So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.

Judges 6:15

This passage is from a story about Gideon, an unlikely hero of the Israelites.

22,000.

That’s the number of men Gideon had to fight the dreaded Midianites.

But God was concerned that , with the gigantic size of their army, that THEY would get the glory for this win….

And not HIM. (Judges 7:2)

So, God did what He LOVES to do. He whittled away at their numbers until the 22,000 became only 300!!!!!

To Gideon, it looked IMPOSSIBLE!

How many times do we find ourselves in seemingly impossible situations?

” Look at me! How can I save Israel?”

Or…

“Look at me!! How am I supposed to get all of this done??”

“How am I supposed to go on living without this person in my life?”

“How am I supposed to keep loving when I get nothing back?”

“How am I supposed to live with this pain?”

” How can I DO this???”

And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you”

Judges 6:15

THAT’S HOW.

When He is with us, He is, really, all we need.

He makes what FEELS impossible…

Possible!!

He can dig through the darkest of tunnels and tombs, and

Find light….

And life!!

He can use the weakest of us to pull off the most POWERFUL

VICTORY!!!!!!!!!

The fact that He’s “there” with us might not seem like much, but that’s because we can’t usually FATHOM the concept.

Eph. 1:19, Roth.: According to the energy of the grasp of His might.

I love this translation!

THIS is how He wants us to see what He does during those hard times.

He wants us to know that we are

HELD,

In His grasp!

It no longer becomes about “grasping onto HIM,”

Because the grasp capability of OUR hands doesn’t really matter much.

It’s the grasp of HIS Hand

That matters.

Listen.

When we’re up against impossible tasks,

We make a grave mistake when we look to our OWN hand, our OWN strength,

Our OWN power.

We, instead, should be looking to HIS power,

HIS strength,

HIS Hand.

Because that’s where things that seem impossible….

Become possible!

The Impossible!!

And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. “These are the things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.

Numbers 4:15

So Moses took the carts and the oxen, and gave them to the Levites. Two carts and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service; and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the authority of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.

Numbers 7:9

Now, these may seem like relatively ho-hum verses found in the Bible, but I am learning that there are ZERO ho-hum verses in that Book!

The ones above are anything but!!!!!!!

You see, the Ark of the Covenant, which was essentially the very presence of God in the Old Testament, was among some of the holy things the sons of Kohath were instructed to carry on their shoulders.

Now, the Ark weighed somewhere between 300 and 600 pounds, and was traditionally carried by only four men.

So you have a clear idea of how much this weighed,

Think of a casket.

An empty casket weighs around 200 or 300 pounds. Add the weight of a person, and you get a little closer to the weight of the Ark.

Now, a casket is usually carried by 6-8 men.

The weight of the Ark is still heavier than a casket, yet it is carried by HALF the number of men!

That holy thing was HEAVY!!!!

And it was never meant to be carried in any other way, but on the men’s shoulders.

Why???

And why were these seemingly insignificant verses included in the Bible anyway???

It was the Kohathites’ sacred duty to carry all of the holy things on their shoulders, and they were the only group that was not given wagons or carts to help them carry them during all their journeys from one land to another.

“Why must they carry those heavy burdens on their shoulders when their cousins had bullock carts? If such thoughts ever came, perhaps they found help in remembering that to them was committed the care of the most precious things, things too precious to be carried in any other way (Num. 3:31).”

Amy Carmichael

I guess I’m echoing Amy Carmichael’s thought this morning.

I put myself in their position.

It’s kind of like a “family business”.

Or a SUPER SACRED family business.

I would imagine that, no matter the honor that was theirs for carrying the ALMIGHTY GOD’S most holy things, there were days that the weight of those most precious items became taxing, and maybe even days that it was just

Too much to carry.

What are OUR most holy things?

Definitely His Presence!

How do we enter IN to be there, with Him?

Prayer and praise are the first things that come to my mind.

And although, it is such a holy place to be,

A holy Thing to touch,

A sacred and awe-filled privilege…..

It is not always easy for us mere mortals.

The weight we sometimes are called to carry makes it difficult to always get a glimpse of Him.

But when we push past the ache in our shoulders,

The ache in our hearts,

And we see Him??????

Wow, what a holy thing it is!!!!!!!

And far “too precious to be carried in any other way.”

Heavy Weight

I was having breakfast with a very close friend and mentor of mine this week. And she said something that shook me.

I mean, it was something I already knew,

but it was in the way that she said it….

Wow. The weight of it.

She said, ” You know, your situation may never change. It may never improve. It could stay just this way….

For the rest of your life.”

I guess I hadn’t thought about the length of time I might have to endure things being painful, strained, and…just plain hard.

How long I would have to feel “not at home” in my home.

How long I would have to love without getting much in return.

How long I would have to be in physical pain and physical weakness.

For the rest of my life.

Maybe you’re like me.

Maybe you’ve lost something or someone….

And now you have to be without that thing or that person…

For the rest of your life!

Is there anything more daunting than that????

Well, it’s going to require that I sit close to Jesus for the “rest of my life”, if I’m going to make it!!

He’s going to have to be my Home.

He’s going to have to be my peace in the middle of pain.

One thing have I desired, my God, of Thee,

That will I seek: Thine house be home to me.

I would not breathe an alien, other air;

I would be with Thee, O Thou fairest Fair.

For I would see the beauty of my Lord,

And hear Him speak, who is my heart’s Adored.

Amy Carmichael

When I read Amy’s words, I cry.

The things God has to do to make me seek Him and WANT Him!

I wish I wasn’t this way

So stubborn and full of myself.

But NOW, God being my Home is such a comfort to me.

I’ve been insulted, wrongly blamed, and often felt unloved.

I’ve been struck down in my body over and over again.

And without a miracle, these things will all continue

For the rest of my life.

So, I NEED to see Jesus as my Home,

My Place where I’m always welcome, loved, and SEEN.

Please Jesus,

Be my Home.

Home

When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.

Psalm 56

Last week was the Super Bowl, and it was the first one I actually watched in many, many years.

I couldn’t resist a classic underdog tale!

Since Joe Montana retired from football twenty-some years ago, I haven’t had a favorite team.

No one to really root for,

Until the Eagles made history in my living room over cheese and crackers.

It was such a great ending!!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your very own cheering section?

People who would wave your banners, fly your flags,

And wear your jersey number, letting EVERYBODY know YOU were their favorite player?

Truth is, not a whole lot of us have a cheering section.

Some of us often feel like no one even sees us fighting at all.

I once heard this story about a young man, playing football. He was the kicker for the team, and each time he had to kick that ball for an extra point, and sometimes for the WINNING point, he would scour the stands, looking for the one person who He KNEW would be cheering him on.

His dad.

We have one of those, too.

A Father.

A Father who is FOR us!

A Father who is flying our flags,

Waving our banners,

And wearing our numbers on His back.

We have a Father who is cheering us on as we

Fight to keep jobs,

Marriages,

Families,

And sometimes our own sanity.

We have a Father who is

Screaming our name

As we sweat through heartache,

Illness,

Deep failure,

And great losses.

He screams because He wants us to finish STRONG…

Trusting Him through ALL of it.

God chants your name

Through every victory

And every blow.

He will never stop rooting for YOU.

There’s absolutely NOTHING you could ever do that would make Him take your jersey off and put it away in a drawer somewhere.

Nothing you do will ever keep Him from waving your banner and flying your flags!

Because God is FOR you,

In a way no one else could possibly be!

So, look for your Father in the crowd….

Scour the stands for Him!

He will be the one,

Flying your flags.

Cheerleader

My new favorite show is Somebody Feed Phil. This show is so wonderful for a foodie like me!

Phil Rosenthal, who was the creator of the show Everybody Loves Raymond, travels to different places around the world, to explore all the amazing foods each country has to offer.

Did I mention I love this show???

I did??

Okay, I’ll move on.😊😊

One of the places Phil visits is Vietnam, and he explores a rural area, where the people harvest lotus flowers, among other things.

The lotus flower is the national symbol of Vietnam, a place with a history of great strife, and of great renewal.

The Lotus grows right in the middle of mud.

The stems and the roots are very long, and the blossom grows up, and out of the muck, and is so very beautiful!

Despite the impurities all around it, all the things that try to suffocate and snuff out its survival,

It LIVES.

It BLOOMS.

And it blooms BEAUTIFULLY.

This is my spirit flower!!

At least, I WANT it to be.

Maybe it feels like it’s yours, too.

All the dirt and grime that desperately tries to squash us like bugs,

Is the very thing that makes us grow,

And to stand TALL.

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.

Psalm 40:2

You know something else??

The seeds of a lotus can survive up to two hundred YEARS of drought!

This brings me comfort too, because it means my times of spiritual desert land are survivable.

Those wilderness times won’t last forever.

One last thing about the lotus:

The Vietnamese people use every part of the plant.

The stems, the leaves, the flower, the seeds…

They use ALL OF IT.

I really and truly do hope and pray that God can use EVERYTHING in ME, too.

My past, my parents, my marriage, my health, my kids…

I want God to use ALL of it.

Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:17

Lessons in the Lotus

There used to be a series of programs on PBS called Create. There were cooking shows, DIY programs, craft shows…

I loved watching all the cooking shows.

They would take same old, boring ingredients and create a brand new, mouth-watering dish that always looked amazing!

You see, I think most of us are born with the desire…

The craving…

The NEED…

To create.

I especially think this is true, since we are made in the image of God.

And the very first thing He ever was to any of us was

Our Creator.

God’s passion for creating wasn’t squelched on the sixth day.

He is constantly

CREATING!

Flowers, creatures, water, air…

He creates them every day.

But He is also in the business of creating US.

Not just “us”, as humans,

But YOU and ME.

Did you ever think about that?

He is DAILY “creating” us.

We will never be the finished product of all of His dreams for us until the day He comes, or the day WE come to Him.

He is, on a moment-by-moment basis, creating us in His own image…

Refining us,

Chiseling away at our sculptures,

Polishing His very own prize…

Each and every day!

If we get another day, it is another chance to be created by our Father and the best Artist ever!

That’s why I never really liked the term “second chances”,

Because we certainly don’t get just two!

My favorite group, Rend Collective, has a line in one of their songs…

“Countless second chances

Is what I’m given at the cross.”

He is constantly creating new opportunities for growth…

Growth, into the person we were always meant to be.

Creating new and unusual ways for us to experience real joy,

Real peace,

Real humility,

Real grace.

I love this idea of daily being created!

It’s a beautiful kind of BECOMING…

One that never ends!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

Countless Second Chances!





I’ll refresh tired bodies;

I’ll restore tired souls.

Jeremiah 31:25 MSG



I’m having one of those days. 
Maybe you’re having one, too.
The kind of day where you’re just so tired of it all.

Of everything.
The constant climb up the side of the mountain, fighting so hard to get out of that Valley.
The neverending pain.
The shame that forever lurks in the shadows of who you once were.

Whatever it is, the “constantness” of it…..

Can, some days, be too much.

“Enough already!!!”, you shout at absolutely no one.

I read this little verse written above…

My body is soooo physically TIRED!!!

My body has been put through so much!!

In the last 18 years, I’ve had at least 17 surgeries,  two of them life-saving!

I’m having a day where I feel DONE.
My body is quitting, and my soul just applied for early retirement. 
I just “don’t wanna” anymore!
It feels too hard today,

Too much work to smile today.

But, you know what?

I accidentally DID smile Today!
I accidentally felt some jolts of joy! 

I say “accidentally “, because I  was being miserable on purpose.

I WANTED to give up.

But GOD was already at work in me, before my feet hit the floor this morning. 
He had some plans to refresh my body and restore my soul.

They happened through bits of songs I heard as I went about my day,
In people who I bumped into,

In places only God could touch.
This is some of the glorious stuff God does!

He brushes the hair out of our eyes with some perfect, “don’t-blink-because-you’ll-miss-it” moments, that are full of the promise of Heaven, and all of the golden days in the sun….

WITH  the Son.

EVERY TIME I’ve had the notion to just give up in one way or another, He ALWAYS brings me back!

He is the very BEST  friend!!!!

I’m so glad He showed me again.

Body and Soul

But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate. The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out.”

Ezekiel 46:9, 10

 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.

2 Corinthians  5:16-18 





Every New Year’s Day, I pray that I would look and love more like Jesus by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around again.

Ezekiel knows what I’m  talking about.

His words for his people are simple. If you walked in through one gate, you needed to walk OUT through the OPPOSITE  gate.

So, basically, any time you have an encounter of any kind with Jesus ( through reading His word, singing songs to Him, or praying…) it should

Change you.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11




We can have new years, but we can also have 

New months,

New weeks,

And brand new days!

I know for certain I’m not the same girl I was last year.

But hopefully I’m not the same as I was last WEEK, either!

You see, we can, and we should, be in the process of being made new all the time. Because if not, why does the bible tell us that His mercies are new every morning?

But the best part is in the last verse of the portion of Ezekiel. ” The prince shall be in their midst. When they go in,  he shall go in; when they go out,  he shall go out.”

Isn’t it beautiful that He promises to change us, and also promises to be right there with us….

While sinful things die in us, He is there.

When painful things eat away at us, destroying our old self, 

He is there.

When conflict comes, 

When betrayal slithers in,

When loved ones are taken,

When illness ravages our bodies and brains, 

When all these things start to damage who we once were,

Refining us like silver,

 Burning us like forged diamonds,

He promises to walk in  WITH us to the things which hurt us, 

Challenge us,

Change us….

And He promises to walk OUT with us,  too.

After the molding and melting of our day, our week, our month, or our year

Has done it’s job, He leads us out the door,

Where we stand in the sun,

For just a minute,

Enjoying be made

New.


New




How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!” 

1 John 3:1

I grew up with a very skewed and damaged view of who God the Father is. 
You see, I saw God as a holy Judge.

One who was accusing me of crimes worthy of fatal punishment. 

He was filled with white hot rage when He saw me.

But then, Jesus,  His very own Son, stood up and defended me. 

JESUS loved me.

But GOD????

I wasn’t sure. 

So, that made it easy to buy into this “victim mentality” I’ve unconsciously adopted.

I saw the bad things I’ve gone through, and KEEP ON going through,

As things that happened TO me…

Instead of things that happened

FOR me.

It’s kind of a special privilege to be called to suffer in some way.

God presented Job to Satan, lifting him up as being one who was unlike anyone in the earth, CHALLENGING  him to test him!(JOB 1)

Job had the great honor of being chosen to suffer.

Greatly.
Recently, I was sent a song by a very dear friend of mine. It is called ” I AM No Victim”. Some of the lyrics are 
I am no victim, I live with a vision

I’m covered by the force of love
Covered in my Savior’s blood
I am no orphan, I’m not a poor man
The kingdom’s now become my own
And with the King I have a home

He is my Father, I do not wonder
If His plans for me are good
If He’ll come through like He should
‘Cause He is provision and enough wisdom
To usher in my brightest days
To turn my mourning into dancing

[Bridge]
I am who He says I am
He is who He says He is
I’m defined by all His promises
Shaped by every word He says
Oh I am who He says I am
He is who He says He is
I’m defined by all His promises
Shaped by every word He says

Let these words soak in!

“I am not an orphan. I’m not a poor man.”
I have all the Father’s riches at my disposal!

I am no victim.
I am a VICTOR!!

All of these hard things are just temporal things.
If JESUS had to suffer,  Him being the ultra precious Son of GOD,
Then I must suffer too,

Knowing that the Father loves me, 

And that I am RICH in that!

He is my provision!

I don’t have to be free of physical pain to feel like a daughter of the KING.

I don’t have to be free of emotional pain to know I am truly loved!
If you don’t want your tragedy to be wasted,  find ways to make it

MEAN SOMETHING. 

GIVE IT VALUE.

 Know that what’s going on is not meant to victimize you, 

But is meant to 

“Victorize” you!!

We are NOT orphans! 

We are not poor people!!

We have the richest Father there ever was or ever will be!

And we are  truly, truly 
LOVED.

The Father’s Child

And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:26-30

Because I didn’t get married until the age of 34 ( which seemed ANCIENT at the time!), I served as maid of honor in several weddings. It’s kind of a special role. You have certain responsibilities, special tasks to do for the bride.

But every maid of honor knows that it’s not “her day” to shine. 

It’s the bride’s. 

And the same goes for the best man.

He also understands that this day is ALL about the bride and groom.
John gets this concept, too. He knows his role is to support the groom, and maybe give a nice speech or two.

He accepted and WELCOMED the time when Jesus would “go public” in His ministry, and had a clear understanding that, even though JOHN had been the celebrity in town, when Jesus arrived that would all change.

He would, in essence, begin to disappear in the shadows of Jesus!

And to John, that was an awesome thing.
You know, my abilities, my energy, and my talents have been tampered with by the things that have happened to me.
And sometimes, I  still wonder,

“What should I be doing for the Kingdom?”

“What is my grand purpose?”

“Since I can’t really do ‘this’ anymore, what should I be doing instead?”

Sometimes I get more wrapped up in MY role in the story than I do about the “STORY” itself!

Often, I  am like John’s disciples, whining about someone else stepping into “my gift area”, or doing  the things I thought I was supposed to do.

Please don’t tell me I’m the only one!😊
While we should all strive to have a sense of what God has called each of us to do, we should  never let any of those desires ever become greater than Jesus Himself, and His desire to be known by all.

It’s tough for us humans to think like John did.

Desiring to become LESS so someone else could be
MORE.

But there is beauty in becoming less.

Beauty in disappearing….

Beauty in the destruction of all of these “positions” or roles we once thought we deserved….

Beauty in becoming less and less…

‘Til we all but vanish

And all that is left is…
Jesus.

The Greatest Disappearance