In Death, Heroes Inspire: In Memory of Nabeel Qureshi

“Heroes aren’t supposed to die!” My heart yells in the deep place where only God sees. Death from this life is certain… cancer doesn’t play favorites… and yet heroes are supposed to be victorious… right?

My little girl self still believe this. I can’t help but hope that light will always overcome darkness, that wrongs will always be righted, and the hero will defeat the evil. Perhaps because in my child-like faith, I know there is eternal victory, death has no power over me… and yet… the living still suffer the heartache of being here without those who have gone on ahead.

At just 34 years old, Nabeel Qureshi, had become one of my heroes because he wasn’t afraid of questions. Sounds simple, I know. But really and truly, he asked questions and sought the truth, even when all he had known and been brought up to believe was challenged. I admire his courage to face the possibility that what he thought he knew could be wrong. His passion to understand and pursuit of truth came at great personal cost. In heroic fashion he lovingly and kindly opened doors whenever he could in order to let the of truth light in so others could see for themselves.

My sister teaches the hero journey through story and film. Her method is brilliant and she probably doesn’t realize I’ve been listening to her, and I finally understand. Heroes sacrifice themselves to rescue the people they love. In death, heroes inspire us to live well. I don’t like it… but we need it.

I know that Nabeel is with Jesus. In his death, he inspires me and many others to not just live well, but to love greatly.

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My question to you: who are your heroes?

If you are having trouble naming any, perhaps its time you let someone like Nabeel inspire you to let some light in so that you can see things for yourself.

Be brave, dear ones. We need more heroes and you never whose hero you may become.

*If you would like to know more about Nabeel, read his story “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus“. He reads it himself in the audiobook.
For more information visit Ravi Zacharias Internation Ministry site or read the brief bio with a link to one of his final vlogs at Christianity Today.
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One Weed at a Time

Dusk came.
The reddish sun had already retired, But I still had light for a good 15 min.
Anyone with a garden knows that every little bit helps.

So I grabbed my gloves and a bucket – prepared for hand to leaf combat with the little invaders creeping up under my tomatoes.

It's amazing how something so simple can be so satisfying. With every weed I threw in my bucket another burden rolled off my shoulders. As Prayers bubbled up and spilled out of me as I cleaned the beds of our small garden, so too the Master Gardener pulls the "weeds" from my heart.

This week. That conversation. Her heart. His pain. My hope. Their safety. Will I? Can they? How can we? But what if…!?

Deep breath. Exhale.

The sweet smells of summer..
Warm dirt.
Tomato leaves.
Blackberry breeze.

Deep breath. Exhale.

My bucket is full.
And my burdens are easy.

There are still some weeds.
I still have some burdens.
But with the weeds away the plants can focus on their purpose! To grow and thrive and be beautiful and be fruitful.

My own weeds have been traded in for thankfulness.

My bucket is full.

My Prayer Box

I have a box standing ready at all hours of the day or night… waiting to receive.


It is my Divine Post Office. Several times a week throughout 2016, I would stop by and drop in prayers. Sometimes with tears and a troubled spirit, I would struggle to write the little prayer on the scrap of paper. Other times with joy and delight, I would drop by to post a note of thanks or celebration. 

Whenever my heart was overwhelmed or overjoyed, I came knowing the Lord would be listening. With determination and trust, I would date and drop the little paper into the box, slip the latch in place, and be on my way, more often than not lighter and strengthened to face the trials and triumphs of the day. 

Between today and tomorrow, I get to go back and read through the full box of papers and reflect on all that God has done with my heart and life. 

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Today for Yesterday… Never.


We all wish we could go back… Take back… Change a response… Take the right instead of the left… Speak up… Stand up… Shut up… Wait… Listen…

But what’s done is DONE! Gone. Finished. Behind us.

Just like the morning mist on the valley creeping through to wake up the flowers for the day – each morning brings NEW opportunity to start fresh.

I wouldn’t trade today for 100 yesterday’s.

“His mercies are new everyday.” 


Irritating Pearls

According to Google –

“In order to protect itself from irritation, the oyster will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layers of nacre — the mineral substance that fashions the mollusk’s shells. Layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, coat the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed.”

So we too should accept the “irritations” and life’s challenges, cover them in prayer – learn from them and see them for what they really are. Continue to cover them in prayer trusting that God has given you the strength to continue on.

Watch… wait… pray… trust… we will see our irritations turned into “pearls” – treasures that make this life even more beautiful.

 

IMG_5105*Thank you, Allie, for inspiring me today! 

Hope in the Waiting

In the darkness, I waited

Quiet. Calm. Still.

My heart was pounding in my chest.

Knowing it was coming.

Thinking and fearing it never would.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

This is the time in between time.

Everything is still.

I opened my eyes and there was a hint of change.

Another moment passed revealing a glimmer of hope.

Hope takes its time, like the light of dawn.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the darkness gives way to shadows.

Shadows reminds us of fear because they are unknown.

There is no certainty in the unknown.

Another breathe and the unknown is known.

The light of dawn has broken through.

Hope’s tendrils are reaching through landing upon my heart.

With the first light of the morning, streaming through the trees.

Hope streams in, unavoidable, undeniable, known.

In the light, I wait.

MayValley

 

 

Stop, look, listen… God has been very busy

When I was very little girl, with one blonde braid trying to hold back my messiness, I remember being taught the most important lesson in street safety.

Stop. Hold still (this is STILL a challenge for me), put down the phone, don’t move.

Look. Open your eyes and see ALL that’s going on around you. Focus.

Listen. ACTUALLY listen. Spring is coming and there is so much happening in our world around us and in the people around us.

3 easy steps… If only I would put them into practice more as an adult – I would have even more to be thankful for… Because God has been very busy. I see Him growing and providing, nourishing and admonishing, pruning and planting, all for His glory and our eternal Joy.

When you take the time to Stop, Look, and Listen – What do YOU see Him doing?

Also… it could save you from getting hit by a bus!

 

Why I Participate in Lent

In the Christian tradition we remember…

40 Days Jesus Christ wandered in the wilderness, preparing to start the season of Ministry. He was tempted and chose to be obedient.

The reason: Because of His love for you and me.

So I take these 40 days to do something that draws me closer to God. I use these days to give up bad habits and try to instill good ones. By taking even these small actions of personal disciplines, I am choosing to follow Jesus. Choosing obedience just as He did out in the wilderness.

For the season of Lent 2016:

I am taking on memorizing Bible verses… I am looking to the Book of Ephesians. We’ll see how much I can really put in my heart in 40 days.

I am giving up my caffeine dependency! *Important clarification: I will be having tea and coffee, but I will be drinking socially and as a treat rather than out of necessity. If you know me, I lean more towards a pot of coffee a day! The point: reminding myself that I only need to be dependent on Jesus.

What are YOU taking on or giving up for Lent?

Heartache, Hope, and Wait-And-See Trees

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. ~ Proverbs 13:12

This verse has always haunted me.

I never wanted to understand what it really meant for hope to be deferred so much so that your heart felt sick.

Left FaceI was too busying focusing on the possibilities of fulfilled desires.

Future plans were taking root in my trees of life.

I had no time to spend time pondering the other outcomes. Besides… I always hoped my heart could be an exception, that I could love without the heartache, that success could come without failure.

The day comes… choices are made… no heart escapes.

Then in the aftermath… your heart sinks, your stomach twists, you go through the motions of the day one task at a time… a fog settles in on your mind and the world around you loses its color.

The storms of life came through and your “Wait-and-see-trees” were uprooted. FullSizeRender1

Whether through heartache, failure, or death of a dreams… once you’ve experienced any of these, you understand.

You just… know.

Hope deferred… “Ohhh… That’s what that means.”

Like a dandelion seed with no where to land… moments and minutes… time doesn’t seem to matter. “Time heals all wounds…” But the heart doesn’t know that. It doesn’t matter how many cliche, helpful, thoughtful words of wisdom and encouragement are said…

“You’ll get’em next time.”
“It just wasn’t meant to be.”
“Doors close… windows open.”
“You’ll find someone better.”
“Shake it off.”

All the while… your heart is begging all the well-intentioned voices to just leave you alone.
I offer you no well-meaning, flighty words to help you through. But rather I share what I am learning –Right face

Faith and Forgiveness are the only way to find future hope.

and

In God’s timing… seeds find soil and we start planting new “Wait-and-see-trees.”

…desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

MayValley

R.E.S.T

Far too often real, God given rest seems to be beyond our reach. Life is distracting and no amount of T.V., exercise, or ice cream will help. So here is my practical way of approaching rest.

feather

Reason.

Experience.

Scripture.

Tradition.

In walking with Jesus, He wants us to REST. When life is full of worries, concerns, uncertainties, disappointments, or anything else that robs us of peace – where do you turn for rest?

Here is my practical personal exposition on REST =

Reason = Wisdom can be found, sometimes in surprising places. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Phone a trustworthy friend. Go for a walk.

Experience = God has brought you through a lot of life situations. Maybe this one is entirely new, however, your past experience has prepared you… at least in small ways… to deal with whatever it is you are currently dealing with.

Scripture = OPEN YOUR BIBLE! Read it. Listen to it. Find comfort in the poetry and prose. Look for the experiences in the narrative. Jesus has given us amazing examples of people who failed big and managed to over come impossible situations. (Daniel, Manasseh, Mary, Joseph, Paul…) And while your reading – try a biography of someone who had the courage to share their faith journey!

Tradition = Look to what is special and why it is important… these milestones, holidays, rituals, and traditions have been put in place in order to continually remind us of God’s power, provision, and faithfulness in our lives. (The books of Deuteronomy Joshua, and Judges help show this if you want more.) I will expound on reclaiming holidays and traditions in a future blog, for now I leave you to ponder on your own.

(You should know… I stole this entire concept from Anglican and Wesleyan Theology – known as the “Evangelical Quadrangle”  – then I personalized it. Reason, Experience, Scripture, and Tradition is the foundational  platform for our church services, styles of worship, as well as, the spring board of our theological platforms.)

However, I want us to focus – this is about us taking Jesus’ promises literally. I believe it was Oswald Chambers who said something along the lines of “My life an act of Worship…” This is what real REST is – recognizing our need for Jesus in EVERY aspect of life and then believing He really cares.

rest