Saturday, August 13, 2011

To My New Subscribers

Hello to the my new subscribers, first let me thank you for coming here and joining me. I am grateful to have you along on my journey. Second, I wanted to let you know that I recently felt led to start afresh on a new blog. I spend most of my time there writing these days. I hope you will join me as my journey continues on at: "My Long And Winding Road"

If you'd like to subscribe at the new blog you can find the link on the home page,(right hand side) where you will enter your email address. Once you enter your email address you will find a confirmation email sent to your inbox. Click on the link provided in that email to confirm you subscription and you will be all set. Every time I put up a new post you will receive an email with the post in it.

Thank you again for being here.

Here's a taste of my most recent post at the new blog:
Tempered By Love ©

The personality profile test the church used was supposed to help me understand myself. Everyone seemed to buy into it. I was told it was helpful in knowing how to work in relationships in ministry together. I bought into it too. I wanted to know who I was. I wanted to understand the lingo everyone was using. Little did I know that it would end up being something used to shut me down.

I attended the seminars where the pastor presented the information. I received my label. “D”, Direct, Decisive, High Ego Strength, Problem Solver, Risk Taker, Self Starter. As he described the weaknesses of my new-found diagnosis I felt the shame wash over me. Really, is this who I am? It didn’t look good for a southern woman in the church. I didn’t want to be her. I wanted to be someone else. I didn’t want to anyone to know.

I will never forget the Sunday I was asked by one woman in particular about my profile. As I spoke I heard the groan escape her lips, confirming what I had come to believe. No one wants to have a personality like mine.

*You can finish this post here:

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Dead Man's Float"

I am loving my new blog at Wordpress. If you want to check out my latest post, here's an exerpt:

Sometimes it feels like the blind leading the blind here. This is the first time we’ve embarked on territory like this. Brennan Manning said it well. “The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future.”

That pretty much sums up the road we find ourselves on. In 11 days it will be 5 months since David lost his job. It was not something we chose, it was what we were given. Once we got over the initial shock we began to ask God, “what now”.. We agreed that it was time to do something different. It was time to not allow the bills to dictate the job. It was time to walk a more narrow path than we’ve known, stepping out into the unknown, trusting God with the results.

There is no rational explanation to justify the decision we’ve made, nor is there a guarantee of our future. We walk by faith, not by sight, for honestly there’s not much to see right now. Applications and resumes are out there. No one’s biting. Crickets are chirping getting louder with every day that passes, yet we wait, we choose trust. What else is there after all?

If I were being honest I would have to say that it would be easier to handle things the way we were accustomed to using a lot of striving and self effort. It feels much harder walking by faith, trusting the Spirit inside to guide us into what needs to be done, believing we are hearing well, and following rightly.

To continue reading, click here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Changes, a new home....

Dear friends,
After much prayer and consideration I've decided to start afresh in a new blog home. I've posted my first post in my new home. I'd love for you to join me there. If you are a subscriber to my blog, look for an email from me in your inbox. The new blog address is: My Long and Winding Road:

Some of you have been with me for a long time here. If you would like to continue to follow me and my writing you will find a link where you can subscribe. You will receive emails every time I put up a new post. It is on the right hand side of the new blog. Once you put in your email address you will receive a confirmation email. You will need to respond by clicking on the confirmation link to validate your subscription. If you do not confirm, you will not be subscribed.

I have not activated the blog on Facebook yet. I'm still praying about that one. So if you are a Facebook fan I'd encourage you to sign up under the email subscription until I determine what to do about Facebook.

Thank you all for being with me here. It has been a gift to my heart. Here is an exerpt from my first post in my new home...
The Doors Are Open, please come in....
I was counting it out today. I’ve moved 7 times since I married 28 years ago. Every single time there was something better that waited. We always knew when it was time to pack it all up and leave. Things closed down around us as a stirring made it’s way in, inviting us to leave the familiar to experience something new. Whether a new town, fenced yard or more living space it was always worth pulling up the stakes.

The hardest relocation for us all was moving to a new town. Everything familiar we had known was left behind. Not only did we leave a house full of wonderful memories, we left relationships with good friends. What would happen to the bonds we had formed? It’s always in the back of your mind when you step out into fresh territory. Will the connections stay through life’s horizons? To continue reading, click..... The doors Are Open, please come in....

I hope to see you there. I've loved having you here!

Thank you!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I've been stuck lately.

I feel the words inside my mind. I want to write, I need to write, yet I am stuck. My brain is constipated with words jammed inside unable to move or be moved. The question plagues my mind; what do I write about?

I've been in a wilderness of sorts these last 4 years. Sequestered by God, I've been given time alone unlike any other time in my life. I've wrestled until I nestled. I've found my way into discoveries about who I am and who God is. I feel the piles of words stacked up in my brain yet I feel like a deer immobilized by head lights.

It reminds me of our backyard at a house we once rented. The owners had moved of town, therefore the yard had not been tended well. One glance out the back door would send my husband's mind to a place of overwhelm. Accumulation of overgrowth was everywhere. Where does one begin? It was enough to send him away from the piles to some quiet place of retreat.

It's what happens to me these days when I draw away to write.

Having been a self-effort performer who is learning to live in dependence sometimes it gets tricky stepping out. You tend to second guess your every move. Is this me or is this God? Sometimes the fear of stepping out on my own efforts restrains me from making a step at all.

Little did I know 4 years ago when I started this little blog that I would be blessed with so many dear people who have come to follow along. Beautiful responses from dear hearts encourage me that words written are touching a place in them, sometimes awakening them to things they'd never considered. I feel the weight of this sacred place of my heart written down. What if I step out and do this thing on my own? What if I let people down? Do people really want to hear about my day in and day out struggles? What if I don't have anything profound to say?

Something has gotten distorted in the union of this gift of writing that I love. I find my mind lodged, unable to move forward, yet longing for the exhilaration of words written down. I need to be rescued from this dark, cold shaft.

Years ago there was a little girl named Jessica McClure who became entrapped in an abandoned well shaft. She was playing in the yard of her day care center when suddenly her little 18 month old body fell and became lodged. It took rescue workers 58 hours to pull her out of that shaft. I remember sitting by the television watching as they brought her up to her release. Tears of celebration of a life saved filled the faces of those who had been diligently working to set her free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set me free. I don't want to be stuck anymore.

So dear friends who have blessed me with your presence, I am asking God to free me from the shaft that has held me captive. I am asking Him to set me free to write whenever and whatever crosses my heart knowing that I cannot leave Him behind, for He lives in me. I leave the weight of responsibility of all this on His shoulders. May He bless you with His heart in me as my life is lived before you.

I am considering starting afresh with a new blog. I'm not sure yet what God is saying about all that, but I am asking. If He says yes, I will let you all know where to find me.

I would be grateful for your prayers.

With gratitude....

Friday, June 10, 2011

What's Love Got to Do With It? ©

The year was 2005. I'd been asking God to awaken me to my true identity. I wanted so desperately to know who He saw me to be. I knew the things I believed about myself. I truly hoped that He didn't see me that way too. I frequently asked Him for pictures that would reveal His heart to me. On this particular day I asked again. Suddenly a vision flashed into my mind.

I saw a woman dressed in a beautiful free flowing skirt. She was in the parking lot outside the church we were attending. I couldn't see her face. I didn't know who she was. With arms raised she twirled around in dance. There was freedom and beauty in the way she moved. She didn't care who saw her. She only cared about the One who watched. As the vision left I began to ask God what it all meant. Who is that? "It's you!" What is that? "It's the dance of freedom." How do I get there, God? "I will take you there." "It is for freedom that I came."

I remember a piece of furniture my mother restored. Layers of paint hid it's raw beauty. It wasn't a quick or easy process. One coat of paint was stripped away at a time. I remember the steel wool, the sharp tools, the strong smelling solvent. Underneath the years of history the beautiful, original wood found it's way out. Sandpaper was used to smooth off any remaining rough edges. Afterwards stain was rubbed in bringing the piece to life. The grand finale was the top coat applied protecting the work that had just been completed.

I am like that piece of furniture.

For God so loved me He sent Jesus to restore me back to my true identity. Layers of lies brought on by my own sins and the sins done against me are being stripped away. Their coatings of shame cover me no more. Religious mandates are falling by the wayside, no longer holding me captive. He is peeling away the layers allowing me to receive what's been there all along. Love... just love.

The finished work of Christ now sets me free. The beauty of the original is making it's way out. I am free to live as one who is loved because I am.

No longer is there need to dance the exhausting dance to be acceptable. I no longer have to strive to be holy. I can believe that I am. He will never use the words, "after all I've done for you, what will you do for Me?" The lists are over, the plates can stop spinning. It's not about getting everything right or being enough. It is no longer imperative that I keep watch on my behavior for it does not prove my godliness. I now see His arm wrapped around me as we look at my sin together. It's not about the sin. It's about living in who I am.

He's known me for a lifetime. All that was has been removed. He sees me free from the layers, dancing in liberation. He invites me to see that too. Embracing love freely given brings me to an abandon unlike I've ever known. I am free to be just as I am knowing He will show me who He knows me to be. To the extent I trust I am loved, I will be loved.

