This past Sunday, as I stood in church and worshipped God with my fellow believers, I thought back to my first time back to church after my surgery. I was weak, but I was worshipping. The depth of my gratitude for life could not be expressed in mere words. God had healed me and set me free!!! I just remembered sitting in service with tears flowing from my eyes. I was so thankful. And today, 11 years later, from a young college student to a wife and mother, I am yet even more thankful.
As sweat drips from his brow, a man peers over the edge of a bridge to the speeding cars below. Wind blows through his hair as his heart beats fast and hard, feeling as if it will beat clear through his shirt. Thoughts of what happened swarm through his mind as the weight of his mistake holds him hostage, frozen in time. I can't take this anymore. I've had enough. I failed and there's no turning back.
He looks to his right and his left, wipes his brow and takes a deep breath of release before he takes his fateful plunge. When all of a sudden...
The loud, stern cry of a faraway bystander holds him back. The bystander walks calmly and cautiously in his direction with their hands in the air, reasoning with him to come down and realize that jumping won't solve his problem...
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel (Jeremiah 18:1-6 NIV).
Many of us have been on the Potter's wheel lately. Tossing and turning. Swirling and stretching. Painfully growing through the discomfort and heat of the process. I know it's been tough. The potter's wheel isn't glamorous. It isn't pretty. It's messy and quite confusing. It takes everything in you to stay the course and allow God to shape you and mold you through the trials of life, many of which make no sense to your logical thinking and reasoning. And yet, if we jump and abort the process, we will be left as an unfinished lump of clay, always wondering what could have and would have happened if only we'd stayed the course.
As someone who is right there with you, let me encourage you today. Before you make a drastic move and try to fix the circumstance yourself in an attempt to assist God (because of course, the God who runs the universe needs our help in running our lives), don't jump. Don't jump off the Potter's wheel. God is working in you something far greater and bigger than what your mind can even conceive right now. If you want to be used by Him in a great way, you've got to submit to the process. Looking back over your life, I'm sure that you can recall a time of transition and growth where you thought there was no way you would make it through. And yet, as you stayed the course and allowed the Potter to have His way, you came out of that situation as a better person and are thankful you went through it. The same thing applies to now. God is molding us, shaping us, and preparing us for His work through us. He is forming us into vessels of honor. And in the end, He will be glorified in our lives, sanctified and useful for Him.
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21 NIV).
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Leave Your Beauty Mark
Right now, I'm in my early thirties and learning the ins and outs of this thing called "working mom." I easily doubt myself and often fight the temptation to put my joy on hold for a season to come instead of enjoying the now.
Yet in the midst of every changing season, I have a promise from scripture that reminds me of a Savior Who will never change...
10 years ago on April 17, 2007, I went through a major surgery to rid my body of cancer. I was 20 years old and had no idea how sick I was until coughing up blood in my dorm on Easter Sunday. (You can watch my story here.) After my parents traveled to Tulsa to take me back home to Dallas, I underwent one of the most difficult weeks of my life. Prior to the surgery, the enemy threw punch after punch to knock me down. Then the day of my surgery came and I was wheeled into the surgery room. All of the bright hospital lights & shiny silver knives on the table next to me. I asked if I could keep my bible with me on the table and the doctor agreed.
After the surgery, I woke up to an unquenchable thirst...and quickly realized that I couldn't talk to tell the nurse I needed water. That was rough. She finally came over and gave me some ice cubes. (Thanks a lot. Lol) But that was all I could take. I spent the next few days in the hospital with these massage boots on my legs to keep my circulation flowing. I couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. They basically shut my body down in order to remove half of my left lung to get rid of the malignant (cancer) mass and all the surrounding lymph nodes. I started practicing walking down the hall arm and arm with my dad a few days later. The nurse said if I could walk down the hall and to the windows and back, then I could go home. With my goal in mind, I practiced and prayed and gathered my strength to make it overtime. Finally, I was discharged and wheeled down to the hospital exit. I'll never forget the sound of the birds singing outside as my dad pulled up his SUV to take me home. I cry just thinking about that....
April has a special place in my heart. As does Easter. It was in this month that I suffered and recovered a disease that kills lives everyday. For whatever reason, God drew a bloodline around me and wouldn't let me die at 20. Then fast forward two years later, April 2009, I got married to the love of my life. Someone I didn't even deserve. Who had prayed for me and believed for my healing when I overlooked him for years. Fast forward to April 2011, Easter Sunday, I was in labor with my baby girl and gave birth on the following day, April 25. And now here I am, April 17, 2017, 30 years old and pregnant with my baby boy.
God has a way of turning our place of pain into our place of rejoicing. I pray that my story brings you encouragement to believe that the same hand that allows pain and suffering is faithful to bring joy and healing. IN THE SAME PLACE!
To God be the glory for reminding me yet again that He is the Resurrection and the Life. He will always give us beauty for ashes. The oil of joy for morning. And the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. The same God that did it for me, will do it for you.
Leave Your Beauty Mark
As I walked past a particular area of broken pots at the pottery store last week, I was reminded of a vision God gave me at MegaFest 2013. I was sitting in the upper balcony and in awe of beholding tens of thousands of women passionately praising God and rejoicing over His word. As we neared the end of the service, I saw a very vivid vision of a beautiful clay vessel, with a small top and larger bottom...
When I hear or think of this word, I am immediately transported back to a season of my life during college where everything and everyone that I trusted in was completely stripped away. Friends that I'd know since my freshman year all of a sudden acted like they didn't know me. My family that I love and trust was miles away. My image, the clothes, shoes, and hairstyles that I enjoyed and felt somewhat defined me where no longer appropriate for my current season. I was pregnant with change. See, when you're pregnant, you can't just wear the things you used to wear and do the things you used to do. Your diet changes. Your weight increases. Those high heeled stilettos that you used to wear all over town are no longer cutting it. It's time for the flats, baby.
If you're a young wife like me, there's a chance that you're having a similar reaction to what I had. You love your husband, have a good marriage, and yet, you realize in this moment that you are not praying for him enough. Well-intended? Absolutely. Prayers before he leaves for work or has something coming up that he asks prayer for? You're on the job. But consistent, just-because, strategic prayer for specific areas of his life and heart? Well....we need some improvements here.
Have you ever been in a dark place?
A place where you can't see your way around or understand the purpose of your journey? The darkness isn't evil, yet it prohibits your sight and makes it difficult to move forward. What I've come to realize is that life will hand you seasons and situations that cause you to walk in the dark and question everything you've seen in the light...
I've never been one to like the cold.
Having been raised in Michigan and other Northern states amidst chilling winters and freezing temperatures, I've often given winter the cold shoulder. The weightless snowflakes that some find so beautiful have been like a disguised enemy to me. Masked in gentle white flakes, but once accumulated cause harmful road conditions and treacherous walkways.
But somehow, over the last few days, I've heard a whisper in the air. Seen a message in the desolate trees that appear barren and isolated. Oh, if winter could talk, I may have heard her gently share a lesson in my ears:
This year, I am beginning a new season in my life as a new author. As I'm sure you've noticed, with the lack of recent blog posts, I have been quite busy the last few months preparing for today's launch of my new book, Break Every Chain.
30 Days of Thanksgiving: Blessed Facts: • 1/2 the world lives on less than $2/day • 80% of the world has no roof, electricity or running water. • Everything is God's and you are a steward.
• As an American, I am blessed beyond my comprehension. While most people on earth are concerned about their next meal or fresh water, I am not. And chances are you're not either.
Too often we focus on what we don't have rather than what we do have. We allow our desires for the next high-tech device or trendy outfit overrule our ability to be thankful and content. Hey, I'm all for reaching forward and dreaming big, as long as we don't forget to thank God for what He's already done.
This is a big reason why I'm doing this 30 Days of Thanksgiving. To get you and I back to thanking God daily for His provision and blessings, many of which we can't even see. And also to consider ways to be a blessing to others, which is what leave your beauty mark is all about!
So, what are you thankful for today? Have you been on a missions trip or lived in another country where you've seen extreme poverty as I mentioned earlier? Are you thankful for the basic blessings of life that we so often neglect to even acknowledge? Please share your thoughts!
Emonne Markland | Leave Your Beauty Mark
I've heard it said that friends are the family God allows you to choose. Oh, how I agree... I have been blessed with friends that encourage me and allow me to be myself. Always uplifting, inspiring and walking by faith. Overcomers. Warriors in the army of the Lord, yet gentle and loving. Never talking about people, always planning and executing dreams to build God's kingdom. Confident in who they are and never allowing the hurdles of life to deter them from their missions.
For the past year, I have been working relentlessly on this project and am confident that it will be a blessing to you and many others. As part of the Beauty Marked community, I want to personally thank you for encouraging me throughout this process with your comments and feedback on the blog posts I've shared. I can't say thank you enough, and believe that Break Every Chain truly is my best work to date.