Need a little laughter? Need a little encouragement to keep going forward? I would invite you to read my recent post and feel free to leave a message about how God is helping you in your journey!! What ever you are facing please know, “this too shall pass”. Continue reading
1 Peter 1:5, “…who through faith are shielded by God’s power”.
My iPad screen shattered. The worst part was that it happened a few days before we left for a vacation and an already expensive week of the summer.
The shattered glass was held safely behind the screen protector my son insisted I buy a few months prior. (Lesson #1: Parents listen to your tech savvy kids). As I slid my finger across the screen to access my accounts, I felt miniscule shards of glass slipping out from under the on/off button.
With a sick feeling in my gut because of the damage, I talked it over with my husband and decided to get it fixed before leaving on vacation. After paying the $135, I left the store with a brand new screen and a tempered glass screen protector. Not only was I relieved but I was also ready to be even more careful with my treasured device.
A few days later I was still plagued by the whole thing. I kept reliving the whole situation over and over in my mind – from the accident of dropping my iPad, to the unexpected dollar amount, the timing, and the fact that I’m so attached to it. Don’t judge. I know – not healthy.
That’s when the Holy Spirit intervened for some much needed teaching.
Brokenness. We all have it. Whether we want to admit it or not.
Mine is shielded. Not to be mistaken for hidden. There is a difference you know. Let me explain.
If we hide our brokenness (aka. Flaws, weaknesses), we are quicker to get defensive when it is threatened to be exposed. Several blogs ago I shared about having an anger problem. Appropriately titled, “Anger Management”. Back then, I was hiding my brokenness and my struggle. The Enemy knew it and pushed harder on my weaknesses. My flesh followed suit and I sinned in my anger. Leaving shards of pain with my words and sometimes my actions.
With God’s help, I learned that I needed to allow Him to shield my brokenness, allowing Him to protect and guard my heart. So when I did get angry and felt weak, I knew that He was my Shield who was covering me and I could endure whatever the situation at hand.
In essence, He holds my broken pieces together. He will hold yours together too, if you let Him.
Once in awhile, when my spiritual armor (Ephesians 6) is not fitting properly (probably because of unconfessed sin in my life), a small shard of brokenness breaks away and falls into your life.
I am sorry. It is sharp and imperfect and it might make you say more than “ouch” or “eww”. But don’t worry, others have had a front row seat to your brokenness. You may need to ask God to help you love your pieces back into place.
Our brokenness is God’s job to keep together. He is my Shield. Is He yours?
Over the years as the LORD has revealed my brokenness to me, I have come to recognize Him as the more-improved “tempered glass” kind of Shield.
Remember my shattered screen from my iPad? Yes, the store did replace the broken screen and the tempered glass screen protector. When I got home, I noticed a fingerprint that wouldn’t come off. I quickly realized that it was under the protective screen. As I was tempted to get angry, the Holy Spirit calmed me and gave me this idea – the fingerprint would be a reminder of God’s Fingerprint in my life because it is by His Hand I am put back together, shielded and protected.
When does your brokenness show up the most?
What or who is your shield?
How do you feel when your brokenness spills out?
How do you respond when your brokenness is exposed?
Thank you for accepting me in my brokenness.
After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.
My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.
When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.
The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.
Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.
It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.
Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.
I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.
I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)
I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.
When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.
As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.
Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.
In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.
“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)
I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.
In what direction is God tipping you?
How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?
What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?
Thank you for journeying with me,
As much as this blog is NOT completely about me, I have experienced many of the moments described below!!! I chose to write this piece because of how God has healed me from my brokenness and He can do the same for you. We need to learn to live WITH each other and not AGAINST each other.
These statements, although birthed as a response to the racial tension in this country, can be applied in many other situations as well.
You look at me and smile so now I think I am accepted.
You look at me with fear and judgement and I realize I was only tolerated.
You look at me and you wonder where I am from and wonder how did I get here.
You look at me and reach out with your heart but then don’t understand when I share.
You look at me and question my motives and the fear I see keeps me trapped in mine.
You look at me and size me up so as to question my presence.
You look at me and ask me my story and I reluctantly invite you in.
You look at me and shake your head because I don’t look like you.
You look at me and turn your nose up because you need me to think you are better than me.
You look at me and shudder at the thought that your world is different because of me.
You look at me and wonder what your friends and family might think if they saw us together.
You look at me and wonder that maybe, just maybe, it’s not my fault I look this way.
You look at me and begin to realize that the same Jesus who died for you, died for me.
You look at me and realize that forgiveness is for both of us.
You look at me and accept that there is enough Grace and Mercy to go around.
You look at me and ask if we can really be friends.
You look at me and share your heart, your fears, your shortcomings.
You look at me and ask if we can walk and maybe even dance in reconciliation.
You look at me and no longer tolerate me, but you accept me with all your heart.
And now, because of the healing power of Jesus Christ and what He did at the Cross for us….
