God never forgets a promise

He engraves & doesn't forget

He engraves & doesn’t forget

Ever felt forgotten?  Chances are, you have and you haven’t forgotten it. Think back to being a kid.  Sitting on the cement step in front of the school, counting the cracks and the minutes. Elbows propped on knees, hands hugging flushed cheeks, and hound-dog eyes sagging to the ground.  Felt like an eternity didn’t it? Until you heard the rumbling sound of the station wagon engine chugging along, and then those crunching wheels finally smacked the curb.

I had a punctual parent, but it only takes one time to always remember feeling forgotten.  I re-lived that scene weeks back.  Only I was a big 38-year-old kid this time, and I thought God was the forgetful parent.

I’ve been sitting here waiting on a God-size promise with a girl-size problem. I don’t like to wait.  It’s hard to be patient when you’re still hurting. But right here in this little writing spot, He gave me a verse in my head for another post.  I slid on past it, until I heard it again.  And then again.

“See, I have engraved you in the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16. The God who made me knows that when I really want to remember something, I write it on my hand. Always have. But I use ink that smears, while He permanently engraves.

After the same verse came across 3 times from 3 different places, I gave an upwards nod, for a second.  I asked my husband, “You think maybe God’s talking to me?”  His reply, soaked with love and drenched with sarcasm, “Ya think?”

I placed the thought on a shelf and forgot all about it.  Until I came face-to-face with it two days later. I darted into my women’s bible study, scanned the room for my usual chair, and then reluctantly settled into one across the room from it. A lovely lady had taken my spot.

I didn’t like it.  Not a bit.  I like the usual.  The planned. The comfort zone.  Come on, I can’t be the only one.  You know what I’m saying.  “Lord, don’t mess with me–or my chair. Not today.”

My fellow leader even remarked, “We’re changing it up this week, huh?” I smiled, but I had itching hands and ants in my pants. I was ready to scramble across the room as soon as a spot opened up, but prayer time came a second too soon, and it was time to humbly bow and pray.

I was on bended knee, but truth be told, I was still holding onto the humble part.  I uttered a short and simple prayer, “Lord, you’re a promise keeper,” and I kept it at that. Just in case He needed some reminding.

Then straight from the mouth of a precious woman, but straight down from the throne of grace, I heard her say, “And Lord, you never go back on your promises.”  I unclenched teeth and hands, and handed over my humility in that moment.  Right before the floodgates of forgotten opened up, and the silent, warm tears flooded down.

We Amen’d, I stood up, and turned around to face the wall I’d had my back to all along, and then I looked up. There it was. I came eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand with Him.  Again.  You’d have to see it to believe it.  Yet sometimes He asks us to believe it before we see it.

He never forgets you

He never forgets you

I had to take a camera shot, just so I wouldn’t forget.  A child’s picture page, with the hands of Jesus filled up with the names of His kids. Not one forgotten. I’d been sitting in that room for months, and hadn’t seen it once.  From across the room, I couldn’t see the picture, much less hear His words. Girlfriends, He saves us a seat, and He never forgets His promises.

If you’re still waiting on His hand, know that the hand you’re waiting on, has your name all over it–engraved with HIS handwriting.   And that’s a promise you can keep.  Now don’t you forget it.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:2

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Your first true love story

First Love

What’s your first true love story? Oh, you’ve got one.  We all do.  As much as I’m still dreamy-eyed about the boy I married above, he wasn’t my first true love. That  one far preceded junior high, braces, high hopes, and my even higher hair.

I’d have to go way back to elementary.  When I relished recess and kiss chase at the ripe old age of seven. I admit, I was crushing hard on the classroom bully.  I had a thing for the bad boy.  The rebel.  I can still see what drew me to him.  He was aloof, perfectly freckled, and he had a red-haired crewcut that shone brighter than sunshine. Oh, and I can’t forget–he wore those Huskey jeans like no other.

It was a thriving romance, lasting all of a minute.  Until I wacked him too hard with my jump rope.  It was just a love tap.  What a whimp.  From then on out, our puppy love fizzled, and I met the end of my own romantic rope.  As much as it hurt, it was’t true love.

My first real, lasting love came next. And my heart still goes pitter-patter for him today.  Grandma played match maker. She said, “Christie, I’ve got someone special I want you to meet.  Let’s go across the street so we can make the introduction.”

I walked into her neighbor’s house, filled with all things polite and pretty.  She directed me to the floral print couch while I displayed my best tea party manners, hands cupped tightly and folded in my lap. As I sat timid and unsure, she put me at ease with her own grandmotherly smile and her peppermint candy.

And then she began to tell me about a love I’d never known.  She pulled out a picture and asked if I knew him.  I stared at the warm smile, wavy brown hair, and the kindest eyes I’d ever seen.  He sure looked familiar, but I couldn’t place his name.  He was laughing with kids of every color and creed.  I wanted to laugh with him too.

Then she promised a life-long love with no strings attached. I could love him back, and he’d do the rest. And when I fell short, he’d still measure up.  He’d be a faithful friend, a forever Father, who’d never leave my side. That he was God’s first true love who he gave just for me.

The day Mrs. Wallace, the pastor’s wife, invited me into her home, I invited my first true love into my heart.  A grandma’s cares had sent me there, and no doubt a mama’s prayers had carried me there, to that seat next to Jesus.  I thought it a funny name, but it sure fit the smile and the pure face of grace.

And just as she said, decades later He’s still the everlasting love that guides me in the dark and leads me in the day.  And no amount of slip-ups, foul-ups and mess-ups–or thrashing jump ropes–could ever keep him away.

Now that’s my first true love story, and I’m still sticking to it.  I told you mine, now you tell me yours.  Whether it’s yesteryear, yesterday–or maybe yours starts today. Reminisce and share with the hearts that you love.

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Matt. 19:14 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jer. 31:3

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

How to tell the truth in the middle of a mess

He meets us in our mess

He meets us in our mess

Ever been asked a simple question that stubs you in the toe and stops you in your tracks?  I have.  Just yesterday.  It was, “I want to get to know you–so what’s your world look like?”

My reflexive thought was to keep it simple and syrupy sweet.  Make it sound neat on paper when they’ll never see the mess in person.  So I started to fudge, and then I didn’t. I quickly learned how to tell the truth in the middle of a mess.

I told it like it was even though I wish it wasn’t.  By the looks of my surroundings, it’s pretty dog-gone messy.  (And we don’t even own a dog.)  The house, the kids, me.  More me than the kids.

But then if you showed up on my doorstep, I’d quickly duck and dive, cram everything I could into a “neat little pile,” and then throw a towel over it. Just so you wouldn’t know what a real mess I am.

I have crayon on my walls and God’s red-letter handwriting all over the walls of my heart.  The crayon went up, thanks to my then 3-year-old and 1-year-old girls, about the time I fell down and fell apart.   Right after Mom passed and after a fall that left me in chronic pain and in constant chaos.

But why is it so hard to say that I live on the daily grace of Jesus and the ice packs in my freezer?  Literally.  That I find creative uses for those frozen toddler teething rings. In lieu of pills, I just pop one in the back of my pants.  Yes, I’ve forgotten to remove them a time or two. Like in the grocery store when the lady said, “Um, m’am, something just fell out of the bottom of your pants.”

“Oh, my!  Well, bless my heart! I don’t know how that got in there,” I respond.  Then I glare over at my knee-hugging, little mess-makers and say, “Musta been the kids.”  (Did I just say that? Maybe that was more of my world than you really wanted to see, but you get the point.)

Surely I’m not the only one who has a penchant for plastic smiles and a slither of fudge rather than dredging through a little bit of truth.

Why do we as women hesitate to give the messy truths and the authentic answers, muddied or not?  We teach our kids to tell it, and then send them to the corner when they don’t. But then here we are sweeping ours out of sight and collecting our dust piles of truth in our own hidden corners.

Here’s the God-given truth.  Jesus isn’t hanging out in the corners.  He’s standing in the center of our chaos, and willing to plop right down beside us, if we let Him.  And then, watch this,  the One who breathed us from the dirt will also revive us from the ashes.  He’ll exchange our mess for His beautiful message. One of hope and restoration.  And cleansing and healing.

Then He’ll remind us of this the next time we’re stumped and tempted to fudge.  He’ll point us to the deepest truth in the middle of a simple question so that we can truthfully reply in the middle of our mess:

Hi, my name is ____________(place your name here).  For God so loved (my messy) world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever (that’s you and me) believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Now, can I ask a question?  OK.  I just did. Let’s make it two.  What’s YOUR world look like?  Scribble me an answer, crayons and all, and comment below.  I told you mine, now you tell me yours.  And remember to share with the mess-makers you love.

He will “provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  Isaiah 61:3

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to each other, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1