Call Upon the Lord

Call Upon the Lord

The song Call upon the Lord by Elevation Worship has been on repeat for a few weeks now (lyrics below).  I cannot get enough of it. I play it over and over again. Its theme will never get old, out dated, or worn out. Call upon the Lord and He WILL rescue and save; He WILL bring peace and healing.

“We need no other hiding place. Our hope is safe within Your name.” This is so beautiful. When we are tired, worn out or weary, Jesus is our hiding place.  His covering blocks out the noise, chaos, fear and uncertainty that the world relentlessly shouts. In His presence, we don’t have to listen to it. Our hope for safety, to be rescued, for healing and restoration, for receiving forgiveness and offering it to others, is all safe with Jesus. He won’t crush our hope; He restores it.  He won’t dash or mock our dreams; He planted them inside us and expands them and opens doors that only He can; He doesn’t withhold and punish; He died in our place, so we could have life with Him forever.   The hope and faith that He hears me, sees me and knows me; every single situation, wound, heart break and victory, which fashioned me into who I am, kept me hanging on through some heavy trauma and pain I have experienced.  Knowing that what He began He WILL sustain; knowing that Jesus has a plan and purpose behind my wounds brings hope. Those wounds are now scars, because of His healing.  I’m not anonymous, forgotten or forsaken.  In fact, I am so deeply known that I am free! Jesus’ name heals.  He alone is strong enough to save. There is power in the name of Jesus.

At His name “every enemy will flee, as we declare Your victory!” Jesus is our victory. He defied death, defeated the enemy of our souls once and for all, and He offers life to all who call His name. He is right there next to you, as you read these words. He is the breath in your lungs, the beat of your heart. There is nothing about you He doesn’t already know. No secrets with Jesus. He sees you; He sees me. He alone breaks down every stronghold we erect to protect and wall ourselves away from pain. He knows why those walls were erected. He was there. He watched us build them. The pain you and I try to hide with our walls, break His heart. Your walls probably look different than mine. A wall could look like pride, arrogance, self-reliance, fear, needing to be right, promiscuity, coldness, being shut off from others, sarcasm, humor, obsession with our looks, weight and appearance, and the list could go on. Jesus knows better than we do, why we felt we needed those walls.  He waits to be invited into our lives. He is a gentleman.  He doesn’t force Himself. Jesus will meet every need we have, even that niggling, ever present pricking, that we don’t fully understand; He does. He is enough.

In my own life, I have experienced healing and restoration from things so broken and devastated, I honestly never thought any of it could be healed or restored. I heard Jesus speak to my spirit and say words so similar to these lyrics, “RISE! Your shackles are no more, for I (Jesus Christ) have broken every chain!” He has, He did and He continues to do it. I found freedom.  Those lyrics mean so much to me. I am not sure I can accurately describe the beauty of it, the freedom, the peace and safety that I feel way down deep. I’m not sure it is describable, honestly, because we have all walked different paths and experienced different wounds,  but let me assure you, once you let go and allow yourself to experience His healing, you will never be the same. Yes, you will come face to face with pain, disappointment and fear, because that is life on this planet. But know that Jesus is right there with you, as close as your next breath and will cover you with peace that passes all understanding, if you allow Him in. If you ask Him, He will give you wisdom and guidance to navigate everything life will throw at you.  He will take your ashes and give you beauty, He will give you joy for your sadness and change out that robe of heaviness for a light and lovely garment of praise. It really is supernatural, and guess what? It’s a gift!

I would be honored to hear your stories of Jesus’ saving, healing, shackle- breaking power in your life, if you would like to share.

“I will call upon the Lord, for He alone is strong enough to save….”

Call Upon the Lord by Elevation Worship

We need no other hiding place                        All of the heavens and the earth

Our hope is safe within your name                Announce the fullness of your worth

This we know, this we know                            This we know, this we know

You promise never to forsake                          And every enemy will flee

What you began you will sustain                    As we declare your victory

This we know, this we know                           This we know, this we know

I will call upon the Lord                                     I will call upon the Lord

For he alone is strong enough to save           For he alone is strong enough to save

Rise your shackles are no more                        Rise your shackles are no more

For Jesus Christ                                                      For Jesus Christ

Has broken every chain                                       Has broken every chain

Jesus’ name will break every stronghold

Freedom is ours when we call his name

Jesus’ name above every other

All hail the power of Jesus’ name

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Come Away

I’m up early.

A restless, unsettled day, led to a similar night of sleep.

Rest is elusive, thoughts scattered.

Warm, earthy, steamy coffee warms my hands;  my eyes glaze over; mind swirling.

Through the open kitchen window, the morning air carries the faint scent of jasmine and cool earth.

The house is warm, but the fragrant air is inviting and full of promise; electric.

It beckons.

A friendly breeze, a puff of soft air, calls to me from the musical notes of the wind chimes,

“Come out.”

I go out.

My favorite bench is canopied by the looming butterfly bush; it’s purple, fragrant blooms toss and wave; encouraging me to come.

I do.

The cold marble of my bench, as I sit, is in stark contrast to the warmth of my hands around the child-painted coffee cup I carry with me. “I love Mommy” it proudly shouts, from its brightly painted surface. That brings a smile.

Also some tears.

I don’t feel so loveable of late.  Irritable. Tired. Frustrated, not loveable. Chaotic, possibly.

Looking at the flowers in the planter tubs next to my bench, I see chaos; at first.

Upon closer inspection, I notice that the random way in which I planted these lovelies, is actually quite beautiful.  Patterns emerge amidst the seemingly random design.

There is order here in the planter, despite the chaos and it is so lovely! Yes! Yes, it is.

Do goodness and beauty and happiness have to be meticulously ordered, spaced and arranged to be ok and acceptable?  Do I have to understand it?

This revelation makes me smile and breathe deeply. Inhale life.

The rising sun glitters its reflection at me on the feathery water of the stone bird bath. Winking and spunky, I want to laugh with it, at the possibilities of the new day.

I feel my back and shoulders relax; everything isn’t wiry and tense, ready for flight. Calm. Peace.  Is that joy?

Again the breeze; it caresses the back of my neck with cool, kind fingers; barely a whisper against my ear.

What was that?  I close my eyes, try to still my mind and just be.

I hear it now. You are speaking, but no words are spoken.

The peaceful scent of jasmine and butterfly bush blooms tell me all is well.

The stable, steady, ancient scent of dirt reminds me that new life is all around; rebirth is waiting daily for me to acknowledge it.

The breeze whispers that I’m never alone.  You will never leave me. I remember; I know.

I see in the riotous, chaotic colors and placement of the flowers, that You have patterned and woven my life together in a tapestry that may appear to be a random intersection of lines and curves; hills and dales; yet is actually something far more beautiful and ordered and perfected than I can imagine.

You see the entire picture of me and You call it lovely; You call me lovely. I am enough because of You.

You have dried my tears; they are captured in the bottle that holds all of them. In place of frustration, I notice acceptance has taken root. Not a resigned, sighing acceptance, but an acceptance of the unique journey I am on with all of the ups and downs that I know will come.

My place in Your arms as chosen, loved, accepted and redeemed is reconfirmed on my little marble bench. I am enough. I just needed to come away with You for a spell. You remind me I’m Yours and all will be well.

Everything

This song by Lifehouse (lyrics below) has been running through my head for a couple of days. I find this song profoundly beautiful and deeply moving; almost to the point that I cannot explain it with words. When I listen to it, goosebumps rise up all over my skin and my spirit awakens and rises up; tears prick my eyes and my heart beats stronger and faster. This is a song I can put on repeat. The lyrics resonate with me so deeply, because I have experienced these emotions and responses to Jesus described in this amazing song. I desire to hear Him speak and long for His words; it is a deep need in my soul and when I do hear Him, peace fills me up; I rest and have the strength to keep walking and trusting Him.

There are several specific times in my life that I look back on and know, like I know, like I know, that it was ONLY Jesus that kept me going each day; only His presence, only Him holding me in His hands and letting me rest that literally kept me afloat. There were times that I didn’t know it was Him carrying me through the storm, until it was over, and frankly, wasn’t sure I wanted anything to do with Him.  Nevertheless, He saw through the pain and fear, right into my hurting heart and gently lifted me anyway. I’m His girl and He wasn’t letting go.

During my years of battling an aggressive form of breast cancer, He was the only hope I had to cling to and He never once failed me. Never once. The weeks and months that I don’t remember, because of a haze of medications used to keep me from the sickness of treatments, He was there and held me in His hands. I have scars, yes, but I’m proud of them. It reminds me of where I was and where He brought me. Survivor. Overcomer. Victorious.

During other dark times, He was the light that led me to a place of healing, peace and safety. Fully protected; never out of His sight. Thoughts of Him do take my breath away! He has stolen my heart and I’m not ashamed to say so.

