As a woman thinketh…..

The text came in the middle of the Sunday gathering.   “There’s a huge Copperhead at the foot of the porch, should we kill it?”  Half of it lay hidden making it hard to crush the head.  My son-in-law had no choice but to take the shovel and cut its body in two.   One half lay detached aware of its death. The remaining half, containing the head, slithered away oblivious of its reality.  The head didn’t yet grasp that it’s body was dead.

The Spirit within me quickened as my husband explained to me the phenomena that had just taken place.  The snake was dead, it just didn’t know it.

That one event explains the bulk of my existence.  I was dead in Christ yet I was clueless to my actuality.   I was encouraged to manage my sin, be holy, make him proud, do the right thing.  Everything, everywhere was about behavior.   I can understand why.  When I don’t understand the reality of what took place when Jesus said “it is finished” I can only focus on behavior.  It becomes the barometer of my spirituality.

There’s a cliché that was often spoken throughout the years of my church upbringing.  “I need to get it from my head to my heart.”  How does one do that anyways?  How does one get the mind to convince the heart?  Isn’t it the other way around?   After all God said  He would put a new heart with a new spirit in me.  Isn’t it the programming of the mind that is all screwed up? Doesn’t the mind need to conform to what has already happened?

I spent the better part of my life assessing who I was based on what I had done.  It’s not the way things go down in His world.  He sees the person at heart, not the action.  He knows who I am.   The question is, do I believe what He believes? Doesn’t it all come down to this.  Do I really think what He thinks, about me?

Jesus speaks to a crowd.  He tells them that to know Him is to know the Father for He speaks just what the Father has taught Him.  He tells them that if they remain in what He speaks they too will be taught.  For they will know the truth and the truth will set them free.

I was taken back the first time someone told me to ask God what He thought about me.   What if He doesn’t have anything to say?  What if I all I hear are crickets chirping in the deafening silence?  It’s a scary place to step into, much like jumping off the side of the pool hoping that someone will be there to catch you.   But one never knows what it feels like to be caught until they jump.

I took the plunge.  I needed to know what He thought of me.  I had been ashamed of who I was for as long as I could remember.  I felt as if I was not enough and too much all at the same time.  Things I had perceived about myself  became the focal points of conversations with Him.  Did He think these things too?  If not, what did He think?

He began rewriting the story of my life as He spoke.  I began to listen.  I found myself overwhelmed at the thought of it all.  Could it possibly be true that I was who He said I was?

My head has been learning to grasp the truth of my heart.  Jesus has made me right.  He has pronounced me as holy, godly, and pure.  I don’t have to try to be holy, I already am.  I am a joint-heir with the Son of God, what He inherits, I inherit.  I am a new creation.  I have the mind of Christ, the Spirit of the living God, given as a seal, is woven into my very being.  I am the righteousness of Christ, even on my worst day.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, changes that.

It all comes around full circle. Will I choose to believe what He says or will I believe what I feel?    Will I let my past define me or will I step into my reality.  Do not dwell on the past He reminds me… see I am doing something new.  Will I see?  Will I embrace what He speaks and be taught.  It is the choice of life or death, freedom or captivity.  It’s where the rubber meets the road, you know.

For as a man thinketh so is he….

©copyrighted 2011, Julie L. Todd

A reflection of His heart….

Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the feelings that force their way in.  Today was one of those days.  It’s my youngest girl’s birthday.  She has faced one disappointment after another as trusted friends canceled just hours before her sleep over.  Why do people do that anyways?

How does one reconcile the anger that settles into their being as they witness people’s choices affecting their child?  How does one look beyond the behavior and give grace?  I wanted to smack some people around and tell them a thing or two.  Didn’t they not know the message that lay hidden in their actions speaking straight into the mind of my child? No, I’m sure they didn’t.  I’m sure there was never an intent to hurt.

I saw it on her face, though as the last phone call came through. I felt so helpless.  I wanted to grab her up and kiss her heart’s boo-boo’s away.  If I could just get her to believe me maybe she wouldn’t listen to the voices shouting loud and clear into the crevices of her mind.  Maybe she would see what I see.  She is a person of great value, worth celebrating, beautiful inside and out.  Would she believe me if I told her?

I wanted to shout to her until she did… “Believe me, Lydia.”  “You are a person of great value.”  “You are worth celebrating.”  I longed for her to know the truth.  I wanted with every fiber of my being for her to turn away from the lurking lies to hear my voice above the noise around her.  Yet all I could do was speak.  She had to choose what she would receive.

