The Words That Changed My Life

I love words. Writing words. Reading words. Speaking words. Sharing words.

We can’t touch words. We can’t taste or smell them. Words are intangible, and yet they are so powerful that books have been burned for the words written in them, and people have been burned for the words they have spoken.

Words are dangerous.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ words.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again:  as a writer I  pray that my words move people. But Jesus’ words move oceans.

In the early moments of my morning today I sat down at my desk with my coffee, and opened my Bible to the book of John. John was a friend of Jesus, and wrote an eye-witness account of what he had seen. In John 18 we read that Jesus had been betrayed, and soldiers came to take him away. Jesus asked them who they were looking for, and when they told him, Jesus said, “I am he.” Anyone within earshot of Jesus’ words would have instantly recognized that he wasn’t just saying, “I’m the guy you’re looking for,” but was actually saying, “I am the God of the universe. I am the maker of the sea, and the giver of the breath you are breathing.”

Three words spoken by Jesus literally knocked the soldiers off of their feet. When they regained their composure Jesus calmly asked again, “Who are you looking for?” They again told him, and Jesus said, “I am he, so leave these men alone.”

As much as we sometimes prefer the docile version of Jesus (read: Jesus looking angelically to the sky,  and snuggling lambs), Jesus is not weak. When He speaks it is powerful and authoritative.

In his newest book Chase The LionMark Batterson puts it this way:

If you reverse-engineer the history of time, every atom in the universe can trace its origin back to the four words by which God spoke everything into existence: “Let there be light.” According to the Doppler effect, those four words are still creating galaxies at the outer edges of the universe.

My life has been wrecked in the best possible ways as I’ve poured over words spoken by The Logos Himself. 13 years ago I made a decision to follow Jesus and to be baptized. That is when everything changed. God spoke into my darkness and said, “Let there be light.” Since that day His words are still creating newness in the farthest reaches of my soul.

That God loves you, my friend. Whether or not you know or believe that right now does not negate the truth of it. And while I do not pretend to know all of the answers, one thing I do know is that I am undeniably and eternally changed by the Word of God. There is beautiful power in His word.

So that Bible that is sitting on a shelf collecting dust…open it today. If you really want your life to be changed. If you really want the answers to the questions you are asking, start digging in. Ask God to show up and reveal Himself to you. Start with just a few verses if you must. Journal. Ask questions. Join a small group to hash out your thoughts with. The promise is this: God’s word will accomplish powerful things in the hearts of those who are bent on receiving it.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Unreasonably High Cost I Paid For A Clean House

I enjoy having a clean living environment. It’s borderline compulsive. I’m sure a psychologist could have a field day analyzing my affinity for neatness, maybe tying it down to a need for structure resulting from a chaotic childhood, blah, blah, blah…whatever the reason the fact remains that I am the epitome of a neat freak.

Unfortunately my neat freak nature clashes—hard—with the sticky fingers and muddy shoes that are my two sons. Mamas everywhere are sighing as they read this. You get it, right? What’s the point in even trying to clean when three seconds after you wipe the smudged glass on the sliding door five more hand prints appear with bonus chunks of who-knows-what leftovers from lunch.

Last week I lost my mind over it. Friends, I freaked out. I blew a gasket. I fell apart, tears and all, because I just couldn’t do it. I felt so tired from the battle of trying to balance enjoying motherhood with enjoying a clean house. Keep laughing, all you well-seasoned mamas. You told me that I could either have a clean house or a happy one, but that both are darn near impossible. Did I believe you? Nope. I embraced it as a challenge, silently shouting a battle cry in my head: “Tawanda! Don’t say never to me!” (Fried Green Tomatoes, anyone?)

My husband saw (and heard) that I was losing it. God bless that patient man. He swooped the kids out the door to go play and get takeout for dinner. I was left alone to clean. And clean I did. I scrubbed, and sprayed, and wiped…I pulled out an old toothbrush to get into the bathroom vents and everything. I mopped, and dusted, and exhausted myself from the exertion.

When I finally sat down it hit me how much my clean house cost me. My house was clean; no sign of life anywhere. And I was alone. And I was sad because of it. I wasn’t anyone that my boys wanted to be around, and I chose rage-cleaning over them. I essentially communicated to them that they were ruining my–not our–environment. My house. My rooms. My stuff.

Yikes.

That’s not the home I really want. I want the “our.” I want the memories, and the laughter, and the music, and the conversation that comes from being in relationship with my husband and children. But that night I forfeited it all. I made it pointedly clear that I would rather have a museum than have them.

That’s not the dream. That’s not what I’ve longed for. I dream of a family that plays games together, and builds blanket forts, and has movie nights, and laughs, and cries…together. But together exists with fingerprints and muddy shoe prints, and who-knows-what in the powder room sink (guess I’ll be cleaning that up later).

There’s nothing wrong with cleanliness. I’m not planning on letting entropy reign supreme. But in my freak out moment I believed a huge lie, and I allowed my motives to be obsessively selfish. I bought into the lie that I clean for myself. The truth is that I clean for us. I clean for our family, not my comfort.

So I’m presented with opportunity cost. I can either choose to pay the price of an immaculate home at the cost of a safe relational environment, or I can pay the price of a healthy family at the cost of less-than-pinterest cleanliness.

I’ll choose the latter. I want to choose them over spotless glass. I want to choose the “us and ours” over the “me and mine.” I want to choose the beautifully chaotic mess of family over the pristine loneliness of isolation.

Help me, Jesus.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

 

 

 

Has It Felt Like You’re Sinking?

Hello, friends. The summer is over, and I’m sure that you are like me: trying to get back into the swing of fall routines.

The summer was so beautiful in many ways. I tried my darnedest to relish the minutes, days, and weeks that I got to spend with both of my boys.  We went (lived)  outside, we rode bikes, we planted a vegetable garden, we went to the ocean, we read books, we played games, and laughed, and snuggled up close.

But this summer was also painful and full of need and loss and defeat. Adam and I have felt like our heads have been spinning from all that happened in just a single month. Emergency home repairs, vehicles breaking down, savings accounts being drained, and excruciating situations with my mother who is very sick left us looking to Jesus and asking Him to multiply resources, strength, and healing.

This summer has been a reminder that God owes us nothing, but has given us everything. He’s not a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” type of God. He’s far too good for that; instead He’s interested in who we are becoming, and our knowledge of who He already is (and if you don’t already know Him, He is so good that I just can’t breathe when I really think about it). Just like I want my own kids to grow up to be men of character, integrity, honor, and faithfulness God cultivates character in us as His kids.

But the hard seasons of tilling the soil of hearts, ripping out dead roots, and pruning away diseased parts hurt. This season has sure hurt for me and my husband. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that without doubt, or the possibility of sinking, there is no such thing as trust. Without questions or needs bigger than we can meet ourselves we have no reason to look to God for what only He can provide.

One quiet morning a few weeks ago, before the sun was up, before little feet ran through the halls, I got up, snuck downstairs, poured a cup of dark-roast coffee, and sat down to pray, journal, and read my Bible. At the time I was studying the book of Matthew, and I came across a passage that might be familiar to you:

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” -Matthew 8:23-27

I’ve read this passage so many times since I started following Jesus. It’s such a powerful reminder that when all seems lost, our God is Lord over the mighty waves. We can trust Him, even when our souls start to believe He is sleeping.

But this particular morning was different. Something new jumped out at me that I had never paid much attention to before: it was JESUS’ idea to get in the boat in the first place!

Did you catch that?!

Do you know what that means for you and for me?

It means that sometimes the problems of life, those things we fear the most, the stresses, the turmoils, the pain, the loss…sometimes we can be following Jesus and still end up in the middle of the raging sea!

It means that sometimes the storm is right where we need to be in order to see who Jesus really is–the able one. The One whose words are so mighty that the torrent of the sea obeys! As a writer, I hope my words move people. But Jesus’ words move oceans!

So, friend. Maybe you’re in the middle of a crisis. Maybe the days are long, the weeks are unending. There’s no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and you’re asking Jesus why He’s asleep in the boat while you are going under.

And maybe, just maybe, you’re right where you need to be in order to witness who God is in the middle of it all. Keep your eyes open. Stay watchful, and press into the truth of who He is.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust and was subsequently arrested for her actions, put it this way: “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

Wherever you are, I encourage you today to press in and trust the God that isn’t finished with your story yet.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley