Planted By God to Display His Glory -Isaiah 61:3

Archive for April, 2011

Trading Spaces

Notice something different here? I’ve traded spaces with the “egg” themed Sunny Side Up site, working behind the scenes to give it an extreme makeover. It’s not quite done yet, but close enough to move the bus and let you take a look at some new things God is building! No more menu, no more breakfast, just God’s glory on display.

Here are my thoughts on what’s been happening behind the scenes…

“Capable” Just Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

I’m not a super-girly, perfectly-accessorized-lipstick-matching kind of girl.

I used to be able to change a tire. In the dark. On the side of a muddy dirt road in the middle of a race.

“You have ‘capable’ hands,” my husband has told me. Not quite “man hands” (ala the Seinfeld episode), but they have rarely been outfitted in long fingernails or pretty pink polish.

Raised with two brothers by a working Mom and a Dad who taught me baseball and home improvement, I grew up…well, capable. If something was broken I would try to fix it, although not always very successfully. As I matured into my teens and twenties I sometimes wondered if I really knew how to act like a girl. I didn’t giggle. I would rather be in a race car than at a resort. I didn’t read romance novels. I liked flowers, but not the girly idea that a guy should buy them for me. Give me a ride in an airplane and you had my heart. (Right honey?)

A few years ago at a women’s conference we were asked to choose one word to describe the friend we came with. My friend’s word for me? Capable.

Yup, that’s me…Capable. Except being capable just doesn’t cut it anymore. I’ve learned the hard way that being capable in my own strength is the exact opposite of what I really need to be…

Powerless. Powerless before God, living in and depending on His strength instead of my own. Being “capable” has made it difficult for me to acknowledge my own powerlessness. And consequently, my ability to be completely surrendered to the work of God in my life.

Like becoming more of a girly-girl. One that wears nail polish, cares about what purse she carries, and throws on a necklace to go to the grocery store. Not to conform mind you, but to yield to becoming the woman God really created me to be. Still loving race cars, baseball, and airplane rides, but willing to grow as a woman to display the fullness of God’s glory in my life.

To show that HE is capable. HE takes my flub-ups and fears and turns them into something beautiful. HE calls me beautiful. HE desires for me to be all that I was created to be. HE is the one who knows my potential, even in the dark times.

Like a daffodil bulb, blooming when the perfect day of Spring arrives…

So God’s had me redecorating myself and has planted me here now, amid the flowers. I pray that as I share my journey breaking free into His light, that I am a planting for the display of his glory!

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,    
      Because the Lord has anointed Me
      To preach good tidings to the poor;
      He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
      To proclaim liberty to the captives,
      And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
      To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
      And the day of vengeance of our God;
      To comfort all who mourn,
      To console those who mourn in Zion,
      To give them beauty for ashes,
      The oil of joy for mourning,
      The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
      That they may be called trees of righteousness, 
      The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV

Thanks for sharing this garden with me. 

    ~ Linda

P.S. Did you click on the racing link and watch the video? I have to say…wow I had fun! Totally crazy, kids-don’t-try-this-at-home fun!

He is Risen!

Thank you Jesus for setting us free!

Free to become who we are meant to be!

Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!

The Women Who Watched

I want to be a woman who will watch.

A woman who will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as I remember His death and resurrection this week. A woman who will remember His sacrifice, made for me. A woman willling to try to understand the depth of His suffering for my healing. A woman who would have been with THE WOMEN. The women who watched…

There were women watching from a distance, among them Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women followed and served him, and had come up with him to Jerusalem. Mark 15:40-41 The Message

“Watching from a distance.” Not weeping, not speaking. Watching…as Jesus, whom they had faithfully served and cared for, was brutally crucified on the cross.

The word translated “watching” is the Greek word theoreo, which means to be a spectator of, to discern, to literally or figuratively experience, or intensively acknowledge. These women were not watching in the sense of watching a TV show or a sporting event. They watched with discernment. They watched intensely. They watched as one who tries to enter into the experience of another. And despite the horrific suffering they witnessed, so intense was their love and devotion, they could not turn their eyes away from Jesus.

But how could they watch? It had to be the most violent and horrific death ever witnessed!

Mary Magdalene watched and couldn’t bring herself to leave Jesus even after He was laid in the tomb. He had cast seven demons out of her. Imagine the torment she must have suffered until the day He set her free. She hadn’t just watched Him perform miracles—she had received one! So filled with love and gratitude, she was compelled to follow Him and serve Him wherever that would lead…even to the cross. Despite how painful and traumatic it was to watch, she had to be there.

