When Your Faith is Shaken….

The other day, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across an image from last June. It was an image that simply stated “I will worship while waiting.” Those words came at a time when I was struggling to worship God and to trust that something new would come my way. But it was something that I knew I needed in this time of liminal space; in the midst of jagged grace.

The day that image was posted I found myself worshiping with one of my favorite communities; the community of the Lutheran Academy of the Rockies. A community that has blessed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined or even counted on. As I sat worshiping with this community, with dear friends, a sense of peace and healing began to enter into my very being. It was the beginning of worshiping in the midst of waiting. But it also was a time of lament for me which was deeply needed in this time and place.

The truth is that there will always be times when our faith is shaken–whether it be through a cancer diagnoses, or through unexpected change, or through deep aching loss. Yet our God is a God who we are to place our trust and faith in. Our God is a God who has big plans for us even when those plans are hard to see in the midst of the fog.

During these times, it is extremely difficult to trust God or to even worship. Yet God calls us to come to him; to touch the hem of his cloak and to know that healing will come. It might come slowly over time. Or it might come a little more gradually. The truth is the healing will always come.

And it is during those times of waiting and healing, that worship is even more vital. There were many days this summer when I had a hard time getting out of bed on a Sunday morning to worship with other believers. But when I did, I was blessed time and time again. It was in those times of worship that I began, not to feel like my faith was shaken, but rather to feel a more solid foundation under my feet. A foundation of God’s love that brought me back to a place where I could worship freely and with arms wide open; proclaiming in the power of God’s love for all the world–a love that calls each and every one of us by name.


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Rediscovering

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. This is also Day 20 of the Write 31 Days challenge. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “discover.” We would love to have you join us.

In the midst of liminal space; jagged grace, it can be so hard to remember who we are. We forget a lot about who and whose we are. We have to rediscover the gifts God has given us. For in baptism, God calls each one of us beloved children of God.

There have been many times in my life when I’ve questioned who I was. Am I smart enough? Pretty enough etc? That is the reality for many of us. And when we find ourselves experiencing Jagged Grace, it’s easy to forget who we are; what defines our uniqueness.

But God tells us never to forget the promise of who and whose we are. It’s a full on promise! God will never take it back. It’s always there. A beautiful reminder and proclamation we never have to rediscover. God discovered it for us.

You are a beloved child of God! Do you know who and whose you are?


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Breaking Down and Building Up

Many days, my television is often turned to HGTV. I love watching shows like House Hunters, Fixer Upper and so many others. When I watch Fixer Upper, I am aware of the many obstacles Chip and Joanna find themselves in when they are remodeling a home. One must first tear down and break down walls in order to rebuild a new wall. There must first be a breaking down before there is a building up.

Oh how often is this true in our own lives. We would much rather not experience the pain of being broken down. But often times, like when a house is remodeled, the finished product looks even more beautiful than before.

Now I am not saying that we look more beautiful after we have been broken down. But what I am saying is that our brokenness tells the history and story of who and whose we are. I am a daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. I am a woman who is called to Word and Service ministry. I am a woman who struggled with systematic theology in seminary. I am a woman who loves words and writing. These each tell the story of who I am as a beloved child of God–the good and the bad.

Like a wall is built up nail by nail, we are built up by encouraging words, amazing people and numerous blessings. And through each of these acts, we are able to feel whole again; whole but just a little bit more fragile than we were before.

One of my favorite things about Fixer Upper and other shows like it is to watch as the old becomes new; as the broken becomes whole and as a family finds a new home suited just for them. In our brokenness, God still welcomes us to come to him; to trust that God will walk with us and will also make us whole again. God is a God who admires our brokenness and uses it to redeem us; to tell the story of God’s love for all the world. And it is because of God’s story of love for the world, that I know that my brokenness doesn’t ultimately define who I am, but rather glorifies a God of new life and resurrection.


