Archives for posts with tag: Freedom

DSCN3429

“…now faith is confidence in what we hope for,

and assurance about what we do not yet see.”

Hebrews 11:1

I love that verse. And more than that, I love the truth that faith is about what is unseen, but…there are signs all around that can be seen.  Just like Melanie’s reflection in the water, I can see in part…I can see her feet, but there reflecting in the water is the confirmation that there’s a whole lot more to the picture than what I can see.

Praying today for eyes wide open to see the ‘reflections’. To see the signs that point to the truth that God is who He says He is, and that what is seen with our eyes, is only a teeny tiny part of our reality.  Am so  mindful of people going through some really tough  things, and am hopeful that they catch glimpses of the beautiful truth that God is so very present even when we can’t see Him. We might not see Him face to face..but we sure can see signs of His goodness, His truth, His Presence all around. Praying that the reflection of who He is becomes so very visible to those who need to know that they are not alone. It just takes a little tweaking of the vision, a little determination to see beyond what’s seen. It just takes a little faith.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part;

then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  

1 Corinthians 13:12

Blessings ~

Heather

The Daily Post ~ “Reflecting”

Grow

So, in recent weeks, I have heard reference to a story multiple times. It’s a story in the Bible of a man who had been sick for a long time.  I’m not certain of the infirmity, but according to scripture, he had been waiting to be healed for close to 4 decades.  Yep, almost 40 years of waiting.  So Jesus comes along and asks him a very obvious question. This is how John 5:1-5 tells the story…After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

I bet there were some raised eye brows and then maybe some snickers then. Of course he wants to get well, right?  I mean, of COURSE!  But Jesus asks.  And Jesus is good at cutting through all the layers of facade to the heart of the issue.  He merely turns the most obvious assumption (that this man indeed does want to get well) into a question which encourages the man to take ownership of the issue.  And what does the man say? It’s pretty comical actually. He starts the blame game a bit. John 5: 6 states,   The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”    Observation number one…we need each other.  He could’ve asked for help.  Observation number two, he blames his not being able to get in the water on having others stepping in before him. If it were his child he were concerned about or a family member, would he have pushed through with everything in his power to ensure that they’d get in the pool.  Did he advocate for himself and his ‘becoming well’ with that same passionate whatever-it-takes motivation?

And I wonder…I wonder if he had actually become somewhat comfortable with his infirmity.  That is to say that  I wonder if his scars, his infirmity, his lack of ‘being well’ became such a part of his identity that he had lost the drive that would make him scoot with abandonment to the pools with the desire to be healed. I wonder if he forgot what it was like to desire to live without the affliction.  Sometimes, when things are not within our reach, it just hurts too much to desire it, to hope.  A hope deferred truly does make the heart sick.  We wait, to no avail, and then we stop expecting, hoping, wishing, and become stuck in the place where we are. Or, we realize that it’s “easier” (short-term), to just stay stuck…because it takes a heck of a lot of effort to move from complacency to becoming well.

I recently had the honor of being around a number of people who struggle with alcohol and various addictions.  They had all gotten to the place where they were tired of sitting at that pool’s edge living with their battles and most said, “YES”, I want to get well. They said “yes to working hard, sweating through, and overcoming the challenges they were facing as much as it depends on them. Some had had friends, or legal ramifications,  literally drop them in that pool of water, that is to say, the desire for them to get well was owned by someone else. These were the ones  that seemed half-hearted in the attempts.  But the ones who knew how life had gotten so out of control that truly said, “YES”, I want to get well…those seemed to be the ones who were hungry, passionate, striving for something more.

A loved one of mine was in their midst.  He kept saying that after the number of weeks he was there, he could do this on his own.  He could muster up the energy and courage to fight the battle on his own.  And I was terrified.  Because, although he had taken steps and had the desire to get well, the “well” that he wanted was very shallow…for it takes time to deal and heal and develop patterns that reach to the core of who we are and heal from within.  I know God can heal in a heartbeat, but I also know that there are scars that come along with almost any affliction/sin/sickness… some visible scars, some so deep that we don’t even know how much they effect our daily lives. And I wanted more for him.  So much more.  I didn’t want the toe dipped in the water and a short – term heal, I longed for him to have that total immersion, that total commitment to being truly ‘well’.

So here’s the thing.  He said yes.  He mustered up the courage to say that there was a big need that he couldn’t handle on his own.  He  said yes to the fact that it wasn’t a quick fix, but would take time, energy and a lifestyle change. He said yes to the commitment to courageously seek change, to seek to be well not just for the short term but for a life time.  He said yes.  And all I kept thinking was that he’s alive again. ALIVE.  And he knows and I know that when you’re alive, you feel things.  Good things. Bad things.  You’re not numb, anesthetized to it all, you feel…  Complacency can feel like comfort, but looks more numb.  Risking, living, breathing, changing, all costs.  It hurts. And there are times in our lives when we are so aware of that. Taking risks, growing, sets us up for rejection.  But it also sets us up for a possibility to truly make an impact, to share, to lose, to gain, to LIVE and ultimately to live the life that God created us to live.  He knows the plans He has for us.  It is ours to walk in them, …or not.

Well, I say all this to say, that I’m thinking there are areas in my life where I’m a little too content to sit by the pool.  There are areas in my life where I’ve been passively “waiting”, when I need to be actively scooting toward the waters of change.  I love how Jesus can change, redeem, renew things in a heartbeat, but often, the first steps begins with our acknowledgement not only of our infirmity/sin/habits, but of our desire to be well.  He will do what we can’t if we will offer Him what we can. I love that so much.  God loves us…so much.  He doesn’t want us stuck, comfortably numb waiting for what He has already offered.  He calls us to a life of risk, of adventure, of passion, not a life of waiting by the pool.  Life is short.  Life is also a gift…not just to us, but to those around us.  We impact.  If our lives are spent blaming others for why we aren’t this or that, we may be missing out on so much.  LIke the man by the pool, we can rationalize why we are still stuck in this or that area of our lives, but we need to ask ourselves, do we want to get well?  Excuses can so be rationalize and laughed at and made light of.  But excuses keep us stuck.

So, when my loved one said, “YES” to taking the short term hard road for the long term gain, I rejoiced.  He was choosing to grow.  He was choosing to LIVE.  And each step, each day, each “yes” he says in his life, is like a little green shoot on a vast tree.  It comes quietly, and appears so small, so tender at first, but over time, the leaves grow and cover a vast tree.  One step plus one step plus one step leads to a journey of growth.  And he is being an incredible example to me of being courageous to say I don’t want to be ‘stuck’ here anymore.  And as I watch the process unfold, I am aware that it truly is a process. Like so many good things, it takes time.

And that brings me back to the photo, to the visual that encourages me so much.  See that little teeny tiny shoot of a green leaf?  It’s just one little leaf.  But one plus one plus one plus one equals an infinite number.  Pretty soon the leaves will just cover the tree.  What will draw out those little leaves?  Sunlight. The sunlight beckons the little leaf on out…and provides nutrients to allow for that little leaf to grow and join other little leaves that end up covering a tree.The love of Christ is so like that.  The warmth, the light, the truth of Christ just beckons us onward, to be enveloped and embraced by the wonder of being loved. And when we know we’re loved so deeply, so totally, in such an all consuming way, it makes us want to grow, to leave beyond the sin, the complacency, the habits, and flourish. It makes us want to scoot with abandonment to the pool and say ‘yes’, I want to be well. I want to be WELL.  And then….then we can say, ‘it IS well, it IS well with our souls’…  Thanks be to God for the love that fills and moves and motivates and heals to depths we don’t even know are there.  May we forever be aware of the love of God that urges us to leave behind the complacency and not only say ‘yes’ to being well, but be willing to scoot and  jump into the pools with abandonment.  I can’t help but think that like a loving Father waiting in the pool for his child to jump in the water, God is waiting with arms wide open for those who trust in Him.  Here’s to little steps and big leaps.

Blessings~

Heather

“…His loving kindness leads me to repentance.”

 Romans 2:4

 

card bird

“He had everything but he possessed nothing.

That is the spiritual secret.”

A.W. Tozer

dad 31

Boundaries.  They keep things in.  They keep things out. Sometimes they protect, sometimes they guide.  Sometimes they are chosen for us.  Sometimes we choose them for ourselves.

I love the visual of being on a narrow path…with few choices, clear disciplines, parameters born of conviction which one day….one day…after much discipline, and choosing to be hemmed in… leads to  w i d e  o p e n  s p a c e s.  Seems to me that’s what happens when we choose wisely.  I’ve shared with my kids so many times that if they are wise in these early years, their options, ability to choose, freedoms will multiply as they get older.  They’ll go from walking on narrow paths to wide open spaces.  I just love that visual…and that truth.  Am hoping that for my kids, and hope they want that for themselves as well.

Because… if they choose to walk on a broad path now and listen to the culture that says to “do what you want whenever you want however you feel”, well, it will lead from wide open spaces…to… narrow paths which continue to narrow.  For the consequences of choices have a way of catching up with us.  If we’re wise, they lead to new freedoms, options, choices.  If not, they lead to a narrowing of our choices, our freedoms in our lives. When we choose boundaries early on, we get freedom, beautiful freedom, later.  When we choose undisciplined lives, we get boundaries imposed upon us.

I guess as a mom of teens and twenties in a culture that equates freedom with the ability to do whatever you feel like, the word “boundaries” brings up a lot in my heart and mind. I’ve said the words, I mean, we’ve had the conversations…  But each of us makes our own choices for sure, and finds our own destinations. People can lead and guide,but ultimately, we choose our own path. I know I did, and learned so much…some lessons so the hard way. I know the joys of seeing vast open spaces, and also the despair of having very limited options as a result of making stupid decisions.  But, you know that feeling when you walk to the beach on a planked boardwalk that is so narrow that two people can barely pass, and then…then you come to the end of that boardwalk and see the ocean which takes up the whole horizon and the beauty is just breathtaking?  I kinda think that’s a picture of what God wants for us, and what I’m praying for in my life and those I love. I’m learning to walk that narrow path in order to enjoy the amazing view. Yep, praying for wise boundaries that lead to wide open spaces…as vast as the ocean is wide.

Blessings ~

H

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/boundaries/

God'sDEsign

After a day of hearing headlines and wondering how changes will impact our society, I stepped out on the deck for a breath of fresh air.  I zoomed the camera in to the beautifully blooming tree in our backyard.  It never ceases to amaze me how intricately designed our world is.  This little bloom for instance.  It is beautiful, intricate, and functional.  It has a purpose.  It will produce seeds soon. As the seasons change, the seeds will fall to the ground.  One day, there wlll be other trees with other blooms just like this.  Bees will come.  Hummingbirds will come.  Life will be sustained.  The cycle will continue.

I am not going to enter the debate that’s hit the fan with the Supreme Court’s divided decision today.  But I am just in wonder at the way there is so much beauty and function in the way that creation was designed.  I believe we’re all a part of that.  I believe there’s a beautiful and purposeful Master Plan, and a Creator, a Master Creator.  I also believe that we so often just don’t get it.  In the name of rights and freedom and choice, we miss the beauty and the purpose of that which we were intricately designed for.  To glorify God.  To serve Him and not ourselves.  To obey the precepts knowing that whether we understand them or not there are purposes and guidelines and safeguards that enable us to enjoy the world around us and the One who Created it.

Romans 1 is ringing in my ear…how the creation speaks (LOUDly) of the glory and presence of God…but there’s a refusal to see, a refusal to acknowledge Him.  Romans 1 talks about how “God gave them over…” to their lusts and desires.  He lets us choose, lets us go our own way and face the consequences. We choose the broad and broken road in the name of rights, but narrow is the way of freedom.  Freedom is not license. Freedom is the joy and clear conscience that comes with doing and being what we were designed to do and who we were designed to be. God have mercy on us as we continually go our own way.  May Christ-followers be lights in a dark world…not judging, but walking with great discernment at a time when anything goes in the name of rights, and those who choose to have principles are silenced as being close-minded.  May God have mercy.  He allows us to go our own way, but how sweet is the picture of the Father of the Prodigal Son who runs to him and welcomes him home when he tires of the broad and broken road. He love us like a Father who runs to His child.  Love that.

So, there’s joy in seeing the intricate design of the world around us.  The intricate beauty of the wispy pink frail flower just blows my mind.  The beauty of the sun going down, a baby’s hand, the mountains, the sea, the capillaries in the body, the heart that pumps, the amazing, amazing things we just take for granted.  Praying that I have eyes to see and ears to hear the beauty of the world around me, and to give praise to the Creator who intricately designed us all.

jo12

http://www.cosmicgirlie.com/silent-sunday/

orange

On my walk yesterday, I was so enjoying the emerging greens of Spring. But there were other signs of Spring on this Carolina clay pathway. We’ve had lots of rain lately and the landscape is showing the signs of the downpours. The orange clay was loosening and roots were exposed all along the path that is usually covered with foliage, moss, or other forms of green. Sometimes too much of a good thing too fast isn’t so good. It sure wasn’t good for the root system of these trees. And sometimes it’s not so good for us.

Rain is a good thing. But not when it comes too fast for the root system to support the water. Freedom is a good thing as well. But not when the foundation of responsibility, morals, etc. isn’t strong. Then it’s damaging. I’ve seen 4, soon to be 5, of my children graduate high school. The years that are the most difficult regarding freedom? Oftentimes it’s when that driver’s license is in hand. Driving is one of those rites of passage that can give a sense of freedom that one’s not yet ready for. Kind of like a flood that overtakes, a landscape, if too much comes too fast, the teenager can find himself reeling with consequences that will take a lot of time, love, and tenacity to overcome.

I guess all of these thoughts are on my mind because my 6th child, my last, is due to drive in driver’s ed. this week. Yikes. I don’t want to hold back the inevitable. I mean, I knew this time was coming. I can’t stop time any more than I can stop a torrential downpour from becoming a flood. But can I prepare? Yes. Can I pray? Yes. Can I teach and practice, practice, practice driving with my son who I need to remind to not look at me when we’re driving in parking lots? Yes. Preparation and Prayer, practice and prayer, Prayer and prayer and more prayer…that’s what prepares (Pre-prayers!) us for what’s to come.

Well, I’ve survived teaching 5 drivers to drive. 5. This last one has broken the mold on lots of levels, so if you think of me, pray for us! But not just for the driving. For the freedoms that come with the driving. For the wisdom of this mom to guide and teach and not allow too much freedom too fast, no matter how hard the battle is to go against the grain of society that says, “it’s no big deal”, or “aw, he’ll be fine.” Preparing for storms? That’s important. And I’ve been through my share of the teenage joys as well as the storms. I’m just thankful for the analogy of how too much too fast is not a good thing. For trees, and for teenagers.

And….for moms. Healthy fear is one thing. It protects, prepares. But irrational fear can be like a flood that can just wash over us. We can preprare (Pre-prayer again!) with prayer…and fortify our minds, our hearts, our voices, with faith. Love that. We don’t need those floods of fear either.

“For God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of self-control.”
2 Timothy 2:17

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/orange/



shoes

The three of us stood in the parking lot.  The fog that we had seen as we traveled up the mountain was now the mist that clung to us.   But the chill in the air was the last thing on our minds. As the two of them talked, my mind drifted as I looked down at their shoes.  Father and son. Jeans.  Brown leather shoes. Hands in pockets.  Looking eye to eye and talking about what was to come.   For both men were dealing with alcoholism (yep, there I said it), and in a few minutes, one of them would set foot in the rehabilitation center.  One of them had already crossed that line years ago, and ironically is the one straddling the line in the photo. Ironic, because it has not been a perfect walk of freedom and staying across that line, but it is worlds from where he was before he first stepped foot in the treatment center. The other was resolved, determined, and quiet as he made a commitment to move forward and inch towards crossing the line into sobriety.

And me?  Me in my jeans and my black suede clogs standing there with two men that I adore and love whose struggles have weighed on my family and been so destructive in their lives and mine?  Me?  Me who has always been on this side of the line and never struggled with alcoholism, but who knows completely of the fact that I stand there on the same ground as them, a sinner saved only by the grace of God? Me, who knows that except for the grace of God, there go I? Me who sees them for the men of heart they are but who longs for them to be freed from the chains that have kept them from living the lives that they could so live?  Well, my mind that drifted into the fog earlier soon became very focused as we walked toward the doors which so many addicts have walked through.

I prayed, hugged, and encouraged my son to give it everything he has so that he finds his way.  Give it EVERYthing.  Bare what you have held for so long. Don’t look to the left or right, for this is about your freedom, no one else’s. Don’t be afraid that your words will shame us with your thoughts or the dark stuff of life.Only exposing the darkness brings it into light and casts it away.  Me?  I encouraged him to  be laid bare and know that we stand on the same ground and we all need freedom from the sin that so devours the heart which God longs to free. Lay it bare.  Lay it there and then leave it behind. Right now is a time to deal.  Then will come the time to heal.  And then?  Then, I pray that he will see that he has his own shoes to fill and own path to walk.           And I just can’t wait to see where they take him.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  

Galatians 5:1

P.S.  Just want to add that I’m sharing this because I know that there are many who deal with this behind closed doors.  And it’s lonely there.  We need to collectively pray for each other and our kids. For freedom, for direction, for filling the void in their lives with the good things and not things that are self-destructive.That whole “:God-shaped void thing?  Yep, they’ll fill  it with something.  Pray they fill it with Him. There’s a generation out there struggling with so many issues.  It is not our place to lay our children’s secrets bare.  My son has already owned and acknowledged and allowed his struggle to be public…he’s in a place where he so knows he needs help.  And so I can share.  As a mom, wife, who is trying to impact my world in some tiny way with sharing , I am choosing to get beyond the stigma of this and that and live in the freedom that Christ has called me to. I’m trying to bring things into the Light in my own life and pray that sharing might help someone else to not bear the load alone  Funny how walking together can make the journey a whole lot easier.  So to my sisters out there?  Well, just wanted to share a little bit of where these shoes have been so that if you’re going through it, you won’t have to walk alone. Blessings, Heather

IMG_6523

Fresh Perspective

Nothing like what a little fresh air on an Autumn day, a little time with no obligation, and some good music to enjoy can do to lighten a load and grant a whole new perspective. Thankful for moments like these in our lives when we can enjoy the moment, good company, and breathe in the beauty around us a bit. Thankful that Hope and her friend had some time to enjoy and laugh and see the beauty of the world around them. It’s all around us. We but need the eyes to see it. And somehow, seeing that can grant a whole new perspective not only on what’s around us, but what’s in us. Love that.

Psalm 19 starts out…

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands…”

and ends with

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” Amen.

http://wordpress.com/read/post/id/489937/57451/

Searching for a Way Out-
Wrens in the Window

window wren

“Mom! Look!” Tanner called me to the kitchen.

“There are two birds at our window…”

“Wow, Look how beautiful they are!” I said as I walked toward the window. But as I moved closer, I realized that this beautiful little scene wasn’t so great for these birds.

We heard and witnessed the fluttering of wings of two birds frantically flying up and down and around the window. The birds weren’t just at the window, they were stuck IN between the window and the storm window screen and glass. Tanner then proceeded to point out that there was a third bird at the bottom of the window. I couldn’t see it and wasn’t convinced, but sure enough, we heard it and as the other two birds hopelessly attempted to fly in the very small space, the third bird emerged. Yikes.

window wrens 3

There’s been a hole in the screen for some time. It turns out that the birds must have entered through the screen. One bird, then another, then another. They were all trapped. Stuck. Captive.

Frantic fluttering birds captive in a skinny glass box of sorts. Immobilized, stuck. They were initially fighting, fluttering, and frantic. But then they calmed down. The initial frantic attempt at freedom was replaced by complacent waiting. They didn’t know what to do, so they sat and waited. If someone didn’t make an effort to free them, they’d die in their captivity. There’s a small chance that they could again find the small hole and break free from this captivity, but it is highly doubtful. They desperately needed help.

I went and cut a large hole in the screen, and went back inside and knocked on the inside of the window to hopefully arouse them to fly for freedom. Frantically fluttering and attempting to find freedom would be a good thing right about now! But, sadly, only one tiny bird flew out. The others were still stuck down in the bottom of the window, complacent and still. I guess they felt as though they were safer down there than near the knocking on the window, but in reality, if they don’t fight for their freedom a bit right now, they’ll die. (Either that or my husband and I will need to remove the storm window and coax them out…which looks like it’s going to be the option…)

I was worried about these little birds. They were born to spread those wings and fly, not be stuck and confined to a small space only to die a short period of time later. Seeing them frantically fly in an attempt to once again find the freedom of the wide open spaces of the sky was so disturbing and moved me to quick action.

So here’s the thing. There are captives all over this great earth of ours, stuck in places where no human being should ever enter. There are boys and girls, women and men who are in captivity in the sex-trafficking world which spans the globe, and is as present in our American cities as overseas. Like these little birds, these human beings were meant to be free. They were not made to be abused and stuck and confined only to die emotional, mental, and even physical deaths in their prisons of captivity. I wonder how many initially fight frantically to be free, and then settle into the darkness of their world because of the futility of not being able to find a way out. Just like the little birds, they desperately need help to find a way out.

There is an organization that exists to help those imprisoned in the dark world of sex trafficking to find a way out. The Exodus Road (https://www.theexodusroad.com/) is “a nonprofit coalition that empowers freedom from sex slavery through covert investigation and rescue.” They search, sacrifice, plan, give, and put themselves on the line both physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially to ensure that there is hope for those who are in captivity in a world that is darker than most of us could ever imagine. To date, there have been 191 supported rescues! One hundred ninety one!! I was so excited when one little bird flew free. Amazing to think of 191 lives being rescued out of the dark confines of the emotional, mental, physical, and environmental prisons of the sex trafficking industry. Amazing.

For me, seeing how much I cared for these little birds was a little convicting. Am thinking I need to care so much more for those imprisoned in other ways, and I’m so thankful that The Exodus Road is there to offer a way that I can help be on the front lines without being on the front lines. This organization actively networks with other organizations and is seeking to efficiently and creatively find new ways to help set the captives free. Literally. People can donate equipment, time, money, and fund investigative teams. It is exciting to be a small part of such an incredibly big thing! Like I said, it was so exciting to see that bird fly free…and I can only imagine how it must be to look in the eyes of one who had been set free from entrapment in the dark underground world of the sex trade.

The little bird that was frantically fighting for its freedom is free. But it’s funny. It didn’t fly off. It flew right up to a tree just beyond our window and sat perched there. Maybe it will communicate in some way to those birds that they can find their way out. Maybe they will hear he bird singing on the outside and fight for their freedom too. (I sure hope so, because I don’t want to have to take off the storm window!) They each followed each other in, and hopefully, the one can be an example to lead the other two out.

And maybe, just maybe, those 191 and counting who are freed from the sex trafficking industry will be a testimony to those still stuck in captivity, that there IS hope. That they don’t have to become complacent in their conditions but can fight futility and actively hope and move towards freedom. It is so worth fighting for. That little bird was worth the effort. Each human being has value and is worth the fight.

I want to be a part of that more than ever, thanks to a little bird stuck in my window.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26, New International Version

Amen. Yes, I would say so.

Here’s a link to donate to The Exodus Road.
https://www.theexodusroad.com/donate/

Blessings,
Heather

Exodus-Road-Blogger

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/daily-prompt-searching/

%d bloggers like this: