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301 North Broad StreetLititz, Pa 17543
301 North Broad StreetLititz, PA 17543
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As I can I want to offer a fresh word of encouragement sharing from my experience how our Father God meets us in the middle of loving and living out our faith to draw others to freedom. The road to freedom can seem long and hard not unlike the experiences of living as refugees from war torn nations, walking out of years of abuse and pain in broken relationships, facing the reality check that comes with unplanned pregnancy, and the great journey to healing from trauma and adverse childhood experiences. I fully believe we are offered so much more than we ever experience as Christ followers. We settle for a life in bondage to the elemental nature of this world and continue to live as Hagar when in fact we are daughters of Sarah.
Galatians 4:3131 So, brothers [and sisters], we are children not of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
John 8:36 So if the Son frees you, you will really be free!
I recently had the opportunity to save a duckling who was stuck in the Lititz Spring creek. Maggie, our dog, and I walked by and heard the familiar distress cry of a duckling. I noticed the mom came to her, but the duckling did not move to follow. She was calm and appeared content, but something was not quite right. I determined that if she was still stuck there on our way back, I would wade into the creek and help. Sure enough, I heard the cry on our way back and went to the water's edge. Maggie hesitated, not wanting to leave my side but not wanting to enter the water. Maggie stayed on the creek bank, eyes fixed on me as I waded to the stuck duckling. I discovered the duckling had a string wrapping around her leg and a low hanging tree branch. It took a few seconds to decide what to do. In the end I snapped the branch, scooped up ducking, and walked to the bank. Maggie, still vigilant, let me grab her leash and we prepared to walk home to free the duckling. Fortunately, as I stepped onto the walking path I saw someone had just pulled into a parking spot nearby.
Maggie, duckling, and I walked over as the man got out of his truck and asked if he had something to help us free the duckling. He obliged and happened to have the perfect tool in his pocket. As he worked to cut the duckling's leg free we discovered the string was actually some mesh fencing that was not only wrapped around her leg but also her waist. Once there were no strings attached I walked her back to the creek bank and let her go. She ran happily back to the water and her waiting mother. Maggie finally relaxed and got excited by the running duckling. Once we saw the duckling was safe and clear we turned and headed home, our job was done.
This was such a meaningful picture of what I have learned about walking with others out of the hurts and the strings that keep them bound. Often my job is to recognize the need, assess if I can help, and help to cut the strings… but then to keep on going letting each "duckling" find her way and determine how she will use her new found freedom. I am part of her experiencing freedom, but mainly pointing her to the one who can and will bring lasting freedom. However, as we all know from our own stories, being freed from something does not always lead to living in freedom. Regardless, if I pass that way again and the same duckling is stuck in the same place on the same branch… I will offer help to cut her free then continue on my path with no strings attached.
An example of an assignment is homework given to a student.
An example of an assignment is the position of any US Ambassador.
An example of assignment is the act of the president choosing an individual to be part of his administration.
Assignment...being chosen to take responsibility...a position...a task. I am at the end of one assignment and the beginning of another. These moments often come with confusion, guilt and a momentary feeling of not being needed or wanted. How many times have I allowed myself to get so entangled in the assignment of loving someone else, carrying them in prayer, walking out a hard transition...but getting myself lost in the process forgetting that it is an assignment not my identity. Forgetting it is a season and my part will shift, will change, will be redefined. He has put me in this position and He hand picked me for this assignment...He is there before and He is here after...The passion that has drawn me to serving as I do, the heart cry to see the lost and hurting drawn out into the light and given release from their oppression, bondage, and imprisonment has come with many hard assignments. Seasons of intense prayer and fasting, seasons of living with hard to live with people, choosing a person over completing a task, giving up space, time and energy, constant rearranging and times of forced rest when I would not yield...Now I am entering a season laden with opportunity to enter a chosen rest from a place of humility and experience and not from desperation and exhaustion. I myself can experience restoration...restoration of health, restoration of relationships, restoration of my position as mother and wife and to some as friend. These were all in some ways set aside as the assignments before me took all of me...and now having wrestled with the Lord in the deep dark places not just of my heart but in the lives of those around me one assignment is ending and a rest from a season of "war" is in front of me. I am learning again or perhaps for the first time how to live after war. Isn't this what we are here to live out anyway? Aren't we all positioned to be living examples of those rescued, those saved, those who are able to enter rest because we put our Trust in the living God. The assignment is to live out my identity in Christ, to just be...If I truly am going to offer a place of breakthrough, of rest, of hope...then I truly have to step into it myself...If what I offer is no different then the confusion, separation and anxiety around me then I truly have nothing to offer.
Several years ago I shared on what I was learning about perseverance and the secret to perseverance in yielding to the Lord in trusting and resting in Him. Summarized in these points:
We quit moving towards godliness and stay stuck in the treadmill of self-discipline when we refuse to rest:
We quit because we are tired. We quit because it hurts. We quit because we do not see the end result. We think we have to make it work. If we try again…if we put everything else aside…but we refuse to return and to rest we refuse to yield to quietness and trust…we refuse to give up anxiety, we refuse to walk vulnerable…we must shore up our weaknesses, we must fix ourselves …. we must, we must, we must get it right…
The places that hurt, the loses, the questions, the concerns, the failures….are only endured through abiding trust and a willingness to walk away from a habit, a self defense even of what seems good and right allowing everything to be measured in the light of the true goal…Love
Three things you must give place for in your life:
Its sowing seeds in faith and feeling the Living Water starting to make them grow because even when He doesn't have to send encouragement, He does.
“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.
43 But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
So may you give place to Process, Encouragement and Healing and learn to embrace the assignments while remaining in a place of trust and rest. Truly this is a process, we are not called to this alone, and healing is for you not just for those we are called to love and serve.
Since my last post we have made several decisions about our assignments and one major one is coming to the realization that we are simply called to mother and father the women the Lord brings to us. To share the reckless, compassion and love of an outrageous heavenly Father and constant companion and friend. We do so in small simple ways through kindness and comfort as well as questions and challenges. We make ourselves available for long listening sessions, waiting at appointments, creating a place to return to when everything goes wrong and continually pointing to and looking to Jesus for lasting change and answers.
Often when I am quiet and still I am overwhelmed by the Love of God for His people, for the lost and the broken, overwhelmed at the lengths He will go and I feel unable to contain and truly express the love inside. The overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God...that line has become so familiar and so personal. This is the overwhelming love that makes visits to the ER, trips to harsh and broken places, unanswered questions and hours and hours of everything worth it. This is the love that drives us to the cross and on to the other side, it drives us to ask for more, to seek more, to want to be more. This is the love that breaks through the dead and decaying areas of our hearts and the world around us. This is the love that never fails. This is the love I want and desire to not only emulate but to become. I want to embody the Love of Christ to the lost and broken more than anything else I have ever sought after.
Ephesians 5 1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
My prayer for you is to love like that. May you keep company with Jesus and live a life of love. May your goal to love overtake all other ambitions.
9 Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper.Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.
11 Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.
There she was sitting in the small counseling room as we surrounded her. She was flanked by her Case Worker from the county, as well as the ministry team. She sat clutching her daughter to her chest, her head wrapped in a cloth, and though her stature was somewhat diminutive her presence spoke of a fierce independence. This was the beginning...the beginning of a love story. A mother's heart laid bare that day breaking in ways I could not imagine...that heart was mine. The love that infused my soul for this dear one and her child cannot be expressed in words, nor can I attribute it to a human origin. The connection of a Mother's heart to a lost child...those I have birthed and the many I have not. The cry of the lost and hurting can be deafening and the moments of clarity, seeing clearly the person in front of me is often enough to move me...move me to cry out on their behalf, move me to seek to understand, move me to give without expecting return.
I had become a vessel of the very compassion I have experienced as I have walked through seasons of wandering, seasons of heartache, seasons of stubbornly going my own way, seasons of separation from the knowing revelation that God is with me and working through me and seasons when I have tried to go it all alone. I am now at a season when I have learned how to express what is inside, but I still manage to hold back more than I want to of myself and the true depths of love and care I find in reflection and prayer. When I reflect I have seen myself as a fierce lioness rising to ward off the enemies of her children and felt the lows of the seasons of finding the quiet, lonely place to nurse my wounds. I ,however, no longer can bare the weight of need and endless sorrow that only grows.
The obstacles in the path of these daughters hidden in the darkness cannot be moved by my compassion alone. I am no longer moving from a place of desperation to fill a need and right a wrong, but from a place of understanding and revelation. Understanding that the one in front of me must come on their own to the Father and my part is to say: yes to a show of compassion, yes to what the Lord is asking of me, yes to mothering and allowing His love to move through me...These are the steps that pave the way out for a hardened, broken and scar ridden heart.
18 So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.
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