Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—”Colossians‬ ‭1:21-22‬ ‭

Ever been estranged from someone? It’s defined as “no longer close or affectionate to someone; alienated.” Its a tearing, a breaking apart of a relationship. What once brought comfort and companionship now leaves an ache, disillusionment and scars. I’ve experienced my share of estrangement from people…good people, that I called friends. Rejection stinks. The pain can be intense, as though someone has died, only they didn’t. They chose to be removed, alienated, from me….ouch. That leaves a deep mark, but I know a healer that restores all wounds, making right what has been wronged and so hope remains.

Jesus came to restore, reconciling us to the Father. Before our surrender to Him, we are estranged, whether we know it or not. Somewhere deep down we know. There’s something missing; a deep hole, unfillable and unquenchable. We are driven to fill it, to ease the ache it causes.

What have you struggled with all of your life? Those struggles are inevitably related to the ache, the separation…the alienation. The longing becomes a bottomless crater of chaos…alcohol, drugs, sex, pride, unhealthy relationships, gossip, materialism, people pleasing, self centeredness, anger…the pit gets darker and deeper depending on the person.

The chasm that alienated us from our Heavenly Father was so overwhelming it required a sacrifice. God willingly paid it in the form of His son. There’s nothing He wouldn’t do to be reconciled to His children.

He didn’t want heaven without us. So Jesus, You brought heaven down.” (Hillsong United)

From the moment His blood was shed to His triumphant resurrection, reconciliation became possible for all people. As we receive and invite Him into the caverns of chaos we create, He delivers us from all of it. Imagine Him lighting a match and burning the infectious treasures, refining us so that we are blemish free. That is how He sees us. There are no longer empty craters and caverns in the heart because His love becomes a fountain of life, filling us again and again, continually replenishing and restoring.

We will never be perfect. He alone has that right, but we are whole, fully loved, reconciled, forgiven, and free.
No one, not even you, determine your worth friends. Jesus bought you at the ultimate price. He considers you priceless. If people have told you you’re worthless, He begs to differ. If you’ve believed you’re not good enough, He disagrees. If you’ve been estranged by others, and you’re left with wounds of rejection, He heals the broken hearted. Pray for those that left you and even those that persecuted you. They have their own deep caverns of chaos that only Jesus can heal…we are not responsible for other people’s sin, but while on this earth, we suffer its consequences. If you are entrenched in sinful patterns trying to alleviate the ache of emptiness, invite Jesus in. Only He can restore the deepest, darkest pain. Let Him clean out the wounds, so He can fill them with His love and grace. Nothing and no one else can complete You like He can. Invite Him in to the chaos. He won’t be shocked by what He already sees. Instead He will love You fully, until you are mended and free.

It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming. He is RISEN and we have been reconciled. There is hope!

Prayer: Father God, You are so incredibly good to us. Thank You for the gift of Jesus, which restores and reconciles us to You. Search our hearts. Enter into any places that we’ve tried to keep hidden, holding on to infectious ways, believing it helps us feel better, while it secretly destroys. You are the source of everything good and all that we need. May we grab hold of that truth today and begin the process of “cleaning house” and restoration. Help our hearts to be attuned to You so that we understand our value in You and walk in confidence as heirs to a King. Thank You for seeing us blemish free. Your grace astounds us…help us walk in it and offer it to all we encounter. In Jesus name, Amen


Stubbed Hearts

There’s nothing quite like a stubbed toe. It can bring out the inner sailor mouth in any of us. You can be in a hurry, just minding your own business, trying to get things done, when….BAM….your poor unsuspecting toe hits the corner of the wall, the leg of a chair, or a bed frame. Ouch! 😵

The pain can be searing and you think your toe might just fall off. Actually, you kind of hope it does  just so the pain will alleviate. My initial instinct is to kick the object of my pain again, because,  it hurt me!😉  Then your whole body goes on temporary  lock down until the pain subsides.   It seems certain that the toe has been crushed,  given the intensity of the the pain, but it’s most often just bruised, and will heal over time.

There is no thinking clearly or communicating with grace in these moments. Just intense, overwhelming pain. How can something so small, cause so much anguish? I surrendered my inner sailor mouth years ago, when I became a Jesus follower, so I’ve had to create new vinacular for moments like this. If you hear me say “crumb bucket”…it’s serious! 😜 (Occasionally the pirate in me will still escape, though, if the conditions are just right…or maybe just wrong. 😉).

But there’s something far worse than a stubbed toe, even more painful, and that is a stubbed heart.

