Butterfly Sparks Designs

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Walking Wounded.

In the first twenty minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan, an extremely graphic scene of the Omaha beachhead assault of June 6, 1944 is depicted. Although it was nearly fourteen years ago, I vividly remember seeing this movie on the big screen and will likely never forget some of the images in those first few minutes. The directors of the movie explained that the intensely graphic nature of the opening scene was so that the viewer could truly understand the reality of war and the raw nature of wartime violence and death, which was critical to the viewer’s connection with the main storyline for the film.  

The images that I remember most from this powerful movie are those of the walking wounded in that opening scene. Like the soldier who lost his severed arm and searched for it, found it, picked it up, and carried it with him as he sought shelter from the enemy fire. Broken, dismembered bodies with one goal – survival.  With severed limbs, trying to find refuge in the midst of warfare that they had grossly underestimated.

All of us have walked, are walking, or will walk the long journey from the valley of woundedness and pain to the refuge of hope. Like the walking wounded in this movie scene, those of us walking in emotional and spiritual woundedness seek shelter, but with broken hearts and crushed spirits. Like the walking wounded soldier, we, too have one goal…survival.
 With shattered dreams, trying to find refuge in warfare that we had grossly underestimated.

When we’re in survival mode, living isn’t really living, it’s more like just … existing. The difference between broken bodies and broken spirits is that we can hide a broken spirit. We can appear to have it together spiritually.  But inside, we’re dying. And too proud to tell anyone about it.

If our wounded hearts are walled with pain, shame, and guilt, and our wills are walled with fear and anxiety, then where do we go for refuge and healing? Usually not to the One who can heal. Usually, to other people to fill the void that has consumed us, because even though we are wounded, we still crave love, joy, and peace. God created us to crave it. But we forget that there is only one True Source for our wholeness. We forget that He created us to crave it from Him. To seek it from Him.  Sometimes I lose sight that although God gives me the amazing blessing of experiencing love from others here on earth sometimes, that it will never be truer, deeper, or wider than His love, His joy, or His peace available to and flowing through me all the time.

But there is good news.
Great news.
Wonderful news. 
The BEST news.

The heart of the Holy Spirit lives in those who believe and call upon the name of God and His ultimate sacrifice, the risen Christ. The heart of the Spirit in me…and in you…gives us direct access to the healing that can only be found through the mind and heart of Christ.

God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:10-16, NIV).

As believers, we talk about the “power” of the Holy Spirit, and often.  May we remember that the power of the Spirit comes from the heart of the Spirit, who always only wants the best for us. If we allow our heart to meld with the heart of the Spirit, the walls come down. We receive his heart toward us, so we can give it to others. The way we give to and receive love from others is radically changed.

Our goal becomes SO much more than to just survive.

We are no longer the walking wounded. We are alive, and we love without walled hearts. We live and love from wholeness.  

The heart of the Spirit makes us whole.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Give and Take.

I am working on some new posts that aren't quite ready yet, so for today, I dug deep into the blog archives.  This one deeply moved me in its timeliness, and as it reminded me that just a few years ago, the truth He was weaving into my heart was for then, but also to prepare me for a future yet unknown.  God is faithful to remind us of His love.  May we not forget in the darkness what we once remembered in the light.  Be blessed, friends!

Give and Take (Repost from March, 2010)

I was reminded recently of a powerful short story that I read a few years back. In preparing to write this post, I tried to find it but to no avail. The details I remember are this: a young girl and her mother were living in a poor and war-torn area, and the only Bible they had was badly ripped and damaged. They were at home one night, and the little girl came running to her mother, joyfully shouting “Mama, Mama, look at this…” She showed her Mama one of the badly torn pages, with only the first few words remaining from John 3:16.   “For God so loved the world, that He gave…” The little girl was joyful, her eyes beaming and smiling brightly. “Mama do you see that? God loved us so much that He gave!” “Gave what?”, her mother asked. The little girl replied, “It doesn’t matter what He gave, Mama. Isn’t it just great that God loved us so much that He gave to us!”

I wish I had the heart of that little girl, in its unjaded, uncompromised ability to receive the powerful simplicity of ultimate truth.

Recently talking with a woman going through an emotional time of loss, she was crying out to understand why God takes away things (or people) that we love so deeply. Her loss was new and fresh, and even as a strong woman of faith, she was trying to find His perspective in it all. She knew and had always claimed the promise of Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

Her dilemma was in trying to understand how He could have dangled something in front of her that she loved so much, and that she felt Him calling her to, only to take it away from her.

I’ve been there before, too. Have you?

Just as a loving parent gives his/her child gifts, so, too, is the act of love of taking away something that will harm his child.

Remember the little girl in the story…"God gave!"

God, how do I find and share the heart of this little girl, the content and utter joy of simply knowing and believing that God gives?  What is this beautiful mystery of how You give to us sometimes through taking away that which can harm us?

This is what I heard Him say:  "It is because I gave so much, that I CAN take away."

He gives bread so that He can take away our hunger.

He gives water so that He can take away our thirst.

He gives light so that He can take away the darkness.

He gives peace so that He can take away our fears.

He gives comfort so that He can take away our pain.

He gives rest so that He can take away our weariness.

He gives love so that He can take away our loneliness.

He gave His only son so that He could take away our sin.

God gave. God gives.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This past weekend I spent some time alone in silence. Sometimes I forget just to be still and to turn off the noise – all of the noise. I’m often amazed at how uncomfortable silence can be, for in the silence we remember that we feel, and we can hear our own thoughts.  Silence usually speaks much more loudly than any volume of noise used to try to drown it out.  

Sometimes, I don’t like what I hear in the silence…my own thoughts… which should make me want to flee from it.  But as usual, He draws me in.  It is often in the still, silent solitude that those all-too-often-whispered-lies merely serve to remind me of what I forgot in the chaos…that the Victory Banner is already raised over them.  So as I exhale into the complete rest that waits for me in the shadow of the His Banner over me, I melt into the One who stands ready to take those thoughts…those lies… captive.  


Sometimes the victory banner is raised before many to the sounds of trumpets, shouts and pomp and circumstance.  

And sometimes, the victory banner is quietly raised over a single shattered heart, as the Master tapestry-maker sews it all back together with threads of grace, mercy, and peace. 

The more I embrace it, my pull toward spending time alone in deep reflection and prayer has become more and more intense. Scripture tells us in several places to go to the “secret place” to pray to the Father.

On this day, I thought about a long list of things and prayed about an even longer list of things. As I looked out on the water, I caught a glimpse of something beautiful. The water was perfectly still and smooth, like glass. The reflection in the water was perfect…a gorgeous blue sky…heaven. If the water had not been at rest, I could not have seen this incredible picture. Only when we are perfectly still … when we are at rest in Him … only then can we reflect heaven. Only then can we reflect Him.

There are so many times when God speaks to me through music, other people, and of course through serving others. And I am moved to incredible heart change during corporate worship at times. But nothing can replace the intimate time I spend alone with my God. He says things and shows me things in the still, quiet place that I cannot hear or see anywhere else. And I sure would hate to miss that. 

"The more I seek You, the more I find You. The more I find You, the more I love You. I want to sit at your feet and drink from the cup in Your Hand… to lay back against you and breathe, to feel Your heartbeat. This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand. I melt in your peace." ("The More I Seek You", Christ for the Nations)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hands That Love Well.

Today is her day. A day to celebrate a woman like no other … my sweet Mom.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom and me. I’m pretty sure I was about four years old here. And check out Mom’s bee hive – hubba hubba!  But seriously…I have often said that I love her hands in this picture.  They captivate me.  Her hands reveal much more about her than her perfectly shaped hair or radiant smile.  Her hands show the depth of her heart.    
My mother’s sweet spirit and loving heart are so very apparent to all who know her.  But only some know her story.  Mom’s childhood was very difficult.  Those beautiful hands had desperately tried to fight off abusers and bullies for many years.  Those hands had shielded her own face in sorrow and shame.  Those hands had begged and prayed for acceptance. 
Jitterbugging to "I Can Help" (read about it here)
Yet even so...she overcame.  Those once-earnest hands went on to hug me every single day…and to lovingly stroke the birthmark on my forehead as I fell asleep on her lap and to cradle me when I cried.  Her hands held mine as we danced, and they pushed the swing as Mom sang our made-up song…"Mommy and Melissa, swingin’, swingin’, we’re having fun!"  
Her hands have always freely offered me the love, affection, and acceptance for which they had long ago grasped. 

As far back as I can remember, her hands have created beautiful pastries and dishes.  Mom would work so hard, for days and days, to prepare beautiful culinary delights for our family, neighbors, friends, and church family.  She loved opening our home to guests and showing hospitality.  Needless to say, our house was a favorite for sleepovers with my friends! 
Her hands have created beauty. 
During my teen years, Mom and I weren’t as close. Like many teens, I "knew it all" and didn’t respect her much.  I would give anything to get those years back.  Even in the midst of my making some seriously DUMB decisions, she showed her love and affection for me, and I know that she never stopped praying for me.  In my twenties, something just clicked and I began to see her differently.  Although it had always been there, her ability to forgive and to love unconditionally began to draw me in to her in a new way.  The Lord was working powerfully in her life, and although I didn't realize it until later in my own life, she was Jesus to her wayward daughter (me) for many years.  (For the other Moms of lost daughters out there…I pray that brings you encouragement.  Don’t give up.  I don’t know where I would be right now without the faithful prayers and love from my Mom and Dad.) 

Her hands have freely offered grace
From that point on, I wanted to study her, and I have been ever since.  I cannot describe the depth of my love for my mother. 
Over the years, I have had the privilege of observing those same hands lovingly and oh-so-meticulously create unique and beautiful crafts and arrangements and beautiful treasures that have brightened the lives of so many. 
Unbeknownst to me until around the time I turned thirty, her passion for cooking and hospitality had taken root in my heart as well.  I began to see my own hands mimicking my memory of hers, as she intricately and carefully thumbed through cookbooks, writing menus, creating masterpieces in the kitchen and crafting beautiful presentations at gatherings of family and friends… infusing a piece of her heart into every touch.  
And most beautifully, I have studied the hands that faithfully pray.  My sisters and I joke that Mom must have some sort of direct line to God, because when she prays (and she prays all the time), stuff happens!   And her hands lift in praise, too.  From my hospital bed just a few months ago, as four doctors pushed Mom and Dad away as they surrounded my bed during a critical complication, I caught a glimpse of her.  I was so scared.  My eyes searched to find Mom and Dad standing together.  Dad, bless his heart, was weeping and I knew he was praying.  I was so comforted by that…he was fighting for me, as a good Daddy would.  But Mom…Mom had a huge smile on her face as her eyes gazed upward, with her beautiful hands lifted.  Mom was lifting me up and praising Jesus on my behalf…praising Him even in advance of His blessing.  
Her hands have loved well.

I heard someone say once that “One day, you’ll be putting on your coat, and you’ll look down to see your mother’s hand come out from under the sleeve.” 

I hope so.  I really hope so.

Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done,and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:28-31 NIV)

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  Thank you for who you are.  Thank you for loving me like Jesus then and now.  Thank you for being my most faithful cheerleader, mentor, advisor, encourager, and friend.  I can't imagine my life without you.  I love you so very much, and I am proud to call you Mom.