Sanctification

THE FIGHT BACK From the Wall

The window closed. The words stopped coming. At least words that I could share publicly with others. Imagine filling a swimming pool with ping pong balls and trying to submerge all of them at the same time. Arms not long enough or wide enough. Body mass not able to cover the expanse.

Two and a half years ago I stopped writing publicly {mostly} in order to deal with the thoughts that came rushing in when my mother died. The thoughts came from every direction in uncontrollable succession. I didn’t know what to do with them when they came. Most days I couldn’t even catch my breath. I’ve written maybe three times on my blog since then. The winter months left me frustrated and overwhelmed, unable to make syllables come to form words. In private the ink pen was ready. Nothing. I was waiting on God to help. Nothing. I showed up and waited. Longed. Did what I had done before hoping it would flip a switch somewhere in me. Silence. Spiritually I hit a wall. Over and over.

FullSizeRenderI had been patient in the first days, weeks and months of waiting. Waiting for the words. When spring came I would go to my quiet place. The place where the breeze blew through the screens and the sun warmed my skin. The words came bit by bit but stopped as quickly as they came. Just a few at first. A few more the next time. Some days none.

While she was still living it was hard for me to find words with my mother. The words I used and the timing – always wrong. Should be no surprise that the words didn’t come. I felt I had no voice with her. As she left this earth I began to wonder if my ability to find the words left too. Ironic. A writer-friend shared with me that perhaps I might consider uncorking the bottle of wine. Not literally, but figuratively. She wondered if I might be able to just let the words spill out at first in my writing and come back after I’d gotten them out to clean them up.

I wonder if you have ever experienced a time like this in your life? I wonder if maybe you’re there now.

Oh how my heart feels for you. I long to walk with you through this time. To let you see in to where I’ve been. To see where I am today. And to help you find hope and courage to keep fighting. Fighting for life. Fighting for words. Fighting for peace. Fighting to believe God is with you even when you aren’t so sure.

I stepped over each crack in the concrete and rounded the corner. As my eyes lifted I was glancing at this brick wall at this beautiful angle. It pulled me in and reminded me that in much the same way, unexpectedly, I had begun to see beauty again. I was still hitting a wall, but I began to set my sights to give thanks for every circumstance God was allowing me to walk through. Trusting He would work all of it for His good.

As I dare to let my words spill out before you, this messy-real life-writer, please know it is a part of my fight to find my way back. Just showing up. See, I would never have called myself a writer before. I would just share my words and others who knew me well would tell me I was a writer. It’s only as I lost the ability to find the words that I knew what it was to be a writer. A writer with no syllables.

I am a writer. I am back. The cork has been popped. The wine is spilling out and it is messy. This post is the first in my attempt begin to process out loud with you what the fight back has been and still is for me today.

Precious One,
My hope for you today is the same encouragement I received from a dear friend in the middle of the hardest part of the process: O, LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. {Psalm 131}. May you find the rest you need as you hope in the LORD.

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Clay on the Wheel Woman

photoSeveral years ago I went through the process of being coached by an amazing life coach. I really just thought I was going to go through the process to determine if it was something i wanted to use in my daily ministry. I hoped to determine if the coaching tools would be something that would make me better at the ministry God had entrusted to me. Would it be helpful in the mentor/discipleship relationships I spent my days humbly invited into?

The answer to my question has changed my life and stretched me beyond what I could have imagined.

A few of the words I wrote on that day…“The Clay on the Wheel Woman says – I believe that He has been asking me to be open to more depth of clarity and transition…she needs spiritual mentors to speak truth into her life…she has recently begun to walk in courage and to step out…she is willing to be refined in areas that need sharpening.”

Little did I know of the journey ahead of me. If I had known, I might have asked to be removed from the wheel. It’s been a stretching beyond what I would have imagined. At times to the point of feeling I might break into a million pieces. Then finding I could endure much more than I knew.

When I wrote those words I thought they related only to the reason I had signed up for the coaching process. What I find as I reflect on the title today is – God wants me to stay on the wheel. I think I have spent much of my life thinking once I master a lesson being taught to me, I can climb down off that particular wheel and wait for an invitation to the next one…sometimes with teeth gritted…but waiting no less.

I wonder if, like  me, you’ve had times of wanting off the wheel. Time to rest. A break from being reshaped and reworked. Time to catch your breath before the next lesson.

God must have known  we would struggle with being stretched and reshaped as we attempt to face our daily circumstances.

Jeremiah 18:4  And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter‘s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

God’s word tells us we can trust the Potter {Him} to rework His vessel {us}. He wants us to learn to trust the process. He wants us to learn to trust His Word over the overwhelming emotion we face in the midst of the seemingly endless journey. He wants us to learn to trust HIM! His Word always leads us to more of Him. Though the spoiling leaves us feeling isolated and alone, far from His reach, Jeremiah tells us the vessel He was making was spoiled in HIs hands – the hands of the Potter. His hands are to be trusted. The wheel is a safe place, even when it seems to spin out of control.

We can learn to rest in the center of that wheel, you and I. The spoiling is not too far from His reach.It is completely in HIs hands.

I wonder if there is something that anchors the potters clay to the wheel? I envision something holding it in place even as it is taken from one shape to another. I think I need to visit a potters studio to see for myself.

Dear Heart to Heart Reader,

Are you on the wheel today? Do you feel weary on the wheel?

How can I pray for you as you are being held in the hands of the Potter?

HIS,

karen

 

Fabulous Friday Find – Pink Jesus Calling

1400320119We have been encouraged by the words on these pages. We have inhaled Sarah’s prayers from her devotional and allowed them to carry us before our One True Hope.

Enter now TO WIN your free PINK copy of Jesus Calling to be given away on VALENTINES DAY. LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW and you will be entered.

Sarah Young is quietly leading millions of men and women worldwide on a journey of intimacy with Christ. Her devotional books include the #1 bestseller Jesus Calling and the top sellers Jesus Calling for Kids, Dear Jesus, and Jesus Lives. Sarah and her husband have traveled extensively around the world planting churches and counseling.  They are currently ministering to Japanese people and helping establish an international church in Australia.YoungSarah

What fills?

Will I ever measure up?

portion pic

In one way or another I have struggled with this question most of my life.

Because I couldn’t really answer the question, my natural response was to overcompensate.  It became a habit I enlisted often in order to survive.

Beginning this new year I’ve been challenged to let God be my portion.

My portion when I feel insufficient for a task before me.

My portion when I am consumed with how others perceive me.

My portion when I attempt to fill myself with all with all I think is right.

My portion when I am tempted to cover up my inadequacies.

Psalm 73:26 is my anchor.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I’ve been trying to be own strength. It’s not as God intended it. He wants to be my strength.

I am excited about this journey. When I am tempted to use all the tools that seem right to me for measuring…I will choose to acknowledge – God is my PORTION.

And even when my flesh fails…He is my PORTION. And even when my heart is weary…He is my portion.

What is your anchor as you look toward the coming year?

 

 

Nothing More Confusing – Guest Post

Tracey is a young 20 something wife and mother who is full of life and loves her family. She is passionate about her growing relationship with Christ and how to live in such a way that the Word of God is evidenced in her daily moments. She shares today in a very straightforward manner her longing for older women to understand what she and her peers need.  

You have often heard me speak of the value of investing in the generations that come after us.

Young woman have great need for older women to pour wisdom into them – to be available to “do life” with them.

At age 22, my friend Tracey responded to an email I sent her.

Would you mind putting into words your heart about older women investing in younger women.

Share please what you wish that our generation would understand about your needs & desires to be mentored / invested in / discipled.

She shared…

“There is nothing more confusing than being a young woman living in today’s society. This world offers a very twisted view of what a woman is supposed to be like.

I believe that because of the media and a lack of discipleship, many young women, including myself, have either strayed from the truth or have a total misconception of its value. I know that as a young and relatively new believer in Christ, I have had numerous conversations with my friends about the desire for a more authentic relationship with the Lord. However, we all have found that we are not sure what that looks like because we aren’t around it enough to receive the wisdom, discernment, and accountability necessary to become whom both we and the Lord desire for us to be.

Today, most women my age are finding their identities through success in the labor force, their bodies, and how many men find them attractive. It may be slightly unbelievable to consider this true- but trust me it is. We no longer look for respect because we either stopped receiving it long ago or we never even knew what it felt like to begin with.

In this, it is my desire to plead for myself and so many others whom have no idea what it is like to be a Godly woman through both the peaks and the valleys in life.

If I could share one truth with an older woman that was interested in investing in a lost generation, it would simply be that we NEED your commitment.

We need someone to stand by us like Jesus stood by his disciples. We need older women to be honest with us and not feel inferior of the so-called “age gap”.

Every woman alike faces the same temptations, same battles, and same triumphs; a woman, whether 18 or 82, is still a woman. We need advice on everything! Since older women have experienced much more in life, younger women look to them as examples.

I beg the older generations to please be the disciples that you are called to be, take up your cross and invest in the future. It takes commitment, patience, and perseverance; sounds like something we all have in common- Christianity. You never know, the women you invest in today may turn around and invest in tomorrow’s generation.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you want to be my followers you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24”

Yours in Christ –

Tracey

Can we take her words to heart and see what value we have to offer the generations coming after us? We don’t have to have the answers. We have to be willing to walk with them toward Christ in a very real way as we share in very natural relationship.

Let’s listen together and respond to the needs of Tracey and her peers.

HIS,

karen

grace & me

Grace has been heavy on my heart and mind recently.

Recently I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. I was in a conversation with a girlfriend and by my leading the conversation took a turn I had not expected. I spoke a little more than I had intended to on the point I was making. Before I knew it I brought the conversation to a screeching halt. Feeling selfish and consumed with guilt for having taken away from what my friend needed to talk through, I felt the emotional walls closing in all around me.

The voices that have wreaked havoc on my mind and my soul in the past crawled up out of the grave to dig their dirty fingernails into my heart and rip it apart.

How could you do that?

Did you need to take the attention away from her?

You are so selfish!

The spinning emotion lost any form of words to express it. Only dejection. Self – loathing.  Piling old remembrances one upon another.

I felt as though I was back at the bottom of the steps again looking up and discouraged about the climb.

On any given day we can readily tell one another all about grace. We know what it means.

Dictionary.com defines grace as mercy; clemency; pardon 

More specifically related to theology, Dictionary.com goes on to list the following definitions:

The freely given,unmerited favor and love of God

The influence or spirit of God operating

I think I am much more willing to give grace to others than I am to give it to myself. Why is that? It’s not really healthy.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 he is the least of the Apostles and does not even deserve to be called an Apostle because he persecuted the Church of God. Yet he goes on to make the bold proclamation “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.

At times the enemy of the Spirit of God within me wants to argue with me and convince me I’m no better today than the first time I ever surrendered my will to God. I have to be reminded, like Paul reminds himself, by the grace of God I, Karen Trigg, am what I am, by grace…His…grace.  It’s what Christ did for me as He hung on the cross that has it’s affect on me…on who I am. Nothing I do can take away from that. But I can choose to remember the cross and refocus my sights.

Grace was freely given then and is still freely offered today.

I’m thankful for friends who point to the the evidence of where grace has marked my life.

The fingerprints of God’s effect upon my life.

How has grace marked your life?

Who helps you to see the effects of grace in your life?

Take a moment to share about the impact of grace.

Enter now to win a copy of Grace Happens Here by Max Lucado

1 – Post this blog entry on your Facebook page.

2 – Leave a comment and share your grace story with us.

Drawing will be held November 1st.

 

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‘I don’t have what it takes…’

My hearts desire is to see women risk investing in other women who hunger and thirst for growth in Christ. There is something that happens when we come together with a willingness to share struggles and seek together to understand how to apply the gospel to our lives in the midst of it all.

When the topic of pouring into anther comes up I often hear women say “I don’t have what it takes…I wouldn’t know where to start…” I understand this comment. I once felt this way. I looked at other women as having much more than me to offer.

The disciples came back to Jesus after He had sent them out 2×2 (Mark 6:7).

He charged them to take nothing. So they went out and proclaimed repentance among the people. They cast out demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. King Herod heard of it and decided, based on the prompting of Herodias’s daughter, to have John the Baptist beheaded – WOW! Pretty hard reality.

Mark then tells us – They return to Jesus and report all they had taught and done.

What is His response? He knew what they had faced.

 

He called them to stillness – to come away and rest a while (Mark 6:31).

 

Jesus knew where they had been. He also knew what was ahead of them. The feeding of the five thousand, the crowds, their needs and their hunger.

And so he called them away to stillness.

As they went away in the boat to a desolate place, the people (many) saw them going to the desolate place and followed from all directions.

Women today battle epidemic spiritual hunger and loneliness for healthy relationships.

The relationship that meets their need and ours is the relationship with God. A very personal relationship.

What can we offer?

 The Place to Start:

  1 – We have to get to the desolate place to be filled up.

It’s only when we have been filled to overflowing that we have anything of value to offer. It’s when we allow God to work in the circumstances of our lives that we are ready to be available to others. His work in us naturally becomes an outpouring. As we share with one another over coffee, conversation, bible study or prayer, God offers moments of connecting. Moments for God to impact the mundane.

2 – When we’ve been there – to that desolate place – others will want to follow us.

I think of the women I have been drawn to over the years. Women who love God. Women who want to understand prayer. Women who admit their weaknesses. I see them as women who want to know God. It’s these women I feel the freedom to ask hard questions about relationship with God and others. It’s these women I learn from and trust. I believe they’ve been to the desolate place – regularly. I’m drawn to follow, to spend time with them because I learn while I am with them.

 

Have you been to the desolate place lately? What do you have to offer? 

 

 

 

 

Choosing My Wardrobe

In Galatians chapter 4 Paul clearly identifies two wardrobes we have to choose from.

He’s got my number!

My former closet was full of things I was enslaved to prior to knowing God.

Impurity, idolatry, strife and jealousy, just to name a few.

But the fruit of the Spirit, Paul says, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the former with its passions and desires.

The choosing, one would think, comes easily. Looking at the words written out, the choice seems logical:

1 – Let my mind, feet, or hands flirt with impurity

OR

Choose self-control by turning the other way

2 – Face conflict or tension with a friend and hold a grudge

OR

Choose peace through choosing to forgive.

Maybe it’s me who needs to ask forgiveness.

As much as I desire healthy relationship, it doesn’t come naturally. My flesh is bent toward what makes me feel good, not what is good for me. It’s natural for defensiveness to rise up in me in the midst of conflict or confrontation. Everything in me says rise up and defend yourself! Even if I don’t say the words. I still feel them.

According to Paul, if we walk by the Spirit we will not gratify the former desires. I’m so happy Paul didn’t list the former nature and leave it at that. If he did I would have no hope.

The hope I find daily in facing conflict, tension and lack of self-control in my relationships is that God has provided a way out.

I am charged with the responsibility to find my way out. To choose.

Recognize

See the truth about my outfit

Some days I walk into my closet and choose an outfit only to get in front of the mirror and see the reality of my choice. Not fitting. Not complimentary. Bad on the thighs!

Much like the wardrobe choice, I’m confronted with whether or not to recognize my behavior doesn’t line up with walking in the Spirit.

Repent

See the truth & change my clothes

Seeing my actions as contrary to what God calls me to, I am charged with turning from them.

If I see the clothes I’ve chosen aren’t flattering or perhaps a bit more revealing than they should be…it’s time to acknowledge and it and make changes.

I must acknowledge and be sorrowful for my choices. Willingly put on a new outfit. A new behavior or response.

Renew

My desire to follow hard after the things of God.

The desire to walk according to the Spirit rather than the flesh.

My resolve to wear only the clothes that flatter.

The beauty? When I choose well, the reward is peace beyond understanding. It comes as a result of knowing I’m right where I am supposed to be in the moment. The clothes fit perfectly. I can move freely in them. They actually flatter me in every way.

How about your wardrobe? Do you struggle to find what fits just right?

Please share.

 

Peeling Back the Layers

I remember my first layer being torn back.

Peeling indicates work – right? A potato. An onion. It takes some effort. And a bit of time too.

Years of wounds, pain and devastation heaped layer upon toxic layer until they could be held in no longer. Marriage and child-bearing began scratching the surface of the first layer. Friendships, though I never would have shown it, scored a sharp straight edge leaving defined marks as I scrambled to put the layers back in their proper place. Covering all that was hidden.

Let’s face it girls – real relationship is hard stuff.

Once I came to know Christ as my Savior, old things no longer fit. I wanted to put new clothes on top of old ones. Who knew what was in me needed to find its way out?

I wanted to hide under the layers of clothing hoping others would not see the real me.

Rejection.

fear.

Insufficiency.

worthlessness.

If I could just make certain to meet needs of others … it would validate my worth.

Do you have layers hidden under the crisp white button up blouse with the sassy collar?

When Paul spoke to the Ephesians he spoke of the new life. He admonished them to grow up in every way into the head, who is Christ. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. (Ephesians 4:15, The Message).

Paul writes:

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. (Colossians 3:1-3, The Message)

Layer by layer, God has been good to slowly remove each covering which hid the old. Carefully tearing away what I once wore to survive. Making certain to finish the work of fitting me with my new wardrobe.

Some days I end up in the wrong closet. But I remember how carefully and patiently He has removed each toxic, layer. With everything in me I want to live my life and my relationships to the glory of God. To understand what it looks like to grow up into the Head, who is Christ. I want to take my lead from Him.

Tall order – right?

Conflict. Tension. Perceptions.

Choices with each.

I choose daily. Don’t you?

Help us Lord to choose your wardrobe…not our own. You Oh Lord have clothed us in beauty. We are full of gratitude.

Is He peeling back your layers? Do you need to know there are others who understand how terrifying it can be?

 

 

Be Attentive

I’ve been a bit off schedule this week as I’ve enjoyed a beach vacation with my family. It’s been a peaceful week as the waves have rolled back and forth in rhythm with their Creator. I’m reminded of my need to do the same.

As I open the Word to turn to the book of Mark today, it flips open to a white page with black lettering underlined in blue. These words must have spoken to me in the past. Yet, they whisper gently again today…reminding me. I need to hear.

Be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23

Vigilance – state or quality of being vigilant; watchfulness.

Attentiveness – giving attention to; observing

I return time and again to the truth of the Word. It draws me to give attention to the state of my heart. To incline my ear to the very words that breathe life. Many details all around me, good things needing my attention, but they don’t give life. It still amazes me today. As I turn the pages, I gain what I need for the day and life begins to pulse through my veins.

If I’m not watchful and attentive, I miss it. So easy to do.

The rhythm of the waves continues regardless of whether or not I’m attentive to them. Just as I must incline my eyes to the sight of the waves, my ears to the sound of the waves, I must also incline my ear to the Words of the Lord.

And I am sustained.

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