Sunday, May 10, 2009

TSMSS - You Wouldn't Cry for Me...



Last Friday a very close friend of mine lost her brother to a sudden heart attack. Over this past week I have spent a lot of time in the presence of the family. I can not express how deeply moved I have been by the sadness and grief that swirled around me. How many times I prayed for the peace of God to fall on that family, I can not say. How many times I wiped away my own tears as I empathized with the pain of those that cried around me, I can not say. How many times I wished I could just do or say something so right that it would fix the brokenness, I can not say.

What I can say is that death is never easy... at least not for those of us on this side of heaven. We want another conversation, another smile, another laugh, another hug. We long for another anything that will bring us close to them once again. And time and time again we are reminded that they are, “in a better place”... but those words can sometimes seem so cliché when stacked up against the gut wrenching pain and disbelief of our loss.

And yet... they ARE in a better place. Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-4) and that is where those that believed in Him have gone. John tells us that Heaven is a place of no more tears, no more death, no more sorrow and no more pain (Rev 21:4), a place where the Glory of the LORD shines forth leaving no room for the darker things of this life (Rev 21:11).

Heaven is a better place, a much better place. May we comfort and encourage one another with the hope we have in the promise of eternal life and the resurrection (1 Thess 4:13-18).

I wanted to post something today that really speaks this truth and Mandisa's You Wouldn't Cry just seemed to fit so perfectly. I pray this song ministers to all of us that have ever grieved the loss of someone dear.

I pray specifically for my friend and her family:

Father, You are the Mighty Counselor, the Protector, the Burden Bearer and the Strength Renewer. You have promised rest, shelter and refuge for all that call on Your name. You have promised to bind up the broken hearted and rescue those that are crushed in spirit. And You have promised to never leave nor forsake. Father, I lift this family up to You. They are broken in their grief and their hearts are hurting. Life as they knew it has been forever changed and there are tough times ahead for them. I pray that each one of them will turn to You and that they will feel your comforting hands around them. I pray that the peace that surpasses all understanding will just fall on them and hold them up in these difficult days ahead. May they find consolation in the knowing that Joseph is now with You and that he is in a better place. In Jesus name, Amen.


Peace and Love to you all,





You Wouldn't Cry - Mandisa

All you saw was pain
All you saw was rain
But you should see me now
Moments filled with tears
Lasted all those years
Disappeared somehow
You never said goodbye
On your knees you cry
You're still asking why... but

Blue has never been bluer
True has never been truer
Honey never tasted so sweet
There's a song in the breeze
A million voices in praise
A rose has never smelled redder
The sun has never been brighter
If I could find the right words to say
If you could look at my face
If you could just see this place
You wouldn't cry for me today

What you think you see
Isn't really me
I'm already home
You've got to lay it down
'Cause Jesus holds me now
And I am not alone
Your faith is wearing thin
But I am watching Him
And He is holding you, too... and

Blue has never been bluer
True has never been truer
Honey never tasted so sweet
There's a song in the breeze
A million voices in praise
A rose has never smelled redder
The sun has never been brighter
If I could find the right words to say
If you could look at my face
If you could just see this place
You wouldn't cry for me today

You wouldn't cry for me today

What may seem like years will just be a moment
Oh, the day will come
When I'll show you where you're going
I can't wait to show you... that

Blue has never been bluer
True has never been truer
Honey never tasted so sweet
There's a song in the breeze
A million voices in praise
A rose has never smelled redder
The sun has never been brighter
If I could find the right words to say
If you could look at my face
If you could just see this place
You wouldn't cry for me today...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On Healing and Faith - Part 1 - Did Jesus Die for Our Good Health?

I don't generally write much that could be considered controversial or divisive, so I realize that I am kind of taking a risk here. But, writing about this has been on my heart for a long, long time.

For the past several years, I have been burdened to seek out the truth about some of the extreme teachings on healing and faith that I have heard - particularly those coming from the Word of Faith movement. Perhaps you have heard a phrase like this a few times in your own Christian walk -

“Just believe, by faith, that you will be healed and YOU WILL BE HEALED!”

Now before I get much further... let me just say that nothing I write, in any way, denies the truth that God can and sometimes does choose to heal – sometimes in seemingly miraculous ways. Only an utter fool would argue that He can't or won't. What I want to talk about is not whether He heals, but whether He promises that He will always do so in response to our faith. In other words, was divine healing promised to all believers in the atonement?

Now, the most immediate answer to that question is – Yes. Of course there is healing in the atonement – every Christian knows that Jesus defeated death on that cross and every Christian knows that someday we will be receiving glorified bodies which will be free from pain and suffering.

BUT (and this is a BIG but)... is the promise of divine healing for the here and now? Perhaps the simplest way to phrase the question would be – Can we expect, on the basis of our faith, that we WILL ALWAYS be healed of our sickness and disease? Or better yet - Did Jesus die for our good health?

I'm going to follow up in the next few days. May we all approach this question with a heart and mind willing to be open and submissive to the Word of God. As always, I welcome your comments and emails (actually I love getting them) - whether you agree with me or not.

In the mean time – God's peace be upon you.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thankful Thursday... Five Good Things... One GREAT God

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey

I'm joining the ladies over at Truth4thejourney for Thankful Thursday. The task – simple – name 5 things that I would like to thank God for today. So here goes:

1. A warm home. Yep, it's about 10 degrees below zero here in Illinois and we're headed to 20-30 below by night's end. Yikes! Old man winter has wrapped his freezing cold grip around the state and there is no where to run outside... it's just brutal out there. Thank you, LORD that I can marvel at the snow and ice from the inside of a toasty home.

2. A son who loves the LORD. Hubby and I are pilgrim parents – raising our son in a first generation Christian home. My 6 year old loves God's word. He loves Jesus. And I am everyday amazed watching him grow up in his faith firmly planted in the soil of God's love.

3. Friends. So, I got stranded at a friend's house yesterday. The night before I'd slept over because I was too tired to drive and the weather was getting nasty. The next morning when I went to leave, my car wouldn't start. The battery had succumbed to the cold and was DEAD. So, from 10:30 in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon, my friend worked with me to get that car jump started. Our toes and fingers were numbed and our patience was tested, but we survived it and WE FINALLY GOT THAT CAR STARTED! And while I am so thankful that we got the car going, I am even more thankful that I have a friend like her. She graciously made my problem her problem and refused to let me give up in frustration. What's more – her positive attitude and sense of humor actually made the whole experience - dare I say – FUN... Oh, I just love that God has brought that girl into my life!

4. My blog. The Journeying Forward blog has become my home on the Internet. I love coming here. I love that this place was one of the first I found where I could be transparent and honest about who I am, what I've been through and what God is showing me. I've shared a lot and others have shared a lot with me. I have taught others and have learned a lot from others. I've been lifted up and have lifted others up. What an amazing blessing! Did I tell you – that I LOVE this place???

5. The Cadbury Creme Egg. I can't help it! I adore these things. They are so bad for my body, but OH so good for my tongue. I just love biting through that milk chocolate shell and reaching that ooey gooey stuff inside. Making them even more alluring is the fact that they are only sold between New Year's day and Easter. Once Easter's over, you just have to wait until next year to get your hands on one of them. So, yesterday, a friend of mine surprised me with my first one of the year and I have been in confectionery ecstasy ever since. Oh, Cadbury Creme Egg, it had been way too long... : )

So, what are you thankful for this Thursday???

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sharing The Struggle - My Social Anxiety



This week's Cafe Chat Question: What is one thing that you feel you cannot share with another person about yourself? (You think if they knew this one thing or struggle that they may not accept you).


Hmmm... had to think about this one for a bit. If I had been asked this same question 2 or 3 years ago, the list of unmentionables would have been at least a mile long and a mile wide and I probably wouldn't have admitted to a single one of them... BUT... God has been working a major change in me. Throughout the past couple of years, He has slowly stripped away the fear of rejection that often accompanies sharing and has made transparency and mask removal a top priority for me. He has placed some incredible Sisters of faith in my path that have open ears, kind hearts and nonjudgmental tongues. Ladies that have lifted me up, despite my tendency to just wanna' lay down and pulled me out, despite my inclination to draw inside.

As I pondered this question today, I realized just how good it feels to have sisters like that in my life. Thank you LORD, for each and every one of them!

Having said that, I still do struggle with my lifelong personal nemesis - Social Anxiety and I have to admit that I'm not always honest about just how much I am struggling.

The medical community describes the “disorder” as an extreme and persistent fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. The anxiety is rooted in a deeply irrational fear of being judged and evaluated by others. For some real life examples of how this can play out in one's daily life GO HERE. You won't believe how crazy this can be. I can so relate to every one of the examples listed at that link and you'll see what a day is like inside this brain of mine. : )

Anyway, up until about two years ago, the anxiety had become soooo out of control, that I literally just dropped out of society. I barely talked to anyone outside of my immediate family and rarely left my house. The fear gripped me so tightly that I kept the curtains closed, ignored the ringing phone and avoided people all together. It was a very sad and lonely period in my life.

