monarch-butterflyThe last few days could have wreaked havoc on my heart.  Could have, but did not!  It is not that I am any more special than anyone else, but perhaps I have learned along the way to not fall captive to what things “appear” to be, but rather to see what I know to be real.  I wish I could tell you that life has been a huge party with cake and ice cream, but in those dark moments it is when I have experienced God’s presence and His superabundant grace. In fact those difficult times have taken me out of the HOV fast lane of life and slowed me down to be still and wait for His embrace.

I was sitting in my office and pondering the upcoming Labor Day celebration and the comparison of the “rest” of God. So many friends are laboring. Maybe you can relate.  Perhaps you are struggling to believe God for healing, for a prodigal child to return home or maybe life has just thrown a curve ball out of nowhere and you are still stung from the surprise.  Whatever that is, I want to share a new perspective to bring hope.

Many years ago when photography was my hobby, macro photography, I photographed a butterfly.  It seemed for the next few weeks at every turn there was a butterfly to focus my attention.  I began a study on butterflies.  It was a surprise to me at the time when I ordered a research book on the subject.  But when it arrived and I began to read, it became clear that one day I would use this amazing creature as an encouragement to those weary in their journey.

For time sake I will not go in depth, but concentrate on the caterpillar and the chrysalis. The caterpillar reaches full maturity 20 days after the egg is laid on the milkweed leaf, growing in equivalent to a six -pound human baby growing to 16,200 pounds in 20 days.  No other class of animal on earth matches this fantastic growth in such a short length of time. Something inside the caterpillar navigates it to find a suitable safe place to spin a silk pad from which it can hang upside down in preparation for becoming a chrysalis (sometimes erroneously referred to as a cocoon — moths have a cocoon whereas a butterfly has a chrysalis).

There are over 30 stages of transformation occurring at about two-second intervals.  The caterpillar’s body jerks and peristaltic movements occur from head to tail.  Each time the body jerks, more of the green chrysalis appears.  The meticulously timed action of jerks and movements do not allow the old skin to rub against the newly soft formed chrysalis, which if touched, would distort the emerging butterfly.  In the final completion of the chrysalis, every outward part of the caterpillar has been shaken off and it enters into that chrysalis stage totally blind. Spiritually, the chrysalis acts as a coffin because the caterpillar’s internal parts all perish and turn into a green liquid, except for the heart, which is protected by a substance called the “golden crown.”

At this stage, the internal changes begin taking place rapidly. This is where we get the word “metamorphosis,” a word that comes from two Greek words, meta (meaning change) and morphe (meaning form).

About eight days later the butterfly is ready to emerge, right on time.  It always emerges early, just after sunrise.  In 50 years of study, there has never been a recorded emerging of a butterfly in the afternoon, or in the evening, or in rain, which would damage its wings and it would die. With specialized cameras, scientists can now see that as the butterfly unfolds its wings, its veins fill up with a fluid that breaks open the chrysalis.  Within fifteen minutes the wings have expanded and the chrysalis can no longer contain the butterfly. What we have perceived as a struggle is not a struggle at all!  It is now ready for flight!

This once caterpillar, with sixteen legs, bound to crawling and only being able to see black and white now transformed has 6000 lenses, can see all the colors of the rainbow as well as ultraviolet light.  The monarch’s eyes, brain, and other structures are also integrated into an amazing navigation system that keeps it on track to migrate as far as 3000 miles away. The brain of the butterfly interprets 72,000 electrical pulses from the eye to translate the pictures the butterfly is seeing. The list goes on.  Scientists study the eyes of the butterfly because it is the only living creature that can stare directly into the sun and not be blinded.

Many of you are in one of these stages similar to the chrysalis stage and emergence.  I call it the process of darkness, light and flight.  What I have come to understand is often in our times of darkness is when the outward things that have held me back which usually are always rooted in what I believe to be true, are stripped away.  Many times they are faulty beliefs of how I perceive God.  I too go through my gyrating and tantrums and shaking things off, but what is usually the outcome is that I am turned upside down and emptied.  The casket or chrysalis stage is when I can’t see or understand, and yet that is where I have experienced such peace and grace.  It is the time I can’t move because I don’t know how to move.  That is purposeful.  It is when I am my weakest that I give God the opportunity to lavish his superabundant grace and without knowing I am being transformed.  And one day similar to the wings unfolding in the butterfly, my current situation can no longer hold me back.  I, too, break free.

It is all about seeing the difference in what appears to be the situation, and the reality of a Father’s heart that loves us too much to keep us the same.  It appears like it will never change and He is not listening. But He is meticulously fashioning us inwardly to soar beyond our wildest expectations.  Whatever that is you need, He is the “I AM” who already has answered and is preparing each of us to enjoy that which is His best. If God put that much detail into the life of the caterpillar and its metamorphosis into a butterfly with a seven month life span, how much more does he carry the details of our lives!

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly….



And just when you thought…

Will the real you please stand up!

I love being with friends over a good meal and exchanging stories and laughing into the late evening.  This evening was different.  It seemed that the evening I had envisioned had turned into one-upmanship. It was subtle and cloaked as a Pinterest board of comparisons.  As one person wisely stated, “Pinterest is that place where people present their perfection for all of us to observe.”  We often fall into comparing what we think as our own underwhelmed reality to the staged, cropped, filtered photos and we end up feeling terrible about who we are.  That can lead to our projecting who we think others’ want us to be, or who we want to be in the future, rather than just being who we are now!  Of course this is not to dis Pinterest, this applies to Facebook, LinkedIn or any social medium where we feel the need to enlarge ourselves in hope of feeling qualified!

I have been reading a book that I would like to just throw out because I am hoping every page turned it will get better.  Have you ever read a book like that?  But something will not let me put it down.  The author made a statement that has challenged my thinking:  God can only love the authentic you!  Not the person you think you are supposed to be or in the future plan to be, but rather who you are right now with all the warts, issues, dreams unfulfilled and heartache and joys.  That means accepting every part of yourself including those parts you would rather ignore.  It means knowing who you are and are not in and through Jesus.  Sometimes I must admit that I allow my failures, broken dreams or disappointments to shout more loudly than my ability to hear or see opportunity!

The feeling of being unqualified produces all kinds of bizarre thoughts.  And most of us fall into pretending to have it all together flashing social pictures up on digital boards when really we are falling apart.  What would you feel if I were to say that when you think everything is falling apart that perhaps the truth is you are on the verge of everything coming together?  Sometimes we “tinker” around on social media and become embarrassed about who we are and where we think we should be in this stage of our lives.  But God loves us too much to bless someone I am not.  He longs to bless us, the real me, with all of my ups and downs and pros and cons.  So as unqualified as I may think I am in comparison to others, 2 Corinthians 3:5 -6a says:

 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything coming from us, but our competence comes from God. But God has made us sufficient.

God calls me.  God equips me.  God empowers me.  God opens doors for me.  So what I think my qualifications or lack are is relatively irrelevant. That deflates the thinking that it is all up to me.  It is recognizing I owe it all to my Father.  It is stepping into destiny based not on who I think I am or my ability, but on who God is and what he will do through me.  That is freedom to stand and let the real me be seen.

Waiting, the journey of the heart

waiting_for_someone_like_you_by_AcreeshLast week I promised I was going to share my journey of waiting, hoping against hope and trusting against all odds.  I am an adult, but there is a little girl still very much alive inside me who believes in fairy tales, dreams and has hope anchored in a Big God who loves me.  I can’t give up what I believe is from God and I don’t want you to either. It was recommended that I not share and self-disclose, but good grief, someone has to get honest.  How can anyone become encouraged or gain hope if we remain in a glass bubble rather than have an exchange of authentic sharing.
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Into Me He Sees (intimacy)

“Chirp, chirp, chirp”.   “SHUT UP”, I screamed!  If I would not look like an idiot I would walk outside and throw my pillow at the birds to stop, but sincerely that would not only be foolish but would demand too much energy. The birds awakened me from another restless night, so why was I so peeved?  I had not been sleeping.  Whoa, what is that all about?  I love birds, I love squirrels, I love nature, but my reaction was revealing something… about my heart.  The past few weeks have been overwhelming with activity both at work and in my personal life.  I seemingly had gone from activity to activity not really present in any of it. Actually, my life was “picking up” and I was having fun.

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“Whew”, 80 laps in the pool and I was feeling energized and ready to tackle my errands.  I showered, dressed and packed up my wet suit and towel and walked briskly to my car.  It was only 30 degrees.  I was sitting in my car strategizing which errand to do first when I kept having this thought about going to a particular grocery store that was 10 miles away.  I ignored the thought because that same store had a location that was a mile away. So why would I travel 10 miles? What a dumb thought!

I kept rationalizing the persistent thought.  Gas prices were soaring and I had tons to do so why would I go to this store?  As I paused to listen to whether God was leading me to this store, I kept processing and interjecting why God would lead me 10 miles up the road?  He wouldn’t, so I thought.  He is a practical God. Really?  Is He?  Was it practical to have the children of Israel go out of their way to the Promised Land – Exodus 13:17?  Was it practical for Jesus to let the disciples fish for hours catching nothing (John 21) when He could have told them in the beginning where to find the fish?  Isn’t the truth more about His desire to reveal Himself and His ways to us?

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A Walk in the Park

Years ago on a gorgeous pre-spring day, I grabbed my iPod and took off for the river park. I liked this particular park because of its remote location, away from the hustle and bustle of the daily routine.  With no one around to overhear, I could sing along to my worship music at the top of my lungs.

Occasionally, I would stop, sit on a tree stump along the isolated path through the woods. This was the place I had claimed as mine to be alone with God.  A safe place where I could pour out my heart, remind Him of my dreams, and get His feedback as to where I was in my journey. I had never thought about the safety factor since I’d never been one who looked for trouble. And this day was no exception.

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