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Sinners yet forgivers

my girls

Sometimes
they raise their voices at each other,
they yank a toy from the other’s hands,
they smack the other in anger and frustration.

 

Yes, sometimes they have their moments.
In fact, they frequently have many moments.
And quite honestly, not all of them are pretty.

 

Although we’re bringing our children up as Christians, as Christ-followers, the truth is our sweet little children are naturally sinners at heart. They can’t help but default to instinctual egocentric, selfish ways.

 

But the good news is in a matter of minutes
they can often be heard laughing,
they can often be seen cuddling,
they can often be seen playing harmoniously,
and they can often be seen hugging and kissing.

Why this sudden change?
How can they hurt one another and then be so quick to forgive?

 

I’d like to think our Christian morals play a fundamental role in this. I’d like to think our daily conversations about Jesus and what He would do in similar situations are formatively shaping their hearts. I’d like to think that as a result, their hearts are open and their hearts are tender.

 

And these open, tender hearts are thereby allowing for His loving redirection. These open, tender hearts are thereby allowing for His loving correction. And this is why they always seem to find their way back into each other’s arms and right back into His loving arms, too.

 

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

 

Pieces of Jessika ©

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Bondage can be deceiving

Bondage can be deceiving.  It doesn’t always look like we think it will. 

Bondage doesn’t always look like a cold, iron cuff clamped around our ankle with chain link after chain link leading to a heavy iron ball at the end. 

No, bondage can look very different. It can look much different because the deceiver knows we are more likely to recognize his schemes when they come in the packages for which we have prepared our hearts and our eyes.  So, because we have gotten smarter, he has gotten craftier.

Now he disguises.  He wraps his same old schemes in new packaging, more alluring packaging.  And this new packaging is exactly what gets us. If we were to see the ball and chain, we would surely make every effort to turn and go the other way.  But now his instruments of bondage are disguised as harmless things, good things, and even as useful and commonly accepted things.  

Little by little he infiltrates.  He slowly blurs our once 20-20 vision. He slowly grays the once black and white areas. And before we know it, he has got us where he wants us. Clink. The cuff closes around our ankle. He has successfully established his stronghold.

And it’s usually at this point when we see through the false packaging.  We see that this seemingly harmless thing, can in fact be harmful.  We see that this seemingly good thing, maybe isn’t so good after all.  We see that this seemingly useful thing, maybe isn’t the most useful in hindsight. We finally see through the packaging and see the instrument for what it is—the ball and chain that has enslaved us.  It consumes way too much of our time.  It distracts us from the things that are important. And it leaves us feeling empty and unsatisfied.

In what area of your life can you feel the enemy closing in with the iron cuff in hand, ready to slap it around your ankle? What tool is he using to distract you? What tool is he using to make you feel empty and unsatisfied? 

Pieces of Jessika ©

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What If We Changed Our Posture?

As featured on, Encouragement from Women Who’ve Been There. 

“What If We Changed Our Posture?”
By Jessika Sanders

Genesis 3:10 “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Matthew 18:3 “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not eventer into the kingdom of heaven.”

The girls were at it again. In a tug-o-war, fighting over toys. Screaming, yelling, vying to be heard and seen.

I sat and watched, exhausted from this very situation that seemed to happen day-in and day-out.

And that’s when my husband stepped in to tackle this one. As I sat this one out I was amazed at what I saw unfolding before my eyes. He sat down so that he was eye level and face-to-face with the girls. He was ready to confront them of their wrongdoing and to lovingly discipline.

They both stood before him but with radically different postures. The oldest assumed the position–head hung low, avoiding eye contact. She couldn’t bear to look him in the eye, she knew she had disappointed him.
And the tears were already welled up in her eyes even before he uttered a single word.

And it reminded me so much of our ancient beginnings in the Garden. It reminded me so much of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6-10 and what feels like our instinctual way of hiding in our shame. It reminded me of how often we want to flee when confronted with our wrongdoing and sin.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

And he said, I heard they voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

But as I sat and watched the scene play out, the youngest assumed a radically different posture.

While the other hung her head in shame and avoided eye contact, the youngest looked my husband in the eye and raised her arms to embrace him.

I watched her do this three separate times.

He confronted them of their wrongdoing,
voiced to them his sincere disappointment, and reminded them of our foundational values.

And each time she looked at him with love and adoration, lifting her arms to hug him.

And then it hit me.

This precious little 3-year-old child was teaching me such a powerful lesson,
She was reinforcing the truth found in Matthew 18:3.

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not eventer into the kingdom of heaven.”

Friends, what if we mimicked the latter posture, the latter attitude? What if in our moments of sin we didn’t hang our head in shame and hide from our Heavenly Father who loves us? What if instead we drew near to him, fixing our eyes on Him? What if we heard Him out, listening to the difficult truth? What if we assumed a humble posture and the pure heart of a child? How might our relationship with our Father be different if instead of hiding from Him, we went running to Him, reaching out to Him with nothing but pure love and adoration even in our moments of discipline and correction?

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There is freedom

There have been times the Lord has prompted me to share my shame.

There have been times he has prompted me to share things that have long been hidden, things I have tried to convince myself did not happen, things I have tried to forget and tried to block out altogether.

And each time a part of me was fearful to share.  Would they understand?  Would they judge me?  Would they see me differently?  Would they love me still?

In those moments I reminded myself of His Word and His truth.

Be strong and courageous, for He is with me.

I am loved with an everlasting love.

Perfect love casts out fear.

I am forgiven.

And with His encouragement, I shared.  I shared my painful past.  I shared my horrible mistakes.  I shared in complete honesty and with complete vulnerability.  I shared because He directed me to.

And miraculously, I felt better. Miraculously, I felt peace.

The chains that kept in darkness, the chains that held me captive, the chains that announced my shame were broken. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

And what’s more, most of them didn’t judge.  Most of them could relate in some way.  Most of them felt compassion for me instead.

And what’s more, most of them did, in fact, see me differently.  They saw me as better than I was before.  They saw me as brave, as vulnerable, as authentic.

And what’s more, they loved me still. In actuality, some of them loved me more so.

2 Corinthians 3:17 states, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

Even with the darkest, most shameful secrets freedom can be found.  God has the ability to forgive you.  He has the ability to free you. He has the ability to give you a new life in Him.

Yes, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

Pieces of Jessika ©