Monthly Archives: May 2014

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REMAINING CLOSE TO CHRIST FOR STRENGTH IN MARRIAGE

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Michael looks into my eyes and takes my breath away. Twenty-nine years after we said our vows in front of God and our loved ones, our love is stronger than ever.

During the hard years when the children were young and the stress seemed insurmountable, there were times when I actually felt nothing toward the man I had vowed to love forever. The misunderstandings and the hurts had taken their toll on my heart and it all seemed impossible to repair.

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Now I know that with Christ all things are possible (Luke 1:37). Love grows out of hearts that are knitted closely with God. His love never fails.

I understand why God asks that we pledge our love to each other for the rest of our earthly lives because it takes a lifetime to learn how to love unconditionally and fearlessly.

After nearly three decades, our love is deeper than I could have ever imagined; it is a true miracle. As we remain close to Christ, His love is the strength of our marriage.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” — Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Close.” It took me more than five minutes to write this post today.

The photos were taken the day we celebrated twenty-five years of marriage by renewing our wedding vows.

Five Minute Friday

THE SECRET PLACE OF GOD’S LOVE

Psalm 91

On a summer day in 2008 when I was working at a nearby country club as a server, I was taken by surprise when fear tried to grip my heart. A new man had been hired and I could see darkness all around him and tremendous hurt in his eyes. My discomfort grew when he began spilling out words that sounded more like lines from a scary movie than words a person would speak to their co-worker. I had an eerie feeling in my gut whenever I was near him.

After several days of working with the new employee, I was feeling a tremendous burden as I faced my fears. I was seeking God for answers, seeking to know whether the vibe I was discerning was truly accurate. While praying with my family about the situation, I paused to allow the tears to flow as my spirit felt compassion for this man who desperately needed Jesus.

For as far back as I can remember I battled with fear of bad guys. I thought there was a monster living under my bed when I was a little girl. I remember being tormented, as I lay awake in my bedroom of our very old house. I would hear noises in the attic, and I would want to sleep close to my mom and dad. As I grew older and grew closer to the Lord, my fears subsided. But occasionally, invasive thoughts of bad things would come back to visit.

The unsettling words of the man at work stirred up fear and were taunting me enough that I knew I had to pray fervently. I prayed over and over for this co-worker to be drawn to Christ’s heart. Praying for the man wasn’t enough to sooth my spirit though. I needed to hear the voice of the Lord. I needed His comfort and His Spirit to show me I was being cared for in the midst of my feelings of uncertainty. I needed the heavy burden to lift off of me.

I asked the Lord to speak to me and encourage my heart. I went to the altar for prayer during our worship service. My spirit was longing to know I had nothing to fear and to know I would be safely shielded in the shadow of God’s wings. After my friends at church prayed for me, I felt better, but I was still battling with unrest in my spirit.

Later in the day, after I arrived home from church, I began sorting through a pile of scarves I had left on my bed earlier while scurrying to find the right one to wear that morning. Then while putting the scarves away, I noticed a camouflage-colored bandana in the pile that had some words imprinted on it resembling a poem. I had never looked closely at it or noticed the words before. It had belonged to Mimi, my grandmother. I didn’t really like the colors of the bandana, and I had no real sentimental attachment to it, but for some reason I had brought it home after she passed away the year before.

After having the bandana tucked away in my closet for over a year, I realized that the words were actually Scriptures, and I felt compelled to read the verses.  I sat down on the edge of my bed and began weeping with a powerful sense of relief as I savored the words.

 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
“With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.

 — Psalm 91 (NASB)

While wiping away my tears, my burden lifted, and my spirit settled into a warm, peaceful place. It’s hard to describe the magnitude of my relief. The verses in Psalm 91 were special to me because they had ministered to me many times before.

There is a song we used to sing at church that has the words of this Psalm for its lyrics. The song and verses have always melted my heart—speaking directly to the unsettled places inside me.

As I read each word of the Scriptures on the bandana, it was as though Christ was sitting there holding me tightly saying, “See, Amy, I will take care of you; I am showing you that I will.” Discovering some of my favorite Scriptures written on a scarf was a sweet personal touch from Jesusstraight from His heart to mine.

