12.22.2009

The messy girl and her Messiah

I sat down today to spend a few minutes reading my Bible and decided to read the Christmas story in Mark. I couldn’t remember ever reading the Christmas story in that gospel, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Well, it appears Mark believes in cutting to the chase.

There’s no mention of a manger. No Mary and Joseph. No baby Jesus. No bright star or angels or heavenly hosts. No silent night. No holy night.

As a matter of fact, if Mark was the only gospel where Jesus’ entrance to this world was mentioned, Christmas would look vastly different.

There would be no gifts.

There would be no Linus delivering the stellar line in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

There would be no lights shining so brightly.

There would be a wild looking man named John the Baptist dressed in leather and camel hair, preparing the way for Jesus by preaching one message. A message we don’t typically hear at Christmas.

A message that’s rough around the edges and little hard to swallow alongside my sausage balls and cheese blintzes.

Repentance.

That one word sums up the beginnings of the Christ story according to Mark.

“And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins…” (Mark 1: 4-5).

This is about the place in the sermon where I start hoping some people I know are really paying attention. I climb up on my mental high horse and think, “Thank you Lord for this message all these people need to hear- because you know how they act. You know how selfish they are. Whew. And you know so and so just needs a full out repentance revival. Mercy!”

It’s a that point, Jesus whispers to me. It’s a message to you and you alone. You need this message, Lysa. I am calling you to repent. This is the way you need to prepare for Christmas in your heart this year.

“I will send a messenger ahead of you, who will prepare the way- a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’ ” (Mark 1:2-3).

The girl who can be such a mess.

Hears the messenger calling for repentance.

So, she makes Christmas not the same old story but a message meant for her heart.

And she whispers once again, “I’m sorry Jesus. Forgive me. Heal me. Restore me. Those little places I excuse. Those same old things that trip me up. The pride that keeps me thinking it’s someone else’s fault. The busyness that makes me forget to stop and consider my ways- my thoughts- my actions. You, Messiah are the best match for my mess.”

I doubt this will ever be the most popular version of the Christmas story but for me this year, it’s perfect.

12.21.2009

a moment of hush in the rush

I have absolutely loved doing the 37 days of kindness we started together a while back.

I would count the days but that would require more brain power than I’m capable of right now. And I have to save that power to wash my hair today and throw a birthday party and take one of my favorite friends out tonight for a girl’s night.

Speaking of washing my hair, I must tell you thank you for all your shampoo suggestions.

I am like most you. I like cheap. I like Target. Or the Walmart. I don’t discriminate. Just give me a good deal on something that will make the top of my head look like something other than a nice place to fry eggs.

Which is exactly what my hair starts to look like on day 3 of my little hair trick. And just because I know you have nothing else to do today than read my hair schedule, I will let you in on my secret.

Day 1: The major chore. Every hair must be washed because you can’t go another day putting it off. Then every hair must be dried and flat ironed and sprayed and sprayed. Then a few out of sorts pieces must be snipped and apologies whispered to Amber.

Day 2: The semi chore. Only the bangs and the sides nearest my face must be washed. Every thing else gets pulled back into a pony tail and ignored. Until the drying and spraying and snipping process begins. This saves major time.

Day 3: Who cares. I might wash 12.9 strands that seem plain awful and let the rest fend for themselves. And with all my extra time I’ve saved I think of stuff.

Yesterday was a 12.9 strand day. Glory be, I love 12.9 strand washing days.

And during all my extra thinking of stuff time, I started to feel a little overwhelmed at all my friends facing big things. This friend. And this friend. And this friend, just to name a few. Really big things. Things that can rattle a girls heart and leave her needing some assurance and love.

So, I’ve decided for the next several days I’m going to stick a handful of cards in my purse and find moments to write notes of love and encouragement to my friends. While I wait in a line. Or wait for a child. Or wait for my appointment. Or wait for any reason at all.