At one of my worst moments, I remember one day when I jumped on top of my toddler son to stop him from running to the front door when a meter reader from the electric company had rang the bell. I literally threw myself on top of him and forced him to lay down and be quiet until the man left. I didn't want the meter reader to know that anyone was home because I was afraid of having to interact with him. My son wasn't hurt or anything, but there was this overwhelming fear in his sweet little eyes. A few moments later, I lost it. I locked myself in the bathroom and just started bawling as I realized that if I didn't do something about this, I was going to hand this fear down to my child.

It was then that I really began to seek after God about this. I began praying for healing and His response was to use the body of Christ to send amazing people into my life that have made me feel safe enough to step outside of my comfort zone. Little by little, I have shared the real me and I have discovered the real them. Through these relationships, I have shared the secret things of my life that I had always been afraid to share in the past. This in and of itself, has had an amazing impact on the intensity of my anxiety.

Having said that, the thing I most struggle with today is openly admitting just how much my day is still ruled by this anxiety. I've grown a lot, but the anxiety has not left me. It is still a battle I wage in some way everyday of my life. I can't begin to describe just how much mental work still goes into preparing myself for even the simplest of interaction with others – even with my most trusted sisters in Christ.

I get worn down by the symptoms that accompany this anxiety – the intense fear, the nervousness, the automatic negative thinking cycles, the racing heart, the blushing, the excessive sweating, the dry throat and mouth, the trembling, and the mind that draws a blank right before I speak. Because it is so exhausting, I sometimes just give up. It is easier to withdraw and try again some other time when I have the energy it takes to get it together. How this looks to the outside:

I sometimes don't speak up in a group.
I sometimes don't answer the phone or call people back.
I sometimes don't keep plans I've made or attend group functions.
I sometimes come off as quiet, withdrawn, unfriendly, nervous or disinterested.

Not a very good way to conduct relationships, but I sometimes just can't do it and I don't always want to tell people why. So, why is it hard to just openly admit when I'm struggling? Because, I feel like it tarnishes my witness to Christ. In those moments, I feel like I'm not having enough faith or I'm not submitting enough to the power of the Holy Spirit. I mean, why would I still flounder in anxiety and fear when I know I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST??? Why flounder, when I know that God has not given me a SPIRIT OF FEAR??? Why flounder in the dysfunctions of the old me, when I know that I AM A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST???

As I wrap this up, I don't want to leave anyone with the idea that I have given up on my healing from anxiety or that I am living a sub-par Christian life. I'm just being patient with the sanctification work God is doing in me. He has already brought me soooo far and I am ever hopeful that someday my social anxiety will be but a distant memory. Until then, I will continue to press on sure THAT HE WHO BEGAN A GOOD WORK IN ME WILL CARRY IT ON TO COMPLETION. I'll also try to be more open when I'm drowning in anxiety, rather than struggling to hide it.

This week's cafe chat question was a good one. What hidden struggle have you not shared, with at least one other person, out of fear that they may not accept you? Won't you prayerfully consider sharing it? Their response will very likely surprise you. It has me. We are all in the same boat, in at least one way - all of us struggle with something. But, in God's family, we don't have to struggle alone.

Be sure to check out how others answered this question.


God Bless!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We Will Remember...


Today, for TSMSS and Super Sunday, it is my prayer that my Fellow Journeyers would.... remember.

Remember God's love, His comfort, His provision, His forgiveness, His grace, His precious promises. It is my prayer that we would remember what Christ has done for us. Let us remember, whether times are tough or not, whether our heart is aching or not, whether our soul is bleeding or not – LET US REMEMBER. Oh, Lord, let us remember.

I pray this song ministers to your heart a much as it has mine these past several weeks.


Remembering,






We Will Remember - Tommy Walker

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

You’re our creator, our life sustainer
Deliverer, our comfort, our joy
Throughout the ages You’ve been our shelter
Our peace in the midst of the storm

With signs and wonders You’ve shown Your power
With precious blood You showed us Your grace
You’ve been our helper, our liberator
The giver of life with no end

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

When we walk through life’s darkest valleys
We will look back at all You have done
And we will shout, our God is good
And He is the faithful One

Hallelujah, hallelujah
To the one from whom all blessings flow
Hallelujah, hallelujah
To the one whose glory has been shown

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

I still remember the day You saved me
The day I heard You call out my name
You said You loved me, would never leave me
And I’ve never been the same

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Open Up The Skies of Mercy



"You have forgiven and covered up my past sins, blessing me in you and changing my soul by faith and by your sacrament; yet when the confessions of these past sins are read and heard, they rouse up the heart and prevent it from sinking into the sleep of despair and saying, “I cannot.” Instead they encourage it to be wakeful in the love of your mercy and the sweetness of your grace..." (The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book X, 3)


I've been on a blogging break for a while now. Taking the time to explore my faith outside of the influence and self-imposed expectation to continually seek after something meaty to post at this blog. I've been de-cluttering and simplifying. It's been good.

