Wednesday, April 24, 2019

When Life Causes You to Spin

As a child it was so fun to spin until I was dizzy and then attempt to walk without falling down. At 40, getting dizzy is easier than ever and nowhere near as fun as I remember! Knowing how difficult walking, or even staying upright is when you’re dizzy, I’m always amazed when I see dancers or ice skaters spin for what seems like forever and then continue dancing or skating with no hint of dizziness. I wondered how they were able to do this, so I consulted trusty Google. 😁

Image result for ballet spin gif

If you are already familiar with what spotting is, bear with me as I summarize it for those that are unfamiliar with it. Dancers are taught to find a focal point. As they are spinning, they maintain their focus on that point as long as possible in the spin and then whip their head around quickly to regain it as soon as possible after losing it. If they don’t focus on anything and simply see everything whizzing by as they spin, they’d end up in a heap on the floor, much as I would if I spin in my office chair too long and attempt to walk. 😉

Also important is finding a focal point that doesn’t change. Imagine if they were focusing on someone in the audience and then that person got up to go to the bathroom or take a phone call. They have lost their focal point, and dizziness, and perhaps a wobble or a fall are the result. The focus maintained on that constant focal point allows them to spin to their heart’s content without fear of dizziness or falling. I don’t know how long it takes to master this ability, but it’s not instant. It requires lots of practice, lots of failures, and then ultimately, mastery.

So why the lesson in spotting? Because it extrapolates out well to the Christian life. There are times when life is metaphorically spinning us around and around until we fall in a heap on the floor, nauseated and unable to see straight, much less walk straight. It could be a medical diagnosis that throws us into a spin. A struggling relationship. Financial difficulties. Extreme grief. Loneliness. Mental illness. Rejection. A traumatic experience. The trials that spin us around are different for every one of us, but the prescription is the same. Spotting.

Image result for christian trials and tribulations

We need to keep our focus on truth. Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life…” When we are seeking out truth, we can find it in the pages of the Bible. There’s comfort within its pages for whatever spin we find ourselves in. Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (NIV) You cannot keep your mind “stayed” or focused on God if you are not in His Word, seeking His peace, His wisdom, His counsel.

It’s in His Word that we learn we are fully known and yet fully loved. We learn that we do not have to pay the price for our sins, because Jesus paid it for us. We learn that we do not have to fear the future, because God can see it, and nothing will catch Him by surprise. We also learn that those hard things we endure are not pointless. Romans 8:28 tells us that for the born-again believer, ALL things work together for our good. Not all things are good, believe me, I know this so much deeper than I ever wanted to. But there is a purpose in EVERY single thing we go through, and none of it is to harm or hurt us.

As a parent, we can understand this to a degree. Having to hold a child for a shot and listen to their cries is heartbreaking. But we know that what’s in that shot is for their good. If we, being flawed and sinful as we are, love our children enough to allow them a moment of suffering because it’s for their long-term benefit, how much more faithful is our loving God to ensure that each moment of suffering is only what’s necessary to bring about a good, intended result?  

Image result for child getting shot

Ultimately, whether we experience peace in the midst of our trials and storms boils down to our answer to a very basic question. Is God good? The answer to this question determines our focal point. We can either focus on His goodness, and trust that He is with us through whatever we’re facing, or we can look on our trial and end up on the floor unable to focus on anything else.  My prayer is that you would know He is good. He can be trusted. He will NEVER leave you. He is our best source of comfort through every situation. Keep your mind, your heart, and your eyes focused on Him.

"In fierce storms," said an old seaman, "we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there." This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way.

Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there. You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may--winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers--no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God's faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. --Richard Fuller

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Broken. Merriam Webster defines it as “violently separated into parts” or “damaged or altered”. Have you ever felt this way? As if your very heart were violently wrenched from your chest and torn into pieces? It’s so raw and physical you can’t believe that anyone could look at you and not see it. It goes so much deeper than a broken heart, you feel as if your very being has been irreparably damaged. You fear you will never be the same again. And if I can be honest with you, you probably won’t be. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Almost four years ago, a chain of events began that altered my life in countless ways. A strained marriage, disclosures of my children being sexually abused, several hospitalizations in the pediatric psychiatric ward for two of my girls, a diagnosis of autism, my own bout of depression, several medical mysteries with my oldest daughter, and finally an admission of infidelity, all within about a year’s time, combined to bring me to the place where brokenness almost doesn’t even seem a strong enough word to describe it.
Everything I knew to be true was suddenly in question. Did God see what was happening? Did He care? Was I alone? Would I ever be whole again? Would the time ever come that I didn’t cry constantly? Would I ever experience peace, happiness or joy again? At the time, it seemed as if there was no hope left in the world. To say I longed for the peace of death would be an understatement. Life felt so surreal for a time there. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was awake or trapped in the worst nightmare I’d ever experienced. But it was real- every agonizing, tear filled moment. There was no escape from it.

BUT, and this is such a huge but- the story doesn’t end there. Although I felt alone and forsaken, God was there. He’d not turned His back on me. As a matter of fact, He saw every single tear I cried. He collected each tear as it dripped off my quivering chin. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

When I couldn’t muster the energy to even cry out to Him any longer, Jesus prayed for me. “In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.” Romans 8:26 (HCSB)
And while this isn’t spelled out explicitly in the Bible, I believe He cried right along with me. Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” If we’re commanded to share in the joys and tribulations of our brothers and sisters in Christ, how much more does the perfect, holy and righteous Son of God rejoice, and indeed, weep with us.

I was a shattered mess, but over time, God took those pieces and rearranged them to create something brand new and beautiful. It wasn’t a comfortable process. There were times I felt this piece should go here instead of there, but He lovingly showed me that His light would best shine through me if I allowed Him to mold me instead of trying to do it myself. In the rebuilding of me, He also gave me a new purpose. To walk through people’s brokenness with them. To love them as Christ loves them. I am a vessel that He fills so I can pour it out into other people.

Looking back, I sometimes ask myself if where I am now was worth all that agony. Would I choose to go through those moments again that shattered me into thousands of pieces, but allowed me to be remade closer to His image? In Matthew 26:39 (NIV) the time was drawing near for Jesus’ crucifixion and He was in prayer with His Father and He said “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” And that is my conclusion. If there could have been any other way, Jesus would have not had to die. But there was no other way. Had there been any other way for me to become the woman I am today, I’d have chosen that route. But there was no other way.

Out of my brokenness, I am able to give of myself in ways I never could have before. I am able to give more of Jesus than I could before. I can tell someone in the midst of the darkest moments of their lives that they are not alone, and know this with a conviction that only experience could give me. We never cry alone. We never suffer alone. He is always with us, binding our wounds and piecing us back together in His image.

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Heart Still Dances With Your Ghost

It was in your eyes that I saw my beauty,

It was in your arms that I felt at home.

When I try to close my eyes at night,

My heart still dances with your ghost.

Sometimes the memories roll down my face

And the pain threatens to overwhelm me.

There’s not a memory I’ve managed to erase,

My heart still dances with your ghost.

I remember our first kiss in the rain,

And standing in the storm on the coast,

Lightning striking and thunder crashing.

My heart still dances with your ghost.

Memories pierce my heart and soul through,

Leaving scars that will take time to heal
I know letting you go is what I must do,

But my heart still dances with your ghost.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Insidious Sin of Pride

Have you ever made the statement to yourself “I would never do (insert whatever particular thing we are offended by someone else doing)”? Have you then found yourself doing it? Pride tells us that we are too good to fall victim to certain sins that others around us may have (usually in a public manner). Have you ever thought about the fact that the statement you would never do “xyz” is a delight to the ears of Satan? As if he doesn’t have enough artillery that he uses against us, we go and give him more by succumbing to the sin of pride. The sin of thinking that we are so much more together than the next person. Sometimes we are the only ones that know when our pride over not doing that certain thing is shattered, but sometimes it’s a public shattering.

How many people do you think make it a goal to cheat on their spouse? Granted, there may be a few, but the overwhelming majority of people that end up involved in adultery never imagined they’d do that. One guy I know told me he always thought he was smarter than that, but he’s now divorced and engaged to “the other woman”. How many people do you think intend to become alcoholics? Not many! They always think they have the power to stop, that they are the ones in control instead of the alcohol. Peter certainly never imagined he would deny Christ, yet he did. Three times! There is no sin on this earth that any of us are immune to, and pride is a sin that we all struggle with to some degree. ALL OF US. It’s insidious, and it manifests itself in so many different ways.

Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be proud of accomplishments, or reaching a goal. Not all pride is wrong. But when we deem ourselves above a certain sin – it’s wrong. When we judge someone because their sin was public and ours is private – it’s wrong. When we look down on others for the struggles they face that we don’t struggle with – it’s wrong.

Everyone wants to think that there are certain sins that they are above. We are ALL just a few wrong choices away from any given sin at any given time and it is ONLY by the grace of God that we don’t find ourselves in the very shoes of those we think we are better than. But even more importantly than that, if we do find ourselves in their shoes one day, it’s never too late for God to redeem your situation. Whether no one knows about your fall or thousands do… God is in the redemption business and He specializes in using broken, humbled people.

What will it take for us to be broken and humbled before Him? The realization that we are not better than anyone else. The realization that the very things we swear never to do often become the very things that we end up falling to. Will it take a public fall from grace before we repent of the sin of pride?

God, you know the areas in which I have suffered from pride in. You know the areas that I have fallen in that I never imagined I would. Help me Lord to always see the truth that I’m just a few wrong steps from falling into ANY sin, and that my job is not to judge but to love others as you do. Help me reflect more of you and less of me. Help me to think more about you and less about myself. Help me to recognize pride and repent from it. Help me draw closer to you daily and die to self, because I so often make myself my own god, and deem my desires above yours. Smash my pride, God, whatever the cost. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I'm Nobody

I was driving home from Bible study last night, arguing with God in my head about how insufficient I feel for some of the things He’s laid on my heart to do when I was reminded of a situation that occurred a few years ago. As a former student in the gifted program in school and the parent of a gifted student I was asked to serve on the advisory committee for the gifted program. At our first meeting, all of the committee members introduced themselves, and it happened that I was among the last to introduce myself. After hearing introductions from teachers, school board members and others involved in education, what came out of my mouth was “My name is Jeannie, and I’m nobody”. 

Among all those people that had education in education, I felt like a no one. In actuality, because I had a different viewpoint and way of thinking as a former gifted student and parent of a gifted student, I was able to provide an alternative viewpoint to those on the other side of the equation. I wasn’t a nobody. I was an important somebody, just in a different way.

How often do we feel that way in other areas of our life? We look around us and see people that are more successful, make more money, are more patient, more loving, more educated… Whatever area it is we feel we lack in, it’s easy to spot someone that doesn’t and wish that we were them. It’s easy to ask God why He didn’t give us this gift or that gift and overlook the abundance of gifts that He has bestowed upon us. It’s easy to label ourselves a nobody and ignore the masterpiece that our loving Father made of us.

We look at the canvas of our lives and see areas that need retouching, or splotches of paint that don’t make sense. We look at God’s work of art in progress, and fail to see the beauty He’s creating. I used to love watching Bob Ross paint. One of the things I heard him say over and over was that there were no mistakes in painting. Only happy accidents. If he dripped paint on the canvas, he’d turn it into a tree, or a bird or something that in the end looked as if he had planned for it to be there all along. 

God, our master painter, makes no mistakes or accidents. What looks like paint that fell off of a too full brush, be it divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job or any of a number of things that we think shouldn’t have happened, is in actuality just the beginning of a new part of His masterpiece.
We are a living canvas, and God is at work in us and around us, bringing beauty to life. If we look too long at the paint splotch and fail to see what He’s creating, we lose out on so much peace and joy in life. Yes, life is hard. You will not ever hear me say it’s peachy and life serving Christ is never painful. But our God is the master at taking those moments that seem wrong, and turning them into a beauty beyond what we could ever imagine. Even when the canvas fights back, He lovingly takes His brush and recreates the design He had in mind for us. So, when you feel as if He made a mistake, stop looking at the splotch, and instead look for what He’s going to make out of it.

Don’t be afraid to dream big. And if you feel He’s laid on your heart to do something you feel ill-equipped for, remember that whatever He calls you to, He will equip you for. In my flesh, I look at my desire to be a marriage and family counselor (that I wholeheartedly believe comes straight from God) and wonder who would want advice and encouragement from a divorced woman. A woman that couldn’t help her own marriage survive. I look at my desire to write a book that can help encourage people. Me… an author? Who am I that anyone would buy my book? But then I think of Moses. A man who felt inadequate for the job God called him to. He offered up excuse after excuse, but when it came down to it, he was able to do what God commanded, because God Himself was with him and gave him what was necessary to fulfill his calling. He will do the same with me. He’ll do the same with you. Dream those Godly dreams and then watch as God fulfills them in your life. But never forget where the power came from, and praise His name continually!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Serenaded by the Savior

I heard a song recently that really spoke to me in a way I’m sure the song was never intended. Although country music in and of itself speaks to a multitude of different situations you find yourself in, listening to this song I heard the wooing of my Heavenly Father.

There'll be days your heart don't wanna beat
You pray more than you breathe
And you just wanna fall to pieces
And nights, those 2 AM calls
Where dreams become walls
And you just need a break
Break on me

Shatter like glass
Come apart in my hands
Take as long as it takes, girl
Break on me
Put your head on my chest
Let me help you forget
When your heart needs to break
Just break on me

There'll be times when someone you know
Becomes someone you knew
But you'd do anything to change it
And words you wanna take back
But you know you can't
When the page just won't turn
And it still hurts
Break on me

Oh, when you need somebody
When you need somebody right now
You're where I'll be
Break on me

Maybe as you read those lyrics you thought that it sounded more like Keith Urban than God, and I suppose if I weren’t in the place I’m in, where I truly feel shattered like glass, maybe I would too. But combine the need to find a safe place to break, and knowing that the arms of my Father is the best place to do it, you have a recipe for being serenaded by the Savior.

So what does He do with those pieces? The pieces of you that feel so shattered you can’t imagine ever being the person you once were. The pieces that cut you every time you try to piece yourself back together. The pieces that you know have been lost and can’t be replaced. He picks them up, piece by piece. He doesn’t arrange them into the shape that they once were. Instead, He rearranges them into His own image.

And the gaps between the pieces of who we used to be and the pieces that are becoming more like Him? Those are the places His light shines through. Those are the places that let other people know you’re more than just a listening ear. You’re a fellow battered warrior that has been pieced back together by the One that created you. The One who knows what the finished product will look like. See, although He created us, we weren’t created a finished product. We’re steadily being made and remade in His image. We will not reach the stage of completion until we join Him in Heaven, but daily He is working on us to create a masterpiece.

The places we find ourselves that we never wanted to be in? That’s the fire that melts us down to make us more malleable. When you want nothing more than to get out of the heat, just remember the beauty that can be made from the process. And the times that we shatter? He catches the pieces and forms us into a new creation. So, when you need to break, break on Him.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Broken Girl

The tears spill from her eyes and slide down her cheek.
She tries so hard to pray but can't find the words to speak.
She's trusting in You, but doesn't see how you'll make a way,
And if she could hear you, here's what I think you would say.

I made you to fulfill a very specific purpose for me.
That plan you created for yourself? Just let it be.
What I have for you is beyond all you hope and dream.
Don't get tripped up by the small stuff. It's not what it seems.

Trust in me, know that I love you more than you can understand,
And no matter how hard the journey, cling tightly to my hand,
I promise to bring beauty from the ashes of your life,
I'm always here, even when the pain cuts deeper than a knife.

You mean so much more to me than you can comprehend,
And with the price of my son's life, your heart I will mend.
Though this life hurts and you feel yourself grow weak,
Just know that I'm here for you, you just have to seek.

You will find me when you seek with your whole heart,
And the only way you'll do that is if it all falls apart.
Come to me my weary child, rest in my embrace,
And allow me to shower you with my amazing gift of grace.