These writings are for the imperfect person searching for more of the Perfect God.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Scoliosis of the Heart

Sometimes it still overwhelms me that I have two 18 inch titanium bars running up and down my spine.

A Spine that was prone to wander, to curve beyond its boundaries, to engage in that which was beyond its God-given design. 

They say a spine is the internal infrastructure to the human body.  Supporting the bodies weight, facilitating movement, operating flexibility and protecting the vulnerable spinal cord from injury that would alter both the brain and inner organ functions.  And if that weren't enough, the spine's individual vertebrates each house nerves which extend from the brain throughout the body sending movement, thought and sensory perception signals.

It's no wonder God uses analogies such as "straight paths, straight ways, straight roads, straight feet and straight direction," when describing a life of abundance, of liberation, of hope, of joy- and most importantly, of restoration.

God's in the business of restoring the crooked spinal column of the heart. He finds such deep satisfaction in being the surgeon to my life.  Taking my curved, wandering, self-destructive heart and implanting His divine, supernatural, life giving guard rails along my prone-to-wander soul; straightening the very central support beam of my life so that my wandering, curving, crooked heart would stay where it's safe.  Where it's protected. Where it's offering life to others.  Where it's bearing good fruit. Where it's tasting sweetness of hope. Where it's a blessing and no longer a curse.

But this wandering spine of my heart, yep, it's prone to venture beyond its God-permitted design.

It was in the curved path of both my life and spine where pain was experienced. Where conflict of purpose was tasted. Where confusion of boundaries was cultivated.

The curve of my spine resisted staying within its safe boundaries of protection.  And as a result, the body, the organs, the brain, the nerves-- they were all negatively effected by the health of my spine. How often I, too, see how my children, my husband, my friends, my family, are all affected by the condition, the health of the spine of my heart.  A scoliosis-of-the-heart has enough power to set my life off balance.

Jer 50:5 "They will start back home again.  They will BIND themselves to the Lord with an eternal covenant that'll never be forgotten."

I started back home again. After chronic pain, daily exhaustion, consuming fear, anxious thoughts, restless sleeps-- I, too, started home again. 

And the moment I started my journey back home, God binded the vertebrates of my heart to His perfect, good, pleasing, restful, joy-filled titanium bars of protection.  Bars that took the hearts' curved path, and by the steady hands of the Great Physician, surgically straightened it. Releasing me of the shame which gripped my thoughts, the fear which consumed my mind, the counterfeit love which deceived the heart, the curve which disfigured the soul.

Ironically, I learned just today that the titanium rods in the spine are no longer needed after approximately twelve months of recovery. They're originally put into place while the spine permanently fuses and binds itself into its new straight position. Once the fusion is complete, the rods are no longer the primary source of preventing that which was curved from becoming crooked again.  God's guard rails of the path of life are similar. The bars along the newly straightened path are boundaries, perimeters, safety measures; so that while I'm still unsteady, still unable to keep straight the path He's laid out before me, He's keeping my feet steady and straight, all the while protecting my heart from returning to its former crooked position.

And this is precisely how God interceded with my own feeble human heart. Enabling a season of growth, of self-evaluation, of healing, so that He could be given access to straighten out the curves, level out the mountains, raise up the valleys, smooth out the path (Isaiah 40:3-5) and place His titanium guard rails along the boundary of the scoliosis heart; so that I am protected, guided, mentored, nurtured, re-parented and filled with the Life-Giving presence of Jesus.

Although my new normal comes with new limitations; every time I walk, stand and sit, the stiff bars within my spine remind me how good God is.  How grateful I am to have a constant, tangible reminder in the inner fiber of my being that I have a God who takes the scoliosis of my heart and surgically straightens each individual vertebrae so that I can experience first hand Isaiah 30:21: "Wether you turn to the left or to the right, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying "this is the way, walk in it." 

If you have found yourself on the crooked path of life, dear friend, there is no question as to why you are reading this. He has brought you here, in this place, at this time, so that He alone can surgically, gently, and radically transfer your heart into a straight, smooth and guard-railed path. A path offering hope. A path offering rest. A path offering refreshment. A path offering joy. A path offering freedom from the exhaustion, fear and anxiousness the crooked heart obtained.  

Gods simple recipe for straightening the scoliosis of our hearts remain the same:
"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight ." Proverbs 3:6. 

If you and I desire and choose to seek His will for our life, He promises to surgically align the spine of our heart with His protective titanium bars of radical love, unfathomable grace and abundant life.  Please know this, He is a good God who WILL "make His way STRAIGHT before you." (Psalm 5:8) 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I hope you dance

This is to all the soon-to-be mamas and the mamas of all stages and ages.  I have a guest writer today blessing us all with a precious gift God has given her-- the ability to take that which our mommy hearts experience and to put them into words that enlighten and lift the human spirit.

Recently she posted on Facebook a difficult truth us moms rarely authentically share, yet almost all experience-- the raw reality of feeling not good enough.  A not-good-enough mom, a not-good-enough wife, a not-good-enough friend, a-not-good-enough employee, a-not-good-enough ____ (Fill in your blank.) And if that weren't enough, we simultaneously experience a disruption, a confusion in our purpose, our calling, our identity amongst the chaos and isolation mama hood often catapults us into. 

And yet, through the years, the weeks, the days and the moments, we're left with the absolute truth that "our babies ARE our ministry."  As Tess so eloquently and perfectly shared, "it is rarely glamorous, or praised, or respected in our culture today.  But when you lose your life for that which can't be lost, it's all worth it."

