Welcome to my eclectic journey of my life and delights. This year my theme is surrendering my writing pen to the true author, Jesus Christ, while looking forward to the future, reflecting on the past and dancing through my journey.




Monday, February 13, 2012

My Heart Grew and Grew


Most of us remember the cartoon each Christmas (for those with TV's and who watch Christmas specials) or read Dr. Seuss's book, where the Grinch's heart was measured to reveal it was three sizes too small.  Through a series of events, his heart grew and grew... so was the month of January for me, a month of heart expansion.

You couldn't see it enlarge, as was revealed in the Grinch's heart, but if there is ever a way to feel it, I felt my heart grow.  It expanded through tears.  I am sure hearts grow (an illustration here, not factual), through loving events, but this past month that love came through pain.  Losses became a daily event.  Hospital stays for our parents, funerals, diagnoses given to friends and neighbors of cancer, financial struggles, operations and unanswered questions to health issues.  Each time I had a choice to let my heart swell in tenderness and compassion, or shrug my shoulders with the sentiment that this is life.

God wanted to enlarge my heart. He wanted my compassion to grow. He needs His Body to be able to tenderly extend caring hands to a hurting world and to each other in the Body of Christ.

I found myself hurting...a good hurt.  I thought of Jesus as he wept when he reached the grave of Lazarus and yet, He knew He would raise him from the dead. He still entered the grief of those experiencing the pain of loss. God's promises are still true for each report we heard.  God is still sovereign, but for me to turn away a tear and not enter into their grief would not reflect the heart of my God.

During the month of "heart expansion," I was reading The Allure of Hope, God's Pursuit of a Woman's Heart, by Jan Meyers.  NO! I didn't pick this book out because I knew in advance God was going to develop my heart. NO! the events didn't turn me to this book....past events led me to the book. I thought I was reading because of the trials I had experienced. Yet, I was also reading for the trials those around me would be facing as well.

In her book, she talks about the alleyways of our life.  Here we can come out bitter or be used by God to reflect a beauty the world can't give us.  Here is where we learn compassion or withdrawal to ourselves.

Being fully alive for others in the alleyway is being who Jesus was for us, a servant.  And the most radiant service flows from our deepest place of need. 


When a woman's heart rests in the truth that the only thing left in the alleyway is to love others, then she lives from the allure of hope.  And this comes only after a deep acknowledgement that God must find her and must love her in spite of herself.


It means Jesus calls us to give of our hearts in ways we can't . - Jan Meyers 


"Put your hand into my wounds," said the risen Jesus to Thomas, " and you will know who I am."  The wounds of Christ are his identity.  They tell us who he is. He did not lose them....If sympathy for the world's wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experiences of death comes nothing good, then death has won." - Wolterstorff


I can truly confess I don't understand all that this expanded heart means.  God is still chiseling away at this each day through His word and through other readings He has directed me to absorb.  I do know that I want to allow my heart to expand. I don't want my "alleyway" experiences to leave me on the sideline of the work God intended to be the fruit of those experiences.


So as we all enjoy sharing heart candy, wonderful loving cards, red and white, beautifully decorated tables and nights out with our Knight in Shining Armor....I am rejoicing in the expansion of my Heart.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!






33 Joining in with more words:

Vee said...

Sounds as if it has been an extremely challenging time. And it also sounds as if you have been yielding over and over again to His love and what He wants to do in your life and how He wants you to respond to those around you. I'm tempted to say that it is difficult work (because I have found it to be), though He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The secret is in the yielding.

Thanks for your visit this morning! The little design upon my door was frost art and not a snowflake. I can't expect a Texas gal to know such things. ;> It snowed there? Incredible!

Farm Girl said...

Wow Janette, what a lovely post and what a wonderful way to view trials. I never thought about God using that to enlarge my heart. I will think of this from now on. I always pray that God would take my heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh but I never thought about Him sending a trial so that He could enlarge my heart. I have thought this month about how my trials have brought about so much good in my life, now I know that my heart needed to grow more. I do always pray that I would mirror Jesus love for us, but when I think about it, it was His broken heart that saved us. I need to not hang on so tightly to my heart but give it freely.
Thank you so much for your insight today.
I will keep you and your family in my prayers this week.

Debbie said...