Normally waiting feels like a waste of time to me but not this week. This week I will treasure the moments of hush in the rush. And I will love. And give. And think of. And pray for. And celebrate my Jesus who modeled for us what friendship should be.

Not bad for a girl with greasy hair, hunh?
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The winner from last week is Angela T. Ramsey… congrats!

Merry Christmas week dear friends.

12.17.2009

Will you fill me?

In my “Encouragement for Today” Devotion, I wrote about how we girls can sometimes be found holding out a little heart shaped cup to our spouse, our kids, our friends, our possessions, or our jobs and ask, “Will you fill me?”

If you are visiting from the devotion… welcome. I’m glad you’ve popped over. The list of verses I promised can be found below. But first, I hope you’ll read this:

We were created to experience the full love of God. When we try to get other people or other things to fill that which only God was made to fill, the remaining emptiness can make us girls desperate. I know. I’ve walked those roads.

And when people, possessions, and positions didn’t fill me, I turned to food.

Ever been there?

I felt as if life was already denying me so much. For heaven’s sake, everything I wanted seemed out of reach but these cookies were right here. And I wanted them. And I knew they would taste good. And no one had the right to tell me I couldn’t have them. So there.

I think many of us have been around this mountain a time or two or twenty seven. But I love what God instructs in Deuteronomy 2:3, “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.”

Turn north it’s time to move on to something new. Turn north, it’s time to stop trying to get everything else to fill you. Turn north and let the truth of my love seep into every deep recess of your soul. Only I can fill you, so turn north and see.

For me, this has to start with me admitting my feelings to the Lord and asking for his help. But I’ll be honest, often in times of struggle I’m over playing the plastic prayer game.

Rote prayers I’ve repeated thousands of times just won’t cut it when there’s Goldfish and Oreos calling to me from the pantry and my resolve has worn thin as a tissue. I’ve been known to pray as I’m stuffing myself full, “God, thank you for this food. Take it to the nourishment of my body and please change the molecular structure of these goldfish to be that of carrot sticks.”

Since I hardly think that’s a sign of heading north… I have to have another prayer strategy. And a few years ago, I found exactly what I needed- prayers where I don’t speak at all.

Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

In a huff one day I sat down to pray and had absolutely no words. None. I felt so empty.

I sat there staring blankly. I had no suggestions. I had no solutions. I had nothing but quiet tears and a little chocolate smeared on my top lip. Finally, God broke through to me when a thought rushed through my mind and caught me off guard, “I know you want me to change your circumstances, Lysa. But, right now I want to focus on changing you.”

I didn’t necessarily like what I heard during this first time of praying where I didn’t speak at all, but at least I felt I was connecting with God. I hadn’t felt that in a long time.

Since I wanted to keep that connection I started making it a habit to sit quietly before the Lord more often. I just trusted that the Holy Spirit would indeed lift up the exact right prayers for me like Romans 8:26 promised.

Sometimes I would cry. Sometimes I’d sit with a bad attitude. Sometimes I’d sit with a heart so heavy I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to carry on much longer. But as I sat, I sensed God was there. And I started to discern changes that I needed to make in response to my circumstances- responses that didn’t include using food for comfort. Responses that didn’t demand fulfillment from anyone or anything but God.

If I was really going to head north and make lasting changes, I would have to empty myself of the lies that other things or people could ever make me feel full. Then I would have to fill up on God’s truths.

The more I’ve filled myself up with the truths of God’s love the less and less I find myself pulling out that little heart shaped cup.

That’s why I wrote “Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl” to walk women through the process of learning how to have a fulfilling relationship with God. You can order your copy by clicking here. (But, wait… I have something I want to give you first!)

In the meantime, here’s a list of some of my favorite verses reminding us just how filling God’s love really is:

Ephesians 3:17- 19, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Psalm 89:2
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

1 John 4:9
This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him.

Romans 5:5
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

1 John 3:1
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Psalm 103:8
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Psalm 103:17
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him

1 John 2:5
But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him.

I pray this encourages you sweet friend. Happy (almost) weekend.