Friday, January 22, 2016

Thank You Audrey Assad

You could have come like a mighty storm, with all the strength of a hurricane. You could have come like a forest fire, with the power of Heaven in your flame. But you came like a winter snow, quiet, soft and slow, falling from the sky in the night to the Earth below! You could have come like a tidal wave, or an ocean to ravish our hearts. You could have come through like a roaring flood to wipe away the things we scarred. But you came like a winter snow, quiet soft, and slow, falling from the sky in the night to the Earth below. Your voice wasn’t in a bush burning, your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind. It was still. It was small. It was hidden.

“Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad

Purposed perspective seems to be my current running theme. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs as it so perfectly encapsulates what God did for us through the gift of His son. As a teacher, I am blessed with an opportunity to teach various religions. For some, that makes them very uncomfortable, but for me, it is a privilege. You see, many of my students are familiar with the story of Christ simply because we live in a culture that exposes the greatest story ever told annually in conjunction with the greatest sin that is battled - greed. Yet, as I get to tell them about religions, I get to explain why some religions struggle to understand Jesus as the Messiah that Christians herald Him to be. The Savior of the world, THE WORLD, should have come like a mighty storm, with all the strength of the of a Hurricane. The Great Redeemer of the Human Race should have come like an all consuming forest fire. The Lord of all Creation should have overtaken the world like a tidal wave. But He didn’t. He came in quietly, in the still of the night to a common carpenter and his wife, in a cave shared by livestock. So the world struggles with that as we celebrate people who make big, flashy and even eccentric entrances. Why wouldn’t God make the same style of entrance?

Because that is not His MO. He is a God, the God, my God capable of orchestrating all of the other elements of nature above. I mean really, He has flooded the entire Earth before. However, He want us to LISTEN and to TRUST. He is attentive to detail and His methods are intended to align with our actions. He designed us a certain way to respond with our emotions and our spirits to certain colors and certain sounds. I see this in His created beings every day. We take pause at the quiet falling snow that we cannot hear, but yet we can see. Not only do we see the gentle gliding flakes, we see the piles of PURE and DELICATE and flawless white powder on the ground. We respond to that with AWE even though it isn’t like a torrential downpour forcing us to the attentive. It is mesmerizing. Sometimes He guide us to His picture, His work for the kingdom, His glory by gentle nudges that feel as subtle as a snowflake landing on our nose. It gives Him greater joy and more surmountable honor when we move by the touch of His hand and not a shove.

The color of the snow is no accident. White is pure. White is innocent. White is flawless. White is breathtaking. My lazy spirit grumbles almost daily at my white kitchen counters that I did not get to choose as they are a beacon of light for all crumbs and stains seeking a home. But that is just it, their white color gives me a greater awareness of the filth and the danger that can be on my counter which could contaminate other meals I am prepping or other projects I am working on. When I look at the freshly falling snow, my heart cries out for all to stay still and remain indoors and just gawk with me at the wonderment. For I know, as soon as my neighbor cannot stand it anymore, his tires will tread upon the smooth cloud of ice crystals on our street and mar the artwork of which I have found captivating. I know that my children will awaken soon and find their sleds and place their sweet little feet in snow boots and trudge through the yard in great efforts to make a man out of this fallen malleable substance. Then, even though they are precious, the artwork of which I have been breathing in is now changed forever. The leaves and dirt that are underneath will be mixed into the snow as they roll their spheres and the perfection will reveal imperfection.

So it is but for a moment that I get to enjoy His clarity and His words and His vision. But it is a moment that I cherish and I am also reminded by His speaking even now that this moment is not meant to be long. If it were than I would fall into a place of complacency and idleness. This moment is brief enough for me to be still and to listen and to trust. After that, take the words I have heard and the things that I have seen and press on in my endeavors to bring honor and glory to His kingdom. I am to see the tiny fingers of which I am blessed to nurture and create for them a generous cup of hot cocoa. I am to go out and help them construct their masterpiece so that all the world will see their creativity and they will have courage to make another and another and another and one day, they too will be listening in the quiet of the morning and see the canvas just the same.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


My fingernails won’t grow. They won’t. I have had random spells in my life where they decided to sprout with some strength, but consistently, I am a short stubby finger nail girl. Does it bother me? Sometimes. To be honest, I don’t really know who put that image into my mind - society, or just women in my life - but the delicate hand of a woman finished off with beautifully manicured nails are the image of perfection. Weird, right? There are those of you with normal fingernails right now questioning why in the world you are reading this and who cares. Here’s why.

You see, my fingernails are just one of the imperfections about me that I choose to notice or not notice, to obsess over or not obsess over, on a daily basis. There are many more flaws on this created being than just my nails. How about the fact that I drink 3+ liters of water a day and my hands are still dry? How about the fact that my pinky toe sits on my foot sideways? (Luckily, it isn’t flip flop weather so you all can’t stare at it until summer) How about my metabolism must be assisted with diet and exercise and vitamins unlike some of my friends who can eat a gallon of Blue Bell and not check up? And the list goes on and on; however, I refrain from divulging more; not so you won’t know what I can obsess over sometimes, but so you won't stare at those things that make me self-conscious.

Yet, I was reminded this morning, that my imperfections are not imperfections at all. They are part of a design that is a masterpiece. We know that the Bible speaks often about the truth concerning our creation and that we are made in the image of our great God. However, my God is far from imperfect, so how am I made in His image? We are a representation of Him. That is what it means to be made in the image of something.

Think about it. When we see a model of something, we look very hard to see where the model is not true to the real image. Even the models of planes and trains cannot be perfectly accurate. There are working parts that go unseen and cannot be included in the model. It is near impossible to get the same amount of punctuations of screws and bolts as the original. Nevertheless, there are many out there that are pretty close to being exact replicas. And when we see those, we are mesmerized and paralyzed with curiosity.

Your imperfections are purposed. Pause and let the frustration you have towards that statement seep out of your ears through the steam. He created you in His image, make no mistake and longs for you to be a model that people have to study with great detail to find the imperfection. His designs are conversational pieces - ALL of them. How you choose to view this design choice (not flaw) is pivotal in how you choose to view your value and your worth! How you choose to view His craftsmanship will determine your effectiveness for the true reason for being here.

My fingernails not growing normally are an asset. They are great conversation starters. I can join into a chat with a group of moms about nails and share my “unfortunate” case and then connect and develop relationships that can lead to effective ministry. When I get my nails manicured to cover up their imperfection, it is still a conversation springboard. I get compliments from strangers that open the door for communication and connection with other people created in God’s image that desperately need reassurance that they, too, matter to the Creator.

How are you using your imperfection? Maybe your imperfection is not a physical difference that can be seen. Maybe your imperfection is internal. Do you have a debilitating disease? There are people needing to know you are among those that battle this imperfection and will see you as HOPE in their feeling of hopelessness. Do you have an addiction? There are people struggling with addictions to so many things and they need to know that there are others out there who are struggling with this mental and emotional disorder that can give them HOPE.
In the 43 chapter of the book of Isaiah, the Lord speaks and this is what it says.

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” 8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.

The book of Isaiah is one that I choose to read through every year because it makes me weepy and aware of how BIG God is. Here is what I want you to chew on for today. In verse 1, the Lord reminds us that HE CREATED YOU, HE FORMED YOU, and he reassures the nation of Israel as well as us that He has redeemed us, called us by name, and WE ARE HIS. You belong to someone! You are not alone. Just in case you didn’t get that, he more deeply comforts us in v. 2 by stating that as we go through troublesome times, HE IS WITH US. The rest of this passage is full of this great comfort and is often quoted to people in time of need.

Yet, here is the part I want you to take hold of with both hands today. In v. 7 He subtly, yet purposely reminds us that we are not only formed by Him, but we are formed FOR Him - for His glory. That is why you are here with your sideways toe. USE IT!


Are you using your impediment to hinder the glory of God or to increase His fame? Are you using your self-image to bring awareness to the artist or to hide his craftsmanship? Are you using your struggle to redirect others to the one who gives you strength or to continue them down a path of destruction?

Identify your blind and LEAD.