Recording What I SEE

I started this blog as a place to journal and record various ways I SEE God at work in my life. Over the past week we have had three snow events, which is a big deal when you rarely get three in an entire winter. In these past 7 days, I have seen both God’s work and His glory in so many ways. Today’s post is both a “thank you” to Him and my own “Jordan Memorial Stones.”

Snow: The pure white snow reminds me of the Holiness of God. The fact that it totally transforms everything it touches, illustrates the power of Jesus in a person’s life. God can transform a dirty, dingy, dying heart into a beautiful, glorious, forgiven heart through the power of His Son; just like He can transform a dirty, dingy, dying tree limb into a beautiful snow covered work of art.

Snowman: As we made snowman after snowman, I began to SEE the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as He takes the forgiven heart and begins shaping and molding it into a new creation. The snowman had to be chiseled out in some spots, and at times, it had to be crushed and remade so that it would be strong enough to stand firm. Wow! What a picture of what the Holy Spirit is doing in my life!

Snow Days: Things really slow down during snow days. Granted it is not all fluffy snow, hearts and flowers, but it was a sweet time of togetherness (at least 90% of the time). I was able to SEE the importance of slowing down and just “being” with God. Just as I had to surrender my agenda during snow days, I saw the need to surrender my agenda during my quiet time with the LORD. It becomes so much easier to SEE God when I am not rushing around to accomplish my to-do list, but trusting Him to enable me to accomplish what He has set before me.

Middle of the night snow storm: When you awaken in the middle of the night to realize that you have no power and that wet heavy snow coated in freezing rain is snapping limbs from trees all around your house, you realize how little control you really have in life. As I laid in bed watching the flashes of transformers blowing and heard the cracking sound of limbs plummeting to the ground below, I began to panic. “God, we have so many huge trees around our house, and we have no power. It is so cold already. What if a tree falls on the house? How will we even get out?” As quietly as the snow was falling, was the voice I heard in my heart which said, “Remember what your little girl said last week?

“I am always with you, and even if bad things happen, I will see you through. Rest in Me. Trust in Me.” In that moment I surrendered my house, and my loved ones to Him. I pictured Him wrapping our entire house “in the shadow of His wings”, and I went to sleep. The next morning, I discovered 9 huge limbs down in our yard, but not one anywhere near the house! I wish I could fully express the gratitude overflowing in my heart!

Warmth: It was all fun and games until we lost power. Everyone in my house loves the snow, until we get cold! The temperature in our house got to 57 degrees. This Florida born and raised girl was COLD. The snow no longer appealed to me. All I wanted to do was huddle under three blankets in four layers of clothes. I was grumpy and tired. What went from lovely and exciting, in an instant became burdensome and dreadful. Being away from warmth had changed my perspective and my attitude. But then the power was restored! A long hot shower, followed by a hot cup of coffee drastically altered my perspective. I realized in that moment that God is like warmth. When I am close to Him (reading His Word, spending time with Him) my perspective is positive and my attitude is joyful. But when I pull away from Him or neglect my relationship with Him, it is like I begin to get cold, and both my perspective and attitude become very negative.

Don’t you love that God is both snow and warmth? He is justice and mercy. He is all-powerful and yet speaks in a quiet voice. He is the Creator of all and yet He knows my name.

There are so many other ways in which I have seen His glorious presence this week, but I would be typing all day to record them. I will end this post with just one more:

My children’s laughter: The night the snow began to fall, my kids and I took our places in front of the big window. It is our tradition to lay on our backs with our heads by the window as we watch the snow fall. From that vantage point, it appears as if you are flying through space. As we lay there, the dog decides to join in the fun by laying on us, which leads my kids into a fit of giggles. More laughter ensues as the silliness of two excited kids kicks in. We then settle down and carefully watch for big flakes and discuss our plans for the next day: sledding, snowmen, snowball fights. In that moment, I saw the delight my Father takes in His children. My heart was overflowing with love for my two children. I savored their excited chatter, I laughed when hearing their young giggles, I ruffled heads and held hands. I would have given anything for that moment. Then I realized that God did give everything so that He could have those moments with us. He gave His Son so that we can share “moments” with Him for all of eternity!

What a precious, amazing, beautiful, complex, wonderful, indescribable God we have! I pray that you will SEE Him in some way today. Look for Him; He is always there, in the snow and in the warmth!

Our view from the window as the snow began to fall.

Our view from the window

May we SEE You as the Father who is always with us

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“Mommy, I really like sleeping in your room,” said my 7 year old the night an ice storm was coming through our area. My husband and I had decided to let the kids stay in our room in case we lost power or tree branches started falling. We put their mattresses on the floor and had a giant “sleep over.” I knew my kids were loving the idea of being in our room, but what I didn’t realize was that they were about to teach me a lesson and help me SEE my relationship with God in a new way.

My kids, who often have trouble going to sleep right away and who often wake up early, went right to sleep that night and slept far later than usual. I asked my 7 year old the next morning why she thought she slept so much better in my room. She looked at me as if I was missing something so obvious and said, “It’s because you were with me. I felt safe because I knew that even if I had a bad dream or heard a scary noise, I wasn’t by myself. I knew you and Daddy would take care of me and so my brain told my body that it was ok to just sleep.” She smiled her carefree little smile and went on her way.

I, however, sat completely still as I felt my heart begin to pick up the pace. That same night, I had been lying in bed feeling anything but safe. “Lord,” I had silently cried out, “what is happening to our world, our country? 21 Christians died brutally at the hands of pure evil. My kids are asking me why people hate Christians, and if they are going to die one day because they love Jesus. Our country seems to be imploding, the world is becoming more and more evil and no one seems to be doing anything to stop it.” My thoughts took me to dark and scary places and with the added fear of an ice storm coming, I slept very restlessly that night.

But then my little girl and her plain spoken answer to my question, caused me to repent. “Father, you are always with me, always. And yet instead of keeping my mind on You and resting in You last night, I ran from You. Just as my sweet girl said, even if bad things happen, I know that You are with me. Please keep me close to You and help me to trust You.”

The fact is, I don’t know what is going to happen. Although I do know that things will get worse before they get better. But I also know that my God is far stronger than anything this world has to offer. I trust that even if I don’t understand something or when evil seems to be winning, that my Almighty God is still in complete control and He is bringing this world to just the right moment when He will send His Son to put an end to evil once and for all.

So I will choose to stay close to my Father and rest in Him because He is with me. Scary things might happen, but I know that my soul is safely tucked in the arms of my King. I will choose to SEE and focus on His goodness and not my fears.

May we SEE You as the Father who is always with us.

May We Know That You SEE Us as We Seek to SEE You.

Today’s post was written by a sweet friend of mine named, Aimee. We were talking one day and she shared the following story with me. I loved how she reminded me that not only should we ask God to help us see Him, but to also remember that He always sees us; even when we try to hide. I pray you are as blessed by her words as I have been.

May You SEE us in our hiding place.

S.E.E. has opened my eyes to the amazing daily workings of God in my life, as well as the lives of others.  Before reading S.E.E. I never really considered that the work of God in my life is a true miracle and that God cared so much for me to have everyday encounters with Him.  Of course, on paper I knew He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7), but as I’ve had a heightened awareness of Jesus in my life and have prayed that I would “S.E.E” God in new ways, He has answered in an abundant yet perhaps even humbling ways.

One day as I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch, I found myself at the restaurant a little earlier than usual, hmm that’s unusual.  Well, it just so happened that a thrift store was next door so I decided to wander in knowing I couldn’t get into too much financial trouble and I might even stumble upon a treasure or two.  Wow, did I ever stumble.  I wandered about the store and was about ready to leave when I caught a glimpse of the pastor of my old church standing outside the door.  The one who never said anything to me when I was sick and in the hospital, the one whom I’d always felt so insecure around, you know, that one?  “Man”, as an anxious feeling filled me, I’m stuck in here now.” I kept peeking out the window of the thrift store to see if he had left, yet the pastor continued to chat on the phone, as if for eternity.  I’d wander around picking things up then peering outward hoping and praying he would leave soon. 

Just then I felt this shame come over me and the Father’s voice saying, “Aimee, why, are you hiding from (of all people) him?  Oh Lord, I thought “hiding” really???  I mean, he was just a human, just like me, yet a brother in Christ.  A pastor of all people. What was I afraid of anyway? 

Maybe you’ve been in similar situations, like those times when you see someone you haven’t seen for ages and you think, “She hasn’t called me, so she must not like me, so I’ll just stand over here on the grocery side of Target while she’s on the other side and hope she doesn’t “S.E.E.” me.  Or maybe you forgot to put on your makeup and your hair is greasy, so you just don’t want to run into anyone and there she is at the next grocery counter. You tilt your hat down hoping she won’t S.E.E. you.   Or if we really want to get personal what about at church? Do you take the long way around so you don’t have to run into her because feelings were hurt and it’s been easier to just hide than to forgive?  Maybe you call it camouflaging, covering or how about masking.  Yep, no matter what you call it, it’s all the same, hiding.

Or, maybe even more personal, and it’s like my situation was, as I began to recount to God (because of course this is different), “well I went through a hard time, and this pastor just didn’t seem to care, I’m so hurt, Lord. Please, I just don’t want to run into him, not now, not tomorrow, well quite frankly, not ever.”  I’ll feel so fake when I say I’m all great.  When what I really want to say is how hurt I am that he didn’t reach out.”

 Well, finally, the pastor left, and I could come out of my little hole in the wall (literally), but the words stuck with me.  Over the next few weeks whenever I’d see someone that I was anxious about running into, I’d feel that feeling, then the voice, “are you hiding?” Sometimes I’d hide, but I really tried to come out of the closet, say hello and actually engage. Each time I was blessed by the interaction to where I began to crave relationship.

I began to ask myself the same question? What am I hiding from anyway? I began to realize that I was really more afraid of people than I was of God.   I love God, a lot, but maybe I thought, just maybe I had put people above God on the hierarchy whom I should please, and as God was revealing to me, that was idolatry and it was wrong. 

I began to dialogue with the Lord, “but what if that person doesn’t like me, what if I’ve wronged them in some way, what if I say something stupid?” Yet the Lord gently reassured me, but I love you and what they think doesn’t matter.  But you are a child of mine and are called to love my people (John 13:34).  And you can’t do it every time you hide from them.

Wow! Treasure #1 – my fear of people was actually idolatry, putting them above God.

Treasure #2 – what love had I missed out on because I was hiding, worse yet, what love had I neglected to give because of my hiding…

Then recently, I found myself on a walk with my dog.  I came around the corner and I saw ‘her’ come out of her house.  She had her tennis bag and wore a limp in her leg. I used to play tennis with her, I thought to myself, but I hadn’t seen her for awhile. I wonder how she is doing, why did she stop playing tennis with me, anyway, I babbled on? I kind of wanted to hide, but was aware of this lesson that was in progress in me, so I bent down to pick up the dog doo and waited. It was then that I saw her move to the other side of the street without acknowledging me. 

Hey, I thought, was she hiding from me?  Then God said to me, “I see you, Aimee. I see you!”  You see me, God? You mean I’m not invisible??? And I was reassured with scripture that He does see me.  As in Genesis 16:13 when God spoke to Hagar, the mistress of Father Abraham, where it says, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Wow! Treasure #3 – there are other hiders, and some are even hiding from me.

So I began to think that maybe there are other hiders in this world.  Maybe I’m not alone in this hiding thing.  Maybe there are Master Hiders, could I be one of them? Well if you are one and you identify, you know what to do.  The first thing is to Confess.  Confess and get God to his rightful place.  The second thing is to turn from your tendency to hide 

and begin to bless others by being real and genuine with them about who you are. Strongly consider your identity in Christ (Ephesians is a great place to start).  If God loves you, don’t you think others will, too.

