Picture-Perfect Days

By JMathis

I am trying to take AbbyA’s advice and seek out images of picture-perfect days. Days where I look to the sky and am giddy with excitement over all of God’s Creation.

This morning, I awoke to a stunning, autumn morning where the air was crisp and the birds were furiously tweeting love songs. There was a freshness in the air, and God had lovingly smattered hues of fall colors all over the canvas of my morning.

That right there could have been (should have been) the snapshot of my picture-perfect day. But, like most mornings, I didn’t allow that image to prevail.

I allowed the pressures of work and the guilt of mommyhood to struggle for dominance over my thoughts. I allowed the image of my picture-perfect day to be choked by worries over missed deadlines, half-packed lunches and speeding tickets.

What had I done? God had presented me with a picture-perfect day, and I chose to trample all over this gift instead. Can you imagine doing the same to an expensive, carefully selected present given to you by a dear friend?

Imagine getting an exquisite picture frame bordered by rare jewels and hand-made etchings. Then envision taking that picture frame and throwing it directly into the trash, all because you thought it was just too much effort to put a photograph inside.

Ladies, the days of Jeremiah are indeed upon us. Days of darkness, days of dread. Days where no one sees you for you, much less the treasure that resides within you.

But we also have a choice. A choice too choose joy. A choice to choose God’s gifts over the superficial worries of a fallen world. A choice to choose picture-perfect days.

What will you choose today?

Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23.

Into the Great Wide Open

By JMathis

Finding yourself—the true you, the authentic you—requires wading.

Wading into the Great Wide Open, with no discernible idea as to what you may find.

The beauty of the Great Wide Open is that there are dreams to awaken and promises yet to unfold.

Sometimes, however, when you wade deeper below the surface, it is not readily apparent that you do not wade alone.

That is why the wading requires Trust.

Trust that the waters are not too treacherous.

Trust that the waters are not too deep.

Trust that there are life preservers and lifeguards waiting to spring into action at the first sign of trouble.

Wading to find the true you, the authentic you, means Trusting.

Trusting Him.

Trusting that our Heavenly Father holds you protectively as you plunge deeper and deeper into the abyss.

Trusting that our Heavenly Father provides buoyancy in the love and support of others.

The Great Wide Open is where you will be found. The true you, the authentic you.

The wading is often demanding. (Trust is demanding.)

The wading is often exhausting. (Trust is exhausting.)

The wading is often filled with struggle. (Trust is filled with struggle.)

The wading often leaves you with a limp.

But the wading is the only way to move past the Great Wide Open into the Crystal Clear Lake.

The Crystal Clear Lake of healing.

The Crystal Clear Lake of abundance.

The Crystal Clear Lake of joy unspeakable.

Will you trust Him today with your journey?

The journey to find the true you, the authentic you?

He is there in the Great Wide Open. He is there in the Crystal Clear Lake.

Most importantly, He is there wherever you are.

The true you, the authentic you.

Trust Him.

The Surgeon

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

1While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.a

3“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” Luke 21

The World looks and judges solely based on the exterior, but remember, our God is always focused on the Heart. It’s always the intention, the motivation, the “heart of the matter” that God sees.  And it’s in that place where He will continually test us and refine us.

Rich or poor…

Beauty queen or Ms. Plain Jane…

Genius or Ms. Average…

Limp or no visible limp

None of that makes a difference to our God.

For every time God looks at us, He pierces the exterior of us with His X-ray vision and goes straight to the heart. Like a skilled surgeon, he works his surgical magic, whether it’s just a little unclogging of some stubborn blocked arteries or a complete heart transplant, He is able to resuscitate and renew that heart of yours. Now isn’t it time for your annual checkup?

The Truth About the Lion Who Sometimes Makes you Limp

“. . . Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!”

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face.  “There it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost.  Tell me your sorrows.”

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman.  And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and all of their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert.  And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis.  And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.

“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.

“What on earth do you mean?  I’ve just told you there was at least two the first night, and — ”

“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”

“How do you know?”

“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued.  “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis.  I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead.  I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept.  I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time.  And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

“It was I.”

“But what for?”

“Child,” said the Voice, I am telling you your story, not hers.  I tell no one any story but his own.”

