The Show

Lamentations 3:23

Lord, Your mercies are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
    When I feel dry and drained. There’s nothing left to give because the me I present to the world is tapped out. Being who I was not created to be is a colossal undertaking and requires God-like strength. Jesus doesn’t deliver strength to maintain my farce – the one-woman production of a thousand standards, expectations, and demands. That’s not how it works. Being who I am created to be takes courage.  It takes faith.  And it takes strength.  Only Jesus provides all I need to step into the reality which is me. Stepping out of the mold created  by others brings a plethora of anxiety and fear, and yet remaining cramped in their design is a slow death. Death to the flesh is not forgoing who I am, but closing my heart to God and people while feeling hemmed in is sinful and selfish.  The show of a thousand dances is full of self-preservation and manipulative tactics to rearrange the world in order to continue the production of my life. All of that in the name of maintaining the role in which I was cast to keep the peace, please others, be accepted?  Is this truly living?  In my 40-something-year of life, is this all there is?
    Well, here’s my epilogue. The end of the dramatization of my life as directed by the enemy. No longer is fear calling the shots. No.  The theatrical season of pushing me into a life of mediocrity out of shame and later offering a backstage bouquet of regret has had its final run.
    There is a new act in town.  The starring role is cast by Jesus Himself, and the name of this reality show is “Embracing Grace.”  I’ve got a new name and it’s Beloved Daughter of Almighty God, and I am beautifully and wonderfully made.  I receive His beauty for my ashes and His anointing is all over me.  My dance, my performance, this show is for an audience of One.  And my Audience is so pleased that He rejoices and sings over me.



So…here are my azalea bushes.  They are….well, real.  You see this Mary-hearted woman with Martha’s (as in both the biblical figure and Ms. Stewart) intentions would love to have a Southern Living-worthy front yard.  But mine, my dear reader, is real.  Call it what you want.  Real ugly.  Real plain. Or just plain real.  Yep, that’s also me…real.  Can’t be any other way.  It’s not in me.  But, my real-ness does not stem from the world’s version of insulting others and following it up with “just keepin’ it real.”  No, although those thoughts can cross my mind very easily, I am speaking more of just being who I am created to be.

I spent the majority of my life trying to be like others.  I am #5 out of six children with three of those older siblings beautiful, strong, and independent women.  As a young girl, a teenager, college co-ed, and later a married woman, I aspired to be like them but never felt like I measured up.  Failure seemed inevitable as I rested my identity in being like Amy, Kim, and Tami (and that’s pronounced t-ay-m-y not t-a-m-m-y).  Jodi had some of the same qualities, but none of their reality seemed to fit mine.  Kind of like my azaleas, I am real, and my spirit is unkept, wild, ordinary, with spots of beauty and new growth throughout.  My spirit my real-ness couldn’t fit into an ornate flowerpot or be part of a beautifully landscaped yard or even in a wild, wooded plot of land.  I was not going to be confined to what I thought was my reality, and God did not allow me to copy any one else’s version of themselves.

God shared words about who I am just the other day.  He showed me that I am who I am for a reason.  I am His beloved, and He is well pleased.  I pray that these words minister to someone right now in your real-ness.

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed to Jesus.  He knows the struggle, the dream, the insecurity, and the anxiety. Trying to hide anything is a waste.  
So I go to Him and ask, “Can you take these?  You see, they are too much for me to bear.  My heart is heavy when I cannot control these situations and my feelings.”  
He says, “Cast your burdens on me, Jodi, because I care about you.”
I’m so blessed to be able to cast my cares and live in peace.  No more picking them back up.  Jesus has them in His capable hands.  
Now, I can be real.  Releasing those things that keep me from receiving His love makes my heart sing.  My desire is to be loved by my Redeemer and tell others what that’s like.  Now I can live loved.  Live redeemed.  Live restored and whole.  In the midst of a season of waiting, the in-between becomes sacred ground.  Alleluia!  He is making me new and that is real.


Breakdown…falling apart…falling into Him.
Letting go…breakaway…natural break in stony heart.
Heartbreak…breaking down…cracks and holes open to be filled.

So Much More…

It’s a bold statement. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Just imagine Jesus’ family hearing Him tell the synagogue the messianic declaration of Isiah 61 was being fulfilled in their hearing.  Talk about becoming the talk of the town.
Our talk might not sound all that different if we go messing with the safe, sweet image of Jesus of our culture.   Yes, Christmas Jesus is very palatable.  Joy to the World.  Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.  These familiar sentiments about our Savior make us feel safe.  Safe to love Him the way we want to love Him.
How about Jesus Who walked on the earth?  He messed with the people’s preconceived notions of a messiah, savior, redeemer.  Wasn’t He supposed to be a warrior who would lead an army that would overthrow the oppressive Roman government and rule with justice?  Instead He set the worst of sinners free and overthrew the financial practices of the temple.  He called the religious leaders vipers and white-washed tombs.  Does not sound at all like Christmas Jesus.
The war Jesus waged began on a cross.  Much different from the one planned by the political and religious zealots of the time.  He did not fight people or governments, but He overcame the ultimate enemy – death.  His love, poured out through His blood, ushered in freedom from the power of sin and gave us the opportunity to become God’s children as He became sin for us.
His resurrection fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy and brought the year of the Lord’s favor – setting oppressed people free, bringing sight to the blind, proclaiming freedom for prisoners, and proclaiming the good news to the poor, lonely, forgotten.
How different the world might be had he stayed in the manger.  How sweet He would have been walking in our image instead of transforming us into His.  Sweet Baby Jesus listening to our pleas and granting our long lists of requests and petitions.  If only He had stayed in the manger.  Our theologies could be neat and sweet.  Oh, but He was anointed for so much more than a manger or a carpenter’s shop or a boat or a donkey or even an earthly throne.  And He anoints us for more than we could ask or imagine.  Will you take Him up on the offer to be your Messiah?  You were made for so much more.