The One He Loves

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Growing up, my elementary best friend was our pastor’s daughter of a very large church. Everyone knew who she was and treated her special because of it. My best friend all throughout middle and high school had the best dad ever. He was a very prestigious and well known businessman in our area. He taught me what it meant to be respected by men, and he was the first inkling of what it could be like to be fully loved by a father. He taught me how to wash cars and that I should be treated like a princess. I’m so thankful for him.

But he wasn’t my dad. And if I’m honest, there were so many times I wished he was.  

A few months ago I had a dream that wrecked me to my core. It changed me forever. I’ll never be the same.  

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In the dream, I was at our church that we attend now. Everyone was scurrying around, you could hear the buzz among everyone, because Tim Tebow was there. I remember not being too impressed. 

I have this thing with famous people. They put their pants on just like I do every morning, they’re normal people just like me, so I don’t get too worked up about them. It’s not to say the anointing on their life shouldn’t be honored, it definitely should. But for those famous people that are Believers, it’s just that, an anointing from God. He’s the famous one. 

Back to the dream, I walked in church and was running late (shocker). The only seat that was available in the entire church was the one behind Tim Tebow to the left. I sat down in the seat ready for worship. 

And Tim Tebow turned around to me and started talking, doting on me, saying all of the nicest things. He was treating me so special. I started to cry because what he was saying was so kind, but I had seen this before.  

He thought I was our pastor’s daughter.  

It was a compliment. I love our pastor, and feel very much like he’s a spiritual father to me. 

“Wait, wait, I’m so sorry. I think you’ve misunderstood. I’m not the pastor’s daughter,” I said.  

“I know, but your Papa’s. Your Papa’s daughter.” he replied.

In the dream, I ran to the back of the church where I normally worship and laid down on my face, sobbing, completely undone.   

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I woke up from the dream crying. And every time I remember this dream, even as I’m writing this, my heart swells and my eyes fill up with tears. 

I remember Papa God whispering to my heart that favor follows me because I’m His. That I’m a big deal, because I’m His daughter.  

My best friend’s dad was great, but He doesn’t hold a candle to the Father I’ve found in God. That dream positioned my heart to not only receive from Him more fully but receive from others too. It marked me in a way that I’ll never be the same. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about John, the beloved. So many people poke fun at him, because he wrote those words about himself, “the one that Jesus loved.” But the more I think on it, the more I think we might could learn from him. 

John’s identity was fully established by being loved by God. The deeper I go into the heart of the Father, the more I’m learning that His love changes everything. And the greatest part of me, is that I belong to Him. 

I’m my Father’s daughter, the one that He loves.  

This dream I shared is yours too. You’re the one in the story with extra favor, that is spoken highly of, and doted on. Because if you are in Christ Jesus, you’re only identity, you’re true identity is established in the love of God. 

You’re the Father’s daughter, the one that He loves. 

A Letter to My Newlywed Self

Next week I’ll celebrate eight years of marriage with my husband. The one I prayed for every day since I was in the sixth grade. The one I gave an old shoe box full of letters I had written to him. The one I promised my life.

When our anniversary rolls around each year, I always think about how young and in love we were. I always think how we were so naïve to what marriage really was. How we had no idea what we were stepping into. How we did the whole premarital counseling thing, we thought we understood the weight of our promises, and how we thought we knew one another. Every year I wish someone had told me the things I know now. But then again, these things were a part of our journey.

So this is to you, my newlywed self. With your tan lines and bright eyes, with your unwrapped wedding presents perfectly in their places. Trying to make that new house a home. This is for you.

Dear Newlywed Self,

It might have not been the most talked about in the town, but your wedding was everything you dreamt it would be. Your family, your friends, your colors, your church, your Cinderella dress that your grandma made. But most of all that groom.

He was tall and slender and so handsome, standing hands crossed at the end of the isle. Tears streaming down his face and yours. That moment, of walking between the isles, like the way Abraham made a covenant with God, it was beautiful.

That song you wrote and surprised him with, it was from your heart, and you meant every word. I know it was precious to him. But that kiss, that first kiss, the one you waited on. It was holy.

I saw you close the door to that limo and cry your eyes out. You’re leaving your family. You’ll come back to a new home. Promising your life away to him, it’s a lot of emotions in one day.

You came back from the honeymoon a wife. And everyone stares a little a church, because they know what you did all week. And that’s okay. You, sweet girl, are just scraping the surface of knowing that man.