While holding the bandana my memory was jolted and I thought of a time in my childhood when I was shopping in a department store with Mimi, and I had gotten separated from her. I was probably about five years old. I can still envision myself standing there with a saleswoman feeling panicked and frightened. Thoughts were racing through my head. Would I be okay? Would I find my grandmother?

Can you imagine the magnitude of my relief when I saw my grandmother’s face after being separated from her? The emotions were overwhelming as I ran to her and embraced her. I felt the same emotions on the day when I stumbled upon the words of Psalm 91 on Mimi’s bandana. I felt warmly held in my Father’s embrace, with an overwhelming sense of love and protection.

Even though it’s been nearly six years since Christ used a scarf to melt away my discomfort and fear, I am still resting in the words of Psalm 91, and I pray those Scriptures over myself and my family each day. Every time God comes to my rescue, my heart falls deeper in love with Him.

The Lord amazes me with His ability to encourage His beloved children. He reveals His love in so many unique ways. Knowing Christ intimately brings us lasting joy and contentment that cannot be snatched away by the circumstances surrounding us.

Jesus is the One who satisfies the soul. He calms us in a chaotic world. He shows us that there is solace and serenity waiting for us. When we run to Him in despair, we find peace. When we run to our Father’s arms—the sacred dwelling place—we are hidden in the beautiful, secret place of His love.

This piece was originally written in 2008.

INEXPRESSIBLY GRATEFUL

Inexpressible Gift

Although there are no human words to express my gratitude for what Christ has done for me, my heart’s desire is to capture the essence of my gratefulness in my prayers and letters to Him. I wrote this letter to Jesus in 2009 as my pledge of love to Him and my commitment to trust Him in every area of my life.

Dear Jesus,

I love You with all of my heart and soul. I love You more than the very breath You give me. Every step I take—I take for You. You excite me! You make my heart sing and dance. You make me happy. You make me want to leap and jump and skip. You make me feel like a little girl. You make me want to wake up every day and look for You.

I feel You with me. I know You’re beside me. I feel Your angels everywhere I go. There’s this amazing covering You have placed over me. Sometimes I feel Your Presence so strongly that I almost think I can touch You. I am grateful.

I am amazed at your love for me. You relentlessly follow me and show me Your Beauty. The joy you have placed in my heart is so overpowering that I can’t contain it at times.

I am overwhelmed by your love. I need You, my Lord, more than anything else and I praise and honor You for the ways You chase me with Your love. In every area I have been deprived in, You have given me an abundance of blessing.

Lord, I don’t want to ever doubt You again. Forgive me for taking so many years to get to this place of trust. I am thankful that I have fully accepted the gift of You and Your love. Help me to continually stay in this place of trust.

I am Yours always…no one can ever take me away from You. Your love permeates my heart. Your love lifts me high. Your love makes my life beautiful. How can I repay You for Your love for me?

Yours forever and always,
Amy

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” — 2 Corinthians 9:15 (ESV)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Grateful.”

 Five Minute Friday

 

A BEAUTIFUL MESS

A Beautiful Masterpiece

“He’s a beautiful mess!” My friend proclaimed these words about her Jesus-loving son a few weeks ago as she talked about her son’s life while we were having lunch together. The moment she said those words, I thought, that’s the perfect way to describe a Jesus-follower. After all, it is Christ who takes our messy lives and turns them into something beautiful over time.

Paul said that we are to boast in our shortcomings because it is in our weaknesses that Christ’s power is made perfect. So after Jesus set me free from being a self-righteous church lady, I began joyfully boasting about my weaknesses.

I believe Christ uses those who openly share their weaknesses with others so much more than the ones who act so stuffy and perfect. Why would people need a savior if they were so perfect, anyway?

Joy oozes out of the souls of those who realize they don’t have to measure up anymore.

That’s the beauty of the gospel message. Jesus came and died so that we could live a life of beauty. The pressure is off to perform. We are free to live abundantly because we have Jesus—the Artist who takes us as a broken mess and creates a beautiful masterpiece of art out of our lives.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Mess.” It took me more than five minutes to write this post today.

Five Minute Friday