Sunday, February 22, 2015

Learning to Breathe

(You can also find my today at Inscribe Writers Online writing on The Artist Date and sleeping)

Hello, I'm Lynn Simpson. At 14 years old I accepted Jesus as my Saviour at a bible camp the boy next door invited me to. But as life continued, I stepped out of faith but God was with me all the time. Much later, broken, I was led to see an old friend play in a worship band at a Christian church, the beginning to allow myself to let God love me. From being invited by a group of women who did not know me to sit at their table during a church Christmas event, to the developing relationships I continually make through small group studies, God is working in my life. And using the words of Gospel musician Jon Forman (lead singer of Switchfoot): This is the way that I say I need You. I'm living again, awake and alive. I'm leaving my past behind and commit my life, all areas of my life to Christ.

On June 26th, 2011 at 46 years old, I was baptized. And the above is my testimony I spoke just before being submerged. I consider that day to be the day I fully dived in and became a Christian. And of course, music was a part of my testimony. Even though I did not grow up in a musical family, my love of music started with a boy sitting on my front porch playing his guitar in my early teen years. And without any effort of my own, musical friends just kept showing up in my life.

God was working on me even then, in my rebellious teenage years, knowing music would play a big part in bringing me back to Him again.

It was the music of Switchfoot that played a big part in my journey to faith. First it was Dare You to Move from the popular movie, A Walk to Remember.  And then later, Learning to Breathe which would become the staple song in my journey to leaving my old life, and entering in the New Beginning by "dying to breathe in these abundant skies."

Can I be bold enough, sisters and brothers, to say that Switchfoot's music evangelized me?

Yup, it did!

And that is okay! 'Cause God commands us to be filled with Him through song.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heat to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20

And to continually praise Him and thank Him through song.

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song,
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
Psalm 33:1-3

Because even when He comes again, there will be singing.

And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given to them by and God and sang the song of God's servant Moses and the of the Lamb.
Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name:
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous act have been revealed.
Revelations 15:2-4

Honestly, I cannot carry a tune but I sing anyways. And I am thankful that I have many Christian brothers and sisters that are gifted musically, so they carry me. And together we lift up our voices to the One who calls us to sing!

Do you have a song you regularly sing out to the Lord?

Love you.

Lynn

Learning to Breathe by Switchfoot


Dare You to Move




Friday, February 6, 2015

Surrendering to the Great Surgeon


"Can you imagine," my doctor friend said to me, her dark eyes gleaning merriment, "having surgery and jumping off the table, grabbing the scalpel from the surgeon and cutting yourself open? Why would you even consider trying to do it yourself?"
I shook my head no. Of course not!
 
But how often have I tried to fix myself, and not let the great Surgeon, the Wonderful Counsellor do His work? How often have I grabbed the scalpel using my own knowledge to try to heal myself, push my wants and desires and do as I think things should be done? And end up hurting more in frustration, in disappointment, and then dive into the latest bible course, book, and maybe even a bag of chocolate chips?
 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5
 
Looking out at only darkness from my window seat on a recent flight, the waters of Lake Ontario many miles below me, my mind was quiet. I didn't want to think anymore, figure it out. Figure out the why of how my faith had been feeling like a thin thread barely holding the beads of truth anymore. It seemed life had been easier, trials more easily endured when I ran to sinful comforts before I dived into the tank of baptism on June 26, 2011, and did the 180 degree turn on my life.

During these past almost 4 years after diving in, I have attended and led bible studies, led prayer retreats, been a volunteer for church and community events, and even received my Christian Life Coaching designation.

When I dive in, I DIVE IN, deeply, doing all I can to learn and participate.

But I still was hearing so many sad stories and had my own. And God wasn't changing the circumstances, at least from my window view.

And where lately had my faith been? It feels like I am being tested, I said to a friend recently.

And why when I feel like I have done my due diligence to make up for my sinful past, I feel hurt, disappointed, and sad over losses.  What else do I need to learn, do to receive His blessings? To be whole?

And I thought:

I AM DONE. Done. Done. Done.

I GIVE UP.

And then

I SURRENDER.

