Part Five: My Deliverer Is Coming:

Part Six: Alone In The Wilderness:

Part Seven: Glimpses Of The Wilderness:

Part Eight: Walking Without Crutches:

Part Nine: Assessing The Damage: