Author Topic: (IN)Courage  (Read 12505 times)

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #70 on: March 28, 2012, 09:20:14 am »
Espresso In My Bathroom.

Mar 28, 2012 Katie Seaward

This morning I was making espresso, an eggnog latte to be exact, in the bathroom for my husband and I had an epiphany. Our espresso machine is in the bathroom. Our microwave is on the floor in the dining room, and we do dishes in the bathroom sink. If you walked into our home today, you would think that our life is messy.

Things are being gutted; painted, rearranged, and cleaned so there will be newness from the inside. We could have bought decor, painted things, bought new appliances, and it would have looked nice on the outside, and it would have been so much easier. The hardest part is living in the messiness while we are slowly redoing our home.

The early sun was already hot this morning coming through our bathroom windows. While I was pouring eggnog and vanilla flavors into my husband’s travel mug, my mind was consumed with confusion about a situation in my life. Late Saturday night I sat down on the couch and shed tears while my loving husband helped me try to sort through what’s going on.

I stumbled this weekend after a conversation with a friend.

It exposed in me the areas where I struggle most; deep connection, sincere conversations, every day connections with other women.

I am still trying to sort the situation in my mind, and trying to understand it. I finished the flavoring for Tony’s drink, and as I began to steam the milk, God’s peace and understanding rushed through me so quickly I blurted out loudly, “Whoa!”

Sadly, I have been looking for deposits in the wrong place. I let my mind wander to things I can’t understand; sin, relationships that, right now, aren’t functioning in the wholeness and healthiness of God. I have spent time in my mind dwelling on this and trying to figure it out, when it isn’t mine to sort. It’s God’s.

After I felt overwhelmed by God’s love for me, I set the steamed milk down and poured Tony’s double shot. I felt God’s direction for my morning, and I embraced it with excitement. He wants me to put my energy, my focus, and my heart into things that I can understand; Him. He wants to be my confidante; to share my heart with Him. To give Him my undivided attention. To listen.

With Tony’s latte ready, I quickly made my own, and went to our spare bedroom which will belong to our little girl, but which now holds all of our homeless possessions. I sorted through the piles of books on the floor until I found my devotional. I grabbed it and got ready to head out the door to work.

I turned around on our porch and locked our glass door, looking through it as I turned the key. I am glad our home is messy right now. That means we are working on it, changing the things that need to change, and making it better.

If our house was clean and things were still in their places, that would be fine, and easy. I wouldn’t have to scrub raisin bran cereal out of our bathroom sink, and I would feel less weird because I wouldn’t be making lattes in our bathroom.

I guess my heart is a little messy, too.  It would be easy if things didn’t get uncovered. I wouldn’t feel like I was navigating through such treacherous territory. But in the same way I looked through my door this morning at our messy home and was thankful, I’m thankful my heart is being worked on. I wouldn’t want to stay the same.

By Katie at A House Blend.

 :angel:
Crooked Love

Mar 28, 2012  Angie

I don’t know what it is about my deadlines for (in)courage, but it seems like every time I’m about to hit one, I go through something emotional. And usually I start to write a post about butterflies and sunshine and then I decide that I’m not going to finish it. In fact, I don’t usually get past that one sentence because I like butterflies but not enough to write 700 or so words on them.

I think this pattern continues because there are life circumstances that are meant to be shared in safe community and I feel {I know} that this is one of them. So, since my posts are typically due on the 15th of every month, you all can just go ahead and pray for me in the days that precede it.

This time it’s no different, although I’m tempted to dress it up because it’s really a sore spot. I’m already all choked up and sweaty, which is a bad sign.

Here goes.

I have an almost-constant internal dialogue that tells me that nobody really likes me. They pretend to. They put up with me. And then they walk away and talk about how they think I’m this-and-that and not enough the-other-thing.

Do you like butterflies? I do.

Sigh.

Don’t say the thing you’re about to say, because although I appreciate it {No, Ang! We all love you! Everybody loves you! We have all decided that you are the most-loved, most-appreciated, best-at-everything-ever person in the universe! There has never been another human with your sense of…whoa. Anyway, you know what I’m saying}, it isn’t what I’m looking for here.

I just need an “Amen.”

Do you ever just need a good, old-fashioned, “Amen!” to remind you you’re not in the minority?

These past few weeks have been really, really hard. I’ve had to face some old demons in the realm of, “Actually, Ang? Nobody needs you. Nobody thinks you’re all that great. They smile and nod and tell you that and then they go somewhere else where all the smart and funny people live.”

My internal dialogue has a sense of humor, at least.

This morning when I was getting dressed, I overheard Abby telling our new sitter that when I was a little girl people used to throw pencils at the back of my head on the school bus. I don’t know what made her think of that story but she remembered a lot of details I had forgotten I even told her. I sat with my head against the bedroom wall and I could hear the muffled words and pieced together what she was saying. I closed my eyes and felt the tears sting because the truth is, words hurt me more today than the pencils ever did.

I think I trust too much and believe that people are always going to love me as deeply as I love them. It doesn’t always work out that way, which means that sometimes I am left with the question that haunts us all:

“Was it worth it?”

I must confess, there have been many times in my walk with Jesus that I have wondered if I have wounded Him enough for Him to ask the same question. He doesn’t see it that way, I know. But was I worth all of this?

I’m not going to let the melancholy hang around long enough to bruise me, but there is a place for it.

It’s the moment where we sit right there in the worst of it. We let the hurtful words, the silence, the misunderstanding, all of it just burn a little on our skin. We don’t live there, no. We just visit to remind ourselves that even when it looks like crooked love, it’s still under His grace.

We breathe {I breathe}

We pray {I pray}

We believe {I believe}

That it was worth the risk.

I’m so deeply carved that the water always settles in, and the more I accept it, the more I will acknowledge my propensity to be filled with His mercy.

I don’t forget the pencils, but I remember the wood that carved them.

I don’t forget the words, but I remember the One who speaks truth.

It’s the kind of day where I need a refuge, and in that…

It’s the kind of day I’m grateful there is One.
 :angel: :angel:




Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #71 on: March 29, 2012, 09:35:39 am »
Torn Between My Head and My Heart

Mar 29, 2012  Bonnie Gray


Have you ever stayed up late, conflicted between your head and your heart? Sometimes the only way out of a dilemma is seeing God take you through the storm.

I love hiking. Even when it rains. Lightly.

It was my first visit out to Georgia, before the days of iPhones and instant weather reports.

Earlier in the morning, I watched the local news and had been warned there’d be showers on and off.

I’d been out in the rain before and wasn’t worried too much about it.

I drove out to a state park. But, as I parked my car, I realized I forgot my rain gear.

There I sat, trying to decide if I should chance it and go for my hike. Should I turn around and leave?

I had driven for over an hour. I decided I didn’t come all this way just to turn back.

I looked up at the sky. The sun was shining and it was early in the day.

I have my waterproof hiking boots on. And my baseball cap. I’ll be alright.

I set out for my trek up, deep into the woods.

An hour later — mid-point on the trail — it started sprinkling. Then, it poured — in sheets, coming down sideways.

I later found out the weather system up on that mountain is completely different from the one back in town.

Storm clouds moved in over the shade of the trees, darkening the sky. The winds began whirling and a clap of thunder cracked in my ears.

Lightning flashed and there I stood. Cold and wet — in the middle of a thunder storm — on a side of a mountain I had never journeyed through.

That’s how it feels to be caught between my head and my heart.

That’s what happens when I’m caught in a storm and can’t see when it will end.

I try hard to think my way through.

But, sometimes, we just can’t predict what we happen.

We may feel like our world is out of control.

The truth is we are not in control.

But, God is.

Walking Back
As I took a walk out by myself last week — praying aloud about being stuck between my head and my heart — I confided. “Jesus, I’m tired trying to figure it out. What should I do?”

Jesus brought me back to a darkened storm 2,000 years ago.

He had sent the disciples ahead of him into the Sea of Galilee.

“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side…”

seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them…

He came to them, walking on the sea.” Mark 6:45-48

It’s hard to understand why God sends us onto a journey knowing we’d encounter a storm.

As I thought about this scene, I initially thought about how Peter walked on water. And how he sank.

Then, God brought my mind to focus in on what Jesus did after he lifted Peter out of the waves.

Jesus walked Peter back into the boat.

“Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped ; and they were utterly astonished…” Mark 6:51

Jesus got into the boat — with them.

In the middle of the raging storm.

The text says they were “utterly astonished”. There was a part of Jesus they never experienced. There was a part of their hearts that had never seen Jesus this way.

The Other Side
I’m not sure how I’ll get to the other side.

I don’t know when.

But, I realized the only way I’ll get there is this: Jesus will get me there.

Jesus will get me back in the boat somehow.

And I will experience Jesus in a way that I never have before. It won’t come from my understanding of the Scriptures or even from my willingness to follow Him.

My experience of Jesus will come through being carried back into the boat by Him.

If you find yourself like me, in the middle of a journey — on your way to the other side – I want you to know you’re not alone.

We’re all in the boat together, on this journey as disciples of Jesus –

We go where He sends us;

He can see when the waters are too rough;

When we’re straining at the oars;

He comes to us.

In our storm.

He’ll get us back in the boat.

He will get us to the other side.

We will marvel, you and I. Astonished and full of stories to share.

That Rainy Day
How did my hike in the beautiful wet forests of Georgia end up?

It never did stop raining. Even though I waited patiently for it to do so, the water kept coming down and the trail became a running creek downhill.

The afternoon would soon turn to dusk. I decided I had to go.

With every step of mud, my boots trudged down.

I got in my car, soaked through and through.

I thanked God I didn’t get struck by lightning.

And started driving on the road back home.

That rainy day in Georgia.

~~~~~

Where are you on the journey between head and heart? How is Jesus speaking to you?

Pull up a chair. Would love to savor your words. Click here to comment.


~~~~~


By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!


Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #72 on: March 30, 2012, 09:41:38 am »
Decorating with Spring Eggs

Mar 30, 2012 Melissa Michaels

Do you decorate for Spring?

I don’t do much specific “themed” decorating, but I do really like decorating with eggs this time of year. I actually love seasonal decorating and changing things around the house.



Decorating for the seasons helps me to find contentment and thankfulness at home. It is easy it is to keep things feeling fresh and new with just simple seasonal tweaks to my decor. The process of nurturing my home through the year is one way I can show love to my family and find joy in simple creativity.



I buy inexpensive craft eggs that can be reused year after year. I found these at Michaels’ Craft.



Eggs are so easy to decorate with, simply set them around the house on shelves and mantels, fill a jar, vase  or pedestal with eggs, or set one up on a candle stick or pillar. In the photo above I used the new Redeemed Dough Bowl as a centerpiece, filled with eggs. Easy!



Best of all, eggs are a symbol of new life and all the blessings we have in Christ.

Time to get crackin’ and set some spring eggs around your house, don’t you think? Are you in the mood for spring?

written by Melissa @ The Inspired Room
 :angel:

My number one reason for craving more of God daily is because I suffer from IDD–or what I like to call, Insecure Dysfunctional Disorder.

It all started in high school when I developed severe eczema that took the skin off my face and feet. I thought for sure no one would ever love me.

That’s when my IDD started.

Not ADD or ADHD, but IDD.

It’s amazing how I try to live my life and think everything’s fine on the outside. I intentionally stay busy to keep my anxious thoughts from plaguing me. My hope is that my doubts, flaws, and insecurities will stay away for one more day.

When I was single I would allow my IDD to get out of hand. I’d fixate on all my problems and end up believing it they were literally my fault.

It’s because I’m fat that this guy didn’t like me.

It’s because I’m too loud that this guy didn’t pursue me.

It’s weird to spend the majority of my life being single. The good news is that I learned how to find my significance in God; although there were many times I hoped I wouldn’t be single forever.

Now that I’m married, I’m really not sure what to think! I have a godly man who loves me and finds me attractive, so why do I feel insecure?

In my quiet time this week, God brought to my attention the story of Moses and the burning bush. I want to camp out in Exodus 3 because I believe this is where I (and hopefully you too), will find the cure to IDD.

Side Note: It never ceases to amaze me how I easily point fingers at other people, and yet when God shows up in my life—I freak out.

Okay.

Moving on.

Moses probably thought he would be tending sheep for the rest of his life. Nope. God showed up and said now is the time.

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering” (Exodus 3:7, NIV).

I love that God saw their suffering.

But not right away.

Back in the day, Moses thought he could take care of a slave master. He quickly realized he couldn’t, and I’m sure he had many doubts running through his mind as he fled into the desert for his life. By the time the buing bush comes around, Moses has forgotten all about it. His promise.

Really, God?

Really?

Moses said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:11)?

What happens when God doesn’t show up on our watch? I love that God appears at the time when we’re most likely to rely on His strength. Not ours.

That’s why I know IDD isn’t forever.

It’s not something that needs to be fixed with a pill, crash diets, or a shopping spree.

After reading the story of Moses, I don’t have to suffer from being insecure. I know that God is always keeping a look out. Even though He may not show up when I want him too, and He might even make me wait longer than we expected—He still shows up!

“But when all’s said and done, it is true that it [prayer] needs trouble to drive us to prayer, though every time I feel it is something to be ashamed of” (via Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written while imprisoned by the Nazis).

And that girlfriend is something to feel secure about!

By Renee Johnson Fisher, Devotional Diva
 :angel:

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #73 on: April 01, 2012, 01:56:52 pm »
The Art of Rest
Apr 01, 2012 Emily Freeman


Sometime between April of 1977 and April of now, I forgot how to rest. Oh, I can fall on my pillow at night and sleep. I can sit and watch Downton Abbey for hours. I know how to read a book on the beach. But sleep is often different from rest. And lots of times I’m watching Downton because I’m avoiding real work. And when I’m at the beach, I’m on vacation so rest is kind of a requirement.

Over the past year, there have been times when I have felt breathless, never able to catch up, not even sure what I was chasing. I forgot how to plan for rest during hours where I am fully awake, able bodied and not on vacation.



When the twins were babies and they would miss a nap, people who weren’t parents (or hadn’t had babies in a long time) would say to me, Well at least they’ll sleep gooood tonight. But every mama knows that tired babies actually sleep worse.

Not surprisingly, when they rest well, they are also more pleasant when they are awake. Sleep and rest were natural and necessary parts of our lives when we were young.

I never got around to applying that to myself.

What if, instead of saving all my rest up for nighttime or because I have a cold or broke my arm, what if I planned for rest on purpose? Would it make a difference?

I’m slowly recovering what it means to practice Sabbath. I think because we’re made in the image of God, sabbath rest is built into us. We need it. We crave it. But we have all of these Very Important Things to do. Sabbath is lost and rest is lazy.

That word sabbath has never been a pleasant one to me. I’m sensitive to anything that sounds too much like a rule because I come from a background of being very legalistic towards myself. I had a mentor tell me in college that ironing on Sunday was offensive to God and he was not pleased with me if I were to do so.

Ironing.

There are many reasons I don’t like to iron on Sunday, but disappointing God is not one of them. I was devastated. But something in my spirit told me she was wrong, and after that, I didn’t confide in her. But I still didn’t like the word sabbath.

There is a lot I have to learn about Sabbath rest, but one thing I know for sure: God gives us rest as a gift, not a punishment.

I’m beginning to explore what it means to give myself permission to discover those things that make me come alive, and choose a day of the week to do or enjoy those things on purpose, in his presence.

So far, for this season of life, I’ve discovered that having one day a week where I don’t check anything computer-y (Facebook, Twitter, email, even my beloved Instagram) helps me to establish a rhythm of rest. That day of the week, for now, is Sunday. I don’t mop the floors or catch up on all the laundry or clean out the hall closet or my email inbox. I don’t open my laptop at all, really. Instead, I rest on purpose.

I choose things that are life-giving to do, either alone or with the family. I make bread, read fiction, sit outside while the kids play, eat dinner with my high school girls small group.

These rhythms are ever moving, changing to fit the things my family and I desire most. You may love mopping the floor and that is something that is restful for you. Only you know.

Sometimes I try something that doesn’t really work out. For example, a few weeks ago, my mother and sister-in-laws called and said they were going to Home Goods after church and did I want to go? You bet I did! So I went, and I loved being with them. But shopping, as it turns out, was not a life-giving activity for me. I thought it was, but coming home I realized it wasn’t. So now I know to avoid that during the time I have purposefully set aside to practice rest.

“The point of the sabbath is to honor our need for a sane rhythm of work and rest. It is to honor the body’s need for rest, the spirit’s need for replenishment and the soul’s need to delight itself in God for God’s own sake. It begins with a willingness to acknowledge the limits of our humanness and take steps to live more graciously within the order of things.”  -Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms

There is no magic or formula or secret. There is only tired you, needing to remember to slow and savor and be. Do you practice an intentional sabbath? Do you do it on Sunday or a different day of the week? What are some life-giving things you incorporate into your daily or weekly rhythm?
 :angel:


Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #74 on: April 01, 2012, 02:26:38 pm »
When Love Hurts

 Especially Heather

I remember the day we were told that Emma would never be born; her heart just couldn’t take the stress. She was just 24 weeks old in my belly. I remember walking out of that office and praying that the Lord would take her, because I didn’t want her to suffer.

10 weeks later, she was born.

I remember the first night, her tiny body so very swollen because her little heart couldn’t pump the fluid. I remember the doctors calling and saying that she probably wouldn’t make it through the night, that we should come and visit her while we still could.

2 weeks later, she was still alive.

I remember the doctor coming into the PICU and asking to speak with Mark and I. I remember the words I whispered in her ear and praying a prayer over her little body before I left. I remember the words “transplant” and “another hospital”, and that this would be her only hope of survival. I really don’t remember much else.

4 months later, she received her new heart.

I remember the hospitalizations, the surgeries, the heartbreak. I remember the anger, so much anger.

At God.
At the unfairness.
At the world.

Yet, I also remember the grace and mercy of the Lord, and how He not only held her heart in His hands, He also held mine.

I remember the day we had to let her go. April 22, 2011; Good Friday. She was 9 years old.

I remember leaning over her head, looking at her face through all of the tubes and chords that tethered her little body here on earth.   I said the same exact prayer that I said that day in the PICU. I told her that it was okay to go, that I would that I would be okay.   I had promised her when she were born that I would fight for her, despite what all of the doctors said, I would fight until she stopped fighting.

I told her that it was okay to stop fighting.

I remember not being able to be in the room when she took her last breath.  I often times feel guilty over that fact, but the love that I felt for her hurt too much to watch her go through so much pain….

Then I remembered Jesus, on the cross, and His father looking away as He took his last breath.

There are so many examples of Gods love in that one sentence.

His love for His son.
His love for mankind.
His love for me.

Often times when love hurts, we shut down and stop feeling.  We blame and get angry.   And in those times, we often miss the one thing that we ought to be doing.

Trusting in God that He will provide for our every need, knowing that He is in control of our lives even when our lives seems so very out of control.

Our issues do not shock Him. The death of my precious daughter did not shock Him. He knew before we took our first breath how many minutes we have on this earth.

Earthly life is terminal. It is appointed for every man to die.

But this life is not the end for those who believe in Christ. We are promised an eternity with the One who created the universe.

One thing that I have learned during these rock hard times in my life is that it is okay to be angry.  It is okay to hurt.  It is even okay to be angry with God.

What is not okay is to sit in that anger; to remain in that  place for so long that satan literally has strongholds in your heart regarding that issue.

When love hurts, where do you run to?  Where do you hide?  Is it in the anger and bitterness that satan uses as a magnet, binding your heart with his?  Or is it in the promises of the the One who created you and knows your every hurt, even when you aren’t speaking to Him?

When love hurts, to whom do you run?

{This article deals with bitterness and is well worth the read}
 :angel:

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #75 on: April 02, 2012, 09:38:44 am »

Fact: Christian Women Will Hurt You


Often when I meet with women one on one, I hear stories of betrayal and pain. Some work through them. Others don’t. The ones that don’t tend to stagnate in their growth. They use excuses (though they may not utter them) to dismiss their lack of fervor for Jesus. “I would be fine if it weren’t for that other person hurting me.” Their lives hinge on one (or many) events where someone in the church harmed them. Some leave the church completely or run from ministry. Others build walls around their hearts.

I’ve been there. I’ve lived that. I’ve felt the deep sting of betrayal by people who should’ve known better. And these were leaders in the church!

Here’s what I’ve learned in the aftermath of that kind of relational pain: God often uses the very thing that harmed you to heal you. When we lived in France and dealt with some pretty extreme situations, the last thing I wanted to do was trust another Christian again. God brought us home to Texas where He placed safe, amazing people in my path. Still, I withdrew. I didn’t realize that to grow meant risk. It meant letting go of the past pain and embracing the present. It meant trusting God enough with my heart to risk again. Believe me. It was scary.

After I wrestled and pushed against the relationships God gave me and leaned into Him, I experienced profound healing and freedom from my bitterness. And I grew beyond the pain that I initially thought would stifle and strangle me the rest of my life.

We forget that God’s pathways to growth are often paradoxical. While it’s wrong what others have done to you (particularly if they had ill intent), it’s just as wrong to cling to bitterness as if it were dark chocolate. Eventually we have to be brave women, entrusting our hearts first to God, then letting Him lead us down paths of healing.

Guarantee: You will be hurt in church. You will be hurt in ministry. You will be misunderstood, maligned, and gossiped about. I wish that weren’t true, but it’s a fact in this crazy, fallen world.

You will either leave church, ministry, or meaningfully deep friendships because of the pain, or you will give all that betrayal to Jesus who understands well the sting of rejection. You will either be ruled by fear and bitterness, never embracing the joyful life God intends for you, or you will acknowledge the pain, hand it over to Jesus, and dare to risk again.


I want to be the risky one, not the bitter one. What about you?

Mary DeMuth is the author of 12 books, including Beautiful Battle: A Women’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare. This blog post gets its inspiration from the chapter entitled, “When Christians Hurt You.” Hang with her at LIveUncaged.com.


 :angel:

I fling the bread dough up in the air, turn it over and flop it down on the pastry mat. I try to seal the creases. It has been a struggle, this attempt at baking bread. First, the yeast did not activate and I had to start afresh after getting honey stuck in a big clump of my hair. Then I could not get the correct consistency of the dough and I almost ran out of flour.

Sigh… Perhaps, the Lord did not call me to bake my own bread? I stretch it out on the pastry mat, tugging at it for all I am worth, pound and stretch it some more. I am hard on this piece of dough; near ruthless and then…comes His soft whisper.

“This is the way they treated my body”, He gently, sweetly, reminds me of His presence. “They had no regard for it; beat on it, tugged it, punched it…my body was treated with disdain.”

And then I remembered the days when I would make communion bread for the church. How I cherished that ministry. I would lovingly pierce the bread before I baked it, and as I did, I remembered His body pierced for us…for me. Next, I polished and washed the sterling silver tray, making it sparkle. Joyfully I laundered the old linen cloth to cover the bread as I took it to church and then set it before the congregation to partake.


Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.


Have I? Have I left my first love? Has sorrow after sorrow, disappointment after disappointment, caused this heart of mine to harden? I remember the days following my conversion when the grass sparkled brightest green and the ocean shimmered more glorious than diamonds. When the sky could not have been a deeper blue and wild flowers softly danced in the gentle breeze.

Lord, have mercy if I have.

He then beckons me to come outside and ponder all the beauty He has graced this fair earth with, for the winters are warm here this year. I already hear the song of the dove I so love, and the daffodils have poked through; irresistibly yearning higher towards the light and warmth above. The fruit trees are bud-swelling and spring-time like days would beckon me to pause and feel His pleasure and joy over me once more.

And then He whispers to me to sit at His feet and be alone with Him, for this is the one good thing in His estimation… And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


Our relationship with God…So very important and that which cannot be taken away from us. It will keep our hearts tender; especially if we ponder Him in the Garden agonizing and then beaten, pierced and nailed for us.

And when we suffer grief or fear, let us remember that every step of pain we have to endure, Jesus blood-stepped up the road of Calvary before us.

Suddenly, I think the baking of bread a sacred thing once more and worth the effort. His body given for me…may I never esteem it lightly. The gift whose worth can never be measured; priceless, precious and when pondered upon through His eyes, able to make the heart soft and tender once more.

I am that bread of life…



Revelation 2:4-5; Luke 10:39, 42; John 6:48




I fling the bread dough up in the air, turn it over and flop it down on the pastry mat. I try to seal the creases. It has been a struggle, this attempt at baking bread. First, the yeast did not activate and I had to start afresh after getting honey stuck in a big clump of my hair. Then I could not get the correct consistency of the dough and I almost ran out of flour.

Sigh… Perhaps, the Lord did not call me to bake my own bread? I stretch it out on the pastry mat, tugging at it for all I am worth, pound and stretch it some more. I am hard on this piece of dough; near ruthless and then…comes His soft whisper.

“This is the way they treated my body”, He gently, sweetly, reminds me of His presence. “They had no regard for it; beat on it, tugged it, punched it…my body was treated with disdain.”

And then I remembered the days when I would make communion bread for the church. How I cherished that ministry. I would lovingly pierce the bread before I baked it, and as I did, I remembered His body pierced for us…for me. Next, I polished and washed the sterling silver tray, making it sparkle. Joyfully I laundered the old linen cloth to cover the bread as I took it to church and then set it before the congregation to partake.


Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.


Have I? Have I left my first love? Has sorrow after sorrow, disappointment after disappointment, caused this heart of mine to harden? I remember the days following my conversion when the grass sparkled brightest green and the ocean shimmered more glorious than diamonds. When the sky could not have been a deeper blue and wild flowers softly danced in the gentle breeze.

Lord, have mercy if I have.

He then beckons me to come outside and ponder all the beauty He has graced this fair earth with, for the winters are warm here this year. I already hear the song of the dove I so love, and the daffodils have poked through; irresistibly yearning higher towards the light and warmth above. The fruit trees are bud-swelling and spring-time like days would beckon me to pause and feel His pleasure and joy over me once more.

And then He whispers to me to sit at His feet and be alone with Him, for this is the one good thing in His estimation… And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


Our relationship with God…So very important and that which cannot be taken away from us. It will keep our hearts tender; especially if we ponder Him in the Garden agonizing and then beaten, pierced and nailed for us.

And when we suffer grief or fear, let us remember that every step of pain we have to endure, Jesus blood-stepped up the road of Calvary before us.

Suddenly, I think the baking of bread a sacred thing once more and worth the effort. His body given for me…may I never esteem it lightly. The gift whose worth can never be measured; priceless, precious and when pondered upon through His eyes, able to make the heart soft and tender once more.

I am that bread of life…



Revelation 2:4-5; Luke 10:39, 42; John 6:48

 :angel:




Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #76 on: April 03, 2012, 09:10:39 am »
When Rocks Look Like Shoes
Apr 03, 2012 Stephanie Bryant


I glance down, catching a glimpse of the coral sheen peeking out from beneath my jeans.

My coral patent wedges tell a story, of a sweet day of His glory, of shoulders coming down tight from my ears, chest full of renewing air. A moment that I was destined for.

I chose on this special day to not quickly move to checkmark the next line on my list. The list that makes me feel worthy and needed.

Why do we work diligently, pray with sweat and then rush through the praise? Hurriedly tell a brief version of what really happened? Almost guilty that the day was more than we could have hoped for. That we don’t deserve and therefore won’t celebrate that which He has done for us.

Worship isn’t always another assignment. . . but is long moments that interrupt the normal to celebrate the breakthrough of His light into our world. In the small and the quiet. In the bigger than we imagined. In the humbling experiences where everyone knows without doubt that we didn’t accomplish this feat ourselves.

How do you celebrate? Not the birth day or the starting of a life together. But the parts where God blesses, guiding you through times of great perspiration and labor that causes you to see the edge of the waters of exhaustion.

I know recognition of the Giver of gifts and our gratitude are part of celebration. Remembrance of Grace and expressions of joy, too.

But as my friend Annie so wisely asked, how do you “Celebrate the victory and continue the hustle?” {It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one wrestling.}

The world doesn’t stop so I can have the day to gather my party, make the phone calls, dance to the music. I want so desperately for God to hold the tide back so I can enjoy what for so long I’ve waited. I want to recognize that the despair is over and the prayer has been answered. I want for Him to hear my voice in exclamation points.

I’ve learned that when the water flows into pools of God’s promises, then rocks sometimes look like shoes.

“Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, . . . that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them. . . and the stones are there to this day. {Joshua 4:6-9}

We must follow the Lord and His Word into the waters. What do those waters look like for you?

And He asks us to remember the times when He pushes back the world and causes us to walk on holy ground. And for others to know Him through us, forever.

“When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know,‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over. . .so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” {Joshua 4:21-24}

I want to feast and clink my glass with yours’ to share in our victories. I want to mark the day so we might remember what God has done. I want a tangible reminder so that I might answer your question with my story that is really His.

I want to celebrate for I know that it’s the only right action in the presence of my King and His loving favor.

How do you celebrate the every day miracles?

{And when you do this, the celebration, then the walls of difficulty will come tumbling down.}
 :angel:


Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #77 on: April 04, 2012, 10:45:40 am »
Imperfections Turned to Easter Blessings

Apr 04, 2012  SandyCoughlin

Our imperfections. They can be a blessing or they can be a curse.

-A fault, blemish, or undesirable feature.
-The state of being faulty or incomplete.

For me, Easter brings out my imperfections in painful yet beautiful ways, because I realize so much of my sin comes in relying on myself and doing things my way. It also keeps me grounded with a right attitude when my guests come for dinner.

You can almost feel your imperfections, so Easter keeps me balanced and my eyes focused on the Perfect One, who covers my imperfections, and reassures His love for me.

It reminds me that when we’re relaxed and all eyes are off of “perfect,” when we take that next courageous step of inviting others in, when we focus on what really matters, we find ourselves catching a ray of hope – a glimpse of Easter.

Easter is a wonderful time to celebrate for many, but a daunting and dreadful task for others, and that happens when we lose our right perspective of hospitality:

Hospitality is not about us, it’s about them (our guests).
Hospitality is not about comparing or having the best.
Hospitality is not about perfection or having a showy spirit.
Hospitality is about showing love, and having a welcoming heart toward others–with food as the tool.

However great or perfect we think we are, what we’re trying to accomplish will never be perfect. So looking around our dinner tables, and seeing and feeling our imperfections (table wasn’t set right, flowers are wilting, candle wax never cleaned up from last time, kids are misbehaving, rolls a little overdone, Easter dessert a flop), we realize that Christ’s covering of our imperfections helps us to become gracious hostesses.

Acceptance of our imperfections helps us to overcome, to open up, and to take risks.

Don’t you think the foundation of hospitality is putting ourselves aside and just loving people?

For me, my fears are diminished when the reality of the cross becomes true in my heart.

This year, for Easter, first and foremost, I want that reality.

Are you excited for Easter, or is hosting an Easter celebration a daunting task that is bogging you down?

By: Sandy Coughlin

Blog:: Reluctant Entertainer
Book:: The Reluctant Entertainer: Every Woman’s Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality
Facebook:: Reluctant Entertainer
 :angel:


My mother quilts.

Not the perfectly stitched kind you see at the County Fair displayed on the walls or the kind that brings large groups of women together clucking and cackling as they carefully place thread in cloth.

She quilts because she loves us and because she knows that something made with hands is something so much more powerful than something made without and that something pieced together with love and intent is much more important than the manufactured. With limited budget she measures out the exact amount of fabric she’ll need for each project and she uses each piece.

For a Christmas gift a few years ago she gave me what I named the napping quilt. It’s a perfect size, a perfect weight, a perfect soft piece of beauty that has been made BY her FOR me.

In the far corner she placed an even more important piece of cloth than the carefully measured pieces on the front:

It is a small edge of one of her father’s {my grandfather’s} old work shirts sewn lovingly into my new heirloom.

It is a shirt that would have been thrown away. A shirt that saw the sweat and sun of a Northern Indiana farm more than 30 years ago. An almost thread-bare piece of cloth that was rescued, redeemed, recycled if you will, from a box of shirts that would have been put out for Goodwill. After he died 27 years ago, my mother went through her father’s belongings and claimed a few useless shirts for herself.

And THAT is exactly what God does with our lives. He takes the rags and rescues them from the box that is destined for somewhere, someplace else. He lovingly restores us to be used beautifully for him. He repurposes us for beauty, He redeems us for wholeness, and He reclaims us for His own.



This month, you’ll see (in)spired deals reviews based around the new Redeemed line by DaySpring. Inspired by the idea that we are messy and broken and in need of being made new by a God who’s main business is redemption, the Redeemed line is beautiful.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has made everything beautiful in His time.

An old shirt.

Some patchwork fabric pieces.

Something that was destined for the garbage but has been made beautiful in a new way.

***
During the month of April, ten items from the Redeemed Collection are 20% off. Take a look at the discounted items here.

 :angel: :angel:

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #78 on: April 05, 2012, 10:05:59 am »
The Brilliant Beckoning
Apr 05, 2012 01:20 am | Sarah Markley

We can’t ever really count on spring.

I know it’s April, but sometimes the March lion and lamb analogy works for us now too. One day will be rainy and dreary, cold and blustery and the next will be the absolute gates of heaven on earth: sweet air, breeze from the ocean, cool and crisp like a bright new strawberry.

But in the end, we can’t really count on spring to behave like summer does. Spring is for tornadoes and rainstorms as much as it’s for brilliant afternoons and bulbs poking fresh petals through damp dirt.

But the amazing thing that’s happening to the earth during spring is that it’s changing.

Ice cracks, storms rage and summer is beckoned.

“I’ll never forget the smell of spring,” my Midwestern-turned-Californian father says to me. He grew up in Kansas and left with his mother and sister 45 years ago. He’s lived here ever since and still the scent of the new blossoms and spring blooms stays with him. And he speaks this to me, a girl who’s grown up in the dryness and snow-less-ness of Southern California.

“There’s just nothing like it,” he says.

Spring means newness and beauty but it also means change. It’s why it’s so amazing. Winter drips and melts it’s way into the earth. It feeds the green that has been biding it’s time to emerge, fresh and beautiful.

We always welcome spring. We throw open closed windows, shake out blankets in the yard and kick off our shoes. We sit, face up to the sun and toes dipped in cool water, eyes closed and we thank God that He has brought us the newness of the season. We welcome it each year with opened arms.

We welcome the change easily.

But hasn’t anyone ever told us that change also means risk? In the rest of the world, all change means giving up something in order to move forward, to gain something. Change means risking the comfort of what was to gain the newness of what is.

As we get older we begin to resist and resist and kick-in-the-door of change. I don’t want to give up the comfort of what is in order to move into the thing I don’t know. It’s too hard.

But what we don’t realize is that we’re living in the middle of winter and spring is begging us to come out and play.

Spring is the harbinger of summer yet for so much of life, we sit bundled up in winter because the change is just too painful. It’s just so much easier to cup cool hands around mugs of tea and sit near the fire than to welcome the risk into our lives.

Ice breaks, storms rage but summer beckons.

And in spring, it’s a brilliant beckoning.

Today, get out and embrace the change that has been waiting for you. Yes, it may hurt. There may be risk. But don’t grow “old” inside your heart and let the world race past you on it’s way to a brilliant summer.

What change has been right around the corner for you? How do we welcome rather than dread change? Do you like change or are you tempted to resist it?

By Sarah Markley, who can’t wait to scoop up her kids this spring, kick off her shoes and race out into the sunshine.
 :angel:



Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Online Judy Harder

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Re: (IN)Courage
« Reply #79 on: April 06, 2012, 12:13:32 pm »
When Grief Overwhelms

Apr 06, 2012 01:20 Especially Heather




Grief is a hard topic to tackle. It takes on many forms, and floods at any given moment. It has been one year since her death, yet it seems just like yesterday.

When we first let Emma go I was numb. I do not remember much of anything from the week that followed her death (and the rest of the month fades in and out). I do remember waking up the next morning in my bed, instead of the hospital bed where I had spent the last 4 months. I remember thinking “she is really gone, that was really it.” I remember going to the funeral home and looking at little heart urns. I remember the uncontrollable crying and the looking for her every day.

Every where I looked, I could see her. When I went to get in my car, I would stop and open the back door, the door where her car seat used to be. When I would pick up my house, I would find spoons (she loved spoons) in the places that she use to sit, and I would just leave them. I would find rubber bands with her hair still in them, and I would sob.

I missed her so much, I still do. Yet, over time the missing is “different”, more manageable in a way that only those who have lost someone can understand.

“The First’s”, people say, are the hardest. (Yet I have to somewhat wonder, what about “the seconds”, “the sevenths”) We have gone through the first birthday, the first thanksgiving, the first Christmas, and now the one year anniversary. Yet, I do not think that next year’s holidays or anniversaries will be any easier. You still miss them, you still cry over them, you still long for the day that you will hold them again.

It becomes easier, but still the missing isn’t erased by the space of time.

I wrote a post 7 months after she had passed about the last time I ran my fingers through her hair and kissed her forehead. I was struggling with a lot of things when I wrote that, but the biggest thing was guilt.

I can honestly tell you that grief and guilt go hand in hand. Guilt is satan’s main tool to defeat, and he used it mightily when it came to me. He often reminded me that I was the one who told them to turn off the machines, I was the one who essentially gave up on her; that I was the one who walked away.

I struggled with that. I still struggle with that. But, I know that satan is the master of lies, and that I did everything in my power to make sure that Emma had a wonderful, love filled life. No one could love her the way I did. No one knows the heartache and anguish I experienced on that day, except for my Savior. He held my heart all the way through.

He still is.

There was a time through my grieving process that I couldn’t pray. I had no words. I couldn’t bring myself to say what God already knew. It wasn’t that I was angry at Him, I just couldn’t go over it anymore. Then, I couldn’t pray enough, because I felt guilty (there is that nasty word again) that I hadn’t prayed.

I longed for people to talk to me about her, yet no one knew what to say. I was astonished at how everything in the world went on with out her. I longed for people to say her name, yet I knew when people would, they would look at me through sorrow-filled eyes.

I finally had to realize that people are just that, people. It is hard when you are grieving not to take everything personally. Others do not know what to say, and often times they say things that they shouldn’t. (For example, someone told me with a smile on their face “At least now you will have more free time.”) It is so easy when you are in the middle of grief to become self focused and offended.

Ask me how I know…

One thing I have learned since Emma died (and trust me, I am still learning) is that everyone is hurting, and no one person’s hurt is more or less important than the other. There are degrees of “pain”, but they all are still “pain” . I am reminded daily that there is a world of hurting people outside my front door that need to hear the story that will change their lives.

Not my story… HIS story.

The story that sent an innocent man to die for sins that He didn’t commit, for people that didn’t believe He was who He said He was. A story that removes all guilt from the equation and replaces it with everlasting peace.

A story of redemption in its finest state…
 :angel:

The Real Reason He Suffered
Apr 06, 2012 Sarah Nutter


I used a tissue to wipe up the blood that trickled down my left index finger. Always the clumsy one, I hadn’t been holding the crown of thorns carefully enough.

And all it took was one measly thorn prick to get me in tears.

This Good Friday prayer walk I was in charge of for our church wasn’t supposed to affect me like this. It’s just that that prick hurt a lot.

Mostly, emotionally.

Because it was only one thorn. One out of, like, a hundred. One condemning thorn that confirmed what I’d spent my whole life denying:

That if it had been me…

I never could have made it all the way to the cross.




I couldn’t have endured a whole crown.
I couldn’t have been silent in the face of the crowd’s abuse.
I couldn’t have borne Judas’ betrayal, couldn’t have stood still for his kiss.

If it had been me, I would have called the whole thing off the first time Peter said he didn’t know me.

I would have jumped off the cross long before a sword pierced my side, long before “it is finished.”

The truth is, sometimes we don’t want to think about the physical torture that our precious Jesus went through for us. We watch The Passion of the Christ and are wrecked, literally sick, over it.

But sometimes we’d rather think about that than the other kind of torture he endured on that day.





After all, whips ripping flesh and nails piercing skin don’t make Christ’s death significant. Not really. Two other men were crucified right next to him—bodies also left to suffocate on crude pieces of wood, to push up on torn tendons and gasp for air, to slump down and choke; a cycle they repeated until dead.

Crucifixion was a form of execution in those days. Violent, shameful, extreme—but not unheard of. And if all we do is talk about how bad it was for Jesus’ body, we miss the whole point.

The real suffering on the cross was when the Father turned away from the Son and strapped our sin on Jesus’ back and inflicted the punishment that sin deserves and we’ll never know.

Those other men may have shed blood that day, but they didn’t bear my sin on their shoulders; they didn’t endure their Father’s wrath. They didn’t save my life.

The reason we bow before Jesus is because he could have jumped off that cross, but didn’t. He could have shoved our noses in our own filth and said, “Fine, save yourselves.” But instead he moaned for us. He begged God for us.

He breathed, “Forgive them.”

If Jesus’ death were just about physical suffering, it wouldn’t mean anything. But because that one act bridged the gap our sin put between us and God, it means everything.

It means that he was despised and rejected by men so we would never be despised or rejected.
It means that he became sin so we could be free from sin.
It means that he gave his life so we could have life everlasting.

It. Means. Everything.

So when I think about the cross, I mourn over the physical suffering of the Savior. But I get on my face and weep at the thought that he endured my punishment. That he stayed on that cross until dead—making the resurrection possible. That he never once turned back but instead said to His Father, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” That he bore the suffering and endured the shame and paid the price and defeated it all—to the end of eternal glory.

And my eternal salvation.

 :angel: :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!