The Invitation: a good invitation?

You’re invited into a quiet, intimate conversation in your favorite comfy place. It’s just you and me in the pause you create in your day. Are we meeting in the morning at the kitchen table with a hot cuppa? Or is it the comfy, oversized chair near the window on a chilly, rainy day? This post is an invitation, and you picked it up. You are here for a purpose. We both are.

Invitation: You're InvitedAn invitation is special. Imagine a beautiful, ivory, embossed envelope on top of the stack of mail as you retrieve it from the box. Because you have received similar envelopes over the years, you immediately form an idea of the secret contents inside—a beautiful, matching card decorated with frilly calligraphy, a smaller envelope, and a response card you’ll fill out. A finger gently slides under the edge of the flap and removes the beautiful card. Wait. What? The ornate card is—blank?

Not a single detail is included. You have no idea who the guests of honor might be. You assumed the event was a wedding, but you can’t be sure; it doesn’t say. It’s impossible to know where you are going or when to arrive. At this point, there’s no reason to believe you’ve actually been invited, except that the invitation was delivered. Why would you attend the event? How could you? What kind of invitation was extended?

This scenario reminds me of my own wedding invitations sent more than two decades ago. We sent beautiful, white and purple invitations to friends and family. Invitations and response cards were tucked in crisp envelopes.

We forgot one detail: maps. Our wedding took place before everyone carried little computers in their pockets with GPS apps. To make things more complicated, the church asked that we change the location of our reception at the last minute, and we settled on the brand-new park district building in the next town. We provided maps in the church lobby for our friends and family, but that made one assumption: all our friends and family made it to the church.

What happened there? We put time and effort into creating a beautiful invitation and reservation card; each invitation was carefully and neatly addressed; and we hoped everyone would come. Local friends had no problem, but forgetting to include a map made it difficult for our distant friends to find the event.

What makes a good invitation? What do you really need in order to say yes to the invitation that appears in your box? I’m curious what you think.

~jennifer

 

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Announcement: A New Thing!

Hi there, if you found me in the last months or years, thank you for returning!

I’ve Announcement: New Thingsbeen MIA, but I used the time to organize things related to my online presence. That meant saying yes to the hard work of building an (slightly imperfect) editing business site and no to some of the things I love, like writing here. When I sifted through the writing on this site, I noticed I was flourishing in my writing—yay!—but it was impossible for a reader to find anything.

I quickly discovered more than one reader in this space. One reader enjoyed reading the thoughts I share on writing and editing. One reader wanted to know more about my experience and journey into health and healing from hard places through the relationship I have with my God, my own self, and with others.

Two words came to mind: simplicity and location, location, location.

Now you can easily find the content you’re looking for. (You’re welcome!)

  • For the writing-editing content, go to qualityediting.net.
    • Develop your writing heart and brain.
    • Visit the new home of the “Hey Writer” series.
    • Learn about the opportunity to partner on your project.
  • For my personal writing and content related to relationship, stay tuned!
    • I’m leaning into the healing journey from hard places.
    • Learn about your relationship to God, yourself, and others.
  • And I’m still writing monthly at facetsoffaith.com on life, faith, and friendship. I’d love to meet you there, too!

There are exciting things on the horizon! You’ll see my popular “Hey Writer” series has vacated this place, but all is not lost. I’ll be introducing new, thought-provoking, heart-tending, life-transforming content. I hope you love it!

Glad you’re here! I hope this announcement helps you in your search for the content to support your next right step.

~Jennifer

Relationship: the Seed We Need

Graphic: Relationship: the Seed We Need, Jennifer J HoweA tiny seed was placed in our souls when we were created. Each of us comes into the world with complete dependence on someone—someone bigger, stronger, wiser, and equipped to navigate the world. An infant can do nothing. She cannot feed, clean, or clothe herself. Every need must be met by a caring person. In a perfect world, that’s exactly what would happen. Newborn cries break through the busy, Care for me. Care for me-e-e! Many mamas and daddies get this so right every day.¹

Beloved friends, let us love one another; because love is from God; and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God. 1 John 4:7 CJB

This is how things should work, and the followers of Jesus should be really good at it. God loves us, so we love others, even the tiniest “others.” Every child should receive love and care. Needs should be met. Loving eye contact should be exchanged consistently. Oooos, Ahhhhs, and baby talk should be every child’s introduction to life.

But we live in this world, and there are problems. Women use the word choice as if the little one had no significance. New life collides with lifestyle. Parents sum up the value of a child in a four-letter word—W-A-N-T—and adjoining words matter. Are they more than anything? If it’s don’t that causes stress for the mama, no doubt. Studies indicate the baby experiences stress and the spectrum of emotion in the womb, and the effects can last.²

I’m reminded an imperfect world often leaves a gap. Stress in utero may have taken a toll. Parent-child connection might be like the San Andreas Fault, shaky and unpredictable. Eye contact may be tentative, angry, or absent. A newborn’s basic needs may go unmet. That’s all trauma to a little one. It’s heartbreaking.

But there is One who can and will fill any gap.

Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you—never. Isaiah 49:15 MSG

The seed of connection is part of the creative plan of God. When we experience life in a contrary way, something deep within us cries out, “This isn’t right!” And it makes sense: we know when something is broken intuitively, even if we can’t put words to it. When people fail (and they do), the seed in our soul cries out for water and sunlight.

People, even mamas, may fail. God will not. He will never forget any of us because we are so precious to Him. One day we’ll need to explore where God is when it all goes wonky, but this isn’t that day. Today we focus on our unfailing, loving God. He offers perfect connection when the important threads of our lives are left in shreds.

If you are the one who comes from hard places, a less-than-loving introduction to life, He remembers you. If you are the one who comes from hard places and then impacted a little one in your choices, He remembers you. He wants to heal the broken places. He wants you to know that the first connection you need is to Him.

But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. John 1:12-14a CSB

The identity of a child changes. The brokenness is never erased, but the story is beautifully redeemed when He redeems you. Imagine: no longer defined by the hard places, no longer left to the trauma, no longer called the child from the broken home with no significance or blessing. You are His. That changes everything!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. I believe I’ll share posts of this nature as well as my “writing about writing” content. I hope you find the material to be helpful, something that serves you well, friend.

~Jennifer


¹ Make a Difference Monday | Taking A Closer Look at Connection: a TBRI Principle, October 31, 2018.

² Fetus to Mom: You’re Stressing Me Out!, October 31, 2018.

Believing God: Promises Kept

Blog Graphic_ Smoke (orange overlay)Hello, friends. I’m so glad you’ve stopped by to take a peek at what’s new in my little corner of cyberspace. This post is my attempt to share the speaking material I brought to a women’s event last week, though I’m not sure any of it exclusively pertains to women. I think you’ll see why.

The overarching theme for the night was settled: Becoming a Woman Who Walks with Jesus. When I began to think about “walking with Jesus,” I noodled what it might mean to walk with Him, and if there might be significance to the “what” and “how” of that.

My own story includes a sweet moment in time when a friend told me about the “relationship” part of Christianity. Through that conversation I knew Christianity was attending church, but I suspected it was also more than attending church. I knew it was knowing what the Bible said, but I secretly hoped it was also more than knowing what the Bible said.

Twenty-five years ago I didn’t know that being “saved” wasn’t the one-and-done prayer I prayed. I had no idea that life could still be hard after I prayed. And I really didn’t know how sweet that relationship with God could be.

Maybe that’s why, when I thought about this night, one word dominated my mind: Believe. The verses I trust Holy Spirit brought to mind almost immediately and very strongly were the ones about Abraham believing God.

Do you know those verses?

For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Romans 4:3 CSB

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18 NIV

So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness , and he was called God’s friend. James 2:23 CSB

Believing God
What was Abraham believing? He must be believing in the existence of God—and His good, loving heart
. He must have trusted the words he heard—the promises from God
. And he believed in the truth and permanence of both
. Ultimately, he trusted in God’s power to keep the promises.

Let’s talk about Promises…
A promise’s value and worth lies somewhere within the promise itself. Some are better than others. In the Bible some are for specific people (in a place or time). The promises are still good and reveal something to us today about the character and power of God. Some of the promises are for us today, and I think we should pay special attention to those.

