When Nothing Is Something

“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” Nehemiah 4:6

“The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you heart the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us! So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.” Nehemiah 4:19-21

First, let me say that if there are any mistakes in this blog post…I have switched my blogging platform to WordPress and I have yet to receive my training on how to use it. Between sickness at my house (I know right???) along with sickness at my blog diva’s house, there just hasn’t been a time when we could take an hour together. Since I do most of my writing in the middle of the night, I figured having her walk me through this first post at zero dark thirty would make her my ex blog diva! So let’s muddle through this together.

If you have been a follower of my blog-which by the way turns 5 this year!!!!-you know that chaos is the name of the game in my life. Every new plan, every first step, every start over has led to what some would call epic failures. For me, in the stillness of my office, when everyone is gone to bed and the glow of the computer is all that lights my world, there have been more nights than I want to remember where all I did was weep for what I perceived was the loss of my dream. I have, more often than not, spent more time fighting for what I had decided He wanted me to do than I have actually doing what He wanted me to do. And when things didn’t go as planned I struggled to rejoice in the failures.

When I started this journey of being a christian I knew it would not be easy. If I learned nothing from my years of sin and rebellion, it is that the closer I get to God, the harder the adversary works on me. I have not, for the most part, been one who shakes my fist at God to blame Him for the things that go wrong in my life. I just learned over time that if I didn’t get involved in the messiness that is community, I wouldn’t have to be involved with people who would hurt me, my family included. So if I stayed hidden away or if I didn’t ask Him for direction, I could just muddle along, reading my Bible, doing a little sharing, writing a check to cover the work of those ministries that I didn’t want to get involved in.

But this place called Church Project that has become our home has changed all that. Our pastor has taken a stand that I have rarely seen in my visits to many, MANY other churches. As he so often reminds us, we are not called to warm the pews on Sunday. We are not called to sing a few songs, throw a few dollars on the plate, give 20 minutes of our time (and DON’T GO OVER BECAUSE I HAVE PLACES TO GO, PEOPLE TO SEE, FOOD TO EAT)  to hear a sugar coated message and then head out to live the “other life” for the other 6 days of our week. On a regular basis the pastor reminds us that if we aren’t going to become a part of the church, he would rather us find another church.

Ouch.

But the truth is that we are called to get messy, to get our hands dirty in the work of the Lord. We are called to be in community with other believers. To share life with them. To know their hurts, their sorrows, their joys, and the life behind their smiles. We are called to be a part of something bigger than our own living room. We are called to bring people to Christ. To make disciples. To be a living witness to everyone we come in contact with.

EVERYONE.

Recently, when I was once again broken down by the weight of what goes on in my life, I came to Him in tears. (Sometimes I think He wonders what I would look like if I smiled because I seem to always be weeping when I turn my face to Him.) I laid out my plans to Him, reminding Him (in my arrogance) of the dream that He had put in my heart. “See God? See how well I have planned to do all the things that will make you happy? Why is everything going wrong again? Why can’t I have what you promised me?” The words came tumbling out, mixed with the tears that flowed down my face. “I just don’t understand” I wept, repeating the words over and over again. As if me saying them would make Him change His mind about what He was asking of me.

So here is the truth behind my tears. I would rather do anything but be in community. There. It’s out. Now you know.

Why? Because in my life community was about judgement. About pain. About being trampled by those in a rush to be first in line.

Yet I have come to realize that I never really lived in true community. I kept thinking it’s about others loving me when really it’s about me loving others. It’s as simple as that. God, in His infinite wisdom, has not called me to try to BE loved. He has just called me to love.

We are studying the book of Nehemiah at church. An oft overlooked book where God’s people are working in the harshest of conditions to rebuild what was lost through pride and sin. They must work together, constantly guarding against the enemy, constantly giving all that they have to rebuild God’s Kingdom. They often worked with one hand on the work and the other hand on their sword. Now that is some true opposition! As the pastor was reading chapter 8 (yes we read the Bible word for word at our church) last week, a particular scripture reached deep into my heart.

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Neh 8:10

There it was. In black and white. And being spoken out loud in front of me. As if the pastor could read my mind (doesn’t it always seem like that?), his next words pierced even deeper. “If you don’t know what to do, go back and do the last thing God told you to do.” I wept silently in the darkness of the church.

Why do I always want to tell God what my next step is going to be? He must get so tired of seeing me run ahead only to come crawling back, tired and worn out from running a race when He only wanted me to take one step forward.

God brought you to this specific time and place. “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.” 1 Cor 7:17 God will move you forward when He is ready and not a moment before. You may think that you are doing nothing but if you are in God’s will then He is working a mighty something right where you are. He doesn’t say He will leave you where you are forever. But He does say that where He put you right now is right where He wants you to be.

My joy is in Him. He has placed me where He wants me. Only in Him will I find the strength I need to continue.

Where has He placed you and what can you do to build His Kingdom right where you are?

With love and thanks for being along for the journey,

Don’t Miss Another Appointment

This is a repost of a blog I wrote 2 years ago. It really has been on my mind lately as I struggle to get out of my desire to just stay in my pajamas and hide away from the world. 

“”In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Ephesians 4:26

Have you ever gone to church in a bad mood? Maybe you just had a fight with your spouse? The kids spilled milk all over the table just before you got ready to walk out the door? Halfway to church you realized your hose had a run in them? (I know that hose are not popular these days but trust me when I say that there was a time when you did not go to church without a dress and hosiery on) 

Recently I had one of those days. No, not the hose. No, not the milk. Yes to the “marital enrichment session” between breakfast and the long silent drive to the place of forgiveness and grace. Did I walk in with a fake smile on my face? You betcha!!!! Did I feel ready to meet God at during the praise and worship session? Absolutely not!

But the truth is that even though I was spitting mad (a southern term for those in the north), I knew that I had to go. I craved the peace that I knew would come with being in that dark sanctuary where no one could see the tears of remorse running down my face. I knew that in singing my praises to God, He would cover me with the mercy I so desperately needed.

For many years I stayed away from meeting with God for any reason I could think of. Mad at my spouse? No prayer time. Mad at the women who snubbed me? No women’s Bible study. Mad at my job, my life, my circumstance? No reading of the scriptures. It didn’t take much to convince me that I could skip anything to do with God…especially if I had recently sinned, an all too frequent occurrence.

Anger was a coat I wore more often than I wanted to admit. It is something I struggle with even today. It is quick to boil up, especially when I am stressed or tired or struggling with my depression again. But the difference now is that I know that I need to go straight to God with my anger. I need to move closer to Him and ask His help in overcoming my wild emotions. 

I am not going to lie to you. It is hard to pick up your Bible when you really just want to pick up a stone. It is hard to turn on praise and worship music when your mind is filled with words of condemnation. And it is especially hard to walk into church when you just let your mouth spew things best left unsaid. 

But if you look at the verse carefully it says “in your anger do not sin.” Do not turn away from the One who can, and will, bring you back to a place of peace. Do not turn to the world to soothe your anger. Be the first to apologize, even if you did not start it. Seek out the scriptures that will calm the rolling emotions of your soul. Go to your knees and meet with your Abba who wants to help you through. More than anything, keep your appointment with God every day. He will never be late and will always be waiting for you. 

Dearest Adonai, thank You for bringing me to a place of peace. Thank You for the women at church who reach out with hugs and smiles. Thank You for my husband who so readily forgives his strong-willed wife. I am so grateful for the mercy and grace that You so freely pour over my dried up heart, bringing it back to fullness and love. I pray that I will seek out those who are broken. That I will see into the eyes of the downhearted and offer them love and comfort. I know that there are so many women like me who just need to find peace in Your Holy Presence. Let me show them the way. In the name of Christ Jesus, Amen

Blessings and thanks for sharing the journey, 

©2015MichelleWelch Originally posted as Never Miss A Meeting©2013Michelle Welch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries and Single Matters Magazine
photography by Michelle Welch, all rights reserved
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Broken Pieces Made Whole

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”1 Cor 13:4-5

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Col 3:14 
Recently I guest posted on Single Matters about what Valentine’s Day should not be. (CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLE) Since writing that article, the adversary has been working hard on my marriage. It is not easy to stay strong in the face of old wounds and shattered dreams. 
Recently sweetheart and I were driving to Tucson, AZ. First let me just say that if you want to see how strong your marriage is….drive the stretch from San Antonio, TX to Tucson, AZ. It is over 800 miles of mind numbing brown desert. Tumbleweeds abound and there is nary a Starbucks to be had. Once you have exhausted talking about the kids, the house, the coming summer plans, you still have 12 hours to go. Just saying. 
There are some who know my story but many who do not. My life before becoming a Christian was not pretty. I chased after the way of the world. I truly learned the meaning of 1 John 2:15-17 and what happens when you place your hope in things that have no value. 
I have been married 4 times. Yep. Four. Every time things got rough or my husband didn’t exhibit those qualities I thought were mandatory in a good husband I headed for the open road. To be sure there must be someone out there who was perfect for me. Believe me I looked. And looked. And looked some more. 
Now please do not assume that I am telling you this to bring attention to my past. Because there is nothing more painful to me than the lives I destroyed on my quest for the perfect husband. More tears have been shed because of my past than are countable. 
I tell you these things because if you learn nothing else from your journey with me, please learn this. 
You will never be the perfect wife and he will never be the perfect husband. 
Ouch. 
Somehow, in the midst of scripture study and Church membership, we tend to begin a quest that is only going to end in failure. We think that if we do all that we are supposed to do, if we work hard enough, if we watch enough movies, read enough books, attend enough marriage enrichment weekends, we will find ourselves the beneficiaries of the “perfect” marriage. 
Newsflash. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
Because we are human, because we are sinful, because we are weak, we will always make mistakes. There will always be stumbling blocks. There will always be times of stress and trial. God has even told us it would be that way in John 16:33
But here is the truth of the matter. Rarely will leaving fix the problem of your unrealistic expectations. With few exceptions the problems that were in your first marriage will be there in your second, or third, or even the fourth.

What I came to understand was that marriage is a union of two broken people. In that brokenness, when the darkness threatens to overwhelm you, you have to hold hands and look up. Because the only light that can shine strong enough to lead you out of those broken places is the light from God’s love.

Sweetheart and I still have rough spots. We are still sinful. We still are prideful. Sadly we still have those moments when “those words” cross our lips. I’d like to say that we never, ever go to bed angry. Or that we never slam doors. Or that we never put on those fake smiles while sitting in church so no one knows the truth. Yeah. I’d like to say that. But I can’t.

So every day we admit our brokenness to each other and to God. We say “I’m sorry” more than most people say good morning. We struggle, we smile, we pray, we live. We go forward in our brokenness….together.

We heard this song by Casting Crowns on our trip to Arizona. It brings us both to tears each time we hear it. Our prayer is that more couples will realize that their happiness doesn’t lie in the perfection of their partner but the perfect love of their Father in Heaven. So go out and be broken together.


Story behind the song

What do you think about when you look at me
I know we’re not the fairytale you dreamed we’d be
You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery

How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light
Now on this hallowed ground, we’ve drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night

Its going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and Ill bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

How it must have been so lonely by my side
We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind
I’m praying God will help our broken hearts align
And we won’t give up the fight.” Broken Together by Casting Crowns

Blessings and thanks for coming along on the journey,

©2015MichelleWelch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries and Single Matters Magazine
photography by Michelle Welch, all rights reserved
music from Casting Crowns available HERE
https://www.castingcrowns.com/
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.