Growth Spurts

Wait on God.

That is the glorious prophetic word spoken over me at the beginning of my current, new season. And my voice is just a tad sarcastic in saying that. It’s not easy to wait on the unseen. But it truly has been a glorious thing to experience.

I can’t say that I’ve valiantly taken the reigns of this patient task, riding off in my peace-filled happy sunset dream. I haven’t. It has been a tear-filled, up and down hopeless to hopeful, raging inner fire to flickering ember roller coaster ride. My time of waiting has consisted of thoughts of doubt and fear latching on to my brain, only to be ripped out like a cancerous tumor and packed with a soothing poultice of truth- but that’s not always a pleasant experience. Sometimes it hurts to discover the lie you always believed and then to feel the cauterizing of veins coming together to pump new blood to the dying areas in yourself. It doesn’t always feel good to wait because in the waiting is growth, in the waiting is revival. When a person stops breathing, resuscitation requires a sudden burst of air into the lungs and a beating on the chest. Reviving can sting painful, but the product of renewed life is well worth the process.


Do you have kids? My husband and I do. Growth spurts are the greatest, worst thing you can experience with a child. I’ll give you the bad news first.

Growth spurts are the worst. The little one will cry, cling to you night and day, throw fits, suddenly not like foods he or she once loved, and basically be a total sour patch kid for the duration of said growth spurt. You can kiss a good night’s sleep goodbye (but who really sleeps as a parent with toddlers anyway?) I had an app on my phone with my firstborn that would tell me when the upcoming growth spurts, also known as mental leaps, were going to be. And as if we didn’t already know, these mental leaps were signified on the app’s calendar by stormy clouds lasting days or weeks.

On the contrary, growth spurts are also the greatest times in childhood. The child enduring them can suddenly do all kinds of new tricks that they couldn’t do before. Right now Isabelle, my sixteen month old, is going through one. She is so clinging and whiny, but she has also mastered a handful of words she can say at the right times. She can imagine by rocking her baby dolls to sleep. I can ask her for a particular item and she will bring it to me. Her newfound knowledge and ability is astounding. The babies/toddlers have such difficult times with these growth spurts because their little bodies have literally just grown to a new level of capacity. And with that new growth comes new knowledge and ability. The sudden flood of advancement is a lot for the little ones.

The same goes for us big ones.

Every time I go through a season or some type of trial I learn something new, I grow. And how cool is God to teach us new things, and then give us the chance to put them into action?

The old seasons teach us and stretch our capacity of knowledge and ability-all of which we will need to thrive and endure the upcoming days. If we learn nothing from the past and present then we will repeat history. Now I do not mean to say that all repetitive trials and seasons are because God is teaching you something that you aren’t grasping it. No, not always but sometimes but I am not judge of that. However I do know that in the Father-to-child relationship in which we all have with God, there is always something to learn from our Heavenly Dad.

In the waiting we are growing.


Personally, I kind of took the whole “wait on God” message and ran a twisted direction with it. Because of the way waiting went before in my life, I conjured up the word “stop” in my head. I thought I needed to close myself off from a lot of the work God has been building up in my ministry, work and even family. All in the name of waiting. Thinking that waiting meant stopping. And I can say now that those two verbs are not quite the same. For some people, maybe, but for me it was a defense mechanism. Mostly because I was completely afraid to be standing on a tight rope, balancing everything while also waiting to figure out what was on the other side of the balance. What if I fall and die? What if I lose my footing and drop the ball? Almost trying to manipulate God by stopping all that He was doing for me in hopes that He would then give me what I sought after. Because I know what is best for me, right? Wrong. Not good thinking and maneuvering for sure. If I’m waiting on God, it doesn’t have much to do with me and everything to do with God. His timing is everything, and I simply need my heart to be completely yielded to the when.

Honestly I have barely scratched the surface to what waiting on God entails. I know this:

Wisdom is needed. Tenacity is key. Endurance must be shod on. Humility is armor. And above all else, I am just the clay in the hands of the Potter.

In this truth, I will patiently endure. I will wait and stretch and grow. As I soak up the sun in the long hot days, I will dig my roots deeper and outstretch them wider tapping into the Water of Life. I will bend my stem to follow the Light wherever He goes. I will open up my petals to face the Sun more fully and allow my pollen to be given out to those in need of nourishment. I will not worry myself with how other flowers will be nourished, I will simply yield to the Holy Spirit working much like a bee that can be everywhere at once. I won’t stop pressing in and pushing through. I won’t stop loving and walking out the callings on my life. I will stay focused on the Potter being the One to bring about the finished product. All the while remembering that I wait on God because nothing is done by my works or my striving but by God’s power and purpose for my life.

In His grace and love,

Lacey

Superhero

If we as followers of Christ truly believed that we are who God says we are, then we would be able to endure the most nerve-wracking and uncomfortable moments life has to offer us with complete faith that our divine superpowers through Christ will kick in before we fall.

This week has been one for the books in mom life. Living in a small (and I mean tiny) two bedroom house has its ups and downs. Ups being,  I can deep clean the whole place in a few hours. Though my husband would  probably scoff at that sentence because it typically doesn’t work out that way with two kids. Another positive note, I can hear everything my kids are doing from the other room. Sneaky kids can’t get past me! Except I pretty much always show up a millisecond too late, just as one is covered in sour cream or the other is jumping off my piano. The current downside is that my not-so-baby one year old outgrew her crib and now shares a room with her almost-three year old brother. The transition was okay the first few weeks, but took a sudden turn for the worst after we got back from a camping trip. The amount of attention they are both requiring to stay in their beds has been so draining. My husband and I end up with only a few hours of sleep each night. We’ve done it countless times before, but it was usually one kid or the other keeping us up. This time around, because they are in such close quarters, if one wakes up then the other does too. You see where I’m going with this.

I think my subconscious has taken this a little personal. Quietly whispering, “Why God? I’ve been through this many times, so why are you testing me like this again?! Can’t You make them sleep!!” The ugly parts of myself come out at 3 a.m. Which is probably good enough reason to test me. And I’m not saying God is testing me by keeping my kids awake, but I do believe He is working all things out for my good and will use all things to help me walk out His calling over my life (Romans 8:28).  Just as I am typing this blog out, God is reminding me of a recent Psalm I have been praying to Him:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-14)

God really is using my kids’ growth spurt/teething/sleeping adjustment season of life to help me discover my weaknesses and lead me out of them. I should be praising Him for my spiritual progress instead of complaining about my physical discomfort. Last night I prayed this Psalm 139 scripture, and instead of complaining about my kid’s harassing me, I asked God to be my strength during these present weaknesses within myself. He did exactly that! The cherry on top was reading 1 Kings 3. this morning during my quiet time with the Father. Through this passage I found the answer to my relentless cry for help:

I was asking for a way out when I should have been asking for God’s understanding.

Having God’s perspective is the way out of the storms.

In a book I am currently reading, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson, the author states, “No problem, no miracle”. How profound is that? Without the annoying discomforts, without the thorns in our side, how will God’s grace ever be enough for us or how will His power ever have is perfect work in us?

 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV)

Now let me share a story from earlier this week that I believe might coincide with this divine perspective:

A few days ago my husband, kids, and I went to a new park. My son, Lazarus, was wearing his Spiderman costume from last year’s Fall festival. Laz’s attire was another one of those things I just had to let him get away because us moms pick our battles, right? Anyways, as we approached the playground all of the little boys and girls ran up to Lazarus. They were touching his costume, looking at his hands, and saying, “Hi Spiderman!”. The kids really and truly thought Laz was this superhero-man of spiders. It is no secret that Laz absolutely loves Spiderman. So this praise from other kids his age really boosted his spirit. He began jumping all around the playground and shooting imaginary webs everywhere while the kids followed him. It was one of the funniest/cutest things I’ve ever seen..until Brenner and I spent a hairsbreadth of a second looking at our daughter, and then the onslaught of Laz’s painful screams began. There was a 6-7 foot tall rock-climbing wall on one side of the playground’s tower. Imagine a stairway leading up to the area where one could go down the tallest slide on the playground, but there also being a doorway up there to climb down the rock wall. Apparently Laz, a.k.a. Spiderman, fearlessly jumped from the very top of the opening to descend the rock-climbing wall and free-fell like a flying squirrel to the ground . What was he thinking as he stood over the edge of this 7 foot drop? Lazarus was without a doubt believing that he was Spiderman.

Yes, yes as parents we should have been there to catch him. Trust me, my momma heart chewed on that guilt for a long while. Accidents happen, and if you have kids you know what I mean. Thank God, Lazarus was 100% okay and somehow just knocked the breath out of himself. But putting that aside, Laz believed with all of his heart that he was a superhero. So much so that he jumped from the highest point possible on this playground believing his superpowers would kick in before he fell.

If we as followers of Christ truly believed that we are who God says we are, then we would be able to endure the most nerve-wracking and uncomfortable moments life has to offer us with complete faith that our divine superpowers through Christ will kick in before we fall.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

Of course, in my son’s physical situation, Lazarus did fall and he did get hurt. But we, his parents, came to his rescue and we healed him with our superpower kisses. We gave Lazarus the gift of divine understanding by telling him that he was a superhero, but in the future he should wait for us to be there to catch him when he wants to fly off something high up. Does God not give even greater gifts to His children than us mundane parents? God can be everywhere at once. God can catch all of us at the same time as we take tremendous leaps of faith to trust Him in the unknown and uncomfortable moments.

 “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:17-22 NKJV)

That is a lengthy read, but packed with life-changing truth! In Ephesians 3, Paul goes on to talk about us being raised to life with Christ and seated at the right hand of God’s throne with Christ. This means that believers receive all of these benefits of Christ: wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, enlightened understanding, the riches of God’s glory, and the greatness of His mighty power over all things (to name a few). In other words, we are more super than Spiderman and God is a more amazing Father than my husband and I (as if we didn’t already know that). My point is this, God’s perspective on who He is and who we are is fundamental in walking out the fullness of God’s plan for our lives with fearless joy. Whether it’s jumping off a 7 foot ledge in faith of flying, or getting up 15 times a night to keep your children sleeping in their own beds, identity and divine perspective are the keys to thriving in it all. Be who God says you are and trust the process through the valleys and mountaintops alike. God is good and faithful. His mercies are new every day, and His grace is enough for us.

 

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Message of Ashes

Your feelings of impurity, humiliation, filth and worthlessness are all ashes that Jesus died for. He died to trade the ashes of your past, present and future in exchange for His radiant beauty.

I have sang the sweet words “beauty for ashes” in worship many times. I have prayed those words over people crying out to God for deliverance, “trade your ashes for Christ’s beauty!!” I’ve prayed that great exchange from Jesus to myself many times. But today it was as if the words became a little more tangible; the Word of God cut into my bones a little deeper.

This morning I was reading about burnt offerings in Leviticus. The priest would perform the offering and then take the ashes of the burnt offering out of the camp (Leviticus 6:11). There was no reason why this stuck out to me, except that the Holy Spirit wanted to teach me something. I tried to read on, but the word ‘ashes’ became a ringing bell in my head. Therefore I proceeded to use my favorite biblical study tool, a concordance (through biblehub.com) and look up the root meaning of ‘ashes’. As I read that this specific Hebrew word, דָּ֫שֶׁן or deshen, means ‘fatness, ashes of fat, abundance’, I wondered if the same version of the word was used in the ‘beauty for ashes’ scripture I knew and loved:

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”” (Isaiah‬ ‭61:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

To my amazement, the word for ‘ashes’ in the Isaiah passage was different from the Leviticus one. ‘Ashes’ used here in Isaiah 61 is אֵ֫פֶר or epher, and it is used in several other scriptures meaning: ashes of the red heifer which was an offering for purification, ashes put on the head as a sign of humiliation, ashes representing contrition (self-reproach, repentance), ashes for mourning, ashes meaning filthy or loathsome, ashes meaning worthlessness, sorrow and distress (all taken from Brown-Driver-Briggs). Wow, isn’t that powerful? These are the ashes Jesus wants us to give up to Him so that He can exchange them for His beauty, the beauty of the Bridegroom! Your feelings of impurity, humiliation, filth and worthlessness are all ashes Jesus died for. He died to trade the ashes of your past, present and future in exchange for His radiant beauty. That’s astounding. That kind of pure love makes no sense to the human mind, but it doesn’t have to because God just is who He is and does what He does despite our level of understanding.

I very briefly studied out this message of ashes before going about my day. Around mid-afternoon I found myself in a situation where my past sins and mistakes were being kind of..rubbed in my nose. A conversation that was intended to be redemptive, forgiving and freeing, had felt shaming, accusatory and enslaving. A list of mistakes I made (4 years ago and very early in my walk with Christ) were being thrown at me in detail and it hurt to revisit those dark places in my life. I could literally feel the spiritual cuffs of my past being clicked onto my wrists and ankles and could hear the enemy’s excitement that he had captured me again…but God.

God wouldn’t have any of that, no sir. He caught me as my mind tumbled into that pit and He fought His way out with me in His arms. After much prayer, repentance and seeking His counsel, I saw the situation for what it really was: An invitation from Jesus to trade my buried, old ashes for His fresh and new beauty. Jesus wants to be the king of my entire heart..not just some of it. Even the most dark and infected spaces within me-especially those places. The devil wanted this conversation to harm me, but God used it to take me back into that sinful time in my life and totally annihilate that darkness with His glory light! His light always overcomes the darkness (John 1:5). Instead of wearing those past sins and allowing shame and regret to control my mind in that moment, I allowed Jesus to take those ashes of humiliation and give me His beauty-His grace, His mercy, His love, His peace. These are the things I am called to meditate on. Not who I was then, but who I am now in Christ Jesus! Today is the day of salvation and today I am sold out for Jesus. God is renewing me into the image of His perfect Son, Jesus. I’m not perfect, but God is and He will complete the good work in me that He started.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

Ask God if there are any ashes you are still wearing on your head in humiliation or despair from past regrets or present mistakes. If you’re feeling worthless, shamed, impure, or filthy there is an invitation from Jesus to you. An invitation to trade all of that pain and heartache for His beauty and resurrection which can be received through accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and surrendering all of yourself to Him!

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)