what to say, face to face, for freedom

Because sometimes we need to hear a real, live voice telling us we are loved.

Because sometimes we need to be encouraged: we are chosen, adored, the Beloved, just as we are, right now.

Because sometimes we need to be reminded we need freedom, freedom from striving, freedom from our past, freedom from the lies we believe about God and about ourselves.

And we can’t just let this go.

So, I thought I take a few minutes and tell you . . .  and also tell you how I am so grateful we get to pursue God together, we sisters, His girls.

Much love to you,

Jennifersignaturescript

the masterpiece once collecting dust on the floor

There is always a new way to view an old story. We hear of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. We hear of a King who came to reign, with feet bare, born of a teenage mother, and of a family heritage of prostitute and adulterer. He arrived perfect and left perfect, with genes fully human–with a family tree before him scarred with stories of jealousy and murder, deception and mistakes. He is my family and your family. He is my story and yours.

masterpiece

You have a story all your own, with ups and downs and things you regret, things you’ve done you wish you could change. Ask Me into those places. Let Me show you a new way to view these old stories. There is a fresh story I want to give you, a fresh perspective on every past thing you’ve done that you regret.

The old stories are hard to look at with clear eyes. Our memory clings to moments that sting–or our memory feels an empty room, quiet and still, lonely, neglected. Our Father holds it all so close, these memories of ours–whether we can bear to remember the painful details or not.

There is hope everywhere, child. There is hope in everything, in every moment, in every past, in every future. The hope for the future exists in Me—and I ask you to trust Me so I may show you how I look at your past. When I show you your past, I am asking you to trust Me in how I see you. And how I see you is not at all how you see yourself.

My friend can’t remember much of her past from her childhood. It is too painful, too raw. Much has been blocked from her memory–and when moments flood back, she can barely stand the view. Her heart breaks for the girl she was that wasn’t seen, wasn’t loved, wasn’t adored and delighted in. And to hear that God sees her, in those moments, holding her past and her present before Him, so lovingly, in His hands, is difficult to bear. What is she to do with all this mess, all this pain? What is she to do with the absence of happy memories? How is she to have courage and faith and hope when her heart aches for the little girl still within her that feels alone and helpless and lost?

Her past melts with her present, as the pain of the past never fully goes away.

masterpiece 2

Fair one, I come for you. I come for you again. I do not tire of being close to you. I do not tire of leaning in, listening to your words, your cries, your pleas, your songs. I strengthen you. I equip you. I restore you. I surround you with hope. I bring people around you to show you hope. You have brothers and sisters I want to show you, people whose names I know and whom I delight in bringing forth to you, whom I delight in you getting to know.

There may be a hint, now, of story within a different frame. The little girl in the room abandoned is watched with heart broken wide. Every tear held in hands safe and sure and strong. The pain remains, but the ache subsides–the ache to be loved, to be known, to be healed. This little-girl-grow-woman can look at that little girl alone and see her now, through the eyes of God. She can still cry for her; she can still mourn. But she can rejoice, too, for the story she tells is from the heart of a woman who knows she is loved.

I give you glimpses of beauty, glimpses of glory, glimpses of hope and light. But the light that shines all around you, the light that shines from within you, the Spirit I give you to lead you and be your friend and carry you through these hard days, is what makes you beyond beautiful, my daughter. You are beyond what you can imagine right now.

Sometimes, we just need to know this: we are more than what these hearts of ours can bear to see. For in His eyes, no matter what choice we made, no matter what horrible thing was done to us, we are not broken. Not one bit. We are whole.

masterpiece 3

Yes, we are frail and we fall. Yes, we are vulnerable and we get hurt. Yes, we are sinful and we mess up. But we are also amazing and beloved. We are also held and cherished.

You, my dear, even in your darkest moments, even in the parts of your story where you felt the very most alone, you have always been seen. You have never been forgotten. You have never been less than special. Surrender your heartaches to the Father who loves you. Let Him awaken hope in your heart. Let Him awaken you to see yourself, and the little-girl self of your past, with His true eyes. What God sees is the only sure thing we can ever see.

We need new eyes to see an old story. We need to stop standing on the edge of the nativity scene and, instead, jump full-on in. We need to see our Father’s hand extended to us. We need to stir up the dust in the barn and push up next to the animals and hear the angels singing and smell the musty hay in our lungs. We are dying to live with hearts awake. We are dying to turnover these old broken stories of ours and let them be beautified, mended, restored.

masterpiece 4

We are not meant to forget our old stories only because they are too painful to remember. We are not meant to ignore them because it is too much work to let ourselves feel. We are not meant to sleep through a life that is not black and white but full of messy blurs of color mixing from one to the next.

Your story is amazing and messy–a crumpled piece of art God has found in a corner of the room, under the bed, collecting dust. A masterpiece He unrolls and presses to His heart and pins onto His favorite wall, where He can see it all the time. He loves your story. He loves you. He loves everything about you, and He is sorry for how you have been hurt.

I am praying for you, my dear sister, and I am so happy you are here. What beautiful story of yours do you most need to see Him rewrite and make new?

* All sentences in italics excerpted from “You have Something to Say”, Loop. You can subscribe to these twice-a-week email devotionals here.

** Make sure you enter the giveaway for the fabulous Sarah Ha pendant! Giveaway ends Thursday, at midnight.

*This post linked up with stories at beautiful Jennifer Lee’s place.

you are the beautiful land . . . and a giveaway

you are the beautiful land I sit on the couch, head throbbing. Day four of the flu. The pretty red chair from Justin’s grandma’s house we moved from the front room to the family room to make space for the Christmas tree is piled with clothes I will not fold tonight. There are schedules to sort for the busy last week of school and the to-do list isn’t even written. Well, I’m not a list maker anyway.

I’m in sweats and I haven’t showered and I’m in my not-so-comfy red cotton GAP socks that I’ve had since I was in college. I listen to Ellie Holcomb singing “I will lift my eyes from this fragile life, You will rescue me, You are my Prince my Peace”, while my dog who thinks he is a rug barricades me, sandwiching himself into the tiny space between the couch cushions and the ottoman. Our youngest son comes out again because he is having trouble sleeping and we take turns tucking him in. My husband and I feel our congested heads will surely explode. But we are together, and we know we will be healed soon. All will be healed.

When I thought of you, I knew who you’d be, this day. I knew the story, and the unfolding, and the journey, and how it has been hard.

This day isn’t the day that has been hard.

When I drove to Justin’s office last Sunday night to use a landline to be interviewed about my story of what I did when I was a teenager, I didn’t tell anyone the station of the radio. I managed to tell some friends ahead of time that it was happening, so they could pray for me. But then I refused to tell them the station so they could listen to it live. I can get tired of telling my story. I can get tired of sharing my mistakes and my shame. I can get tired of remembering the things I would do anything to change, if I could do my life over again.

But I do it.

I write and I speak the story because here’s the truth: it isn’t a story of shame anymore. It is a story of hope and beauty and new life.  But still, I forget. Pride makes me fearful and want to hide. So, I drive to my husband’s office on a Sunday night in the dark, running clothes still on, hat pushed down over ponytail, and I pray each word I say is translated in His truth. I want the story to do more than just make sense.

I don’t leave you here to wander forever. I come and rescue and lead you with my right hand holding you fast.

Every story ever worth sharing is never about us. It is the one whispered to us in the quiet, the one about a daughter and a Father and a beginning and a joy and a hope that never ends.

I had forgotten this truth when I felt shame welling up again and I wanted to keep the interview kind of a secret. I look at my sin and my self-imposed suffering and often stop there.

I am sorry it has been hard, but trust I don’t leave you here, in a place of desolation, in a place where it is only desert. I don’t leave you here to wander forever.

When I listen, I go to a place He has uncovered, a place He has seen. It is the place where He speaks. It is the only place where anything makes sense. Here is beauty: mess and regret and bad choices are what He delights to turn upside down.  It is His surprising love I will never tire of sharing, no matter how uncomfortable it feels to say the messy stuff, aloud.

Speak out truth now. Speak it out, even if you don’t yet believe it. I will help you believe. I will help you believe I will rescue you. I will help you believe I am here. I will help you believe, with your whole heart, I am enough.

And when the Podcast was available, and I listened to the story of a girl who felt alone and who let selfishness kill a life never hers to kill, I heard something I didn’t expect: the whisper of a Father, a Father who will bend low, on hands and knees and surrender everything for the love of a girl who He knows and who He created and who He encourages to be the full beauty He always sees her to be. And now, when He whispers this to us, I just have to believe. It is too beautiful to not believe and cling to with everything I am:

The land ahead is lush and you are cared for. You know how you are carried and valued and delighted in and seen.

You are the beautiful land, plentiful and rich and bountiful. Your heart is full and your life is full and your future is full and you are beginning now. . . You are beginning to see.

Yes, you are the land, my friend, you are the beautiful land, plentiful and rich and bountiful. He sees where you are and how you need healing, and He whispers,

Bend low now. See what I see. Quiet your heart and let Me show you what I see. Let Me speak truth into your heart that you may know who you are and know you are not alone and know how I lead you to new, fragrant places. See.

I may yet not see all in its fullness, but I am beginning to see. I may yet not be home, but I see glimpses of beauty in the path. I know I am heading towards good things. I know I am going  to a place where He is now. I know I am being held, with reassurance, resilience, fortitude. He is the rock. I don’t have to be.

Oh, my daughter, I see you. I like what I see.

Friend, can you believe it?

Here, my friend, is the link to the podcast, and here–what I am excited to tell you–is an opportunity to enter a giveaway for a special necklace below.

sarah ha pendant

Isn’t it pretty? Did you have any idea that wearing this pendant means you are wearing the entire Bible around your neck?

This amazing necklace was sent to me by Sarah Ha, a jewelry maker who uses nano-engraving technology (believe me I had never before heard that term before) to inscribe the entire Bible onto a single pendant. The charm is so beautiful, and protected by a mineral-glass window and hung from a chain of 100% Sterling Silver. The kids and I had a blast checking out the jewelry reader on their site that shows just how this all works. Check it out. It’s pretty cool.

Sarah ha pendant 2

I don’t do a lot of giveaways around here, but when I was contacted to see if I would be interested in being sent one of these beautiful necklaces, I didn’t hesitate. I was excited to say yes so I could give it away to one of you, here.

What do you think?

Sarah Ha pendant

You have until Thursday, at midnight PST, to enter the giveaway by using Rafflecopter below, and I’ll announce the winner on the blog on Friday.

xo,

Jennifersignaturescript

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Together

Here I go, letting the words run, trusting language He gives to tumble out, prompted by the beauty of Lisa-Jo’s prompt, Together.  Do you hear the whisper, girls?  Do you hear Him speaking?  He sings beauty to your heart.  It can’t be helped.

GO

[G]ather us up, Father, and we will go where You go.

She picks up her baby, little girl eye’s soft, tender cheeks aglow, eyes shining.  There You are.

She feels the pressure of her friend’s hand on her back, prayers lifted to You, her heartache a song woven into something beautiful.  Your voice catches, more than a whisper in the wind.

She remembers the beauty of the proposal, when the promise of marriage, the dream of it all, seemed more beautiful than the reality, and she lays it on the cross, knowing this one flesh You’ve united is real.  And You sew it all together again, when she hands You the tattered threads of hope-bled-dream.

She cries from some place deep, the yearning of a little girl heart not fulfilled, not seen, not spoken to, and she begs for an answer, pleading for ressurection, a new life to begin in her.  For the dead one threatens to pull her under again, to that unspoken dark ground.  And You hold  her close, hold a mirror to her heart, showing her what You have seen all along, and her tears reflect Your promise, and shine

You come, pulling us together, Your girls, to common ground.

STOP

Delight

[H]e tells me I am His delight, and I believe Him.  I see Him smile when He looks at me, the bright twinkle in His eye, the playfulness when He rejoices, and the sure footing when He walks.  He knows where He is going, so I go, too.  I don’t know the path much of the time, but I am happy not to know.  His shoulders ahead of me, strong and confident, are what I see.  More than that for me to know and I would surely stumble.

And with Him I do not fall.

He tells me I am His delight, and He shakes off cobwebs from the past, showing me where He was, even when I didn’t know it.  He grabs my hand and shows me what I love, what brings me joy — reminding me what brings me delight, what brings me life — movement and stillness, rushing water and quiet breezes, loving with a heart of surrender, forgetting myself and knowing only Him.  He reaches in to the aches of yesterday and redeems today.  There is beauty in each corner of pain, each moment of sadness.  He has never left, leaning in, weeping, too.

To know delight, one must know sorrow, too.

To believe I am His delight stirs me to want to tell you, too, to be a voice of hope and faith, to want to pray that His adoration of you — you — is more than you can even imagination and dream.  His delight in you is light in moments of doubt, stirring love toward hope, bringing joy from darkness, life into death.

You, my sweet sister, are His delight.

Would you like to join me and run with this prompt, too? It’s a fun adventure, letting your fingers flow with Lisa-Jo’s prompt: Delight.

I pray you have a beautiful, weekend, girls, soaking up His love and believing — just a little, even — how much the Father delights in you.

We Find What We Look For

The ten by ten inch wooden tile is handed to me at a park while my kids zoom around on scooters and bikes, and my friend’s almost six month old baby tries to stand in her mother’s arms.

The words, arranged in tucked away clumps on the sides of the tile’s face, shout to me, in love:

And my friend smiles and says, “I knew you would love it,” and I do; I love it.  My heart jumps when I read the words because their truths resonate deeply and make everything in me stir.

We find what we look for. . .

I have been found, and my claimed heart seeks His all the more because of it.  He lets me find Him because I am the found one, the treasured one.

Tell me more . . .

He asks me to tell Him more, and I do — most of the time.  But I hold back a lot of my heart often, and the One who always listens, always cares about each detail of my life, each choice I stumble or rise to make, waits and lets me come close, where I can feel His heart beating in mine.  He is the present one, the solid one, and I ask for forgiveness for my quietness, my withdrawing from Him.

Captured by His love, pour out your heart like a waterfall overflowing. Your father, who knows each thought, each emotion, each urge and whim that dances through, leans in to hear, not wanting to miss a thing.

Hear me seeing you . . .

I want my words to be a salve,  His words in me to press into my heart and take root there.  I want to choose the good soil and let my Gardener tend my heart.  He brings water to quench my thirst and His light for me to rise and see His face.  Father, let me respond to You with joy — and bloom.

See the garden blooming, where the gardener bends low, with care, touching with sure figures each petal, each stalk, each seed taking root and bursting forth from the ground.  His care brings forth beauty and promise, life of which He is in charge — if the plant surrenders care of itself and lets the Gardener do the watering.

For I was a stranger and you welcomed me . . .

My hand beats on the door, this door that I have walked through but that I knock on again, even though I am on the other side.  For I need Him.  There is the door I walk through, to have no separation between myself and my Father, and there are the doors of my heart that my Savior knocks on, asking for permission to come in, to shine light, to bring truth and to heal.  For I am no stranger, no lost sheep, no abandoned child, forgotten and out of sight.  Does my heart bring with it welcome when He knocks, again?  Do I run to Jesus when He asks me to give up the hard thing that separates me from Him, that tears my heart and makes me weak, without Him?  Do I accept His offers or reject them?  Do I hear His heart beat in the voice of the lonely, the desperate, the cast-off?  Do I see?

Open the door when the knock resounds, for there is healing He brings, this Friend-Lord-Savior who knows where the pain lies, the wounds pressing deep.  This invitation to welcome Him in turns the world upside down, so that with Him within hearts, the knocking continues, with our hand pressing gently upon that stranger’s door.

Just be . . .

The wounds surface time and again, the belief I am not good enough, that I don’t have a voice, that my heart is cold and not capable of showing love.  And You scoop me up and remind me that I am perfectly made, adored, Your daughter in whom You delight.  So, I know the truth is that, as each of Your children, I must be special, and I must have a voice, this desire that beats inside me to be communicated and heard.  And I also must have a heart, a heart that, when united with Yours — Your heart of tender, fierce compassion, love, and grace — exudes love, too.

There is nothing to be done to be loved more than you are.  There is nothing to be done to be more adored, cherished, and welcomed into His arms.  And once there, resting in His arms, feeling His heart beat against your chest as you press close, He will show you more how He pursues you, how He longs for you to let Him continue to cleanse and make you whole.  We are not fully ourselves — stunningly beautiful and filled with His love — until we let Him let us be fully His.

WE FIND WHAT WE LOOK FOR

tell me more

hear me seeing you

for I was a stranger and you welcomed me

just be

What are you seeking?

What does He long to tell you?

Do you hear Him seeing you?

Do you welcome Him into each door of your heart?

Can you rest, knowing you are enough:  His beloved, dearly cherished and adored?

 



 

 

Cries of the Heart

To the Father who redeems, who restores, we loves us beyond what we can ever comprehend, we trust You.  We believe You heal.

In a hospital room lies an 18-month old little girl who wandered into the driveway of her home yesterday and was run over by a car.  She is in a medically-induced coma, her body broken, her parents’ hearts breaking.

In another bed, in her own home, a young mother lies locked in with her thoughts, blinking her only way of communicating, after suffering a stroke a year and a half ago that has paralyzed her entire body.  Her children hug her and she feels it but can’t respond.  She has words to say but cannot speak.

A woman’s husband who separated from her a year ago has a heart attack and her heart breaks with this love for him, for the family and father she hopes for her children.  She waits on Him and trusts, arms open and tired.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find  rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11: 28-30).

Your children cry out to You, Father, and You hear us.  Pain does not turn You away, make You indifferent, aloof.  You carry the broken-hearted, Your resurrection being our hope, Your life in us helping us bear the trials and suffering of this life.  Redeem, Father.  Your children cry.

My dear friend at SoulStops wrote a post this week that stirred my heart, as she explored God’s words in Romans 8:28:  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  She shares how Jesus knows each pain we suffer and wants to bring His ultimate healing to every wound.  With Jesus’ taking away all of our sin, we are redeemed, all sin wiped away.  And the Father does not turn away. He hears His children’s cries.  He comes.