“Why are you overwhelmed?”

“God, Help me. I feel so overwhelmed.”

“Why are you overwhelmed?” –“I keep trying to find you, God. I seek after You and long for a time of quiet where I can rest in Your presence and be renewed. I can’t seem to find a peaceful moment to wrap my thoughts around You. Why can’t I find you, God?”

“Why are you overwhelmed?”–“So many things are going on in my life. My work is keeping me busy and I am learning so many new things with this new position I have taken on. My friends are asking me to help them out with things and I keep trying to learn more about this business I am trying to start and get information into people’s hands and find people to buy these amazing products You have given me to share with others. My family needs me 24/7 and I can’t seem to find a break from them to find Your joy and Your peace.”

“Why are you overwhelmed?” –“I told You. I have so many things going on in my life right now. I can’t handle them all on my own anymore. I’m pouring into others without being filled. My strength and patience are growing thin. I need Your peace. I need my life to be calmed down. Or at least my heart within me so I can deal with the chaos in my life.”

“Why are you overwhelmed?”

“Why am I overwhelmed? What is so overwhelming in my life that God can’t take care of it? Have I forgotten that He will not faint or grow weary? Have I forgotten that He has promised to lead me beside still waters and let me rest in green pastures? Have I forgotten that He has asked me to lay down my burdens at His feet and let Him carry me when I am weary?”

“Why are you overwhelmed, oh my soul? Why are you downcast within me? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unreachable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might, he increases strength. They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”

“Why are you overwhelmed? Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you. Come to him, all who are weary and heavy laden, and He will give you rest. He has commanded His angels to watch over you and His Spirit intercedes for you with groanings too deep for words.”

Why are you overwhelmed, oh, my soul? Why are you downcast within me?

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Beauty Restored

Have you ever endured a really long, dark season in your life? I’m guessing all of us have gone through seasons in our lives where it seems the sun is never shining and the nights are long and cold. Times when you are spent and weary from traveling the same dusty road that seems to be leading nowhere and can’t find water to soothe your scratchy soul. The wind is either blowing or the rain is falling. The winter snow has killed everything good and beautiful in your life. If you’ve been there, you know how hard it is to find the beauty in those seasons.

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I definitely came off a beautiful season of spring in my life where everything was blooming and blossoming. I was enjoying life and discovering the beautiful self I was created to be. But, as all seasons must come to an end, that season slowly tapered into a hot summer and dying fall. And eventually, a cold, dark, barren winter season set into my life. If you look back at any of my posts from that time, you will definitely see the cries of anguish and desire to be filled with a beautiful light again. The calls for help for anyone to reach into my life and rescue me from the bitter winter land that had covered up almost every aspect of that time of spring. I felt alone and lost and no matter how much I tried to reach out to God and let Him fill me, I always felt like He was too far away and couldn’t reach into my frozen heart to thaw it and let it bloom again. Granted, I have had many dark or harsh seasons where my love for God was planted deeper in my soul and I felt I was closer to Him in those times than I had ever been before. But sometimes, your heart becomes too distant and cold to feel the warmth of His love, and you slowly drift further and further away into the barren winter land. Forgetting what spring felt like and feeling like you have to make this journey on your own. Trying to find your own way back to that spring land and bring that warmth back into your life.

The changing of winter into spring is a pretty incredible change and it is well worth the wait once you get there. And believe me, even when the season seems like it will never change, it will. Someday you will suddenly discover that the nights aren’t as long as they used to be. The darkness starts losing its power and begins to give way to the sun. The frozen ground begins to thaw and the melting snow begins to trickle slowly into the solid earth. The red-chested robin tweets a few notes of its song reminding you that spring is on its way. And all at once you see the little green sprouts of plants beginning to come to the surface from their wintery graves. And then you realize that the seeds were in the earth the entire winter, they just needed the gentle touch of the sun to bring them back to life again.

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That is how it feels when God slowly begins to tug and pull at your heart and starts to call forth the seeds that weren’t dying, but were merely sleeping for the winter season. He plays a song on the radio or places a verse on your heart that reminds you this winter season is not forever. Even if you can’t see it or feel it at the time, He will slowly begin to thaw the frozen ground of your heart and bring your weary soul back to Him if you let Him. When you lay down your winter barren land before Him, He will draw up the seeds of life that He has planted in you and create in you a new spring. All the things that were dead or sleeping will come back to life and blossom into gardens even more beautiful than before.

He is restoring you in these times of darkness and He is bringing about a rebirthing that will be so beautiful beyond all imagination. There are some who will choose to stay in the winter land and refuse to look toward a renewing, but I would encourage you to look to the spring and believe that He will get you through this. I feel I have been on the cusp of my next spring season these past few months and am well past the solstice of the wintery heart. My days are becoming longer than my nights and I am beginning a beautiful journey to a spring that will be more beautiful and breathtaking than any other spring before. My beauty is being restored and I pray you are being beautifully restored as well.

If you are in a season of darkness right now and you don’t feel like you are going to make it through, please, reach out to me. I’d love to pray for you or encourage you in any way I can. If you are in a season of spring and beauty, praise God and relish every moment as He is blessing you in this time! Let your beauty be restored.

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Through a Healer’s Eyes

The Gospel According to Luke. It doesn’t sound like a very intriguing book title. In fact, from one avid reader to another, it sounds bland and unoriginal. But like many books, this book holds many treasures within its pages.

I’ve had some opportunities the past few months to discover some new books by listening to them while I’m working. Some have been fairy tales, some devotional, but recently, I’ve been burdened to start getting back into the Word of God. Growing up in a Christian home, Christian school, Christian college, I’ve read the books of the Bible many times over. I know many facts about the books and authors and stories themselves, and growing up with that can make a person numb to the depth and the beauty of these precious words. I often feel I already know so much about the Bible and have read it or memorized so many passages or heard so many sermons that I don’t need to read it in my spare time. It becomes second hand and loses its beauty and intrigue for me. Actually, being perfectly honest, I’ve tried to start reading the Bible many times over the past few years. I pick it up and search for a place to start or a passage to help during my time of need, but come up empty. The words seem dry and inapplicable, even though I know deep down God’s Word is a living wellspring of information and instruction as well as comfort and peace.

Well, thanks to my job, I’ve started listening to the Bible. I downloaded the Bible Experience, which is a dramatized version of the Bible, and have been listening to the four Gospels, Psalms, Esther (one of my all time favorite Bible stories!). As wonderful as it is to hear the words of Jesus and to hear His story over and over again in each of the Gospels, I keep getting drawn back to the Gospel of Luke. Maybe it is how the actor portrays Jesus in his voice. Or maybe it is the focus on the healing ministry of Jesus that keeps drawing me back.

For those of you who don’t know, Luke was a doctor, and though he wasn’t a direct part of Jesus’ ministry on earth, he did his research, like doctors often do. He talked to as many people as he could so he could write down the eye witness accounts of what Jesus’ life looked like. His account is similar in many respects to the other three Gospels, but his retelling of the life of Christ portrays a different side of Christ

Perhaps I’m drawn to the way Luke focuses on the healing ministry of Christ. Looking through a healer’s eyes, Luke saw a man who reached out to those who had leprosy and healed them. He saw a man who when he felt power go out of him, stopped to ask who touched him. And when his disciples flippantly said, “It’s just the large crowd,” Jesus saw the woman who believed she could be healed just by touching his cloak and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” He saw a man who stopped on his way into a city to bring a lonely widow’s only son back to life so she wouldn’t have to endure the wrenching heartache of another loss. He saw a man who heard a blind man cry out to him and asked to be healed. He saw a man whose eyes were full of compassion for a hurting and dying world, and he shared that man with us.

There is no doubt that Jesus healed many, many people in his short time on earth, but do you realize how compassionate he was when he healed them? I’m sure if you’ve been to the doctor, you’ve had good experiences and bad experiences. If you’re like me, you prefer the doctor who takes time to listen to your symptoms and works hard to find the answers you need. Someone who fills out a prescription and slaps a drug on your problems usually doesn’t get kudos for being friendly.

“When he saw them, he had compassion on them.” Jesus didn’t turn people away when they came to him. No matter how tired he became or how much he wanted to be alone after a long day, he never failed to see the people who came to him through the eyes of a compassionate healer. No sickness was too small or too big for him to heal. No question was too low or too high. When he saw people who genuinely wanted to be healed, he had compassion on them and healed them.

He is the healer of all things. He brings hope to the hopeless and rest for the weary. He is not above any sickness or weakness. He heals our wounded hearts and binds up our brokenness. He reaches into the deepest recesses of our souls and touches our deepest scars with his healing hand. Let the Lord of healing bring healing to your life. Let your faith heal you.

“Your faith has healed you. Go in Peace.”

The Tin Man Has a Heart

They say time heals all wounds. I heard something on the radio today that contradicted that old adage. Time doesn’t necessarily heal our wounds. I find time more often dulls the pain, or creates distance from the pain to the present in our minds, but may not heal the wounds as often as we believe.

If you are human, I’m sure you have experienced some heart ache or another. Whether the breath taking pain of a loved one passing on or the shattering wounds of a broken love. The stabbing pain of being jilted or betrayed by someone you trusted. And the more times you are stabbed, the scars form walls around your heart preventing you from trusting or loving again. Sometimes you have been so wounded, you feel your soul itself has died and your heart can’t possibly be allowed to beat again.

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The tin man felt a similar pang in the movie The Wizard of Oz, only his problem was worse than a broken heart. He was made without a heart which meant he couldn’t love or feel jealous or angry or any of the normal emotions we feel. If you’ve ever experienced the pain of a broken heart, you might wish you were the tin man. Imagine, not having to feel the deep aching of a burdened or wounded heart.

I think at times, the enemy wishes we didn’t have a heart either. He tries everything he can to make us believe we are unloved or unwanted. He uses our bitterness or anger to make our hearts cold and unfeeling. He emphasizes our wounds to make us want to close off our hearts to love. He does everything in his power to stop our beating hearts. In that respect he can be likened to Elphaba’s sister, Nessa Rose, in the musical Wicked. When (spoiler alert) Boq, the munchin boy who took Nessa Rose to the dance, finally admits that he never loved her, Nessa grabs Elphaba’s spell book and casts a spell on him that will destroy his heart. Luckily, or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, Elphaba steps in and casts another spell that keeps Boq alive, but turns him into a tin man who has no heart.

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Satan is very jealous of our love for God and will do anything to destroy a heart that beats for Him. But, fortunately for us, our fate is not the same as that of the tin man. We have hearts that beat and can be very alive. While Satan is working to reveal how broken or hollow our hearts are, God is whispering life back into our calloused hearts and longs to heal the brokenness we feel inside.

If you look at the two tin men in these stories, you will see quite a difference in how their stories end. In one, the tin man was made without a heart and finds out in the end that he had one all along. In the other, the tin man had a heart, but had it taken away from him in a jealous rage.

Maybe you feel like the first-hollow and empty inside, longing to feel a prick of anything to make you feel alive. Or, maybe you favor the latter and feel your heart has been ripped mercilessly from your chest, never to beat again. Whichever tin man you feel you are, your heart is never too far gone to receive the love of Christ. In His Word, He promises to bind up the wounds of His children and bring healing to the broken hearted. He alone can make your shattered heart whole. He alone can take the emptiness you feel and replace it with a beating, living heart.

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Give your hurting, wounded scars to the Lord and discover the heart He intended to beat within you.

Ga-linda, the not-so-good

In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, I remember Glinda the good witch being this puff of pink that wasn’t involved much in the story except to bestow the ruby slippers on Dorothy for killing the witch and send her on her way to Oz. Granted, it’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, so my idea of her may be a bit vague and incorrect. But, I love how Ga-linda (yes, with a Ga) is portrayed in the musical Wicked.

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In the musical, Galinda is the popular girl in school who likes pink and always looks like she has her life together in perfect order. Even though she treated Elphaba like the plague when they first became roommates, her perfect façade quickly fell away as she got to know Elphie and the two of them became the best of friends. Until, of course, all of Oz turned against Elphaba and Galinda was thrown into the spotlight as the sudden hero of all Oz. With the people looking to her to lead, she had to look the part of perfection and continue to lead in the hunt for the wicked witch.

In a recent blog post, I asked if you had ever felt like the wicked witch of the west. In the same vein, I ask, are you more of a Galinda, or just a Galinda wannabe perhaps? I say wannabe, because, who could be Galinda anyway? She’s perfect. She’s popular. Her hair is blonde. She travels by bubble. Her fiancée is captain of the guard. What’s not to love about her?

But, underneath all the fluff and glitter, she’s not as good as she appears to be. She betrayed her best friend for fame, and she knows the stories they’ve been telling about Elphie aren’t true. But what’s a girl to do? She has the standard of perfection to uphold.

I wonder how many of us have felt like that Galinda. Everyone having one idea of how you portray yourself on the outside, but never really knowing or seeing the war that’s going on beneath the surface. I don’t know about you, but I have felt like Galinda the not-so-good many times in my life. Being a Christian, that’s sometimes an extra hard burden to bear. Growing up in the church, you always have a certain standard to uphold or expectation to meet. And being a believer, you often strive to meet those standards and expectations. But how many of you go home after church or Bible study and feel you are living a lie or half a life, or even a double life?

I confess, unlike the song in the musical, I am that girl. With different things going on in my home life, I have come to feel very much like my life was a façade. Always putting on the happy smile at church or work and pretending like everything is fine. Feeling like I could never share what was really going on out of fear of what people would think of me, and of my family. Always feeling like you have to keep your true feelings and hurts and wounds inside because you don’t want to destroy the perfect vision people have of you.

Taking it deeper still, living with the deep darkness of a secret sin you have kept so buried your entire life, that if discovered, everyone who knows you would be completely shocked and probably be ready to take up stones to flog you to death for such unthinkable, unmentionable things you have done or thought. You no longer feel like the sweet, beautiful fairy everyone thinks you are. In fact, you’re probably feeling a little more like Jekyll and Hyde right about now.

Luckily, for you and me, the story doesn’t have to end there, and it didn’t in the musical. When Elphaba’s life was on the line, Galinda found her and in one of the most beautiful songs of the play, they sang about how they had been changed for the better because they knew each other. All was forgiven and their friendship was mended. I can tell you from personal experience that you too can be mended. For years I was racked with guilt and shame over the things I thought. And, even though the Bible says if we confess our sins, He will be faithful and just to forgive them, I was sure He was getting tired of hearing me confess and ask forgiveness for the same sordid sins over and over and over again. But believe me, God’s love is far greater than we can ever imagine and He didn’t just send His Son to save us, He sent His Son to change us.

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If you have given your life to Christ, your old life holds no power over you anymore. Your past guilts or mistakes or problems, whether self-inflicted, or inflicted by others, can no longer control you. The only power they hold over you is the power you give them. It may seem like they are still holding onto you and you will never break free, but the truth is, they have already been destroyed and overcome. We just have to realize that we are already free and let those imaginary chains fall away as we walk forward in our new life in Christ.

Don’t let your Galindo not-so-good, or your Mr. Hyde, whichever the case may be, control your life. Let the love of Christ dwell in you richly and live in light of your salvation.

 

Wicked: An Elphaba kind of prayer

Have you ever felt like the wicked witch of the west? That may seem like an odd question. Especially since most of the time we would like to think we are more like Galinda the good witch, or even the heartless tin man or cowardly lion. Maybe even the heroic Dorothy who saves all of Oz from the terrifying witch.

Maybe this will help clear up my question a bit. The other night I was sitting in my bed reflecting on all the confusing and entangling events going on in my life and it felt like I was searching for something, anything to say to God and figure out how to figure out this mess. It felt like I was grasping at straws. Seeking answers to nagging questions. Looking for peace in the turmoil. Pacing the lion’s cage hoping to find the magical thing that would set me free or fill the hollow emptiness inside.

Being the musical theatre buff that I am, this goose chase my mind was taking me on brought to mind the scene in Wicked when Elphaba is chanting frantically across the expanse of the stage trying something, anything, to make sure Fiyero can’t be harmed. If you don’t know the story, it’s a creative retelling of the Wizard of Oz that takes a look at the witch’s side of the story. It follows the life of Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west, and her friendship with Galinda the good witch and Fiyero, a new boy in school, Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose, and a munchkin boy named Boq. I don’t want to spoil the storyline for those who haven’t seen it, but it comes to a point towards the end of the story where Fiyero ends up running off to help Elphaba and he gets taken prisoner because of it. Desperate to save the one good thing in her life, Elphaba opens her book of enchantments and starts saying whatever she can hoping it will be enough to save him.

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My life has felt a bit like that, and as I mentioned, that scene came to mind the other night as I wrestled with so many of the questions on my mind. I don’t know if you have ever had moments like that, where much like Elphaba in the song, you feel like shouting at top of your lungs, trying to figure what you want to say to God or what you want Him to do. You just keep going round and round not knowing if you are supposed to listen to what He has to say or if you are supposed to spill everything on your heart. You just know that things aren’t right in your life and you have to do whatever it takes to make them right.

Sometimes, you do have so much on your mind, you don’t know what or how to pray. But, that’s ok. You don’t have to have all the right words or have all the right things to pray. God knows what our hearts are trying to say. Even when it seems like our prayers are coming out in gibberish and make no sense to us. If we are praying in earnest to our God, He will hear us. He hears us in our tears. He hears us in our laughter. He hears us when we are so full of sorrow we can’t even speak. Just make sure you do pray, and that you keep on praying. Pour out your heart to your Father and let His never-ending love enfold you.

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The story of Wicked comes to a bittersweet end. Elphaba does ultimately save Fiyero and herself, even though it may not have happened the way she expected it too. But God works like that sometimes. We will ask for one thing and He will give it to us, just not how we expected it to happen. Or, He will give us something else that’s better for us. He knows our lives better than we do and knows what we need. So, when you’re overwhelmed or feel you are just mumbling nonsense, rest in the fact that God has already written your story and knows what the outcome will be.

 

 

Broken Angel

Her wings are torn and tattered. Her heart is battered and scarred. It’s hard for her to feel the love and joy that once flooded her heart. Her soul is worn and weary from fighting this war that seems like it will never end. Her nerves are raw and are breaking. Her mind is filled with confusion. Her body is battered and bruised.

This once beautiful angel is falling into depths of despair. Her will to carry on has been crushed beyond repair. There is so much pain in her heart. Silent pain that has taken root and has grown deep into her veins. A pain so deep it seems no one else can see the brokenness inside.

Her heart has been shattered so many times she can no longer put together the pieces to make it whole. The enemy is working overtime to fill her world with darkness and doubt. Filling her mind with everything that is going wrong in her life and smothering every glimmer of light that comes her way.

Everyone keeps telling her that this suffering will come to an end, that her battle is the Lord’s and He’ll carry her through to the end. She wants to believe He will take all her sorrow and pain and turn it into joy and dancing, but it’s hard to believe when she feels so battered and scarred.

God,  lift up this angel and carry her close to your heart. Wrap your arms around her and let her know everything will be all right. Mend the wings that used to soar and heal the heart that is shattered and torn. Restore beauty to her mind and strength to her soul.  Lift up this broken angel and make her once again whole.

Love the broken angels and lift them up in prayer.  They need it more than you know