A couple weeks ago my husband and I experienced the trauma of a stubbed heart once again.   We were on the recieving end of hurtful words, accusations, and blame….followed by what feels like complete rejection from a few people we have called friends.  So painful!  It happens in life. We know in this life we will have troubles, but there are occasions, when like an unexpected stubbed toe, it seemingly comes out of nowhere, hitting you by surprise and knocking the air from your lungs. It feels more like the shattering of our hearts into pieces. It can cause that sinking feeling, out of complete disbelief, in a free fall of hurt, and initially it feels as though the heart might just give out altogether.  Life becomes temporarily on lock down, for my mind and heart feel high jacked by hurt; an unwelcome intruder.  There is no shaking off this pain and nothing but time and clinging to God’s gracious hand will lessen the ache. Kicking the source of my pain won’t fix it, though I have to admit, I’ve visilualized that a time or two…or three or four. 😉  We have to deal with our stubbed hearts, but we won’t die from them,  contrary to my feelings.

Ever felt accused and betrayed by people you care about?  We’ve experienced this kind of pain more than I’d like to remember.   I doubt I’m alone in this, given that even our Savior,  Jesus, experienced the heartache of interrogation, accusation, rejection,  and ultimately, condemnation from the religious “elite”, and yet, Jesus was and IS perfect. Even His closest friends  failed Him, as He prepared for His painstaking journey to the cross.  Remember Peter? He denied knowing Jesus to protect himself.  Or how about the two “sons of Zebedee”? They fell asleep instead of praying like Jesus had asked. Jesus was literally sweating drops of blood, and they couldn’t even pray?? How unbelievable! How wrong! How selfish!! How HUMAN….

Then there’s the obvious…Judas.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Yes, Jesus understands being let down by people, being labeled, rejected and accused. I wonder if the emotional lashes that He acquired were as painful as the physical lashes? Sometimes it seems that heartaches are intolerable.  When my heart feels teetering on fragile, torn strings, my Jesus, He holds my heart so tenderly, until I’m completely tethered to Him. It is at this point I’m reminded that “if God is for me, who can be against me?” Oh to be loved by Him! He restores my soul to wellness and peace.

Stubbing my toe can cause me to jump up and down with tears in  my eyes….grabbing the wounded little piggy in hopes it will cease its torment. A stubbed heart can illicit similar kinds of reactions. My inclination is to throw a tantrum of teenage size, throwing accusations back, pleading my case, while covering my heart so as to safeguard it from further injury. But then, Jesus…..

He reminds me of His response when accused. His was often silent, for no justification was necessary from Almighty God. When insults and accusations were lashed upon Him in His final days on earth, His words were few with the occasional, “yep that’s who I Am”, or “yep, that’s what you said about me.” (Pardon my paraphrase😉). No denials, just acceptance, for He knew their hearts and minds.  There was no rationalizing with them. A heart determined to find flaw will inevitably find it.  Besides its so much easier to see the mistakes in others; then we don’t have to look within.  Jesus knew His calling in life was ultimately in His death for all of humanity and so He went quietly, willingly.  He modeled surrender and sacrifice.  Ouch!

The truth is Jesus WAS the King of the Jews (as they mocked), the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is, in fact, only guilty of being who He said He is. But you know what? At the end of the day, I am guilty. Guilty of all kinds of imperfections, some intentional, some not…..and so are you.  But God knows our hearts. He alone knows our every thought and intention.  With that knowledge I can sing “It is Well with my soul.”

I’m taking my stubbed heart to Jesus and asking Him to soothe the pain, and to help me move forward in spite of the hurt. It’s easy to get stuck in the throbbing aftermath of accusations and rejection.  We can be consumed by it, debilitating us from God’s purpose and plan for our lives. It clouds the mind, and lingers like a fog, that effects our focus and ability to find joy.  Fog can be dangerous. We can lose our way, or rather, His way, if we aren’t careful.  I know I’ve lost my way if I’m more concerned about what people might think about me/us than what God thinks.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my 40ish 😉 years of life: stubbed hearts won’t kill you, but they can propel you toward the arms of Jesus. His loving, grace-filled, forgiving, perfect, patient, humble, gentle, comforting arms will enable us to rest in the storms, trust in the uncertainty, forgive the unforgiveable, offer grace to the most ungracious, and love until our last breath. If heartache is what it takes to trust Jesus more, then bring on the pain! There’s nothing like knowing Jesus and being known by Him.  He loves us in ALL of our imperfections. ❤️

In coping with heartache, I’ve opted for silence and prayer. I’ve written letters to our “friend” and those entertaining negative perceptions about us, and I’ve kept them: usually a good idea after a stubbed heart. God can handle our “crumb bucket” moments, but people usually can’t.  Feelings can be controlled through the power of the Holy Spirit. I will refuse to villainise those that have hurt us, because God’s grace is as sufficient for them as it is for us.  Thank you Jesus!

I’ve cried and cried, and then cried a lot more, releasing the pain, but also allowing myself to feel it. Ignoring our pain just saves it for later and it ends up spewing out on innocent bystanders….usually those we love the most. After buckets of tears and sometimes through them, I praised God. I mean like hands fully extended, heart fully exposed, with passion and assurance, praised His name. In my bathroom. In my bedroom. In my kitchen. In my car. Anywhere and everywhere I’ve been praising Him, because He is good! He is not responsible for my hurt but He will use it to His good and for my growth. When I praise Him, my heart feels lighter, taking the hurt away, even if only temporarily.

Aches and pain seem to return at night. Why is that? What is it about bedtime that brings out every hurtful thought, worry and anxiety? 😳  The enemy seems to delight in the darkness, so we must engage The Light. I’ve opened up my bible when dark thoughts tried to creep in.  I’ve paused to pray, read articles that are helpful for our situation, and looked for ways to reach out to others. A few nights ago I was wrestling with my hurt, so I baked pound cake for some new friends and took it to their home. It got me thinking forward instead of dwelling on the pain and sitting in misery. What could have been a night of basking in my sorrows, became an evening of friendly conversation and the smell of coconut pound cake….the smell alone helped distract my weary heart.😉

Are you feeling hurt, accused and misunderstood this week? Remember it’s just a stubbed heart.  It won’t kill you but it can make you stronger in Him. This momentary pain won’t last forever, but God’s grace will. In the scope of eternity, this is a tiny, itty bitty, owie….your heart is stubbed, not shattered. He will work this to His good, even if you can’t see how right now. Have faith for what you can’t yet see. The fog is going to lift at some point and it will all become clear. With tears and the Son comes a beautiful rainbow!🌈🙌

Know this, Jesus is empathizing with you. He’s felt the sting of accusation, speculation and condemnation of others. Take your wounded heart to Him. He understands.

Be prayerful. Be patient. Get to praising. Press into Jesus for His power, and bake pound cake for friends…😉 He’s got a plan and a purpose for our pain. 🙌  We can do all things through Him!

Matt. 27:12~When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.

Psalm 34:18~The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Hebrews 11:1~Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

John 16:33~”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:1-2Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Phil.4:19~And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:31~What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Matt.11:29~Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Horse Kicks of Rejection

“They don’t want me.” My youngest daughter squeaked out these words between sobs as she curled in a ball in the back of the car a few days ago. Her “friends” no longer wanted her in their circle. Ouch. (Had to stifle my Momma bear reflexes🐻). The sting of rejection, more like a horse kick to the gut, knocking the wind out of you. I’ve felt both, rejection and a horse kick, equally painful, but one heals faster. After lengthy hugs and listening, I shared my own 5th grade stories of rejection, followed by examples of Jesus being rejected. He was well acquainted with rejection, even from His own disciples, on the way to the cross. He can empathize.

While no one wants to experience rejection, it can be extremely useful. Rejection can save us from making the wrong life choices….what if my first boyfriend hadn’t broken up with me? Thank you Jesus for that rejection! 🙌😉 Though I say that semi jokingly, there is truth to it. I wasn’t wise enough back then to understand that God had something better planned, and someone, far greater for me…but it took the pains of a break up to discover His plan. Fear of being alone kept me from making that obvious, better choice. Even more importantly, being rejected can draw us closer to the One that will never leave us or forsake us, the lover of our souls, Jesus. We have a choice when rejected by people, choose to put our whole trust in God, wade in the depths of hurt and depression that follow, or skip to the next person, in our attempt to avoid pain. He is the only One that can meet those deep longings of our soul, to be fully known, fully loved and fully accepted. Yes, we are to have people in our lives, but none should or can take His place.

How do you cope with rejection? Do you seek God in those moments and ask Him to heal the hurt? He has great plans for you, greater than you can imagine. Will you trust Him to reveal that to you, even through the horse kicks of rejection? Ask Him to give you His perspective and heal those wounds for His greater plan. Don’t just bounce to the next relationship in an effort to skip the process of learning and healing. Be still and know He is God in your pain. He will give you the strength to rise above the ashes of rejection. We can do ALL things through Him alone!

Jer.29:11~For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Deut.31:6~…for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”