Thursday, March 6, 2014

40 days.


I grew up in the Roman Catholic church and remember Lent as the counting down of days until I could drink Vanilla Coke again (I always chose Vanilla Coke, year after year). The days dragged.

Now, a decade later I've finally glimpsed into the season of Lent and how it can so beautifully prepare our hearts for the day Christ sacrificed Himself, and just days later, when He was so powerfully raised from the dead.

This season is what makes Christianity so different. This whole God in the flesh, sin taking and death defeating thing is so different from anything I've ever heard. It is different from anything I have ever experienced. And yet so many of us don't intentionally open our hearts, minds or lives to marvel at what He has overcome. We pass through the time that builds up to the day of the Crucifixion and Resurrection and let it become another tradition, religious practise, and yet another commercialised holiday centered around us.

But this year I really want to stop, watch and act. I want to so intently look into the life and ministry of Jesus to better understand the depth of His death and resurrection.

Now I'm not used to truly practising Lent, but this morning as I was reading through the first few chapters of Luke I realised that I want to put myself in the same situation that Jesus did. Just after He was baptised and the Holy Sprit, along with the blessing of the Father, came down on Jesus, He went out willingly into the wilderness for 40 days. He was fasting, was hungry, and faced temptations all the while. God in the flesh put Himself in the wilderness so that He could fast, pray, seek God, and become even more dependent on His Father.

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord... I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8, 10 -11 

I want to willingly put myself in a wilderness that is going to teach me dependence on my Father and bring me closer to Him. I want to gaze into the mysteries of who Jesus is, the lessons He taught, the miracles He preformed, the rejection He experienced, the compassion He felt, the sin He took, the penalty He paid, the suffering He knew, and the battle He defeated. I want to know Jesus in His resurrection. I want to know Life.

I want to be aware and awakened to Jesus during this season leading up to Easter.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple. Psalm 27:4


Maybe you're skeptical about the practicalities of Lent. Maybe it has always been a religious practise of, you know, "that" other denomination. Maybe you don't know what you could possibly fast or “give up”. I want to challenge you to seek God and ask what you could do. Ask what wilderness you could willingly put yourself into to see more of Him in the glory of His Son's suffering and resurrection.

So, if you're keen to do this with a few of us friends over here who want to do this Lent thing, check it out. Think about it. It might be different from what you've done before, but we are all wanting to challenge ourselves and see more of Jesus in our daily lives. We want to come to Resurrection day and know that our hearts have changed because we've met with Jesus. That is the point of all of this.

Seriously though, if you're interested and want to do this go on over to Brett's blog and let him know that you're in. There will be something new each day so keep your eyes on it.

Or, for other ideas that are extremely helpful, check out some of these ideas over here.

This season has the ability to change your whole understanding of Christ, who He is, and who you are in light of that. Don't take the chance of passing up such a beautiful season of dependence and awareness of Christ Himself.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Grace disguised.

You created all of this. You created life and all that exists. You created out of Yourself, from the dust, breathing Your life into us. We were created to know You personally and truly. Our hearts desire relationship with You above all else, but that perfection was broken. Sin took the life from our hearts and we were made enemies with the One we need most. We died, all of us, in that garden. Now we search for life in all that is around us. Jobs, purpose, passion, people, friends, marriage, beauty, reputation, positions, power, authority, money, or possessions. We are constantly looking for fulfilment because we need our dead hearts to come back to life. We search for life in the created rather than the Creator of life. Everything around us offers us a small and sweet taste of life, only leaving us with the bitter aftertaste of our reality - death apart from a Saviour. You, and nothing but You, are what truly satisfies a starving soul. We know that because it has been set down deeply in the hearts that You have raised from death to life. Yet we still rebel. We run. We prostitute ourselves. You are sickened, angry, hurt, and yet chose to lavish compassion and immeasurable grace - grace disguised.

You know the pain we cause ourselves and You refuse to let us destroy ourselves. We search for satisfaction and You thwart our plans. Grace disguised. We find dependency and safety in man-made shelters and You allow chaos, leaving You alone as our dependency. Grace disguised. We set small dreams before us and for our future and You blow in like the rushing of a Mighty Wind, shattering them. Grace disguised. You never cause pain without a purpose. You never scold us of our sin without offering us a hand to walk as the children You've designed us to be. You never rebuke us without calling to us, "Come now, let us settle this.." (Isaiah 1:18). You never watch us wallow in our death without offering Life, though grace may seem disguised.

