He Sends the Broken to Help the Broken

I once thought faith was as simple as taking an oath – agreeing to believe in something with my mind.  For those of you who have read my book, you know that I was taught a hard lesson about faith.  With absolutely everything stacked up against me, the Lord taught me how to completely surrender to his will.  When that happens, even hope is changed – diverted into a desire to just belong to Him in a startling realization that HE is all that is, and I am nothing outside of Him.

Faith has a certain freedom to it – throwing my hands up and saying “It’s not up to me… I can’t do anything without you Lord.”  Faith also has a battle to it – a pattern that I’ve learned to recognize.  Every single time the Lord revealed something great to me, I had to see the opposite of that thing I believed in, before it would manifest.  And there we have a little taste of spiritual warfare.  For we walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7). I feel like I’ve been in that battle stage for several months now on behalf of a very special person in my life.

Yesterday God opened my eyes to see the story of another – a story of broken dreams, extreme hardship and the overcoming blood of Jesus Christ.  And in prayer, I realized that it was no coincidence this person was brought into our lives.  Sometimes when your heart reaches out to help someone, the Lord reveals that he has sent them to help you.

When we see someone who’s hit rock bottom in their lives, we don’t say, “I want to be like that guy.”  For me personally, I never understood the unfairness of life – some get their dreams handed to them on a silver platter, while others work so hard towards a goal only to run into a brick wall that shatters them into thousands of pieces.  In my attempt to make sense of a just God, I assumed that karma played a role somehow in our different journeys.

To say that the Lord has adjusted my thinking is to wildly understate the transformation of my mind.  I never knew how valuable the broken ones are.  Today, they are beyond valuable to me.  I know what’s inside of them.  I know their compassion and their hearts.  I know they are guided by the Almighty – qualified and ordained for assignments that few can take on.

I realize this is a very vague post and I’m sorry for that.  Details just aren’t on my heart – but the message is.  And that message is simple.  Seek the Lord for understanding in all things that he gives and takes away (including people).  And when we have a problem that we lay down at the alter of our Heavenly Father – wait upon the Lord, open your hearts to his voice and trust that nothing is outside of his purpose.  It may seem like nothing his happening. It may even seem like all hope is lost.  But that’s never the truth.  Sometimes the very things and the very ones the Lord has sent to you, have been standing in place, waiting for your eyes to be opened.

Tonight I’m thankful for the humble… the meek and the lowly.. I’m thankful for my precious brothers and sisters who have been given the gift – “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” – and I’m thankful that the Lord has brought so many of these beautiful souls into our lives to fellowship with us and bless us with their stories of redemption through the blood of Christ Jesus.  He truly does use the broken.. <3

Review of PRICELESS – New Movie with For King and Country

This is one of the best faith based movies I’ve seen, and I highly recommend this film for a number of reasons.  For starters, PRICELESS doesn’t seek to deliver opinionated doctrine – there are no debates in the word of God delivered to viewers.  This film represents real struggles that many of us face with our faith.  And these struggles are real-world trials that believers of Jesus walk through each day, living inside of a broken world.

The plot (based on a true story, as noted in the introduction), joins together characters who are all facing great tragedy and loss.  A young man who recently lost his wife, followed by having his daughter taken from him, is battling to find himself in a world that doesn’t seem to make sense to him anymore.  He crosses paths with two young women who have been ripped away from their father’s hands, to be delivered into the wolf’s den.  The older sister believes in God and knows He is with her always.  Yet, her faith doesn’t protect her from physical trials – from traveling through the fire, so to speak.   When the troubled young man hears an inner voice inside of him, he’s faced with a life changing decision to walk by faith not by sight.  But he’s not alone in his pursuit as another troubled character (a man who lost his daughter), enters the scene to provide him guidance and wisdom along the way.

I’m not going to spoil the movie for anyone reading this.  I just want to say this… Lives are lost and deep scars were created throughout the stories of these characters.  This is not a fairy-tale journey of finding Heaven on Earth for anyone involved.  Like the lives of the apostles and the disciples, these souls all walked through great tribulation.  The happy ending is revealed in God’s glory – HIS perfect plan to reveal purpose even in our pain.

The actors were phenomenal.  PRICELESS is not a budget film and the message was well received.  I highly recommend this movie to anyone and everyone as a beautiful demonstration of how our Almighty Creator has his hand in everything – the good and the bad times that we experience throughout life.  Like a masterful puzzle that our Lord constructs with great meaning, we are told that we will suffer many afflictions in this life, but that ALL THINGS WORK FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.