Most importantly, a promise is nearly completely dependent upon the one making it! When someone speaks a promise but never makes good on it, we question their integrity or sanity, or both. (Or we question our own for believing the lies so many times, don’t we?)

These aren’t ordinary promises; they are God’s.

Is God a Promise Maker…and Keeper?
For me to trust any of God’s promises, I would want to see what’s true of His character first. If even one was broken, then trust in any of them would be altogether foolish. If God is even a little wishy-washy, I don’t want to trust Him. Period. Who would? Any list of promises I could compile might be full of half-truths, lies, or bait-and-switch moves, right?

So what does the Bible say?

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

Furthermore, the Eternal One of Israel does not lie or change His mind, for He is not man who changes his mind.” 1 Samuel 15:29

…in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, Titus 1:2

Joshua, who experienced the leadership of Moses, up-close-and-personal, testifies to the promises of God:

Not one good thing that ADONAI had spoken of to the household of Isra’el failed to happen; it all took place. Joshua 21:45 CJB

“Not one good thing.” Every one of the promises was fulfilled. Joshua would know (Numbers 11:28).

God was truthful in in Moses’ time, but what about now? Are the promises for a group of people in a land far away who are long dead and gone?

I’m thankful Paul writes

For however many promises God has made, they all find their “Yes” in connection with him; that is why it is through him that we say the “Amen” when we give glory to God. 21 Moreover, it is God who sets both us and you in firm union with the Messiah; he has anointed us, 22 put his seal on us, and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee for the future. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 CJB

God’s promise to Abraham
God’s foundational promise to Abraham was made in sacrifice and covenant. In Genesis 15 we notice the “blood path” covenant made. I see that the LORD walked through, but not Abraham. Long story short, only God could keep the promise being made. Making this kind of promise was saying “May it be to me—may I be torn apart and killed as the animals lining the path—if this covenant is broken.” The LORD makes this covenant and is saying, “If you (Abraham) break this covenant, may it be to me, not you.”

God’s Promise to Us
God’s foundational promise of love to us was made on a hill outside Jerusalem on an execution stake. Jesus, the God-man, at the cross is our covenant with God fulfilled.

For it is clear that He [Jesus] does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring. Therefore He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:16-17

“May it be to Me…”
Jesus was beaten, torn apart, and killed. For us. That promise was kept.

God said, “I will…” We say, “I believe You” with our all our hearts when we give Him our lives!

We have been given an incredible gift at the cross. The payment for sin is death, and none of us could pay the debt to holy, perfect God. In His great love for us, God has given us a second gift.

The Promise to Help Us
Ultimately, God promised to rescue us, and He did at that execution stake. Yet we still live in this world, as messed up and distorted as it is. But it’s not the end. God promised those who love Jesus a “seal…a guarantee for the future,” Holy Spirit in us.

In our covenant with God, He waits for us ask the Father to show Himself and His love, to be near and present as our Daddy-God. He waits for us to choose Him, to ask Him to intervene, to ask Jesus to forgive and cover our sin, and to ask Holy Spirit to teach, lead, help us moment-by-moment. Out of that relationship with God, through Jesus—we live out of that and have the ability and desire to obey His wise and loving direction.

Friend, the promise of redemption is real, and it’s for everyone. Better yet, we can be sure it was made to us and kept! From Genesis to Revelation, the story is all about one single promise: our redemption.

That begins with an intimate moment with Jesus at the cross and continues every day until we see God face-to-face (when our redemption is complete).

“B-b-b-but, God…”
God makes and keeps promises. In faith on a good day, I can believe that. But I’m human and faith-challenged sometimes. Truthfully, I have a lot in common with “doubting Thomas” (John 20)
 and the desperate father of the boy controlled by a spirit (Mark 9). I can just hear my heart saying the same words—

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

I ask myself, How would I, or anyone, know I believe His promises? I answer that question differently today than at other times.

Some time ago, I thought listening and repeating truth equaled belief. Now I know truth informs belief, but believing God’s promises is more than that.

