Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Daddy's Girl

Something I witnessed at the beach this morning...

She was maybe six years old, running down the white, sandy beach with a kite in her hand.  It was cold and windy on this beautiful winter day in the Carolinas.  As she ran, the kite began to climb but she was so excited that she let the string out too fast and she seemed frustrated as the kite started to sink.  Her tired legs would run no more and she seemed more interested in watching the kite than in getting it to soar.  She let out a loud cry as the kite took a nose dive straight into the sand.

Tears filled her eyes.  As she looked up through the tears, she saw her daddy running toward her.  "Let me help you, sweetheart."  He rolled the string up slowly and as she watched his every move, he checked the kite for damage and untangled the tail.  Once the kite was ready, he leaned down to her to give her instructions and showed her a short demonstration of how to fly the kite higher.  He jogged and slowly let the string go as the kite soared.  Before it could get too high, he pulled it back in and rolled it up, handing her the kite as her wide eyes beamed with hope!

This time, her daddy stood beside her as she began to let the string go.  The kite began to climb steadily as she and her daddy ran together down the beach.  The kite was soaring higher and higher and I could hear her daddy cheering her on, "You've got it!  Great job!"  Her excitement was fading as she realized the higher the kite got, the harder it was for her to hold on to it while the strong wind pulled on it with all of its might.  She looked at her daddy again and said "Help me daddy!"  She could no longer carry this load on her own and he was right there with her, ready to help her at a moment's notice.  He took the kite from her, pulled it in, rolled it up and put it away.

It wasn't time yet.  But her wise daddy allowed her to get a taste of what was to come.  When she was strong enough, she would be able to do more, but for now her strength was still small. But it could wait - because she had so much to learn.  I smiled wide as I saw her take a hold of her daddy's strong hand and skip along the shore now, right beside her hero - content to just be "daddy's girl".

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jesus


From the mouth of babes...

"Happy Birthday Jesus!  Mommy says that you are near
And that you have a Birthday this time every year.

She told me how you listen to everything we say
And that you’re always with us in the night and in the day.

She told me how they hurt you for the things that we did wrong
And Jesus I just don’t understand how you could be so strong

They hit you with a whip and you wore on your head a thorn crown
They made you carry the cross all the way through town.

The next thing that she told me really made me cry
She said they hung you on a cross and wanted you to die.

I’m sorry for that Jesus, it makes my heart so sad
To think someone would hurt you and treat you oh, so bad

But mommy says you rose again and that you love me so
And if I just believe in you, to heaven I will go

I’ll spend forever with you and we’ll be the best of friends
We’ll be together Jesus and our love will never end!

So, Jesus, my birthday gift to you is my heart and all my love
Thank you for your gift to me, your love from up above."

Amen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mary


Mary had a guest on that evening so bright 
An Angel whose presence gave her quite a fright.

He came to her with a message of hope and of cheer 
The Savior was coming – the time was drawing near.

The message was more personal, as she would soon see 
As the Angel unfolded just what God’s plan would be.

He told her she would be mother to the Savior of all 
And with that to her knees sweet, young Mary did fall

But how could this be? She was not even wed! 
She questioned the Angel and that’s when he said:

“Sweet Child, God the Father has chosen you to be 
A vessel that will carry Him supernaturally...
He’s sending His Spirit to give you His Seed 
So you and your people will finally be freed!”

She thought for a moment and said with such strength, 
“If this is God’s will, then I’ll go to any length.”

She carried our Savior through long, lonely days 
Where people would give her a judgmental gaze.

They’d point and they’d stare and they’d whisper her name 
While she walked down the streets without any shame.

And when the day came for her to give birth 
The heavens declared His invaluable worth.

Jesus was born and the plan would unfold 
That for thousands of years was prophetically foretold.

He came to live among us, to show us how to live 
Then He laid down His life, so our sins He could forgive.

But it didn’t end there – no He rose from the grave
So all men could trust Him and their lives He could save.

And save me, He did! But first I had to admit
That I couldn’t do it alone, to Him I had to submit.

Just like Mary did on that bright, clear night 
When she submitted to God’s plan and did not put up a fight.

And once she agreed that God’s plan was the best, 
His Spirit came upon her and gave her sweet rest.

He did the same for me -though I can’t explain how
His Spirit came upon me and He lives in me now!

Just like sweet Mary, I carry Jesus around 
Not in the womb, but in my heart He’ll be found.

People do point now, they stare and whisper my name 
They think I’ve lost my mind, though I’m perfectly sane.

But all the while I know that I’m free and forgiven 
So I tell others now about the life that I’m livin’

The words that the angel told Mary were true
And He’s telling the same thing to me and to you:

“Sweet Child, God the Father has chosen you to be 
A vessel that will carry Him supernaturally...
He’s sending His Spirit to give you His Seed, 
So you and your people will finally be freed!”

-Leslie Nease

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brokenness

Have you ever felt completely broken?  I sure have.  It is a deep, aching sadness that is hard to explain.  It feels like I've hit the bottom - or worse yet, that the bottom I hit drops out and I realize there's more depth and falling to come.  Sometimes it feels dark and lonely and other times it feels desperate and out of control.  No matter how it feels, though, it's real and it's a feeling we all experience at one time or another in our lives.

Maybe it's the death of a loved one that brings it on.  It could also be the death of a dream, a relationship gone sour, a deep hurt from someone you love, a hurting or sick child or a burden for people you want to help but you don't know how.  Maybe it's your pride that's been broken or a broken heart.  You know the feeling of brokenness I'm speaking of today.  You've felt it - we all have.  But what do we do with it and how can we come out of it?

Driving down the road the other day, I heard a preacher on the radio talking about the sower and the seed from Luke chapter 8:5-8.  As he spoke, he was reading the scriptures and I was praying God would help me understand them on a deeper level.  I'd been experiencing some brokenness in my own life due to some relationship issues and I really needed to hear from God.  The preacher read these words that Jesus spoke:

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."  When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
As I heard this nameless preacher talk about these verses, something really struck me.  We know the seed represents the Word of God - and the first person His Word came to was like a hardened path.  It was referred to as "fallow ground", which means it had been trampled on, stepped on, abused and hardened over time.  It was a path that had been walked on so much that it was hard like concrete.  Does this sound familiar?  Is that how you might feel?  Stepped on, abused or hardened by the world?   Well, if this describes you, please know that things are not hopeless.  And know that you are not alone!

In Jeremiah 4:3, the Lord tells the people to "break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns."  And in Hosea 10:12 the Lord says "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you."

Notice, it is possible for us to break up the "unplowed" or "fallowed" ground that has been trampled on, stepped on and abused by the world.  Once the soil of our hearts is broken up, the seeds of righteousness can be planted deep within us!  They will produce fruit.  But in order to break it, we must be ok with being broken.  This lands me back to the point of my blog.  This may describe where you are right now - and you are fighting it with everything in you.  No one likes to feel broken.  In the world, brokenness represents a fault, something that is returned or discarded.  But to God, brokenness is something altogether different.  Check this out...

Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Psalm 34:17-18 "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

Isaiah 61:1-3 (prophecy concerning Jesus Christ) "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor."

I could go on and show you more about how God feels about the brokenhearted...but I think you get the picture.  He is drawn to those who are low in spirit, brokenhearted and humble.  The crushing of our pride and our self-sufficiency is a terrifying thing unless we realize that we are trading in something weak for something much stronger - sufficiency in Him.

My encouragement to you today is this:  If you are feeling broken, allow God to plant those seeds deep within you.  It can be a painful process (I know this from experience), but the hope I want to remind you of is the hope He gives you in His word by reminding you that you are not alone, you are not going through this despair for no reason and, in the words of the prophet Isaiah..."you will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor."

He will display His splendor in you.  But brokenness always precedes usefulness with God.  There is always purpose that we cannot fathom in our pain. Trust Him.  The seeds are coming and the fruit will follow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

In celebration of the coming festivities, I wanted to share this poem I wrote a few years ago as I lamented the Christmas party pounds I seemed to gain each year!  Hope you will enjoy it...



Twas the night before Christmas, when to my surprise
I saw in the mirror someone I didn't recognize.

I was too busy to notice the weight I'd put on,
The holidays were upon us and soon they'd be gone.

The cookies, the pies, the holiday cheer!
Who cares about the weight, I'll just lose it next year.

Nobody will notice - it's winter, you see.
I'll just wear big sweaters and many layers to cover me.

January will be here and I'll join the local gym.
That's when my resolution will kick in!

I'll work and I'll sweat and I'll lose all the weight!
I'll do all I can to fit into my size eight.

Wait!  Didn't I say that I'd do that last year?
When my size was a six before my holiday cheer?

But it's never too late to start eating right!
So I'll put out the cookies and this battle I will fight.

I really do mean it - I've got to feel better.
I can't spend the summer hiding in this big sweater!

So here I go, look out!  I'm ready to sweat!
This Christmas season I will not regret.

And you'll hear me exclaim as I jog out of sight...
"Merry Christmas to all - may your clothes not be tight!"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Being His Hands & Feet

I was holding it together pretty well until the end.  It was last night at the Mercy Ministries Christmas Dinner and Auction in Charlotte, NC.  We'd heard from a couple of the amazing young women whose lives have been forever changed by a miraculous encounter with Jesus Christ through the ministry of Mercy Ministries.  We'd heard Nancy Alcorn, the founder and President of Mercy Ministries, share her story and we'd seen a powerful video.  But so far I hadn't lost my composure.  Until...

"When I visited Mercy Ministries last year, I was standing in the lobby just about ready to leave, when a girl walked in with her parents.  She was clutching a teddy bear and rolling her suitcase beside her.  She had obviously been crying and she looked very scared.  Immediately, the merciful ladies behind the counter ran around and opened their arms to this precious, young 16-year old girl and told her how happy they were to see her.  They told her they had been expecting her and everything was going to be just fine."

One of the women who the Lord used to bring a Mercy Ministries Resident Center to the Charlotte area earnestly shared this testimony last night and hearing this was all I could bear.  I imagined being that sweet girl, who was obviously in bondage to something greater than she or her parents knew how to get out from underneath.  I imagined how loved, accepted and hopeful she must have felt as she was greeted, not from someone behind a cold desk, but in the warm arms of a loving stranger who had been praying for her and expecting her; who actually seemed thrilled to meet her and have her stay with them for awhile.

I imagined how a flood of relief must have swept over the parents as they saw a genuine love and concern for their precious daughter.  They probably always knew she was special, but had been through so much over the past couple of years that they may have lost hope in their desperation to see her healed, restored and walking in the Truth.  They were probably told by a secular rehab center that their daughter would die from this and there was no hope.  But they always believed otherwise in their heart of hearts - and it was probably the most amazing feeling to see that someone else believed it, too.  As all these thoughts flooded my heart, I was sobbing within seconds.

Hope.  Love.  Acceptance.  Relief.  All of it.  They were being blessed and it was all because someone gave to support this important, life-saving ministry.  There is so much hurt, so much pain in our world.  It was the most amazing, refreshing drink of cold water last night as I heard about how this ministry is changing all of that, one sweet young woman at a time, through the power and love of Jesus Christ.  As a mom, I was so encouraged to hear about how daughters were healed.  As a woman who has been rescued from the bondage of alcohol and eating disorders, I was deeply touched to hear how God is using this ministry!

I'm excited to say that Mercy Ministries is opening a Residential Center in Charlotte soon!  This is an amazing gift that God is giving to our area.  There are so many girls, you may even know one yourself (or maybe you are that one) in our area who suffer from eating disorders, sexual abuse, self-mutilation, drug or alcohol abuse or unplanned pregnancy.  This is a safe, Christ-centered place for her to go.  And it won't cost her a penny because the people at Mercy Ministries want the girls to know that they are loved and they are not there so they can make money off of her pain.  They want them to know that other people believe in them, too, so they give to the ministry so these girls can be introduced to the healing and hope that only Jesus can bring.  It's a beautiful thing to see people being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 61:1-3 says, about Jesus Christ....
 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor.

The same Jesus that this scripture was written about lives in YOU when you are a believer. We are called to serve the brokenhearted and this is a chance for you to do just that.  If you want to be a part of this miracle through giving gifts, prayer, or your time, sponsoring a girl or in some other way, please check out their website.  www.mercyministries.org 

Merry Christmas - and God bless you!

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