The Tomb Is Empty!

empty-to-life

Our lives can feel so empty when loved ones leave us, whether through death, family or friends leaving home or moving, or troubles that take their minds or hearts away from us. Empty chairs. Empty places. Empty hearts.

But not every empty is sad.

I remember a story of a 9-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome whose Sunday school teacher made certain Philip was treated like everyone else. But some children left him out, because he was different.

A week before Easter, the teacher said, “I have a plastic egg for each of you. Find something that reminds you of life. Put it inside your egg, and bring it back next week.”

The next week the teacher gathered together all the eggs. One by one, he opened the eggs and found a flower, a blade of grass, a butterfly, and even a stone. Then he opened one that was empty.

“Someone did it wrong,” said some children.

As the teacher stared at the empty egg, a hand tugged his shirt.

“I didn’t do it wrong,” said Philip. “The tomb is empty!”

The teacher used this empty egg as an illustration of the glorious Easter message.

With mourning hearts, some women visited Jesus’ grave. Their hearts felt so empty of Jesus. When they arrived, they saw the stone that closed off the grave was rolled away. An angel sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.

Shaking with fear, probably with rounded eyes and gaping mouths, they were speechless.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said.
“I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen.
Come, see where His body was lying.”
Matthew 28:5-6 NLT

Looking in the grave, they found it empty of Jesus. He is not here! He is risen!

Though still frightened, their empty hearts filled with new life and joy as they ran to tell the disciples as the angel had instructed them.

On the way, Jesus met them. They ran to Him, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him. And Jesus again told them, “Don’t be afraid. Go tell My brothers. They will soon see Me.”

Jesus is alive! Because the tomb is empty, our hearts may be filled with life everlasting! Our hearts no longer have to feel so empty. There is hope. Death has been conquered and defeated. Abundant life is possible and freely given.

freedom

“Dance Your Shoes Off” or “Rise Up”
by Second Baptist Church in Houston

I know I shared this before, but I’d like to share it with you again. It still gives me goosebumps and lifts my spirit to rise up in praise along with them. I hope it will fill your empty hearts with hope and joy. More than 2,000 people gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The purpose of “Dance Your Shoes Off” was to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ in a powerful and celebratory way. Each participant left a new pair of shoes on the field for those in need.

“We claim the victory
He won on Calvary
Celebrate the King of Glory
So rise up
People of the Lord, rise up.”

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Barbie – Weekend Whispers

OneWordCoffee Linkup

God Can Breathe Life Into Your Voice

voicematters
A Child's Trust
Joining Faith Barista’s writing prompt:
Finding Your Voice

I’ve been struggling with this writing prompt. How can I write about finding my voice when it sometimes feels like it’s still trapped inside of me?  I really don’t know how to describe it, but sometimes it feels like there is this pressure deep in my soul crying to get out, to be the real me. But when my voice starts peeking out, that’s when the lies hammer me even more persistently. And I want to shut down again. 

I was about to give up writing this post until I read Bonnie Gray’s post: The Top 5 Lies of Perfectionism, and she encouraged us to take the Love Dare Challenge. To just take the next step that reflects only on the unconditional love of God for us. To let ourselves be loved.

So even if this post sounds as mixed up as my “real” voice does sometimes, I’m going to take the Love Dare Challenge and write anyway. I’m trying hard to JUST BE ME and not feel guilty about it. To not feel selfish if I nurture the true voice of my soul. To not feel I don’t deserve to be healed.

Deep down in my soul there are seeds.

Unique seeds God planted that make me different.

Seeds that have a special purpose in His plan.

Seeds that are meant to grow and bloom.

Seeds that have been smothered with negative words and actions.

Seeds that I’m trying to allow God to breathe life into again.

There is hope in the story of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. The Spirit of the Lord brought Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones. A jumbled up mess of dead, dried up bones with not a speck of life in them. But what happened?

Feel the shaking of the ground. Hear the thundering and rattling as thousands of bones connected to each other. Then muscles and tendons, flesh, and skin covered those dry bones. But they still needed God’s breath to come alive.

“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath and spirit to enter you, and you shall live.” (Ezekiel 37:5)

God breathed a spirit of life into dead, dried up bones.

So I tell your heart and mine…

You sometimes feel your voice is so buried,

That it will never come to fullness of life.

Take courage in this story.

God can bring dry bones to life,

And He can resurrect your true voice

To fully live and love as He created you.

Truths About Legalistic Christianity

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs

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Letting Truth Triumph Over Post-Traumatic Emotions

Photo Journal Your Heart.

How has God been touching your heart this month?

Share what you see. 

 

Anxiety rages in my soul. It seems worse this month ever since I chose my focus word for this year – TRUST. And since I started spilling out those deep places of my soul.

I want to scream and cry.

I want to run and hide.

I just don’t understand it. I recently found a “home” in cyberspace. A place where my heart feels safe. A place where I am encouraged to be “real.” A community of open hearts where I feel accepted just as I am.

But why then do I feel so afraid? Why do I want to withdraw from comfort-receiving and comfort-giving?

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Roaring In
Shame-slapping Scowls
Stormy Emotions
Stomping Down
Sinking Me

Toxic shame screams, “You don’t deserve comfort. You don’t deserve to be accepted. You will never be of any value to anyone else.” Shame pierces the very core of who I am. Encourages me to hide the painful experiences. Darkens and distorts the truth of who I am in Christ.

Panic shouts, “Watch out! You’re going to be hurt again. Reinforce that wall.” Many times in my life, when I told the truth and tried to be “real,” I was hurt. Friends I thought I had for life didn’t want to be with me anymore. I wondered, “What’s wrong with me?”

drowning
I can’t do this anymore!
Jesus, save me!

Fear chains my creativity. I write. I delete. I write. I delete. Then when I do send it out into cyberspace, I second guess myself and want to snatch it back. What if I said something wrong? What if I someday regret writing this? I comment on blogs, but fear twists my gut. If I write something to comfort, I feel hypocritical, because I don’t always feel courage myself. If I share painful feelings, I wonder if I sound like I’m looking for pity. And I worry… Did I encourage that person or did I only make her pain more heavy? What if I am misunderstood and I hurt someone? What if I become more self-centered than God-centered? 

Wouldn’t it be easier to numb my emotions again? To not rock the boat? To not risk writing that’s “real”? It’s easier. It hurts less. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know.

I’m drowning in all these insecurities, Lord! Will there never be an end to all the turmoil in my emotions? Please grab my hand and pull me up!

Then a still small voice. Hardly discernible amid all the cacophony in my soul.  Whispers of hope...

Troubled soul, be still and listen.

Trust Me, My child, trust Me.

“O storm-battered city,
troubled and desolate!
I will rebuild you with precious jewels
and make your foundations from lapis lazuli
(the symbol of wisdom and truth).”
(Isaiah 54:11)

 

My heart trembles as I try to grasp this TRUTH.

I lay down my “I-can-fix-this-myself” attitude.

As a child, I stretch out my hand and lay it in His.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

holdmyhand
You don’t need to understand;
you just need to hold My hand.

He pulls me up. The storm still rages, but I keep my eyes fastened on Him.

When I lose eye contact with His love, I sink again. So easily when the emotions roll in and knock me off-balance…

rollercoaster
Scary Monster
No power
No control
Memories trigger

This “being real” stuff opens up the vulnerable child in me. And it’s scary. Like some years ago when my kids convinced me to ride a roller coaster. Nose dives, upside down twists, hairpin turns. Terror sucked the breath out of me. I was powerless to stop this monster. No control about when I wanted to get off. When the monster finally stopped, my shaky legs stumbled to my husband. I heard his concern as he looked at my chalky white face, “Are you alright? You’re shaking!” He guided me to a bench. I shook and sobbed. Then I realized that feeling of powerlessness and lack of control triggered a memory and threw me back to a time of abuse. To the monster who took away my power.

But as I write this, I think of what my counselor has said, “If you hold onto the past, your abuser still has you under his control. Don’t let him have that power over you anymore. Don’t let him weigh you down in chains. Live in the blessings of the present. See the sun shining in the window? Breaths of God.”

I’m not going to let the monster win. I am no longer in the past. Today I am stronger. I will control the monster. He will not control me. Jesus is Power. I will focus on how He fought the monster for me. He has already won.

I don’t want to miss out anymore on blessings and opportunities. I want to move forward, one step at a time.

Letting TRUTH triumph over these post-traumatic emotions…

Listening to Whispers of hope...

Quieting my anxiety with the visible proof that no one has more power than the Creator, and He has all things under control.

sunrise
But for you who revere my name,
the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.
And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
Then you will trample on the wicked;
they will be ashes under the soles of your feet
on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
(Malachi 4:2-3)
Spearfish Falls
A “Soulrest” Moment
“Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love;
Our God is an awesome God.”
(Rich Mullins)
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I love how God’s creatures point to His promises.
“But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.”
(1 Corinthians 6:11)
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I found these beautiful mushrooms
growing up out of a dead tree.
God springs up life out of death!
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“How does the Meadow-flower its bloom unfold?
Because the lovely little flower is free
Down to its root, and, in that freedom, bold.”
(William Wordsworth)