An Open Hand

As the rays of dawn broke over the horizon, a figure of a man loomed in the shadowy light. He saddled his donkey and loaded it down with wood, preparing for the three days of travel that lie ahead.
In the stillness of the morning, he took his son, his only son, and two servants and set off on the journey. His gait was confident. Not that of someone who had a distressing task ahead.

This mans’ name was Abraham.
That dawn-lit morning, he started out on a journey to one of the greatest acts of faith and obedience ever recorded in history.

Earlier the day before, God handed Abraham a test, not to trip him up and watch him fall, but to deepen his capacity to obey God and consequently develop his character.

God called him, “Abraham!”

Oh, Abraham knew that voice well. Over time, he had cultivated his heart to listen for it.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

Then the test was presented.

“Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…” (Genesis 22:1-2)

It doesn’t give us a glimpse of what goes on in Abraham’s heart after that, but I can only imagine.
Or maybe not.
His faith seemed much greater than mine.
Sacrifice my son?
My only son?
Obviously, I did not just hear that right.
This son, who through a miracle was born unto them in their old age.
They loved him. So much.
Surely the Lord would not have me then sacrifice him!

But you see, in times past his faith had faltered.
He wavered.
He had been weaker.
But not now. He knew the God he served. He knew exactly what the Lord had promised to him. He now had faith. A faith that could not be shaken.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. (Hebrews 11:17-19 a)

Weary from the journey, they arrive a little ways from their destination.
The man and his boy walk together to where God had told him to go.
As they walk alone together, the boy wonders out-loud where the lamb is for the sacrifice?
The man confidently reassures him that the Lord will provide.
They continued on in silence.
Once there, Abraham builds an alter of stone. He places the wood upon it.
Then with a heart full of faith and obedience, he ties his sons’ hands and places him on top of the alter.
That moment as he held the knife high above his head, ready to plunge it into his son, the familiar voice shouted to him. An angel of the Lord.

“Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

God came through for him. He didn’t doubt for even a moment.

But why did God direct Abraham to carry out an act of human sacrifice?
Heathen nations practiced human sacrifice, but God condemned this as a terrible sin. (Leviticus 20:1-5)

God did not want Isaac to die, but he longed for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in his heart so it would be apparent that Abraham loved God more than his promised and long-awaited son.

Sacrifice.
To give up. Let go.
God showed me this with my own son.
I had him held in my hand with such a vice-like grip.
Afraid to let go.

Then a message my husband preached, spoke words I needed to hear yet again.

    God could give to Abraham because he had made such a wide opening into his life. God can only give into an open hand. This hand was open wide.
    Let this be your rule. Give all He asks, then take all He gives, and then the cup will be joyously spilling over the brim.
    Beware of every hesitation to abandon everything to God.

I stretched out my trembling hand.
Tears forming in corner of my eyes.
Slowly my fingers unfolded revealing to God my open hand.
And there on that day in my heart of hearts, I sacrificed my son.

We all have ‘things’ we need to sacrifice on the alter of our heart.
And believe me, that hasn’t been the only alter I’ve ever built.
I can become so sentimental and attached.
But God is patiently teaching me to loosen my tight grip.
To live my life with an open hand.

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You are more beautiful than you think

As part of the Dove series on natural beauty, they had women describe how they look to a forensic artist, and then had people who loved them, do the same thing. The difference in how women perceived themselves vs. how others viewed them was immense.

I was so struck by the truth of this.

I think we have all perceived ourselves differently than others view us.
How many times has a friend of mine pointed out an imperfection she thought she had, and I stood there scratching my head, not even noticing what she is saw.
I try to reassure her that she is beautiful, but I can tell she doesn’t believe…truly…that she is.
I am also guilty of this very thing!

I sound like a broken record when I say this, but there is a great need for us as women to see ourselves as God does.
Beautiful.
Perfectly created.
Loved.

As you go about your day today, remember God sees you and looks down with fondness at what he created.
You.
He loves you, and you are beautifully His.
Never forget that.

Order for my helter-skelter schedule

I groan and roll over in bed after having slept in too late. Again.
I come eye to eye with my son Bradley, who is standing beside the bed. He chirps way too loudly in my ear, “Wake up Mom! It’s morning time.”

I had every intention of waking up earlier. Getting a head start on my day before Bradley woke up, but once again, I hadn’t fallen asleep until the wee hours of the morning, making it nearly impossible to wake up on time.

I stumble out of bed shuffle around for something to wear, rub my puffy eyes and head downstairs to get breakfast for the hungry, growing boy.
He picks out his favorite cereal.
He calls it ‘Squishy cereal’.
I get him situated in a chair, pour some milk into the bowl full of cereal, and head back to the kitchen.
I grab my biggest mug and fill it to the top with coffee my husband made before he left for work.
A wonderful Honduran blend. Black. No cream. No sugar.
I remember I hadn’t packed his lunch for that day. I silently wonder what he found to eat. I groan, feeling like a failure.
I make a mental note to try and make a meal plan later.
My mind swiftly changes gear, and I grab my bible and settle down on the couch with my coffee.
“MOOOOM! My milk just spilled!”
I set my bible aside and rush to wipe up the accident.
I return to my bible and coffee. I get a few verses in and one sip of coffee before I am interrupted again.
“MOOOOM! My bib is off and milk is getting on my shirt. Help!” He makes it sound like a real emergency. I have to smile at his dramatics.
The situation is fixed and I try reading again.
Two minutes later.
“MOOOOM! I’m done!!”
And so am I. Setting my Bible down, I promise myself I will read it later when the time is more convenient.

With a start like that, my day feels disorganized.
Helter-skelter.
And I feel like I can never quite catch up.
Everyday I am determined to make a schedule. Wake up while it is Peaceful. To seek God in the quiet of the morning.
Like so many times before, the day ends with no schedule planned. No meal plans written. Real time with God rushed through, or forgotten in the busyness of the day.

The cycle I’m in seems to spin wildly out of control.
A vicious cycle that doesn’t seem to have an end.
So, I try harder. With more earnest.
Only to fail in my own strength.
Then the words come again.
Words that ring so true.
Words that touch every area of my life.
“For without Me, you can do nothing.”

    I cannot be the beautiful person He created me to be, without Him.
    I have no power to forgive, without Him.
    I am not able to reach the lost, without Him
    I am not capable of running a smooth, peaceful household, without Him.

So I sit down pen in hand.
I start small.
Bedtime for Bradley. Bedtime for me.
Wake-up time for me. Wake-up time for Bradley.
Then a week of meal plans.
It’s not much, but a start, and hopefully from there I can move forward.
I pray over my puny list.
I pray for grace to see this through.
Strength when it gets hard.
And a fully relying on Him.

This all still feels so raw and fresh, but I also feel an amazing change.
Some hope for this un-organized girl!
There is finally a small amount of order for my helter-skelter world! 🙂

You…yes you…are beautiful.

She walks into the room. Thin and with a perfect figure. Her clothes coordinate and fit perfectly, and her shoes are so cute! Her personality is bubbly and when she enters, everyone is drawn to her. She makes her way around the room, effortlessly talking to those around her.

In one corner of the room, there I sat. I look down and tug at my shirt feeling more dowdy as time goes on. I wrap my arms around my waist in an effort to hide my fluffy postpartum middle and try to sit a little straighter, while I silently wish I was more out-going. Thinner. Prettier. (And where did she find those cute shoes?!) The more I dwelt on my “imperfections” compared to this “amazing” woman, the more sullen and withdrawn I became, until I didn’t feel like myself at all! I was so “ME” focused.
Does any of this sound familiar?

I often wonder why we as women compare ourselves with other women. Thus gauging our worth. To feel insecure because we don’t feel we measure up in some way, instead of finding our worth in the One who made us so wonderfully complex. (Psalm 139:14)
Who knew us before we were even born. (Psalm 139:16)
The One who has the hairs on our head numbered. (Matt 10:30)
Who loves us. Enough to die for us. (John 3:16)
Jesus.
Without Him, I will never be enough, because in Him I am so much more.

I dare to write, because I feel like I have learned to embrace these truths. I honestly don’t think I could have written this two months ago.
Do I still struggle when I see a woman who seems to be perfect? Sure! But I have learned to realize my worth is so much more IN Christ. He didn’t make me for the purpose of imitating another woman.
This quote says it well.

    God made you an original. Don’t die a copy.

So often I had challenged God for the way He made me.
Why didn’t I talk more?
Have the right words of wisdom to give someone who was struggling?
Why wasn’t I thinner?
More beautiful?
It must have hurt my Lord to hear me complain for the way He fashioned me.
I was so inwardly focused I wasn’t even close to becoming what I was meant to be in Him.
That is, till truth slammed me like a ton of bricks. And in the right way too.
Just a simple,

    “You are enough in Me. For without Me, you can do nothing.”

I love this by Holley Gerth, in her book ‘You’re Already Amazing‘ She writes;

    I think the enemy tricks us into believing we are not enough because he knows if we discover the truth, we’ll be unstoppable.
    If you’ve embraced that lie like I did, then together we can start trading it for the truth. We are chosen, cherished, created women who have all we need to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. he has made us just as He wants us to be. We have something to offer no one else can bring.

To grasp this ladies.
The truth.
That we are His. Beautifully made. Loved with an everlasting love. Chosen by Him for good works. We will become unstoppable, and the devil is defeated. We don’t have to hide in the corner of our own insecurities and fear. We don’t have to doubt His design for us. There is so much more to life than that.

Dare to believe you are beautiful. Because you are. I believe you are and so does the One who made you.