Again

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Here I am again, Lord.

Seeking Your Face

Longing for Your Touch

Holding out for Your Voice

Heeding Your commands

Feeling completely undone

But I know that when I come,

You bend low to listen

You shine Your light on my pathway

You give me rest

You take the weight of my worries

You exchange my sorrows for Your peace and love and joy

So why is it that I find myself

Fretting?

Anxious?

Afraid?

Alone?

Weary?

Worn?

Perhaps I am not acting as if I believed You are Almighty God.

Perhaps I wish and hope that You are just that.

But secretly I plan for my own way, my own security just in case…

You are less than able.

You are playing a twisted game with my life.

You are not FOR me.

I did not live up to our promise, so You changed Your mind about me.

So I wait. And realign. And remind myself once again of Your Words to me. They are my LIFE. They are TRUE.

Then I bow my head in sorrow. I turn my eyes up in longing. And I say this one word–Again.

Do it again, LORD.

Show Yourself Faithful.

Again remake my icy-cold heart, warm it with Your breath.

Again.

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To Live is Christ

Old gate

So many things we get caught up in…so many concerns of heart, mind, body and soul.  Like the record player needle getting stuck playing the same note over and over again. Then we spiral. We get off-track.  Our focus on things important is lost. We make idols of the discordant note–focused completely on “whys” and”whats” that really don’t amount to anything when all is said and done.

We hold grudges.  We make people’s problems our projects. We wring our hands over unpaid bills. The future is daunting.  The past, hurtful. And the now?  Well, you don’t even know what to think in the now. You are just putting one foot in front of the other or you are laying down and hoping time will pass. But life?  There’s no life there…there are just empty spaces to fill and irreconcilable tallies that will never ever make sense and then there’s the fear, bitterness and anger that wells up in your heart.  Life is not fair.

No, it isn’t. Then Joanne spoke the most amazing words to me after her stroke at the rehabilitation hospital. She said, “You know we have bills to pay and concerns, but the things that used to matter so much, just don’t seem to matter anymore. I don’t just want to live.  I want LIFE!”

To live is Christ.

So as my dear friend Joanne has been marking my life, my mind, my heart with the truth of God’s ever-present Presence in her time of need, I find that He is using her to mark my soul in a way of stillness unlike I have ever felt. Be still and know that He is God.  Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side. Be still. Live. Abide. Find rest, o my soul, the Lord has been good to you.  Yes, yes He has.

I have been on a health journey, which began in 2007 with a tremor in my hand. Like parenthesis that wrapped our jobless journey, bankruptcy and financial worries was this uncertain situation with my thyroid.  It was broken.  Then it leveled out to normal.  Then it was broken again. So as I have searched and finally found good doctors, I began seeking out the answers for my thyroid (which is still an in-process journey).

In the midst of the journey last Thursday, I went for my very first full physical.  They tested my arteries, which were fine, and then began the rest of the meeting with the doctor.  All my blood numbers were very good!  He seemed surprised.  The thyroid is still auto-immune, but everything was really good. Then he listened to my heart.  Then he listened again to my heart.  Then he sent me back to the young woman, who tested my arteries, to have an echocardiogram, because he heard a heart murmur.

She was a sweet Jesus-loving girl.  She began the test looking for a valve issue.  In mid-stride, she stopped and said, “We are going to do a bubble test to see if you have a hole in your heart.  It’s pretty common actually.” So she did the test and then told me I’d hear results back on Monday of this week.

Well I didn’t–and it is troublesome to wait. But on Monday here is what God showed me–His diagnosis, if you will. From Jesus Calling, “I am creating something new in you: a bubbling spring of Joy that spills over into others’ lives…let yourself become a reservoir of the Spirit’s fruit.” My thoughts as I read this were, “Lord, if there be a hole, let your Joy spill through it.  May I be a reservoir of the fruit of your Holy Spirit.”

Then I read this from My Utmost for His Highest, “If you abandon to Jesus, and come when He says ‘Come,’ He will continue to say ‘Come’ through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ’s ‘Come.’ That is the result of every soul, who has abandoned and come to Jesus.” I began to think, “Echo.  Echocardiogram. Lord, let the echo of my heart always be the echo of your ‘Come.’ May I be fully abandoned and come (echo) come (echo) come to You.”

So today’s diagnosis, “No valvular issue, but instead patent foramen ovale (PFO). You have a hole–a passage of blood from the right to left. At some point, if you had a mini stroke from a blood clot, we would do surgery, but as long as you remain symptom free we do nothing.”

Funny thing, I also have a hole in my head, which makes my Chris so happy to joke about–it’s called a partially empty sella around my pituitary (all of this will come into play in the tests that are still before me over the next months for my thyroid).  Today our 13 year old son spoke these words, “Well, Mom, you are holey.  God thinks that is good, right?  Holy?”

I chuckle, for it is true!  I am holey.  I am broken.  I am empty.  I have thorns in my life, so do you.  So I echo to you today, Come. Come to Jesus.  Bring all of your hurts and pains and emptiness.  He is all about filling and overspilling in our lives. In times like these, we need a hole to leak the joy out.  We need the emptiness to become a reservoir. We need the echo of our hearts to ring Come! We need His Holy to fill our holey-ness.

To live is Christ. To die is gain.  I believe it fully.  Now, I live it until the appointed day when I step onto His heavenly sod and echo one final time, Come! For I will need to Come! no more.  I will then BE in Jesus’ Presence and there shall be no more away. Oh Praise God. To live is Christ. To live is Christ.

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other gods

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A few years ago, I began an overview study in Isaiah–looking for Christ in each chapter.  Studying God’s Word is not for a select few, it is for everyone, you just need a few tools and a seeking heart for God.  In studying, all you need are a few tools to begin.  Your Bible, pen, notebook, a concordance and a Bible dictionary–or you can find all the study tools you need online with Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible. Read the portion you want to study.  Re-read it and write down the words that most interest you.  Engage in the Word, by allowing the Holy Spirit to direct your time. Then dig into the phrases and context.

Today I will share my insights from Isaiah 26, where there is much to glean.  One of the best messages I ever heard was on Isaiah 26:3 by Beth Moore at a Living Proof Live event in Little Rock, Arkansas several years ago. The part of her message that most struck me was about this verse: “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” Picture laying your head on God’s lap and He has His Hand upon your head, as you lay there. He is then applying His thoughts to yours by showing you HOW to think about all the WHAT that is going on.

Do you have a difficult situation? Put your head on God’s lap and pour out your heart before Him. Then let Him speak over you in that situation. I often pray, “Lord, help me to see how to think about all this WHAT going on in my life.” Perspective. Oh, I need it! A good Word from my Sister, Beth!

What I first saw when I read Isaiah 26 was that our strength lies in our salvation! Our salvation through Jesus Christ has become the walls and ramparts (protective barrier prepared to fortify) of our city. We have a strong Defender! His name is Jesus.

I also noticed that the city’s gates are not closed, they are open. Salvation is not an exclusive club. It can be accessed by anyone, who comes with faith. All we need to do is share with others about knowing Christ–his blood shed on the cross to cover all their sins and make them white as snow. Are your gates closed or open?

The third verse has been a stay for me through the years. I have often thought upon the verse to the point, where I have it memorized like this (you will not be surprised): “Holly, God will keep you in perfect peace. Keep your mind stayed upon Him! Holly, put your trust in Him.” I talk to myself like this all the time. Personalize the Word of God. It is for you. It is written TO you. Why should you not insert your name? There are scriptures and promises that through the ages have marked the way of men and women, because they took it for their own. Is His Word something you cling to as your own? His matchless, changeless character has kept His Word. It is true, every bit.

So try it for yourself with verse four: “(Your name), Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” What does that mean when you say it? It means that the Lord God, the covenant LORD, is worthy of your trust in ALL situations. It means He keeps His promises. And it means that forever, He is strong, steadfast and firm.

Do you want your path to be level and smooth? Then look to verse seven: “The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.” It doesn’t say He might make, it says He WILL make. Our part is to be righteous. Oh, you say, then I guess I cannot take this verse to heart, righteousness is an impossible standard for me, a sinner.

I have Good News! That Good News is Christ Jesus. When you ask Him to be your Savior, He becomes the righteousness in and over your life. Like clothing, we daily need to put on Christ. In putting Him on, we will long to know Him more by reading His Word. We will long to please Him more, by obeying His Word. We will long to serve Him more, for His love in us COMPELS us to do something for others. Ahhh, the great exchange occurs (His life for ours)…and we are never the same. Jesus becomes our desire.

Need a verse for your life? Verse eight is a life verse for our family: “Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” I am laughing, because His Word never returns void. In our lives, we have over and over and over had to wait on the LORD. Every single time, we have understood that in the waiting, we were growing in the Lord and declaring His renown wherever we went. Oh, it is a hard path to travel, but I would never exchange it–no, not for all the wealth and fame and honor this world might offer.

You see we have longed for Him in the night, we have seen His Hand upon us, we have learned His ways (oh, there is much left to learn!) and He has established peace for us in our family.

How has this come about?

Verses 13-14 say it well:
O LORD, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone do we honor.

They are now dead, they live no more;
those departed spirits do not rise.
You punished them and brought them to ruin;
you wiped out all memory of them.

Oh Praise the LORD! I am so glad. For indeed, we HAVE had other lords besides the LORD our God. We have bowed down to other gods. They ruled over us, and we walked bent over and with a limp–blind to see anything of God’s Hand. Only now, walking under the authority of Christ, have we found that we can truly see how we were before. We are quite familiar now with all our ways during those times. God has taken His Word and spoken over those times. He has put to death our sin. He remembers them no more.

In light of who Jesus is and who we were, we begin to see that even then, He was there. Today, we walk in that Light, His Light…oh, Praise God for that. So many gods…not one worthy. Every one, cast down before the feet of Christ. Then in love, our Savior, Jesus, became the Lifter of our Heads.

Is your head hanging low today over some situation? Lay that situation down. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16). Let Him fill your mouth again with laughter (Psalm 126:2, Job 8:21)! The King of Glory has come in (Psalm 24:7-10)! Open wide the gates of your city, that many may come and know Him. Let Him come in and enlarge the boundaries of the city. There is room…Christ made room. Come on in!

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To Know and Be Known

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Every day, like you, I get up and go through the motions.  Sometimes, I’m not so intentional. In fact, in a myriad of ways, I often miss the mark. If you have a criticism for me or aimed my way, I could trump you every time with about 100 more.  I am very aware of my short-comings. I take responsibility for them–I OWN them.

I realize that I am better at the written than the spoken word…often I end up rambling when speaking to people face to face. It’s because I get uncomfortable with too much talking. Then I lack the discernment for good closure. Be it on the phone or face to face, I need a lot of grace, when it comes to talking. This is where I totally thank God for those, who know me and love me anyway…even when I ramble and cannot close a discussion.

I realize that I tend to put guilt trips on myself for situations that have nothing to do with me. I take on the ownership of it and feel responsible for the choices other people make–like it is my fault, like I need to fix it. Fortunately, I am growing in this area and learning that some situations happen that are entirely out of my hands.  Rarely do I own the guilt of these situations anymore–for the clothing (and clothing it is) no longer fits.  When I begin that kind of guilt-driven thinking, I begin to talk to myself…is this something you need to make right? Have your willfully tried to bring harm here? Why are you feeling this guilt? In the long run, I believe it is good to think about what you are thinking about–ask yourself why you are thinking the way you are thinking and like good, legal counsel, begin questioning yourself. David did this in the Psalms all the time (Why are you downcast o my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him.).  It is a good practice.

I realize that I lack discipline and follow through.  I may get up several mornings early, make breakfast, spend time in the Word, pray and happily send everyone off to work and school. Then one day, I don’t…and the next and the next. I may exercise faithfully and eat healthy foods on such a wonderfully long trend.  Then the next week, I get sick.  Then I again do not get back on that horse.  It is a cycle with which I personally struggle. One verse that has really helped me here is that God’s mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!  And He is teaching me personally to call some days a mulligan and let the next day be a do over, a fresh beginning, a new start.  Why not?  A long obedience in the same direction is my goal for life. I want to be soft clay in God’s hands.  I want to be willing.

On the other side of the coin, I am also aware of those places, where I thrive–the sweet spot, where every time the ball I aim shoots through the hoop. No over-confidence here, just the right amount of confidence to tell you that every single time I stand in that place and handle things in a certain way, it WILL go well.

I am fully aware that God has given me the gift of connecting people.  I may get over-zealous about it, but I cannot tell you the number of times when God has used me to connect people.  In a miraculous sense, I have witnessed face-to-face that God is timing our meetings each day–those “accidental” appointments are fully by Design. Because of this, I am keen to watch for who He sends my way. Sometimes, I have to overcome my own pride in the approach, but more often than not, I walk away glad that I was bold.

I am fully aware that God has given me a heart to pray.  I pray all the time.  I talk with the Lord about little things and big.  It is what I do and the fabric of who I am.  At least 7 times lately I have had people ask for prayer with the addendum, I know you have much on your mind…let me say once and for all, I have TIME and a MIND to pray, if you ask me to pray.  I even pray when not asked. This is not some special position that God has gifted me to have…no, He extends the same position to anyone, who will take Him up on the offer He proffers. “Therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace,  that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV) 

All that is needed here?  Boldness.  So come…Come boldly, come and drink. Ask. Seek. Knock.  All are bold moves.  Do it–try it–see.  (The thing I love about this verse is the “Therefore…” It is referring to who Christ is…what He has suffered and what He knows and understands by walking in flesh just like ours.  Because of Christ, we can come boldly.

Finally, I know who I am not.  I do not think highly of myself. It never occurs to me to think that anyone needs me or my help to do anything. I am fully aware that God uses me as a vessel, because I’m willing to be used.  The second I begin thinking any form of thought that glorifies me and puffs me up with pride, then immediately, I take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. 

For I am fully aware that God uses the willing and He hates pride. He doesn’t need me. There are others, who can fulfill His purposes, others who can carry out His will. He doesn’t need me. He loves me. YES. He invites me to join Him. Each time He invites, I have a choice to take Him up on the invitation.  Again, it takes boldness to take God up on His offers.  He’s not looking at my faithful church attendance or the record of good things on the list…no.  He is looking for the willing.

Because God knows me through and through, He knows I am willing.  He knows that the only good in me is what He has filled up in me.  He knows my junk. He knows just how far He has removed my sins…and stilldaily, removes my sins. He knows me and loves me anyway. I can be bold in the face of such a God.  I can be, because I know that He can handle anything I bring His way.

You know the friends I spoke of earlier, who listen to me ramble? God is a friend like that! He’s okay with my muchness…more than okay–He loves my muchness. Oh to know and be known by such a Savior!

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Room in the Inn

Christmas in the wood

Crowding out the still small Voice…
Filling life with every noise.
Unconsciously, we cheat ourselves.
Dissatisfied–placed on a shelf.

Our ears, we fill with sound,
Our eyes, don’t look around,
Our STOMACH’S filled to the brim…
so there’s no room for Him!

Oh, Christian let Him be born.
INSIDE you, all is torn.
Every direction pulled today…
Let Jesus fill in every way.

Be aware of all within–
Come Savior, there’s room in my Inn!

All Rights Reserved ©
Holly Smith
October 3, 2001

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Recovery

Streets of Jerusalem

Oh dear Jesus, I have felt such a peaceful pace here at A Martha Heart.  I have not felt rushed, worried or inadequate.  I have felt a freedom to write the words You have put on my heart. Like the ocean, I am writing when I feel the flow and resting when I feel the ebb.  
 
Lord, truly I feel that the flow of this site is just as You have led us.  So often, we get caught up in approval, popularity and name recognition, that we forget there is ONE name alone that is to be lifted up–You, Jesus.  At your feet, we will find our value, strength, peace and joy.  You are the One we look to!  So there is no GOAL here for the ministry to grow or be anything other than what Jesus wants it to be. We do not have a long-term plan going.  We are not marketing ourselves or playing any kinds of games.  We belong to You, Christ Jesus–moving in Your time and Your way.

Lord, I have heard you telling me to make this place a place that points to You. So on November 28th through Christmas day, we will be posting very short prompts to our readers here. These prompts will be simple points of intention and focus and preparation for their hearts and homes to make room in their inns for You to be born, dear Jesus.  May it be a time of set-apartness and pure focus to anticipate and prepare for the celebration of Your birth. This year, LORD, I ask You to make all things new in our hearts and homes. 
 
My highest hope and prayer is that people would come to know You for themselves, as You are–and not as they might have thought You to be.  Continually, I pray we will keep pointing others to You, Jesus, and to Your feet.  We are not here to be slick in ministry.  We are here to be Your servants.  What a privilege it is to proclaim Your love day after day for each one–Your care for their days, their concerns, their schedules.
 
Lately, LORD, you have been working on me in just a few words–Recover your life in Me (Matthew 11:27-30 The Message).  And so I am, Lord Jesus.  I am before You–just as I am.  Here and bare before You.  Thank you for showing me the steps to recovery.  Please show each woman (and man) how to find recovery in You alone.  You are WORTHY, LORD.  YOU ALONE.  Amen.

(Aside) Ladies, I cannot tell you how deep this journey of recovery has gone.  He has wiped away all the dross and busyness and just taken me to a place of bare before Him. In that place, I have seen what I’ve been about and what I want to be about and where I want to make changes.  He has done some culling away in my life–of people and time choices and priorities. And I have made some drastic steps to obey Him. In fact, my heart change is probably one of the most drastic changes I have seen. I love that He never leaves us as we are, and we find out SO MUCH at His feet. 
 
You simply do not have time to NOT sit at His feet.
 
So take time today–even if you are on the road and busy or catching up on work and busy or just plain busy–to pray.  It’s not something that has to always be in a physical posture of prayer–kneeling, face down or whatever. It’s about your heart posture being bowed before Him, coming to Him humbly and offering everything you are to Him. Though, I do believe some days the physical posture is vital to the heart posture.  You will know His voice about this.  He wants us to know that He is hearing our prayers and responding to them, even before we speak. Trust Him in that.

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The Last Word

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Silence. A moment captured in time. Slowly I exhale and take off my shoes. My home is holy ground. I open the windows and smell the crisp Colorado, fall air. I hear the leaves shake, like cymbals, as they make themselves ready for a new season. I go to pour myself a cup of coffee and ready my heart for His Word–truly for Jesus Himself. For in this particular silence, I believe He has something specific to say–something I need to hear in this time and season and place.

Inhaling the air, I ready myself for remembering. For I sense in my spirit that what Jesus is about to say is going to be something I will never forget. Yet, I cannot even tell you in anticipation of it precisely what His Word for me shall be. I can say one thing.  It will be my LIFE. I love to know that His Word will be the last word…over my moments, my days, my time here, over my family, over those who have captured my heart, whom I would give my life to give them a taste of the life I have in Christ–an ever-satisfying drink for the thirsty ones.

His Words to me begin to come in a rhythmic cadence…I am here. I am with You. You are a treasure to me. You are beautiful. In me, you have enough. Don’t hold tightly to things, to people. Hold fast to Me. I will not fail you. I will NOT fail you. I will not fail you, dear child. My strength can hold your heaviest burden. My grace covers your sins, every one of them. My love covers. It covers! And it fills.  It fills and it spills over. Today you need to know that I am the One you can look to and find everything you need. So rest now.  Rest in my care. I, too, needed to come by myself to a lonely place.  I climbed tall mountains to recover my life in the Father.  Then with compassion, I saw those coming to find me and I went to them, every one of them–not one left out–and I healed them. I see you, dear child.  I am here to heal you. With compassion, I love you. With tenderness, I am binding up your wounds. Stitch-by-stitch. Come and be filled. Come and be healed.  Come.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

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