Unlocking the Past

suitcase no name

This isn’t the post I thought I was going to share today. But what can I say? God has been working on me. Maybe He’s working on you, too.

Dealing with the past can be hard. If you’re like me, you look back and blame yourself for…well…pretty much everything you can: the things you said and didn’t say, the timing of what you did and didn’t do. The list can go on and on.

But what if you and I stop looking back at the past as if it’s something dreadful to ponder, something painful that left us scarred and tattered, broken beyond repair and instead look to God? What if we hand over that old suitcase from our past, the one we’ve locked and buried in the back of our spiritual closet, and allow Him to unlock it?

It can be scary. I know. But what is even more frightening is living with the knowledge that the suitcase is still there, something we never dealt with, something we kept pushing to the back of the closet. It can hide in the shadows like some monster from our childhood, bringing nightmares and stealing our peace.

But what if, instead of being afraid or cringing with guilt when we see it, we realize that old piece of luggage can actually be a beautiful thing because of what it holds:

Experiences. Stories. Lessons.

They are the hidden gems tucked inside the suitcases of our past just waiting to be unpacked to help others.

Sure, the failures and disappointments are there – abandoned dreams still on hold, tear-stained journals, and faded, torn photographs. But those are the very things that make our stories believable, relatable.

We all have brokenness from our past.

But it’s up to us to decide what to do with it. We can either hand it all to God, surrendering its hold on us. Or we can let it control us from the shadows of our closet, leaving our spirits in a state of mustiness and stagnation, never learning, never growing; giving more weight to the past than the desire to move forward to the future God has for us.

(Deep breath here.) I officially surrendered my suitcase, my past, to God yesterday after years of ignoring it. And when I did, I realized it had quite a hold on me.

And today, well, today is a new day. And the lessons are pouring out as He holds me, steadying me…

I pray you feel Him steadying you, too.

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” (Isaiah 41:10 MSG.)



I was excited to open the box of new pots and pans my mom sent us for Christmas a few years ago, but the largest glass lid had shattered and the pieces were scattered throughout the box like jagged diamonds.

I had no idea what happened to that box after the pans and their lids had been packed, the box taped up and sent on its way. I didn’t know how many trucks it had been loaded on or if someone had haphazardly tossed it or dropped it. I just knew it was damaged when it got to me.

Have you been damaged along the way to where you are now? Has someone carelessly hurt you or tossed you aside, discarding your heart as if it were made of stone and not a fragile part of who you are?

I’ve been there. Many times. Broken relationships, betrayal from those I trusted wholeheartedly. Those who tried to manipulate and control my life at a time when I didn’t fully trust God; a terrible consequence for looking to others instead of Him but a valuable lesson indeed.

I often wondered if I would ever “get back” to me. If I was too far gone, too broken, or too damaged. Maybe you’re there today, wondering if you’ll ever heal completely or if the wound will remain open and painful.

Or maybe you’re slowly recovering with God’s help. But every time you’re in a similar situation or a new relationship starts to develop, you can’t help but hold your breath as you anticipate the sting.

So you shrink back. You pull away. You withdraw and seek God, asking Him to help you as you bury yourself in His arms again.

But you hope others will understand, that they might consider what has happened to you along the way; what careless words cut you or toxic relationship left you scarred. You pray they won’t take it personally as you wait on God to tell you what to do and how to move forward.

You don’t want this to go on forever, and you know God is working on you. You’ve come so far, really. But others might not see that. They don’t know how many thousands of fragments God has already healed in your shattered heart, how many times He’s helped you to breathe during those situations that used to steal your breath.

You hope they know you’re trying.

You’re not trying to be the same person you once were but a better you. You want to learn from your past, grow from your mistakes. You want to be so on fire for God that those who try to control or manipulate you again will recoil from the heat.

You want more of God. More than anything.

And you find yourself hoping a few of those diamond-like shards of your shattered heart remain because now you understand how His love has strengthened you and how it reflects even brighter through such broken places to those who are also damaged.

Those who need to know God is totally trustworthy and so very close.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18 NLT.)

“I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” (Psalm 31:12,14 NIV.)

When God is Quiet During Your Brokenness

during the storm

Things can leave us broken with the pieces of our messy and shattered lives washing ashore. The things we counted on crumble like sand in our hands. People let us down. We feel forgotten or discarded. Or a great rescue we’ve been hoping and praying for doesn’t come.

It hurts. You lie awake at night, tears soaking your face and landing on your pillow. You talk to God. You plead for an answer. You ask Him what you’re doing wrong or what you should do to fix it all. You find yourself dropping to your knees and begging, crying out to Him for help.

But He’s quiet.

You wonder what’s going on and why He’s allowing this storm to rage, one that’s been thrashing against your heart for a long, long time.

Maybe you only see the pieces of what’s survived the storm and wonder what good can come from it. What can God possibly do with this mess?

He can do more than you can even imagine.

He can build something new out of your brokenness, make a new way, or lead you on a new journey. He isn’t limited by time or money or any of the resources you and I fix our eyes on, watching as it all dwindles and worrying if it will be enough.

He stretched oil for a widow and fed thousands from a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. He can make ends meet. He can provide all you need.

He is, after all, Jehovah Jireh. The Lord will provide.

He won’t leave you alone to deal with your brokenness. He’s there with you. He’s always been there.

Perhaps He is quiet because He wants you to take a good long look at the mess that’s been swept up on the shore, to remember all the ways you tried to fix everything and how you came to the end of yourself; when you ran out of ideas and you couldn’t see how any good was going to come from such a terrible storm that left you utterly broken.

Yes, take a walk and remember what the dreadful mess looks like and how painful this walk is, so when the rescue comes (and it will come), you’ll experience more joy than you’ve ever known.

And you’ll know it was God who restored you and rescued you from the storm raging within.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121: 1-2 NIV.)


A Gingerbread House: Under Renovation

If you’d like to read more on the story behind my Christmas stories, please click here.  Merry Christmas and God bless!

gingerbread no words

The last thing I wanted to do after work was stand in a long line at the store to buy a gingerbread-house kit hours before the contest, but Tommy was worth it.  I shifted the box in my arm, tugged at my scarf, and tried to hold my breath when I neared the case of cinnamon-scented pine cones.

“Rebecca?  Rebecca Trenton is that you?”

I hadn’t heard anyone call me that name in years.  I thought about ignoring it but decided eventually my home town would know I’d come back to live in my deceased parents’ house, so I gave in and turned to face my past.

“I thought that was you!” she squealed.  “It’s me, Mallory Westfield.  Spryer now.”  She held up her ring.  “We went to school together.  Remember?”

I remembered.  I remembered how she ruthlessly picked on me all through high school.

“You look so…different,” she said eyeing me up and down.

Of course I didn’t have a bit of makeup on and was wearing one of Greg’s old ball caps.  Wonderful.  I should have just written “total wreck” on my forehead to clear things up.  Mallory, on the other hand, hadn’t changed a bit: tan in the middle of winter, dark red lips, and enough flashy jewelry to blind you when she stood in the sun.

“I heard you got a…”she leaned in to whisper, “divorce.  Is that true?”

“Next, please,” the cashier said.

I shrugged at Mallory and placed my box on the conveyor belt.  I quickly paid, smiled when Mallory mentioned getting together, and bolted to my car feeling both exhaustion and relief.

Tommy was waiting at the door when I got home.  “Did you get it?”

I handed him the bag and smiled.  He was such a good kid, always positive.  No easy task considering the divorce and how he had to leave all of his friends behind.

I paid the sitter, took off my coat, and stuck a frozen pizza in the oven.  Guilt washed over me.  Tommy deserved better than eating cheap pizza with his mom, sticking candy to gingerbread, and hurrying off to some small-town contest.  I knew Greg would have planned more.  He would have taken his son sled riding or to see some extravagant Christmas lights.  Something grand.  Something more memorable.

“Can I start now?” he asked, his hazel eyes pleading.  The freckles on his cheeks made him look younger than his ten years while the braces on his teeth made him look like a teen.

“You better,” I said, noticing the time. “But you’ll need to eat dinner when it’s ready.”

He tore open the box and dug out the bags of assorted candies and gumdrops.  And when I returned from tossing a load of laundry in the washer, kicking it and begging it to run just one more time, he’d already covered a cookie sheet with tinfoil and was reading the directions.

I opened a bag of chips and cut the pizza when it was ready.  We ate off of paper plates and drank warm root beer from the cans.

“Did you read all of the directions?” I asked in between bites.

He shrugged and swallowed.  “Did you ever enter the contest when you were little?”

“Once,” I said, stopping there.  My pitiful gingerbread house with the tiny candy cane fence must have looked like a run-down garden shed next to the mansions some of the other kids built.  One girl even had a gingerbread town and airport using her brother’s toy plane.  Of course she won.  After that, I never wanted to do it again.  But I couldn’t tell Tommy that.  He’d been so excited to build one, especially when he realized the grand prize was three-hundred dollars.  I shook my head.  I should have bought another kit and made one myself.

The washer was off balance and rumbled.  I hurried to the basement, lifted the washer lid, and repositioned the load.  “Okay,” I said.  “Now one more time.”

Tommy had already wolfed down his dinner and was kneading the bag of frosting when I returned.

“Do you want some help?”

“No. You told me I could do this by myself.”

I held up my hands. “Sorry.  I was just checking.”

I finished my slice of pizza, stuck the rest in the refrigerator, and went upstairs to take a hot shower to wash off the grease from working as a fry cook all day.

Tommy was shouting for me to hurry when I finished blow drying my hair.  I spritzed a little perfume on, hoping I wouldn’t have another Mallory episode, and rushed downstairs and into the kitchen.

My heart sank and I tried to hide the look of horror on my face.  His gingerbread house was anything but a house.  It was a total wreck.  The walls were leaning inward, one caved in all the way as if hit by an earthquake.  The frosting looked as if it had exploded on the tilted roof and gumdrops were stuck together in a pile as if he didn’t have time to use them.  The colored candies were scattered like confetti in the wind all over the structure. More guilt came as I realized the ridicule that was to come.  I should have skipped showering and helped him build the thing.

“Come on, Mom.  I don’t want to be late,” he said zipping up his coat.

“Do you…”  I cleared my throat.  “Do you have a name for it?” The rule had always been that you had to name your gingerbread creation.  Some fancy lodge or ski resort name usually ended up winning.  Winter Crystal Chalet or something like that.

“I got it, Mom.  Can we please just go?”

I took a deep breath and silently prayed that the contest would be cancelled.

The community hall was packed and I felt the stares, heard the whispers, and even caught a few laughing as we walked by.  My face burned.  Not out of embarrassment but out of something else entirely.  I wanted to protect Tommy.  But once he registered his gingerbread house, it was too late.

He settled his dilapidated house beside a three story gingerbread restaurant, complete with sugar-glass windows.  And to make matters worse, the owner of the restaurant was Mallory’s daughter.

“My, is that…unusual,” Mallory said, holding her hand over her mouth as she stared at Tommy’s creation.  Her daughter stood quietly at her side, not cracking a smile but looking to the floor.

I ignored Mallory and sat on a plastic chair beside other parents as we watched the judging begin.  We were informed that each contestant needed to state his name, age, title of creation, and inspiration.  I wondered if Tommy were regretting his decision to be a part of this.

Mallory’s daughter began.  “I’m Sylvia Spryer.  I’m nine and my title is, ‘The Shimmering Chalet.’”

“And your inspiration?” the judge asked.

Sylvia shrugged.  “My mom.”

The judges took their time inspecting it and then moved on to Tommy.  I held my breath as he took the microphone from the judge.  A few parents around me snickered.

“My name is Tommy Sullivan.  I’m ten years old.  My title is, ‘The Master Carpenter’s Project” and my inspiration is Jesus.”

The judge asked, “Can you elaborate on that?”

“Sure.”  Tommy held the microphone boldly, like this was second nature to him.  His voice didn’t quiver but held solid as he said, “Our lives are like projects or houses in Jesus’ hands.  He is the Master Carpenter and He fixes what is broken and rebuilds us.  No matter what damage has been done and how bad things look,” he said looking at me, “Jesus can fix us.”

The whispering and the giggling stopped.  No one said a word. The microphone squealed when Tommy handed it back to the judge.  I did my best to stifle my tears but obviously failed when another mom seated beside me handed me a tissue, keeping one to dab her own tears.

As we walked to the car after the contest, Tommy said, “I’m sorry I didn’t win the money.  I really wanted to buy you a new washing machine.”

“Oh, Tommy,” I said, the snow falling gently around us.  “You gave me so much more than a washing machine.”

“What? A free large pizza for coming in second?” he said grinning.

I smiled back.  “You made me realize everything is going to be okay.  We’re just under renovation.  And we’ve got the Master Carpenter on the job.”

God is in the Renovation Business


God is in the renovation business. But you have to do your part.

You have to ask Him for help.

You have to surrender to God, tell Him you need Him to move in your life even more powerfully, that you want to go deeper with Him, that you hunger and crave more of Him in your life, and you refuse to settle for where you are right now. You want more.  And to have more of Him, you know He needs to renovate you.

So you bravely ask Him to reveal the weak areas in your life, those hidden places you’ve been too busy to notice. You ask Him to be the silversmith that heats the silver, revealing the dross, those impurities in your heart, so He can scrape them off and toss them out of your life.

But before He removes them, He lets you see them. All of your bitterness and anger surface and sit there like ugly black chunks beside the bright, hot metal.  God allows you to get a good look at it, to really see it for what it is.

You get more and more uncomfortable the longer He allows it to stay. You want it gone.  You want God to hurry up and dispose of it because it’s painful to see.

He allows it to linger just long enough. This isn’t to hurt you, but to give you the opportunity to see what you’ve kept hidden and what it was doing to you.  You realize, this is a lesson from your Teacher.  You hear Him whisper, “That anger is like a disease in your spirit.”  And when you think about it, you realize it started as a small speck but because you failed to deal with it, it spread like some sort of gangrene, devouring the goodness and purity surrounding it.

And you can’t help but notice the striking contrast:  His blinding, powerful light against the darkness of your hidden sin.

But again, you asked God to draw you closer to Him. This isn’t a task to simply point out your flaws but to point out your need for Him.  He’s the only One who can remove such agonizing and toxic things from your life.

So you take a deep breath, acknowledge what you see and ask for forgiveness and for help. And then you let go.  You let go of the time someone hurt you, the moment you were abandoned, discarded, forgotten, and labeled.  It’s done ugly things to you and holding on isn’t bringing you power over the situation; it’s trapping you in the moment and keeping you a prisoner as the disease spreads and consumes more and more of you.

But again, God is in the renovation business; taking the old, worn, and broken and making it new.

So you focus on Him. You imagine His mighty hand removing all the poison, refining you.  Perhaps you hit your knees, completely falling apart knowing He is about to rebuild.  Or maybe you stand taller, tears streaming down your cheeks as you close your eyes and lift your face heavenward, knowing He is watching you… and smiling.

His renovation has brought you not only closer to Him, but to something He offers:


The ugliness no longer has a hold on you. The memory no longer traps you.  The guilt and shame no longer suffocate your joy.

You are free to walk even closer to God. It’s where He’s wanted you all along.

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” (Psalm 66:10 NIV.)


When God Renovates a Broken Spirit


It’s a great feeling to scrape off old paint and watch the thirsty wood drink in a fresh coat or to demolish an old deck that was nothing more than an eyesore and a disaster waiting to happen and watch as new boards begin to reach into the backyard.

Renovation.  Taking the old and broken and restoring it and making it new.

Is God renovating your broken spirit?

Perhaps your spirit is a like a run-down house that’s falling in on itself, and it’s exciting and uncomfortable at the same time to watch God work; He may be doing things you don’t understand or things you’re not sure you’re going to like.  But you gave Him permission, even cried out to Him when you were in trouble when your spirit, your house, was crumbling.  No matter how hard you tried to fix it, you couldn’t.

So you step aside and take a seat on a hillside not too far away.  The scent of the sun warming the grass and the cool breeze on your skin comforts you as you rest and watch God work on you.

Still uncomfortable because change makes you squirm? Remember, this is God.  The Creator of all things, and He knows how to build you.  He did it in your mother’s womb, and He can do it again.

Only this isn’t like creating or building you for the first time.  This is rebuilding you.  Renovating, remember?

He’s going to pull all those rusty nails, so He can design something new.  He’s going to scrub away the dirt from your past, scrape off the peeling paint of your failures that you keep focusing on, and rebuild your brokenness; He sees how others have hurt you and He’s going to permanently fix that crack in your heart that you keep trying to patch.  He’s going to wash away the black spots, the anger and bitterness, to stop them from spreading.

And when the demolition is complete and there’s nothing left but a mound of rubble, you can take a good look at your own hands and admit you can’t rebuild by yourself.  You need God.  You realize your sad attempts were like building a house out of wet cardboard and tape.

God has so much more for you than the soggy shoebox contraption you’ve been fixated on and tried to maintain.

As you trust Him to keep working, to gather the materials He’s going to use to rebuild, He will also dig up the painful things you have buried deep in the soil right outside your door; the place where the brown grass crunches underfoot.  That’s where you buried all the junk you didn’t want to bring into your house but couldn’t stand to look at anymore.  You know, the stuff you needed to deal with but didn’t.  God’s going to touch and heal that spot and plant a brand new seed.

And when He’s finished rebuilding and you stand from your place on the hillside to move in closer to see all His handiwork, you’ll realize all the brokenness and ugliness have been replaced with many wonderful changes and exciting, fresh starts.

And just wait until you see what He’s planted outside your door.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NIV.)

The Real You


My husband and I arrived early for our appointment, so we had plenty of time to wait. As I sat on a couch near the window, I noticed a building across the street with all sorts of issues.  There were mismatched bricks in an odd shape like the brick had been painted and some sort of object was removed later, leaving a weird outline of different colored bricks.  One window was missing its black shutter while another had wrinkled plastic wrap on the inside where it looked like a window was broken.  But what I really noticed were these bright and colorful posters hanging over the outside of the first story windows advertising massages and facials.  They were clean, crisp and beautiful.

I looked at that for a long time and thought about it even longer.

Does this building sound like you?  Are you advertising cheery on the outside while you’re crumbling just below the surface?  Are you trying to patch up those broken areas of your life, hoping they’ll blend in so well you’ll forget they’re there?  Maybe there’s a part of you screaming from this place within that you’re almost too afraid to go there, and you sure don’t want anyone else to stop by for a visit.  So you shut your eyes and you keep screaming with your hands over your ears.

But here’s the truth: You’re not fooling God.  He sees you from the inside out.  He knows when your heart is breaking, when there’s no one else around and you think you’re all alone.  God sees you, those times when you collapse, on the inside.  He sees the real you, not just the one you advertise.

And He wants to peel your hands from your ears, hush your screaming, and lift your chin so you can get a good look at Him. He wants to lock eyes with you so you get it.   You don’t have to put on a good show, act like everything is okay when it’s not.  He loves you to the very core of all your messes, all the things about you that you don’t like and can’t stand, and all those things you believe are falling apart and are beyond repair.  He loves you through it all and in it all.

Yes, let God take your hands from your ears. Let Him quiet your screaming, your pain.  It’s okay to be the real you with God.  That’s the one He created.  And that’s the one He loves to hold.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV.)

A Broken Christmas Bulb

If you’d like to read more on the story behind my Christmas stories, please click here.  Merry Christmas and God bless!


After my husband Ted passed away, I started waitressing downtown at a quaint and cheery place that always smelled like coffee and fried potatoes.  I was thankful for the income to support Nick, our little boy, and I was deeply grateful for the way serving others filled this unfamiliar, empty part of my life.  It even seemed to stop the void from getting deeper somehow.  At least for now.

“Order up!”

I scurried to the window to pick up a plate of biscuits slathered in sausage gravy.  The cook scowled at me, his mustache twitching as if to warn me.  Obviously he still had issues about the bowl of tomato soup I dropped last week.

Carefully I set the plate in front of a customer who reminded me of Jimmy Stewart; tall and lean with that old-fashioned dreamy quality.  I wondered if he heard that a lot.

“That tree is a real beauty,” he said motioning with his fork to the Christmas tree in the corner decorated in large red bulbs, slivers of tinsel, and all sorts of angels.

“I guess the owner loves Christmas,” I said.

“What about you?”

“Me?  I don’t know.”  I didn’t want to tell this stranger that it would be my first Christmas without Ted and that Nick, who was only four, couldn’t understand why his Dad wouldn’t be there.  I glanced around to make sure the cook wasn’t glaring at me from the kitchen before I finally answered, “Christmas is okay.”

“Just okay?”

“Look, I better get back to…”

“Don’t look now but the cook is staring at you,” he whispered.

“What?”  I turned around anyway.  The cook’s back was to us.

Jimmy, or whatever his name was, laughed. “You’re awfully jumpy.”

“You don’t understand.  I need this job.  And I’ve already screwed up enough as it is.”

“I’m sure you’re doing fine.”  He wiped his hand on his napkin before extending it to me.  “I’m Bob.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said shaking his hand.  “I’m Clara.”

“Order up!”

I raced back to see a lineup of plates.  Some were for me, others for Rose, the jolly waitress who continuously hummed.  She wore her own frilly apron and called everyone “dear.”  I liked her instantly.

As I dropped off two burgers and fries for a man and woman who each had a laptop and paperwork spread out across the table, the bell over the door began to jingle so much I thought someone was playing with it.  A large group of children filed into the restaurant as “Silent Night” played from the radio.  I felt the color drain from my face and plop somewhere beside the many coffee stains on my sneakers when I realized they were heading for my section.  Three adults and eleven kids.  I started to sweat on the top of my head.

“I can help you,” Rose whispered.  “If you’d like.”

“Please,” I whispered back.  Rose knew I was nervous with big crowds and so many opportunities to spill things.

We pushed the three empty tables together that were near the tree in the corner.

“We’re on a field trip to see where baby Jesus was born,” a little girl wearing long braids explained.

“Remember, they’re acting like it’s Bethlehem,” corrected a woman wearing a furry vest. “So you can understand what it was like.”  Suddenly she yelled, “Dylan!  Don’t touch that tree!”

Dylan, a boy about six or seven with curly blonde hair, sank in his chair like the weight of everything he’d ever done wrong was tugging at him.  The angel on the tree behind him swayed gently.

After handing out water in plastic cups with lids, chaperone’s orders, I went around the table and wrote down each child’s order; either grilled cheese sandwich or hamburger, again chaperone’s orders. As I finished scribbling down the final order, the little boy beside Dylan slid his arm across the table and knocked Dylan’s drink onto his lap.  Thankfully it still wore its lid, but Dylan instinctively shot back in his chair and right into the Christmas tree.  One of the red bulbs fell and crashed to the floor.

“Dylan!” yelled the woman in the vest.

My heart literally hurt for him, as if he were my own Nick who was also followed by that menacing and capable shadow called “trouble.”

“That was me.  My fault,” I said before I realized what was coming out of my mouth.  “Oops,” I said to Dylan who was dumfounded.

I carefully picked up the pieces, cradling them in a napkin.  It didn’t hit me until I was almost in the kitchen that the cook may try to get me fired over this.  My stomach twisted into a tight knot at the thought of losing the only income Nick and I had to survive on.

I avoided the cook, deposited the pieces in the trash, and washed my hands.  I started for the front of the restaurant when I realized Jimmy Stewart, no, Bob, was waiting on me at the counter with his cup.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “I had a little mishap and I…”

“I saw.”

“More coffee?”

He nodded and waited.

When I reached out to take the coffee pot from its warmer, I realized my finger was bleeding.  I must have cut myself on the broken bulb.

“There’s a first-aid kit on the wall in the kitchen.  On the left,” Bob said.

Without questioning how he knew that, I hurried off.

After taking care of the cut, I made another attempt to give Bob, who’d returned to his booth, some more coffee.

“Sorry,” I said as I started to pour.  “Guess I’m having a bad day.  A bad year,” I whispered.  The stubborn tears began to spill out.  I leaned back, hoping they wouldn’t fall in his coffee.

“It can’t be that bad,” Bob said.

I smiled through the tears, feeling ridiculous that I was opening up to a stranger and added, “I don’t know.  I guess I’m just feeling a little like that bulb.  Broken.”

“You know whatever is broken in your life, Jesus can mend it.  You just have to give Him the pieces.”

I nodded.  It reminded me of something I’d heard at Ted’s funeral service. Something I needed to hear again.

“And if I might add, what you just did over there for that little boy, taking the blame like that…that was really something.  Reminds me of what Jesus did for us.”

I wiped the back of my hand across my wet cheeks.  “What do you mean?”

“Jesus was innocent and took the blame for all of our wrongdoings, all of our sins.  Although He paid a much bigger price than a cut on his finger.”

“But I still might lose my job.”  I couldn’t believe I was comparing Jesus’ crucifixion to something so minor.  “I’m sorry.” I sighed.  “I didn’t mean…”

“I know.  But I can assure you your job is safe.”

“Oh really?  How can you do that?”

Bob stuck his hand out for the second time and said, “Bob Tranter, owner of this establishment and that bulb you claim you broke.”

My mouth slid open but no words came out.  I shook his hand again feeling foolish.

“Now I can’t offer you wholeness like Jesus can, but I can offer you a promotion,” he said.

“Excuse me?” I slid down into the booth across from him.

“My wife and I are planning to expand this business in a new direction.  A food truck to reach the needy.  We need someone with a compassionate heart to oversee it, to manage it.  Are you interested?”

More tears came and Mr. Tranter handed me a napkin from the holder.

“So does that mean we have a deal?” he asked.

I nodded with the wet napkin pressed against my face.

“Good.”  His eyes softened.  “And if you’re going to compare yourself to a broken bulb, Clara, just keep in mind that over time, those broken pieces will be mended in such a way that only the reflection of the One who restored you and made you whole will be visible.”



The Cave


God first gave me this article to write for The Outreacher, but now He’s wanting me share it here.  Someone must be hurting…  I’m praying for you, my friend.

Do you feel broken? Do you sense that things are not okay in your spirit and you don’t know how to fix them?  You’re not alone.  I’m with you in the brokenness, and I know God is with both of us.  That’s just the kind of awesome and faithful God we have.  He told me to “be real” when I started to write this because we need to peel away all the layers, the defenses, and even the phony masks to get to the truth.  Spiritual brokenness is painful.  But God wants you to know He is with you right now.

Being broken is like being in a very dark cave.  David hid in a cave while on the run from Saul.  Are you running or hiding?  I’m not either.  I think sometimes God allows us to have time in the cave to revamp our focus.  When we’re out in the bright light of our lives, there are so many distractions, so many things for our eyes to see, so many of our own senses to rely on that we sort of forget to lean on God.

But not here in the cave.  In the cave you can’t rely on yourself.  You can’t trust your own judgment and your own senses are even distorted.  You learn here that it is God who is truly trustworthy.

Protection. God just whispered that to me.  Time spent in the cave can also mean God is protecting us from something, an individual, or a situation.  I have to wonder sometimes if He’s protecting me from myself.  Maybe He’s protecting you from you.  Do you drive yourself crazy trying to figure everything out and fix it?  Do you let go of God’s hand and run ahead of Him because you just can’t wait any longer to see where He’s leading?  I do all of those things.  And the waiting, I’m learning, can be nothing short of excruciating.  Maybe being in the cave is teaching us to be still and remember Who it is that’s in charge.

God does a lot of teaching in the cave.  Remember, all the distractions and busyness are hushed as they’re left outside.  He wants more for you.  He wants more of you.  He wants you to hear His voice; what loving father wouldn’t?  So He teaches you to reach out to Him, to listen deeply in your spirit for the Holy Spirit’s leading.  He’s training you to have eyes that see and ears that hear in a place where your physical eyes and ears are practically useless.  And He’s nurturing your heart to be so tender you not only dream of Jesus while you’re asleep but while you’re wide awake too.

Yes, life will move quickly outside the cave and you’ll feel like you’re missing out.  But you’re not missing out on what God has for you.  Again, He has so much more for you.

Some may call to you, try to shine a light, throw you a rope, but not many will understand why you choose to stay here.  This cave is the place where you and God are meeting for a season, a time for you to learn total surrender, humility, and complete obedience.  Maybe you don’t feel like much is happening right now.  That’s okay.  Much is happening in your spirit as He transforms all of your brokenness into the complete vessel He created you to be.

And when the time has come, when God knows you are ready, He will gently take you by the hand and walk you right out of this cave and into the glorious light of a new dawn; a wonderfully new and powerful dawn.  God is going to use you.  Just be still and wait.  And know this, I’m waiting with you and praying for you too.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV.)