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Here and Not Yet

By KRISTAN DOOELY

I’ve been doing some corrective realignment with my back at the Chiropractor for the past year. In the midst of healing from damage caused over the years, I sense the Lord teaching me a powerful lesson. This in between place is rough; being in the middle comes with complications. I have a plan in place and a picture of what healthy looks and feels like, but I am not there yet. I am much closer today than I was six months ago, but inevitably, there’s still a lot of work to do.

The tension of healing is hard. My back is shifting and the muscles surrounding my spine are reacting. They don’t want to change. They have grown complacent in their dysfunctional existence. This is actually where they’ve learned to be comfortable. It doesn’t matter it’s not the best place for them to function. It’s just the place they know.

The lie I can’t believe in the middle of the shifting is that my healing is harder than my not healing. In the short, not healing means I don’t have to live with the tension of the middle, the unknown pain and triggers, while my muscles get stronger in a new posture. But in the long haul, not healing means, I’m robbed of life the way it was meant to be lived. I’m continually stuck icing unnecessary wounds and missing promised activites.

Here’s what I’ve noticed…

  1. It’s very easy to slip back into old postures. It actually happens naturally and without even noticing.
  2. It’s necessary to be consistent in my adjustment appointments becuase it it’s too far between adjustments, my muscles really struggle to stay aligned.
  3. This is something I cannot do on my own. I need the help of professionsals who have studied and practiced the process of realignment in deeper ways than I have.
  4. Home care is a must. I feel better on the days I do it than on the days I don’t.
  5. Other things have to take a back seat while I give time for this healing. It’s time I don’t have but time I must fight to find.

There are probably many more lessons I could point out. This is just some of the mess in the middle. For those of us following Jesus, we should recognize the middle all too well. We live daily in the here but not yet promises of His Kingdom.

There are things in our faith that need healing. Our hearts have slipped and we live un-centered. Misalignment when it comes to the love of the Father often leaves us living for love rather than living from love. It’s so subtle, you may not even recongize it at first, but over time it becomes more and more defined and your actions more and more noticible. If you recongize the need to recalibrate the muscles of your heart, it’s as simple as the five steps above.

Like the Israelites in the desert, you have a decision to make: will you embrace the tension of the middle and trust? He who brought you to it will also bring you through it.  Or will you refuse to find hope in the healing and spend your life back in the dysfunction of what you’ve grown to find comfortable?

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  Jesus has so much healing available to us. It doesn’t matter what has bought on your pain, your sickess, your brokenness. All that matters is who holds it. Are you allowing the Father to tend to your wounds? Have you made time to be with Him more in this season of healing? Are you setting aside other things so you can participate in the necessary things?  What might you do today to put yourself in a place of healing?

PRAYER  Thank you Father for your healing. Thank you for your presence. I am so aware of the way you’ve made yourself available to me in the mess of the middle. I am so in love with how you piece things back together. Continue to do your work in my life Father. Do whatever it takes to stand me up faithfully and securely in you. Amen.

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Be Where Your Feet Are

By MARY GEISEN

I’m a detail girl. Give me an outline of what is happening first, second, and third and I’m a happy camper. I like surprise gifts, but if you told me that I was leaving tomorrow on a trip to a destination unknown, I might freak out. I want my feet firmly planted and a list to check off when I complete an item.

There are times I run into trouble when I am so forward-focused. I want to know the plans but end up losing sight of what is happening at the moment. I forget how to be where my feet are. It feels good to stay ahead of the game and have an idea as to what’s next. My anxiety remains under control and my bent toward perfectionism keeps me on track.

I can’t help but wonder how much I am missing in the present because of my desire to know what’s next. Have you ever felt you missed out on any part of life because you chose not to be where your feet are? What does it look like to soak in the present without any distractions?

For some of you, the questions leave you more confused. You might be asking me instead, what do you mean miss out on life? Then there are others who are nodding their heads in agreement but still don’t have the answers to lingering in the present.

As I make my way through the middle part of my life, I continue to learn how much I enjoy hanging with my kids, grandson, and their wives. If I am to get the most out of this time, the phone needs to be put away and I need to be where my feet are. Presence is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s also okay to ditch the “to do” lists in favor of in real life time with friends and family.

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there. (Psalm 139:7-8 NLT)

What joy to know God is always with us. What a gift it is to do the same for those we love.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT My son and daughter-in-law recently took a sabbatical from social media. They turned their phones off and spent time together as a family. I know others who have also done the same thing, but their intentionality in choosing to focus on the present touched me deeply.

Ever since they made this choice I have contemplated what that would like for me. To be honest, it scares me just a bit. Living without my phone for a day or even two doesn’t seem possible. What would I do?

If I am seeking to be where my feet are, I can’t assume that when given the opportunity I will be fully present. Life is full of so many distractions. My goal is to put my phone on silent for a day. As you and I seek the gift of presence, let’s turn off our phones or release ourselves from all distractions. Knowing I am not alone in this endeavor makes it so much easier.

PRAYER  Heavenly Father- Just as I seek to be present with my loved ones, you desire my presence with you. Release me from all distractions that I may know you more intimately. Show me how to let go of all interruptions in my daily life that I may serve you by loving others more authentically. You are a good, good Father and your gift of presence in my own life is the ultimate blessing. I love and praise you. Amen.

 

You can connect with Mary Geisen in the following places:

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Genuine, Heart-felt Prayer

 

By BARBARA LOWNSBURY

I have this vivid memory of a prayer night I participated in back in my college days–so vivid that all these years later, I still remember it.  We were all down on our knees huddled together closely in a circle.  We were slowly making our way around, with each person praying about whatever was on their hearts.  It was a little intimidating hearing everyone’s prayers. I wondered if my prayer would be as good or as thoughtful, if I would be perceived as being “spiritual” enough or deep enough.

My turn came and I did my best to pray in earnest, to really lay my heart out there as I prayed for others and for God’s kingdom to grow.  I worked not to use filler words, or to insert too many “Father, God” phrases. I tried to pray long and meaningfully. When I was finished, I felt sorta proud, like I had done a good job and honored the Father.

And so it continued around the circle, with each of us striving in much the same way.  There were lots of words, lots of great prayers. But there was also a lot of comparing going on, as many of us weighed where we stacked up against each other.

Then, toward the end of the circle, we came to a new believer.  It was her turn to pray.  And while I can’t remember her exact words, what I clearly remember was her posture. Her prayer went something like this:

“Lord, um.  Hi.  I don’t really know what to say.  I’m, uh…like, really new at this (long pause).  I’m really humbled to be around all of these great women.  They, uh, they have these amazing prayers and this amazing faith in You, Father God.” There was another really long pause. Quiet tears began to splash silently onto her tightly folded hands.

She continued, “I’m just so grateful to You.  Like, I can’t believe You chose me to be yours (another longer pause). I, um, I just really want to honor You, God.  Please help me to grow.  I know my prayer isn’t, uh, very great, but I want You to know that I, well, I love You. Amen.”

Her heart was humble. Her gratitude was palpable.  Her words were simple and few.  There was no eloquence, no meaningful exegesis.  But her words cut me to the quick.  Their heartfelt simplicity highlighted how foolish my need to impress was.  Of all the other prayers around me, hers was the one that I was most impacted by.

Those of us who would count ourselves as “spiritually mature” gathered at the end to discuss the night, and we all landed back at this one woman’s simple, heart-felt prayer, challenged and set free by it all at once.  This young Christian changed my prayers forever moving forward.

I’m no longer afraid to be real with God.  I don’t worry about what others think about my prayers or if they measure up.  I simply talk to God like I would with anyone else that I trusted and loved.  I’ve learned that sometimes silence is more meaningful than words.  Okay, a lot of times.  And listening for God matters.

I still love to pray with other people.  The way they view and interact with God grows my perspective and helps me to stretch and keep smashing the tiny boxes I’m inclined to put God into for my own sense of comfort.  Mostly I’ve learned that laying out the honesty of my heart out before the Lord, whether alone or in front of others, is a profound and beautiful thing.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT There are two scriptures that really drive these lessons home for me.  The first is in Proverbs 10:19: “The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.” This reminds me to make space to listen to God, both in prayer and in Bible study.  It reminds me I don’t need to have the last word or the most “impacting” word—that’s a place best reserved for the Father.  My job is to be genuine.

