She was the funniest girl in school with the coolest clothes. Everyone wanted to sit by her at lunch, but she decided who did. She formed a club and chosen members met on Friday nights at the skating rink.
Then her parents got a divorce. She told fewer jokes. The trips to the skating rink stopped.
I found her crying one day, and my sixth grade heart hurt because her world was falling apart. I could have been a good friend. Not like the one’s talking behind her back … but she wouldn’t let me.
Just like the popular girl in sixth grade, big girls have holes in their hearts too. We all have secrets, heartaches, betrayals and shameful details.
Wary of trust, a wall goes up blocking sweet connection on a Jesus level.
That’s exactly what the Devil wants when it comes to sisters in Christ.
When he separates us … he causes unity to fade.
With the fading of unity … the kingdom’s work is stalled.
So what is the solution? What can we do?
If we really want change … we have to be willing to change.
The scriptures say …
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3
The Greek interpretation for the word esteem means to lead … or go before. This made me think about not only putting others before myself … but taking the lead in loving my sisters first … before they love me.
I ache for this holy sisterhood to bond through the beautiful redemption process … to be real on a come to Jesus level … to find sincere connection and genuine grace.
What could happen if we all take the lead to love first?
What would that look like?
Perhaps a good starting place is putting our sister’s feelings before our own, letting selfishness fall to the wayside.
What if we put away all unfavorable perceptions and think only the best about our sister … instead of judging her in specific measures?
What if we forget previous clashes and renew our thoughts?
What affirmation for her if we’d speak truth in kindness, encouraging and praying for her.
What if we keep secrets in perfect trust and serve her in ways glorifying to our Father?
And because we are terribly flawed and we will fail her … we humbly ask for forgiveness … as we forgive.
You see in order for this sisterhood of messy hearts to flourish in Christ … grace must go both ways.
Oh what beauty is found in grace.
What hope is exchanged in love.
What redemption is mined from humility.
The meekness of a messy sisterhood can be a beautiful tapestry of merciful grace … if only we’ll take the lead to love first.
I dreamed you came home today. Oh the joy in my heart as I hugged you in an emotional momma moment. You know those moments…the ones with the tears and the kisses…and the antidotes of all the dramatic, annoying things a momma can say in a moment of pure ecstasy.
Your eyes were dancing with exuberant bliss….a pureness I haven’t seen since you were an innocent child and full of so much happiness.
I know the past has been confusing and disappointing. The enemy has chosen you to sift…… and sift he has child.
I wish you truly understood, the numerous attempts to snuff you out is because he doesn’t want you to reach God’s purpose for your life. He comes to kill, steal and destroy…but by the grace of God, you’re still standing child.
And be encouraged, because God will restore what the locust has stolen from you.
The world fooled you with its pleasures, leaving you bruised, unsatisfied and isolated.
No matter how long you have traveled the wrong way, you can always turn around.
Jesus can fill all the holes in your heart….even the ones you are running from.
You’ve been gone for too long child.
So many nights, prayer replaces sleep. I hate to admit, sometimes worry replaces peace. I know you belong to the Father, but the enemy taunts me with fear.
Thank goodness, the Father reminds me that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He loves you more than I ever will. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around that because I would die for you child…. until I remember …..He actually gave his son to die for you. I could not give my child’s life for another.
Your earthly father continues to fatten the calf for the day when you return home. Oh the celebration we will have.
Momma will make all your favorites, the prime rib, the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, the fried corn and the homemade macaroni and cheese.
I’ll even make the chocolate cake you love, along with some hot, chocolate chip cookies. Remember how sweet those warm cookies taste with a glass of cold milk?
We’ll call your siblings, your cousins and have a big party and play games like we used to on family night. Dad will build a fire and let you have the recliner you love. I bet there will even be a good movie on the tv we can watch together, like we used to.
Your pup will be so glad to see you, he misses wrestling and playing fetch. Remember how excited he gets when you come through the door? Why at the sound of your voice, his little paws sound like he’s tap dancing on the wood floor.
Oh child, the thought of your arrival delights my heart to the point of rapture.
We’re waiting precious one and while we wait, we are praying and anticipating the victory you will have with Jesus. And beloved, upon your arrival, you no longer have to look back.
The past is the past, because with Jesus….. His mercies are new every day.
Isn’t that cool?
Just think of the dreams in your heart? It’s not too late child. All that potential He gave you is simply simmering beneath your soul. He wants to unleash the supernatural power of heaven to restore and replenish you.
He loves you so. Oh how He loves you…..it may be hard to fathom ….but He does….and He has two nail scared hands to prove it.
Come home child. We all miss you…we all long to sit and laugh with you. Your momma misses you so……but Jesus misses you most.
If you have a loved one who has traveled far from home, may this love letter encourage you to never give up on your prodigal….so keep the faith…..and keep praying…..the Father has his eye on your prodigal.
Love to you all,
Honored to link up today with the precious Suzie Eller at #live free Thursday – if you are not familiar with Suzie’s writing – consider yourself now blessed to have been introduced. Her writing is anointed and cuts straight to my heart. This post was partly inspired by my new pastor, Jeff Laborg.
We stood hand in hand in a big circle around the room.
Over 30 women from different walks of life.
All with a story…..
Some with loss still waging war on their souls….
Yet they were grateful.
I stumbled into this group on accident.
I was asked to share a devotion at KARM’S Serenity Shelter.
I came away changed.
How these women press on is nothing short of a miracle out of GOD’S playbook.
My heart was so excited to return this month to celebrate Thanksgiving.
A precious sisterhood of women from our church have been going for months to love on this magnetic group. And yes my heart is now knit to these special women who have been serving faithfully.
We do simple activities, play games, eat, laugh and pray with them.
This month we took a THANKSGIVING tree to hang ornaments of gratefulness on.
It struck me it could easily be a TESTIMONY tree.
Reading the ornaments made my heart swell…..much like the Grinches crusty heart did when the “Whos” showed him unconditional love.
I find myself thinking about these ladies all the time.
We go to love and encourage them….
We come out loved on and encouraged.
They are so grateful we come.
It’s ever so obvious they love us too.
Cassandra came in late from her job having missed the opportunity to share what she was thankful for earlier.
As we stood holding hands for prayer to end our evening, she spoke with humble eloquence.
“I am thankful for a second chance. Ladies, we have all been given a second chance. Because we belong to JESUS, we get another chance at life. HE lives in all of us girls….HE is inside of us. I am so thankful for that.”
The humility in her voice as it cracked literally split my heart.
Earlier in the evening I prayed with four other ladies ranging in age from 20 ~ 55 years old..
The prayer requests were not of the material means….instead they consisted of….
Restored relationships and Salvation for their families….
Freedom from addiction for their families….
Requests for favorable results for upcoming educational testing, court dates, custody hearings.
They weren’t ashamed to share how long they had been sober…clean…..drug free.
I marveled in their humility wrapped in gratefulness.
Their stories are not pretty by any means….
In fact their stories are shocking to someone like me who lives in a bubble.
Yet they shared….unashamed of their brokenness….with ugly details….ugly facts….ugly consequences.
Transparency is key to humility.
Transparency is necessary in GOD’S eyes.
I can’t help but think about the ugly details in my life…the ugly facts…the ugly consequences.
I am not so brave to share such things with my sisters.
The LORD whispered in my ear…
“It’s because of your pride, Mel.”
Pride keeps GOD at a distance in our lives.
Pride breaks down truth.
Pride hinders the SPIRIT’S desire to work in and through us.
Is there a broken place in your life GOD worked for good?
Are you ashamed to share it?
When we hide our broken stories….
We deny GOD’S glory.
We deny HIS work in our lives….
We cheat GOD….
We cheat ourselves…..
This THANKSGIVING can we lay down the pride?
Can we allow GOD to work through our ugly, sordid brokenness?
Can we let go of the shame of our weaknesses and let GOD do HIS work? HIS will?
Can we ignore Satan’s attempt to silence our stories?
Can we start living transparent in JESUS CHRIST?
We keep too many struggles secret…..yet we probably all struggle with the same things…. doubt, greed, jealousy, hate, bitterness, lust, selfishness, insecurity ….and the list could go on and on.
In this 5 day series of THANKSGIVING I have challenged you each day to do draw closer to the GIVER by thinking different…being different…engaging GOD in a different way.
I can think of no greater way to start engaging GOD ….than laying down our pride and letting HIM have HIS way with our stories.
Instead of being ashamed of your places of brokenness…..
Be THANKFUL for the GLORY GOD has worked in your life….
And pass it on.
Start sharing what you have overcome…
What God’s done in your life that no one can see on the surface.
The truth will set us free…..
But GOD wants to use our truth to set others free as well.
Happy Thanksgiving friends….
May you engage JESUS in a way like never before.
To worship our LORD please click this link from the Elevation Worship Team. Ask GOD to give you the boldness to share the broken places in your life.
So my daddy told me a million times. I must confess I tell my kids the same thing even though they’re now adults.
Be sure your sins will find you
out….was another one of his favorites. He would be proud I actually listened to a few things he taught me.
He was the fun daddy, always willing to do something silly to make us laugh. The first with the quick comeback, the practical joker, and the ever amusing story teller.
He passed away unexpectedly two years ago.
The landscape of our family dynamic just isn’t the same anymore.
His passing left an incredible void in our lives collectively and individually.
His pictures are around us yet they bring little comfort.
We find ourselves saying…”Oh daddy would have liked that….or daddy would get a kick out of this or that.”
Death leaves a major hole in our hearts.
I’ve realized there is nothing in this world to fill it.
We’ve gone on with life….the family gatherings consisting of many firsts without him.
The longing in my heart will never go away as long as I live on this earth…..but knowing my daddy is in heaven is comforting to a certain degree.
One day…..after I enter heaven’s gates and run into the arms of my JESUS……
I’m going to have a good laugh with my daddy. He’s going to tell me how peculiar Noah is…..what a good singer King David is…..and he will probably make fun of Moses’s speech impediment….if he still has one.
I am sure he is spending time with Johnny Cash and perhaps the king of rock and roll, Elvis…if Elvis is there? Surely he is…..a girl can hope can’t she?
One thing for sure….I know my daddy is having a good time…..and I wouldn’t dare bring him back…..because he wouldn’t want to live on this old earth again after living in perfection.
While I cannot wait to see my daddy…..
JESUS is going to be the main attraction folks.
Do you realize when we finally come into HIS presence we will be complete…..and completely fulfilled?
All the longings of earth…..
the life altering events…..
the financial losses…..
the oppression of man……
all the holes in our heart will finally be filled….complete…..perfect.
“He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelations 21:4
Man …..that’s something to look forward to isn’t it?
My heart swells just thinking about that day…..makes me homesick for my final home.
If this Father’s day has you longing for someone….or something….take heart…this too shall pass away.
One day the longings of this old life will be no more and if we know JESUS as our SAVIOR…..our broken hearts will be made complete.
“He’ll never change,” the lady told me. “I’ve known him for over 20 years, he is what he is. He will just break your heart,” she added. “He will always be a drunk,” my loved one said. I felt defensive, ashamed. I started keeping the sordid details of my life to myself even amidst the turmoil in my heart. What had been an exciting, three month courtship now resulted in a young twenty-two year old disillusioned bride.
I fell hard for this man. He was unlike any I had dated before. Worldly, successful, funny and 15 years my senior. I felt safe with him, and there was no doubt I loved him. My friends gossiped and marveled I fell for an older man. My family just about disowned me and did their best to intervene, yet something deep inside made me determined to marry him.
We were married 2 months when I found out I was pregnant. This was the only child we had planned to have. Three months in I realized what appeared to be social drinking was really an alcohol addiction. Confrontations led to dismal fights which led to declarations of cutting back or doing better. We existed in a realm of illusory, he knew I wasn’t happy yet he tried.
The drinking fractured our family time, our relationship, our outlook. I started thinking about leaving, my adorable toddler gave me strength to insist we deserved better. Then I found out I was pregnant, again. I decided to keep trying but I had to have help.
I went to church but it wasn’t the right fit, I was gossip to those who knew me. It was hard getting myself together with a toddler in tow, to show up and make an appearance with a big smile on my face. I didn’t see other wives hitting the altar because their husbands had issues. Yet I had this overwhelming feeling I needed to be in church.
The addiction continued to take its toll on our family. In a drunken, angry state my husband quit a job providing a six figure income. In the 80’s, this was a substantial salary. Within months we found ourselves losing everything. He agreed to rehab only after he came face to face with financial ruin. Soon he was offered a job in Louisiana. It was a new start in a new place.
He went ahead to find us a place to live. Weeks later I came with our babies. We were barely settled into our new home when I realized he was drinking again. I was heart broken, hopeless.
GOD provided a Christian family next door. I went to church with them, I felt GOD’S presence. I saw hurting people on the altar, I let my guard down and shared my painful secret. They prayed and taught me to pray for GOD’S will. They shared with me it was GOD’S will for my husband to be a born again Christian and to be set free of his addiction. I had hope.
We were in Louisiana just less than a year when the job was over. The owner was selling out. We were going back to Tennessee. I was considering going my separate way when we returned home. It would be an easy transition during the move. In the process of packing, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. Yea….GOD has a sense of humor. I stayed.
The struggle continued to be heart wrenching, the finances were tight. My first born was pretty sharp and soon picked up on daddy coming home drunk. Thank GOD he wasn’t a mean drunk but a sloppy, affectionate, sentimental drunk. My feeble heart literally ached because my child could see the difference in a drunk daddy.
I remember crying out to GOD…..”I don’t know what to do, you have got to help me GOD.” Our third baby was born and amazingly GOD led me to a new friend named Debby. A vivacious, GOD fearing, spit fire full of faith. What a friend. She led me to a church with a pastor named Jerry. An evangelistic, friendly, soul winner man of GOD. What a pastor. Jerry shepherded a loving, non-judging church family with real problems too. What a church.
I started praying one night a week with Debby and another friend. I learned to pray specific, I remembered the precious family from Louisiana who taught me it was GOD’S will for all to find salvation. I believed and claimed this promise for my husband.
We prayed it would rain on Sunday’s so he couldn’t golf and maybe go to church with me. We prayed he would get hangovers….something he never did. We prayed GOD would wrap his spirit so tight around my husband’s heart he would suffocate in conviction. It rained 6 weeks in a roll and he attended church some. He started puking his guts out after he drank and I so enjoyed listening to his gut wrenching bathroom sessions. I specifically remember thanking GOD for hangovers.
One night he sat down and watched a Billy Graham crusade on television. I sat next to him on the couch as tears streamed down his face and he wiped them with his hand. For 7 months, we prayed, we prayed specific, we prayed expectantly, we prayed in faith.
Three days after we watched the crusade on television he was in his favorite local pub with all his golf buddies. It was a Sunday evening and my babies were loaded in their car seats as we headed to church. The pub was on the way….GOD spoke clearly and said….”Stop and send Matthew in.”
“Send my baby in a bar Lord?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from GOD. I literally sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes wrestling with whether to send my three and a half year old into a bar. Finally with a heavy heart, I stood at the door as my baby went in and asked his daddy to go to church with us.
We settled into our seats near the front, liquor on his breath. He wasn’t drunk but he had knocked down a few. I remember thinking, I hope no one smells the alcohol on his breath. The pastor brought a powerful salvation message directed at my husband. I knew he was under conviction when the invitation started. I looked at his knuckles white from griping the pew so tight.
The pastor offered one more verse, I was about to give up. Then all of a sudden he turned to me and said, “I’ve got to go Mel, he’s calling me.” He shot out into the aisle and hit the altar. The pastor went and counseled him. I waited and prayed but made it to the altar just in time to hear him pray the sinner’s prayer.
I remember my husband holding me on the altar after he asked Christ into his heart. I remember the taste of my salty tears as we embraced each other for what seemed like forever. I cried into his chest, he cried on my shoulder. The entire church was rejoicing and praising GOD.
GOD was so faithful to my family that precious night. I relive it often. He has brought us so far, replenished us financially, restored relationships, restored hope. What the devil took….GOD replaced.
We will be married 30 years in January 2015. He has been sober since giving his heart to JESUS on March 17th, 1990. What rehab and a devoted, young bride’s love couldn’t do…GOD did.
I have often thought about what would have happened had I not sent my innocent little boy into the pub that night? Crazy isn’t it? GOD told me to send my baby into a bar? I still scratch my head about doing so and I have never shared this detail of our story till now.
We’ve read countless stories of GOD telling our bible heroes to do crazy things haven’t we? So it stands to reason….why would he not tell us to do crazy things too? Remember the leper, Naaman? Elisha told him through a servant, go wash in the muddy Jordan seven times and you will be clean. Naaman was angry Elisha did not come out to meet him and call on the Lord. He questioned the choice of waters stating there were cleaner rivers around. He went away in rage. If not for his servants convincing him to go to the Jordan and obey Elisha’s directives, Naaman would not have been healed. (2 Kings 5)
Its a beautiful story of stubborn obedience, similar to mine. I have learned through my 49 plus years, GOD’S ways are certainly not my ways. (Isaiah 55:8) He doesn’t do things the way my flawed mindset would do them.
If I had been the one who went into the pub that spring night in 1990, I don’t know if my husband would have responded with a yes. It probably would have angered him I showed up….especially in front of his buddies. The little wife had come to fetch her husband could have been his embarrassment….but seeing those sweet, little, expressive eyes with arms reaching up…speaking a tender, innocent plea…. I believe GOD used our baby to move my husband.
This reminds me of the scripture in Corinthians….
“But GOD has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and GOD has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
We don’t have a clue what GOD wants to use in our lives to bring him glory. Our ways are not HIS ways and HIS infinite wisdom will never be matched. It could be foolish things, the weak, it could be sickness, an addiction, a baby in a bar….but whatever he chooses to use…. we have got to be willing to do the things not making sense…. the crazy things…. if he asks us to.