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