Our Cord

By JMathis

How far back does Our Cord go, Father?

Far before I cried out to You in despair on so many nights? Far before The Towers Fell? Far before childhood innocence gave way to teenage angst? Far before the glee of my fire-engine red tricycle?

Does Our Cord go back even further than the lifeline of my own mother’s umbilical cord?

How did You gaze at me in The Womb? With wonder? Excitement? Expectation? Bemusement? Where did You think I would fit into Your Plan for humanity? Am I right now where You envisioned me to be? Will I ever get there? Soon, I hope?

Did Our Cord go back to when my ancestors heard The Word and breathed You into their lives?

Was I in Your mind as You watched my 8-year old great-great-grandmother chase after dragonflies in her bare feet? Did you whisper something into her spirit about Our Cord, causing her to follow one path versus another? The path that led to You?

When Your Son bled and died, did Our Cord come to mind? Did You anguish over sacrificing Him for me? Was there ever regret, or was Our Cord always the joy set before You?

As You fashioned the earth with Your hands, did Our Cord factor into Your design of the Florida beaches? Just knowing how much I adore and exalt them as Your handiwork?

When there was darkness in the expanse, was Our Cord something that gave You hope and inspiration? Did You draw Our Cord into the night stars, waiting for the day I would crave intimacy with You?

I see today how far back Our Cord goes, Father.

I see now how Our Cord traveled over the time-space continuum, defying obstacle after obstacle over the course of my historical and spiritual lineage–through the lives of my daughter, my husband, my parents, my sister, my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents, my ancestors, Thomas, Peter, John, Stephen, James, Barnabas, Paul, Philip, Mark, Daniel, Esther, David, Deborah, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Adam and Eve.

I see Our Cord in the battle between light and darkness, and I see that Your Love prevails.

Your Love is in the very design, fabric and fiber of Our Cord, and that means Our Cord will never be broken, bent or shattered.

I hang onto Our Cord, assured that through You, my life overflows with Your healing, deliverance, forgiveness, safety, peace, refuge, salvation, life everlasting and Love.

Our Cord is the story of Love. Your story and mine, Father. To You, forever, I cling.

My Insignificant Places

By JMathis

You reside in the space between my toes. In the ridge under my nose. In the flutter of my eyelashes. In the crook of my elbow.

You are here in all of my insignificant places. Yet, in my lofty search for significant meaning and grandiose gestures (capital S signs and capital W wonders, all in the backdrop of the HOLLYWOOD sign), I forget how very present you are in the nooks and crannies of my day-to-day existence.

I am always looking upward, pointing my Job-like fists heavenward, wondering and demanding as to when I will hear from you, and when you will make yourself known to me.

I lose sight that the very sky I scream at, is in actuality, an expanse that daily surrounds me, buoys me, and lovingly encompasses every square inch in, around and above my feet.

I forget that even the sky where you reside is also the space between my toes.

Help me to fearlessly taste the freedom of running into the clear-blue richness of your grace, without the paralyzing myopia of getting lost in the crags of my feet.

I want to jump head-first into my insignificant places and cartwheel into your presence, past my toenails, past my calluses. I want to do handstands into your glory, through each breath, through every blink of an eyelash. I want to somersault into the vastness of your forgiveness, each time I bend my arms for an embrace.

Dwell in me, breathe in me and envelop me and all of my insignificant places.

Make all of my insignificant places into significant spaces, worthy of you.

Help me to discover your Spirit in all of the places where you reside, even in those places that don’t seem to carry their weight in headlines.

You in me, and me in you.

Your significance in my insignificance.


In the Cocoon

By JMathis

Lately, I have been feeling stuck. Not stuck in a rut, but definitely stuck in a holding pattern. It’s as if I have purchased my plane ticket to the lush forests of Costa Rica, packed my belongings, boarded the plane, but now am just sitting on the runway waiting to takeoff.

Mind you, a few years ago, I hadn’t even purchased a “plane ticket”.

Now that was a rut in every sense of the word.

I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t even know if I was meant to go some place. I just knew that I was sitting in my Flintstones-era car, trying to foot-pedal as fast as I could, to somewhere, to anywhere, but was stuck in a pile of pre-historic mud.

That was me, manufacturing the terms of my relationship with the Lord. Trying to kick-start things in my own way, but failing miserably. All because I was too busy to hear Him. Too restless to find Him.

Now, God and I are cool. Really cool. I really do weep now every time I think about Him and all that He means to me. Literally, weep.

This may sound super-spiritual, but in real life, it’s actually quite embarrassing and strange. I’ll be in the middle of grocery shopping, or out with friends, and puddles of tears and snot just start streaming down my face. My heart may be bursting with excitement at the thought that He is near, but meanwhile, I actually look like some hound dog frothing at the mouth.

So, yes, it is embarrassing and strange, but hey, I’m totally digging this place where my Creator has led me.

He even spoke to me in April and told me to be a writer. Yes! I have direction in my life for the first time ever!! Woohoo! I was finally going places! I was elated. There I was, sitting in this serious state of prayer and meditation, and I felt every fiber within me being re-born to write volumes, pages and books about His goodness.

And, then, as clearly as I heard Him, I stopped writing.

Not due to lack of desire, not due to a lack of time. But, I was simply struck speechless. There I was, without a single word left in me.

This chick, who always had something to say, who often could never shut up, was being rendered mute from a writing perspective.

It’s as if the Lord clearly manifested Himself to me and told me to be a writer, and then proceeded to take my pen away upon that very same revelation.

I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this.” Psalms 39:9

So, here I sit stuck. Stuck with inexpressible emotions of joy and gratitude. Stuck in an ocean of grace and purpose. Stuck with plane tickets to a glorious destination.

Stuck without words.

Call it writer’s block, call it a rut. But, deep down, I know it’s neither.

It’s as if I’m a vending machine, being filled up daily with all sorts of goodies, but unable to dispense a single piece of candy.

More precisely, I’m in the cocoon.

I’m not the caterpillar I was, but I’m also not yet the butterfly I am called to be. I’m something unrecognizable to me, but nonetheless, still brimming with endless hope and potential.

I am learning how to be mute, how not to be me, so that His words alone can speak. So that His words can burst through my cocoon and pour out words of healing, help and restoration.

Volumes, pages and books. All unsaid in the cocoon, just waiting to be spoken.

See you on the other side.

Growth and Change

By JMathis

Life is about the continuous handoff between growth and change. Growth begets change. Change begets growth.

It is easy to see this handoff in children, as their daily, weekly and yearly milestones contribute to their transformation from infancy into adulthood. We, as adults, even contribute to this handoff in our children through daily encouragement, support and the minimization or removal of any obstacles which are hurled in their direction.

It is less easy to see this handoff in adults. We often get lost in the weeds, focusing more on our failures rather than our blessings. Our pride brings us into isolation, causing us to steer away from a helping hand. While external obstacles to our growth and change seem to surmount over time, so too, do the obstacles which are created and maintained by our own doing—by the daily limitations we beset upon ourselves.

The Story of Redemption demands and dictates that we are a people who are meant to grow and change.

The Story of Redemption is itself a story of growth and change.

What was meant for the Jews alone, became readily available through grace to the Gentiles.

Growth for the Jews is to see Jesus as the Messiah. Change for the Gentiles is to accept the God of the Jews as the only way to salvation.

The inability of both the Jew and the Gentile to grow and change, tramples the magnanimity of the divine, leaving us all in the morass of sin and shame.

Growth and change. Change and growth. The handoff that allows humanity to experience the life-changing transformation of the Almighty.

Growth and change are even choked within many of us, both Jew and Gentile, who openly acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God.

While many of us may call Him the Savior, we don’t search Him out in the day-to-day. Instead of embracing Him as our source for daily growth and change, we seek self-transformation and affirmation through the faulty perceptions of others and the false images perpetuated by the media.

His miraculous saving power remains untapped and hidden within us, because we don’t call upon Him for daily encouragement and support. Because we don’t wait upon Him for the removal of any obstacles which are hurled in our direction.

Our pride beckons us to resolve life’s disasters on our own. Our isolation deepens the chasm between God Almighty and His creation.

Growth and change are strangled, and the handoff is incomplete.

We alienate ourselves from the Helping Hand of the Father, when we focus on our failures rather than our blessings; when we embark upon self-reliance rather than self-sacrifice and dependence upon Him.

We remain in fear, sickness and doubt—obstacles that were lovingly, compassionately and supernaturally removed by our Heavenly Father through the Story of Redemption.

The Story of Redemption demands and dictates growth and change.

Spend time with the Father by reading His Word. Cry out to the Son by calling upon His name. Listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit and wait to hear His Voice.

The Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation are here, present and alive within you. For your sustenance. For your strength. For your every need.

They are here for your journey towards Growth and Change. Change and Growth.

The Story of Redemption has only one requirement: fear not; only believe.

Let the handoff be complete.

The Psalm of You in Me


By JMathis

What does You in me look like? Feel like? How does You in me change my chemistry, my fabric, my DNA?

Enough of just saying that You are in me. Enough of just holding you at arm’s length.

Me minus You is Lost. Fearful. Discouraged. You in me has Purpose. Vision. Fruit.

I have tried more of me. It is vanity. It is lonely. It is hard. The desolate paths remain barren and void.

Break me, Father, until I am no more. Take this stone-cold rock and soften it until it is moldable by You. Empty all that is me, until I bubble over with only You.

Show me what You in me can accomplish. Show me why You in me matters. Show me that You in me is all that I need.

Savior of the world, why me? Why us? I am unworthy of Love that is You, yet You shower me with it daily. The Mercy that is You overtakes me, even when I am obstinately full of me.

I am ready for rain. I am ready to taste Heaven. I am ready for You in me.

I surrender the darkness and the dry places. I surrender this yoke. I surrender my pride. I surrender it all, so that all is left is You in me.

You in me is my cry. You in me is my prayer. You in me is my desire.

You in me. Today.

You in me. Now.

You in me. Here


Being Strong in Your Broken Places

By JMathis

The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places…” Ernest Hemingway

The broken places are scattered across your dreams.

Your dreams of becoming an artist.

You’re not good enough.

Your dreams of a happy marriage.

You’re not good enough.

Your dreams of being fit, fierce and fabulous.

You’re not good enough.

The artist has surrendered to a mortgage. The happy marriage sacrificed for a 62″ television set. The sexiness buried under yet another night of pizza and ice cream.    

Reality replaces fantasy, and life swaps your upbeat soundtrack for an insidious, new mantra:

You’re not good enough.

The broken places become permanent refuge for insecurity, insanity, infertility, indifference, insincerity, inactivity, ineffectiveness, indecision, invisibility, ingratitude and infirmity.

Each taking root within you, inside of you. Each chanting:

You’re not good enough.

Before it is too late, before time forgets you, before your purpose is forever lost, perhaps it is time for an intervention.

Perhaps it is time to finally be YOU.

You, as God intended; you, as God envisioned; you, as God desires.

Rise up and innovate.

Stand up and inspire.

It is time to become strong in all of your broken places, for there is work to be done.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

The Groanings of the Spirit

By JMathis

One of my close friends was a victim of sexual abuse when she was a child. (A different friend from the one I wrote about previously.) From the age of five to the age of ten, she was repeatedly victimized and forced to participate in acts that no child should ever know–all at the hands of a family friend, whom everyone in her family trusted.

This week has been rough for her, as the news is once again swirling with allegations of sexual abuse: Penn State, Syracuse, The Citadel. While it gives her strength in knowing that she is not alone, it also hurts her to know that the number of victims and predators seem to multiply with each passing day.

To those victims, I offer the following two verses:

Romans 8:22 For we know that all the rest of creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time.

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

You are not alone. There is a Holy Spirit who groans with you and all of creation, praying for you with unutterable words. Interceding for you in ways we cannot even comprehend.

In this month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you. I am thankful for your courage. I am thankful that you continue to persevere despite the atrocities that have been committed against you.

Most of all, I am thankful that there is a Holy Spirit who is here to help you in your weakness.

You are not alone.

He hears your groans. He sees your groans. He feels your groans.

Even if it is with groans, call to Him and He will answer.

He groans with you, and wants nothing more than to rescue you, His child.

You are not alone, dear child, for Hope lives and He lives within you.