Trusting the words I read to be true begins to get at it. But want to be very clear I’m not talking about blind or misplaced faith in the words. Thankfully, as we look closely at Scripture, we can see that studying the whole of the Bible informs the whole of it. Authors agree across the distances of time and space.

Now, living like it’s true—thinking, speaking, and acting according to the belief—that’s when believing the promises has legs!

I find it helpful to remember these things:

God’s promises are written down in the Bible.
God’s character is revealed in the promises He makes and keeps.
His promises to me show His love for me.

What are God’s promises to me?
I’ve been on the hunt for some of God’s individual promises (in addition to the foundational two I fleshed out: the cross and the Spirit). I think I found two kinds of promises.

Some are what I might call “blanket promises” that are gifts.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a CSB

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 CSB

The grace and the good work are His to do. Blanket promises sound a little like these two, and they show the beautiful heart of God to us in the things we cannot earn or increase in any way. When you read Scripture, take a close look to see if there is a promise embedded in the passage you’re reading. Is it a gift to you from God?

Then there are the promises we participate in. These are some of my favorites because they speak to the relationship with Him that I desperately need and want to cultivate.

All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. Matthew 11:29 CSB

When I’m in relationship with God through Jesus, I can choose to learn God’s ways (and do them), as Jesus teaches and the Spirit empowers. Then I see there is the promise of rest. I don’t see striving or living up to some imagined expectation. I see relationship leading to a beautiful life.

For me, as one who often strives for so many things (including perfection), this promise of rest means more to me than many others. What does that rest mean to you? When you read, be on the lookout for opportunity to partner with God, knowing He infuses you with all you need.

One Final Thought…
What have we done to the Christianity and its Gospel? An old, broken, distorted view reigns until we understand the truth and reality of the Gospel (which is every redemptive promise God makes to us).

I’ve noticed a new theme when we discuss the Christian life: we do Christianity. We have an unspoken hope to attain some kind of spiritual maturity through the disciplines—all of which are beautiful gifts to cultivate our relationship with God, but are never the things by which we reach relationship with Him.

I’ve also seen a “one-and-done” mindset when it comes to being saved and

I might suggest that we believe God.

Is there a difference? What do you think?

Thanks for reading along. This is a good deal of my talk, with a few additions and minimal eliminations. I’d love to hear what you think!

Below you’ll find the discussion questions made available to the groups that night, too.

Enjoy!

Jennifer

 


Group Questions:

Do I believe God’s promises? Why or why not?

 

God, what are your promises? Which ones can I recall? (Make a list including promises you think you know and the ones you’ve found in Scripture.)

 

Which promises are for me? (List verses, so you can go back to them when you need to.)

 

Verses from tonight:
Abraham: Romans 4:3, 18; James 2:23
Truthful God: Numbers 23:19; Joshua 21:45; 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2
Abrahamic Covenant: Genesis 15
God’s promises (Jesus and Holy Spirit): 2 Corinthians 1:20-22; Hebrews 2:16-17
“Blanket promises” or gifts: 2 Corinthians 12:9a; Philippians 1:6
Promises we participate in: Matthew 11:29

My One Word: Diligence

Some years I have taken the time to select a word I want to delve into a bit more. I want to grow personally, and having a word for the year has proven to bring my mind back to the “theme” fairly often in that year. Last year, I tried to spend time thinking about what life might look like with a heart of humility. This year I’ve settled on diligence.

I’ve got to be completely honest. This year’s word feels more challenging than the last. You see, I have a creative mind, and one of the beauties of that creativity is it’s paired with a “lively mental nature” (read: a wee bit of a focus and follow through problem). Some call it the “Oooooh, shiny!” part of life. Others call it the “Squirrel!” life.

If you’ve followed along, you know I’ve got projects going behind the scenes. I’m beginning the year with a speaking-teaching engagement mid-January. I have the honor of writing at a beautiful collaborative site with my friends (facetsoffaith.com). The writing ideas I have for my own blog clamor for attention. A little draft of an ebook waits in the wings closer to finished than I want to admit (admitting how close it is would probably mean it should’ve been done by now). I have another deeply-personal behemoth of a project that cries for attention (this one’s like eating an elephant one bite at a time). I’m negotiating another large editing project (that I’m really excited about!). I’ve been developing some new online educational course content in the Moodle-Collaborate environment (more slowly than I’d really like). My son needs to finish high school coursework. And then there’s this other little thing I wonder if my husband and I will pursue in the future.

*D-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-eep breath!*

Truthfully, I’m a little overwhelmed at that paragraph up there. I think my heart rate just quickened by 15 bpm. Those are just the spinning plates that I know about right now. As 2018 rolls along new ideas, projects, and responsibilities will appear on the horizon more than a few times.

I think that’s why my word is diligence.

Sometimes I’d like to have more hours in the day. Isn’t that what most of us would say? What I think I really need is better use of the time in a day. I don’t know if this is true for you, but I’m a little surprised every time I tally my time. I don’t really want to know how much time I’m using on social media, but I need to be honest about it. I don’t really want to count the time spent on Celebrities: Where are They Now? and Royal Family Members Doing Royal Things and Dogs Doing Dog Things slideshows. (I’m not the only one that gets sucked in by those clicks, right?) And so—I thought diligence would be a great focus this year!

I took the time to create a “reminder” for me in my social media accounts. I’m pretty sure this is about the same as a sticky note. What do you think?

2018 TW Diligence

When distraction comes knocking, I’ll be the one refusing to answer the door! I’ll be trying different things to streamline my focus (by eliminating any distractions I can manage).

Do you take the time to select a word for the year? If so, I’d love to know what yours is. Share away!

~jennifer

Favorite Things: Faith

It’s always been my heart to write about the things that are closest to my heart. This is that. I love to write, and I love lots of other activities, but at the core of my identity is my faith. I hope you enjoy this share from my favorite collaborative project site with my dearest friends. Enjoy!

Original post located at facetsoffaith.com.


 

I labored over the topic of faith for this post. I’m not sure how to describe the seasons and my ever-growing understanding of faith, and there is good reason.

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1 CSB

Faith can be as easy as sitting in a chair, knowing it will hold the weight; but it can seem as complex as stepping out of the boat onto the waves driven by strong winds (Matthew 14:21-33). How are these two scenarios related? It’s the unknown factor in both. The chair may not hold me. I may not walk on the waves; I might even drown. I’ve yet to suffer a panic attack over a chair, but the waves…those could terrify me.

My faith has been like that. Simple chairs. Crashing waves.

Faith requires following through when we can’t see the path we’ll take or the destination.
My experience of faith is like that. When I first began to live with God, I was happy to trust Jesus with my laundry list of sins. It was long and ugly. It was obvious I had offended God with my decisions if I just looked at the “Big Ten” in Exodus 20. My Bible showed every kind of proof that Jesus could be trusted with my sin. Through trust in Jesus’ payment at the cross I could have peace with the holy, perfect God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 CSB (emphasis mine)

But, could I trust the Father with my “somewhere out there eternity” and my life? Life decisions are tiny and moment-by-moment—and they are monumental every so often. Can He be trusted with everything? This is all about the waves!

At the crux of it are two straightforward, difficult decisions: trust Jesus with your sins at the cross for the saving of your life and trust Him with more and more life choices for the direction and course correction of your life.

Having only a vague idea where each decision may land but making the decision based in biblical truth anyway—that’s faith. For some, that’s embarking on an exciting adventure. For others, it’s a frightening look at the waves, wondering if they will bear the weight. Faith is like that.

Something you should know is that I can be happy in the land of obvious, easy black and white. In one season of life I thought my faith was like that: things should always fit neatly in the right-wrong or good-bad extreme categories. That feels easy when the discussion is about lying, stealing, and murder. It’s troubling when a beer, a tattoo, or junk food becomes the topic of conversation. I held strong, self-assured opinions, and I forced my perspectives and stark contrasts on others in that season. I’m not proud of it. That had little to do with biblical faith.

And then God did something new.

One of many beautiful, golden threads woven into the fabric of faith is grace. Someone pointed out graceless words flowing from my heart, and I was stunned. My black-white paradigm was often unloving and uncaring when I talked with others.

“As a Christian, you can’t do THAT! You’re sinning!”

