No One Lives Outside The Floodplain

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Mat 6:20-21 NIV

It’s 6:00am on September 21, 2017, a category 5 hurricane has reduced Puerto Rico to 3rd world conditions, Floridians are still making their way back home to hurricane-torn land, and here in Houston we are recovering from Hurricane Harvey. We will be for years to come. Over 145,000 homes cannot be rebuilt overnight. Only 20% had flood insurance. Why? Because they were in locations that had never flooded. They were “outside the floodplain.” None of us live outside the floodplain.

Do you live too far inland to be concerned about hurricanes? My weather app now also shows earthquakes. In Mexico City, they are still uncovering those who were buried alive by a 7.1 magnitude quake. If this isn’t enough, we have the growing threat of nuclear attack by N. Korea. It feels like we are walking through scary chapters of a history book, not yet written. But, it is.

“What is a mystery to us is history to God” -author unknown. And, He’s been telling us his story and preparing our hearts for heaven from the beginning of time -author known. Will these disasters shake us in to listening?

There’s a reason Jesus instructed us to “store up treasures in heaven”. It’s because he warned us that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Mat 24:35

After every disaster, the focus becomes rebuilding. And, we should. But is it possible that this time we have the courage to rebuilt with eternal perspective? Is it really necessary to make everything exactly like it was, or bigger, or better? Are there things that we will let wash away, leaving us with less distraction on earth and more attention on what lasts forever?

What will you let wash away?

What are you trying to recover?

Of what eternal significance is it?

Tell us your Harvey story.

In His Unfailing Love,
brandi

Sacred Story’s 2018 Retreat: Your Story Matters!

YOUR STORY MATTERS!
Sacred Story’s 2018 retreat will help you kick off the year with a huge boost. Grab a gal pal or two for a refreshing weekend of vision, encouragement, and connection.
January 26-28th, 2018
Round Top Retreat Center (an hour and a half west of Houston)
Guest Speakers Highlighted Below

*Fresh perspective from God’s Word on your story
*Effective ways to share chapters of your story
*Opportunities offered for one-on-one coaching and prayer
*Hearing sacred sisters tell their stories
*Making a difference in other women’s chapters
*Fun, reflection, and relaxation

Early registration for the retreat weekend runs the entire the month of October with a $30 savings for a special rate of $155 which includes your two-night stay, conference participation, and meals. The regular price for the weekend is $185 from November to mid January. Capacity is limited to 60 women so be sure and reserve your place.

 

Kari Stainback serves as the Director of Women’s Ministries at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX since 1999. She coordinates women’s Bible studies, discipleship and special events. Kari graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master’s degree in Biblical counseling and received her certification as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Originally from Greenville, Texas she has lived in Dallas since 1987. Kari is single and has 10 nieces and nephews with one on the way and 2 great-nephews who live near by whom she enjoys greatly. Kari explains her heart for women’s stories: “The stories God writes on our hearts are the evidences of God’s work in and through us. A story told to a stranger on an airplane of how God has answered prayer demonstrates the reality of Christ possibly better than any other argument for Christ could. Stories told between sisters in Christ of how God has uniquely worked to show His steadfast love and faithfulness deeply encourage and unite us.”

Melissa Tamplin Harrison is a broadcast journalist with more than 20 years of storytelling and media experience. Melissa has worked as a news anchor and reporter in six markets – including at WNBC-TV in New York and WFAA-TV in Dallas. She is the founder of the PURE Women’s Ministry, an organization that hosts retreats and events to connect women leaders with God and one another. Melissa writes and speaks extensively about her personal journey of grief and traumatic loss. She is passionate about helping women gather the skills and courage they need to share their stories with the world. Melissa holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University and a BA in Spanish and Communications from Baylor. She and her husband Dalen enjoy a busy life at home with their 4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son and 10-month-old baby girl.