As I’m finding out, believers should all be loving one another to the nth degree, anyway.  I mean, Jesus says to love others as I loved you (John 13:34) and He died for us.  Make an impact on your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and even more so on non-believers.  Reach out even when you have the urge to hide.  Maybe the reason you want to hide is because you have a zit on your chin or you’ve just gained 20 lbs. in the last 2 weeks.  So what, let’s be real with one another.  Maybe someone needs to see that zit on you because they think you’re perfect.  Maybe the reason you messed up on that speech was so that others would know you aren’t perfect and would have courage to speak out for themselves.  There is no telling what God might be doing, yet if we are all hiding from one another, God can not love on us through our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So remember earlier when I said that I stumbled, well check out the rest of the story.  In Psalm 37:24 the Lord assures us that though “he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  What an awesome promise!  Know the Word so you can know who God is and who He made you to be.  Have confidence in knowing that all things happen for a reason including running into people we know.  When we obey Him and do as we are called, He will uphold us with His (amazing, omnipotent, strong, right) hand. We should have no fear of that person, as long as He is guiding our steps. Because just as we can S.E.E. Him in our everyday encounters, He too sees us and delights in our obedience to Him.   

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-15

May we SEE Your Mercy in Our Weakness

There are so many beautiful stories in the Bible, and one of my favorite is found in 2 Samuel chapter nine. It is the story of David and Mephibosheth.  In the thirteen verses that comprise the chapter, we see a glorious picture of the Gospel.  But this week as I studied the passage again, God opened my eyes to see an important truth: sometimes what we see as weakness and failure, may actually be God’s mercy and protection at work in our lives.

As the chapter begins, King David is looking for someone from the house of Jonathan to whom he can show God’s favor and kindness. We see a king whose heart is overflowing with gratefulness and humility to the God who called him from the fields among sheep, to the throne as the shepherd-king over Israel. We also see the heart of a man who is grieving for his best friend; undoubtedly longing to be able to share this incredible moment with his most trusted friend, advisor and encourager.

David’s search leads him to a most unlikely recipient. He is told of Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan. As a child, Mephibosheth was dropped and suffered permanent damage to his feet. (Do you catch that Gospel picture: he suffered permanent damage from “a fall”; damage he could not fix himself, and a king that went in search of him to restore him).

Mephibosheth goes before his king, surely fearful and confused. He must have been thinking: What does he want with me? Is he going to kill me for being the grandson of the former king; the man who tried many times to kill him?

Yet, Mephibosheth is met with nothing but grace, mercy and blessings. Land is restored to him, a place at the king’s own table is prepared for him, and best of all, from that day on, Mephibosheth was treated as David’s own son.

I have read this story many times before, but what stood out to me as we studied it in Bible study this week, was how merciful God was in allowing Mephibosheth’s lameness. It was most likely his lameness that kept him from being caught up in a battle similar to the ones that took the lives of his father and grandfather. It was most likely his lameness that kept him away from the deadly power struggles so common to kingdom’s in those days. And it was his lameness that kept him home to answer the summons from the king.

His “weakness” therefore could easily be seen as God’s mercy. But did it feel like mercy as he suffered the initial injury? How could it have? Did it feel like grace when Mephibosheth was growing up, unable to do things that the other boys could do? I’m sure it did not. Did it feel like God’s blessing on him when he was ridiculed by his peers for being different? I cannot imagine it did. But did God love him enough to provide the means necessary for him to receive unimaginable blessings and favor? Absolutely.

We can all related to Mephibosheth. First, in our need to be restore and redeemed. But also, in the fact that we are all “lame” in some way; whether an actual disability, or in our insecurities, illnesses, financial situations, job issues, family problems, prodigal children, broken dreams, wounded hearts, etc.

But like Mephibosheth, is it possible that what we have always viewed as a weakness or burden, is actually God’s blessing on us? Could God be allowing whatever hurt you are dealing with, to be the catalyst to draw you to Him so that you can receive His blessing? Could the weakness you lament over, actually be God’s protection over you? Could your disappointments be God’s leading you to something that is ultimately better for you or your loved ones? 

May I challenge you today, as I continue to challenge myself, to ask God to open your eyes to see His mercy, grace and blessings in your life, even if they are hidden in weakness, pain and brokenness. After all He is the God of restoration, and there is no heart that is beyond His power of restoring.

Today, may we rest in the loving arms of the God who loves us so much, even in our brokenness, that He pursues us in order to restore us to Himself. What an amazing God we have!