The Day of the Ugly Cry

We’ve all had the ugly cry.  The one with tears pouring down uncontrollably.  Snot running, mixing with the tears, no tissues within sight.  Shoulders heaving, chest tightening, body in uncontrollable waves of sobs.  That ugly cry.  We each have a memory that comes to mind when someone says “ugly cry.”  When we are at our absolute lowest of lows, God is there.  He lifts our face and smiles love and hope into our hearts.  That doesn’t always mean it is puppy dogs, rainbows and unicorns though.  (Can you tell I have two little girls?)

I’ve had two big “God gripping my life” ugly cries.  It seems when God needs to get my attention gentle words aren’t effective; I need my head beat against the concrete instead, but I digress.  First ugly cry was the Sunday after I filed for divorce.  Yes, Christians can be divorced, we sin just like the next person (another blog for another day).  That was the first time in many years that I attended church and I sobbed through the entire sermon.  I don’t think I heard a word the pastor said and found myself sobbing and weeping at the front steps of the sanctuary begging for absolution of my sin and confirmation of my salvation in Christ.  (Luke 7:36-50 was me!) That was 8.5 years ago.

The second big ugly cry was in the parking lot at UT Southwestern before my neurosurgeon appointment, to receive a 3rd opinion on my spine and neurological diagnosis.  The first two opinions were not encouraging.  I prayed harder than I’d ever prayed for longer than I’d ever prayed just for that one appointment.  Seriously, when the Bible talks about praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:16-18) that’s what I was doing, for weeks!  Before walking in for the appointment it came down to do I really believe that God is good?  Do I really believe that living the rest of my life in constant nerve pain that cannot be medically improved is God’s best and God’s “good”?  How could a good God really do that in my life?

I decided before I walked in to the appointment that God was good, no matter what.  Then I wiped all the snot and tears away, using at least 10 napkins, gathered myself (and water because I was dehydrated after all that!) and went inside.  The appointment didn’t go well.  I didn’t get good news and the doctor didn’t have the best delivery of the unfortunate news.

However God is good, and he is faithful.  He has used my journey of pain and suffering to reach others for Christ in the most miraculous ways one could imagine.  I met a random woman suffering in constant pain at the exact moment her husband was across the world in the Sea of Galilee praying for help for her pain.  God gave us to each other to love and mentor each other through this journey.  She is now pain free, I am not.  And that’s okay.  I’ve been able to share Christ openly in several doctors offices.  Nurses have been able to see the example of my love and joy through suffering and have received encouragement.

God has used my pain for His glory.  He has used my suffering for His glory.  But the biggest result of my big ugly cries was God changing MY heart towards Him.  I had to pray incessantly to God which forged a new level of relationship with Christ.  He taught me to trust Him even when it doesn’t feel good.  God lifted my head, ignoring my running snot, looked into my eyes and said “Peace be with you.” (Philippians 4:7 ringing in my head).  God taught me it isn’t about this moment, it’s about the future discipleship of others using the giftedness God has given me, which includes my pain.  My pain is a gift from God.  And God is good.

If you are struggling today my friend, be encouraged; God is WITH you and God is FOR you!  He will absolutely give you more than you can handle just so you will rely on Him to make it through.  If you are having a hard time, I encourage you to sit and worship with these songs today: “Blessings” by Laura Story, “Thy Will” by Hilary Scott, and “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix.  These three songs have gotten me through the last 9+ years of pain and worship, worship in pain.

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 29:11 – The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 54:10 – Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

 

Bumps and Bruises

Bumps, scrapes, bruises and blood are all common around our house.  With a rough-and-tumble kid there is no telling what adventure and injury the day will bring.  We’ve had three days of school so far this year, and she’s been to the nurse every single day.  She’s also my child who had four concussions in two years and still continues to be a daredevil to this day.

Life can be a beating as well.  Sometimes there are physical scars but more often there are emotional scars.  The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is a lie.  Words hurt.  We are left hurting and wounded by people’s words, careless actions and senseless deeds.  Sometimes our wounds are temporary and will heal with time.  Other times we are left with permanent scars showing our former hurts and forever wounds.

Be encouraged today.  Bumps, bruises, scars and wounds mean you are actively living life.  If you don’t get in the game of life you won’t have pain and suffering, but you also won’t reap the rewards.  Life is messy.  Life is painful.  Life hurts.  But with Christ, it is worth every bruise, every scar and every wound.  Christ came to save the world not condemn it. (John 12:47)  Jesus loves you and wants to heal your hurts today.  Accept God’s love, grace, mercy and hope today.  Expect joy in Christ in your life today.

PS:  Imagine our scars compared to Jesus’ scars.  Mine will be NOTHING compared to his!

John 12:47 – If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

Psalm 34:4-6 – I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.  This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.

2 Corinthians 3-5 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Psalm 6:1-10: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, nor chasten me in your wrath.  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.  And my soul is also greatly troubled; But you, O Lord – how long?  Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.  For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?  I am weary with my mourning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.  My eye wastes away because of my grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.  Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my please; the Lord accepts my prayer.  All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

Stinky Messy Trash

Tuesdays and Fridays the trash men religiously come by and remove all our trash from the curb.  We are truly thankful for the job they do, twice a week, rain or shine.  They must have the most solid stomachs of anyone on the planet.  If we miss trash day then it becomes a less than thankful moment.  The heaps and mounds and bags upon bags of trash are endless.  Where in the world does all this trash come from!?  How do four people generate that much waste?

Just like there is a “too late” moment for taking out the trash there is a “too late” moment for accepting Christ as your savior.  You never know when you will breathe your last breath.  Once you die, it is done, finished; there is no going back, there is no chasing the trash men down the street begging for them to come back and take your trash.

Christ did not come to the world to judge but to save.  Jesus loves you just as you are.  Messy, imperfect, ugly on the inside, lazy, impoverished, uncared for, you just as you are.  You don’t have to become perfect to receive Christ’s love, Christ was made perfect to be sufficient for you

Don’t wait to take out your trash until the last minute.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to accept Christ.  Pray today, Lord I come to you a mess and I surrender all my stinky trash to you.  I have nothing to offer you but my heart, my whole heart.  God I believe that Jesus Christ lived a blameless life, died on the cross for my sins to pay the penalty for my sins (my stinky trash), and was resurrected on the third day and lives eternally in heaven with God the Father.  Jesus’s sacrifice is the one and only way of salvation. I want to live my life for you God.

If you prayed this prayer today, please reach out so that I can pray for you and offer you encouragement as my brother and sister in Christ.  You are loved and cherished!

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Romans 5:8 – But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Luke 23:39 – One of the criminals who was hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?”  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  And he said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Revelation 22:17 – The Spirit and the Bride say “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Hebrews 5:9 – And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

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Suppositories Are Never Good

I’ve promised to be a real life, speak-it-like-it-is, messy blog.  This one may take the cake and take “messy” to a whole new level, though.

Suppositories are awful.  They are never a good thing.  Maybe the end result of using one is good, but the actual experience is terrible.  When Livi was little she had awful GI issues for months.  We spent hours in the doctor’s offices getting x-rays, blood work, medications, you name it, all just to try and help her get some relief.  Expect Joy Monday night ladies Bible study group was praying for poop (yes we actually prayed for poop) for months.  The prayers and the medical treatments worked and, after a while, Livi was back to normal on her GI functions.

It made me think, though.  What stuff is making us constipated in life?  When we are focused on Christ (and what joy we can experience by following His will), we have balance.  When we lose sight of God’s will, or choose our way over His way, we start to get constipated by the world.  Sometimes we have small hurdles in life that jolt us back to clean living.  Other times we have painful life lessons that bring us to our knees in reliance and submission to God’s will.

My current work schedule is my culprit.  We had some changes at the office a few months ago and the trickle-down effects mean I’m no longer balanced in life the way I once was.  I’m more heavy on work than I am on kids, family, house, God or myself.  I’m constipated by work and the only way to clear it out is by doing something intentionally and strategically to break up the dysfunctional routine and enable the body to form a new rhythm of life.