Abuse in the Bible

“No, my brother!” She (Tamar) cried. “Don’t’ be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel.”  2 Samuel 13:12

The Bible is a book of reality as it portrays the brokenness in the world without attempting to “cover up” the potential damage one person can inflict on another. Sadly the pain includes abuse which has horrible effects on all who suffer whether mentally, emotionally, and/or physically. 2 Samuel 13 portrays a tragic scene where David’s son Absalom rapes his half-sister Tamar; the remainder of the chapter reveals the subsequent implosion on the family structure.

I encourage you to read the whole chapter whether you have been a victim of abuse or know someone who has or is suffering. All too often the chapters of women’s stories include abuse. Abuse takes many forms – whether verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, or spiritual and can occur as an isolated incident or ongoing behavior. On numerous occasions there is a combination of abusive encounters.

I am offering reflections and overall principles from the painful interaction between Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13 to lend understanding. By no means are these meant to be exhaustive or provide a solution for a woman who finds herself in an abusive situation. If you currently are being abused, I am pleading with you to tell a trustworthy person(s) or call an abuse hotline (see Sacred Story’s “Helpful Links” for information) where you can be pointed toward help, counsel, and resources.

Tamar was Amnon’s half-sister. The relationship which was supposed to be a vessel of love and protection in her life became a great tool of damage. Abuse within relationships where love and protection are supposed to be offered results in intense feelings of shame and betrayal for the victim. Not only does the victim not receive what the relationship is designed to do but also suffers the rejection of someone whose God-given role is to be a safe person.

Amnon’s twisted thinking perverted his discernment of what it meant to “love” Tamar versus what it meant to “lust” for her through violence. Jonadab fed Ammon’s wickedness by helping him devise a plan (vss. 3-5). The abuser is deceived in his thoughts about himself, God, and others. This deception may be fed by the world system. Our spiritual enemy, the demonic realm, works through the distorted mind of abusers to wreak havoc. This doesn’t mean the abuser is absolved of his or her actions – far from it as God holds individuals responsible for their actions but instead a reminder that there is an unseen spiritual battle raging behind the scenes.

Tamar pleads with Amnon to turn from the evil consequences of rape which would make him a fool and corrupt her reputation for a future marriage among other painful outcomes. She implores him to speak with their father King David (vss.12-14). Abuse is not only a violation of the abused but also a choice on the part of the abuser to harden his or her heart which results in more damage. Tamar does not blame herself but instead clearly places the blame on her perpetrator. Amnon refuses to submit to God or seek out a godly perspective. When a woman faces abuse, the tendency is to feel like she is to blame in some way. There are no grounds for blaming herself. The abuser is sinning by refusing to submit to God and receive help and perspective from godly people.

Tamar gives Amnon the chance to deal with his wickedness in a way that promotes dignity. She tells Ammon not to send her away after the rape because it is creating harm upon harm. Within ancient culture she is asking him to salvage his wrongdoing and her reputation by seeking out a way to restore both. Instead of crying out for mercy from God and seeking forgiveness, Amnon hardens his heart and orders her removed from his sight (vss.15-18). She leaves and immediately begins grieving her losses by tearing her garment, putting ashes on herself, and crying aloud (vs. 19). Abusers will divert their self-hatred and guilt by directing more anger and hate toward the person they are abusing. Like Tamar, the healing process begins by grieving the losses incurred by the abuse. No matter what form the abuse take there are always reasons to grieve: the loss of a secure childhood, dignity, love, a dream, a relationship, trust, physical health, emotional stability, and more.

Being abused is an experience of evil that can take months and years to recover. The hopeful news for such a devastating topic is the truth of God’s Word: what the enemy intends for evil God can turn for good (Genesis 20:50), mourning will be part of getting through the pain but joy will come eventually (Psalm 30:5), God’s compassion and comfort is abundant (Psalm 103:13), God works all things together for the good of those who trust Him (Romans 8:28), He uses the pain in people’s lives to give them purpose in comforting others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), power is available in Christ to forgive those who do inflict harm, forgiveness is available for those who have acted out by abusing (Colossians 3:13) and God’s justice will prevail in punishing evil deeds (2 Timothy 4:14).

Sister, I know this is not an easy topic. My heart breaks for any of you who experiences abuse in any form. It leaves a lot of room for lamenting “why God?” and I can’t even presume to have an answer. I do find great encouragement in the stories of redemption like Deb’s Story Abused to Adored and Renee’s Story My Island Life. I also find great hope for those who are caught in the bondange of being the abuser in Jennifer’s Story Walking on Eggshells. What have you seen God do in your life or others who have been through abuse?

Laura

 

Love in the Hands and Feet of First Responders

“ ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ” Matthew 25:44-45

From Texas, Florida, to South Asia floodwaters have ravaged homes and businesses. Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm with winds up to 130 miles per hour swept a shore on Friday, August 25th in Houston, and rapidly rising waters flooded neighborhoods and businesses districts across Houston. In 6 days, Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana and about 51 inches of rain in the Houston area, breaking the record from a tropical cyclone in the United States. Around 40,000 homes have been lost, and automotive damage is estimated between $2.7 and $4.9 billion. The estimated total loss is approximately $75 billion. Director of Insurance at the Consumer Federation of America, Robert Hunter said that only two of ten homeowners in Texas have flood insurance. The devastation to personal finances and neighborhoods will soar as the damage through out Houston is assessed. Now, Hurricane Irma battering Florida leaves an estimated six million people without power as of September 11, 2017. Then beginning in mid-August the most deadly floods across South Asia in 40 years leave 40 million struggling to rebuild their lives. According to UNICEF in India an estimated 31 million people have been affected. In Nepal about 1.5 million homes are no longer livable.

Millions are homeless after the past few weeks of deadly floodwaters. What is happening in our world? God might seem far from millions of people who are homeless due to these devastating floodwaters. Psalm 34:18 reminds us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and Psalm 46:1 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” God is sovereign over Creation; therefore, He can be trusted “though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam” (Psalm 46:2-3). Because of fallen creation earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and tsunamis occur. The Sovereign God was aware of the storms that have battered down on Texas, Florida, and Asia. We will never know this side of Heaven why God did not hold back the storms. Nor will we know the countless storms which He has calmed across the seas for centuries.

How might we respond to these tragedies? Our first response is to grieve with those who grieve and respond with love by giving and helping, not with judgment. Remember Jesus tells the Jewish religious leaders that those who died in the collapse of the tower of Siloam were not greater sinners than anyone else (Luke 13:2-5). An incorrect and common belief in the ancient world was that God judged sinful people by allowing calamity to fall upon them. Self-righteous people are quick to judge. Jesus reminds them that they must all repent, or they will face a far greater death, the final judgment.

If you find yourself in survival mode, overwhelmed with the burden of rebuilding your life after a devastating event, you might not know what to pray. You might even question God’s love for you by not sparing your house from yet another hurricane, or why your neighborhood flooded rather than the one a mile away. His love never changes based on circumstances which is so hard for humans to understand. He might seem far away in our suffering, and but He is not. His presence is felt in the hands and feet of first responders. Some might say, where were you in the storm? Jesus might respond, I sent a team on a boat to rescue your family and your neighbors to help you pull out drywall from your home and gave a friend an idea to raise money to help you rebuild. What about neighbors whom you did not know who invited your family to stay with them?” First responders carry the love of Jesus in great loss and suffering.

Natural disasters remind us that life is temporary and what really matters is: people not things. Nobody buries his or her broken plasma television, cars, collectables, or furniture. Just like war, natural disasters cause us to think about eternity- Is God real? What happens when I die? During wartime, people understand that they will not live forever.

Also, natural disasters remind us of the Final Judgment coming at Jesus’s return to the Earth.

“For as lighting that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.” (Matthew 24:27-30).

Lastly, natural disasters remind us to build our lives on solid ground. Just as we seek the most hurricane proof ground during a storm, may we seek the only solid spiritual ground built on the foundation of Jesus Christ before the Final Judgment. In the meantime, build your life on Jesus and help your neighbors far and near who are suffering. Be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world.

-Mary Carmen

Weathering the Storm with Christ

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:8-10,16-18

I piled my boys into the car last Friday morning and drove to Dallas after my husband and I made the decision that we should evacuate. We have been through two floods in the past two years and we knew the possibility of the same scenario playing out again given the formidable forecast. We agreed he should stay behind to take care of the house. It was difficult to give him a hug good-bye not knowing how things would play out. We had no idea what the following days would hold and the utter devastation Harvey had in store.

Our home flooded again but it is far from catastrophic. We took in some water in a part of the house but it is minimal considering what so many are dealing with across our city and beyond. We are so grateful to have the resources and community to get through this again and we are confident that the Lord will provide what we need. But as I process this while still in Dallas, my heart is breaking for those who have been completely wiped out and will be starting over—for those in shelters not knowing the next steps or what they will eat or wear tomorrow. I can’t get my head around how our city is going to recover and the time it will take but I know it will be one step at a time and we will get there eventually.

A sweet friend of mine sent me this quote after the worst flooding day in Houston. It’s from my favorite devotional, Streams in the Desert:

“It is quite easy for us to talk and to theorize about faith, but God often puts us into His crucible of affliction to test the purity of our gold and to separate the dross from the metal. How happy we are if the hurricanes that blow across life’s raging sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious to us! It is better to weather the storm with Christ than to sail smooth waters without Him.” -J. R. Macduff

What amazing timing. I have thought a lot about weathering the storm with Christ. The devastation we are all either witnessing or experiencing can cause a sense of helplessness. This is when we need to call out to our Heavenly Father and remember that Jesus is glorified in our desperation and He is magnified in our dependence. There will continue to be waves of pain and heartbreak as this marathon continues over the weeks and months ahead. But, to paraphrase Corrie ten Boom, there are no deep places of pain and suffering that the Lord’s love is not deeper still. We have opportunities right now to be a voice of hope to those who are in desperate situations.

“Look around and be distressed.

Look within and be depressed.

Look at Jesus and be at rest.”

-Corrie ten Boom

With love, Courtney

Lonely in A Crowd and By Myself

I think about the times when I’ve experienced loneliness. Sometimes it’s been in a large crowd and other times it’s been when I am by myself. Loneliness is not about being alone but instead about feeling alone. That’s why just being with people doesn’t bring relief; and also why we can be alone but not necessarily lonely.

The root of loneliness comes from separation. The fall of mankind, when Adam and Eve sinned, created a separation from God, ourselves and others. In Ephesians 4:18 the apostle Paul describes the person who has yet to come to know Christ as separated and alienated from the life of God. When we come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, we are connected to the One who is Life. He is able to shower us with His presence in our inner being. Not only does God give us His presence, we also are fully known.

God knows us and enters into our story like no human being can. Even the people we confide in the most and feel closest to cannot or did not “go with us” in every chapter like God does; simply for the reason that being human limits us. I find it interesting that the definition of loneliness includes, “not frequented by human beings, being without company, cut off from others.”

It is important to remind ourselves when we feel lonely that God alone “frequents” places where human beings cannot. As our Creator, He connects to our hearts, our desires, our struggles, our history, and every aspect of who we are. We can cry out to Him, asking for a fresh experience of His presence and the realities below.

God knows our thoughts and secrets. Mark 2:8

God knows why we respond the way we do.  Luke 5:45

God knows our life experiences including the things we have been through. Psalm 139:16

God knows the movements we make, like when we sit down or stand up. Psalm 139:2

God knows the motives behind our actions and is eager to reward good. Jeremiah 17:10

With that said, I do believe we can work toward connecting on a deeper level to people around us so that we experience the love of God through others. I have found that understanding myself and being in touch with my own heart allows me the ability to help others know me. If you struggle with knowing your inner self and expressing how you are doing or feeling I encourage you to seek out a counselor or wise mentor who can help bring discernment and draw you out.

I also see that moving toward people and risking vulnerability is vital to overcoming loneliness. Donald Miller the author of multiple books offers the following insight, “Loneliness is something that happens to us, but I think it is something we can move ourselves out of. I think a person who is lonely should dig into a community, give himself to a community, humble himself before his friends, initiate community, teach people to care for each other, love each other. Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together, praying together. Loneliness is something that came with the fall. ..If loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell, and to that degree, here on earth, we decide in which state we like to live.

May God’s presence and company be with you in a special way sister.

~ Laura

Lonely with 1,000 Friends

“No one has greater love than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn.15:3)

I recently hit the “400” mark for number of friends I have on Facebook.  I have been looming around the 300’s for a while.  I am actually pretty selective of who I invite or accept to be friends.  However, if I really think about it, 400 friends is a lot!!!  And yet I know having thousands or millions more friends is easily possible for many people on Facebook.

There is a new study that links Facebook with depression.  Though Facebook is deemed a “social network”, it seems “social networks aren’t purely social, and they may even veer into the realm of anti-social.”

Instead, social networks like Facebook can cause people to retreat in their own closet for hours “connecting” with people without having spoken a word to a single person the whole day. According to the study, social networks also increase feelings of jealousy and social comparison.

People seem to post more glamorous parts of their day or life rather than the gritty parts that would actually encourage a person in a world with no technology to reach out to a live person, a friend.  Or be a friend to someone.

Though we have created technology that makes it more accessible to reach people, I wonder if we have created a world that makes it less possible to be known….to be really known.  While we are trying to be more accessible, are we becoming less accessible to be a friend to someone?

After all, isn’t communication 93% nonverbal (55% body language and 38% tone of voice)?  Without meeting a person face to face we miss a huge part of the relationship.  Jesus’ guideline for friendships comes from John 15:12-14.  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

A true friend is one who will lay down his life for his friends.  I’m afraid we we can’t even lay down our computer or phone for a friend.  Am I anti social network?  Absolutely not.  I believe everything has redeeming qualities.  It’s just we must be careful and intentional.

Spend a week timing how much you spend on social network.  We give our time to what we value.  Secondly, use social network to encourage others.  Think about what people really need to know or hear.  Take some time to take an inventory of your friendships and how you would like to be a better friend to them.  Nothing substitutes a good, personal date with a friend.

There are many people you would never guess who are lonely in this world.  If you think about it, they may actually be the ones who are most ‘popular’ on Facebook.  Is there a friend you would like to reach today?

Edna Lee

 

Loneliness

“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Have you been in a place outside of your regular morning routine when you heard sad news about a family member’s death or friend’s medical diagnosis? On the morning of my grandfather’s death, I was eating breakfast downtown. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have eaten breakfast downtown in the past few years, so it was not a place where everyone knows my name. I just wanted someone that I knew and loved to be with me in that moment. There I was on a patio nearly empty except for one couple. I was alone.

Shortly after I ordered the waiter stopped by my table to ask if I could pray for him. I had not said anything about being a Christian nor was I reading a Bible or wearing a cross. There was no visible marker, but God made the invisible, my faith visible to him. I replied that I would be happy to pray for him and l was a Christian. He knelt beside my table and shared about a situation that looked impossible now moving in a positive direction. I could see the excitement on his face while mentioning the encouragement from men of faith along the way when his prayers seemed unheard. I offered some encouragement and insights from a native Nashvillian’s perspective which he had wanted and then prayed for him.

As he disappeared behind a glass door, a smile grew as I felt God nudging me that the waiter’s words to “not give up when things look impossible” were just as much for me as for him. Think about it, the morning that my grandfather died you might have expected the waiter to pray for me, instead of me praying for the waiter. I certainly needed prayer too. God knew what I needed more. I needed a different kind of prayer. Praying for him reminded me of how personal, loving, and encouraging God is and what a joy it is to encourage others in their faith. I received encouragement praying for him as I would have, if he had prayed for me and maybe even more.

We feel most alone when someone or something is taken away such as the death of a family member or friend or the loss of a relationship, job, good health, or dream. The next time you feel the hole of loneliness smooth the pain with the balm of encouraging one another. There are times when you will feel the most loved by God when you feel the most alone. Look for someone to encourage and for God to show His love for you in an unexpected way. Remember you are never alone.

-Mary Carmen

You too?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” Hebrews 10:24

Women encouraging women in every chapter.

This is the heart behind Sacred Story. The ministry exists to encourage women to be a voice for God’s faithfulness through story telling. We all need constant reminders that the Lord has purpose in our pain, uncertainty and disappointment. C. S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ ”

There is power in understanding that we are not alone. As I have walked through various seasons in my life, I have gained hope by hearing stories of others who have walked before me whether it was singleness, infertility, job uncertainty or illness. When someone has blazed a difficult trail while holding the hand of Jesus, it deepens my understanding of the Lord and His presence in my own situation. I have that “you too?” moment which provides great comfort. Someone else really gets it.

Did you know our online ministry is so much more than our blog? We have a library of over 80 stories that I am certain will speak to what you or a loved one is facing today. Think for a minute about someone near to you who is struggling. Head over and search here under the themes. I know you can find a story that would encourage your loved one. Send it. That story may be the encouragement your friend needs today.

I have been so honored to have several of my friends contribute their stories. Wynne and Jennifer both have stories of God’s faithfulness through the struggle of infertility. {An update on Wynne: she gave birth to a baby girl earlier this year!} Elizabeth shares about dealing with a family member’s suicide. Julie honestly opens up about learning to love her husband. And Terri reveals how the Lord has redeemed and healed her past.

These are just a sampling of dear women who have contributed and we are prayerful that many more stories will be added this year. Have you thought about how a chapter in your story could encourage someone else? It can feel scary to step out and share your heart but I can guarantee there is someone out there who needs to hear it. Take a look at our helpful guidelines which will make it easier than you think to get your story written.

The world needs to see Jesus and our stories are a powerful tool to show others who He is and what He has done for us. Thank you for partnering with us as we seek to encourage women in every chapter.

~Courtney

 

 

 

The Invisible Woman

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.” (Lk 8:38,39)

This year is the first year in the last 7 years where I do not have a personal goal.  7 years ago I got married, then shortly after I had my first born, 20 months later I had my second born and 6 months ago I adopted my last after a 2 year process.

Though my days are full taking care of my 3 young boys, I find myself desperately wanting something to work towards other than folding laundry.  My days look the same every single day…weekday and weekend.  When people ask how I am doing, I feel I have nothing to report.  “Oh the usual…taking care of the boys,” becomes the extent of my conversation.

Though my days are incredibly full taking care of 3 boys, my heart feels empty.  When I sit in stillness I can feel depressed.  I feel invisible.  I look at social media and it seems like everyone is doing something significant…ministry, mission trips, working, having more babies, writing books, etc…

As I desperately think about projects I can take on to fill my heart again, I feel the Lord telling me to stop and to be still.  Why is stillness so hard? Why is feeling invisible to the world so hard?  It’s because everything dwindles down to just me and God.

I’ve realized how much significance and identity I have placed in personal and public accomplishment.  I have used projects to fill my heart and to feel important. ‘Doing’ has become more important than ‘being’.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with goals and accomplishments.  In fact, God calls us to put our faith in action (Js. 2:14-26).  However, for me, when I have nothing to do, I’ve realized I’m not comfortable with being invisible to the world and being visible only to God.  The world has become more important to me than the Lord Himself.

I am so thankful the Lord is more concerned about my personal holiness than what I ‘do’ for Him.  Stillness is hard (Ps. 46:10).  However, as I am experiencing it, I am beginning to like not ‘striving’ all the time.  I am beginning to see the face of Jesus again and to savor Him.  I am starting to feel treasured and visible again by the One who created me.

I am encouraged by Bunmi who shares her story of finding delight in being known by the Lord. For any of you who feel invisible, who feel like what you do or who you are does not matter, let me encourage you to cease striving. Sit at the feet of Jesus and you will feel more visible and alive than you have felt in a long time. He loves you and wants YOU. The greatest King in all the world claps for joy and dances over you when He sees you (Zeph.3:17). You are not invisible.

Edna Lee