May you be deeply refreshed, strongly encouraged and joyfully filled as you read from the heart of my dear friend, Tess Aven:

"Motherhood will be nothing like you expected and so much more than you ever hoped it would be. You will wipe away his tears, keep him from falling, pray over him continuously, and tirelessly watch him as he sleeps. 

He will reach for you from across the room, laugh at your silly faces, hold your hand, bring you flowers, make you smile when you're feeling sad, watch you to see if you're watching. 

It is those sweet exchanges that will help you to put one foot in front of the other in the ordinary and the mundane. 

During those times when you are, yet again, spending countless sleepless nights, making unexpected trips to Walgreens, cleaning up his crumbs from the floor, packing his lunch, cleaning his room, or taking him to school, there will not be a more important role you will ever have, next to loving his Daddy well, than this.... motherhood. 

One thing I have grown to see is that God equips us to do what we feel incapable of doing. Sometimes the busyness from one season to the next can keep us from what matters most. My encouragement to you would be to stop and listen intently, speak life, play often, laugh hard, hug always... 

Be ok with the imperfect. 

It is the hardest, most purposeful, perpetual, organically beautiful, captivating, rewarding job you will ever have. 

This I pray for my children and I invite you to do the same for you precious ones:  

"The lord God is my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army.  He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk- not stand in terror, but to walk- and make spiritual progress upon my high places (of trouble, suffering or responsibility!)" Habakuk 3:19

There is no better person in the world than YOU to be your little one's mommy.  So when you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance!"

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Every family has a story, welcome to ours.

This is a new season for us-- our daughter likes a boy, a lot.

And honestly, I fear for her eventual broken heart. Her inevitable shattered emotions.  Her imminent shaken spirit-- after the break up.

But it begins with who's in the control tower of her life.  Who's there?  Is it a boy?  A presidential candidate?  A substance?  A feeling?  A counterfeit comfort?  Who and what holds the prescription to her joy, her peace, her hope, her identity, her emotional stability, and most importantly, her security.

They say the phone lines at the National Suicide Prevention reached an all-time high in over 25 years after the presidential election.

They say local schools are offering grief counseling for our children who have been traumatized by the outcome of the presidential debate.

They say scheduled class time have been cancelled for collegiate level students to grieve with an on-site therapist and the offer is being accepted by the multitudes.

They say streets of large cities are being flooded with weeping, confused and angry US citizens-- while each tear drop, hitting the well-worn concrete pavement, represent a deep, abiding sense of hopelessness, anxiety, loss and of course, fear.

And many watching eyes from their family room television sets are left whispering, why??

"Faith," I say to my sweet girl in these recent days, "love is wonderful.  Love is joyous.  And God made us relational beings so that we are to do life with one another and love each other well.  Yet, when we have given someone access to a place in the heart which gives them power over our security, control over our emotions, authority over our safety, provision over our heart condition, and dominion over our identity-- we've simply de-throned Jesus from His rightful place and replaced His position with someone who will ultimately, inevitably, and undeniably let-you-down.  Spouses, friendships, parents, siblings, presidents, kings-- they're all valuable people, wonderful bonuses, helpful resources, gifts from God.  But the mili-second they have the authority to dictate your hope, dear daughter, into complete hopelessness, to dictate your joy into utter despair, to dictate your Light into absolute darkness, you can be sure God has been dethroned from His position in the control tower of your heart," I share with her, as I'm speaking directly into my own prone-to-wander heart.

I repetitively and annoyingly remind her to love and to love well.  But to know her worth.  To know her value.  To know her security.  To know her anchor.  Because when an important relationship fails, a long term position dissolves, a health issue attacks, a presidential candidate takes office, she will be unshakeable. Unshakably certain in who she is and in whom she belongs.

Yes, her human heart will hurt.  Her human soul will sting.  But her Divine control tower will not loose its sure footing in the deep knowing she was made for a purpose, a destination, a calling of that which supersedes a failed relationship, an uncertain nation, a deep loss.  The blows of life will indeed be felt, but they will not be given permission or direct access into the dictation of her hope.

A hope that does not fail.

It was late one school-night evening last week.  

I had been asleep for some time and woke to a small spark of light peeking into the upstairs hallway.  As I groggily followed and moved closer to this distant light, I noticed it was coming from the small space under my daughters closed door.  Immediately, my thoughts went to her being on the phone with this boy significantly later than what she was permitted.  So, I did what any good mama would do (this was not my finest moment) and secretively creeped open the door just enough to catch her red handidly.  But what my eyes saw was quite different than what my wrongful assumptions tempted me to believe.  There she was, crawled up into her favorite blanket, in her favorite position, reading my favorite book-- God's Word.  I slowly and quietly slid the door back into its former closed position and crawled my in-awe heart back into bed, filled in abundance with peace.  Peace knowing that in this moment, right here, tonight, she was exactly where she needed to be; inviting God into the control tower of her heart.

"Those who have fled to God for refuge can have a great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.  This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.  It leads us into His presence." (Hebrews 6 18&19)

Yep, it's inevitable.... the break-up.  But what's not inevitable is the break of her anchored heart.  A heart which belongs to the One who holds it in the palm of His safe, secure, hope-promised hands.  The same One which is holding yours as well--- where you can walk confidently, securely, purposefully and peacefully in the face of challenging circumstances.  

As the late Brennan Manning used to say:

"Define yourself as one radically loved by God.  This is your true-self.  Every other identity is just an illusion."