Oh Janette this was a wonderful post! Soo full of some pretty profound and yet simple truths! How we tend to fight that which really is meant to cause our growth of the heart. Your insight into what is happening is soo good. Never never easy is it? And yet if it were, the impact would never be the same huh? It does seem as if everywhere I look recently "trials" seem to REALLY abound. Has made me wonder what is going on in the bigger picture. I will pray the Lord continues to soften and expand our hearts, and that the lessons learned will bless those around us. Have a GOOD week my friend! HUGS

Sue said...

This post goes right along with the message at our service yesterday. Through the many trials this year with our family too, my desire has been to allow God to expand my heart so that through these trials I am able to reach out with more love and compassion, (Empathy if you will) I have always believed that the trials will either makes us bitter or better. It is people, like you, Janette, allowing God to share HIS HEART through you that hope and encouragement is only a click away.Thank you for your obedience to Him, and His word.
Much love,
Sue

Mary said...

i am on my second reading of this book...and i have a feeling i will read it several more times. interesting you used the example of the grinch and his heart expanding. God brought that scene to my mind several years ago, when he was beginning a new work in me. it has not been an easy journey. i am thankful for the expansion, and that is my desire still...but along with it comes pain, and eyes open to the pain around you. sometimes it seems overwhelming...there is so much of it. i imagine sometimes it's just a teeny tiny glimpse of how God must feel as he looks upon the pain and hurt in this broken, wounded world and hearts. how he longs for us to come and rest in him.

may you experience an extra dose of him this week.

xxoo

Sandy said...

Life can be very challenging but if it weren't for the challenges we would not be made into His image. An easy life is probably not one in which we will grow closer in our relationship to Jesus Christ. Someone once said that hearts expand when trials multiply. I agree.
Blessings~

Petra said...

If you can rejoice in the stretching of your heart albeit the pain, then, my friend, you're growing up in Him most beautifully!!

"It means Jesus calls us to give of our hearts in ways we can't." - Jan Meyers

BUT Jesus can!

Blessings and prayers!

no spring chicken said...

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Great encouragement. We are studying John right now and yesterdays message led to much discussion as to what it means to love your brother. The beautiful blessing that you described is the gift that keeps on giving. We love, heart grows. Heart grows, we love more. We love more, heart grows more... Isn't God wise? And generous? :)

Blessings, Debbie

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

Ah, Janette
Thank you for this lovely post.

blessings to you - Marsha

myletterstoemily said...

i'm sorry this has been such a heartbreaking
(enlarging) time for you. it is not at all
surprising that we will benefit from that,
though. your encouragement is so true and
so full of His Spirit. thank you.

NanaNor's said...

That sounds like a great book, maybe not an easy read for most of us but one that produces fruit. Thank you for sharing. Loved the photo collage!
Hugs today.
Noreen

Vickie said...

January has been challenging for me, too. I'm with you. Think I'll email you...

Lea also known as "CiCi" said...

Oh, how well I know that challenging times can enlarge our hearts. These past months with my Dad's critical illness have shown me that and how HE can see us through and bring us through to the other side without fail. What a beautiful entry! Blessings to you my friend!

Sonja said...

Isn't it true Janette? Our real progress seems to come through the tears and trials. Our hearts are more open and pliable, we sense our need of Jesus in these tough times, in ways that don't always come with this depth during the high points of life. He knows that so well. He makes such perfect use of these times in our hearts, as in yours during these circumstances.

You are SO on the right track! I often think it's a good thing that SOMETHING good is happening, since being in the eye of these storms can feel so unsettling... not to HIM!

Love you!

Angela said...

Thanks for being a stabilizing force for me -- I still need it! Love you!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

This is my favorite of your posts yet, Janette!! Oh, I need to go get that book. I've not read Jan Meyers (Joyce, but not her) so I'm excited to find out about this one. My hat is off to you; my heart is inspired by you! Happy Heart Day to you, my friend. blessings ~ tanna

Debbie said...

Oh Janette, when we trust our heart to God ...He is there right beside us every step of the way come what may. He teaches us through every trial, heartache and challenge. That's the best way to learn but it's painful.