Spending time in God’s word is the best place to start.  Ask God to reveal the areas that are blocking you from having a joy-filled relationship with Him.  Spend time praying specifically for God to show you His will for your life at its present stage.  Pray for Him to show what your balance should be.  God created the body and He created us.  He knows exactly what we need to function smoothly.  Pray that He strengthen you to follow Him.

Jeremiah 10:23 – I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

1 Corinthians 6:19 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

Super Girl!

Duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh Super-Girl!  (Batman theme song modified for Livi.)  That child is something else.  Her personality is effervescent and fills whatever room she walks into before she ever opens her mouth.  She is all girl with her sparkle skirts, voluminous amounts of jewelry and funky colored nail polish, yet she also likes Lego Batman and Ninja Turtles.  For a recent school project the kids were to make cars out of cardboard boxes and take them to school for a “drive-in” movie.  Her car was a Batmobile painted in Rainbow Dash colors.  That is Livi.  She is Super Girl!

We are each Super Girl in our own way.  We balance kids, work, relationships, marriage, home maintenance, errands, cooking, and so much more.  We take so much onto our plates that there is little room left over for ourselves.  There’s little room left for God.

Today you have permission to take off your Super Girl cape.  Give yourself grace to not check all the boxes, to not get it all right the first time, to not be everyone’s everything.  Be messy today.  Instead of doing your makeup, take that time to have a cup of coffee reading your Bible.  Instead of cooking dinner, serve cereal and use those extra minutes to do a devotional.  Skip the bath with the kids and take those minutes to pray with your spouse.  Those extra few minutes you spend in the Word will refill your Super Girl tank for the days to come.

1 Chronicles 16:11 – See the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Psalm 143:8 – Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 16:8 – I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tired and Over It

Where does one even begin?  Life is so messy.  There are some phases where you feel invincible and that you can weather any storm.  Then there’s other times in life where you feel completely knocked off your feet, unable to breathe and that there’s no way you’ll ever be able to see straight again much less return to life as normal.  Life has a way of breaking you in the most unbreakable ways.  Sometimes you’re just tired and over it.

I’ve had some incredible waves of messy life in my life but some of my friends and loved ones have had way worse.  The horrors of what people walk through in life: the loss of a child, battle with cancer, abuse, addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, and on and on, makes my life look pretty peachy in comparison.  When you love others through the messiness of their life it makes you more thankful for your own messiness.

Sometimes (not always) the greatest cure to pulling us out of the throws of despair from our life circumstances is to get some perspective based on the experience of someone else.  How transparent are you being about your messiness in life?  Are you being genuine when people ask “how you are doing” or do you always answer a general “I’m okay”?  What happens if you’re not okay that day?  It’s sad that as a society we don’t feel that we can be vulnerable with each other to lean on each other in times of need and grow from each other through times of hardship.

Be the catalyst to change.  The next time someone asks “how are you doing today” on a day where you aren’t doing well, tell them the truth.  Tell them “I’m tired and over it.”  You’ll see their walls and defenses come tumbling down.  Maybe they needed to hear about someone else’s messiness of life to put theirs in perspective.  Maybe God will use your words and transparency to cause change and growth in their life.  Who knows how God would use it.  But what harm can it do?

So if you want to ask me, I’d tell you I started my day as a mess, tired and over it.  I ended my day feeling incredibly blessed and highly favored by God.  Not because my day got better as it went, but because God put people in my day to strategically show me that my messiness is a gift, not a burden.  He is showing us that he loves us through our brokenness, through our bad choices and through the broken world we live in.  He is bigger than all this mess, and we should rejoice in that.

Be a blessing to others today.  Be transparent.  Let God use you.  You are blessed and highly favored by God, even in your messiness.

Luke 6:38 – Give and it will be given to you.  They will pour into your tap a good measure-pressed down, shaken together, and running over.  For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus

1 Peter 5:7 – casting all of your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Isaiah 41:10 – Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

 

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