After All

This morning, I came awake with these lyrics in my mind from Meredith Andrews, Not For A Moment (After All)…

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me

… And it got me thinking about that phrase, “After All.”

After ALL.
After everything that was and is…
After everything good and bad…
After everything known and unknown…
After all my bad decisions and poor choices…
After all the beautiful and ugly things in my life…
After I failed Him more times than I can count…
After I turned my back on Him, God will not abandon me, even for a single moment.
After all, He is constant as the sun rising in the morning.
After all, He is only good and in Him there is no darkness at all!
After all, He is the supreme Ruler of my life and my heart because, After all that, I don’t have a choice.

Click here to listen to Not For A Moment.

The featured image courtesy of Carol Mattingly, my aunt, who this moment is undergoing radical cancer surgery. Please pray for God’s healing for her.

He Knows

Hello, my name is Martha and I’m a food-a-holic. I have been addicted to food since I was a little girl. It has been my solace, my comfort, my best friend at times. It has also been my downfall, bringing obesity and super-sized health issues along with super-sized clothes. It has been my master and my lover. Unfortunately, my being a food-a-holic has never been a secret, because it shows up in my gut and in my “full figure.” Every time I self-medicated the pain and hurt with donuts or cheeseburgers (note the plural) eventually showed up in a required shopping trip to up-size my pants.

By the grace of God, I am now a recovering food-a-holic having dropped the bulk of my weight several years ago (only because diabetes reared its ugly head.) I have learned to make better choices and decisions. And mostly, I have learned to depend on the Giver of Life instead of a pepperoni pizza for my comfort and joy. But it will always be there… That desire for what everyone else is eating. And have you watched television lately? It’s a terrible place for people like me. They can’t do commercials for cigarettes or alcohol anymore, but food?? Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t watch.

I have known and loved people who struggled with alcoholism, and somehow it was always a surprise. It was hidden. From the outside, everything seemed fine. No telltale signs to the untrained eye. The struggle is within, and deadly. Food, on the other hand, is both an inward struggle and a real physical struggle. It stretches the elastic on our pants and our pride. It bursts the seams on our skirts and our self-esteem. It pops the buttons of our shirts and our shame, bringing us to a new low.

BUT… “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) He knows every struggle I have fought with food my entire life. Every time I ate “one more” cookie, or the entire large popcorn at the movies, Jesus saw and loved me anyway. HE KNOWS. Nothing is hidden from God!! And I’m so thankful and grateful for it.

The song in my head this morning is He Knows from Jeremy Camp.

All the bitter weary ways
endless striving day by day
you barely have the strength to pray
in the valley low
how hard your fight has been
how deep the pain within
wounds that no one else has seen
hurts too much to show

all the doubt you’re standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees

HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS
EVERY HURT AND EVERY STING
HE HAS WALKED THE SUFFERING
HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS
LET YOUR BURDENS COME UNDONE
LIFT YOUR EYES UP TO THE ONE
WHO KNOWS
HE KNOWS

we may faint and we may sink
feel the pain and near the brink
but the dark begins to shrink
when you find the one who knows

the chains of doubt that held you in between
one by one are starting to break free

every time that you feel forsaken
every time that you feel alone
He is near to the broken hearted
every tear
He knows…

I will struggle the rest of my life with overeating, but I won’t be alone in my struggle. The closer I am to The Lord of my appetite, the easier it is to push my plate away and get up from the table. To see food as the life-sustaining thing it was intended to be by the God who provides it. The closer I am to Jesus, the easier it is for me to hear His Holy Spirit whisper in my ear, “that’s enough for now.”

Click here to listen to He Knows from Jeremy Camp.

Being addicted to food has made me a great cook, and a lover of anything for my kitchen. The featured image is a shot of my Fiesta ware plates. I’m not sure I have enough!

For Glenda

Friends. What would we do without them? It makes me sad to even think of the possibility of losing people I love and who I know love me. People who care about my welfare and make a difference in my life. But sometimes we do. And it hurts. Sometimes she walks away and I never know why. Sometimes she’s too busy or absorbed in her own life to have time for me. Sometimes one or the other of us had to move, but we are still friends forever because The Lord is the Lord of us both. And, sometimes, God calls her home to be with Him before I’m ready to let go.

And right there is where I get stuck. Nothing else comes to mind, because I get stuck thinking about my friend who went home to be with The Lord this week. About her sharp tongue and beautiful heart. About the intense way she loved others. About her teapots. She must have had a thousand of them! And about the roses. She grew little tea roses and, while they were blooming, she would bring me (and many others) one every week and say, “I love you.” I believe she showed up in heaven with a perfect rose in her hand, and an “I love You!” ready to give to the Rose of Sharon when she met Him face to face.

She was a friend of Jesus. And so am I. The song in my head as I woke up this morning was Friend of God by Phillips Craig & Dean. And wow, did it ever get my mind thinking about my friend, about friends in general and what it means to be a friend.

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How You love me
It’s amazing
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Jesus calls us His friends. It’s right there in John 15:15…”No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus knows us, He loves us, He trusts us. And if we are Christians, true believers, we know Him. We love Him. We trust Him. He is always there when I call. He’s never too busy for me. He never moves away. He never walks away leaving me to wonder what happened. Friends. Forever.

Click here to listen to Friend of God.

I painted the featured image on paper and mailed it to my friend to cheer her up. I’m glad I did.

From The Inside Out

As a seamstress… Fancy word for “lady who loves to sew”… I have always found it fascinating that we work from the inside out. Whatever we are making, we construct it backwards. Right sides together, we mostly see and work with the wrong side or the inside of the fabric. And from our perspective, it’s not beautiful or fabulous. It’s necessary. It’s tedious and often just plain ugly. Looking at it from the inside doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t sew, who doesn’t understand the process. Double-stitched seams, facings, interfacing to add support, blind hems… It all sounds like white noise to a non-sewer.

I think that’s how it is with our heart-work as well. God is working from the inside out. HE understands what He sees, how all the seams are fit together, why there are snips and cuts to help shape a part of our lives, or why some extra support is needed in another area. It all makes sense to Him because HE knows the process! He knows what He is doing, whereas I just want to see the finished product from the outside, or the right side out.

I don’t think you can have one without the other. I cannot wear my favorite dress or pair of jeans without all the gut-work that went into them. I need strong seams so the jeans won’t split when I try to sit down. I want the hem on my dress to be invisible, but perfectly measured all the way around so it hits at exactly the right place on my legs. The quality of the fabric or the beauty of the design won’t matter at all if the workmanship is shoddy. But GOD is able to take this fabric of our lives and stitch it together into something beautiful. God is able to work from the our ugly inside and present to Himself a masterpiece. He sees all the pieces of us that don’t make sense to anybody but Him, and knows exactly where to cut, pin, baste, and sew. But only if I hand over the scissors, needle, thread, and thimble.

And yes, all these thoughts are pouring out of a song. The Lord woke me up at 5:00 this morning (remember I’m retired now) and Phillips Craig and Dean are singing From The Inside Out through my mind and heart as I write.

My heart and my soul,
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

Everlasting,
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending,
Your glory goes beyond all fame

And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise
From the inside out Lord, my soul cries out

My prayer this morning is that God will take this beautiful fabric that is my life, created by Him, and make me into the garment of HIS choosing. He is the Master Tailor so, whatever it is, it will fit perfectly. Comfortably. I know I will love it. God, may I ever lose myself in bringing You praise. Amen.

Click here to listen to From The Inside Out. Words and music by Joel Houston.

When MERCY Found Me

In one moment everything changed
Who I was got washed away
When mercy found me
My Savior’s arms were open wide
And I felt love for the very first time
When mercy found me

The Rhett Walker Band has been singing these words to their song, When Mercy Found Me, in my head… All morning long! Here are a few thoughts…

WHEN Mercy found me, not if.
When MERCY found me, God’s compassion and forgiveness, not what I deserve.
When Mercy FOUND me, searched me out, came to me unbidden in the form of Jesus’s love and grace.
When Mercy found ME. Not the other way around. Little old me, when I wasn’t looking.

My mind found peace.
My soul found hope.
My heart found a home.

Peace that passes understanding. The Hope of glory, Christ in us. And a home… That word that brings longing and nostalgia, comfort and rest… Home. A place for my heart to live, deep within the heart of Jesus.

Click here to listen to When Mercy Found Me.

Peace – Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Hope – Colossians 1:27 God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ is you, the hope of glory.

Home – John 14:23 Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching… (My Father and I) will come to him and make our home with him.