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God waits for you to communicate with him. He has made himself available to you at all times. -Wesley L. Duewel

It flourished once in the Garden, the flawless connection between people and their Maker. Man and woman. Human and creature. When God strolled in a paradise shaped by His hand and invited the two to meet with Him in the cool of the evening.

Relationship.

Loved perfectly day after day, the man and woman communed with God. They knew Him intimately, rejoicing at the sound of His voice.

This first couple was designed to love unconditionally. Serving and giving without reservation or selfish inclination. Chosen for one another, the couple delighted in life. The feel of heart clasped to heart. The sweet taste of honey sliding down the back of the throat. The sound of Heaven’s footstep touching earth.

Beasts of all shapes and sizes roamed the Paradise, unafraid. Powerful lions brushed affectionately against the legs of man while birds lit on trees to sing over the two lovers.

But, sin.

That first betrayal of human soul casting off eternal hope for a singular moment of grainy sweetness on tongue shattered pure, beautiful relationship. Stripped the man and woman of innocence. Produced a chasm between the Creator and his earthly children. Corrupted a holy, God-ordained marriage with self. Self-interest. Self-seeking. Self-gratification. And, introduced death and difficulty into the lives of untold generations.

One can almost hear the mutual intake of breath as the heavenly host watch Eve’s teeth puncture the tender flesh of the fruit; its wetness dripping sticky sweet on her chin. Perhaps the heavenly messengers moan aloud as Adam, too, lifts the Forbidden to his mouth. Its scent, coupled with the invitation of his wife’s eye, dare him to indulge.

Just. One. Bite.

Then, God.

There was no surprise in the insurrection. No thwarted plan. With a nod, the Godhead agrees. The first Adam will not be the last and Holy blood will one day make man innocent again. Relationship will be restored.

Because, Jesus.

His sandaled feet strolled in another Garden nearly 2,000 years ago. For three years, he’d called men and women to Him. Healing the sick. The desperate. The dying. Freeing those bound by chains of discouragement. Desperation. Despondence.  And, now? He knelt in prayer before being lifted high on the tree–the final, complete sacrifice of innocence  that man and woman might again exist in relationship with the Maker.

Unbroken. Eternal. Abiding.

Before the beginning He chose relationship with us. We do not follow a list of do’s and don’t that lead us to heaven. No jot nor tittle of prescribed religion offers sanctification or eternal life. It is only in relationship with Jesus that men and women discover the beauty of Paradise promised.

Someday, heaven.

Blessings,

Tammy

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

A Holy Relationship Resource for You

In the business of living out our roles as women, it can be challenging to make space for the most important relationship of all–our Father-daughter relationship. Friends, I’m not always the most successful at prioritizing Jesus in my life, but I long to walk alongside Him in this life and on the other side of heaven.

Click here for fatherdaughterprintable for a graphic of 5 Ways to Make Your (Heavenly) Father-daughter Relationship a Priority.  Post it on your bathroom mirror, tuck it in a diaper bag, or clip it to your car’s visor. Read it when you need a bit of encouragement to spend time with Jesus.

fatherdaughtergraphic

Also linking up at Imparting Grace (here).

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my delivere.png

A mass of sandstone loomed above the rush of cold mountain water as my son, limber with youth and filled with the daring outlook of boy-conquers-world, scrambled up one slippery side. White-knuckled, he groped his way along water-slicked edges and scaled the massive river rock. Pounding his chest with boyhood bravado, a whoop of jubilation burst from pubescent lungs.

From boulders to jutting cliffs and larger-than-life mountains, standing stones protrude in adult lives, as well. Deep. Entrenched. Impassable.

The Great Unmovable varies, but we recognize it. For some it takes the shape of anxiety. Infertility. Abandonment. Or, perhaps, cancer. Death. Depression.

My Great Unmovable? Fear.

Fear of missing the mark in motherhood. In loving my husband. Fear of failing to see the needs of family and friends. Fear of being less than capable of staving off danger, hardship, or self-sabotage in the lives of dear ones.

This Great Unmovable has loomed large for several years as I’ve navigated life’s twists and turns. Sometimes it shrinks in the distance and blends into the shadow of memory while there are moments–even weeks and months–when it rises like an ill-conceived monolith. Masking victory. Concealing hope. Obscuring joy.