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Holy Friendships

“When you sit in the middle of change, a friend is one who assures you, comforts you, and holds you. When you don’t know how to pray, friends become the words and actions of Jesus and prayers of the Holy Spirit. When you don’t know what to think, they become an accurate perspective on your situation. They hold hands and hearts and are a light when you don’t know which way to go. They are worth opening your heart up for.”–Girl Meets Change; Kristen Strong

I have been thinking a lot about how God has blessed me with some pretty incredible people and friends in my life. These friends who have wiped my tears and stood by me in the midst of liminal space; of jagged grace. In fact, now on the other side of the mountain, I know that these friendships are holy; holy friendships initiated by God so that we know that we are never alone. God will never leave us or forsake us.

“That is the blessing of a good friend; they outlast the protests. They stick close and refuse to let their friend go through their changes alone. They see through all the “I’m fine” and “I’m good” statements to the heart of the matter and help where they can.”–Girl Meets Change

In April, when things came to a peak, it was my friends who got me through that day. The ones who sat on my porch with me, poured wine and simply listened. Throughout the month, it was more and more friends who wiped my tears, gave me a shoulder to cry on and simply sat with me. It is in these times of holy friendship gathered around bread and wine that I saw the beauty of my own brokenness; of how God sent God’s one and only Son to die on the cross for us. As my friend Lesley said the other day, Jesus is the ultimate example of kintsugi.

And because of this ultimate example of kintsugi, it was on the prairies of North Dakota with another friend where I was reminded that resurrection does come. It was on those prairies that I felt the blowing of the Holy Spirit. It was there that I knew that our God redeems and brings about resurrection and wholeness. It was there that I slowly began to feel a remaking and rebuilding of myself.

“Quite often my ability to accept and thrive through change is directly proportional to the state of my near and dear friendships.”–Girl Meets Change

And through each of my holy friendships, I continue to know and feel the love of Christ spilled out for each of us. It is in these friendships that I know who and whose I am. It is in these friendships that I cling to the promises of hope. It is in these friendships that I know that God will use them to take my brokenness and piece by piece build me back up again. And they are able to do that, because of the ultimate friendship, the friendship of Christ who went above and beyond for each of us as Christ died on the cross for us.

“For God so loved the world that God gave God’s one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send God’s Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”–John 3:16-17 (NRSV)


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Also linking up with Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.

 

A Healing Touch

“Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ 46 But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ 47 When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.'”–Luke 8:43-48 (NRSV)

This woman came to Jesus and touched his cloak. Little did she know that by touching his cloak, she would be made well. Yet that is exactly what happened. Throughout Scripture, we hear stories of Jesus healing and bringing about wholeness to so many. Often times to the least likely among us. These healing acts are a beautiful declaration of what Christ did and continues to do for each of us.

There are times that it can feel like we are constantly bleeding. It can feel like the hemorrhaging will last forever and never stop. Yet the truth is that we too can come and ask for healing. But the healing doesn’t always happen in the ways we intend or want. Yet God has this way of making all things new again and stopping the bleeding in our own lives.

Today, my friends, know that your bleeding has stopped or will soon stop if you come to this holy one and bend and touch his cloak. Know that Christ heals your wounds and makes all things new again. And proclaim that promise to all who are suffering in the midst of jagged grace, brokenness and unexpected change in their own lives. For it is because of Christ’s healing touch, that we can be made whole again!

Linking up with these lovely ladies today–Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup and Jennifer and Tell His Story. 

 


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Behold, I Make All Things New

“Life was good. Death was brutal. And resurrection was worth it.”–Annie F. Downs (Via the In Real Life Friended Simulcast)

On Saturday, as I watched the simulcast of the in real life event, these words echoed in my heart and soul. How often have we found ourselves enjoying life; things are good, maybe even great and then death comes our way or the virtual car of life we are driving veers off course?

The reality is that it can stop us in our tracks. It can be totally expected or it can seem to come out of no where. It is in these moments of death that we find ourselves wondering if life and resurrection are possible again. The truth is we trust in the promise of resurrection but in the midst of death, it is hard to see resurrection.

Death has this way of jolting us in ways we never imagined. I can think of the many times in my life when I have found myself living in liminal space; in the midst of unexpected change. Life was going along well, and then all of a sudden death came my way. And that death was indeed brutal. I found myself wondering if I would ever see the light again; wondering if resurrection would ever come again.

Yet resurrection reminds us that death does not have the last word. I am once again reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Clarence W. Hall. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.” God and only God has the power to overcome death and the grave.

And when we believe in that promise, we see that resurrection does come. In my moments of liminal space; jagged grace; and change, I have seen new life emerge from the death. “Behold, I make all things new.” Our God is indeed a God of new life and resurrection. There are indeed times when I wish that death was not a part of the journey of life. It is so incredibly painful; whether it be the loss of a friend, a job, someone we love or whatever it may be. Yet out of our brokenness, out of our death, God brings new life and resurrection. And as Annie reminds us, resurrection is worth it.

“Death is not the end of the story. It never is.”–Annie F. Downs


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Bigger than We could Ever Imagine

“I’ve walked among the shadows; You wiped my tears away; And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak; And I’ve seen the brighter days; And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place; And I have held the blessings;God, you give and take away.” (Hills and Valleys–Tauren Wells

This song has been one of those songs that has been playing in my heart and soul. Every time I hear it, I belt along with the words. And then the other day, I read this post by my blog friend Kaitlyn Bouchillon. It’s a post I can’t shake because her words speak to me so much. As she reminds us, God is greater than our highs and lows.

In the midst of Jagged Grace; in the midst of the lows, it can seem God isn’t there. But the truth is God is indeed there. And today, I find myself on the other side of the mountain; knowing that God is with me now and was with me in the midst of unexpected change. God is a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us.

Im so thankful for that promise…because God is greater than we could ever imagine. God is a God of “the hills and valleys” indeed. Thanks be to God!


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Holy Invitations

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. This is also Day 13 of the Write 31 Days challenge. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “invite.” We would love to have you join us.

A Holy Invitation
By Tara L Ulrich

The hands and feet of Jesus
Friends who sit with you
In the hard
And lift prayers on
Your behalf.

Giving voice
When you cannot
Find the words
Yourself.

A holy invitation
A reminder that
We are not alone

Holy invitations
That make us whole again.


During my times of living in liminal space, I’m thankful for the invites from friends who knew just what I needed. It might have been giving me their shoulder to cry on or a couple of bottles of my favorite wine. Or it was an ear to listen as I sorted through the uncertainty.

There was the day this summer that my friend EG and I sat in a paddleboat and took in the holiness of God’s creation on the beautiful prairies of North Dakota. This is just one invitation of a holy invitation; a holy invitation commissioned by God.

So when others are hurting, living in liminal space, or experiencing jagged grace, may we remember to invite them to sit; offering words when they cannot find them for themselves. It is in these holy invites that we know that we are never alone. That God will bring peace, healing and wholeness to those who are weary.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, And I will give you rest!”-Matthew 11:28


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Falling into the Trap of Comparison

“What could I have done differently?” This is only one of the many questions that runs through our minds when we find ourselves in a time of unexpected change; of living in liminal space.

We so easily find ourselves falling into the trap of comparing ourselves to someone else. She is prettier than I am. She is smarter than I am. And the list goes on and on. Falling into this trap is natural, but God reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”–Psalm 139:13-14 (NRSV)

We each have been given our own unique gifts and God does not want us to compare ourselves to others. I love this quote from Holley Gerth over at her blog yesterday,

Let’s never think we are more holy or whole than someone else. We may have cracks in different places, but we are all still broken and still beloved.”

That is the truth, my friends, in the midst of jagged grace, we are all still broken but we are also just as much or even more loved by our God. It takes the breaking to make us whole again. And in our new wholeness, we are whole but just a little bit more fragile than we were before the last awful occurrence of our lives.

God redeems us all in the midst of our brokenness through the jagged grace God offers each and every one of us. Recently I was reading “The Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Warren and one of the quotes from her book jumped out at me. Tish writes, ”

I’ll hold on to the truth that my body, in all its brokenness, is beloved, and that one day it will be, like the resurrected body of Christ, glorious.”

Together, we are all broken, redeemed, glorious children of God; always loved and claimed by God.


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