I couldn’t argue with the evidence. I had once cherished the grace upon grace I read about in the Bible, but I began to overlook the lovely gracious words to focus on the hard, “no wiggle room” truth. In my eyes, the scales of truth and justice became much larger than the distant, old, wooden cross.

Faith decisions only came out of extremes, rather than asking the more important questions—What does God have to say about this for me? What true and loving thing does He say about this for the people of God?

That season was longer and sadder than I’d like to admit, but by God’s grace I was drawn back to the Word of God again. Out of that precious time came a little known place in the blogosphere: Fragrant Grace.

That’s when faith, truth, and grace intertwined. So precious!

Then a new season began to take hold—the season I’m waking to and discovering now.

Just one thing: live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a

When I remember Jesus’ incredible, loving sacrifice on the cross, it starts to get real. I accept the benefits of the blood of Jesus and His name as my identity confidently now and forever. As a daughter of God something in my heart, mind, words, and actions starts to look different (even if it’s far from perfect). I’m not doing anything as if I earn points with God, but I do it because I love the One who assigned infinite value to my life by dying for me. I begin to want to live a life worthy of the God who saved me from myself and my sin. It’s a bit more bold and a little louder. Why? Because rightly placed and understood faith makes an eternal difference for me—and for every single soul on earth. And I’m not sure the unseen, private faith turns out to be any faith at all.

~j

We Need a Hero…

As I think about my life, I’m ever grateful for the hero in the story. When I was young, I watched The Adventures of Letterman on television. He was a cartoon, but he saved the day nonetheless!

Faster than a rolling ‘O’
Stronger than silent ‘E’
Able to leap capital ‘T’ in a single bound!
It’s a word, it’s a plan…it’s Letterman! (The Adventures of Letterman, The Electric Company. PBS. 1971-1977.)

A damsel in distress needs a hero, doesn’t she! How many times does the hero swoop in at just the right time to save the girl trapped in the villain’s dastardly plan? Thankfully, every time. And what kind of terrible villain was at work in my life? The worst enemy imaginable: the one who wants to see me destroyed— body, mind, and soul—forever. For-ev-er.

Once upon a time, I was a petite young lady looking to wake up and conquer each new day in some fresh way. Home life. School life. Social life. Life was all about me, and I had the ability to meet the challenges in creative ways. But the skills I used were entirely mine. There was no need to look for the hero in the story then. Oh, I did that when I was younger, but the hero never came. I was able to meet my own challenges and succeed well enough. Good enough. Smart enough. And—bonus!—a decent number of people liked me.

Isn’t that how most people handle the world? Is there any other way?

Maybe there is, but back then, I didn’t know any other way.

Speeding down the highway in a ’71 Pontiac Catalina in 1990, music blaring. Later speeding down the highway in an ’96 Chevette, music blaring. Queen of the road—my own road.

Something was happening, though, behind the curtain in the realm I couldn’t see.

All the pain. All the hurts. Some I chose, and some others recklessly dumped on me. I had to take it all somewhere. Without resolution, the wounds festered, cancerous to my soul. Where could a girl take the pain of life and know there could be healing? Tumbling through the villain’s cycle for my life, I stuffed the emotion until implosion or explosion. Then I started again. No release. I wreaked havoc on my own life, but targeted others as often as I could to lessen the pain.

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;  Isaiah 43:1-3a

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

My pain was real, and I acted out of that pain for years. But the God of the universe was willing to rescue me when I was still an angry, spiteful, pain-driven woman for so many years. Knowing I would hate Him (and any other male figure in society)…

He took the beating, the long walk to the hill carrying that crossbeam, and the nails in his hands and feet. The wood slivers shredded his skin as he rose to draw each breath and sunk to rest between. The spear pierced his side.

He didn’t have to endure that. Jesus was perfectly innocent and powerful enough to make things happen differently, if he wanted. He could have chosen to remain at a distance. He could have left me (and all of us) to the consequences and justice deserved. But love motivated every step to the cross. And love held him there.

We have no right to be even acknowledged, let alone in the presence of Holy God, in our sin-ravaged state.

But God…

Rescued.

Redeemed.

In relationship.

Thanks for reading along.

~j