Yet in that weakness, I discover strength. Not a strength born of grit or                                self-determination, but a soul-fortitude birthed in the One who is faithful and true. Only when clinging to the unchanging Rock and the Cornerstone of eternal confidence am I able to loose my grip on the Great Unmovable. Because of the matchless Father, I am lifted high, my feet planted firmly on the top of the great unmovable–a conqueror in Christ.

And, I beat my chest in celebration as a shout erupts from inside out. I know, Friend, that every rise, rampart, or range dissolves at the command of the Immutable. When I stand here? I capture a glimpse. An impression. The endless promise.

Jesus. 

There may be a few more ridges to climb, but by His grace we’ll scale each one only to discover so much more than we ever imagined.

Question for Reflection–What Great Unmovable looms large in your life? He is able to overcome, Friend.

Verse of Encouragement–Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. (Psalm 71:3)

Blessings,                                                                                                                                        Tammy

 

Woman to Woman Ministries

 


I know that you can do all things- no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

It’s been a year of quiet and I’m reminded of the calm that hovers over the earth after the winds of a mid-summer hurricane. I heave a deep spirit-sigh, breathing out stored up soul poison; releasing fear and bitterness. God-directed anger and doubt. I inhale God’s truth scribed by man, but formed by the mind of I Am.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

My heart responds in rhythmic worship. Thank you, Lord. I believe.

Yet, a few years ago the howling winds sent me reeling. Loosing me in dark storms of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness. I questioned the Maker. Why, how, and when cluttered my heart and left little room for praise.

One evening, overwhelmed by the struggle, I knelt in prayer and begged God for the slightest hope of restoration. In that moment, His presence grew thick around me like a blanket just pulled from the warmth of a dryer. Comforted, my weeping slowed and then stopped.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

The words weren’t audible, but my spirit understood. He saw me.

In that moment, my faith was forever altered. I surrendered the pain. Surrendered the broken bits of my heart. Surrendered those I most loved into His care. Surrendered the woman I’d been for the one He was re-shaping to more clearly reflect His redemption, restoration, and reformation.

Opening arms wide to receive the fullness of grace, I cried out for more and waited expectantly. There were no sudden changes in the converging of difficult circumstances, great revelations of knowledge, or immediate answers to pray. But, God was working in the midst all along.

Through the challenge of it all, I thought often of Job–a man whose suffering is renowned. Everything Job ever esteemed or cared about was ripped from his life. Beloved children. Prosperity. Health. Until finally, Job sits in a pile of ashes, scraping boils from his flesh with sharp-edged pottery as his wife mocks his faith.

Job’s circumstances aren’t mine, but I do understand what it is to lose hope. To live with heartache and sadness. To question Him.

Why? When? How?

In the midst of those recent, painful years, I looked to Job for encouragement. While my faith danced on the edge of a thread, the man called ‘blameless’ turned from his overwhelming reality to humble submission and his relationship with the Father stretched larger than Job’s restored fortune.

Then Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:1)

You, too, may be living Job moments. If so, I’m truly sorry for your hurt and struggle, Friend. My own experience has taught me that God is in the business of restoration.

Won’t you surrender your brokenness to Him today?

You may not know why. 

When may seem too long.

How may be unexpected.

But, our Who is greater than all of it and He is faithful to His children, true to His promises, and with you from beginning to end.

 

Spiritual Strategy to Help Navigate Through Job Moments

  1. Stop asking ‘why’, ‘when’, and ‘how’. You and I will likely never know the answers this side of heaven. This fallen world lends itself to heartache, but God is actively restoring now and will one day restore all.
  2. Turn to God when the enemy slings his fiery arrows your direction. Our emotions, doubts, and pain have a way of narrowing our perception and threatening that which we know to be true. Copy favorite Bible verses on notecards and hang them around your house where you’ll see them frequently (i.e. bathroom mirrors, refrigerator, etc.)
  3. Pray with expectation. Keep a journal of prayer requests and mark off those God has answered. This practice will remind us of His faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shame has no place in lives covered by His grace.

The girl’s comment penetrated deep. My eyes darted to and fro as I shoved my large, 1980’s glasses up the bridge of my nose. Brushing a loose strand of my Dorothy Hamill wedge into place, I turned away from the knowing looks of the other children and heat burned the tips of my ears.

