Monday, March 26, 2012

Beauty in Ashes

I remember sitting out on the curb outside of the hospital like it was yesterday. Even right now as I try to take myself back to that moment it doesn't feel real, movie-like in a sense. I see myself, 14 years old, feeling more alone then words can comprehend, thinking to myself that my days of laughter and joy were over. I remember feeling in that moment that I'd never laugh or smile again. I was numb. I felt like part of me died. I feel so sad for that girl, she grieved with no hope. Even then I knew I'd never be the same. That was the day I lost my father.

I heard in a movie once loosing someone close to you is like having an amputation, you heal but you're never quite the same as you were before. I believe that. I never really quite got back to that girl but for that I'm thankful. I see qualities in myself that allow me to love His people with compassion that I don't think I'd possess without going through the loss of my father. I'm desperate for God in a way I never was before.

Some of us face life changing, impossible situations. Right now it doesn't make sense. We wonder where we are going to find the strength to walk through this dead end path. When does it end? Why do I have to go through this? Trust me, God has this incredible way of taking ashes and creating something of beauty. He created the sun to set only to rise in the morning.

I smile all the time now. My life is filled with more joy and laughter then I ever could of imagined. God restored it. He held my hand and walked beside me. He still walks beside me. It's funny because now when I look back to that day, I see truth. The scales have have fallen off my eyes allowing me to see a very different picture. I actually wasn't alone at all. Jesus was right there with me, holding me. I was enfolded in the arms of a Father and His desire was to calm my storm. He gave me a life and a story. He taught me to grieve with hope and rejoice in His never ending faithfulness.

So whatever you're walking through, remember to hold on, always. It's not the end. You are an overcomer.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.-1 John 4:4

Monday, December 5, 2011

I changed the subject

I met Ashley when I was 14. We were freshman in high school and had fourth period dance together. She was new to the area, a bit more edgey then my story book friends and in a way mysterious. She was always very vague about her life, her family, everything. Even at 14 I knew she'd lived a rough life but she played it off so well as if past hurts hadn't inflicted her. I remember her laugh, it was so vivacious, it used to fill up the entire room. It was so full of life. I can still hear it. And her smile, it was so kind. She was so kind. Who would of thought 2 short years later while sitting in class I'd be informed that Ashley took her life?

When Ashley and I first became friends she'd made attempts to hang out outside of school. I always kindly blew her off with my lame excuses. My 14 year old self tended to steer clear of the unfamiliar. Regardless we still developed a pretty close friendship during dance class, which was practically sit in groups, talk and listen to your i pod class. Then after Christmas break I experienced the greatest pain of my life, losing my father. When I came back to school, during dance at least Ashley in a sense took care of me. She was a good friend to me. We'd always venture into deep conversations about life which one day led into a topic we hadn't discussed in detail much, faith. She had asked where my mom worked, I told her at our church and went on gushing about how awesome it was and I'll never forget her response, or the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when she said she didn't really know about 'all the God stuff' and that she just didn't really believe in anything. Instant sadness overcame me. How lonely of life to not believe in really anything at all. To just be. To have no hope in something greater then yourself. When I look back I see this perfect opportunity I had with Ashley to share three little words that could have impacted her life forever, "Jesus loves you". Instead, I just let the moment pass. I changed the subject. 

How many times do we change the subject to avoid making someone, including ourselves feel uncomfortable?  We are called to do one thing and that's "to go and make disciples of all nations"Matthew 28:19.

At the time I found out Ashley had ended her life I hadn't talked to her in probably a year, she had transferred schools and we'd just lost touch. I was overwhelmed. I remember calling my mom and getting out of school because I just couldn't be there. All I felt was guilt. Hurt. Shame. Sadness. And that wasn't the end, about a month after Ashley's death, her mother decided to end her life as well. Guilt. Hurt. Shame. Sadness.

As years past and my relationship with Christ deepened it was almost as if Satan was throwing this situation in my face repeatedly. In a way I felt like I'd failed. All the 'what if's' constantly rang through my head. I should of just said it, what my heart was so burdened to say that day. Why couldn't I of just said it? What if God had  placed me in Ashley's life to specifically make His name known? This went on for awhile. I carried the guilt of something that could not be undone, a guilt I was never meant to carry because it had already been carried for me on the cross.. until I forgave myself. That was it. I simply forgave myself. I accepted that what's done is done. God lifted every ounce of hurt regarding that situation off my shoulders. He free'd me from it. He broke the chains that bound me to the pain and even erased the scars it had left on my heart.

Now from time to time I remember Ashley. Her story is a reminder to me to never miss my opportunity. To never let the moment pass. To never change the subject. And mostly to share one thing, love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What if we lived out the songs we sing?

So technically I actually wrote this blog post a few months back and never posted it. I wanted to sink into the title and before I knew it it turned into a smorgasbord of thoughts about worship. I'm very passionate about worship and song writing therefore it's a topic I could go on and on about. I've tried to go through and switch some things up but it was a total fail. Seems to somehow make sense in a cluttered way. 

I've been asking myself this question a lot lately. I know personally I could be more courageous, more Christ like if I really lived out the songs I sang. Theres nothing that could burn out the fire in my heart, nothing that could seperate my heart from His love. I'd believe more in the power of grace. I'd never forget the message of the cross. I'd be fearless..

There are so many people who come to church who are just in the routine of things. We do what feels comfortable. During worship we raise out hands in 'surrender' not because we want to surrender our hearts to the Lord and lay down our lives but because it's 'just what you do''s just become routine. Worship isn't always gonna be pretty folks. So get into it, it's okay to be messy (you are messy but you are not a mess)! Worship is a time between you and the Lord, it's intimate. It's a time for you to come and lay your burdens at God's feet, it's a time to say "God I'm tired, but I'm still here and You are still God". In Isaiah 35:10 it says "and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away". See the Lord knows we have bad days but when we come forth and sing His praise and enter into His thrown room we are restored with joy and gladness.

So many times we sing praise's and sadly to most of us these are just songs. They are just lyrics on a screen, but when we begin the believe what we are singing it becomes much more then a song. It becomes an anthem, a declaration over our lives. Theres power breathed into the words.

So many times we sing about the victory of Christ, how much He loves us, and that He's our healer, but how many of us are actually living that out in our lives today and believing the words we sing! Could you imagine a world that did? We'd be fearless warriors leading the world into His light! I'm reminded a lot of everyones favortie sunday school song "Jesus loves me". Bam! Seems simple right? I think a lot of us get so overwhelmed with life that we forget something as wonderful as "JESUS LOVES ME this I know FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO". Whoa now try to wrap your head around that. How would you live life differently if you TRULEY believed that. A simple childrens song? I think not.

So I challenge you next time you are worshipping-- worship, just do it, really believe it. Go out into the world believing and living that our God is greater,stronger and higher then ANY. Think on the things of your life you could do or accomplished if you just lived out the songs you sing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Healing is in Your hands

I work in the children's ministry at my church and see many families come through every Sunday morning ready to worship. One family routinely comes by to drop their little one off every week. Each week this specific family leaves a footprint on my heart. I don't know their story but I do know they have a son, Brexton, who is severely disabled both physically and mentally. Every week I see hope in his mother's eyes when she comes to our door, always wearing a bright smile on her face. I know her life isn't easy and taking care of Brexton is a 24/7 job, yet she always beams with the joy of the Lord. Part of our check-in process is to ask the families if their are any prayer needs they may have. Every week has been the same response, "Please pray for Brexton's health", and we continually do. These past few weeks God has really put Brexton on my heart, I find myself praying for him and his family fairly often.

This past Sunday I woke up to a text from a friend asking for prayer for Brexton. He was is the hospital for pneumonia and was hours away from going to Heaven. The doctors had told the family that only a miracle could save Brexton's life. My heart instantly broke for his family. For his baby sister I watch every Sunday who would never get to know her big brother. For his hopeful mother who is always so positive. Then a light bulb switched on, I was reminded that our God is bigger then our circumstances. He still heals. In fact the previous week at church the sermon was all about healing. Even at life group that week healing was the topic. I began praying and praying for His victory over Brexton's ailing health and peace over his family. When I got to work my co-workers and I continued praying with heavy hearts and declaring that our God still heals over Brexton's life.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." -Isiah 53:5

Yesterday I received a text from the same friend who informed me of Brexton's condition letting me know that God was working in Brexton's life and his oxygen levels were up to 98%, AMAZING!! All I could say was, what a faithful God we serve! I don't know what plans God has for Brexton's life but I know Brexton is definitely a gift, a reminder that medicine only goes so far and then comes God..

So to my family, If any of you get a chance to read this, know that the Lord calms our raging seas and there is NOTHING impossible for Him. Don't let fear set in, instead trust that God is healing Dustin at this very moment. He's done it more then once, He can do it again.