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


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.

The Gift of Breakfast

By JMathis

On the morning my grandfather died, my husband kept it a secret from me for several hours. I had been working on a deal at the office that had me essentially sleeping there for months. Routinely working right through the weekends, I missed weddings, girls’ nights and anniversaries. All of my connections to the outside world were being compromised, and I was left feeling vulnerable, exhausted and beaten down. My heartsickness for family, friends and fellowship grew by the day, and I was continuously awash with guilt that I had traded all of the good in this life for an ephemeral, hollow vision of success.

My husband knew very well what I had been going through, as he was living this nightmare with me. No wife, no life, no peace. So, that Saturday morning, he was determined to take me out for breakfast, before I clocked in for another prolonged weekend at work.

That Saturday morning, I went ahead to our car, and right before he walked out of the house, he got the phone call from my parents. They chatted and he finally came to the car after what seemed like an endless period of waiting.

It was only later I found out that he and my parents had decided on that phone call to wait in telling me the news about my grandfather–the grandfather whom I loved and adored.

You see, even my parents had known what I was going through that season. When they found out that my husband was planning a relaxing, albeit brief, breakfast for me that Saturday morning, they selflessly put aside their desire to grieve with me, so that I could have a warm, filling and life-affirming breakfast–a breakfast devoid of stress, anxiety and grief.  

Years later, I still remember that breakfast. My husband kept me in stitches of laughter, he tenderly told me how much he loved me, and he protectively pulled me close to him–all the while, ordering a schmorgasbord that constituted every taste offering on the menu.

I allowed myself to be completely free during that breakfast, taking in the pampering and all the attendant nurturing and loveliness inherent therein. I strolled out beaming, and briefly forgot about the impending hellishness of another weekend spent at work.

We walked back to the car and it was then that he told me.

It was then that I ran to be with my parents.

It was then that I cried for an entire month straight.

At the time, I remember being so angry with them over this ridiculous notion that I should wait to hear about his passing.

Now, close to a decade later, I see that they put my joy before their pain.

My husband, my mom and my dad had put me first that morning.

They chose to breathe life into my fading husk, while death swirled all around them.

Some may see their decision as misguided grief, but I see it for what it is: an unmerited, generous gift from them that I will always carry with me and treasure. Given by them to me, at a time of great grief and sorrow.

And, for that, I am thankful.

Mom, Dad and D: I love you for what you chose to pour into me that Saturday morning. This Thanksgiving weekend, I honor, remember and cherish your gift. May I be blessed with the opportunity to sacrificially pass it forward to my own children someday.

It Began With Soup

By JMathis

I began last week with making this recipe for Yellow Split Pea, Kale, and Italian Sausage Soup. I ended last week on my knees, thanking my Creator for good friends, the love of family and new beginnings.

Thank You, Lord, for all that is nourishing, satisfying and warming to the soul.

The fragrance of soup. The richness of life. Lord, You have given me so much more than I could ever deserve.

The simple with the complex. The earthly with the divine.

All of these and more are what You have bestowed upon me.

Your treasures are deep, profound and vast. Your ways are beyond my comprehension.

You are my safety. You are my song. Both refuge and muse. You are my everything.

Sustaining me. Leading me. Drawing me close.

Thank You, Lord, for all that is nourishing, satisfying and warming to the soul.

The embrace of autumn. The call to break bread. My heart bursting with thanksgiving.

Take me to where You can be found.

Take me to where we can talk, where we can dance, where we can be still.

Take me to where Your Spirit roams free.

Healing and rain. Laughter and sunshine.

I am floored by the unbelievable breadth that is You.

Last week started with soup, and ended in an outpouring of Your love.

Thank You, Lord, for all that is nourishing, satisfying and warming to the soul.

Smooth Sands…

By JMathis

I am learning that the problems that come rolling into my shoreline are my opportunities. Opportunities to hone my steely resolve; opportunities to chisel my grit.

Oftentimes, when these “opportunities” are disguised as setbacks, my shoreline becomes cluttered with the debris of itchy seaweed and sharp hypodermic needles.

As I yearn for calming, Zen-like shorelines, I realize that it is the chaos of the storms and the violence of all this constant flooding, which create the smooth sands that bring relief to my aching soul.

Smooth sands comprised not of just one sand particle, but of countless grains representing the friends and family who have allied by my side during the hurricanes of my life.

When I see these grains of sand exponentially multiplying across the shoreline, I realize that I am never alone when confronting life’s calamities. God has given me a vast army from which to draw strength, regroup and charge even harder against the gale force winds of the enemy.

This is the part about problems that strengthen my character and resolve. Knowing that I have legions around me, supporting and encouraging me to finish my exhaustive swim to the shoreline–giving me the courage to hold onto the truths of my Creator when all around me is collapsing.

Problems: you may come charging into my shoreline, but you will not prevail. I stand against you with the might of the Almighty God and the support of all those He has strategically placed around me.

Problems: I reclaim my sandy shoreline. My resolve is strengthened and my character withstands attack. I hold fast knowing that when you leave, only smooth sands remain.

The smooth sands of time, the smooth sands of friendship, the smooth sands of relief.

Thank You, Lord, for smooth sands.

Choosing Joy in the Morning

By JMathis

Each morning, I groggily open my eyes, not knowing where I am or who I am. I am in the haze, where I simply have no context of the problems that are about to crash in over me. All I can think about in this sleep-wake limbo is how refreshing more sleep would feel in my warm, soft cocoon.

But within minutes, thoughts of this new day’s problems knock ferociously on the door of my consciousness. The stress of deadlines pulls me hastily out of my toasty bed. The demands and pressures of the day soon choke me fully into the cold world of wakefulness.

Another day, another dollar. Another day, more problems.

What a depressing way to wake up every morning. Have I always been such a Debbie Downer?

Lord, show me answers. Father, remind me of how to start my mornings right.

James 1:2-4  “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Lord, I thank You that Your Word promises me opportunities to experience great joy.

Lord, I thank You that in this season of testing, that in this season of hardship, You are building me up and stretching me. You are pushing me to be more like You. You are challenging me to see joy–even in the desert.

Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “

Lord, I thank You that if I keep my gaze on You, You promise to trade my cross for joy. Thank You, Lord, that You died so that I could experience joy–joy at work, joy in my marriage, joy in my parenting, joy in my friendships. Joy in every realm of my experience.   

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Lord, I thank You that Love Never Fails. That it is Your love that consumes me every morning, and not my problems. That each morning, You are there, waiting to flood my day with mercy, grace, compassion, faithfulness…and joy.

Lord, thank You for my promise of joy. Thank You for this new day of experiencing even more joy.

Lord, thank You for my cocoon of unspeakable, unsurpassed, unimaginable joy, where I can stay, surrounded by Your love. Safe from problems, free from fears, delivered of worries.

Lord, this morning, I choose joy.

This morning, I choose You.

Now Go and Do Likewise

By JMathis

Being thankful is about remembering.

Remembering that life is not meant for you to travel alone.

Remembering that others have contributed to the beautiful mosaic that is uniquely you.

Remembering that your journey is intertwined with those who walked before you, and those who come to follow you.

Remembering that living a life of thankfulness is about living a life of acknowledgment.

Acknowledgment that someone paved the way for your successes.

Acknowledgement that someone cared enough about you to feed and clothe you.

Acknowledgment that someone sacrificed pieces of herself so that you would blossom.

Remember and acknowledge that since the moment of your birth, people have come in and out of your life, in spurts and stretches, to ensure that you have breath, comfort and support.

Whether they existed generations before you or now sojourn right alongside you, remember and acknowledge that you are part of them, and they are part of you.

Remember and acknowledge that God has commissioned others to safeguard you.

Now go and do likewise.

Remember and acknowledge that God has allowed others to pour good into you.

Now go and do likewise.

Remember and acknowledge that God has brought others in to be anchors for you in the storm.

Now go and do likewise.

Give, sacrifice and embrace, as others have done for you.

Give, sacrifice and embrace, as others should have done for you.

Give, sacrifice and embrace, as God has done for you, and continues to do for you.

Now go and do likewise, all the while remembering and acknowledging that your life is just not yours alone.

Now go and do likewise.