The vision makes sense to me these days. It's breathtaking. I find myself dancing in the beautiful freedom of the free flowing life of Christ in me.

What's love got to do with it? Everything.
©copyrighted 2011: Julie L. Todd

Friday, April 22, 2011

On the Mat Again©

A memory floods my mind today. It was June 2002. It had never happened to me before, nor has it happened to me since. I was awakened from a deep sleep with a sharp pain in my hip. I didn't think much about it. It wasn't enough to disturb my return to a solid sleep. I don't know how much time passed. Suddenly I was re-awakened with the same sharp pain. This time my mind was flooded with a story I'd heard dozens of times. Jacob wrestled with God until God dislocated Jacob's hip overcoming him.

There must be some meaning to it all, I remember thinking. After all I'm not one to wake in the middle of the night with a Bible story on my mind. I put it aside to contemplate the next day. I visited the story in the pages of Genesis and discovered something.

I wrestle with God, frequently.

Sometimes life takes over. Things look much different then I expected them to. Longings I thought would be fulfilled aren't. Doors I believed would open slam shut. Some days life feels more like a constant battlefield than a valley of life. Lost jobs, family struggles, uncertainties, dead-end relationships find their way into my everyday life. The question lurks in the corridors of my mind. Do I really believe God is good?

I find myself there frequently these days. It doesn't take much with all that's going on in my world. Walking out into my garden to assess the growth of the seeds I had planted exposed the battle this time. What could be so wrong in having the garden I desired?

I was so excited to start a spring garden. It was my first time growing things like lettuce, carrots, beets, and spinach. With each seed I planted I prayed for God's bountiful blessing. Why is it now a month later I'm looking at empty soil? Was it too much to ask?

My faith is being challenged in mammoth proportions these days. What will I believe? Does God really have something good on the other side of this job loss? It's hard to reconcile it all when little things like prayed over gardens don't grow.

I find myself back on that mat with God. What does it mean that you long to give us the desires of our heart? Can you explain what you meant when you said that you love to give your children good gifts? Can I have any desires fulfilled? What's real here? What's true? When I don't understand these "unexplainable" things , can I really call good what God calls good?

It's a life or death question for me at a time like this.

I wrestled. I cried. I exposed the rants of my heart.... disappointment, fears and pain made their way up and out. The job David just lost had brought us to this little town. We had such high hopes for deep community and friendship here. Sadly, It didn't happen. I had continued to believe that somehow good was going on behind the scenes... But now, this.. Do I have to give up having a garden too? Lurking behind it all was the age old culprit with the age old question. I am afraid. Can I really trust the heart of God? Will I call good what He calls good even when it does not feel good?

There is no other question to be answered by my soul. Would I allow the things happening around me to tell me the story of God's heart, His love, His care?

He wrestled with me until my mind could grasp my reality.

As much as I long for these desires to be fulfilled they can never prove His goodness to me. It is proven in His character, His life. He is unpredictable in what He does, yet consistent in who He is. I will never be able to put my trust in what I see Him doing. My only salvation is to trust in who He is. In that moment, the power of the Spirit overcame the power of my flesh. In that vital moment a choice was made as a cry erupted from within the walls of my heart.

"I will call good what He calls good, so help me God."

Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold. And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Lessons of a Tricycle©

It was my very first tricycle. Christmas Day brought it to me. I couldn't wait to get on it and ride; so I did, all throughout the house. I've been told that I was unstoppable. I was determined to ride it no matter what obstacles lay in my path. I would start out, hit a piece of furniture, back up, turn around and push forward.
It was a clear revealer of the spirit inside the young child.

I've been known to set my face like a flint when going after the things I wanted. In my quest toward the goal, giving up was not an option. The words of my mother to this day still ring in my ears, "If you get your will going in the right direction, everything will be all right." I didn't really know what it meant then. I am beginning to now.

I remember early on in my years of parenting being given the advice, "you have to break the will of the child." I look back now and see the absurdity of those words. You cannot break the will of a child, it has to be given up. It cannot be forced. It must be chosen.

Life often feels as if it asks more than it gives. Difficult days find their way into our lives. Aren't I supposed to set my face like a flint to keep walking? Aren't I supposed to persevere? Yes, but somehow, somewhere in the mix of it all something can get so cunningly twisted. It's a subtle thing you know. I had been told to hang tough, keep at it, fight the good fight. Life often requires that to some degree. But what about God?

How does all this balance out? Christ is the hope within me. He is the lifeline extended to me every single day. Where do my self-willed efforts hinder His?

It's so easy to find myself much like that young girl on her tricycle. Push forward, hit the obstacles, turn around, and keep going. I find myself now questioning where does that leave me to look for the strength of the One who is my strength? Whose strength does that leave me enduring in, really? Where is it me instead of Him?

In some hidden, subtle way it's easy to find myself living in the old way of the self-willed life.

Barriers fill our road these days making it difficult to maneuver around. My husband just lost his job. There is no income coming regularly into our home. We have no clue what to do next. What now God? Will we choose to endure for the sake of endurance, setting our faces like a flint or will we cling to the One who endured it all needing His perseverance to come in us? There's a subtle difference there. One requires my efforts and disciplines. The other requires His.

Life often comes around full circle for me. Need suddenly opens the door for humility extending an invitation that readies my heart to receive. I cannot, nor do I want to do this life alone. It's starting to make some sense to me now. I'm understanding more and more the words my mother once spoke.

Life's obstacles are awakening a place within me, allowing my will to be placed in the right direction. I'm learning to receive what Christ waits to give to me; all that He accomplished for me when He walked out of that grave. He, is my perseverance. It's not up to me. He perseveres in me, through me, into life around me. He is my hope, my endurance, my strength, the one who keeps me hanging on.

I see Him there. He rides on the heavens to help us and underneath are His everlasting arms. He invites me to fall into them allowing their strength to move me forward. I need Him, oh how I need Him. I am convinced it's the invitation He's been waiting for.
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd

Friday, March 18, 2011

Living in the Unseen©

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

Another One Bites The Dust ©

The more I walk through this journey the more I am stunned at how much wrong I have believed. The God I have known is not the God I now know. So many things were distorted through the years. I don't blame the people who taught me. I see it for what it is. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have been realizing just how deceived I have been. Good news is God is exposing them all. One more bit the dust this week.

When I heard my friend John say the words I knew someplace deep that something had been powerfully distorted in my mind. "Faith is never the grounds for salvation, never a meritorious work in your behavior." "Your believing, while an essential response, proves only that His grace was extended to you."

"It is by grace you have been saved, yet it is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."

For years I believed that I had invited God into my life. I had prayed the prayer asking Him to come in. We sang the song, "Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus." I literally believed that somehow Jesus entered my heart because of my choosing of Him. I didn't realize that I had it backwards. He didn't enter into me. I entered into Him.

I didn't choose Him. He chose me. It was His grace that was shown to me inviting me to receive His eternal gift. It's not just the gift of heaven. It's not even about forgiveness of my sins.

The invitation of God woos me to respond to a love that has been and always will be. It's a love that offers me to come as I am and be known for who I was made to be. It restores all that was broken, reconciling me to Him completely.

Somehow things got all mixed up.

I've used the term too many times to count.. "I need to get that from my head into my heart." As I type the words I see the disparity in them. If I truly embrace the gift of this God I love why do I struggle between two worlds of head and heart?

God gives His gifts for free. He expects nothing in return. He's just plain crazy about me. After all He made me to love.

As I have seen my justification, so I have seen my sanctification. The same way I believed I had my part in being made right with God, I have believed I have my role in being transformed. I've spent the better part of my life running around trying to make myself worthy, acceptable, lovable. All the while all He wanted for me was that I would receive the gift so freely given.

If Jesus paid it all then how can I owe Him anything? What could I ever do that would be enough? In some strange, warped way I believed that I owed Him my life.

I believed I played my part in salvation therefore I must play my part in cleaning myself up. I see how subtlety the lies wove their way into the fabric of my walk. I see how naturally I became the one who would work hard to make who she was better.

It is by grace I have been saved. It is a gift from God so that no man can boast. Without receiving I will do nothing but strive and try to prove myself worthy. I will need to "one-up" others around me. I will have to do more and be better.

In that one moment when I took His outstretched hand offered He joined me to Him. He called me righteous. He announced I was holy. He wiped out all my sins, past, present and future. Everything that had been broken was made new. I was totally and completely reconciled to God on no part of my own. It's astounding to consider.

Awakenings come frequently now. This beautiful thing that I have walked into is absolutely and totally His. Transformation is taking ahold of my life.

It is by grace I am saved. It is by grace I am changed... Grace - charis, a gift which is freely given. The extravagant love of my God not only has reconciled me to Him. He wants nothing from me but that I would let Him love me. Another lie bites the dust as this beautiful Spirit inside reveals the truth that sets me free. Freely He gives, freely I receive.
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fanning The Flames Anew ©

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

How He Loves Revisited ©

* 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.

Your Jewel

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

Sinking Into the Armor ©

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