The first few weeks will be those of adjustment. He’ll throw his underwear here, and you’ll squeeze the toothpaste there. His mom had cleaned this way, your mom had cleaned that way. He’ll sleep with the TV on, you’ll sleep with it off. So you’ll meet in the middle on those things. Or he’ll give. Or you’ll give. But you’ll start to learn one another.

Then you’ll realize your time is not your own. Your money is not your own. Your space is not your own. Your body is not your own.

Then you’ll struggle finding the new you, the wife you. You’ll never expect your relationship with Jesus to change. But it does. Drastically. Because now you are one with him. And you’re all one together.

You’ll have your first married fight and will never know how someone could hurt you so deeply. You’ll never know those words will fly out of your mouth. You’ll never know you could hurt him so badly. And there will be no retrieving them. But then after he has time to process, and you wait patiently, forgiveness will cover you both like a warm, cozy, blanket. And you’ll learned a new way to serve him and a new way to communicate.

A time will come, if you’re really honest, when you’ll wonder if you can do this for the rest of your life. There will be days when loving him is more than butterflies, but a choice. It’s because of that covenant. You will have to choose him first, you are called by God to, but there will be lots of times you don’t.

But all this time, when you’re learning one another, hurting one another, forgiving one another, loving one another, the Father will be using you to love on him. You will be Jesus in the flesh, loving on His beloved. Showing him there is more to life with Christ than only church and songs. You’ll get the honor, the absolute privilege, of loving his heart to look more like His Father’s. And then that same Father will take a man, your sweet man, and will bring healing to years of abuse from another. He’ll break through those walls, the ones no one had ever seen, the ones you kept hidden for so many years, not with force or selfishness, but with the utmost gentleness, love, and respect.

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When God Gives Us Too Much To Handle

I cringe when I hear these words, "But God will never give you more than you can handle." I literally bite my tongue and start twitching. I've heard it said to others and it's been said to me more times than I can count. The intentions of those words are meant to be encouraging, but they aren't. Because if you are anything like me, when you are standing in the middle of the darkest season of your life, it IS too much to handle. And saying those words and believing them is just plain, bad theology.

When those words are spoken, they often are referring to the passage in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." We're talking about temptation here, not suffering.

Jesus tells us all throughout the New Testament to not be surprised when suffering comes. He tells us to even expect it. He invites us to "share in His suffering." Suffering is something we all experience. No one can escape it. Sometimes we think God's ultimate plan for our lives if for us to be happy. When really His plan for us is to be stripped of ourselves so only He remains.

That's a good Father. Giving His children what He knows is best for them... Him.

So when I hear those words about Him not giving me too much to handle, it can send my brain and my heart down a dangerous path. Because if He's a good Father, He knows me and every detail of my life, and wants only for me to look more like Him, then He knows the suffering I am enduring is too much for me to handle.

He knows because He watched my heart break over and over when I saw those negative pregnancy tests. He knows because there were days I couldn't even watch commercials on TV without aching to be a mom.  He knows because He saw my heart break when I heard those results yesterday.  He knows because He watched me melt in the shower. He sees me broken and crushed. And He and I both know it is too much.

But yet, in His goodness, that's exactly what He wants for me. When it's too much, He becomes more, and I become less. When it's too much, those rough pieces of my heart begin to be refined. The parts of me I continue to hold more dearly than Him, begin to slip away as He helps me open up my hands to Him.

When it's too much, I am exactly where He wants me to be. I nestle up in His lap, my weary head rests on His chest, and I am able to hear His heartbeat.

When it's too much, I run to my Daddy.

Of course He gives us too much to handle. If He didn't we wouldn't need Him. We would do hard by ourselves. Our hearts would continue to grow more independent of Him, and any victory would be for our glory, not His. We would miss out on the privilege, the honor, of knowing intimately the Creator of the universe.

I'm glad He gives me too much to handle. It takes all the pressure off of me to perform and allows me to put it back on Him, the Savior, the One who redeems, the One who has already done it all.

Let me tell you sister, God gives us too much to handle.

And He does it in the most loving way. His intentions are truly good, wanting us to become more like Him. So if you're like me today, standing in the middle of what feels like total darkness, with no end in sight, feeling like it's absolutely too much, just know it is.

So run to Him. Or crawl. Or stay where you are and He'll meet you there.

Let Him scoop you up in His big, strong arms. Rest your weary head on His chest and listen to the cadence of His heartbeat. Breathe in His nearness. Savor the smell of His faithfulness.

And let Daddy handle it.

Because He can.