“Who are you?” asked Shasta.

“Myself,” said the voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again, “Myself” , loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself”, whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if leaves rustled with it.

Excerpt from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis.

Let Them See Your Limp

By JMathis

Let them see your limp.

Yes, the limp. Just like the one He gave Jacob.

The limp which signifies that you have made it through your breaking point.

Made it through? Made it through? How can I ever make it through, when it still feels like I am irreparably broken?

Broken by unemployment.

Broken by infertility.

Broken by past relationships.

Broken by cancer.

But you know better than I do that those things can’t break you.

They just make you believe that you are broken.

Once you believe they can break you, your limp is your defeat.

Ahhh, but only God can do the breaking.

When He does the breaking, your limp is your victory.

The limp means you came face-to-face with your struggles and won.

What we fail to realize is that when He does the breaking, it comes with a blessing.

The blessing of a new identity. A new character. A new purpose. A new way of living.

Let them see your limp.

When they see your limp, they know that you have experienced tragedy.

When they see your limp, they know that you have fought.

Fought your demons. Fought yourself. Fought God.

When they see your limp, they see all of the darkness of your past.

But they also see the resplendence of your future.

When they see your limp, they see Him.

His mercy. His healing. His salvation. His deliverance. His beauty.

Let them see your limp.

Louder Than Words

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

So a few months ago, I started a new job where one of my co-workers is a very vocal atheist who also enjoys joking around and teasing everyone. Within the first two weeks, he began teasing me and another co-worker mercilessly about our Christian faith. Although I knew he wasn’t trying to hurt either one of our feelings and just making jokes at our expense, I knew he was also expressing his frustration towards a religion filled with followers who, in his eyes, sometimes could be the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.

At first I was at a loss on how to respond, so I just smiled and shook my head when he teased me. I knew it would be pointless to argue with him, at least in the beginning, until I knew him a little better. Since he brought up the topic due to his teasing, I began asking him why he would even jokingly say some of the things he brought up to me, so I could better understand his perspective and why he was so adamantly against the Christian faith. I soon learned his “beef” was really with all “organized religion.”  He just happened to target my co-worker and me because he knew we’d be more forgiving about it, and if we weren’t, then, dangit, that just proved his point about our Christian hypocrisy!

Rather than arguing with him, I knew all I could share was why I had initially been able to take that leap of faith and why I continued to believe. I acknowledged some of his primary questions like “how can we really know if God exists,” but I also gave examples of how I see God in my daily life and how I believe He helps me overcome difficulties. As I shared my experiences, he didn’t argue but listened. He even nodded his head a few times. While I may have not persuaded him to my own perspective, he respected me more after our discussion because he realized I wasn’t just blindly following the Christian faith. I, too, had grappled with many of the same questions/issues he had, but I eventually came to a different conclusion than he did. While he didn’t agree with me, he slowly quit teasing me about my faith.

A few weeks later, he admitted to me that he did greatly respect the other co-worker whom he had also teased. They had worked over ten years together, and during that time, he had always known him to be an outstanding person. He was always the first to lend a helping hand to someone in need, always considerate, forgiving.

While neither one of us could argue with our co-worker’s atheistic beliefs, I also realized that no amount of words could speak louder to him than the actions of my co-worker and me. He was watching us, observing us, and that spoke volumes to him more than anything we could verbally articulate.

Authenticity. It’s often what you do and not just what you say.

The Real Deal

By AbbyA

The Real Deal is . . . My child, stay home from church today, rest and spend the time with Me.  My child, give $_____ to the home for pregnant teenagers even though you already have tithed this week.  My child, go ahead and be open about the pain and eventual victory you have had in your marriage.

My Deal is . . . Lord, okay, but you know that I am going to look like an uncommitted Christian if I miss church today.  Lord, um, did you check my account balance before you said that?  Lord, how much do I share about my rocky road and how far do I go?

His Deal is  . . . His Word.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6.  He cares more about you than the birds in the sky that He provides for everyday.  Luke 12:24.  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  Philippians 4:13.

Shed legalism and grow a thick coat of wisdom and love.  Live sacrificially and gain treasures in heaven.  Be transparent and gain souls for the kingdom.  His Deal is the Real Deal.