PRICELESS the movie is available on DVD and also through most digital providers, such as Apple Itunes and Amazon.  I’d love to read your comments and hear your feedback after you watch it.

http://pricelessthemovie.com/

 

Her Son is in Bondage of Addiction – Maritza’s Story

Living a secret life is the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to do. Although, I walk with a skip in my step, have huge smile on my face and a laugh that can be heard from 3 buildings away I more often than none go to sleep in tears. Addiction has engulfed my family’s lives for years. I share this because
Addiction Doesn’t Take A Holiday

Maritza’s Handsome Son

Turned on the television lately? Spent any time on social media? If you have, then you’ve been inundated with scenes of warm family gatherings, friends gathering for celebrations, co-workers sharing laughter and joy at the office party. But amidst all the glitter, laughter, and joy there are those of us who are struggling. For me, the holidays are more a time of fear and anxiety rather than joy and happiness. And although I coach the contrary, my heart as a mom does it’s own thing!!!!

Sometimes I isolate myself and hunker down in hope that I survive the holidays. Still I’ll hide behind a smile or a laugh as I join in the holiday festivities with others. Sadly, my friends and family haven’t the slightest idea of the fear, anxiety and loneliness that fills my day.  Addiction knows no holiday. If you recognize these signs in your clients, your loved ones, or even in yourself, know that you are not alone. I find myself helpless ,hopeless, knowing in my heart that my Only Son, 1/3 of my heart, 1/3 of my soul is in constant agony ,always deep in prayer that God heal him. Knowing that God HAS healed him and speaking these words of AFFIRMATION.

I drove to Houston yesterday, my heart filled with LOVE and expectation that he would call me , that he would be where he said he would be and that I would hold him tight and reassure him that Mom was there, as i always am!! That wasn’t the case, he wasn’t there, I didn’t receive the call. Addiction is real, it’s cruel, it’s ugly, it’s stripping and it causes the worst f****** PAIN EVER!!! I HATE IT SO MUCH!!!! I want my baby boy back!!!! I’m so angry, and so damn sad!!!! I share this because I need you to know that I am real and that if you too suffer this, you are not alone!!!!! Hang in there. I know how you feel, how hard it is but through this storm we will eventually see the beautiful sunlight!!!! Xoxoxo to all of you!!!    – Maritza

 

My Thoughts.. Hope in the Holiday Season

When I read the confession of this mother, Maritza, I felt simply heartbroken for her.  Realizing that so many, (myself included) feel sadness and anxiety, even more throughout the holidays than any other time of the year because this season is meant to be a time of family gatherings and making beautiful memories.  The beautiful pictures of families in celebration that we see in social media and in Christmas cards that fill our mailboxes can be depressing through the process of comparison.  I find myself asking the Lord, “Why are we broken, when everyone else is all put together?  Why are we suffering, when everyone else is happy?”  And then I turn to the stories of the bible for clarity of that comparison – wondering if this is how Joseph felt when he looked around at all of the beautiful families, reflecting on how his own brothers sold him into slavery.  I wonder if this is how Sarah felt, watching all of the mothers play with their children as she waited nearly a century for the chance to have a son of her own.  Perhaps this is how Abraham felt as he traveled with Isaac to lay down that beloved son that he’d waited so long to hold, as a sacrifice for the Lord.  Did Abraham wonder, “Why do I have to lay down my son, when all the people around me are enjoying fatherhood?”  Pain, loss, waiting and uncertainty seem to be a common theme throughout the stories of the prophets, the chosen ones, the apostles and even our Lord Jesus who was to be crucified in a season of celebration (the passover) – and the demonstration of anxiety as he cried out to our Heavenly Father, Saying, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

Like this mother, who poured her heart out in weakness about the pain she feels through this season of celebration, so many of us feel heartbroken over the holidays, reflecting on the shattered areas of our lives – our loved ones who are caught in seasons of bondage, despair and uncertainty.

Maritz’a story is ultimately God’s story.  And, I find peace in knowing that God uses the broken.  I find clarity in understanding that the Lord assures us that we will walk through many afflictions, trials and times of tribulation – but he says he will deliver us from them all.  Just like Abraham, who laid his son down as a sacrifice before the Lord, I pray that this mother will soon find God’s provision in her pain – that in trusting Him and laying her anxiety and heartbreak down at the cross of Jesus, she will soon see the beauty of his perfect plan.

My prayers are with all of you who are hurting this holiday season.  You are not alone and the Lord is with us, even in this, painting beauty in an everlasting tomorrow that we can’t yet even comprehend.