During this time I have been reading The Confessions of St. Augustine written by the legendary theologian and early church father. Can I just tell you that I am blown away? With raw honesty and incredible depth of introspection, Augustine recounts his sinful youth, the tug of war between good and evil within his soul, his empty pursuits of knowledge, false religion and worldly gain and his eventual conversion to Christianity. Above all else, his “confessions” scream out about the miracle that is God's mercy and grace.

Augustine's walk, though different in events and circumstances from our own, is not, at its core, all that different from any other Christ follower's. We all must make the journey from sinner to saint. We all must learn to set aside worldly ambition and selfish pride. We all must come face to face with our inner selves and REALLY see just how ugly and wretched we are – apart from Christ. I don't think anyone can come away from this book without having seen a glimpse into their own soul and without having received a boost for the journey forward. I have been incredibly blessed by his writings.

Today, for TSMSS, I just want to simmer in the sweetness of God's mercy and grace... I pray you are having a blessed day. And if you're feeling a bit bold – I encourage you to take on Augustine's confessions.

In His precious name,





Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Heart Issues and the Healing at Bethesda – Taking Up Our Mats

John 5:1-13
Jesus Heals a Lame Man

The man in this passage of John was an invalid and had been for 38 years. We are told that the man was unable to walk and was thus lying on a mat just outside of a pool believed to have healing properties. A great number of people were gathered around this pool and whenever the water would get stirred up, the people would go down into the water in hopes of getting cured of their sicknesses and diseases. Can you imagine the mix of desperation, hope and expectation that must have been in the air around that pool?

And it is in the midst of this desperation, hope and expectation that Jesus singles this one man out. He walks up to him and asks him something very interesting. He asks him, “do you want to get well?”

Now, I don't want to seem cynical. But, think about this - why would the man need to be asked a question with such an obvious answer? Of course he wanted to get well. Right? Wouldn't anyone? And yet, Jesus still asked. What he asks him just stirs something in my spirit.

Do you want to get well?”

And here is the man's reply - “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

It's interesting to me that the man does not respond with a resounding yes. He instead justifies why he has not yet been healed. He rationalizes and offers Jesus... an excuse.

Admittedly, we can't possibly tell from this text exactly what the man was thinking, but is it that far a stretch to imagine that after 38 years as an invalid the man had grown accustomed to his condition and was a bit apprehensive about the possibility of living a life free from his bondage? Think about the significant changes that awaited him post healing.

You can bet that if he lived that many years, in that condition, someone or a lot of someones were taking care of him. Being healed and able bodied, was sure to bring him a whole new set of challenges – he would have to learn to do things for himself and unlearn dependence on others for his basic needs. He'd have to take on the responsibility for his life. He'd be held accountable. Think about what would become of him once his long term infirmity was no longer a hindrance. Can you imagine how much work that must have been for him? Now we know that he must have wanted to be made well more than he feared the outcome of that healing... after all he listened to Jesus. He took up his mat and walked.

But, I still find it interesting that he did not immediately exclaim, “YES, I sooo want to get well!!!!”

I can personally draw a spiritual application from this physical healing. Those of us that struggle with and remain stuck in heart issues that run contrary to the light of Christ and the fruit of the spirit... are all in someway sitting on our mats just outside the healing waters. And as we sit there wrestling with feelings like anger, bitterness, discontentment, depression, fear, anxiety, worry, jealousy, unforgiveness, lust, pride, self-pity, dishonesty, guilt, etc... we fail to walk in the abundant life we are called to in Christ.

Just the other day, as I read this passage, Jesus' question hit me... hard.

Do you want to get well?”

It was as if Jesus himself was standing right next to me, waiting for my answer. Do you want to get well - REALLY want to get well? And I began to wonder - have I grown accustomed to and resigned myself to some of the heart issues that keep me “stuck on my mat”. On some level, is it working for me? Have these struggles become an excuse for not doing the hard work of submitting to the changes a life in Christ brings?

And then I wondered how true is this of so many other believers? How many of us are sitting on our mats just outside that pool and saying about the healing of our hearts - “I can't... every time I try... it hurts or it's just too hard... etc.”? And as we sit there, the living God is standing right next to us telling us that He's already healed us... telling us that all we have to do is get up off our mats and walk.

What are we waiting for? Jesus heals, we walk... simple as that.


Taking up my mat,