Your parents had to get married.

Lifting unsteady fingers, I gnawed at an already uneven nail and dipped my head in the presence of the other children. The lunch line seemed dauntingly long as the other little girl snorted and turned back to her tittering group of friends.

I wore embarrassment and shame as much as I did the pair of yellow gaberdine slacks with grass-stained knees and turtleneck shirt the rest of the day. How did people know I was the unplanned result of teenaged impulse? 

Later, mother assured me, “You were never a mistake.” Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what  others thought. I imagined parents of my childhood friends murmuring…judging…accusing. Schoolmates poking fun at the child who forced a shotgun wedding.

I felt responsible. Embarrassed. Almost apologetic. Why? Because I existed. I breathed air that might have belonged to another, worthier person. The heaviness of guilt settled large and unmoving–a burden too heavy for an unequipped child.

I carried the unnecessary weight of shame for years, keeping it hidden as I moved into young adulthood where I hid behind laughter and educational attainment. Carefully put together outfits and a confident stride.

Still, shame resided in the hidden corners of my heart. Mocking. Accusing. Indicting.

You’re still just a girl with a broken past. If only they knew the truth about you; who you really are.

Scripture tells of a woman who knew the pain of shame. For twelve long years she’d lived as a social outcast, desperately seeking a cure from the hemorrhaging that tore up her insides as effectively as it did her reputation. Women were considered unclean when they bled and she couldn’t help cringing at the whispered comments and dismissive glances.

This woman must be a terrible sinner for God to have cursed her this way. It’s her fault. Women like her are worth less than nothing.

But, she’d heard of the man they called Jesus. His miracles. His compassion. His love. Could he possibly set her free from the burden of her shame? They said he’d be returning by boat to Galilee today. Gathering her things, the woman hurried out the door before she changed her mind.

Not far from home, she noticed a crowd of men, women, and children jostling one another in their attempts to get closer to the man near the front, the one they called Rabbi. Slipping into the fray, she stretched out a shaking hand–certain that just touching the Nazarene would make her whole again.

It was a mere whisper of a touch; the fabric of his cloak barely skimming the tips of her fingers, but Jesus stopped short. “Who touched me?” he questioned. For so long she’d tried to go unnoticed. To hide behind her timidity. This moment, though, required more.

Kneeling at his feet, she confessed to touching him. To trusting him for healing. To the pain she’d suffered and the hope she now had. Her shame was gone. Because of him it had been eradicated. Eternally terminated.

Perhaps you, too, struggle with the burden of shame. Some may tuck it carefully behind their introversion or extroversion while others hide behind parenting accomplishments and bumper stickers proclaiming their child a straight-A student. More than a few of us hide behind happy, shiny Facebook posts, successful careers, or the right house in the right neighborhood.

But, Friend, God’s daughters can come out of hiding and step into his presence. We can claim the promises of scripture, knowing that his death and resurrection have cleansed us. Freed us. Healed us.

[Tweet “Shame has no place in lives covered by his grace.#powerofgrace#freedominChrist”].

 

Blessings,                                                                                                                                          Tammy

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Sharing hope when people need it most

Like many of you, I’ve been captured by the horror of Valentine’s Day, 2018. Normally associated with candy hearts and sentimental cards, this day became a sickening host to the worst kind of inhumanity and suffering.

I’ve watched the news casts and read columns entrenched in anger and “it’s your fault” rhetoric and I wonder, when will the politicians stop lashing out at one another? Blame shifting. Politicizing tragedy with messages about gun control. When will the media stop frightening people with oversimplified views of those who struggle with mental health? Pointing fingers. Accusing one agency or another.

Because the fact remains that this morning well over a dozen beds lay empty and mothers and fathers weep at the graveside of a child gone too soon. The answer to these tragedies goes far beyond laws about weaponry or pat answers for people who live with depression. We can banter, argue and get nowhere. Or, we Christians can step into our calling and love others well, proclaim Hope, and set prisoners free.

We know the truth.

Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world. Ephesians 6:12 (NIRV)

We live in enemy territory and tragedies like these are reality because people are captive to his propaganda. They believe the lies.

Nobody loves you. You are nothing. There is no hope. 

Desperate, they embrace the unimaginable and transfer their hatred of self onto the innocent around them. Shattering lives. Destroying families. Stealing hope.

We know the truth.

Jesus came to set people free. To release men, women, boys and girls from the tyranny of self that He might deliver them to a place of soul-fulfillment. Lavishing love. Healing heart-wounds. Restoring joy.

You are loved. You are treasured. I Am hope.

We know the truth and in a world desperate for something more, Friend, you and I must live our faith out loud. The times of passively sitting in a church pew without taking action are past. If you and I profess Christ, aren’t we bound to share His love? To be a friend to the lonely? To uphold the cause of the weak? To come alongside the hurting and broken to offer the eternal answer to life’s challenges and concerns?

Jesus is the answer to the needs of broken boys. He is the cure for a shattered society calling out for justice. And, Friend, we are the ones He has called because we know the truth.

 

Then you will know the truth. And the truth will set you free. John 8:32

 

Lord, help us to bravely step into our calling that we might love and live as if we believe the truth. Lead us into the lives of the broken and needy, Jesus, and transform their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Blessings,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

It waits in the shadow of thoughts; sitting real and large on my chest like a rock pressing sharp edges into earth’s soft soil. Settling into tender places until the pressure builds and the corners of my heart fracture enough to allow tears to seep through and thin shocks of electricity shoot down my arms into the tips of each finger–seeking release.

I’ve been managing anxiety well for years, but its risen from dormancy the last several weeks. I’m not terribly surprised. For a short time, my husband was hospitalized. A colleague threatened suicide. A dear one is battling against the stronghold of depression. And the only evidence now of a long-time canine companion is a small pink collar and unused dog dish.

Unwelcome, apprehension greets me in the morning and whispers in my ear as I lay my head on the pillow at night.

You should have done something for her today. Why didn’t you call him? What if he doesn’t know how important he is to you? To God? 

I gather the thoughts and then release them in prayers.


This sort of battle resides in the mind, but is as real as any visible enemy. For some, its roots may have sprung from a biological bent toward mental illness. A lack of feel-good chemical production. Others may have suffered trauma or loss. Perhaps a loss so overwhelming that is seems to grow uncontrolled and ever-larger–like a nightmarish beanstalk in a child’s fairy tale.

Friend, when we feel impossibly small as we hack away at anxiety–burdened by the hard of circumstance or overwhelmed by worry, remember that Christ conquered every power. Every principality. Every plot to separate us from Him. In His name we can stand against the lies of the enemy, denying satan the right to shift worship from Christ to concern.

Pray against worry. Pronounce Christ’s truth over yourself. And, cling to His promises.

Blessings,  

Tammy

Action Steps to Help When You are Anxious

  • P-When assaulted by an anxious thought, immediately pray against it. Renounce it as powerless in the name of Christ. (John 14:13)
  • RRemind yourself of God’s promises. Memorize scriptures you can pray back to Him when you’re struggling. (James 4:8)
  • AAsk others to pray with and for you.  (James 5:16)
  • I-Develop intentional habits to help ward off anxiety.  These might include daily Bible reading and meditation, regular exercise, and eating well. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • S-If anxiety becomes part of your day-to-day struggle, seek help from a counselor or doctor. (Proverbs 12:15)
  • E-Press into God, enduring with patience and hope for He will bless you. (James 1:12)

HearItSundayInspireMeMondayDreamTogether-Linkup

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A low hiss of frustration might have escaped Martha’s lips as she glanced across the room, taking in her sister’s almost worshipful appearance as she leaned in to hear each of the Rabbi’s words.

Didn’t Mary realize there was work to be done? Dough to be shaped. Place settings arranged. Water to be drawn. Yet, Mary sat. It was Martha who rushed about preparing a meal for Jesus and the disciples who had traveled with him from Jerusalem. It was Martha who filled mugs as quickly as they were emptied. Martha who met the needs of the each guest.

Her flushed cheeks and quick movements became more pronounced as Mary lingered ever longer at Jesus’ feet.

Hospitable and servant-minded, Martha’s penchant for detail overcame the desire to give of her time. Share from the heart. Overwhelmed by the details of presentation and preparation, Martha reverted to accusation.

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40)

Christ’s words gently rebuked.

Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41)

Turning kind, penetrating eyes her direction she knew he recognized the selfishness of her request. Realized her motive. Understood and still loved.

She, too, loved the Lord but had forgotten, or not yet learned, that Christ prefers worship to works. Martha’s personalized list of do’s and don’ts, designed to prove her worth or express her commitment paled in comparison to the simple act of resting in the company of Christ. Soaking in the words of the Bread of Life rather than fretting over one task and then another in an effort to serve the Imperishable the perishable.

One thing is necessary, friend. All of our fretting, worrying and doing fail to lead us closer to Christ. Instead, our fulfillment comes at His feet in moments of worshipful stillness when our hearts are bent toward the God who requires no more than us.

May we have the wisdom to set aside the temporary for the eternal each day and discover Jesus afresh as we absorb the Living Word.

 

Blessings,

Tammy

 

Also sharing at: Blessed but Stressed, God Sized Dreams

 

 

He has empowered us to release that which binds us.One thing. That was all that stood between the young man and his goal–eternal life. He sensed it. He knew there was more than earth and sky, heart and flesh, sorrow and pleasure. From childhood, he’d recited the Law and held to the traditions of his people.

But, rote prayers and methodical religiosity left him as empty as a cistern in a time of drought and the man wondered if he’d ever discover a life-giving well that might sate his spiritual thirst for something more than dry tradition and impossible standards. He’d worked earnestly since childhood—striving to be good enough. No lying. No cheating. No murder.

 Still…the ache for a taste of forever. For unmarred perfection. For heart satisfaction.

And something, or perhaps Someone, pricked at his soul. Ask. Seek. Knock.

The world, though, had been a place of solace despite the elusive inner ache and the man reminded himself of his good fortune. Didn’t he own fine homes? Possess old money? Demand the sort of respect and deference afforded a man of power and influence?

How disappointing to hear the Rabbi’s words, “One thing you lack.”

Glancing from Jesus to his disciples, the young man’s mouth might have been shaped in an “o” of surprise. How can I lack for anything? I hold devoutly to the commands of the Torah . Servants bend their will to mine and I have enough riches for the rest of my days.

Why must the Teacher make such a request?  “Give all your wealth to the poor and follow me.

But, the man “was holding on tight to many things and wasn’t about to let go”. Crestfallen, he turned away from Jesus, unwilling to give the one thing Jesus wanted. Himself. His heart, mind, and soul. Not just pennies in the offering plate or a few self-righteously lived moments marked off on a mental score board. Not a token sacrifice of time spent reading scripture or a prayer recited in a desperate moment.

Jesus asked the man to loosen his grip on that which kept them from knowing one another, devotion to something else. Devotion to wealth. Position. Comfort. Earthly security.

Though it grieved the young ruler, he held fast and chose the comfort of now in favor of the promise of a beautiful, forever-love. The man was unwillingly to exchange the vanishing riches of earth for the unmatchable mercy and grace of One who would momentarily die for his sins.

How many of us are like the rich young ruler—clutching that one thing? Holding it fast as if our life depends upon it?

We may have even professed our faith, but might be missing out on fully living in relationship with Christ as we grip that one thing to our hearts. Loving it. Elevating it to a place of prominence. Not willing to entrust it to Him.

Perhaps some us struggle with attachment to possessions, but there are hundreds of little gods that might thrust themselves into our relationship with Christ…a woman-made relationship barrier.

Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Discontentment.

Worry. Fear. A difficult past.

Is that one thing in your life or mine leaving our hearts parched? Needing to be washed afresh with Living Water?

Oh, dear one, may He gently reveal any lack in our lives and empower us to release whatever binds us to the earthly that we might turn our hearts fully toward heaven’s  Promise.

Blessings,       

Tammy

 

Scripture for Reflection

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  (Mark 10:17-31 ESV)

 

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Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few- therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Whether traversing the streets or worshipping in the synagogue; commanding demons to depart or speaking words of healing over broken lives, He created scandal. At His name, creatures from the pit shuddered in terror while men captured by jealousy and the self-satisfying rites of religion plotted murder.

Friend to the desperate and downtrodden, rescuer of the helpless and abandoned, and miracle-worker in the lives of those considered less than worthy. The untouchables. The unregenerate. The unrighteous. Jesus and scandal were one and the same. Continue Reading »

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