Love you all…

Jodi

What do your kids say Heaven is? Unraveling the Lies

My children have walked through extraordinary circumstances.  They’ve had the opportunity to see God’s hand working in our lives.  They’ve seen miracles and they’ve seen destruction.  And while it may not all make sense to them, they do know that HE’s REAL.

Today, while in discussion with my son as we drove home from the post office, he made a shocking confession to me.  “I don’t know what to believe about heaven and hell,” he told me.  “And, why do I want to go there – to a place where I’ll sit on a cloud and play a harp?  It sounds like going to Grandma’s house – a place where I have to be in perfect behavior all the time and don’t get to have any fun.”

Sadly, I can relate to his question in ways I may not have even realized.  I too spent most of my life visualizing Heaven as a boring place, where only the best behaved people belong.  If I make it there, will I even like it there?  Subconsciously, the questions I never asked were secretly shameful.  I’m supposed to want to go there, and try to be sinful and perfect in order to get in.  But once in, my days of exploration and excitement are over.

Are we programmed to believe a lie?

I believe the answer is yes.  Searching my memory as far back as it will go,  the idea of heaven was given to me perhaps first, by cartoons.  I remember watching the death of a character result in floating into the sky, then the character would be pictured in a white robe, sitting on a cloud strumming at a harp.  Is this what Heaven will be like?  Not a chance.

I’ve learned in my walk with Jesus and in searching God’s word for truth, that every good gift comes down from God.  That means the rush of adrenaline that I adored in riding roller coasters as a kid was God’s gift to me.  That means that the thrill of young love, when I first met Josh was a gift from God.  The excitement of accomplishing a goal, was from him.  My love for sports cars, good food and even the thrill of danger is all part of the “wonderfully and fearfully made” description of the being he’s created me to be.

In understanding that God made everything – this Earth and all of creation beyond what we can see in our temporary home – throughout the universe and dominions that we can’t even yet fathom with our simple, and limited carnal minds, how did we come up with the idea that God’s idea of “paradise” is a lame picture of a cartoon character sitting on a cloud strumming a harp?  Well I can guess where this myth came from, but why do we believe such a silly thing?

My kid loves sports.  He loves winning.  He loves challenge and he loves praise.  Like most kids, I guess, he loves the thrill of what’s next – yet he worries deep inside of his secret thoughts that his ultimate destination (Heaven), will somehow be a place of loss – a place where all of the things he loves, will be missing.

I don’t have the answers on what I can’t yet see, but I believe that “paradise” is full of all the things we love here and so much more!  I believe the good things of this life are only a little taste of the senses we will one day explore in our eternal bodies that we will one day receive.  Oh and when we’re on Earth reigning with Jesus for 1,000 years, I can only imagine what that life will look like when the removal of suffering, pain, oppression, death, sickness, and everything else that weighs our hearts down in despair is removed completely.

Maybe instead of regurgitating scripture and talking to my kids about being “good or bad”, (don’t get me started on those myths), I can learn to explore God with my children in new ways and lead them in new truths – tearing down the lies and myths that the prince of the world has programmed into our thoughts, hindering our ability to seek the kingdom with excitement, joy and anticipation of the promises the Lord will one day reveal.  Paradise…..  oh, it’s gonna be so much greater than we can even imagine.

I’m sharing this little bit of my day from one parent to the next.  Ask your kids the “big picture” questions.  You might be amazed with the opportunities that surface – allowing you both to explore God in new ways, tearing down all of the lies that a broken world programs into our thoughts.

Raising Teenagers is Heartbreaking at Times

I am utterly heartbroken tonight in the aftermath of a long-lasting argument with my sixteen year old son.  The problem I’m facing isn’t new, exactly.  For months now I’ve struggled to walk the thin line between letting go and holding on tightly – desiring to let my youngest child grow up, yet terrified that I’ll give him just enough slack to get himself into trouble.

Even talking to myself in my own thoughts, I can’t pin-point precisely why I battle with trusting him to make good decisions.  My reasoning could fill up an entire notepad – he’s just not in a good place right now, and I love him too much to let him slip away.

“I hate you!” It’s not the first time he’s said these words to me.  Perhaps it’s normal for 16-year-olds to throw around such hurtful language.  But tonight, the elaborations were deep – cutting me to my core.

How can someone that I love so much, hate me?  How can this child of mine be blind to all of the ways I show my love to him each and every day?  Does he not see my struggles – the wrinkle forming, health destroying, never-ending battles that I take on each and everyday just to keep a roof over his head and food in his belly?  Does he not know that I’m the one person on this earth that will stand by his side – I will forgive him, defend him, protect him and stand hand-in-hand with him even on his worst day – I’ll love him unconditionally and will never turn my back on him.  Does he not understand that I would literally die for him without even batting an eyelash?

“You’re ruining my life.  You give me no freedom.”  As I rolled those words off of my own tongue tonight while soaking in the bathtub in the midst of my pitiful tears, I saw my own life – ruined by no freedom.  I thought about how I’d love to just jump on an airplane and take a family vacation.  But I can’t because my husband’s disabilities make travel impossible now.  I thought about how I’d like to just wake up one day and stay in bed – skipping out on housework, meals, chores.  But that too isn’t an option for me anymore – I have to get up and dress Josh.  I have to feed him, help him to the bathroom, manage his medicines and watch him closely throughout every minute of every day, (and that’s not even considering the background tasks of mothering 2 children and trying to mustard up enough work to keep our bills paid).  I thought about how I’d love to just go out to eat and enjoy a nice dinner without wheelchairs and urination bottles and all the heavy lifting to help Josh in and out of the car.  What is freedom?  And, why don’t I have it right now?

In the stories of the bible, the Lord is referred to as the shepherd over the sheep.  I heard a sermon awhile back, explaining that a shepherd sometimes has to break the legs of a sheep to keep the sheep from harming themselves – like a lesson to teach the sheep not to wander off the path.  He then places the sheep on his shoulders and carries it until it’s leg is healed.

I didn’t break my son’s leg, obviously, but he certainly believes I’m causing him a great amount of damage in not allowing him to roam around town wherever he pleases to go.  I’m just trying to protect him from something that could hurt him badly.  And while he doesn’t see it like that, it’s the truth – love is why we protect our children from things that could cause them harm.

As I soaked in the tub, I repeated my thoughts out-loud, realizing the amazing connection between my relationship with my son and my relationship with God – my Heavenly Father.  Is my lack of freedom an act of saving me from something that could kill me?  This time that he’s given me has drawn me near to him, casting away the worldly desires that I no longer get to participate in.  But do I see it that way?  Or am I angry and bitter, muttering deep inside my thoughts, “you’re ruining my life.”

This pity party with myself ended abruptly when I focused on my son, realizing that the love I have for him isn’t even comparable to the love God has for me….

My child…  Do you not see that I keep a roof over your head and food in your belly tonight? (Mathew 6:26).  Do you not know that I’m the only one that will stand by your side – I will forgive you, defend you, protect you and stand hand-in-hand with you even on your worst day – I’ll love you unconditionally and will never turn my back on you, (Isaiah 53:5), (I John 4:8), (Deuteronomy 53:6), Do you not understand that I DID DIE FOR YOU, without even batting an eyelash? (Romans 5:8)

In thinking about how our children sometimes don’t appreciate what we do for them…  I wonder if this is how God feels when we lose sight of what he’s done for us……

A New Chapter Begins.. And We Live On..

A new chapter begins.. and we live on in gratitude.  Following the completion and release of our new book, Father Please Let Me Live, (now available on Amazon), I’ve spent some time searching for “what’s next”.  And as a natural, and I believe ordained by God, next step in our journey, it’s time for us to embrace where we are today.

Looking back is painful, yet beautiful too because our journey through the unknown allowed us to find God.  But as Father Please Let Him Live wraps up at the tale end of survival, our walk through the wilderness now continues on.  We have problems and we have great loss.  We live in a world that often makes us feel like we don’t belong.  But that’s not just our story – that’s the story of so many people today.  The difference between us and folks who have perfect health is that we get to wear our brokenness on the outside.  We don’t have to pretend anymore that life is easy and we have everything under control.  You can look at us and know right away that nothing is easy and that we struggle greatly.  But our hope and our wisdom we’ve gained through these tough trials has led us to a new truth – that it’s worth it.

Our testimony continues and so does yours.  We are broken, just like so many of the apostles and prophets written of in the Bible.  We are not from here – but we are sent here by God – not to have a party and try to create heaven on earth, but to learn who HE is.

We invite you take the journey with us and to be part of our mission in finding truth.  Not only do we hope to minister to others, but we look forward to you ministering to us.  We want to help you by sharing our journey but we need your help to – and we ask you to share your journey with us.

Our story is far from over.  May the Lord keep us and walk with us as we endure the wilderness and seek his kingdom – with strength in Jesus to overcome the giants along the way.