The reality of this world is that we are fallen human beings, desperately starving for life. Life that You so abundantly, and yet ironically, offered through death. Grace was disguised that day, covered in the battered and beaten skin of a man housing the fullness of God. Nailed to a tree with undeniable force and hatred by His own creation. The Father's grace was covered in wrath. Jesus offered grace through accepting the Father's wrath in it's entirety. The weight of every sin of every human being to ever walk the earth was thrown onto the man who was God incarnate. He took it. The Father watched Himself - His beloved and precious Son - as He was brutally murdered. They were absolutely separated from one another, the pain evident as the Son cried out to His Father... "Why have You forsaken me?" Grace on that day, was disguised by wrath.


"Jesus wrecked my life, shattered it to pieces and put it back together more beautifully." - Katie Davis

I've been reading through Isaiah the past few days and God continually speaks about the rebellion of His children. God rebukes Judah, calling them out on all of their sin and telling them of how they have hurt and destroyed themselves. He is harsh, but always offers grace and compassion. He recognises their sin and rebellion but then calls them out of their mess into the beauty that God created them to be. But that required His judgement to fall, burning away all that they rely on and all that they find satisfaction in.

The Lord says "Beautiful Zion is haughty, craning her elegant neck, flirting with her eyes, walking with dainty steps, tinkling her ankle bracelets. So the Lord will send scabs on her head; the Lord will make beautiful Zion bald." On that day of judgement the Lord will strip away everything that makes her beautiful... Instead of smelling of sweet perfume, she will stink. She will wear a rope for a sash, and her elegant hair will fall out... Shame will replace her beauty. Isaiah 3:16-18, 24

And yet..

The Lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion and cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains with the hot breath of fiery judgment. Isaiah 4:4

2013 was a difficult year for me. I'm sure you can relate in your own way. It genuinely felt like I couldn't escape pain or trials. My heart was broken in so many ways. Bad relationships, bad decisions, loneliness, death, sickness, insecurities, hopelessness, feeling homesick, feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where God was in all of it. Was He silent? Was He ordaining these trials? Were they my fault? As 2014 rolled in I looked back over each part of 2013 and saw how God was working on my behalf, changing everything into my greater good for His glory. When I wanted to find my worth in relationships, they crumbled before me. I found out who I was in Jesus and how He adored me. When I felt absolutely alone I found joy in God's presence. When I felt beauty was unattainable and like I was worthless, I fought to know that God created me absolutely perfectly and wonderfully, and since the fullness of God now lives in me I am absolutely whole and complete. When family members passed away I learned that life is short and my relationship with God is what will last through it all. When I felt my life had no purpose and I didn't know what to live for, God opened my eyes to a hurting and dying world around me, filling my heart with His love as I experienced it for myself. When I made mistakes and got myself into terrible and easily avoidable situations, God taught me forgiveness and true love. When I was angry and impatient with God He taught me that He is in control even when I don't have all the answers. 2013 was a year of God's grace in disguise. In those moments it felt like His wrath was pouring down on me, but I realise now He was calling me out of worthless living and lavishing His grace upon me in the most beautiful of ways.

2013 was a year of finding true satisfaction and life in Jesus in spite of pain. I want to challenge you to look around and search for God's grace in disguise. It's there. I promise you.

Hey all. I just want to clarify a little bit on this post. This has been on my heart for the past month or two and I've attempted to write post after post but didn't have peace. This morning I was spending time praying and going over Isaiah and I began writing what I felt the Lord speaking to me. The top section of this blog was what I journaled. I realise you may disagree with my stance and that is completely okay, but I would also love to explain a little bit more in depth what I believe if you are unsure or have any questions. Please feel free to chat to me or email me at corinaspinazzola@gmail.com, I'd absolutely love to hear what you have to say. And of course, feel free to leave a comment :) 

With love,

Corina 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kamvalethu.

I was sitting on the edge of the couch, overwhelmed by my surroundings and the bleak reality that my eyes met. I spent a week at Themba Care, the government institution that housed 13 babies – sick, infected, abandoned little babies. The kids were so sick they couldn't hide it. Frail and under weight bodies, oozing ears, babies on machines, children who couldn't walk properly. I was genuinely overwhelmed. My prayer for that week was that God would reveal more and more of Himself as Father. Daddy.

Days passed and I still felt uncomfortable and overwhelmed. I knew there wasn't much I could do to help those children, but I played, and smiled, and laughed, and rocked, and fed, and prayed over them.

Now, I don't normally play favourites..... but... that was before I had met Kamvalethu. He was a precious little boy who was quiet and cautious at first, but so warm and friendly after we established ourselves. He couldn't speak much english and he wasn't capable of walking properly, but we got on so well. At the beginning of the week I was completely unaware that this little boy would show me exactly who I am in the eyes of God.

One afternoon we were working on developmental skills that the children needed help with, but Kamvalethu wasn't very happy with me. He had a particular toy that was going to hurt him if he had fallen or bumped into something, so I took it away from him so that he wouldn't hurt himself. Boy oh boy that child cried and fussed like it was the end of the world. He literally worked himself up so much that he was struggling to breathe and I think he could have filled a river with tears. He was so upset with me and refused to pay me any attention for the rest of the afternoon.

I was a bit hurt to be honest. He had become my little buddy and I was simply trying to protect him because I cared about him. His young mind couldn't conceptualise that though. We both had to suffer the consequences. He didn't get his toy and exhausted himself from his tempertantrum, and I was cut off from the baby I wanted to be with the most.


Months later I'm sitting in my room, trying to talk to God through my stubbornness and apologise for how strong-willed and uncooperative I've been lately, and I just had an overwhelming picture come to my mind.

The first was thinking of my high school years and my relationship with my dad. My parents are so wise and have examplified large amounts of leadership and guidance in my life, but that doesn't mean I always understood their leadership or decisions. Actually, more often than not, I bucked their authority out of the stubbornness in my heart and did what I felt was best. That would lead to arguments, frustration, and consequences. My parents are my best friends and I understand now that they love me and made certain decisions to protect me and to give me what was best. The picture I got was the pain of being separated from my parents because I was rebellious and angry because I didn't get what I had wanted in that moment. I see the pain my parents felt because I was essentially hurting myself, but more than that, I wasn't trusting them and I was pushing them away.

After thinking about that, my mind immediately went to that precious baby. Yoh it hurt my heart when he was so upset with me. I wish I could have explained to him in a way that he would have understood... I was simply protecting him. I was keeping him from hurting himself.

How often is that us though?  

We fight and kick and scream at God like little babies because we don't get our way. We don't understand Him, and we decide not to trust that He is protecting us and taking care of us. Worse than that, we tend to push Him away. 

Kamvalethu is a Xhosa name, and within the Xhosa culture children are given names with specific meaning. This child's name means “our future”. Despite his illness, I know that God has a future for him. I sat and watched that child kick and scream and throw a tempertantrum like he created it, but I couldn't help but smile because I knew this wasn't the end for him. Though he thought so, it wasn't the end of the world. He'd get over it and completely forget that I took the toy away from him. In the long run, it was better for him to experience that frustration in that moment than to have gotten hurt.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

When I looked at Kamvalethu, I couldn't help but see myself. It was like God gave me a glimpse of Himself as Daddy and me as His daughter. Stubborn, spoiled, young daughter.


A week after sitting with God and recognising myself as this stubborn, strong-willed child, I found myself sitting across the table from a beautiful young woman who finds herself lost in the same exact place. Except she doesn't want to talk to God. She doesn't understand that He is a good, loving, caring, and protecting Father. In her mind He has done nothing good for her. She's run away from Him, hard, and she doesn't know how to get back. She doesn't feel like she can go back.

I listened, affirmed, and explained so gently that just because she ran away does not mean she cannot run back. She struggles to be the mother she dreams of... she wants her children to be safe, loved, provided for, and in her care. But what if her children leave her? What if they look at their circumstances and decide that they want something else. What if they doubt her love for them based on their circumstances. Those children may leave her, but that will never take away her love for them.

I asked her if she could ever stop loving them.

She looked at me with big tears in her eyes and knew exactly where this question was going. She understood. In the same way that she would never stop loving her own children, God has never stopped loving her.

I'm reminded that God is for us. I believe that even in the most terrible of situations, God is more than willing to work it for our good. I believe that despite our sins and mistakes, God is capable of taking that evil and turning it around. The consquences and punishment we may face are intended to make us better and to mold us into the image of God. The circumstances we go through are capable of bringing us closer to God, and God labours on our behalf to make it all for our greater good. Even when we don't understand, even when it hurts, and even when we are frustrated, we can lean into the One who is trustworthy.

I think that is what truly matters to God. He wants us to trust Him and embark on every single day of our lives like it is an adventure with Him.

Through the easy days and the days that feel unbearable, He plans for your future with Him. You have been chosen by God, elected, set apart for a purpose (1 Peter 1:1-2) ... He has named you Kamvalethu in one way or another, because He is continually plotting for your future together with Him. You carry the purpose of knowing God and walking with Him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

...neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Despite your stubbornness, doubt, sin, or anything else, God is stretching His hand out to you in love. Rather than running away from Him, He wants you to lean into His arms in absolute trust.. He is saying, "My child.... I have our future in mind..."

Lean in, rest in His arms, and trust your Daddy. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

He writes you love letters.

I'm going to be completely honest with you in this post. And that makes me feel quite vulnerable.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

The past few months have been some of the loneliest months of my life. It feels like it anyway. The year started out with some of my best friends getting into serious relationships. One of them has even ended up in an engagement (yay!)! But, new relationships always bring change. I normally like change, except when my close friends aren't so close anymore. I was okay with it though, because at the time I was finding myself in a similar situation as they were - except this wasn't such a serious decision, but more of a "you're cute and make me laugh" decision that "just happened". (Thats another lesson in and of itself, don't let stuff like that just happen!) What "just happened" didn't "just work" and ended up falling apart, taking my heart with it. My friends were focused on their "other", I focused on my "other" and then had nothing to focus on, and no one to focus on me. It hurt, bad. 

Loss of friends, heart break, and so many other things have lead to a season of loneliness that I can't quite describe with words. There is something about being known by someone and knowing someone in return; learning their habits, their preferences, their humour, finishing their sentences, feeling comfortable in their presence, understanding their silence, being free and transparent in your own skin around them.

That has been absent in my life for the past few months.

At first I knew I'd be okay. This too would pass. I drew closer to God, took His word in and knew I was secure in His love, but after a few months my heart gradually hardened. I didn't understand why I was so alone. Did I do something wrong? Do people not like me? Am I hard to get along with? I started analysing everything. Somehow I had lost sight of the truth and found myself in a fit of insecurity, coming to the conclusion that it was my fault. I wasn't good enough. I wasn't pretty enough. I wasn't funny enough. I was too emotional. Too deep. Too loud. Too talkative. Too this. Too that. Not perfect. Not good enough. Not loveable. 

Not perfect and not good enough told me that I needed to be better. I needed to be perfect, and likeable, and understood so that people would love me. I needed to change this, that, and the other to be good enough.

I took that into my relationship with God. How could He, of all "people", love me? I mess up so often. I push Him away. I'm stubborn. I don't seek Him wholeheartedly. I don't always adore Him above everything else. I'm not always patient, or trusting, or at peace. How could He love me. It felt like I needed to clean myself up. Fix my life. Make a check list and accomplish something before He would love me.

Oh how wrong I was.

Please hear me out, I'm not sharing this for my own good. This is too personal and too difficult for me to write simply because I want to talk about myself. I have a feeling that you may feel this way also, or have felt this way at one point in your life. And one thing I'm sure of: You will experience this at some point in your life.

Loneliness is inevitable. Whether you are single and 20 something, or married and have kids clinging to you at any point in the day, you will experience loneliness.

And because of that, I want you to know that you are adored.

I was laying in bed, avoiding God and trying to focus on something other than the pain of feeling misunderstood and unknown, but He wouldn't leave me alone (I'm thankful for that).

I write you love letters, Corina.

I will pursue you, Corina.

You are altogether lovely, Corina.

He writes you love letters, beloved. 

My love,
I made you in My image and My likeness, giving you value and worth (Genesis 1:26). I formed you, and give you life by breathing you into being (Genesis 2:7). I saw that what I had created was good, and I blessed you (Genesis 1:28, 31). Don't you see the value you have? Don't you see that I adore you, because you are My creation? I knit you together while you were in your mothers womb. I knew you intimately even there (Psalm 139:13). I set you apart - something only I can do - and give your life a purpose (Jeremiah 1:5). I chose you as my servant so that you could know Me, and believe Me, and understand who I am: God. The only God and Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11). But even when you deserted Me for temporary satisfaction and pleasure, I came to search for you. "Where are you?", I called (Genesis 3:9). I made a sacrifice, killing the first animal, so that your sin would be atoned for. I killed one of my creations so that we could still be in a relationship. More than that, you became my enemy (Romans 5:6-8). I knew you intimately, like a husband knows his wife, but you prostituted yourself and ran from Me (Ezekiel 16; Hosea 4:10-13). But I sent My very own Son to reconcile our relationship and to bring you from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-5). Do you not know that I love you? And despite your sin, I know you and I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:1-3). I have not forgotten you (Isaiah 44:21). I have swept away your offences and your sins. I have called you to return to Me (Isaiah 44:22). I have made you into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and I have given you a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). I've made a covenant with you, a promise that you will be My people, and I will be your God. You will be able to have a relationship with Me from the depths of your new heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34). All because I have loved you with an everlasting love. Because I have drawn you with loving-kindness (Jeremiah 31:3-4). I promise you many things. I will never, ever leave you (Hebrews 13:5). I will take care of you, carry you close to My heart and tend to you (Isaiah 40:11). Remember that I made you, I will carry you, sustain you and rescue you (Isaiah 46:4). I am the God who created the stars and everything in the heavens. I am the God who gives you strength when you are weary and weak (Isaiah 40:29; 2 Corinthians 12:8-10). I am the God of all comfort and the Father of compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). I understand what you go through and I can sympathise with your pain (Hebrews 4:15). I am your freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). I took you from slavery, broke the chains around your neck, and enabled you to walk with your head held high (Leviticus 26:13). Cling to Me, I am faithful (Hebrews 10:23). Talk to Me, tell Me about your worries and cares because I care for you (1 Peter 5:7). When you are Mine, I do not leave you condemned (Romans 8:1). My love for you is unconditional, and I take joy when you put your hope in My love (Psalm 147:11).

How beautiful you are, My darling! Oh how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. Like a lily among thorns is My darling among the maidens. All beautiful you are, My darling; there is no flaw in you (Song of Songs 1:15; 2:2; 4:7).

In my season of loneliness I am reminded that He writes me love letters. They say more about Him than they do about me, and these love letters fixate my eyes on my King, my Prince, my Everything. The One who knows me in all of my imperfections, yet loves me as He loves His Son.

That is the key to being content in a season of loneliness: Knowing the truth found in God's love letter to you, you are known and loved.

How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming (Song of Songs 2:16).

He writes you love letters, beloved. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Patience my love.

The past few weeks have been filled with waiting. Waiting on answered prayers. Waiting on direction from the Lord. Waiting to hear if I had a job. Waiting to find the right car. Waiting for this season of loneliness to pass. Waiting for God to heal, orchestrate, and weave my desires into His will. 

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

But, the thing is, I'm not really the waiting type of person. When I want something, I normally go out and get it. If I don't like how something is going, I go fix it. I don't like sitting around and waiting for something to happen. I guess you could say patience and I aren't much of friends. I value patience, but I don't necessarily like it. 

After an accumulation of waiting for small things, I got a bit angry with God. Things haven't necessarily gone my way this year. The simple fact is that some things are out of my control and in God's, but when that reality hits me in the face, I tend to get frustrated that I can't do anything about it.

God and I had a short conversation, and after me doing all the talking, I told Him I was mad at Him and that I wasn't going to talk to Him until I got what I wanted. Really mature, I know. But at that point in time my heart was really hurting and I was simply frustrated with my circumstances. I just wanted a break.

Patience was a reminder like the throbbing of a fresh wound. It hurt.

And, after a week or two of being angry and stubborn with God, I apologised. We sat and had a long chat, in which I finally shut up and listened to His heart. Listening to His heart beat for me overpowered the pain of my hurting heart, and I realised patience was for my good. Because He adores me.

I'm not going to pretend like I've got everything together. I'm definitely not going to pretend like my relationship with God is always peaches and cream, or that I don't get upset, angry or hurt at times either. But I do know that He is in control, and that even when things don't go my way, they are going for my good. And in that I can rest, and enjoy patience.

If you're in a season of waiting I want to encourage you to wait with God. Don't run away from Him because things aren't going your way or you aren't getting what you want. Allow your lack of control to motivate yourself to lean into Him more. Listen to His heart beat for you. Know the truth to change your impatient heart: He absolutely adores you as His son or daughter. He is working on your behalf. Wait with Him.

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. Isaiah 64:4

He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young. Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? "To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? Who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:11, 21, 25-26

Our God created the heavens, galaxies, earth - everything, all the way down to the atoms that you are made of. He created the stars, and calls every single one of them by name. Who can you compare Him to? Yet this is the same God who tells you that He carries you close to His heart, in His arms, tending to you and leading you. This is the God who promises you that if you wait, He will act on your behalf. 

When you're waiting, lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, and know that God is working for your good.

Patience my love. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

When God pursues.

Yesterday was crazy. I'm still processing it all.

We had just come back from a day at the orphanage, and I was sitting on the step outside of the seminary. I looked up when I heard a younger woman quietly say excuse me. She was probably just a few years older than me, and her daughter was clutching her hand. She was almost whispering when she asked me where the home was for abused women. I knew exactly where it was, but my thoughts were going to a million different things in one moment. I was drawing up various pictures of what this beautiful woman's life could have looked like.

I did my best to explain directions to her, but really felt it would be best to walk with her. So we walked. It was terribly awkward. I wanted to be sweet and gentle with her, but the fact that we were walking together to this home was painfully obvious to the both of us. It hurt. She wouldn't look at me much, even when I asked her questions. She avoided eye contact with me, and I could see shame written all over her face and demeanor. When we made it to the home I stood with her to make sure she got in fine. I hugged her and tried to make eye contact as I asked for her name, but she just muttered quietly under her breath and walked through the gate, avoiding looking at me at all.

I was so overwhelmed, and didn't know what else to do but pray. It was one of those Holy Spirit interceding for me moments, because I had no idea what to say, much less process what had happened and all of it's implications.


About an hour later I was laying in bed, so comfortable that I didn't want to get up.... then I heard a familiar knock on the door. After he pounded 6 or 7 times I finally got out of bed, only to find this beautiful girl at my door. I was shocked. She walked a little way with me and said that she wanted to thank me for walking with her earlier, she felt it was the polite thing to do. This time she was looking me in the eyes from time to time, making eye contact and then looking back at her feet again and again. I could tell she was about to burst. I hugged her and it was as if she melted. Her body language changed immediately and I felt her soften in my arms. She was sobbing but trying so hard to pull herself together. I grabbed my shoes and we sat on my beloved jungle gym (I spend a lot of time in the sun there) and we spoke. I didn't even initiate the conversation, much less ask questions. She just started talking. Telling me her story and some of the heart-breaking circumstances she's been through. I was done for after the first few sentences. Neither of us could keep the tears from flowing. She told me about her children, her family, her struggles, and her disbelief in God. I listened, and cried, and truly felt for this woman. I shared my story, my battles, and my experiences. I also shared about my loving Jesus who is not like an absent or unconcerned biological father or a brutal step-father who rapes a child, but a kind, gentle, perfect, compassionate and righteous Father who is ever present, always listening, and absolutely FOR His children... so much for them that He pursued, and sacrificed, and DIED to bind up their broken hearts shattered by sin.

She just cried. We both just cried.

The timid and shame-filled woman I had met simply an hour ago was completely different before me now, making eye contact, sharing her story, and getting glimpses into the dignity and worth she carries because of her Maker. She labeled herself as useless and dirty because of the actions of those around her. She carries their sins as her shame, but that is not the woman that she is.

She shared with me that at the woman's home there had been no social workers, simply a pastor. And she didn't want to speak to them because they were a pastor. But I believe whole heartedly that God was there, pursuing her precious heart in that moment. Drawing her to Himself. And for some reason she came back to me. God pursued her in that moment also, by His grace, using my brokenness and my story and heartache to shine light and hope and LOVE to her.

She asked me to introduce her to this Jesus that I was friends with.



That's how God works.

He pursues, and loves, and heals, and sends.

Once again, I experienced this Jesus in the streets. With people who are messy, hurt and broken.

Please pray for this beautiful woman. I could see her strength. I could see her beauty. She has a Bible now. Pray that she would be selfish in seeking the help that she needs. Pray that she would be removed from the abusive situation and that her and her children would be safe. Pray for her healing, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Pray that she would experience the love and mercy of God in all of it's truth, recognising her desperation for Christ and the grace and love that God wants to so willingly lavish upon her. Pray that she would be healed, and that those who have produced the abuse would experience sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation. PLEASE pray that God's word would hide itself in her heart and change her, love her, heal her, and send her for His purposes. I know that God will heal and use her story as a testimony for His glory and as an advocate for abuse.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Held.

I remember sitting on her lap like a 6 year old girl. Up to that point this would have been an awkward gesture for the both of us. But we had struggled through enough in that past year to feel anything slightly awkward or uncomfortable. I was 16 years old, I think, and had been crying out every ounce of salt water my eyes could possibly conjure up. I had been up in my room thinking...memories of my past were flooding my mind vividly. To the point that I wasn't able to hold in my emotions any longer. And I just needed arms to hold me.

And she held me like I was her own.

(This was written before they had taken me in.
Please excuse my 8th grade grammar. It's terrible, I know.)

After months of struggling to find my place and how I fit into this new family, we were finally sweeping up the egg shells that we had been walking on. It took a huge blow-out fight. I tested their love for me and said every ugly thing my mind and heart had ever felt to adults as a whole who hadn't loved me like they should have. It was painful. My words were harsh and directed at the woman who had taken me into her home and out of my abuse drenched life. It seemed that everyone who had ever claimed to love me, left me. Cold. Mean. Hurt. Broken. This new family said that they had loved me. But I was convinced that they hadn't seen the real me, and that if they did, they would also leave me.

But she held me like I was her own.

That embrace brought healing. It was a battle through 16 years that left me with a distorted view of love.


But that embrace is only a glimpse into the way Jesus wraps His love around me.

I remember one afternoon that was particularly difficult. I was once again replaying the past and feeling quite defeated. I was laying down with my baby brother for his afternoon nap. He was about 2 at the time. I couldn't stop thinking and my head was flooded with emotions. I prayed and cried, telling God that I felt so alone and hurt. I just wanted to be in His arms in perfection, not having to worry about any of this brokenness. I just wanted to be close to Him.

In that exact moment my baby brother rolled over and got as close to me as he possibly could. He lifted my shirt and put as much of his warm belly on my cold skin and threw his arms around me. He tucked his head into my chest and just held onto me.

And somehow, in that moment, God held the two of us like we were His own.


People say adoption changes lives. I can testify to that.

Unconditional love, when rooted and established in it, allows people to flourish. The heart of adoption is unconditional love. And the Father of unconditional love is God. 

This is a prayer that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, to the Gentiles, those who had been adopted into God's family. 

For this reason I kneel in prayer before the Father, in whom every family on heaven and earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He would strengthen you by the power of the Holy Spirit - yes the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead - so that He may dwell, live, and make His home in your heart. I pray that you would be deeply rooted and established in God's love so you can better understand and continually grasp the height, depth, width, and length of His love in all of it's perfection. All so that you can be filled to the absolute fullness of God! This love surpasses all knowledge.

And God, the Father of this love, can do immeasurably and abundantly more than we could ever ask or even dream of, according to His power that works in us. To HIM be the glory forever, and ever, and ever, amen. Ephesians 3:14 - 21 (my paraphrase).

You are adopted and chosen by God, before the foundations of the world. Not just because it was His will, but because it is His absolute joy and pleasure. Ephesians 1:4 - 5 (my paraphrase).

I promise you, He holds you because you are His own.