Our son went through a phase of night terrors and they were like nothing I’ve ever experienced; I felt helpless. The one thing that would begin to get through to him was speaking the name of Jesus. Once I moved past the fear of what was happening in front of me and spoke the name of Jesus, calm and love entered in. Nightmares can be terrible, especially when it’s your child who experiences them. As a parent, you want to ensure safety and protection at all costs. You create a joyful and playful environment for your child to live in but the darkness still comes at night.
The darkness of this world makes a child’s nightmare seem so small in comparison. The world is aching, crying out in fear. When I look around and see the immense brokenness of the humans walking on this earth, my heart begins to physically hurt. Then, I look into the big eyes of my child and think how in the world do I protect you from all of this? This is not a scenario where I can scoop you up in my arms, whisper the name of Jesus over you and pray until the storm passes. No, this is an ongoing battle that seems to have no end.
Do you feel it? Can you feel the heaviness circling around us? It can feel like we are suffocating in despair and sorrow, fear and worry, tragedy and death. The pictures from Harvey & Irma, the pending devastation, the wild fires, and more. My heart breaks constantly and my mind is consumed with images and empathy for their circumstances. Where is hope in these situations?
Where is my hope–who can see any hope for me? Job 17:15
Then with one image, one story, hope can flood all the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness. I do not have this image, but was only told of its existence. Even so, I felt its powerful message as the image was created in my mind and then on my heart. It was of a woman, rescued by boat from the aftermath of Harvey. In her hands, the only things she carried and had left in this world were a pair of flip-flops in one hand and a flower bulb from her drowned out home and yard in the other. At first glance you might pity her for the loss and only see the very little she has left. But this image represents a gift. A gift greater than anyone can imagine or see with their eyes.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13
God calls us into community with one another and through that, He builds strong bonds of friendship that, for me, have blossomed into sisterhood. In January of this year, a few gals I knew from various avenues of life; a few Junior League friends, a mom I met through my son’s friendships, a life-long friend, and a friend from work, came together in hopes of learning a little more about Jesus. Over the past eight months, we have studied, shared our hearts, cried, laughed and prayed together. We have watched as the Holy Spirit has entered into our sacred space (my living room) and, in a very short time, has transformed our hearts, our minds and our lives. This band of characters, this village of mine has evolved like a great story.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
As I gazed at myself in the bathroom mirror Monday morning, I thought, “There is not enough eye cream in the world to get rid of these tired eyes!” They were squinty and dark, the normal spark lost somewhere behind the events of the past three weeks. They have been filled to the rim with terrific and glorious events, but if I am honest, really hard and emotional ones as well. Moments that made me want to cry in amazement and others that made me want to cry because of a broken heart.
Two emergency room visits (one for me and one for my husband), our daughter’s wedding, then moving her and her family to a new home in southern Iowa, a summer camp program and baseball for our youngest, difficult situations at work, launching a new program, deadlines and requests, a volunteer picnic, and welcoming a U.S. Senator to the center for a visit. Not to mention the weight I carry for those in my life struggling with their own events and battles. Whew!
I love to share the story of me and my husband’s very first Valentine’s Day as a couple. When Don and I were first dating, country music was a big part of who we were. We’d spend time in the car singing our hearts out to Rascal Flatts or dancing in the park to My Maria by Brooks & Dunn. Just thinking about those days make my heart happy. So, on our first Valentine’s Day, I was giddy at the thought of surprising him with tickets to the Brooks & Dunn Red Dirt Road Concert and the memories we’d have of the evening together.
When the day of the concert finally arrived, we were both so excited. Not once did we consider where our seats might be. But when we got there and the usher stopped at the steep staircase directing, “All the way up,” I looked up and realized the limitations of my checkbook. The only seats I could afford were a trek up to the second to last row of the stadium. I felt bad, my special gift felt minimized and not so special anymore. However, Don was encouraging and joyful. Just happy to be with me.
This is the text for a speech given at the 2017 Bridgehaven Fundraising Gala.
Let us open with the scripture from Mark 1 16-18:
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Imagine for me if you will…a sweet young girl who lives next door. You’ve known her for years; her parents moved to the neighborhood when she was three. You’ve seen her grow and blossom into a young woman. But recently you’ve noticed a change. She walks, head down, just wandering. The sparkle in her eye and the spring in her step is gone. You wonder, for a moment, ‘What’s going on?’ You’ve seen a young man coming and going from the house and again you say to yourself, “Mind your own business.” This morning you’re headed out to run an errand, you’re rushing out the door but notice someone sitting on the stoop next door. It’s her. You wonder, “Is she crying?” You are torn. “Do I mind my own business or go to her.” The Lord prompts you, “Go to her, she needs someone.” As you walk up, she notices you and begins to dry and hide her eyes from view. But you know and she knows…everything is NOT ok.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
I’ve recently been embraced by a wonderful community of Jesus-loving women. These women come to my house every week. We enjoy scripture together, sharing our lives together and growing in Christ’s love together. We have quickly created a bond of safety, trust and sisterhood.
This year, during Lent, we decided to journey together through a release of baggage or burdens that we are carrying. Each of us were given a rock to carry with us throughout the 40 days of Lent. The rock represented the weight, obstruction, accommodation and presence of the burdens in our everyday lives. The idea is to be able to name your burden, identify how it affects your life, your relationships with those around you and ultimately your relationship with Jesus. For me, I had done this powerful activity during a retreat a few years ago and laid a very heavy burden at the cross. It was freeing and allowed me to fall deeper into God’s perfect love for me. This time, however, I wasn’t sure. There was no one big, heavy burden taunting me or holding back; or so I thought.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:3-6
This scripture from Ephesians 4 is one we frequently use to describe how the Bridgehaven team is inspired to work together. It has quickly become one of my favorites. Not because we do it well 100% of the time, but because when our little community becomes one in the Lord there is the hope of peace.
I am so grateful that our Lord intends us to live in community with one another. He doesn’t intend for his children to live in isolation from each other. So many people feel alone, or that they don’t belong. We’ve all experienced times of our lives that we think no one will understand or no one will accept us. That is a lie. Jesus says, ‘You do belong. Keep coming. Keep coming.’ The truth is, God already knows your brokenness and loves you anyway.
February! The season of love, romance and all things pink and red! (Ohhh, how I love all things pink, I really do!) This sweet season of giddiness, googly-eyes and constant hand-holding means one thing; Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
Honestly, I’m not the mushy type anymore, but I used to be. Now, there’s just not a lot of opportunity for mush. Between rushing from here to there, managing a busy family schedule not only diminishes the time available for the lovey stuff but doesn’t necessarily leave you in the snugly mood. But when Valentine’s Day comes around each year, those butterflies in my heart are awoken and ready to profess my love to my love.
Like most women, there’s really nothing like a Christmas movie on a blustery snowy night to put you in the mood to snuggle up in your flannel jammies & slippers and begin knitting that scarf you’ve been putting off for the last few weeks. Last week, It’s a Wonderful Life fit the bill for me and my family. I hadn’t watched the movie in quite a few years. Honestly, my husband and I don’t get a lot of TV time with an eight year old in the house and if we do get the chance this time of year, I coerce him in to watching my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas! He loves it, I’m sure.
This year the movie took on a new and deeper meaning for me. As most of you know, the story follows Mr. George Bailey as his journey and actions to help others move him further and further away from the dreams he holds for himself. George experiences great success in terms of being a hard-working, big-hearted and talented man. He finds an adorable woman who loves him dearly, they marry and have children. George continues to battle feelings of inadequacy and failure to make his dreams come to fruition while he’s deeply immersed in a community of people that love him. But as in many cases, the demons he battles makes it hard for him to see how wonderful his life truly is.