Bruised but not Broken has moved!

IMG_0447Hey Guys! Just an update to let you know my new address is http://www.taradickson.com
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When Rejoicing is a battle cry!

What is rejoicing?

How do we do it?

Why do we do it?

When does the Lord do it?

Why is it a command?

Webster defines “rejoice” as – to feel or show you are very happy about something.  Dictionary.com says , ” to be full of joy.” Vocabulary.com says, ” To rejoice is to be incredibly happy, or to express your happiness. If you just won millions in the lottery…IMG_8683

This is the verse that stopped me in my tracks beloved.

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired

of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.”( Phil. 3:1)

Wow! That kind of blew me away. Whatever happens? But Lord….

How is it possible to rejoice…whatever happens?

You tell us :

When we take refuge in you we can rejoice. ( Ps. 5:11)

When we are rescued we can rejoice.( Ps.13:5)

When injustice is avenged we can rejoice. ( Ps. 58:10)

We rejoice in your presence. (Ps.68:4)

We rejoice in your laws.(Ps. 119:14)

We rejoice in your word like one who discovers great treasure.( Psalm 119:162)

Your word even tells us how you rejoice over us when:

We commit ourselves to you like a bride to her groom. ( Isaiah 62:5)

You rejoice over us with joyful songs. You take delight in us and with your love calm our fears. ( Zeph. 3:17)

Paul said he would rejoice in the Lord even if his life was poured out as a liquid offering.(Phil. 3:1)

David said, ” I know , my God that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. ” ( 1 Chron.29:17)

All of these verses are TRUTH but I want to focus on two of them because I believe in them lies the key to unlocking the mystery of Why rejoicing…

In the Philippians passage , Paul told us to rejoice, whatever happens, in all things because it would safeguard our faith. In the Psalm 119 passage, we are told we ,” Rejoice in His word, like one who discovers great treasure! ”  Could that be the secret to rejoicing? The secret that safeguards our faith. If rejoicing means to be full of joy and incredibly happy as one who won the lottery,is this what makes it possible? The Lord tells us SO clearly that we can rejoice in His word like one who discovers great treasure because we ARE discovering great treasure. We are discovering that God in His infinite wisdom packed everything we need for life and godliness in this sacred book He left us! IT teaches us how to safeguard our faith, how to renew our minds, how to trust when all around us is shadows.

The Kingdom of God is not for the faint of heart. But take heart my beloved friends, He Has overcome! When our hearts feel the most faint. He renews our strength. We are able to mount up with wings like eagles, to run and NOT grow weary, to walk and NOT faint. IMG_8816

( Praying before an appointment)

Our gracious Father knew that this life would be hard but also very precious. We would experience great joy and great sorrow. But in His loving kindness He created us with a deep need and desire for Him and then He equipped us with this “Treasure”. That would comfort us when we mourned, guide us when we were searching, strengthen us when we were weak. If we choose to rejoice in our sufferings , and rejoice in our blessings we would be strengthened and by that our faith would be safeguarded.IMG_0301

Sometimes rejoicing comes so easily. It is an overflow of a full heart! Life is good! His blessings abound! We see goodness all around us!

Then sometimes rejoicing is a choice. It is actually a battle cry. We are in the midst of great suffering. Our hearts KNOW that the Lord is good and yet we are in the middle of “hard”.  We declare it through tears and weeping.

Did you know that the purpose of a battle cry during war was to express solidarity and intimidate the enemy?

We are about to step on Holy ground my friends!

This is where it gets exciting! His word is SO true!

Psalm 8:2 ”  From the mouths of children and infants you have brought forth praise to silence your enemy.”IMG_0266

We are in a BATTLE! But we are NOT alone! We stand with Christ and we stand together.

Praise from the mouths of  children and infants can silence the enemy! We are told to rejoice in ALL things to safeguard our faith. We can choose to do this! It is our choice to obey that command. With obedience comes so much blessing. Who will take up the battle cry with me dear ones? I need my mind to be renewed daily through His word,of His power for

” Those who HOPE.” I desire to shout the battle cry daily, ” REJOICE!”

REJOICE, in all things! The Lord is near to the broken hearted. A bruised reed He does not break. A smoldering candle he does not extinguish. Rather, He strengthens the weary. He is enough my friends. He is more than enough.  Whatever your battle, it is the same battle cry. I will cry it with you!

I leave you with this beautiful passage from David. I have lost count of how many times I have read it today. May His Spirit lift you up in His mighty strength as you rejoice!

” Yours, O Lord is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

Everything we have, has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

O Lord , the God of our ancestors Abraham, Issac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes.”  ( I Chron. 29:11-18)IMG_0225

 

 

 

 

 

 

When strangers become family.

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,

Who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping.

It will become a place of refreshing springs.

The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

They will continue to grow stronger,

and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. ( Psalm 84)IMG_0123 3

This past week I was privileged to make a quick trip to California. A beautiful place that I have never been.  I had some air miles Alan and I had been saving for an anniversary get away ” some day”.  Instead ,I used them to fly out with Abbey and Adam and help with Ava while they spoke at a high school and led worship at a church. It was a sweet place of refreshment. Not because we sat around a pool with a fruity drink in hand, but rather because I was blessed to see a different part of the body of Christ. ( even better) I met dear people who embraced us like family, who have been praying for us for a long time though they have never met us face to face. Who literally enveloped our hearts in such a sweet sincere love that we were no longer strangers but ” instant family” joined by God’s Spirit.IMG_0120IMG_0115

( Ava loves sound check, but mostly she loves being with her Mom and Dad.)

The Lord has been speaking to my heart  directing me to take certain steps. One of them being to be still and rest and he would begin connecting me to new parts of the body of Christ. This was a sweet confirmation to the beginning of that.

He has been reminding me that we are on a pilgrimage. A pilgrim – (from the Latin peregrinus) is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place.

What that means is that we are to remain moveable.  Our roots are not to grow down so deeply in anything ,but our Lord ; that they would tear; when we are pulled up and moved. This does not mean that we don’t invest where He has placed us right now. But, it does mean that we are ever listening to His voice. We are ready to go where He says go, to speak when He says speak or even to be silent when He says be silent. We should never be so mindful (worried) of what others think, or where we have grown comfortable that we cannot be obedient.

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him

Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness. ( Colossians 2:7)

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, ( Hope is what we hold tightly to, not things or places or even people.)

For God can be trusted to keep His promise.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  ( Heb.10)

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.

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( Ava helping sing “You Sustain Me”, during sound check)

The Lord knew that we would need one another for this journey. He has not asked us to walk it alone but rather to encourage one another, to “motivate” one another to love and good works. He told us to ” hold tightly” to the HOPE we have in Christ. Every sojourner needs a good staff for those steep places, that seem so difficult to scale. What better staff to be able to pick up and plant in the next hard place than HOPE. We should be taking it with us everywhere we go. With every place we plant that staff, let it be a declaration that we are moving forward…with HOPE! Hope is what precedes us and hope is what pulls us into that place of advancing. Our hope in Christ!

Our Hope is in Christ that He renews our strength. That even when we walk through the darkest valley we will not have to be afraid because He lights a lamp for us. The Lord our God lights up the darkness!

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I don’t know what your “Valley of Weeping” looks like but the Lord says, when you  set your mind on the pilgrimage, HE will be your strength, and that “valley” will become a place of refreshing springs! It will be clothed in blessings and YOU will become stronger!

This world is not our home my friends, we are on a journey to a holy city, AND, there can be joy and strength for the journey when we fix our eyes on Him and come alongside each other. May He bless you on your journey.

 

What comes AFTER the Resurrection? Or what can we take with us besides chocolate and eggs…

I love to celebrate Resurrection weekend! I always have! It is a weekend generally filled with deep focus on our Savior and his sacrificial gift.We surround ourselves with family, good food and fun! Our attention is drawn to springtime. Everything reflects it, the clothes we wear, the gifts we give, ( flowers, rabbits, baby chicks – okay maybe that’s just for us country folk.) But we honestly surround ourselves with visuals of newness. Life starting over, beautiful and fresh. Those are all lovely things and after viewing all of the colorful reminders on social media of how  everyone spent their weekend I came away with a question in my heart…. What now? What happens after the Resurrection celebration? Do we just go back to our life as we know it until the next big thing…. Mother’s Day, Graduation, whatever is on your calendar? Or is there something more we can take away with us besides the memory of full stomachs, colorful dresses and chocolate smiles?  I truly want to know… What comes after the Resurrection celebration ? FullSizeRender

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So I went to the Word….

John 20:19 says,

” On the evening of the first day of the week……Jesus came and stood among them and said,’Peace be with you.’

And in Luke 24:15

” As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. ”

These are two different accounts of what happened after the Resurrection. But they both have something similar.

 

Jesus came. He CAME !  He came as a babe, He came and died, He came back ( He arose), He is coming back! ( When the trumpet sounds! )

I love that Jesus came to his disciples. He sought them out. He seeks us out dear ones. Everyday he seeks us out and He longs that we notice Him. Sometimes noticing Him is easy to do, like on weekends we have just experienced and sometimes it can be very difficult.  But when we DO notice Him we hear Him say things like, ” Peace be with you.” and ” Do not be afraid.”

Those two phrases are words to hang your hat on , so to speak. They are words that you can be sure your Father wants to speak to you!  The words ” Do not be afraid” were spoken 365 times in the Bible. Our Father knows us and he knows how life’s trials would tempt us to fear. The word peace is spoken ( in the KJV) 429 times in the Bible. Our Father desires that we have peace.  These are two things that we can take with us long after the ham is eaten and the spring flowers fade. They are eternal. The gifts we will need on a lonely rainy afternoon, or a cold winter night.  The gifts that will comfort our souls and renew our strength. Our Savior came and He is still coming ,…into my life and into yours if you want Him too. He is waiting… FullSizeRender 2

Hard paths, treasures and peace that flows like a river.

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Being still and listening to the Spirit’s voice doesn’t happen in one night or one blog post. It is a process.

As hard as these past few weeks have been, there has been a simple beauty in the stripping away of everything else. Don’t get me wrong, the stripping away process is not pain-free. Removing all excess things even good things isn’t always  “fun” ,  and yet, listening to the Spirit guide you and doing things His way is so freeing! It’s the Voice of Truth and Peace!

It feels like peace in it’s leading and it produces peace in the process of obeying.

” He will whisper in our ear, this is the way, walk in it. ( Isaiah 30:21)IMG_9973

We are choosing to walk this path moment by moment , and day by day. This path feels so dark and rocky and then I remember…

He is the light to our path!

You don’t go out into the dark woods and race down an unknown path with only a flashlight to shine on the next step. That would be unwise. There might be a cliff up ahead you may not see in time to stop, or there could be a boulder in the middle of your path.

However, you could walk it ,if you walked slowly, with the light shining on the step right in front of you, able to illuminate treasures on the path.

” Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

What?  Treasures? Why in the world would there be treasures strewn about on the middle of a dark path?

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Because, dear ones, we serve a Mighty God, who loves us! He is the God who is not willing that any should perish. He has definitely strewn about treasures in our pathways. If we are willing to slow down and listen to His sweet voice, we will be able to see that they are right before us!

I desire to slow down, to listen to His sweet voice, to see the treasures in our pathway. Sometimes those are gifts that remind us to stop and praise Him in the midst of the darkness. Sometimes they are the treasure of being able to participate in the lives of others on our path, that will change us and them forever.

I desire to be changed, transformed more everyday into the woman He has planned for me to be, doing the good works He has already laid out for me to do! ( Eph. 2:10)

If He is a God that is not willing that any should perish?  ( and we know that He is ) Could he not also be using this path that seems so very dark as a blessing? An opportunity for us to grow and be transformed even more into the ones who bring that life saving message to others?

Last night I slept on my Mama’s couch. It’s one of the things that was whispered in my heart to do that would ease the hard, for yesterday, at least… I woke up this morning to look down and see that she had gently covered me in the early hours with her beautiful old quilt. It was a comfort to my eyes and my soul. One of those treasures the Lord is helping me to see and STOP and appreciate and give thanks for.

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Then I reached for His Word, to speak truth to my heart. This is literally the page it opened to.

For thus says the Lord:

” Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,

And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.

Then you shall feed.

On her sides shall you be carried.

And be dandled on her knees.

As one whom his mother comforts,

So I will comfort you;

And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice.

And your bones shall flourish like grass;

The hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants .”

*Just as the Lord’s promises to Jerusalem are faithful and will continue to be. He is faithful to us in all things.

As my mother’s hands comforted me , so the Lord says He will comfort us. He will carry us, feed us , even give us those joyful moments like when we were bounced on someone’s knee. When we see the faithfulness of the Lord our hearts rejoice and we flourish! What an awesome thing to see the hand of the Lord at work in our lives. Then the sweetest gift…peace.

Peace will be extended to us like a river! Like a river my friend, not a pond! It is ever flowing!

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How are you choosing to be still and listen to the Spirit’s voice? What treasures on your path is He showing you? I would love to hear your heart.

 

Cobbler, coffee and the Voice of Truth.

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“I knew I wouldn’t break! ” These words have resonated in my spirit all evening! Words spoken to me by a dear lady who has walked this road of grief, the same one  I am walking,not too long ago. She will send me a random message fairly often to shower us with her love in the form of amazing food, like the above fruit cobbler! (Isn’t that absolutely beautiful?) It is a true expression of the love of the Father continuing to pour out upon us. She remembers that we aren’t at the end of the road but rather we have just rounded the bend and are facing more steep grades ahead.

I asked her today, ” How did you do it? What did you think about or remind yourself of immediately after? ” She responded, I knew where my strength came from and I knew I wouldn’t break! I would hurt like the dickens! But, I knew I wouldn’t break! ” I can’t even begin to tell you how this ministered to me. When trials come our way, what do you think the enemy wants us to believe? He always wants us to believe the opposite of what the Lord wants us to believe.

*He wants us to think that we are overwhelmed and overcome by our circumstances!

Truth: ” Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry or destitute or in danger or threatened in death? No! Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” ( Rom.8)

One of my personal favorites and name of this blog…

Truth: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.…That is why we never give up! Though are bodies are dying our spirits are being renewed day by day! “( 2 Cor. 4)

Truth: “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.” ( Isaiah 42:3)

I don’t know what lies the enemy may be speaking to you or what the road looks like on this part of your journey. It may be smooth and the sun may be shining where you are. If so, ask the Lord who you can bless and how. We have been blessed by so many people! Some of the sweetest have been random cobblers, our favorite drinks from Midnight Oil given again and again, a sweet note tucked in the mail.

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Don’t underestimate the power of a sportea on a sunny day or a hot woodsman when the skies are filled with rain and your soul is too! We are so thankful!

If your path is steep and filled with rocks blocking your way. Go to the TRUTH my friend! For every thought that brings you down and holds you captive, confront it with His Word.

It is powerful and effective dear ones, sharper than any double edged sword, able to divide soul and spirit. It can lay your heart bare and pluck out the lies from the enemy of our soul so that it can be filled with healing power of the Voice of Truth.

Pray, fill your house with praise music, take a walk , take a deep breath and remember, ” You will not break! ”

 

Press Pause….

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What does rest mean? Freedom from activity or labor; peace of mind or spirit. (n) or to cease from action or motion, to take relief or respite. ( v)

As I was seeking out what the Word of God had to tell me about rest, I was surprised by this verse. I think it is one of my new favorites.

This is what the Lord says: ‘Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘ No , that’s not the road we want! ‘ Jeremiah 6:16

Why is it SO hard for us to rest? I think a lot these days about the things that were important enough for Alan to talk about. He was a man of few words. By, that I mean he didn’t go in much for small talk and he didn’t feel the need to give his opinion on many topics.  He did share regularly with anyone in His presence ,His love for God’s words and its transforming power. He talked about his sadness that the church as a whole often didn’t know what was in it which led to him randomly gifting  The One Year Bible to many people through the years.

He also was very passionate about the busyness that we allow to consume us. He didn’t speak of this from a position of being better than others but from a position of ” been there , done that.” When our kids were small we were extremely busy.  Sports and other activities were keeping us busy everyday of the week. The Lord began convicting us that we were spending a lot of time on things that were not eternal and they were taking us away from each other.

Are sports bad? Is what keeps you busy bad? Maybe not.  They can even be good. However I believe we need to give ourselves permission to ask ourselves how we are spending our time?  And then ask… what are we going to do about it? Are we spending it on eternal things? Are we spending it on self? Is it taking us away from each other?

When we come to a crossroads in life are we just pushing through it, or are we being still enough to listen?

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I love being outside with Ava when she hears an interesting sound. She literally freezes and holds her tiny hand up to her cheek and says, ” Listen! ” Then we have a lively dialogue on what we hear and how amazing it is!

Why don’t we do that? Why is it SO hard to STOP? Why can’t we freeze in our tracks and listen to the Spirits voice? But, it is uncomfortable. Everyone else is still moving swiftly like crowds through an airport terminal. We might get passed by  in life or at the very least stared at, because  stopping is not what you do? Don’t you know we can do it all? We can have it all! We just need to keep going. Whatever you do don’t stop!

Jesus said , ” Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for awhile.” Mark 6:31

He wants to tell us amazing things don’t you know?

The Lord is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows.

He leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

I have been hearing the Lord calling me to come away with Him since my husband’s recent journey to Heaven. My flesh tells me to be practical, keep going, don’t stop, just go, go , GO!  But I want to be like Ava, I want to freeze in my tracks, put my hand up to my face and say,

” Listen!” my Savior is calling me!  I want to hear what amazing wonderful things he would  have me know. I want to be led by peaceful streams. I want Him to renew my strength!

So, come with me my friend. Let’s go to our Father and at least ask Him what it looks like for us to rest. Maybe you are at a crossroads, or maybe you are so stuck in a pattern of living you wish you were at a crossroads so you could see your way out of it.  Will you join me?  Will you join me in asking for the old and godly way so that we can walk in it?

But we live in a different time you say… Times they are changing and we must change with them!

Father, as the times change may we always make time to seek your face! You are the God who is the same! You are the same, yesterday, today and forever! ( Heb. 13:9) Show each of us individually what it looks like to come away with you. Let us be brave and courageous and rest for we know that it takes courage to rest just like it does to fight. For you tell us ,

” The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still!”

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We ask for the old and godly way Father, we desire to travel it’s path so that we might find rest for our souls!