Life has things in store for me and those I love that will be hard, painful and seem very unfair. I know this. However, I also know that Jesus has walked this suffering before me, He knows, He understands, He heals and He restores. He brings joy and peace into situations where there shouldn’t be any.

He is all I want, all I need. He is everything.

Everything

By Lifehouse

Find me here, and speak to me

I want to feel you, I need to hear you

You are the light that’s leading me to the place

Where I find peace again

You are the strength that keeps me walking

You are the hope that keeps me trusting

You are the life to my soul

You are my purpose

You’re everything

And how can I stand here with you

And not be moved by you

Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

You calm the storms and you give me rest

You hold me in your hands

You won’t let me fall

You steal my heart and you take my breath away

Would you take me in, take me deeper now

And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you

Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Cause you’re all I want, you’re all I need, you’re everything, everything…

Revealing Truths in Exodus

I’m reading through the Bible in a year. I’ve done it before and each time have found fascinating nuggets of truth, revelation and delight that I never noticed in my previous readings. I am in Exodus now. I know this part like the back of my hand, or so I thought. Today, the Lord opened my eyes to some beautiful, yet hard hitting truths about myself, about Him and maybe about you, too.

Beginning in Exodus 13:3, Moses tells the Israelites to remember this day that they left Egypt forever; the place of their cruel and unbearable slavery. Moses reminds them that this is the day the Lord brought them out of their bondage with His mighty hand. His. Not their mighty hands and strength in numbers, but His. There is no place for self-reliance and self-congratulation here. The Lord heard their cries, their groaning and weeping and He rescued them because He is all mighty, a Warrior and because He loved them and He chose them as His own. Their bondage and the cruelty inflicted upon them by their earthly masters reached the heart of Almighty God and He responded with amazing power, might and compassion for the Israelites. He answered their cries.

In Exodus 13:17, God does not lead His people toward the Promised Land by the easy, straightforward route taking them through Philistine territory, because He knew them. He knew they would be terrified, turn around and head back to Egypt, because it was familiar there. Despite the horrible oppression they suffered, they knew what to do there. This applies to us, too. He knows our fears and weaknesses. Sometimes, when He seems to leads us in odd, circuitous routes to get to our Promised Land, have we ever stopped to think that because He knows us so well and loves us so much that He leads us around a mountain that might just be too big and cause too much pain? That we are not ready for yet? That touched me and explains some paths that I’ve had to take that seemed to make no sense.  I love how He speaks through His Word. It never returns void.

Verses 21 and 22 say “The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.”  What a lovely reminder that we are never alone. He is our constant companion. He knows where we are going. That feels peaceful to me. Safe.

The people panicked when they saw the Egyptians had followed them. They cried. They were terrified. They had already forgotten the way the Lord had brought them out of Egypt. They forgot that He guided them and lead them with pillars of cloud and fire. I love how Moses tells them in Exodus 14:13, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” This verse means a lot to me, because there was a time when a trial, a wound, seemed too deep and too hard to overcome. It was blindsiding and overwhelming. I remember asking God to show me something, to please tell me what to do. I found this verse immediately. I did what it said. I stood still and I watched Him rescue me from something that I didn’t understand. He fought for me, because He loves me. What are you facing that seems impossible? Do you trust God to fight for you? Can you wrap your mind about what that really means? God, the Almighty, the Prince of Peace, Creator, the King of ALL Kings wants to fight for you! He is telling you to just stay calm and watch Him. The Lord is our rear guard. He goes before us and leads us, but in times of battle, He is behind us, just like Exodus 14:19-20 shows us. “Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptians and Israelite camps.” He leads us out of harm’s way, and then moves behind us to hem us in and guard us from what He just delivered us from. Protection. Safety.

The first half of Exodus 15 is a beautiful song of praise, acknowledgement and love to the Lord for His protection, guidance and compassion; recognizing that He is an unmatched and mighty Warrior who stops at nothing to defend and redeem His chosen ones. I am His chosen one. You are His chosen one. Do we dance, sing and worship out loud when He delivers and rescues us, sharing with others when our prayers and cries are heard? Are we like Miriam and the women of Israel who danced and sang this song to Him; “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.” (v. 20, 21). This hit home. Am I raw and open and lavish with my praise and honor to Him for all He has done and is doing in my life? Do I give Him praise and thank Him for all the “horses and riders” in my life that He has hurled into the sea and battles He has won for me? Do you? Will you?

There is one last part from this first half of Exodus that causes me to examine myself. Exodus 16:4 “The Lord said to Moses, Look, I’m going to rain down food from Heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.” I read this over a few times and it blessed my heart. I believe He still does this for us today. God rains down food from Heaven, for us, every day. He gives enough for each day. Just enough. It might come in the form of physical provisions; such as food, shelter, water and clothing. It might come in the form of health and relationships. Maybe He gives me enough skill, ability and talent to get through whatever the day will bring me, because He already knows what that will be. He knows what I’m going to need and provides just enough. That spoke to me in a big way. Am I grateful, daily for what He is doing? Do I actively look to see what He is providing and how I need to use it? Do I spend time with Him saying thank you? Do I remember what He has done and what He has provided with a grateful heart or am I selfish and greedy like a giant gobbling mouth, demanding more, more, more and complaining relentlessly that what my Father has rained down from Heaven, for me, is not good enough? What do you do with the daily, loving provision your Father has given you? Food for thought….

Hurt and Healer

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. I’m dealing with some health issues that are coming to a head soon with some tests and procedures in the works. Maybe that is triggering memories of my cancer days with surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and biotherapy, when I really didn’t know what the outcome was going to be and if I would be healed.

Music has always had a tremendous impact on me. When nothing else can reach that deep place or describe my feelings, music has always done that for me. It is a gift that I am so grateful for and that I hold very dear to my heart. To me it is God’s mouthpiece to my soul.

During the most intense times of my cancer treatments there were many songs that spoke to those places in my heart that were weary, afraid and overwhelmed; songs that spoke peace, hope and safety to my soul.

This song, The Hurt and the Healer, by Mercy Me is one of those that I clung to tenaciously and listened to over and over again, multiple times a day sometimes; declaring to myself that even in the midst of my deepest fear, pain and hurt, Jesus is there; the Healer colliding with my hurting body and heart, whispering to my soul that one day this will all be understood and made clear. I know that one day I will hear Jesus say, “It’s over now.” That brought me such hope! I know that whatever I face and whatever scars I’m left with, He will use for good and His glory; to bring hope to someone who has run out of steam and needs to know it will be ok. If this is you today, soak in these words and promises from a God that sees all, hears all and watches your every move, cherishing you and catching every single tear, bringing you healing in unexpected and beautiful ways. His arms are open wide.

The Hurt & the Healer”

Why? The question that is never far away

The healing doesn’t come from the explained; Jesus please don’t let this go in vain

You’re all I have, All that remains

So here I am, what’s left of me, where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive

Even though a part of me has died; You take my heart and breathe it back to life

I fall into Your arms open wide, when the hurt and the healer collide

Breathe

Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do;  pain so deep that I can hardly move

Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You

Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am, what’s left of me, where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive

Even though a part of me has died; You take my heart and breathe it back to life

I fall into your arms open wide, when the hurt and the healer collide

It’s the moment when humanity, is overcome by Majesty

When grace is ushered in for good and all our scars are understood

When mercy takes its rightful place and all these questions fade away

When out of weakness we must bow, and hear You say “It’s over now”

I’m alive

Even though a part of me has died; You take this heart and breathe it back to life

I fall into your arms open wide, when The hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear, wake my heart and take my tears

Find Your glory even here, when the hurt and the healer collide.

-Mercy Me

You can find the video to this song on youtube.

 

A letter from Jesus to you…

To the one I so dearly love:

Someone I deeply love and adore has made mistakes. Someone I love needs to have faith that despite these mistakes, they are My delight and joy and that I will never leave nor forsake them. Nothing will ever separate us. Nothing and no one. My love and forgiveness are unconditional. I know how hard that is to grasp. Don’t try so hard to understand it in finite ways; don’t try to put Me in a neat and tidy box; just trust Me. I am more than what is seen, heard and explainable, but I am a safe place to rest and find peace. Place all fear, worry and troubles at the foot of My Cross and then leave them there. I am in control. I know how this all ends.

Someone I love knows in their heart that they have strayed far away from Me; taken a path I never intended for them to walk. Those consequences are hard and it hurts. Someone I love is feeling broken and ashamed. I long for this dear one to remember that there is no condemnation for those whom I hold in My hands.  Trust Me when I say that I  have come to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. My arms are wide open; just turn towards Me and come. The heart knows the way; I’m calling My lost one home.

Someone I love needs to focus on Me and believe that I will walk with them through this difficult journey they are facing; through these circumstances that have blindsided them; hit them hard out of nowhere.  I am right here. My arms are strong and My feet are steady. I will carry My precious one when they need Me. I will hold them in My hands; I will catch every tear.

Someone I love needs to remember that I am their Healer, their Redeemer and their Salvation; that through Me, their sins are washed as white as snow.  I see them as lovely and graceful; of great value and worth, because I died for them. I keep no record of wrongs. I am so very proud to call you Mine!

Someone I love needs to be reminded that My love endures forever, through the good times and the bad. Someone I love needs to know that I am here, and I am listening. I see every joy and pain, every failure and every victory.

Someone I love needs to believe that everything will work out according to My will, and that if they trust in Me, I can use what was meant for evil, for good. Scars are evidence of my Healing. Scars are beautiful in My sight.  I delight in restoration!

Someone I love needs to be reminded that I have plans for them; plans to prosper them and not harm them; plans to give them hope and a shining future. Be at peace. I am in control. All is well. It will be okay. Talk to Me. A heavenly bear hug is waiting!

All My love and peace to you- your best friend,

Jesus

 

 

The Beauty of an Altar

This year I am reading through the Bible and taking notes on things that jump out at me. The theme that is jumping off the page at me right now is altars. The first time an altar is spoken of in the Bible is in Genesis 8:20 “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” Noah obeyed God and built the ark. God remembered Noah. He caused the winds to blow over the Earth and the waters to recede. When Noah left the ark, he immediately built an altar and made a sacrifice to God. God was pleased with the aroma. God then made His promise to never again curse the ground and destroy all living things. Here was a divine interaction.

Throughout Genesis, Abram, Isaac and Jacob built many altars to the Lord. Often the altar was built after the Lord had appeared to, spoken to, or protected His child. The altar was a place where the divine and humanity interacted; a place of communion, sacrifice, divine exchange and worship. Particular places were named in honor of what God had accomplished there.  There was a keen awareness of the smallest acts of God and His intervention and concern in the lives of those who put their trust in Him. I noticed, too, that God actively responded to altar activity. He smelled the aroma and it pleased Him. God sealed promises and made covenants with His people after they built an altar. This altar building speaks to the priorities of these men of God. They wasted no time in erecting an altar and offering sacrifice and praise to God for all He had done. They gave God glory and honored Him. It deeply moves me to read about these altars, these markers of peace which commemorate an encounter with the Most High. It speaks of humility, love, dependence and a true heart of thankfulness.

Thinking about altars and the way our forefathers commemorated God’s acts of love, kindness, mercy and generosity started me thinking about whether I am creating altars of my own for all that He has done in my life. What would that look like?

I have some thoughts on that. One altar might look like giving God glory and recognition when something is accomplished or an obstacle is overcome. It reminds me of my battle with breast cancer. It is God alone who healed me. He directed my path to the doctors I needed, to the treatments that worked and He alone gave me the courage and strength to fight every day during my almost 2 years of treatment. I give glory and praise to Him for healing me and allowing me the honor of sharing my story with others.  He takes every single thing that touches our lives so seriously.  It brings me peace to know that everything that touches me or my family is first filtered through hands of love.

Another altar might look like a true physical structure. In my garden, I love to decorate with rocks and stones and other natural things. I could build an altar commemorating His love, protection and divine guidance over me and my family. A memorial of all He has brought us through; an altar of praise and thankfulness that we can physically see and touch.

A prayer journal might be another altar that records the prayers I have sent heavenward and the answers He has given. Not every answer will be one that I want or understand. Not every answer will turn out the way I think it should, but the journal will be a record of the human and divine exchange that took place when I humbled myself and cried out for His help. What a reminder it would be of all He has done! I imagine seeing a beautiful theme of redemption, love and tender care as I look back on all that I turned over to Him and all that He did with it. He is a good, good Father.

I wonder if living a life sharply attuned to the Father’s heart could be an altar? I wonder if seeing others as He sees them and treating each other with forgiveness, tender mercy and compassion would be a pleasing aroma to Him? I wonder if being grateful for each day and thanking Him for His breath in our lungs would be a beautiful memorial to all He has done for us and through us; all that He has yet to do? I wonder if asking Him to use us for His glory would so please Him, that He would make covenant promises to us and speak declarations of love, purpose and blessings over us? I wonder if He would take our seemingly mundane lives and show us parts of the tapestry He is weaving and how the ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary, if only we would expectantly look, watch and listen?

I would love to hear your thoughts about how you create altars to God. We have so much that we can learn from each other!