Saturday, August 13, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Who hasn't heard the saying, "when a door closes a window opens?" It's one of those infamous cliches that one uses to comfort when things go wrong. But what does one do when the door’s been slammed and the window has yet to open?
We are there.
Last Thursday my husband was laid off from his job of almost 6 years. We knew the possibility existed, we just didn't think it would be us......
Being a one-income family has caused this abrupt end to rattle us. Honestly we don't have a clue what we’ll do next. Some days we’re still in the shock stage. These are the times that try a man's soul.
Our emotions have been all over the place. The questions rise up from some place deep. Is God really good? Will He really take care of us? Do I really trust God with me, with us, with what all this will look like?
The words have been spoken repetitively. "God's got something better."
I want to believe it, I really do. But I contemplate how there could be something better than what we had? As I type the words I see how easily my focus goes to what I can see working out. I can easily equate the goodness of God with the goodness of my circumstances.
I've been around the block enough to know that the "God has something better" might not mean the most pleasant of circumstances. Can I really trust God with this unknown territory? It doesn't help that years ago we lived through the season of the jobs. Though much good came out of that time it's hard not to remember that long hard winter and wonder.
At times the battle is fierce. There are moments when the uncertainty of it all shakes me at my core. The enemy whispers his taunts hoping to discourage me. "How can this possibly work out?" "Look around you." "How in the world will you guys make it?" His voice resounds in this seen world around me. Yet Jesus' voice trumps his when I choose to trust Him with what I cannot see.
I find myself remembering the words in Hebrews, "more blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe." They take on new meaning at a time like this. If I look at what I can see there is not much hope here. I live in a small, rural, mountain town where jobs are few and far between. But isn't it in the unseen world that the unexplainables happen?
I have a favorite clip in the movie, "The Last of the Mohicans". A group of British soldiers are escorting 2 women through Indian territory to their father. Suddenly their guide turns on them in ambush. Those in the midst of the ambush have no idea of 3 Mohicans who are on the run to rescue them. Suddenly out of nowhere, they appear. The ambush is thwarted and the remaining party is saved.
The story line makes me think of life behind the scenes in my world. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are always on the move. It's not dependent on what I can see happening. It's dependent on their faithfulness to move heaven and earth to come for me, simply because I need.
I want to trust in the way of a child. They don't question whether they’ll have food or shelter. They don't wonder if they will be cared for, protected or even rescued. They rest in the care of their parents because they know their place in the family.
I want to be there, all the time, with the One who Fathers me. I want to rest in knowing my place in the heart of Love. It’s the battle my mind now faces. These inner struggles are part of the “greater things” that He does.
Darkness meets light as fears that lay hidden make their way out in the open. In their moments I am invited to wrestle with God until I believe what is already true for me. It is then He can overcome me much as He did Jacob, allowing me to find that which has always been true. I belong to One who loves me to the point of death. Nothing stood in the way of His rescue then. Nothing stands in His way now.
“Those who are historically experiencing the greatest measure of the Holy Spirit’s power are those who doggedly choose to give up control over how their life must look and instead call good whatever God has allowed, caused, withheld, delayed or denied.”
John Lynch - 2011
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
My tears led the way to my chat with Jesus. It all started with my friend’s words. Her blogpost spoke of how after a long, hard season, she was beginning to dream again. I saw myself woven into the details of her story.
It’s been a year of endurance not only for myself but for my family too. Early in 2010 my 3rd born experienced his first real break up. The next day he broke his hand requiring surgery. Eight weeks later, he was released from the doctor. Soon after his release, his hand was broken again in the same spot while playing a game at camp. He started the healing process all over again.
My 2nd born excitedly announced the expectancy of our first grandchild. Twelve weeks later when she went in to hear the baby’s heartbeat she was told her little one had died.
Around the same time, my 1st born announced her engagement. Two months later the traumatic phone call came. Her engagement had been broken off. She needed her father to come and drive her home. She walked in the door broken and confused.
Since the beginning of 2010 God has been plowing up the fallow ground of my husband’s heart awakening us both to broken places hidden away inside. It’s been needful yet very, very messy.
A friendship I had had great hopes for took a turn in a direction I didn’t expect, taking pieces of my heart with it.
As I sat with my journal open I allowed the pain that lay hidden behind the emotions to spill out. "What's the point of desiring, I just end up getting hurt." "I'm better off not longing for anything, at least that way I won't have to deal with the pain of hope deferred."
Why is it that life seems so daunting sometimes? I was taken back to the pastor's words spoken to me in 2004. Instantly God had given him a vision of me. He saw a horse itching at the gate wanting to get out. "You see yourself as a sprinter, get in, get the job done," he said. "But God wants you to know that you've been built for endurance." "In the days that are troubled, ask yourself... how do I have hope today?"
I hadn't done that. I'd set my face like a flint to keep enduring but I’d forgotten to look for hope. As I sat with the tears pouring down my cheeks I realized I’d lost the ability to dream. I’d lost trust in His delight to give me the desires of my heart. All I could see were the hardships that must be endured. I forgot to look for hope.
It was my husband's prayer for me that day that stirred the longings up to the surface. "Surprise her today, God."
I packed up my things and drove to Starbucks. It was after all my writing day. I couldn't understand why I was going. I hadn't written one word in weeks, words have been stuck inside me. I hoped that as I moved forward God would do something to re-ignite the embers of my heart.
While I was gone a package came. I wasn’t expecting anything.
Inside the box was a letter.... “You are our ipad winner of the day.” I had entered one giveaway after another longing to give one to my husband. David is always thinking of his family, never buying anything for himself. I knew if he could buy himself anything it would be an ipad. I knew I probably would never have the money to buy one yet I longed to give him this gift. I don’t know if the neighbors heard my squealing.
Wait! How did this happen? They said the winners would get an e-mail that they would need to respond to in 72 hours in order to receive their prize. I hadn’t gotten an e-mail. I hadn’t responded. How did they get my mailing address? I didn’t give it to them. What about the winner’s list where all the winners are listed? My name wasn’t on there. Why wasn’t my name on there? It didn’t make sense. How could I be their winner of the day?
It was in that moment that I saw the twinkle in His eyes.
God gave me a desire of my heart. He took the bellows of my fragile faith and fanned it anew as I watched a desire satisfied before my eyes.
Last Friday I saw once again that a longing fulfilled really is a tree of life.
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd
Monday, February 14, 2011
* Note: I am revisiting a post I wrote in Feb. 2008. Hope you enjoy...
What is it about love stories? Scenes from movies I love become etched in my brain: Aragorn’s captivation with Arwen in “Lord of the Rings”; Nathaniel’s pursuit to rescue Cora in “The Last of the Mohicans”; William Wallace’s passion for Murron in “Braveheart”; or Colonel Brandon’s patient love that waited for Marianne in “Sense & Sensibility”. There’s something about these scenes that speak to the deepest places of my heart. I was after all created for love.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful love story. I was seen, delighted in and loved, yet I didn't really know. A villain had previously entered my story, disguised his voice and told me lies about who I was. He told me that I was not loved or wanted. He whispered to me, “You are lacking”; “You are too much, and not enough all at the same time"; “You are a problem who causes problems.” And I believed him.
Hidden in the shadows was another who was watching, calling out to me. Even when I didn't know Him, He knew me. I never left his eyes. He was waiting to rescue me. He was waiting for me to need His rescue.
One day I cried out. I became his, at least in his eyes, that is.
I wanted to be loved by him, but couldn’t resolve the facts. The things I had heard from the villain seemed so true. They matched up with the things that had happened in my life. I couldn’t believe anything else, for the lies had become my truth.
There was so much that was unlovely about me. How could he possibly love me? Maybe if I worked hard enough for him he would notice me and approve.
No matter how much I did it was never enough. I graded myself daily on my behavior. Surely he must see what I see. Surely he finds me lacking. Yet He waited patiently until I was done looking for love, in all the wrong places. He waited for me to see His. Could it possibly be true that I was being pursued for love alone?
He invited me to take a go with Him into the wilderness. He knew it would be arduous and long, but it was the only way to free my heart. The barren lands and empty springs left exposed what I really believed about me and about Him. I began to remember what had happened while in captivity. Though painful to remember I knew it was the only way to be free to be loved. The lies had to be exposed for what they were in order for the truth to take root.
He never left my side. He was my constant companion. With each memory he soothed me with his words of love, while applying salve to the open wounds. He spoke against the lies that I had believed. He began to tell me the truth of who I was to him. Like a tiny rosebud at the onset of Spring, life and love began to burst into my being.
Finally I began to believe. There was someone who saw me. There was someone who loved me. He had that look in his eyes. I captivated him. I never knew I could be loved so fiercely just as I am.
I am loved with an everlasting love. I have always been loved. I will always be loved. Love came down to rescue me. I am His and He is mine.
Happy Valentines’ Day, Jesus. You take my breath away. I love you forever.
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master'." Hosea 2:14-16
©copyrighted: 2011, Julie L. Todd
Thursday, January 13, 2011
The more I am exposed to the unmerited favor of God, the more the epiphanies make their way into my paradigm, renewing my mind afresh. He's taking things that have been tucked away and making sense of them, opening my eyes to see them differently than I have known.
Yokes of performance and striving have filled my life for most of my years. Slowly but surely each one is being exposed for what it is. The wheat is being sifted to blow away the chaff, allowing that which has no value to be removed for good. Scriptures that I have read for my entire life are being seen through different lenses. The more the Spirit of God fine tunes my eyesight the more clearly I see, things are not what I thought they were.
I'd heard the passage preached throughout my life. If you look in my Bible you'll see the notations from things heard that I wanted to put into practice. Each element was described beautifully, revealing it's importance. Exhortations were often strong and commanding. "Put on the full armor of God."
How does one actually put an armor like that on? How do you envision wearing it all day? I feared what would happen if I didn't. I was told I would leave myself open for attack. Was I doing it correctly? If I didn't would I then be exposed to dangerous attempts at my well being? I tried hard to obediently put on each piece daily, doing my best to picture each part in it's place .
That is until the epiphany came.
The armor is not something that I put on. It is something I sink into. It's not a visible set like the knights wore. It is Jesus in Me.
Paul is exhorting me to live in the identity of my new nature where Jesus' completed life interweaves with mine. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live. Christ now lives in me. We are interwoven together as one.
Jesus is the armor that I sink into. Jesus in Me.
I don't put it on, as an act of obedience, I live in it. Paul is inviting me to realize what is already true. I am Jesus in Julie. The resurrected Christ lives in me. He is my armor. Each piece described in the passage points back to the One who conquered sin, death and the grave.
The belt of truth - Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)
The breastplate of righteousness - Jesus is the Righteous One who makes me righteous. (II Corinthians 5:21)
The shoes of gospel of peace - Jesus is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
The shield of faith - I live by the faith "of the Son of God" who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
The helmet of salvation - Jesus is the Savior of the world. (Luke 2:11)
The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. - In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was with God. (John 1:1)
It's not about my envisioning placing armor on my body, it's about living out what happened the day Jesus walked out of that tomb. I was made righteous once and for all. My old life is gone. I was given a new nature. Christ lives inside me perfecting my imperfections. He is the way to the truth to the life. Even on my worst day I am and will always be the righteousness of Christ.
Once more the chains that once bound me fall away as I realize it all. Jesus invites me to step into His completed life in me. Just the thought of it all astounds me. Christ exchanged His life for mine. He gave me another chance at life. He made me new.
It's not up to my obedient act that gets it right. It's Christ in me that makes me right. Baby step by baby step I'm learning to see this Jesus who lives inside me. As I do I find absolute protection as I realize, Jesus the Prince of Peace, the Righteous One, the Savior of the world has now become my armor. I'm sinking into the full armor of God.
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd