Heart Hungry

I was out in the Carytown area yesterday. One of the worst places to be when you know that you can’t have solid food for 36 hours before a medical test. But I was looking to pick up my last meal for a few days and wanted something special.

However my husband and I ran across homeless people near the trash cans of so many of these trendy restaurants . I began to weep when I saw them because this is America….the land of excess…and yet so many are living like this. Carytown flows with cash. Most times I can afford nothing there. It was heartbreaking seeing people of all ages and colors hoping for some wasteful person’s scraps.

This situation is only exasperated by Covid closing so many churches and shelter resources. It is also created by a ” I got mine. You get yours” attitude so many financially secure people have.

We don’t have a lot in our house but we are blessed. My husband and pooled what we had and bought as many sandwiches and fries we could handle. Thank you to the Carytown McDonald’s for asking what we were doing and donating a matching amount of bottled water.

I was shook so much by one married couple out on the corner with what seemed to be all of their possessions huddled against the cold. I freaked when I noticed a baby stroller but was relieved to find it was a very old dog wrapped in a blanket. I’m not a pet lover but I had to feed it. The poor thing was so tired looking he barely lifted his head at the smell of food. The young husband was so grateful he started to cry.

In the age of Covid you can’t touch, get too close or even see smiles anymore. But I was struck by all the emotions in his eyes and they spoke the volume of the problems in the human experience. His eyes were a golden brown color that I have never seen before and pierced right through me as a reminder to be grateful in all things. Even under the dirt and behind a make shift mask his face glowed.

I also noticed that they still wore their wedding bands. Tells me that they have not been out there too long. Most folks would have pawned for a room. Also tells me that they are determined to stay a family.

My husband and I made one last pass thru the street to make sure we hadn’t missed anybody we saw. Thought I had gone crazy because the couple and that old dog were suddenly gone. No way they could have moved that fast. We had just circled the block.

All I can do is wonder if we had been visited and tested. I pray we passed. My own food is still in the fridge. No need for it. My heart filled me.

My Team Of Incredibles

Incredibles2-759x500Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have always been fiercely independent and never wanted to lean9 on anybody….but yet would do and be for others whenever possible. Hey, it took years for me to let go without having a back-up plan written out for God.
Now that I am in a season of finding strength in weakness and finally allowing “folks in”, I am finding peace and joy in the presence of others that I never quite knew before.

It is not quite easy and it is never going to be 100% comfortable but in this hour God is using my team of “The Incredibles” to show me the love in the leaning.

I won’t start naming names because you have become numerous. You know who you are: family, friends, “used to be” strangers, in-laws and outlaws, survivors, fighters, care professionals, prayer partners, Bible Buddies, and my amazing team at Virginia Breast Center.

I just want to thank you all for “wearing me down” with acts of kindness, words of encouragement, prophetic utterances and hugs that I used to hate but suddenly welcome.

Again I love my “Incredibles”!! You are my strength, my stretching, my fire, my speed and you cover me in the invisible realms!!

Until next time, Michelle

You Are Normal!

 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;

–          Hebrews 4:15 KJV

We often joke in my household that I would never make a good politician because I tell everything about and on myself so there would never be any dirt to dig up…unless you looked under the carpet.  I believe the wearing of my heart on my sleeve comes from having a testimony of a loving God that has been too good to me to keep it to myself.  I pretty much live an open book. Or so I thought.

My ministry is the often sharing of being joyful in troubled times, trusting God no matter what and believing how He would restore all.  Nice, tidy, wonderful sounding inspiration…missing one major detail.   Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was fear.  Maybe I could not stand to have to utter words aloud that would cause me to think and deal with it or myself.

But recently I was faced with three persons that “outed” me.   One was struggling to hold on in faith when modern medicine said “no way.”  Another because of past mistakes was wondering how God could ever love her.   Finally, the third who had lost the roof over her head due to medical and legal difficulties.  Each supposing lack in their faith because they were scared, they were hurt, and they were ashamed of the way they felt.

Normally, I would have an easy answer for their queries of “I don’t understand how you do it?” But God challenged me to pull the last bit from under the rug.   It didn’t sound like such a testimony to me, but from each of the “three” I received either a “why didn’t you tell me” or “gee, you hid that well.”  Finally I was convicted by “I really needed to hear that….I am normal”.

My secret you ask?   It was simply the answer “ME TOO”.

Most of you already know that it has been close to 5 years now since my son simultaneously went deaf and into final stage renal failure.  I have not been slack to share most of the experience… highs and lows.  What I failed to share… and even now I hesitate to say it…..the day I got mad with God.

You see, after years of countless surgeries, repeated illness and thrice weekly dialysis treatments, a suitable donor match had been found.  We immediately went into preparation mode to get the house ready for infection control, not spending a spare dime since I would be out of work for weeks, and tip toeing around family and friends because we wanted to keep the surprise quiet until after the procedure. We cancelled all travel, all vacations and even my participation in what could have been a career changing convention concert.

And then “it” happened!  I was in devotions one morning and I clearly heard God say to me “Forget the Back-up Plan…”   I didn’t have a clue what that meant at the time, but I knew it meant to trust Him.   In my mind’s eyes I immediately applied that thought to my finances, my job and so on and so on.  Everything except what would come next.

Just a few days before we were supposed to check into the hospital, I get a cold emotionless call from a third party nurse.   She gave no explanation. She would not answer any of my questions.   She offered no empathy or sympathy. She simply said a very technical version of “No Go. “

I don’t remember any reports of earthquakes that day.  But I felt it.   I didn’t know how I was going to tell my son, who was so excited about finally being free from the pain and isolation of dialysis.   I was furious. Was God playing with me like a cat with a string?   Imagine if you will, me going off by myself because I didn’t want any people to know though I knew in my spiritual mind God had a plan…..my heart and my head was all jacked up.  I wanted to know what I had done wrong.  I wanted to know what I needed to do better

As if God had not seen me, I reminded Him of all the nights I stood by my son’s bedroom door praying and listening for his breath making sure it was still there.   I reminded Him, how we believed through all the extreme body pain when the high dose narcotics wouldn’t do.   I reminded Him, how we stayed faithful even when were too tired to function.   I even bargain that even if my prayers were no good, then surely somebody amongst all the folks that prayed for our family there had to be one….even just one… whose faith was greater.

My screams were met with simply “Forget the Back-up Plan.”

It became clear that God was telling me to trust Him even when I could not trace Him. We found out later than the donor had a sudden condition that disqualified him.  If we had received that kidney, it would have failed us quickly.    We would have been in a bigger mess than what we started with.  Just like His Word says in Jeremiah 29, He has a plan that has a good and certain end.  For our Good and not to harm us.

As I told my three friends, it didn’t happen overnight.  Months have passed now and I still jump a little when the phone rings at night.   I will be honest and let you know that this piece took days to write because tears started to flow amidst a whole lot of “God I am sorry. “

I reveal all these things to simply let you know that whatever you are going through, You ARE normal.  Being faithful and believing is not always easy, but so very worth it.    Yes, Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord Always, “  and then goes on to say “Again I say rejoice. “  I surmise that if we have to be told and then reminded to rejoice then apparently it “aint” always easy.

Believe it or not, He knows you hurt.  He is not a God so far out that He is not touched with our personal pains (Hebrews 4:15).  He is okay with you being honest about it.  He will not strike you down for asking questions.

Just remember that it is faith that moves mountains… not tears.   Cry but keep pushing!!!!

Does It Still Hurt?

   Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”                      John 20-27 NIV

 Our topic for the day was “God is Not Picking On You…..Trials Vs. Temptations.” It started as a lesson on discerning the difference between trials and temptations and how to rejoice in the trials that God gives you.   However, very quickly, it turned into a discussion of past hurts, disappointments, and especially abuses in childhood.

As I watched several people compare stories and physical scars, instinctively I glanced at a recent one on my arm.  A footprint shaped burn I received thinking I could cook a meal for my family the day after my youngest grandchild took his flight for heaven.

Forgetting I was the one teaching the class,   my eyes began to well up on me, but the Holy Spirit nudged me to look again and then asked, “Does it Still Hurt?”

I was like “Of course Lord, it still hurts”.

“No, Chelle. You really mean that 6 month old scar still hurts?”

“No, Lord, of course the scar doesn’t hurt.”

“Okay then, give me all of it.”

Uggh, I felt it in my spirit and I asked the class and I asked you, the same question the Holy Spirit asked me.    “Does it still hurt?”

In John Chapter 20:25, Thomas makes a bold statement, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.  This was even after Jesus had appeared to several of his fellow disciples during the 8 days since the crucifixion proclaiming that everything Jesus has said would happen had come.

Jesus had forewarned that He would take the sins and sickness of His people to the cross.  That He would take on the pains of abuse, disappointment and despair.  That He would whip these things to naught and deliver them and death to the gates hell, while snatching the keys from satan so that nothing the devil had could really win over us.  And as evidence of His work, he broke the grave wide open and showed that freedom from all manner of trial and temptation could walk the earth.

However, how many of us now need to take on the title of “doubting” that history has given Brother Thomas? How many of us have received the written, heard, and Rhema Word of God and been flooded with the freeing testimonies of how others have seen the Lord move in their lives, yet still keep looking down at our scars declaring  disbelief until we receive a full manifestation with our own eyes.

Jesus is still reaching out to you saying, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”…

He wants you to know, that though yes there is a scar on your body and your heart that evokes a memory that will move you…….and yes, He understands because He was touched with every trial and temptation you face….., it is paramount that you understand that He bears scars on His hands, feet, and side that are witness that He took it all for you.   He doesn’t want you to carry the burden any longer. He does not want you to smell like smoke though you have been singed by  the fires of life.

When Jesus, invited Thomas to “Thrust his fingers into His side”, Jesus was still bearing the evidence of His wounds (aka your wounds), yet they could not have possibly hurt to the touch if he would allow Thomas to do so.

In essence, Jesus was reaffirming that it was possible to be bruised, beaten, broken and horribly scarred, yet be so healed in the promises of God that the discolorations and disfiguration become “smoothed out proof” that God’s Living Word is still living.

Jesus wants you to receive that gift from Him.   He took it.  He bears the scars.  He gives you the freedom from what life delivered.   Though you bear evidence of it, He does too.   And since His wounds healed, so did yours.  That moment when we trust in Him enough to give the pain to Him, even when we can still see and feel the scar, He will take that anomaly on your heart and make it a tattoo of your testimony instead.  He will make you a walking, talking, scar bearing evidence that He is very much alive!!!!