Have you ever had to witness someone you love suffer?

I remember sitting in the Emergency Room with my ten-year-old daughter watching and wincing as the doctor put five stitches in the tender fingertip she had almost sliced off with a pair of scissors. I remember holding my mother-in-law during an extremely painful test as she battled cancer.

Was it excruciating for me? You bet! People I loved were hurting. But I had to be there for them. In the most painful experiences of their lives what they needed most was to be surrounded by love. And what I needed most was to be there.

Imagine the depth of love Mary and the other women must have had for Jesus to endure witnessing His suffering on the cross. Love compelled them to be there. They couldn’t leave Him—even as He suffered and died before their eyes. While others forsook Him, and multitudes of people cried “Crucify him!” the women remained faithful.

“To their everlasting honour, these women evidenced more courage, and affectionate attachment to their Lord and Master, than the disciples did, who had promised to die with him rather than forsake him.” (Adam Clark commentary)

I want to be a woman like that. A woman who will be there, eyes fixed on Jesus…no matter what. A woman who will watch.

My prayer for today and every day:

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:10-11 NLT

Thank you Jesus. You paid the price for a debt you didn’t owe. One I can never repay with words, though you will forever own my heart.

 

Thanks for watching with me today.

                                                   –Linda

Daffodils and Destiny

Bright and brilliant yellow, my four daffodil blooms SHOUT from my corner garden at the world…“Look at us! We’re the first and brightest blooms of Spring!”

I love them. I have only four this year, but hundreds blossomed in unison along the front edge of my childhood home in Maine. After a dark and gloomy New England winter, they were my lifeline to the future—the first hope of sun and Spring.

It’s amazing to me how these hardy bulbs bloom year after year, but only after spending time hidden, in the cold hard ground of winter with no sunshine at all.

Like me. At least it feels that way. It’s been a cold hard winter in my life as I’ve struggled to recover from an injury that gives me almost constant pain and severely limits my activity. At times over the last eighteen months I’ve wondered if I would ever see the sunshine of hope. Yet now I wouldn’t trade any of those dark days for some man-made premature spring. Because God’s been doing miraculous things deep inside me as I’ve been hidden. Working on my heart, my pride, my insecurities, my faults, and my fear.

Jesus even told us we must be willing to be buried in the ground:

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24 (The Message) 

There’s a transforming work that could only take place as I’ve been buried deep in the ground with Jesus. A place of surrender that I would never have discovered without the pain, the darkness, and the alone-ness of it all. I could not hold onto life the way it had been. I had to let it go, and trust recklessly in the love of Jesus to bring me new life.

Nobody’s really been able to see yet what’s been happening in my underground place with God, but eventually I pray the bloom of the love of Jesus will burst through the ground so I can show off His glory! Then I’ll shout “Hey, look at Jesus! He’s the first and brightest bloom of life!

Wait a minute…I’m shouting it out to you now! Maybe you’ve experienced a dark and hidden time in your life. Be encouraged, God can work miraculous transformations underground.  It’s your destiny and mine to one day break free and become the beauty we are meant to be!

A dear friend knows me so well, she made the artwork below for my birthday present last month. She made it for me, but it’s also from God for you.

I pray you are as blessed as I am by the heart and art of my incredible friend Becky Schultea.   

Thanks for the daffodil blooms you share with me just by being here! 

            -Linda

BELIEVE!

I hit the rewind button on my life this week, to take a look at where I started on my writing journey seven years ago. I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged and confused lately, wondering if God wants me to write more, or focus on something else and write less.

To write or not to write…Is that really the question? What is it about words that continue to want to pour out of my thoughts, a stream without banks, flowing to a destination as vast as the sea? Why write when your words only become diluted and lost?

Because…

“The word carries such power…That flavor in your work, unlike anything they’ve ever tasted, some of them didn’t know what tasting was until you showed them. You awoke their mouths, gave them a taste for something and created a desire they will never forget as long as they live.” –Mick Silva

A new friend of mine is just starting her own writing journey. It’s easy for me to serve up Mick’s encouragement on a silver platter for her. Harder for me to put it on a paper plate in front of myself.

How about you? God gives each one of us a ministry that can be rewarding one minute and an uphill challenge the next. It’s easy to feel like we are a small fish in a big pond and wonder if anything we are doing is making a difference. Sometimes we see how God touches others through our service, but most often we do not.

It’s in those times I feel like I am losing the battle to believe in what God is calling me to do. Yet I know it’s precisely the time that God is forging in me a stronger faith than I dare to believe I could possess.

God gave my new writer friend one word for 2011: BELIEVE.

Precisely the title of the first devotion I took to my first writing conference, where I met my first editor, who hired me to write my first article. It’s where I started on this writing journey. It’s where a pastor who read the article said,

“It made me feel something, and that’s hard to do. I rarely feel anything when I read articles.”

He tasted something. He was a pastor and he tasted something in my writing! It encouraged me even more than the first job offer.

I needed some encouragement this week, so I hit REWIND to read that first article again. So I can taste it. And savor the message God wants me to receive.

Here is it, served up to me on a cardboard plate with a hot dog and my baseball hat…

 

October 2004

BELIEVE

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]” Philippians 4:13 (AMP)

I have a confession to make. Friday I bought a silver necklace that says “Believe” with a pretty green stone on the B. You may have guessed I was motivated to buy it to make the statement that “I’m believing God!” But I need to confess to you that my motives weren’t entirely pure…I had another motivation to “Believe” this week…Forgive me, but I come from a long line of die-hard Red Sox baseball fans, and this last week was our week to “Believe!”

For those of you who are not die-hard Red Sox baseball fans (are there any out there?), let me recap for you what took place this last week in baseball history. At the beginning of last week the Red Sox were behind in the championship series 0-3. There was no chance for them to come back and win four games in a row to win the championship and go on to the World Series. No chance—no other team in the history of baseball had ever done it. Then they won a game, and then two, and signs appeared all over the stadium that said “Believe!” It was not possible, the commentators kept saying—no team had ever done it! But die-hard Red Sox fans kept waving those signs and choosing to believe.

By Tuesday of this last week my faith was being challenged. And not just my faith in the Red Sox. God began to use the experience to talk to me about my faith in general…about how easy it was to give up when the odds were against me…how I could line up all the reasons why I couldn’t do “all things through Christ” …and how often I have given in to the insecurities and fears that overwhelm me on the brink of every breakthrough.

Until the Red Sox won the second game I really had only a mustard seed of faith. But on Tuesday, I made a choice to believe it was possible for the Red Sox to win. And yes, I prayed for it! I remembered scripture tells us that we “can” ask anything. So I did. I prayed that God could use this kind of story to get out a message of true faith—that He would give the Christians on the team a platform to share their faith and help spread the true message of “believe” wherever He wanted.

Maybe it sounds a bit strange and not very refined of me to pray for such a thing. I felt like I was just God’s kid asking for something from an honest heart and with a sincere desire for my Dad to get some recognition and glory. If you watched Boston’s victory in the seventh and last game of the American League Championship Series, you know that He did. When Curt Schilling, the Red Sox pitcher for the game, was asked on national television how he managed to pitch so well against multiple challenges, psychological as well as physical (he performed despite a painful ankle injury), he gave God all the credit and all the glory. He basically said, it was all God. It was God who empowered him. My husband can tell you that I jumped out of my chair praising God when I saw that. Yay God! He won the victory! I can believe! And not just for them, but for me!

You may know the rest of the story—the Red Sox did come back and make baseball history. To date (Sunday as I write this), they have also won game one of the World Series. Regardless of whether you are a baseball fan, let’s face it, we all love a comeback story. We are inspired ourselves when others overcome all obstacles and gain the victory. We realize we can believe for the impossible–because all things are possible with God!

By faith…Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab. All on God’s winning team. In my imagination I picture they had angels (not the Anaheim Angels!) all around them, cheering them on and waving signs that said, “Believe!”

I’m going to be wearing my necklace this week. I am choosing to believe against all odds…both for the Red Sox and for myself. The Red Sox may end up in the baseball Hall of Fame—but I want to be like the overcomers in the Bible’s “Hall of Faith.” No wall too high, no mortal weakness too great for the strength of Christ to empower me to be ready for and equal to any challenge!

Praise God that no matter what our personal faith challenges are right now, we are always a member of God’s winning team! And, “we can do all things through Christ!”

I’m waving a sign for you! It says “BELIEVE!”

Thanks for believing with me today.

       -Linda

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