The One With Nail Scarred Hands

Sometimes in my time with the Lord (whether that’s in the Word, prayer or worship) I imagine myself sitting next to Jesus. Before anyone gets all, “idolatry!” on me, I don’t see His face. I know I’m sitting next to Jesus, the God-man, and always envision a human formed body with no face. I picture what everyone pictures I suppose: a white robe.

During this time with Jesus, I talk to him. I sit at His feet. And sometimes I lay on the floor like a terrible two and beg the Lord to just let me have my way (Sidenote: have you not caught on yet to how “mature” I am?). In those early morning moments of curling up on the couch with Jesus, reading His word and drinking my coffee I miss one thing: His hands.

I heard a sermon this weekend that showed a few clips from the Passion. I think I almost forgot what that was for Him, for us. I forgot that although death did not win, He did suffer the crushing weight of sin on our behalf so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price of sin.

I kept thinking yesterday, “God, why do I feel like you don’t understand the trials of this life?” And then I thought of all those times hanging out with Jesus. What did I picture his hands to look like? Were they pristine as though no life had actually ever lived in them? Hands that never went to the cross? Or were they the hands of God himself who took on flesh, worked years as a carpenter, had those calloused and strong hands nailed to a cross for the redemption of the world? Am I picturing the hands of the only One who will ever be my hope and my portion?

I realized that I plead my case before Christ as if He has no idea as to what’s going on in my world. I forget the hands that were pierced for my transgressions. I forget that my life isn’t about me. It’s not for me. It’s for Him and always will be about Him. Letting go of that is scary, but so very freeing. I make a crummy god.

When Jesus calls us to take pick up our cross and follow Him, He knows it’s going to be hard. But Jesus, being worthy of trust and obedience, reaches out His nail-scarred hands and bids me to come. So I come.

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Obedience And The Love Of God

Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, is a beast when it comes to handling the Word. I have never listened to a sermon by him and thought, “Yeah, God didn’t use that for my sanctification.” This sermon was no different.

This morning I needed to breakaway and spend some good, long quality time with Jesus. I have been struggling with surrendering something to the Lord (maybe I’ll blog specifically about that in about a month). I felt the Lord pushing and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll be open to that God in about two years.” My prayers looked like this, “I see that you’re trying to show me something here. I am going to look at it and acknowledge it before you. I’m not going to fully give it to you, but I’m not going to take it either.” Talk about an elephant in the room…

I was convicted (a few times this week) while talking to friends who said, “Yeah, what you’re doing is not actually praying.” Or another friend who straight out said, “You’re like Jonah running from God.” Ouch. I needed it, but whew!

I went through my podcasts this morning to just break away with the Lord alone and was skimming through my Église Nouvelle Vie, Desiring God and The Village Church messages. I went to the bottom and saw, “Motivations for Obedience.” Perfect.

I think this sermon is so worth listening to especially for those of us who on our default have a hard time trusting that the Lord’s will and leading is always meant for His glory and our joy. This past week I’ve been convicted that when I’m not 100% surrendering everything to Christ I’m essentially saying He can’t be trusted. I look at the unknown with dread rather than excitement that my heavenly father wants to go on an adventure. And He is so good!

This message helped my perspective in regards to the struggle for my will be done, my view of the Lord, and was a fresh reminder that the word of God is refreshing to our souls and leads us to the abundant life.

Missionary Prayer Cards

I love design and I love the fact that I get to use this passion in a couple different facets of my job as a Career Missionary with Cru. Prayer letters, prayer cards, outreach materials, etc. YUM. It’s slightly therapeutic for me to mix and match patterns, colors, overlays, new fonts (Thanks Maggie) and see what works and what doesn’t!

Here’s what I’ve been playing around with for my prayer cards. I haven’t decided if I’m going to put magnets on the back so that people can put these on their fridge or not, but… I probably will. I want to create something for people to put in their Bibles as well to remember to be praying for our ministry. But right now, I got the hook up with a friend who is printing these for me at cost, so I don’t want to do too much. You know. I’ll only be able to afford so many Starbucks gift cards for payment.

Prayer Card 1:

Option1

Prayer Card 2:

Option2

I’m still tweaking these of course. And, yes I’ll have my real phone number in these. I’d rather the interwebs didn’t have access to that. 😉 Sorry guys.

And I got to play around a little after realizing I didn’t need to create a back to these if there was going to be a magnet for a back. 😉

Screen shot 2014-10-05 at 9.31.45 PM

THAT IS ALL.

