The Things I Learned This Year...

This year I learned again how to give my heart to God. But this time, it was different, different than ever before. This time, when I gave Him my heart, He whispered to me…Gabi, will you give it all? And I said back to Him, Yes, God. Because You are all. And without You, I am nothing.

So I held my heart out to Him in trembling hands, and gave it over.

January 1, I asked Him to take my heart and to let me love His discipline.

Ok, daughter, He said. I will answer your prayer.

And so this year, He broke my heart.

This year I lost pieces of my heart. Just when I thought I had gained something that would make my heart whole, I lost it. God, oh God, thank You for this mercy. You saw that I thought something outside of You would make me whole, when really it was just stealing me away from You, the very One who is wholeness.

So God chased me down, He gave me the gift of loss. And I grieved. Oh, how I have grieved this year. This beautiful, aching grief that opened up like a dark cave right in the middle of my soul. I wept, secretly, silently, in the black softness of my pillow. I cried and I said thank You. Thank You God for taking away. He gives and He takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Then when I thought I could take no more, God, You brought my heart back to me and You showed me these places that were hard. And You said, Gabi, dear one, can I soften this? I looked into Your tear-filled eyes (somehow, I knew those tears were for me), and I said, Yes, Jesus. Always yes. If it means I get molded into Your image, if it means I feel you more, then YES. Yes and yes, a hundred times over.

And so, in the middle of the gaping hollow pain that already was there, God came and peeled away the hard skins that had wrapped up portions of my heart. It was a rending, a surrender that brought me to my knees. It was a repentance that made me bleed and cry tears that I didn’t know existed until that moment.

Then, right into the middle of my bleeding, God brought me a gift. A most beautiful gift. Someone else’s broken heart. Jesus, You saw my surrender, You saw my givenness, and You gave me two broken hearts in return for my one. And I learned something – that a heart that has been broken and given over to the Lord of Hosts is a heart that can pour out an unconditional Love, because through all the gaping hollows of a heart that is given rushes the fountain of Love straight from the heart of the King of endless Love.

I lost and I gained. I gained Christ and I gained the Love of Christ pouring through me onto someone else. I want to live my life in this givenness. Never have I experienced anything more beautiful than this outpouring from me onto someone else because of Christ. I want my life to be about this, always.

Never before have I heard His voice so clearly. This year, hearing Him became as easy as breathing. Because this year it was clear that He was the One I desired more than any other. And when someone desires Jesus, He finds it impossible not to give Himself to that person completely.

So, 2016, I say goodbye to you happily. But I’m also thankful for you because this year, my heart became so cracked open and whole, so steady and so sure. This year my family grew in the most unexpected way as I let two more broken hearts into mine.

In 2017, I think these 2 will multiply into hundreds. 2017 is going to be a year of fulfillment, a year of dreams come true. There’s so much on the horizon – I’m beyond expectant and excited. But somehow I know without 2016 that these 2017 dreams-come-true couldn’t have happened, because in 2016 my heart made its final step of surrender to the Loving Lordship of Christ.

Oh yes, yes….He is everything.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Will My Dreams Ever Come True?

We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Hebrews 6:9b-10, NLT

Maybe you’re like me. You have these God-whispers inside your soul, these dreams that He has planted within you. You know they’re from Him and you’ve been collecting them like seashells as you walk the shores of your life. As the years have gone by, you look at these treasures from time to time because it’s those things whispered to you by the Spirit of God that keep you going. But then when you look around, your life looks something like this:

Wake before dawn.

Down some coffee (Lord knows that’s the only way you’ll get through the morning).

Say a prayer; read a scripture.

Make yourself presentable (you don’t want to scare your co-workers!).

Dress the kids.

Feed the kids.

Get everyone out the door (kiss your husband before you part ways if you have time).

Drop the kids off at school/daycare.

Go to work. Act like your morning wasn’t stressful (and remember, it’s only 8am!).

Work! (This is the least chaotic, most restful part of your day.)

Be amazing (before and after midday coffee).

Pick up the kids.

Feed the kids.

Smell the kids...just a little ripe. They can go one more day without a bath, right?

Have a few moments of family time. (Hopefully no one’s hair gets pulled and no one has a meltdown about which toy belongs to whom.)

Put the kids in bed.

Cry when you realize you have to do the dishes.

Do the dishes.

Collapse on the couch.

Spend an hour writing, dreaming, working on the stuff of your future. Or, if you're too tired for any of that (understandable after the day you just lived), snuggle with your spouse and watch a baking show (or whatever it is YOU do to unwind). :)

Climb into bed.

Get a few precious hours of sleep.

RINSE AND REPEAT.

We laugh, but let’s be real, so many of us are in this season and live like this, day in and day out. And actually, I'm one of the lucky ones. I love my job and find so much purpose in it. I love my kids and they're doing amazing. Things are going awesome. But still, I have these treasured whispers and dreams in my heart, and like so many of you I often pray, When, oh Lord, will I see these things come true?

But I recognize that this is my chance to read and believe words like this:

We are confident that you are meant for better things… (v. 9b)

Oh the hope within these words! Sure, lots of people will say things like, “Raising your kids and doing well for them is the best thing you’ll ever do!” And you know it’s valuable – it’s not that – you just know there’s even more.

[God] will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other[s]… (v. 10)

God sees all that you do for your family, for your friends, and for your employers! He sees the changed diapers, the daily meals, the kissing of booboos, the late nights with a sick kid, the crying shoulder for your spouse, the word of encouragement given to a friend, the excellence with which you do your work, the way you serve your boss. God, your God, the one who put those whispers of greatness inside of you, He will not forget a single one of these acts of love and service during your season of waiting.

So what comes next? Is there still hope for your dreams? With great expectancy and excitement in my heart, I’m so happy to say…YES!

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. Hebrews 6:11-12, NLT

THIS IS YOUR TRAINING GROUND! You, right now, are standing among the Abrahams, the Davids, the Esthers, the Ruths, and the Josephs. You are entering into your daily lives with love, with endurance, and with faith. This daily sacrifice of love and service in the small things here and now is what is keeping you spiritually focused and practically prepared for what is to come. In fact, for most of us, it’s these days, months, and years of living with faith and Love in the ordinary  that equips us to step into our day of extraordinary without burning out and without stumbling and falling.

Abraham got his promised descendants.

David got his promised kingdom.

Esther got her promised destiny.

Ruth got her promised family.

Joseph got his promised rule.

They were all faithful to love and serve where they were planted in their given seasons. They didn’t jump ahead and they didn’t look back. And they inherited the promises because of their faith and endurance.

What about you? What is the promise you’re holding on to? Keep HOPING. It’s coming, and every moment you spend in faith, love, and humble service now, in submission to the Lord, is just getting you closer and more prepared to inherit and walk into those extraordinary promises.

Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.  This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:18b-19a, NLT

Practical Steps to Keep Your Dreams Alive:

1. Find someone to serve! When you start investing in someone else's dream, it often helps hone your own. Also, serving someone else gives you the heart that Jesus had - one of humility and compassion. Invest in someone else. God will invest in YOU.

2. We live in the age of easy access to inspiration. Subscribe to a podcast of your favorite speaker or one revolving around a specific topic that you're passionate about. There's no reason to grow stale, even if you don't have much time. Personally, I have been so encouraged listening to sermons by women preachers I admire, reading their books, and gleaning from their experiences. I can learn from them via technology even when I'm cleaning toilets or brushing my teeth!

3. Write down the things that make your heart come alive, from the little things to the big. These are the threads that make up the tapestry of your soul. Little by little, one by one, start to pursue and cultivate these things in your life. For me, it can be as simple as dying my hair pink or wearing bright-colored shoes! Those things make my heart happy, and God uses hearts that are alive so much more easily than hearts that are dying.