Out of no where it hit me.  In an instant I was made aware of His presence as He came near.  I knew I was walking on holy ground.  God was shouting so loudly into my ears that I could not turn away.  He wanted me to know that what I feel for my girl, He feels even greater for me. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you,” He says. (Isaiah 66:13).  Do I even get that?  Really?

For many years of this life, God has been out there somewhere, watching over everything that goes on in the world.  The view from where I stood was one of fear that I might just make the wrong step.  He was presented as One who was serious about sin, watching my every move.  You know, kinda like Santa Claus.  “You better watch out,  your better not pout, you better not cry I’m telling you why… Santa Claus is coming to town.”  “He knows when you’ve been sleeping, He knows when you’re awake.”  “He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.”

I wanted to be good… for goodness sake.  I was afraid to approach Him, fearful of being a disappointment at best.  Convinced that when bad things happened I was being punished for my bad behavior.  I was getting what I deserved, after all you reap what you sow, right. If I’d only been better.

I didn’t really know the God of my heart.  I could not see the tenderness with which He cared for me.  So many things were so deeply distorted.

The revelations that come to me these days leave me undone.  This beautiful God that I am coming to know is revealing the truth of His heart toward me one picture at a time.  He is not who I thought He was, He’s more, so much more.

As a mother comforts her child He comforts me.  He is the mother cub who watches over me, seeing the travesty of things gone wrong.  He doesn’t like it, for He sees the messages that try to plant their way in my mind.  He wants me to know what’s real and true.   He longs for me to hear His voice loudest of all.

His heart aches as He watches, hoping that I will receive what He has come to say.  He runs to me, shouting the truth, wanting so desperately to pull me away from the voices that seek to kill, steal and destroy.  He wants to kiss the pain away and soothe me with the truth of who He knows me to be.  It’s astounding to consider…

These longings that fill my heart for my own dear child are but a reflection of His, for me.

©copyrighted:  2011, Julie L. Todd

Hidden Along the Way…..

The route the journey takes is never really about the circumstances.  It’s a pathway made to restore the broken places of the mind.  It is after all the place where our beliefs are found.  Life’s events seem to become an expose’ of that which lays hidden in their crevices.  Much has been exposed in these last years.  Much is being made new.

For years David could not relate what he was feeling to me.  His emotions had been hidden some place deep inside.  The Father has been awakening though, unwrapping the bindings that have covered his being.  As a result, a doorway has been opening giving voice to things that needed to have their say .

He said the words this time, I heard him, yet I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around them. “I need space to use my brain regardless of the outcome.” I have to figure it out when it comes to sticking to something.”  “If you are in the background “reminding me” I won’t grow.”

It had been a natural progression for us, you see.  After all we’d set things up to work this way.  An early death of a father left a young boy with a strong mother taking care of too much due to her need to find stability.  A young girl looking for validation through her abilities took care of things for others, hoping to be needed and wanted. These were the trails we had walked as we entered into this covenant of marriage.  They fit well, it seemed.  Though life ,with its twists and turns, usually tells the true story.  It never really worked we just didn’t have eyes to see, that is until his words found their way out.

They hit like an arrow straight into the bull’s-eye as I heard them for the first time.    Had I really stunted his growth all this time?  How does one reconcile the years when the ways of the flesh are exposed before you?  To dwell on what has been will only cause me to wrap up in a cloak of shame.  I couldn’t go there.  Yet someplace in this pile of mess I had to see it for what it was.  My choices hurt him, a lot.

What did it look like to live what he needed?  It was a simple request for him, a complex one for me.  After all I’d lived this way for as long as he had known me.  Yet I need him to have what he needs.  I long to set him free to run with all that is in him.  I want him to feel the fullness of the man who dwells inside his outer shell.

I find myself before the One who made me, once again desperate for His revelations.  Trust opens a doorway for me to find my resting place in He who breathes the breath of life.  He knows how to bring me into the new paths of life.

Somehow amidst the pain and sadness I feel the goodness of it all.   I want to live in this new place.  It is enough.  The mustard seed in my hands is placed in His knowing He will take it to move mountains in, me.  For this God that I love with all my being, is the resurrection and the life.

What about you?  What hidden things are you seeing these days?  What is your mustard seed for?

