Ephesians 3:16-19 says, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
One of my daughters recently came to me with a heavy heart telling me about a friend of hers that was having a very tough time in her marriage. Another daughter told me of a friend whose child had been hurt. Family heart ache, loss and struggles are all around us and sometimes it can get overwhelming-as in the case of my daughter who feels so deeply for others. She asked me how to go about her 'normal' life with the knowledge of her friends struggles. That is a question that we all must face, especially when we are in the business of ministering to others. Over the years I have taken that question to God many times. Here is what I think He has told me..."LET GO".
When someone comes to us with their pain and suffering we are called to listen and to be there for them, and to pray for them. All good things. But the struggle comes when we try to hold onto their pain as if our holding it close to us is somehow releaving them of their pain. I think, when we allow other people challenges to paralize us it can make us ineffective in God's kingdom. What if, instead, we were to pray the prayer in Ephesians, trust God to take care of them and then release ourselves from playing God and trying to 'fix' everything? I'm not saying that we shouldn't be there for them and do everything within our power to help-we absolutely should. What I am saying is that I cannot strenthen them, I cannot give them power or fill them with the Holy Spirit-only God can. What I can do is pray and encourage and love them, then let go. God is so good at being God and I make a pretty lousy one.
I pray the prayer of Ephesians for you this Holiday season-That you will know the love that surpasses all understanding.
Merry Christmas Friend!
It started with a simple question from my 16 year old daugther, "Mom, will you promise me that before I turn 30 you will go on an 'Eat, Pray, Love" adventure with me?" (Taken from the movie "Eat, Pray, Love".) "Sure" came my immediate and honored reply, followed quickly with "But I don't like pasta", as if that had anything to do with it at all. She smiled, mentioned that I didn't have to JUST eat pasta and went on her way.
For days I have not stopped thinking about her question. Not the eating part, or even the praying part. It is the 'Loving' part that has me so deep in thought.
You see, lately I have been struggling with knowing what love is. I LOVE my family, I LOVE God, I LOVE friends, and yoga, and my puppy...I LOVE so many things. But my heart is such a mess when it comes to my husband. I can be so incredibly mean sometimes. It's like the old "Wack-a-mole" game. We will be having a nice time when all of a sudden, out of my mouth comes this mean comment. I wont see it comming and before I can stop it from popping up-there it is! So my struggle is this: What is love when you don't feel loving? Can love go away? How do you know if I love someone when I am feeling so mean towards them?
My daughters question has sent me on my own "Eat, Pray, Love" journey. Only the 'eat' is reading, studying, and ingesting Scripture. The 'pray' is "Lord, show me how to do this and what it means". And the 'love' is taking the prayers, and the Scripture and applying it to my life.
What I have learned so far is that 'Love' is not passive. It is active and to be "pursued". (1 Corinthians 14:1) Love is to be "put on" every single day just as 'compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience' are to be put on, as well as "accepting and forgiving one another" (Colossians 3:12-14) I have learned that love is not a feeling, it is a state of being "Love IS patient, love IS kind..." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Most of all, I have learned that I am called, and therefore totally equipped to "Let the peace of God...control my heart." All this to say that I choose when I love, I choose when I am loving. The 'wack-a-mole' comments that come out of my mouth come out because I am not 'putting on love'. I am not 'choosing' the greatest gift, the gift that is the "perfect bond of unity".
As I travel this new 'journey' I pray for peace. The peace of God that comes when I 'put on love' even if I don't feel like it. I pray for the peace of God to rule my heart, my mind and my mouth, and that someday, way before my daughter turns 30, that I will have learned to love the way that I am called to love-without hesitation, with joy and with all of my heart!
Did you ever notice how life seems to have 'themes'? I guess that is part of what the writer of Ecclesiastes meant when He wrote Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything and a season for every purpose under heaven." As I look back (I seem to be doing a lot of that lately) I can see seasons of confusion, joy, sadness, overwhelm, anticipation...so many different clumps of time when I was just waiting, and praying, and seeking advice from others through conversations and books. And as I reflect on these times I can see the Lords hand in every situation. I can see Him molding me and changing me. I can look back and see the tough times and where He has carried me and made me more compassionate, understanding and stronger. I can look at the exciting times and see His favor and His leading me, and the opportunities where I was able to share that time with others. Sometimes it is harder to find Him in those times than in other times, but He was there and will continue to use my experiences-if I let Him.
Last week I had the opportunity to go back to Pennsylvania where we lived for quite awhile before coming to Texas. While there I visited our old church and saw so many familiar faces. Faces that had known my family 'before'. 'Before' teen rebellion, 'before' integrity issues, 'before' yoga, and healing, and growth. One woman came up to me and sadly said "Tina, your book is being passed around the church. Everyone loves it. I am in the middle of it and I AM SO SORRY. I never knew. How are you doing?" I was blown away. Yes, I wrote a book. Yes, it is about the struggles of my family and the life that we led. BUT it is about healing and redemption and growth and empowerment. It is about joy and humbleness and GRACE. But then her sentence came back to me "I am in the middle of your book...." She didn't know the rest of the story. She was in the middle where things were hard and overwhelming....
Friends, what if we stopped there? What if we didn't allow the Lord into our story to finish it and to make it beautiful? God is in the business of healing and when we hold our 'seasons' too tightly and don't let Him in we can get stuck in that part of our story. Later in Ecclesiastes, it says "A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance," Regardless of where you are in your story, no matter what season of life you are in, I pray you can give it to Him. Allow Him to show you how far He has taken you, where He has shown up in your past, and offer hope and comfort for your future.
So, what did I say to the dear, old friend of mine? "Just keep reading. It gets beautiful near then end." Have a great day!
Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus."
I always thought that I trusted God with everything. But lately He has been showing me how little I really rely on Him. I 'trust Him' with those things that ultimately I can control or explain away if He doesn't show up. Money is different... Money has an 'amount'. There is no excusing if money doesn't show up. So as I have had to reach out to others through fundraising for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic my biggest struggle has been "What if no one gives" or better yet "What if the Lord does not provide?" By struggle I mean tears at night and difficulty breathing at the thought of having to reach out and to trust. Big struggles. I have had to ask myself what this is all about---what is at the core of this struggle? Trust...trust that He loves me and sees me; Trust that He has a plan and that He will take care of me; Trust that He will NEVER leave me nor forsake me; and trust that "He will supply all my needs". Guess what? He did it! He showed up through many loving hands and trusting people. He showed up through YOU. Through you He has shown me that I can trust Him with everything-even those things that I can't control or explain away. So Friends, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing this 'Daughter of the King" to see and feel the love of a 'Daddy' through your giving and prayerful hearts.
Hello again. I've been wanting to talk to you for awhile but life has been busy. Sound familiar?
Last night I had a dream...you know those dreams that you wake up from but you can't seem to shake? The ones that color your entire day. In my dream my daughters had this big 'once in a lifetime' event that we were going to. We had gotten there early so we decided to go into the cafeteria where there were several kids going to the same event. I got busy talking to someone and didn't notice that the room had cleared out. When I realized that everyone had left my daughters and I ran to catch up, but we were too late. The event was over...In tears my daughters turned to me and said "Mom, we missed it! Because you were too busy talking to that person we missed it and it will never happen again." I was crushed. No amount of apology would bring back the time, no 'I'm sorry' would start the event over. The problem was that I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do. The woman I was talking to said that she 'needed' to talk. That's what Jesus would do, right?
So today I have been asking myself what am I supposed to do. In my dream we were right there, we were on time, it had been a priority. And yet, we missed it. The Scripture that has been playing in my mind is 1 Kings 19 :10-13. In this scripture the prophet Elijah is waiting to hear from the Lord on Mt Horeb. Elijah has just told the Lord that he has been serving him all this time and that he is the only one left. God has told him to stand on the mountain and wait..."