…..You don’t just look at me anymore….You see me.
How about you?
In your life, are you feeling tolerated or truly accepted?
Do you look at people you don’t know with intrigue or suspicion?
There is a difference.
Where do your blurred lines lie?
What will you do to become a difference maker?
For those who know my story…..thank you for seeing me.
Have you ever tried to see how long you could drive your car before it became imperative that you put some gas in it? Well, we have….too many times to count.
After a weekend of lots of driving around it was clear that we were perhaps at the point of running on fumes. Driving on fumes and knowing I was not up to pushing the car to get home, I finally made the decision to go get some gas.
As I waited in the car for my husband to finish filling the tank, I saw a woman walking by our van. I was drawn to the way she was leaning as she walked and it made me wonder if there was something wrong. She was quite unsteady as she made her way to her destination. I wondered if she was drunk or perhaps on a medication that resulted in the imbalance. She finally made it to her destination. The ashtray outside of the store.
What she did next was very unsettling to me.
Now, I have heard of people digging through ashtrays in hopes of finding that one cigarette butt that might have some remnant left for a good smoke. But I had never actually seen it with my own eyes. I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. She dug carefully but desperately through the ashes and other trash to find that one butt to quench her craving. She found not one, but three. Three different times she re-lit it and inhaled like it was her last opportunity to satisfy what she was missing.
Not a smoker myself, I was so grossed out by what I saw. Yet I tried to reassure myself that since nicotine is addictive maybe this was her attempt to meet desperation head on.
I’ll be honest, as we drove off, there was a moment that I was tempted to buy her a pack of cigarettes to save her from the other germs she was picking up from smoking used cigarettes. Blech!!!
This post is not a campaign to stop smoking, although that does have its own rewards. I was simply inspired by the visual of the picture presented and the questions it left me with.
When have I been so desperate for something that I was willing to do absolutely anything to get it?
(I don’t remember exact times, but I will say that when I did get desperate I remember feeling nervous, anxious, fearful, and developing a fix-it mentality)
What are others desperate for? Food, alcohol, drugs, time, money, relationships, peace? You fill in the blank.
When do we get desperate? Now that one I can answer. I get desperate when there are unmet needs in my life. The anxiety shows up when the need is expected to be met by someone close to me. My spouse, children, or other family members. The irony is that we actually think they are needs because we use “wants and needs” synonymously with one another. This post could have also been titled, “I don’t want what I need”, or “I need what I want”.
Let’s define it for a minute. I think “needs” are generally things that help us function, while “wants” are desires in our heart, usually based on a feeling. Yes, as a woman I will say, “chocolate is a need at least once a month”. Don’t judge.
I discovered recently that I am in desperate times. Some may call it a valley. Simply put, the challenges in my life are feeling very unmanageable and overwhelming at best. I find myself asking for help more often than not – internally and externally. To clarify, “I don’t have it all together. I never have and won’t until I get to Heaven”. Are you with me?
I am choosing to live through my brokenness.
God is at work, I can see that. For that I have great peace. The thing is, the enemy is at work too.
The enemy has built up a storm of chaos all around me that is thwarting me from side to side. I am feeling battered and bruised from the arrows he is shooting at me. These are desperate times. The LORD has brought great ministry opportunities into our family and the enemy doesn’t like it because it shows that God is using us in His ministry of reconciliation, for His Glory.
So in these desperate times I needed to take drastic measures.
My drastic measure was to stay home on a Sunday morning and to not worship with my church family.
I know, rebellious right? And for an extrovert too!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my church family. They have really been present with us through many joys and challenges that our family has faced over the years.
For some of you, this is a such a foreign concept. You wouldn’t dream of skipping church, as you see it, unless you were really physically ill. It would almost be as unacceptable as picking cigarettes out of an ashtray for one more desperate drag.
For others, perhaps you are relieved that somehow I’m giving you permission to take a break. I am. Just keep in mind I didn’t skip church to do nothing. I skipped church to spend an extended one-on-one time with Jesus, because I was desperate. I wanted and needed more of Him, especially since I was feeling like I was losing more of myself to wrong thoughts and failed expectations. He is what I crave when I am strong and when I am weak. When I feel accomplished and when I feel like I have failed. When I am doing what’s right and when I have disappointed Him. When I am in public and when I am in private.
I can’t say it enough….”church is not just where we go, it’s who we are!!!”
We need to take time out to cultivate our souls daily and then when desperate times call for desperate measures we need to seek extended times with Jesus. Who I am was feeling compromised because it felt like the enemy was working overtime. But this extended time alone with Jesus renewed my identity in Christ. Who I am in the flesh is NOT as important as who I am becoming in my spirit.
With God’s help, I choose to live through my brokenness….will you join me by living through yours? I believe Jesus is pursuing you.
Who or what are you desperate for right now?
Where are you looking for answers?
Thank you for joining me in my desperate time.