I shopped in bulk at DaySpring.

But it wasn’t clothing, so I’m still good right?

I just felt the need to share this STEAL with you. I write a lot of birthday cards, thank you notes, words of encouragement, thinking of you’s, and congratulations notes. Cards are the most unbelievably expensive things on this planet. It’s folded paper, y’all. Now, handmade cards are another story. But paying $3.99 for something a company machine pressed for .02 in China? I don’t think so.

After storming the aisles of Walgreens in search of a birthday card for a friend, I thought, “I need to pull a Costco and just get these in bulk that come in variety.” BINGO. Since I am too broke not mature enough to have a Costco membership, I took to the interwebs.

I ended up on DaySpring’s website. If you don’t know about DS, they started out with the vision of taking the message of Jesus into homes through cards. Their first card was a Christmas card of a man who had just opened up all the presents under his tree and was still in despair. The card read, “When you get right down to it… Jesus is the only thing that really matters.” Ha, gutsy for their first card. I would have thought maybe like, “Joy to the world,” nope. They went for it. Obviously, these cards are right up my alley. [ALSO: They support missions stateside and in Guinea-Bissau! 🙂 That’s near Senegal and I have two friends that were missionaries there! I’m in love.].

After poking around their site, I found these great blank cards with verses on the inside. How perfect for my Bible study girls, to send as thinking of you notes, words of encouragement etc!

Dayspring photo christian cards

I love the tea cups!
I love the tea cups!

Cute, right?

Now here’s the best part. I got them in bulk. They came 12 to a box and 48 boxes to one order. That’s 576 cards. [T&L, guess what you’re getting in your stockings??].

Originally the cards were: $239.52 {$0.42 per card}

On sale they are [as in go order some]: $72 {$0.13 per card}

Now, with tax and shipping: $92.14. {$0.16 per card}

As I was checking out I thought, “Oh! I forgot about RetailMeNot.” I checked RMN for an online promo code or coupon [sidenote: never shop online without first checking eBates and then checking RMN]. I looked and found a coupon for 15% off my entire order [enter THANKYOU15 at checkout]. Bringing my final cost down to…

Final Cost: $80.28 {$0.14 per card}. 

I am so excited about these cards I CANNOT EVEN. You’re probably thinking, “Mary. That’s over 500 cards.” My cousin already told me she’d buy some from me and I’ll do more than a few as stocking stuffers and birthday presents, so I won’t keep all 500+. But still. At less than $2/box, that makes a great stocking stuffer and gift!

Thank you DaySpring for making quality cards that are truly affordable and helpful for us snail mail goobs! 🙂

This one time I got a tattoo.

And by this one time, I mean multiple times. I am just going to share with you the background story of one of my tattoos and what it means to me, but first, let me set the stage for you.

The summer of 2012 was the worst summer of my life for various reasons.

I hope and pray that it will remain the worst, hardest and most painful season of my life. I had just come back from my first year on STINT and was anxiously awaiting the return to the motherland. I came back to America and struggled badly with reverse culture shock (basically, everything in your culture of origin is no longer “normal” to you). I had a hard time drawing boundaries with time and people’s expectations and the guilt that followed when I did not meet those expectations.

I was dating someone long distance and couldn’t quite figure that whole situation out. Broke up with said man, went through the ringer with another, and lost a good friend. All in 4 months. It was horrible. Sounds like the perfect time to get a permanent, ever-present, visible-at-all-seasons tattoo right? 😉 Well, that’s exactly the season I got this tattoo in.

The story.

I had been thinking about getting another tattoo for a few months. Maybe. I can’t remember. That whole summer, honestly, is quite the blur. Anyway, I knew I wanted a feather because of the illustration of God’s love for us in Matthew. [SIDENOTE: It ain’t a leaf, y’all]. While at our STINT reunion over labor day in Charlotte, I decided, “Now’s a great time to get that tattoo. John-Mark, draw me something and I’ll go get it.” I decided what color I wanted it in based off of Whitney’s nail color. Basically, this is my STINT team’s fault.

We’re in a Fish Taco place next to a tattoo parlor [Another sidenote: Fish Tacos are gross.] with time to spare, so I walked on next door and asked how much a little blue and white tattoo would be and when I could get it. The sweet lady behind the counter told me to put down a deposit and come back tomorrow. The next day, we wake up and go to church. The sermon is on Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Hilar. I decided in church that I was going through with the decision to get the tattoo. That’s not something you hear everyday…

I love that this passage talks about God’s provision to the birds and then where it segways into our importance to God. He sees us. He provides for us in all ways.  Now, note during that season I was more than likely thinking just financial. I’m a missionary. We constantly have to trust God to provide in this area of our lives. But. I have seen God use that little blue feather on my finger as a reminder to me that He meets my needs in every way possible. He redirects my heart to the truth of his word even when I think I don’t need it.

In Him, there’s fullness and joy. Our God is an abundant God and He isn’t lacking in anything, so whatever need I have (need of grace, love, acceptance, peace, etc) He fulfills it.

I’ve learned a lot about how God loves me and sees me these past two years. He is perfect. And He perfectly loves me. I see that in His beautiful and bountiful provision of grace, I’m able to run with liberty towards Him in His holiness knowing that in Him, I’m complete, secure and cared for! God is too cool, y’all.

That’s the story behind my blue tattoo of a feather on my finger.

My sister and I making mustaches and beards. :)
My sister and I making mustaches and beards. 🙂 2014
finger tattoo
The weekend I got it done. It was so colorful then. No touch up for me thank you!

To A New Creation.

Great-Is-Thy-Faithfulness

One of the things that I love about the Lord is His faithfulness. He is so steadfast in His pursuit of us; He never waivers. This is an indescribably hard character trait to fully grasp since even in our most dire efforts, we can only copy His faithfulness. Our best efforts at reproducing this quality resemble a parrot mimicking his master. While with His help we can reflect His faithfulness, His faithfulness is always more steadfast, more pure, and more full than ours. Daily, I’m left wondering how He is so faithful. But He is. Always.

I have had several conversations over the past week that made me think, “Lord, you are so good and so faithful to me.” I want to share a little bit about one of those conversations, and how I am seeing His faithfulness at every stage of life.

To A New Creation

I chatted the other day with an ex-boyfriend [I know, first mistake right?] that I dated way before I became a Christian. He was asking a lot of really great questions about faith, life, and the different lifestyle I live now that I’m a follower of Christ. He made some kind of comment, that I believe was genuine, and to the tune of, “I just can’t see a free-spirit like you ever being caged to something like Christianity.” As I tried to explain the freedom that’s only offered in Christ, it hit me. The way that I used to live (getting plastered every night, doing occasional drugs, and other things we won’t address here) was his view of self-liberation. And it made me so sad.

I started praying through our conversation and just got so overwhelmed with the fact that even at those moments or utter rebellion, God saw me and was merciful enough to withhold so many consequences that my actions merited. As uncomfortable as this conversation was in some ways, the Lord was allowing me to remember where my future, hopes and dreams were before meeting Him. I was enslaved to sin. I was an addict of finding people’s approval to the extent of being walked all over in so many ways. I was not only caged, but I was dead.  There’s only so long that “lifestyle” could have gone on before something happened.

I am so incredibly thankful that the something that happened was that the Lord stepped in and redeemed my life. As I sat there reflecting on a conversation that would generally make a lot of people frustrated, I just wept out of thankfulness!  It could not have been orchestrated any better. I just marvel at the work of the Lord in composing all the round about ways that I would come to know Him. He was faithful to me before I even knew Him. He is faithful to me today to answer my prayers in such sweet ways that draw me closer to Him.

I am thankful for my mom urging me to go to UTC. I am thankful for Andy W. and Doug B. who introduced me to Paul and Jason. I’m thankful for Megan H. who dragged me to the Cru Bible studies the first few times. And I am eternally grateful to my spiritual father, Paul, for laying down his rights and making Christ known to college students.

Y’all this is the reminder that I need, daily. Christ not only changes lives, He is the author of life. That life we thought we had before was counterfeit, a sad replicate, to what Christ offers. There’s true freedom, joy so deep, genuine acceptance and everlasting hope found in Jesus. That’s the message I am excited to bring to college students stateside.

He is faithful and true. His love endures forever.

SkyBridge Blog: 7 Tips to Prepare for Purposeful Living Overseas

I always get so excited when I get published on other places, well you know, other than my own blog. 

I HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED!!

Image

I figured all you beautiful 62 followers needed the link to be able to read this post I wrote for an online community of expats and ex-expats. Check it out HERE. Let me know what you think. 

XOXO

Mary Lou