The other scripture comes directly from Jesus:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”  But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 18:10-14).

What God is most interested in is my heart.  It’s my posture of humility that matters, and humility includes an unflinching honesty before Him.  He knows it all anyway, but there’s a power that comes from my honest confessions before Him that is transformative.

Take some time over the next few days to ask God about your prayer life with Him.  What might He want to hear more of from you, or perhaps less of?  How would He say you’re doing with being genuine with Him, or for making space to listen so He can speak life into you?  I’d love to hear how it goes so please post below!

PRAYER  Papa, thank You for continually teaching me what most matters.  I can be insecure or competitive sometimes, and that is so far from Your heart.  Yet You take me just as I am with all my wounds, scars and fears.  You cherish me and love me completely even in the midst of my worst moments.  I am humbled by that.  Help me to fight to grab a hold of that powerful love, to make space to not just hear You, but to listen and obey so You can move me forward toward greater growth and healing.  I am in awe of Your love, Papa.  Thank You for it.  Amen.

BARB LOWNSBURY is the Executive Director for The Dented Fender.  Follow Barb and The Dented Fender community on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Young and Wild and Free

By SARAH DAVIS

I dusted off the box before I carried it up from the basement, unearthing its contents onto the dining room table. It was an attempt to organize the boxes we would soon stack into a U-haul as we moved away from our house that held generations of memories. I became distracted with the task at hand and got lost in a spread of old yearbooks, birthday cards, and hand-drawn stick figures with happy faces and big hair.

Somewhere buried in the box was an autobiography written by my eight-year-old self at the request of my third-grade teacher. I smiled as I read the list of details that seemed to matter greatly at the time. A list of details about my cats, my favorite book, food, and even my favorite number.

But I stood and paused, blinking long and hard when I read one line seemingly lost in the middle:  “When I grow up I want to write books.”

In my everyday life in the here and now, I am working on my first book and blogging my heart out, and you are reading it. So that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you as the reader. But here’s the thing–it was a twenty-eight-year journey back to that desire.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot the creative desire God had placed in my heart. Somewhere in the minutes, hours, and days that form my past, I lost the inhibition to freely voice what I thought I was capable of without fear of criticism or disapproval.

Maybe I got lost in the starring roles of my life. In motherhood and my career.  Perhaps it was that moment in junior high when I looked at that girl who sat three rows over and decided I would never be as pretty as her.  Or that summer by the pool when a guy commented on my weight in a manner that was unwelcome and not flattering that played on repeat in my head.  Maybe it was the interview I bombed or the vows that got shattered, or some other failure along the way.

I don’t know the moment, but that desire placed on paper so long ago returned and began to stir again in the most unlikely of places. I would sit on my bunk in that state correctional facility and enter my own sanctuary and safe space through penning my words. The letters were my lifeline, scribed from a place within my own heart still untouched by the wear and tear of life and time.

Even so, I would smirk and laugh when my husband would urge me to launch back into writing, not taking his encouragement seriously and doubting my own ability to express myself in a way that others would connect with. He persisted, and each time I would stick my toe a little further into the water, curiosity eventually giving birth to re-engaging in consistent writing, and the return to myself. The return to that eight-year-old version of me that was daring enough to give voice to her dream.

I often watch my daughter as she twirls in her third wardrobe change of the day and pretends to be a ballerina. Uninhibited. Unashamed.  And maybe it’s because I smile in adoration and she feels the safety of knowing she is loved. Or perhaps it’s because she hasn’t been carried away from that place within herself that is young and wild and free.

May God return us to those places. May He take us back to who He created us to be.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  There have been moments in my own life that have caused me to doubt my own worth or my ability to have a significant impact on the world around me. Some events happened, followed by a lie in the form of a thought that I allowed to become my truth. The bible is full of accounts of God choosing the person who seemed least likely to accomplish the task. There are stories upon stories of people who were chosen but felt inferior or ill-equipped to be used for something great. In the book of Esther 4:14, Esther is hesitating to go before the king to save her people when her uncle says to her, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? ” (NIV).  God chose Esther for an enormous task of the saving of many lives. He has chosen you and me also “for such a time as this.”

PRAYER  Father, give me boldness and courage to step into the calling and purpose you have placed on my life. I pray that you will silence the lies that I could not be used for something extraordinary. I pray that you will remind me of what it says in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose ” (NIV).  Amen.  

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An Invitation to the Table

By SARAH DAVIS

Sometimes in our everyday waking and breathing lives, we have been lulled to sleep. We are like sleepwalkers in the light of day. We punch the time clocks at our jobs. We stroll through aisles of the fluorescent lighting at Target. We go through the motions of living, lulled by our routines and monotony.

There is science behind it with 95% of our brain activity being beyond our conscious awareness. But there is a danger to it on the level of spiritual and emotional well-being. 

There is a low level of complacency we can easily slip into where we just accept whatever we are facing as our lot in life. It’s a tactic of the enemy. Carefully devised and methodical. Strategic in the fact that it is so subtle, it often goes unnoticed. It isn’t cryptic. In fact, the more I think about it, it’s rather apparent. The plan is this: lull them to sleep and convince them that there isn’t more to life.  

The enemy’s plan for our lives is threefold, to steal, kill, and destroy. To steal our joy, vitality, energy, peace, and trust. To kill our dreams and the hope that the change we long for will come to pass. To destroy our relationships and our future, because if he can get us to a place of complacency, we remain stuck. We are asleep and unaware of disguised ways he tries to destroy us. 

 If he can get you to accept whatever it is that you’re facing as just being “the way things are,” then that’s also the way you are going to view circumstances in other people’s lives. 

“This apathy I feel, is never going to lift. “

“I am too broken ever to be whole.” 

“This addiction will always have control over me.” 

“My family will always struggle financially.” 

“This relationship can never be mended.” 

Like I tell my thirteen-year-old when he is fighting to get up in the morning, and I’ve been to his room five times already, ” just sit up on the side of the bed. Rub the sleep from your eyes. Take a drink of cold water. WAKE UP.”

My dog gets scolded when he searches for food that has been dropped under the table during meals by my two-year-old. It’s not that he’s hungry and it’s not that I don’t expect him to search for food. It’s the noises he makes during his search party that get him scolded. It’s a snorting and slurping sound that you just have to hear it for yourself to understand. My husband looked at his four-month-old white and furry cuteness and named him “Pig,” a self-fulfilling prophesy for his bulldog self. Here’s the point: Don’t be like Pig. Don’t search for scraps beneath the table. You are invited to an abundant feast at the table of abundant life. 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows ” Psalm 23:5 (NIV)

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:

There have times in my life that I have found myself going through the motions of life and struggling to believe that God has more in store for me. There have been times I have settled for existing, rather than seeking the abundant, joy-filled life Jesus died for me to have. Can you relate to this today? Whatever you do, don’t settle for this. Whatever your “this” is. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled to sleep. There is so much more for your one and only life than this low-level lot that you may have accepted. Let’s abort this mission. Let’s accept the invitation we have been given to the table of abundant life. 

PRAYER: 

Father, thank you for dying so that I can live fully in this life. I pray that you will open my eyes to areas of my life where I have settled for less than your abundance and good plan for my future. Give me the courage to believe and expect more and to live from a place of joy and believing in your goodness. Amen. 

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The Window

By BARBARA LOWNSBURY  This is an entry I wrote two summers ago.  It really spoke to me this morning so I wanted to share it again.  My personal response is in the comments section.  Enjoy!

I have this small little window in my living room.  It’s really cool!  The door swings open and it still has the old-school window panes with the wavy, original glass intact.  It’s this cute little architectural feature someone chose to add back in the day, and I’m grateful they did!  That said, this small little window isn’t very functional.  You can’t see very much of what’s happening outside.  Besides, when you try to open it, it whacks you in the head if you’re not careful–and yes, I know from experience! 

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I live my life a lot like I’m looking out of a small little window.  I tend to see only what’s right in front of me, what’s readily obvious.  This is especially true when I’m struggling.  Tough times suck.  They just do.  There’s no way around it.  Yet one of the hardest things about them is I can get so caught up in what’s happening in the moment, I lose sight of the bigger picture.  I can forget that just because one door has closed, one opportunity has passed, or one situation has irrevocably changed, it doesn’t mean there isn’t something that’s still special and precious out there waiting for me.  There’s a quote I love by Alexander Graham Bell.  He says, “When one door closes, another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened up for us.”

At this point in my life, I have faced down many challenges.  I’ve lost jobs, lost opportunities, lost fiends, lost face, and lost people I dearly loved.  I’ve made some great decisions, but I’ve also made decisions that came back to bite me in the backside.  And when I think that way, my window in life can feel really, really small.  But just as when I walk outside I can see a much bigger picture, I have to remind myself to take the time to sep beyond myself and remember the bigger view–God’s view.  That’s the beauty of walking with Christ.  Nothing is wasted in His hands.  Every hurt, every tear, every loss and every closed door has led to deeper understanding, wisdom, true healing and exciting opportunities and adventures.  The key is to trust Him long enough to find that next open window, that next opportunity to not only grow, but to shine.  

Even when I’m plugging along in life full of joy, I can still limit my world with too small a view.  I know I’m not alone in that.  Think of an opportunity you passed up because you felt too inadequate to take advantage of it, or you weren’t confident enough to grab ahold of what you clearly felt nudged to do.  I find it revealing that the #1 regret most people have at the end of their lives is risks they didn’t take or opportunities they allowed to pass them by.  We all can struggle with believing we can be used to take meaningful, impacting actions that empower us and those around us.  That’s why I love the view out of God’s window.  His view is the universe, vast and unending.  His strength is creation, the systems and structures we see (and don’t see) all around us.  His vision is unlimited by time or space or sleep or need or anything else.  And His love for us is limitless, too.  

Paul tells us, “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.  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 8:35, 39).  God also tells us, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” (Jeremiah 29:13).  His ways aren’t like mine; they may not always make sense to me in the moment.  But when I choose to look for God’s view, He fills me with a fearless, bold faith that lets me reach for my dreams because I know my healing, my happiness, and ultimately the impact I leave behind aren’t based on my strengths and gifting, but on God’s–and His supply is limitless.  

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  In what ways do you limit the view in your life?  How can you choose faith over fear or pain?  Remember:  “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights.  You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; You stoop down to make me great,” (Psalm 18).  Pray to see that next open door in your life, and then to have the faith and courage to confidently walk through it.  

PRAYER  Lord, help me to remember Your view of my life when I start to lose perspective.  I can feel so alone and unsure sometimes.  I can get lost in my own fears and the limits of my perspective.  Help me approach this day with fresh eyes that look to You for peace and a trusting confidence that You have me, You love me, and You are holding my hand as You lead me forward.  Whether I am in a season of rest or growth, of joy or struggle, always You are with me even when I don’t feel it.  Thank You, Papa.  Your love is so thorough and thoughtful.  I invite You into my life more fully today to take charge and lead me through it in whatever way You see fit.  Amen.  

Consistently Consistent

By KRISTAN DOOLEY

,Weather in Ohio is weird. One minute it’s the beginning of summer, the windows are open and you know heat is just around the corner, and then the next it’s fifty-five degrees and your digging your sweats back out of your closet. Last week it was in the sixties; yesterday it was eighty-nine. The temperature is all over the place, and my body doesn’t adjust as quickly as it used to.  Never knowing what to expect makes it extremely hard to be prepared.

The same is true for our internal temperature. To be one thing one moment and another thing the next is no way to live. It’s taken me a few years to figure out the internal temperature I like best. The posture I can set my heart where it doesn’t overreact to the circumstances around me wasn’t easily found. I fought to figure out what grace, hope, peace, love, and acceptance felt like on the inside. I paid close attention to the internal temperature I see throughout the New Testament in Jesus. To do all of this I had to slow my pace down and pay careful attention.

What kind of things rattled my insides? What was going on around me when I felt my internal temperature rise? When did I feel out of control? When did I feel at my best and adequately responding as Jesus would?

These are all questions I asked myself as I reestablished a consistently consistent temperature. My heart was not created to fluctuate like the weather in Ohio. When the people around me struggled to know the me they would get, they would also struggle to connect, trust and live in unity. That wasn’t what I wanted for my family, friends, or even my community. I wanted to be who I was and respond with a steady consistency, and during my search, I learned the only way to do that was to spend time with the one who set my thermostat. The more time I spend in the quiet with the Father, the more I reflect Him in the open.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  The chaos around you doesn’t have to dictate the temperature within you, either. You can be consistent in your response to others regardless of your circumstances from others. Scripture says, “Jesus was full of grace and truth.” Regardless of where He was or what He was doing, His response was consistent. That’s because His internal temperature was also consistent. We respond from what’s happening within. The more our within links to the Father, the more our internal temperature gauges and reflects the Father.

What does your internal temperature look like? Where do you see too much fluctuation? Is there a desire for more consistency? What is your time like with Him? Do you have space or can you create space where you could sit with Him longer? Long enough to regulate your temperature?  Consider making space for that within your day-to-day routine.

PRAYER  Thank you, Jesus, for walking as an example of grace and truth for me. I so needed to see what consistency looked like. You rescued me from chaos and you set my feet upon a steady ground. I am so thankful that you regulate my temperature. Help me today to stay connected intimately to you and to walk according to you. I need you. Amen.

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Endurance for the Journey

 

By JENNY SEYLAR

I never fully realized how lucky I was until an African family showed up on the doorstep of the church with luggage in hand, and seeking asylum in the United States. The arduous three month journey from the African continent, through South and Central America, and then into the US through Texas, took determination, faith, and endurance. In a matter of days, I learned that my part in their journey was also one that would take endurance as I became one of their spokespersons and advocates. The gifts that we, as Americans, take for granted, do not come easily to people seeking asylum: housing, food, employment, communication, and more. These are readily available to those of us who already reside here, but acquiring them as a refugee, well, that’s another story, because it takes 1-2 years to be granted asylum in this country.

On the day the family arrived, I had proclaimed this statement to myself and to my friends on Facebook: “I am broken and mending; despairing and hopeful; fearful and courageous; stepping out of complicity and into liberation; I move forward with a new sense of purpose to do life and ministry amid the hurting on the margins. God, please guide me, and send to me companions for this journey.” In the course of one afternoon, the arrival of this family had collided with my call. Through prayer and dozens of phone calls, I found people that kept providing the necessary help to get the family the immediate things they needed. God had provided companions for the journey. It felt as if God were saying, “Finally you are listening to where I am calling you to serve.”

Parallel to the ministry I do with the African family and with many others is my own journey. Day-to-day life continues to be an endurance race. Grief creeps in when I least expect it. Loneliness occasionally blankets my leisure time. The challenges of being in a single person household seek to halt me in my path. Still, I refuse to let the weight of life thwart my journey towards wholeness. I know that there will be ups and downs, that the path will sometimes be blocked, and so I cling to the promises of Christ: “So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. Think about the one who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you won’t be discouraged and you won’t give up.” (Hebrews 12: 1-3, CEB)

In my darkest moments, Christ shows up and seems to say: “Look to me. I know what hardship is. I have endured greater things than this. I died for you, even though I could have taken another path. You can do this, dear daughter. I have given you what you need to endure if you will just trust me every day. I have provided faithful ones to encourage you along the way, and to pick you up when you fall. Trust me in this.” And so I trust, and in doing so, I have learned that life is more like a marathon than a sprint. Yet in my life, the distance is yet unknown. There is no measurement or countdown to which I have been made aware. I could die tomorrow or live another fifty years; it’s not for me to know or to spend energy worrying about. And so I look to Christ as I have most of my life. I look to Christ as I did some 21 months ago when my husband died unexpectedly. I look to Christ and run the race of life, knowing full well that the path is still hidden, yet trusting Him anyway. At times Christ sends companions for the journey, and other times it’s just me. Either way, I will endure.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  Dear one, what things in life are you enduring right now? Who has Christ sent to journey with you? Do you recognize the gifts that they offer for the season in which you are together? Who are you running alongside to guide them on their journey, and what gifts do you have to offer? We were not created to do life alone. There is a place in each of us that desires God AND desires human interaction. Life takes endurance so invite Christ along. Invite others along, too, because we are blessed when we do so.

PRAYER  God of Life and Hope, thank You for Your presence in my life. I am grateful for the people who have journeyed with me my whole life, and for those who have come alongside just for a season. They have blessed me. Help me to be a blessing to others, willing to run this endurance race of life with them. Awaken in me the call that You have for my life, and guide me as I live out that call. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

ABOUT JENNY SEYLAR
Jenny Seylar is a woman with a deep faith in Jesus Christ who serves in ministry at a United Methodist Church in Iowa. As a pastor and youth director, she is passionate about walking with youth, young adults, and adults of all ages as they journey in their faith. She believes in creating authentic relationships in order to walk alongside folks wherever they are in their faith journey.

In 2017, Jenny’s husband of 28 years unexpectedly died while on a training bicycle ride. In the aftermath, Jenny and her 3 grown kids, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, have sought ways to find joy in the everyday miracles that make up this life. You can read more about Jenny Seylar and her ministry at www.lovelylane.org or her blog “Journey From Despair to Hope” at https://journeyandstrength.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/through-the-lens-of-grief/

Your Input Needed

I know you’re busy, but this won’t take long!  As we’ve expanded this blog, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Specifically,

  1.  Do you like the new daily format?
  2. Are you happy with the content?
  3. Is there anything else you’d like to see us do?

That’s it! Just reply in the comments below (examples: yes, yes, more on courage -OR- y, y, more on courage, etc.)  Or, feel free to email me directly at info@thedentedfender.com.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!  Hope you’re enjoying your summer 🙂

Blessings from The DF Team.

Who is Jesus? By Megan Sites

By MEGAN SITES

Who is Jesus?

“On hearing [Jesus’] words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.  Others said, “He is the Messiah.”  Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?”  Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”  “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.  “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?  No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”  Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”  They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”  –John 7:40-52

So who is Jesus?  This question is just as alive today as it was thousands of years ago.  There was a lot of talk in these verses about who Jesus was. Some said he was a prophet, others said He was the Messiah and some said there is no way He is the Messiah.  Verse 43 says, “Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.” There were many voices saying many different things about Jesus. This struck me because I think in our own lives today we hear many voices saying maybe different things about Jesus and its causing a divisions in our hearts.

Not only do we live in a world that still has a lot to say about who Jesus is or was or might have been but we can often battle within ourselves with issues of disbelief also.  We hear other conversations about who Jesus is and no matter how secure we may feel in our faith some stories rock us more than others, and we begin to wonder if maybe they are right.  Maybe He isn’t good, maybe He doesn’t care about me, maybe He isn’t God, maybe He was just a prophet and we “maybe” ourselves to death.

Yet the words Jesus spoke ring as true as ever.  Before the questions, before the confusion of the crowd, Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  When I get lost in the maybe’s and the what ifs, I go back to the stream of faith to find my answers.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  So who do you say the Jesus is? Is He good?  Is He kind? Is He disappointed in you? Is He redeemer?  Is He king? Is He distant? Is He close? Is your friend? Is He your protector, your provider?  Is He angry? Does He delight in you? What does Scripture say about who Jesus is? Over the next few days I want to challenge you to silence all the voices and what they say about Jesus. The Apostle Paul said, “No one can have faith without hearing the message of Christ” (Romans 10:17, CEV). I am going to be spending some time this week asking these questions and diving into what the scriptures say about who Jesus is.

When you and I struggle, flounder, or get lost in a sea of doubt, the best way to move forward is to dive into the scriptures and find truth for ourselves about who Jesus really is. The book of John is a great place to start. Would you join me?

PRAYER  Jesus, who are You?  When all the voices are swirling around me saying conflicting things about You, who are You?  This week would you speak to my heart? Will you show me just who You are?  Strengthen my faith and fill my eyes with Your vision for my life. I love you and I invite you to move in me and in my heart this week. Strengthen my faith in You from the inside out. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Megan can be found on Instagram @mrssites