Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Heart More Beautiful

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” 
Psalm 51:17 (NIV)



The condition of my heart matched the weather conditions outside as I drove my children home from school through the steady rain and dreary clouds. Bringing my children to and from school each day was precious, sacred time to me as we enjoyed captured moments together to talk, listen, sing and pray. This day, however, my heart ached with fresh wounds. I silently cried out to the Lord while Joshua and Gabrielle munched on a snack and conversed contently between themselves.

Years ago God had taught me a valuable lesson: if someone says something critical to me in a harsh spirit, and not in love, still take that to Him and ask Him if there is any truth in what was said.  “Is there something offensive in my heart You want to change, Lord?”, I wondered after receiving harsh words from an unexpected place. My heart lay bare and broken before the Lord. 

As we pulled into the garage, my sweet then-five-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, asked if she could put her rain boots on and go jump in the puddles. As my heart admired her enthusiasm, we worked together to dress her in her rainy weather finery. She gave me an extra tight squeeze declaring her appreciation. 

I went about my regular after-school-unloading-and-reorganizing tasks as my silent conversation with God continued. “Lord, the pain from this person's words seems unreasonable and unnecessary, and the criticism seems unfounded in truth. I am sorry for any way I have caused an offense. Show me any way I have not honored You. You know I want to serve You and show Your mighty works for Your glory. Please let me see Your faithfulness and purpose in this pain.”

A few minutes later, Gabrielle was in the kitchen excitedly handing me a paper heart she had stopped to make and surprise me with before going outside to jump in puddles. Gabrielle’s caring ways and artistic gifts are always a delight. On this rainy day, this hand-made gift served an even greater purpose.

As her precious hand lifted the paper heart up to mine, I noticed the heart had scissor cuts all through it, and I thought privately to myself that it didn’t look very pretty that way. Graciously taking the heart from her and kissing her head in thanks, I met my eyes with hers and she said, “Mommy, I made this heart for you. I put cuts in the heart because I thought the heart would be more beautiful that way.” 

Immediately, tears rolled down my face. I felt the Lord quiet my heart with His love and say to me, “Sharon, I am making your heart more beautiful through the wounds I am allowing you to experience. Be still, be quiet and wait on Me. You will have a heart more beautiful.”

Noticing my tears of amazement, Gabrielle asked why I started to cry, and I told her that, through the paper heart she had made me, God reminded me how much He loves me and how faithful He is, especially when our hearts are broken before Him.

My child’s delight in the promise of fresh rain and the beauty of a broken heart had ministered His love to me.

Dear Lord, through  Your grace let my heart abide in You always. Keep my heart teachable and humble before You. Give me the willingness to trust You through the pain, knowing that  You are doing a beautiful work in my heart. Hold fast to me, My refuge and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 “But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word."
Isaiah 66:2

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there Is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

“I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  
Isaiah 57:15


Friday, June 6, 2014

Delicate Cycle or A Heavy-Duty Wash?


"Wash away all my iniquity 
and cleanse me from my sin."
Psalm 51:2

I often wash our children's sneakers and footwear on the gentle cycle of our washing machine. It cleans and freshens up the shoes, and they look like new. We don't have to replace their shoes as often."Shoe Stewardship" as we call it.

After a day at the park (after a full day of rain the day before) with Gabrielle's class for an end-of-the-school-year picnic, our flip flops and sandals were filthy. The mud and wet playground mulch had seeped deep into the porous material of our footwear. When we got home, I put our footwear in the washing machine on the delicate cycle with some other delicate items. 

When the delicate load of laundry was complete, I opened up the washer to hang the clothes and to put the shoes out in the sun for drying. As I pulled out our footwear, I was surprised that much of the dirt was still there. The delicate cycle was not strong enough to do the deep cleaning they needed. I put the shoes back in the washer (in a laundry bag) with a heavy-duty load, which included high agitation, high spin and an extra rinse. After the heavy-duty load was complete, our footwear came out clean!

I felt God whisper to my heart as I stood in the laundry room finishing up the day's laundry. "Sometimes, Sharon, I need to run the heavy duty cycle on your heart to get out the yuck that has seeped in." Sometimes we go through "heavy-duty cycles with high agitation, high spin and an extra rinse" of our hearts. The heavy-duty agitation we experience and the high spin and extra rinse are just what our hearts need sometimes
. It is not comfortable; it is downright painful at times. But when the heavy-duty cycle is what works best, God uses it and faithfully does a necessary work in our hearts. 

Who knew the laundry room could become a sanctuary? God met me personally in our laundry room that day. The powerful wash and extra rinse by the Living Water through the water of His Word was just what I needed. While I'd often prefer to keep my heart on the delicate cycle for cleansing, I fully realize that any significant growth in my walk with the Lord would not occur without the deep cleaning my heart needs at times. And as only our amazing God can do, He is gentle with us even during the heavy-duty cycles of life. After all, He rules over the surging seas.  


[originally posted June 2009]

"O, LORD God Almighty, who is like You? 
You are mighty, O LORD, 
and Your faithfulness surrounds you. 
You rule over the surging sea; 
when its waves mount up, You still them."
Psalm 89:8-9

"I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:29

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; 
He will purify them and refine them like gold and silver."
Malachi 3:3

"And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 
1 Kings 19:12 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hope Peeks Out To See Love

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue
but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18


His fragile frame and stumbling steps caught our eyes and grabbed our hearts.  Slowing traipsing across his front yard near the busy street, each stepped seemed laborious and purposeful.  Using a walker as support, his eyes were fixed on his goal:  the Sunday newspapers that were tossed and left at the edge of his property.  With no sidewalk in front of his home and a foreshortened shoulder on the side of the road, he seemed dangerously close to the street as he stooped down and reached for the newspapers. 

This precious elderly man's imbalanced cadence impelled our hearts synchronously. "Let's stop and bring up his newspapers for him whenever we can."




Our little family of four has passed this house thousands of times and never took notice.  But that Sunday morning on our way to church, our hearts were moved.  Moved by an aged man determined to reach his goal.  Moved by a neglected home that reflected endurance. 

Withered and seemingly unkempt, the house and the man seemed content together.

Several worn American flags hang in windows across the front of his house, causing us to wonder if he is a war veteran.  Through cracked glass, dangling shudders and faded paint, you feel the man's sense of pride in his homeland.

Though broken and neglected, we see strength in this house.  We imagine the same strength in the precious man.  The determination to weather the storms of life.  The character to fight through trials.  The endurance to reach goals.  The pride to hang a banner of identity even through blurred windows.

We see hope peeking out from behind the withered exterior.

So, as hope looks for love, we stop and quietly bring his papers up to his porch a few times a week, hoping that we are unnoticed and praying he feels loved. The children write him notes sometimes and we put them in bags and hang them on his door knob.  Praying for him every morning as we pass, and having only seen him that one Sunday morning, we excitedly hope to get another glimpse of him.

He is a stranger to us, but known completely and loved perfectly by Jesus.  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ~ Matthew 25:40

An elderly man.  A tired home.  God's compassion beckons us to love in action and in truth.  Our daily drive to school and church took on a new measure of meaning.

Though we have never met, this man moved our hearts in the most beautiful of ways.  His house is building love in our hearts.  Our broken, hopeful, needful hearts.

So, as hope peeks out through dimmed windows and neglected walls, Love waits.  Love comes.  Love came.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save us...
1 Timothy 1:15

By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established; 
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
Proverbs 24:3-4

And so we know and rely
on the love God has for us.
God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in him.
1 John 4:16

{originally posted February 2012}

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Living So That" is All That!

"We do not study God's Word to increase our head knowledge. We study God's Word so that God can change our hearts and our lives! John 15:5 promises that our lives will yield beautiful fruit if we will abide in Christ. One way to do that is by studying His Word. So surrender your heart and your time to Him." 

Monday 4/14/14 - Winners -- Rene, Stephanie, Unknown and Linda! Please contact me with your complete name and mailing address! Congratulations!

My intrinsically sweet friend, Wendy Blight, loves the Lord and loves His Word. Sitting having breakfast with her and talking about the joys and concerns of our hearts, tears spill out of her eyes as she talks about God's Word, His love and His faithfulness. Her tenderness for the Lord and His people is tangible.

Wendy has written a wonderful new Bible study titled Living So That: Making Faith-Filled Choices in the Midst of a Messy Life. I am so excited about this Bible study, which is suitable for individual study or with a small group. God's Word is fascinating, and I love seeing how many scriptures in the Bible have the phrase "so that" in them. God's Word is alive, and He has placed that "so that" clause throughout Scripture with a purpose for our hearts and lives.

Whether you are brand new to Bible study or are a seasoned student, this Bible study will bless, encourage, challenge and grow you! 

"No matter how often we read the Word of God, 
we receive something fresh and new each time."

I am DELIGHTED to give away a copy of Wendy's book - Living So That! Just leave a comment below including your name and contact information. A winner will be announced on Monday 4/14. Journey with Wendy on her adventure to live so that ~ according to God's Word and for His purposes and glory

Living So That is all that!

Thanks for stopping by today. Before you leave, be sure to check these out these free resources:

Sign up for Wendy's free companion devotional, "Five Days to a Faith-Full Life": click here.

For a sneak peek at Chapter One, "Jesus Came So That" click here.

To learn more about the book visit Wendy's Living So That page by clicking here.

"All scripture is God-breathed 
and is useful for teaching, 
rebuking, correcting and 
training in righteousness, 
so that the man of God 
may be thoroughly equipped 
for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV; emphasis added)

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Letter To My Neck Cream


Photo Source: Unknown



Dear Décolleté Age-Defying, Wrinkle-Reducing, Heavy-Duty, Extra-Firming, Miracle-Working Neck Cream:

I owe you an apology. Really, I do.


I have expected a lot from you the last several years. And it's not fair of me. 


I am sorry. 


As part of wanting to age gracefully, I looked to you for support, and I placed unrealistic expectations on you. I wanted you to firm and fix and tuck and lift. And I recognize it hasn't been healthy for our relationship.You know, me expecting too much from you and all. 


You are only a neck cream, for heaven's sake. You can't erase years of wear and tear. You truly fix sagging skin and wrinkly flesh.


And on this milestone birthday, I realize, I don't want you to. 


We have traversed a lot of ground together over the decades...laughter, tears, joy, sadness, victories, battles, blessings and challenges. 


And through the wrinkly difficult times and the smooth wonderful times, I can say today as I turn 50, I like my aging neck. It reminds me of the blessed life I have been given by a faithful and good God. It reminds me of the wonderful family and amazing friends I've had the privilege to hug around the neck...and there are lots more hugs to be given and received still.


So, Décolleté Age-Defying, Wrinkle-Reducing, Heavy-Duty, Extra-Firming, Miracle-Working Neck Cream, let's continue to journey together. We've got lots to see and do and more terrain to cover. New bridges to cross, more precious peeps to hug and love, more ways to serve the Lord.


I promise not to expect too much from you. You are a neck cream, for heaven's sake.


Now, let's get going!


Sincerely yours,