The Pilgrimage of the Soul

I remember the first time I read the book, “Hinds Feet on High Places”.  It resonated some place within me as I read of the journey of “Much Afraid”.  She had received an invitation from the Shepherd to leave her old, familiar home in the Valley of Humiliation and follow Him to the high places.  She accepted, had a seed of love planted deep in her heart and was told to be ready to go when the Shepherd called.  She was given two companions, “Sorrow and “Suffering.”  She had no idea what the road before her held.  To stay put would mean misery and death.  To leave would mean trusting another with her life. She chose to follow into the unknown with the most fragile of faith.
It wasn’t long in her pilgrimage before it appeared the path was headed straight up into the heights. The Shepherd had kept His promise, finally she would climb to that place her heart longed to be.  But just around the bend she saw something startling.  The road turned and headed down deep into the desert.  It was in the desert that her life truly began to take it’s own journey.  She learned to accept with joy the road that had been laid before her.  She began to learn what it felt like to trust.
It’s often been the same in my pilgrimage.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the road turns, taking me on paths I didn’t anticipate.  I’m beginning these days to understand a bit more that the journey is not the destination, the destination is the journey.  It’s not about where I am going, it’s about what is transpiring on the paths that look so very different from what I thought they would be.
Will I call good what God calls good regardless of how it looks, feels, and seems?
I’m taken back to remember the story of the release of the children of Israel from captivity. After years of slavery finally they are free.  They weren’t taken on the shorter route out of Egypt.  Instead God took them the longer way around, with the Egyptians hot on their trail, dead ending at the Red Sea. They couldn’t understand it all. Why would God release them to be pursued and captured again? 
What they didn’t know was that on the shorter route there was an enemy they were unprepared to face.  The longer route, though more difficult physically, would save their lives in the end.  They wanted the easiest, most comfortable route.  God wanted their protection and their trust.  He knew that a miracle, a revelation of His heart for them, waited off the banks of that sea.
They grumbled and complained.  They wanted to go back to Egypt.  At least they knew what to expect there.  At least they had some control over what went on in their day to day lives.    
It’s easy to want to go back to the familiar.  Trusting requires all of me, living in what I’m accustomed to, not so much.  But life is found in the winding turns that take us down paths we didn’t anticipate.  For those unsuspected places ask me once again, will I call good what God calls good no matter how it seems, looks, or feels?
I think of the hymn I learned as a child.  “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know, thus saith the Lord.”  “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust you, how I’ve proved you over and over.” “Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, oh for grace to trust you more.”
The road seldom looks like I think it will.  Sometimes it challenges my faith to the very core.  It’s why I’ve come to this new place to write.  Because the truth is the journey is the destination.  For in the midst of the terrains that can change on a daily basis, God is found.   
The terrain has changed here recently in my life.  A job layoff does that sort of thing.  I’m challenged once again to what I will stand in.  Will I judge God’s goodness based on who He is or what He does.  It’s the question that haunts me in the core of my soul.  
What about you?  Where is the path taking you these days?

The doors are open, please come in

I was counting it out today.  I’ve moved 7 times since I married 28 years ago.  Every single time there was something better that waited.  We always knew when it was time to pack it all up and leave.  Things closed down around us as a stirring made it’s way in, inviting us to leave the familiar to experience something new.  Whether a new town, fenced yard or more living space it was always worth pulling up the stakes.
The hardest relocation for us all was moving to a new town.  Everything familiar we had known was left behind.  Not only did we leave a house full of wonderful memories we left relationships with good friends.  What would happen to the bonds we had formed?   It’s always in the back of your mind when you step out into fresh territory.  Will the connections stay through life’s horizons?
Most of them don’t.  Distance creates a separation causing the impromptus to be left behind.  Dear people who have been part of life changing events are forever etched into your soul. Yet keeping touch often becomes difficult, causing the strong, intimate bond you once shared to wane.  I hate leaving dear friends behind.  It’s the hardest part of all. 
I feel God stirring in me again these days, urging me to uproot from my old blog and move to a completely new home.  Something awaits me in this place.  It stands by waiting to be revealed.  I feel the tearing of my soul as I leave good, faithful friends behind.  Will l I lose touch with those I’ve come to know and love?   I want to keep the bond of relationship… yet I know a new horizon waits.
I’ve had the old blog now for over 5 years.  It all happened by accident, really.  I signed on to respond to a friend and ended up with a blog of my own.  It sat dormant, untouched and forgotten for a while.  A year later I went to visit that same friend’s blog and remembered mine.  I unlatched the door, dusted off all the furniture, opened all the windows and took up residence.  It’s where I’ve been since 2007.
So much history rests in that old blog home.   It has become a sacred place of my soul, my heart is breathed into the words that fill the pages.  It’s hard to pack up and leave it all behind.  I find myself wrestling between two places.  Will I leave the old behind to step into something new?
I’ve packed things up to move.  I’ve come to this, my new home.  It’s time to meet the neighbors.  The doors are open.  The welcome sign is out.  You are invited.  I hope you join me as I walk out my long and winding road.