Thank you for sharing of your month of heart expansion. I fear too many people close their hearts to protect themselves. But I know that when I've gone through a hurt and the Lord brings someone into my life who is going through something similar, He gives me the words of comfort to speak and the arms of love to hold. Sometimes words aren't even needed.

I'll have to look up that book on Amazon. It sounds good.

Love you and happy Valentine's Day,
Debbie

Crickit said...

Thank you for this post! Great timing...enjoy this special day with your loved ones! :)

Susan (My Place to Yours) said...

Rejoicing with you, Janette! How beautiful are the ways God prepare us to receive ministry (and to minister to others). Keep holding fast to the Hope that is in you as your heart expands for a hurting world. Half a century old and we still have so much to learn, don't we?

Karen said...

sweet friend, I've thought and prayed for you often - it is in these moments our dependence on whom or what is truly seen. What a great time for our Lord & Saviur to shine, through our peace in the midst of it all.

Lemon Lane Cottage said...

I love this post. How I pray my heart is enlarging in my latest trial. God has me digging deeper in His word than I have in a long time...He knew Iwould need a deep well to draw Living Water from during this season of my life. Thank you for having an obedient heart and for sharing your revelations with us. Patty

Rebecca said...

Celebrating your Expanded Heart and asking God to continue to fill it with Himself and all His goodness!

Leslie @ Farm Fresh Fun said...

Beautiful post that perfectly reflects your sweet soul. Was thinking of you as I sat n nibbled chips n dip and reached for MnMs as my Vday treat... As usual visits with you make me feel best. I will now push aside the bad food choices and refocus on my heart! Thank you for sharing and I pray your week holds more joy than pain.
xoxo
Leslie

Catherine said...

Dear Janette, A beautiful Valentine's Day post. Happy Valentine's Day, Blessings my dear, Catherine xo

Debbie said...

Just plain old beautiful!

I loved this part the best:

"When a woman's heart rests in the truth that the only thing left in the alleyway is to love others, then she lives from the allure of hope. And this comes only after a deep acknowledgement that God must find her and must love her in spite of herself."

I left a note for you on the closet eviction post too. That one was great as well!

A multi-dimensional life said...

Janette, you have a Beautiful Heart!

I loved: "When a woman's heart rests in the truth that the only thing left in the alleyway is to love others, then she lives from the allure of hope. And this comes only after a deep acknowledgement that God must find her and must love her in spite of herself." Powerful and beautiful!

You've made the right choices... to "let your heart swell in tenderness and compassion" as it continues to grow more like His.

May we continue to be drawn to Him as He continues to transform us into His likeness.

Lisa said...

Janette,
Hope you had a great Valentine's Day! Thanks for sharing about this book. I will be on the look out for it.Your family and friends are so blessed to have your compassionate heart with them as they walk through life's struggles. I am convinced that is why God allows the struggles for in them we learn compassion and grace. Thanks for a lovely post.:)

Canadagirl said...

I look forward to you sharing more as God shows you why he grew your heart. I find when God stretches us that makes us more pliable for His works. Bless you for allowing God to do His work in you. ((HUGS))

Blessings and ((HUGS))
-Mary

Sarah (Nikki) said...

Janette...this is beautiful on so many levels. Beautiful b/c His love never let's go and b/c He loves us way to much to leave as the we are. And I love love love your comment on my blog that the enemy meant to tear us down but His redemption it's what makes the difference. hope your day tomorrow is a gentle one.

Nancy said...

It's never easy when God is working on expanding the heart but we can always trust He knows what He's doing.....In your case, you have a beautiful heart and all His work is showing in beautiful ways.....

Crown of Beauty said...

What a beautiful post this is, Janette, one that speaks deeply to me as well.

How beautifully you have written of your inner experience.

I am so glad for the confirmation. Over at SOnja's she also wrote about making a choice... to grow.

So, I get the message, Lord. I really do.

Thank you dear Janette. Your blog was such a blessing to me today.

Love
Lidia

Deborah Ann said...

It sounds like you're going through some trials right now. But those valley times can be powerful and victorious when Jesus is by our side. Praying that your True Valentine is holding you in His arms...

Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

You are right, Janette. God expands our ability to console others by test our faith and consoling us through them. We cannot understand another's pain unless we too have experienced it. May God continue to shower you with love, compassion and strength. Remember, every black night ends with the dawn.

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