Recent Stories

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        I was born and raised in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of greater Los Angeles.  It was there that the term “Valley Girl” became popular.  It held special significance to me, not only because I came [more]

  • Roller Coasters – Emily's Story

    Brent and I had been married for 16 years. We had been through quite a bit. In the midst of many physical illnesses, we had two wonderful children who really have been a blessing. We were ministry minded and when we were turned down to move overseas to work with some [more]

  • Where is God in My Suffering? – Kit's Story

    My name is Kit Danley and I am the president here at Neighborhood Ministries. I come from affluent America. I come from a background off the lake, say in Milwaukee, both parents and grandparents were prominent Milwaukeeans. And as my parents tried to do adult [more]

The Great Salvage Operator

A few weeks ago my sister and co-author Linda Lyons Richardson passed the veil through death to Life… and left a hole in our hearts. Yesterday her husband was sharing with me the pain of removing her from bank accounts and deeds, etc. Such things feel so cold… so final… so hard.

So I was reminded of my recurring sense that this is not the way things were supposed to be. I’m not questioning God at all. I’m just saying that this was not the way things were originally designed to work. We were made for everlasting life. The violent separation death brings is a result of mankind’s choice to go his own way. We messed up God’s perfect creation, and it hurts like a sliver jammed under my fingernail.

So when I miss my sister my heart cries out, “This is not the way things are supposed to be!” It does not feel right because it is a violation of God’s original design for us.

But then the Great Salvage Operator goes to work. He’s like a junkyard artist. It’s His way. He enters into the mess we’ve made, picks through the wreckage and creates something beautiful… if we have a willing heart and eyes to see.

So two people whom Linda longed to bring into friendship with Jesus now seem to be arriving there. So her husband is learning to cultivate the garden she left for him. And I’ll be watching to see what other flowers bloom in the rich soil of life that Linda left behind.

What do you see the Great Salvage Operator creating out of your pain?

In the Midst: Distraught

Father,

I don’t have any patience left.  I’m believing lies, I know it, but I don’t have the fight left.  I don’t even know how to come before you anymore.  I’ve worn myself out trying to fix things even I know I couldn’t fix in the first place.  I have ideas & wants & desires and no follow through. 

My soul cries out that you are healer, provider, redeemer, and friend.  It knows that is truth.  I just don’t feel it.  I don’t see it in the practical.  I live in the practical.  Can’t you meet me here?

I don’t know how to ask you for something and believe you will provide.  I feel like you don’t answer when I ask.  I know I can talk to You and obviously I know how to whine.  I just don’t know how to believe you might say yes.  I almost don’t want to ask cause you’ll say no.  And I don’t know how to overcome that.  It seems a fairly crucial part.  I see what you say in the Bible, but I just don’t seem to see it in my life.  How can I believe in a truth that seems against my experience?

Listen to my prayer, O God,
 do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught

Psalm 55:1-2 (NIV)

Job Hunting 101: Where is your "but"?

You know, this job hunting is for the birds! I am tired and frustrated by the whole process. It shouldn’t be like that. I am a child of God. A child of the King! I am chosen, beloved and precious in God’s sight, the apple of his eye! If I remind myself of these truths, perhaps I will grow in my faith and belief of who I am, in Christ.

But it’s so hard to be rejected over and over again. For jobs I could do well, with excellence and dependability. But alas, I am over-qualified. They’re afraid I will be bored. I get that, and I would be, but isn’t that MY decision and issue to deal with? Why do I have to be passionate about the position I take? Can’t I work whole-heartedly for a company and find my passion outside my work? No, my life ambition is not to be a security guard, but I would do a great job if given the opportunity, wouldn’t I?

These are questions I have repeatedly asked God. To me it just doesn’t make sense. I have been looking since May, 2009 for a full time permanent job. The trouble is I haven’t known what I wanted to do. I have been a teacher, but my field of study is being phased out of the schools. I have been a Realtor, but have you seen the housing market lately? Why am I looking at my circumstances? My ‘but’ is in the wrong place. I need to practice putting things into the right perspective. Here, let me adjust my attitude and focus…

My life is out of control, but he is in control. Yes, I was turned down again, but I am not rejected. Yes, he is bigger than the managers who do the hiring. Yes, he knows I am hurting, but has promised to provide for my needs. When I ask him for a ‘real job’ he speaks to my heart, ‘have I not provided for you?’ Yes, Lord, you have, but not in the way I wanted. Oops, there I go again. What is wrong with me? Move that ‘but’! I don’t have a job as I expected, but you have been providing for me.

It’s all in my thinking and attitude. God is certainly bigger than my circumstances and I need to keep him as my focus. My circumstances can be wonderful, horrible, disastrous or dangerous; but, when I look to God and believe the truth, the outlook is so much better!

So, where is your ‘but’?

Worship & Truth

I was sitting in at a seminar a few weeks ago where David Lyons, co-author of Don’t Waste the Pain, was giving a talk on the book concepts. I don’t remember exactly what he was talking about (I’ve been to a lot of talks about the book, sometimes they refuse to stay straight in my brain), but one phrase stood out to me.

Worship is telling yourself the truth.

This seemed odd and poignant at the same time. But I didn’t really understand how or why. But I’ve continued to think about it. Worship has always been a place where I have had my most connection with God. I have faced the challenge of learning that worship is not a show that you’re putting on, that worship isn’t just music and singing. It has lifted me high and rubbed me raw. It is the one place where I can’t seem to block out God. I can refuse to go to church, but once I’m there I can not escape God in that music. There are still days where I find myself sobbing out of hurt, anger, sometimes even joy.

But this was a new concept. When I’m singing those words and find myself not wanting to agree with them, or finding them painful and not something I want to believe, instead of getting indignant, just facing the fact that it is Truth. Oh how terribly painful. But also how healing. He gives and takes away. Oh my word, how hard it is to keep my throat from closing up on that one. But I cannot deny that it is truth. And somehow when those words come across the screen, when I think “that is truth” rather than “how could You?”, there is a small part of me that heals.

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

-John 4:24-

In the Midst: Can you trust God?

The big question is this: can I trust this God? I can say I don’t feel like it, but at this point that response is complete stubbornness. I know the answer to this one. At the crux of the matter is the Cross. Sure, I can dislike what He’s done…dislike His methods, but in the end, what can possibly stand in comparison to the reality of what happened on the cross? This is a black and white issue. If you believe that the Bible is true & that Jesus was really God in human form & that He came down from Heaven to save us and pay the price for our sins & that God sent Him to die for that purpose & that His victory on the cross is the redemption of all our sins…if you believe all of that, how is this not a God you can trust? It’s still not easy, but a perspective shift makes that so clear.I always thought I understood the illustration of looking at our circumstances through the lens of God rather than looking at God through our circumstances. Now I really do. For months, I’ve been shaping my view of God based off of what was going on in my life…trying to make my own truths.

Shockingly, this doesn’t work.

Instead, I need to know and see the truth of God first & only then can I see things in the right light. Now. I’m not gonna lie. When the idea of the cross came in to the picture a few days ago, I knew the battle was over. But like a good sinful nature kid, I was so stuck on being right that I kept putting off this decision of trust, even though I knew deep down that the decision was out of my hands. I’m fairly good with distractions and escapism (good having varying definitions at this point), so I managed to continue to ignore for a few days but it comes down to this.

Daddy God, I trust you. I may not always like how you do things, and there will most likely be days where I will forget to act on these things that I do believe. But I believe that your love for me outweighs that. You say that perfect love casts out all fear. I can’t say that I’m not afraid of being hurt again, but I can cautiously say that I know that even when it hurts it is meant to be there in love. You love me & I can trust and rest in that love. Forgive me for my anger and my distance from you that is of my own making. Help me to remember this lesson and build on it rather than needing to relearn it over and over again. Help me to see and remember truths rather than embracing a lie.

Now just to deal with surrender and everything will be just swell...

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.
In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

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