Seasons

Seasons. Constantly changing as the evolving world around us spins both in and out of control. Sometimes I wish I could halt the forward progress of this crazy life, slow the rhythm of the busyness that becomes the day-to-day routine, take a deep breathe that lasts longer than a few moments, pause… and start over again. But seasons must change.

My favorite quiet time is spent on my patio. Under the warm, clear sky with a gentle blanket encompassing me, I stare into the abyss of the universe that God has created. The stars are miraculous and awe-inspiring. To me, they reflect the wonder and the mysteries of heaven and what awaits beyond this atmosphere. The beauty of fiery shooting-stars takes the very God-given breath from my lungs. As the summer season begins to dissipate, each night I take note of the shifting of the stars. A little further the constellations push-away from their warm positions, making room for the new. Often I wish I could stay in that realm of stability, peaceful and quiet…but life? It must shift… just like the stars. 

This time of year, the leaves begin to transform into diverse shades of beauty. It seems that each unique branch from the trees in the woods around me, lining the streets and the interstates alike, begin their process of renewal. But first, they must let go of the past. The leaves must say goodbye to the summer breeze and the warm glisten of sun and hydrations of summer gales as they prepare to drop their earnest work of the summer season. And so begins the process of change. 

Fall has much to offer us in beauty this time of year. Cooler temperatures create opportunities for creativity. Many things become new. School sessions begin again, favorite outdoor sports become routine, the aroma of warm meals and comfort foods and pumpkin-flavored spices take over. 

Though I can’t help but wonder about the inner transformation that seasons bring? I watch the leaves say quiet goodbyes to their once lively home, as they fall and kiss the cooling earth. And just as the warm night air gives way to brisk autumn chill, my heart begins a renewal process. We cannot gain something new, while holding on to the past. We cannot begin the process of transformation until we have let go of what has run its course and look forward to what God has stored up for us in the next. It’s as if the trees are teaching us this lesson. Let go of what you cannot hold, but with empty branches and empty hands open our hearts to what our Creator is preparing for us in His coming season.

As the stars shift and the leaves display their majesty and life’s work, so let our lives display the wonder and handiwork of our Creator. When other’s look to me, let them be in awe of the beauty and change that God can create within them too. 

So in quiet anticipation, I will open my hands as they empty out praise and thank God for His beauty both in and around me as the seasons of life change.. And I will surrender my faults to his feet just as the leaves fall to the ground. And I will wait. Because as Creation teaches us the beauty of surrender? Let us also seek the beauty of renewal and transformation that is the promised season to come.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8

BROKEN

Remember when we were young? Remember being so full of life eagerly watching and waiting impatiently for love? We just knew in our bones what it would look like and feel like. Our future held all the promises that we could ever possibly imagine?

Life was abundant in dreams and desires. Prince Charming would bound into our hearts and fulfill all of our dreams right into realities. Our stories would be happily ever after and we would have babies and mortgages and car payments and trendy summer vacations to prove it all.

Except….Do you remember when you realized it wasn’t going to be like that after all? When the prayers for a shift and a change didn’t quite get answered? When the rooted problem was not simply that of happiness or a “grass is greener” mentality….but rather, infidelity, abuse or betrayal? 

Did you wake up one day and realize that the life you thought you once had, the life you’ve worked so hard to cultivate and create…it was all nothing more than a facade? That none of this was what you expected?

 Did he forsake the promise of “happily” and promptly ditch the “ever after”? Or maybe….Did you? Are you standing alone in a room, sitting alone in a car, walking numbly through your required chores and career…sobbing in the midst of the unknown? Are you begging God for just One. Clear. Word. Spoken directly  into your broken, beaten, betrayed and lonely heart? A word that will give you the courage and the truth to know what is right?  

What do we do with  all the  brokenness that the world has to offer us, Sisters? When there is nothing left to even fix. Did you wait until the kids were grown to escape the battlefield that had become your marriage? Did you watch your  life dissipate into thin air night after night of wondering why you couldn’t be enough for him anymore? Have you found yourself stuck  in the pit of utter failure, and shame and disgust and can’t quite figure out what to do about it all? 

I want to be honest. I want to jump up and down and hold your hand and shout, “I get it! All of it!” And then buy you dinner and about twenty five good books on health and healing and Hope found in Jesus…But all that will do is basically make you think I’m a crazy person and it won’t give you any help for the grief you’re living in. (well at least the first part.)

The cold hard truth of it all? Is that as long as we live on planet earth, This ever revolving, constant spinning in our heads and our hearts is alive too.

This terrible and tragic thing called sin has crept into our beings.Thank a lot, Eve. (Am I right?) Things happen. Awful things that are confusing and destructive and the Devil is in the ever-expanding business of destroying marriages. I swear he takes real estate in relationships. Christians aren’t exempt from it either. In fact? I think we have a shiny, red target  bolted right on our backs. And just in case you think it cant get any worse? I hate to tell you I think we’re on the top of that hit list.

I’m not going to sit on the other side of this screen and this document and type words that my friends and I would be prone to call “fluff.” I have  sat with the hurting, and I have held the crying as the Evil one has divided their marriages.  Even more than all that? I have lived the literal hell of a divorce myself. I have cried myself to sleep and lamented in rooms alone as I cried out to God and wondered how all of this could possibly happen.

 So you want truth? I’ll give you my first hand experience. I wont sugarcoat the pain and the death and the anguish that resides in all of the emotions. Because if you’ve made it this far on this page…chances are you probably have your own story. But I will help you find the promises of hope and healing. 

What I will do is sit with you right now in this moment. I will remind you of an amazing Man who will never forsake you even when we go astray. A Man who waits  ever-so-patiently for you while you waited for someone else. A Man who is trying to redeem you from this prison named Broken and set you free in His will for redemption.

I will tell you about my friend, Grace. That he is waiting for you to talk to Him? He’s eagerly desiring you to lay down your confusion, and embarrassment, your shame of “it was never going to be me…” down at the foot of His throne. 

You can make a choice. You can continue on this path of pain. The road more taken. A path of your own free will where decisions come easy and talk is always cheap. You will find acceptance in the world and man, after man with empty desires and threats of love in wells that will eventually run dry. 

Or 

You can walk out of the hurting that delights in your consumption and into the face of the One who calls you Beloved.  He’s here waiting for you. When the memories of what “once was” is now a future that will never be…run to the arms of the One who will restore every piece of your broken heart. There is a massive vulnerability that comes with opening your thoughts and fears as you take them to Jesus. But the truth is…He already knows it all. He’s just gentleman enough to wait on you. The door’s open. Why keep Him waiting any longer?

Will you let him make beauty from your ashes? 

“and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3

When My Heart is Overwhelmed…

Overwhelming Grace. A gift given to us in our deepest darkest moments to remind us of the Light that cannot be quenched. When the burdens of the world are simply too much on my shoulders, and the pain is something that overtakes my thoughts and emotions…“When my heart is overwhelmed… lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)

There are moments in this life that spark regret, moments that lead to betrayal and bitterness, memories that ache inside the fibers that consume our being. Feelings that come from the darkness and not from the realm of Heaven’s gates. 

Every person, every human ever created, every man, woman, child, cannot (will not) escape the defeat that is regret or the chasm of failure that our decisions often lead us to. Failure is a race in a league all its own. The finish line only leading to that of shame, guilt and defeat. 

How do we escape the clutches of shame and heartache that strive to defeat us day in and day out? It feels so very overwhelming, to climb out of the anguish that our choices have left us with. Desolate. Barren. Broken. 

But we don’t have to stay there in those dark hidden places. We can be in the Light that beckons us from our own ruin.

When we focus on the worst case scenario, when we allow anything other than the voice of the One who created us to call us out on our mistakes, telling us we’ll never be worth more than those decisions? We’re fighting a losing battle, and running a race that will never really be won.

But there is another choice. There is a way to walk out of the pit of failure and walk into that sliver of Light that will never dim. 

Has the world kicked you when you’re already down? Have your own poor choices left you bleak and barren and begging for a way out? Is the shame of your past haunting you in your dreams and chasing you everywhere you turn?

Lift up your eyes. Look up to the stars and behold the Creator of them. The same God who set this world into orbit and sparks the night sky with twinkling light…is the very same God who fashioned you, Dear One, to be in His image. The holiest of reflections. Redeemed.

When the world tells you that you aren’t worth it? That you’ll never overcome your past,  Read the words that tell you how fearfully and wonderfully knit together you are. (Psalm 139:14) 

When the world throws confusion and setbacks and turmoil into your settled seas, remind the world who created the thunder and waves to praise Him. And when you need reminded that you are always enough? Hear these words written for you: “But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness…” (Ephesians 2:10a)

He doesn’t need you to be perfect, but He does want you in all of your anguish and all of this world’s awful weaknesses. The next time you think your decisions have left you too far from forgiveness, take that pain to the cross and trade it in for Grace; for His power is eagerly waiting to be made perfect within you. 

Life Unfair

Life. It’s like this blank page staring back at us. Taunting us to write all of our hopes and dreams and desires all over the chapters that we compile into the story of our lives, never knowing if they’ll pan out the way we plan. Some pages in our books are filled with adventure and excitement; others filled with betrayal and brokenness. Most days we tend to write our own stories. We fill our agendas and calendars with dates and meetings, dinners or extracurriculars. And sometimes, life throws in something that we never had planned. A great, big wrench in our daybooks. Something that -no matter how hard we might want- we cannot take back or erase from  memory. 

I’ll never forget that warm summer evening in June. Life was grand. We had just collected the keys to our new home and were preparing for the big move… when the unthinkable happened.  I heard the crash.  I felt the shock reverberating in my ears as my stomach dropped. Tires screeched to a halt.

  In a split second, I felt my entire world shift. Silently, I prayed that it was the dog. But deep down inside? I knew. That was the night my Father was hit by a car… in my very own front yard. An unfortunate circumstance. A negligent choice by a distracted driver that ought to have been avoided, but alas- was not.

The trauma, the pain, the anger, all of the raging emotions that each family member had to work through post-accident… those details are engrained in who we are now. Individually and as a family, we worked through the stress. Together.  My father, (thank the good Lord for his tough German roots and thick skull), survived with ‘only’ a few hundred stitches, a handful of surgeries, metal rods and wired mouth. But still, resilience is nevertheless something that dwells within. And certainly not something for the faint of heart. 

It took years of heartache, of working through the pain of that one instant for the healing that would come both physically, spiritually and mentally for each of us many years later. But that’s life. Unfair. Enjoying the sunshine one minute and fighting for your life in a hospital bed the next. There was no rhyme or reason for that heartache…for the years of reliving that grief and seeing it play over in our minds and emotions. For a father who loves his children with all of his being, who is the most self-sacrificial person I’ve ever known, who provides and loves and guides his family with knowledge and wisdom, how senseless and unthinkable for his life to be nearly snuffed out as my mother- his high school sweetheart- held his fleeting breath. 

This world is wrong. It’s upside down. It’s shaken, inside out and unfair. And from the very moment that Eve took hold of that forbidden fruit and chose to defy all that was good and pure and holy? Nothing would ever be ‘fair’ again.  I sure hope, at the very least, that fruit tasted good, Eve. When the world feels too big for us  to understand, when  life throws the wrench in our plans and it all seems like it’s just too much weight to carry?  Remember that not once are you expected to carry the weight of this world on your own. Where there is a will, there is a way. There are people to walk into the dark scary places holding our hands, and the best part of all? Is that we have direct access and ultimate friendship in our Creator who will walk right into the unknown with us and calm these raging seas…all we have to do is ask.

Take your burden, your unexpected set-backs, your all-too-much-to handle heart issues, and lay them down in prayer. Ask for help. Our burdens are so heavy. But friend? You aren’t expected to carry them all on your own. Together is better.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 28:11-30

written by: Mackenzie @FiretoFlourishing

Fear

When we look into the face of fear, the hours seem eternal. The days ahead might seem nearly impossible to accomplish with their daunting tasks as they overflow with “what if” questions. The night might so easily seem to overtake the day; the uncertainties that lie ahead may seem unbearable for any human to handle alone.

Described in Miriam Webster’s dictionary as “concern about what may happen: worry.” I might describe fear as the pesky emotion who’s agenda consists of attempting to consume. Fear seeks to destroy the somber peace we crave, and to steal the joy we know was created for us.

What do we do when life throws the curve ball? As the moments that we thought “were never going to be me..” become the very moments that will define who we are to become?

The answer is clear. Fear is a liar. A disease that is undiagnosed. A sickness that no one will escape. But don’t be fooled, my friends. Remember this: Fear is not in the business of winning. We will all have moments that hurt us, that scare us, that send us into fight or flight or panic mode. But at the end of the day?…Fear is not getting that big trophy in the glass case in the hallway that everyone will walk past and admire for years to come. 

Fear can be cultivated. It can be groomed and given a cot to sleep on. Fear is looking for a place to crash, and if you give him a room? He will overtake the whole house.

So how do we kick him out? How do we look bravely into the face of worry and doubt and anxiety? What can possibly be done to exterminate this rodent that seeks to destroy the inner peace that God desires for us? 

We prepare for the battle.  We suit ourselves with the armor that has been laid out for us. And then? We Pray. 

Pray for strength to face the dark, unknown clouds rolling in overhead. Pray for the courage to get through the hard things that you’re facing head-on; and pray to find the joy that is waiting for you both inside your struggle and on the other side. 

Fear will always be part of this life, my friend, but that doesn’t mean that it has to consume yours. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah 43:2

Author: Mackenzie // 2019 // Fire to Flourishing