And then, in that airplane seat, I saw in my mind myself on my knees, forehead on the floor, hands out stretched in total surrender.  I saw a glass cup, completely shattered. And He showed me that I am all those broken pieces. I then picked up one of those broken pieces of glass, and realized part of me is that piece of shattered glass.

And I finally let go of my pride to admit that I am BROKEN.

And as I gazed at all the other pieces surrounding me, I finally SEE. No matter how much I try, I cannot make those pieces come back together. It has to come from outside me.

Only HE can put me back together.

He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!” Psalm 46:10

And I finally GOT IT, on this flight, flying over Lake Ontario. My circumstances, my blessings or lack of are not  measurements of how God sees me. This life will give me troubles. And in my mind, my heart and my soul I SEE now how He is the Great Comforter!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, and that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

There is nothing I need to do to prove my worth for Him to heal me!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4

And I trust that He is doing a good work within me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

And I praise Him for the trials, the hurt and disappointment on this healing journey as they have drawn me closer to who He is, my Great Counselor!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

And knowing His grace I am peaceful in the present and hope is ever present again in my heart.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
 

Brothers and sisters, if You are struggling with your faith, wondering where He is in Your trials, I get it! Drop me a line or two and I will pray for you.

Or have you had moments where God revealed to You His love, His grace, how He is your Surgeon (no more trying to pick up the scalpel yourself)?

Love you.

Lynn





 
 
 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reality.

"I couldn't turn the steering wheel left. I had to go right," my friend tells me, blue eyes lit like a lighthouse light in a dark night. I needed to turn left to get where I wanted, he continues, but He made me turn right, to drive to the perfect place I needed to be.

I watch him as he straightens his lean frame against the restaurant bench, letting go of his fork into his half eaten salad. "He is with me all the time. I am so grateful."

My thoughts spin like a steering wheel slipping through loose hands, straightening after a turn. Hearing parts of his story, his current struggles, I admire how he Believes even in the hurting.

How God is his Comforter in the struggles.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Just days before, I found myself behind my own steering wheel driving to my church for a special assembly. But instead of being thankful in His comfort, I was being doubtful of His presence again.

Are you Real?
Are Your plans really to Prosper me, not to hurt and harm?
'Cause God the hurt just surfaced again.
Why did you allow this?

Haven't I done everything You wanted?

At my church I slip into a back pew, many rows behind my normal third row seat. I dig for Kleenex in my jacket pocket and removing my cell phone, I see the flashing green light. I flick my phone on in the dim church auditorium.

The bright screen displays a text message.

Are you having a content week?

I look up, my heart steered into humbleness and gratitude, a gift wrapped into a text message from a new friend at the perfect moment, causing my skin to warm, my cheeks to flush.

You are Real.

Content is my God-breathed word for 2015. To be content in all circumstance. And even bigger for me, to be content with exactly who God made me to be.

Creative and sensitive. One who wants to be that girl that wears lipstick all the time but tends to forget to put it on. And one who spends a lot of time going back to places she was just at due to almost always leaving something behind. And one who loves her converse high-tops more than her 3 inch healed boots. And one who talks too much when first meeting someone. Or one who can be very quiet.  

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

The evening continues in God's perfect timing. Activities such as nailing written confessions to the cross (my doubt), locking untruth to a fence (earning grace), and thoughts that do not line up with who God says we are written on paper and burned in a fire (not good-enough, too imperfect to receive His blessings), free me.

He comforts me, in this perfect place He steered me to.

**
The waitress comes by our table and asks if I am finished my salad. I let her take away my plate, but not before noticing only a quarter may have been eaten after an hour, or possibly even more since we received our lunch. Words flash in my head. 'You talk too much!'  I look across at my new friend, his head slightly tilted as he looks back at me. I pause, breathe in the moment and in a flash feel His contentment for me. I say a silent prayer that the Holy Spirit join us, steer our words.

Because He is Real and with us all the time.

We know also that the Son of God has come and given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20







Friday, January 9, 2015

Mending

 

'I received an image when we prayed," she tells me, her hand still in mine. "It was of a broken heart that Jesus is sewing, and there is just a very small way to go. He is almost done."

Almost done.

The year 2014 was full of those moments where all I could do was look up and say, "What are you doing God? I don't understand."

Have you had those? Where absolutely nothing makes sense? When even though you thought you were doing it all God's way, you still did not get the result you expected?

You felt frustrated, confused, and maybe even broken-hearted?

When well meaning friends would quote Jeremiah 29:11.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

And you really, really wanted to believe that but you wanted to SEE it, not just believe.

Everything seemed like it was falling apart. You were falling apart. And you wondered where did your fun, joyful, hopeful self go? Would that self ever come back?

But then there were also those moments, those small glimpses when you would see Him working in you, mending. Maybe through that perfect devotion reading you just needed that particular morning. Or that text message from a friend arriving at the perfect moment. Or that perfect invite to a social event or bible study where Jesus met with you. Or that perfect random event that He could have only orchestrated in the symphony that is your life.

And you saw His perfect timing.

O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

Each stitch hurt. Yet He is mending my heart to wholeness.

He is close to the broken-hearted. To you. He knows.

I thank You, my healer.

Love you.

Lynn














Saturday, December 13, 2014

No Accidents

"Those things you call "accidents," or "surprises." or "discoveries" are actually revelations of God's love and constant concern for you." Moments of Peace in the Presence of God

Recently I listened to an author describe how her marriage was breaking-up while she was writing a novel on Unconditional Love. A complete contradiction. Yet she continued her research, her writing and ended up with a best-seller, fighting the urge to quit and growing even more deeper in compassion for those who experienced divorce and lost dreams.

And rising above the schemes of the enemy.

Recently a friend commented to me, "Lynn, I think the enemy has been right on you tail."

After a loss of my own, I found myself doing all the 'right' things the experts advise to overcome. I stayed busy through new adventures in travels and hobbies. I sought out counselling at my church and attended retreats. I was generous and compassionate, giving where I could.  And as I finally felt I turned a corner, I had the biggest test. And fell apart, the fruit of the spirit of self-control completely non-existent in those moments. And I am still reaping the consequences. I made a MISTAKE. I failed the test.

Or did I really fail?

Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:24

Since then God has placed me in surprise situations where I can only look up to Him say, "I don't understand why You have placed me here as it is painful. But I will Trust You."

And I found myself having to cling to Him like never before to get myself through.

My soul clings to You. Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8

And he provided me all that I needed through compassion of friends who have been where I have been and through wise counsel of others who show me where I still need to grow.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

And I am increasingly hearing His voice as I look upon Him for direction and hope, and acceptance.
         
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and  hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3



And I know I have been in a battle for my mind.

 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12

Recently I accidently came upon a situation that left me shaking. And I got a Jesus 'mind-nudge.' "Lynn, you asked a question this morning to me in your prayers and now is the time to find out." So I responded to the situation. And found out the answer. And discovered (with the help of three wise prayer partners) that my heart still has an idol that hooks me into the enemies grip.

He is transforming me through conviction.
    
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-21

Recently I was honoured by someone who shared a story of choices leading to destruction and now is beginning a healing journey. You see past me and into my heart, this person told me.

He is using me.

I know God will make a message out of my mistakes, and will strengthen me to pass the next test so I can be a testimony. In the meantime, I will not quit.  Even though my life is not perfect, even contradictory at times, I will continue using my gifts and talents. And take a step at a time, relinquishing control, and walking with Him in His love and concern for me.

You never know but I might just write a best-seller too.

Has God made a message out of your mistakes?

"When the hurting and the healing feel the same....
 
When my world comes crashing down around my head.
And I, I feel like I got nothing left. Oh, Oh, I'm not in control oh oh
But it is well with my soul,"  David Dunn, It is Well


.




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Transforming

People will say things such as "I feel like my life is falling apart" or....I am coming apart at the seams." These are the cries of the soul that was made to be whole. As Parker Palmer puts it, "The divided life is a wounded life, and the soul keeps calling us to heal the wound." Soul Keeping, John Ortberg

"Do you have time to pray with me?" I asked, my hands heating up. He said yes he could, of course, after this session was over. Come find me, he directed. A couple of hours later I sat across from him in the large conference room, a flurry of activity going on around us as volunteers set up for a large celebration.

"What's going on?" he asked.

Suddenly my dry eyes started tearing, my hands gripped tighter the edge of my chair. "I'm falling apart." And then, "I feel like I'm coming out of my skin."  And I did. Every inch of me felt like it was on fire right down to my heels. I dug in my jeans pocket for a Kleenex. "I'm sorry. I was holding it so together."

And I had been. But it comes to a point where the soul is just grieving so much, it's got to let go.

For months I had been stuffing. Constantly my mind told me "Don't let them see you hurting. Suck it up and put a smile on your face. Stay busy. Really busy.  Don't let them see you cry. Be extra kind, generous and eventually you will feel all better. It is YOUR stuff. You need to change. If you were only different. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

Just keep smiling....

And keep trying, and trying, and trying, and trying, and trying to make myself better, to change.

But in that moment, with my prayer partner across from me and a flutter of people working around me, I couldn't hold it together anymore. The pain had started seeping out just before our meeting, in a moment of trying to fix, trying to get understanding, like that first drop of boiling water falling over the pot. Now it overflowed completely in boiling heat that I felt from the tip of my head to the bottom of my toes."

"Lynn, do you love who you are? Do you know how much God loves you just as you are?" He leaned towards me. "Maybe He wants to show you, wants you to be looking to Him, for His love instead of searching for love from others."

And Jesus nudged my mind. "Lynn, you have been conforming. Come to Me and be Transformed. Put off trying so hard, and put on My healing for you."

That was just over a month ago and He is healing me to wholeness. No longer do I feel like I am coming out of my skin. And there is peacefulness starting to embrace my heart as I surrender and not try so hard.

Is there anything you are 'stuffing' and have not let God in to heal and transform you? I pray You run to Him.  Or if you see someone smiling but sense a crying soul, may you have the courage to speak into them, assuring them of God's perfect love that HEALS.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2


Love,

Lynn




Friday, November 21, 2014

Oneness

Always be humble and gentle (gracious). Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.
Ephesian 4:2-6
 
"Do you have any issues with someone? Unresolved conflict or bitterness?" our pastor asked. I furiously scribbled his questions in my notebook, then twirled my pen between my fingers, wondering how God so perfectly plans His messages for me.
 
Just on the way to church that morning I was lamenting to God about how I always am the one taking the 'high road' and extending grace, and I don't even get a thank-you or an apology! Why God?? When will it be my turn for someone to extend grace to me? Why is it when I wrong someone, and even apologize, I seem to get blasted with a consequence? Poor, poor pitiful me...
 
Ughh...Still twirling my pen between my fingers, Jesus gives me a mind-nudge. "Lynn, what is grace? When I offered you grace and forgiveness on the cross, did I expect anything in return but your love?"
 
"Christians sacrifice oneness by the need to be self-righteous--the need to be right," our pastor continues. I squirm. Yup. Jesus does his mind-nudge to me again. "Lynn, you know that you cannot always see the BIG PICTURE like I do. Cling to me instead of needing to be 'right.' Just keep coming closer with humbleness and patience."
 
God calls us to make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit within the body of Christ and His church. Jesus is always about reconciliation and as Christians, we are to do all that we can to exist in that unity.
 
And that includes gentleness, or in other words, graciousness which is wrapped in forgiveness.
 
And to love unconditionally.
 
I placed my pen down on my note book, and bowed my head deeper in prayer, eyes closed.
 
"Jesus, help me to love as You call me to love and not to cause breaking of the unity of the oneness You call us for. For I know my heart longs for that unity, that oneness is how you made us. But my sinfulness, my un-forgiveness destroys that unity. Help me to extend graciousness because You call me to, not for my own expectations of what I think is 'right.' Help me be righteous as You call me to be, not self-righteous which only breaks the unity. And continue to heal my heart Lord as You are my healer and redeemer. Amen"
 
Is there anyone you have unresolved conflict, bitterness, or judgement toward?
Are you talking with others about someone instead of going directly to him/her causing gossip or exclusion within the body of Christ?
Is there someone you need to extend grace to by forgiving within your heart and loving on them as Christ calls us to keep the unity of oneness?
 
 
I love you.
 
Lynn