Saturday, December 26, 2009
I stayed up late many nights, Bible in my lap opened to the Christmas story, enjoying the glow of the tree, waiting to feel You, only to have my time interrupted by children who were supposed to be sleeping.
I got up early, bleary-eyed and unable to focus on the Bible in my lap opened to the Christmas story, enjoying the first rays of light of a new day, waiting to feel You, only to have my time interrupted by children who were woke up too soon.
I listened to Christmas cd's, enjoying the songs of tribute to a Babe in the manger, waiting to feel You, only to have my time interrupted by children who were supposed to be playing.
On Christmas Eve, we attended church as a family, with 1000 of my closest friends, watched an amazing performance to celebrate Your birth, waiting to feel You, and was interrupted by the thoughts of all I was supposed to be doing.
We came home, ate dinner, read stories of Twas the Night Before Christmas and In a Stable, and tucked some sleepy ones into bed. I sat in my spot in the hallway, reading Max Lucado's God Came Near, and waited to feel You. Certain the kids were asleep, I snuck downstairs to pray for a moment, in the silence of the evening, waiting to feel You, and heard the scramble of feet running down the stairs, wondering where I had gone. All I wanted to do was cry...I really needed to find my Jesus and have my time.
I came upstairs, set up the egg-carton foamy thing on the kid's floor, and snuggled between the two of them, waiting for them to fall asleep for real. In the silence of sleeping children, You came to find me.
Everytime I went looking for You, You came to me. But I didn't know what You looked like. You are three years old and needed a drink of water. You are six years old and like to get up early. You are eighteen and just need to know that you aren't alone. You are twenty-one years old and need to make sure that I know you've got it all figured out. You are almost twenty-three years old and are realizing that being a mom isn't easy at all. And sometimes, you are fifty, and just need to know that this is all for keeps.
You wanted to be with me so much, that You came to my world as a baby, to be part of a family, so we would never have to be apart again. Merry Christmas, Baby Jesus. You were right here all along.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
That led me to thinking about all of us as moms. None of us know what we will be asked to sacrifice through our children. If, along with the birth certificate, we were given a time line, sealed in an envelope, of what our child would experience, would we open it? I don't think I would. Scripture says that God will provide me with just enough strength for the day, and not to worry what tomorrow will bring.
Yesterday He gave me strength for the day. Through a turn of events that only a three year old could devise, I was almost asked to give up Justin. Somehow he scaled to the top of his California-style closets, and using a belt and a caribbeaner (mountain-climbing clip), almost hung himself in an effort to be Superman. His belt got tangled, and gratefully, he only suffered a deep "rope burn" around his neck. As he tells it, he was trying to fly but it didn't work because he didn't have a cape.
A friend reminded me not to let this incident give Satan a foothold. I wonder if Mary struggled with that, not letting her fears carry her away, or feeling guilty for not protecting her son well enough. She reminded me God is the One in control. If yesterday was Justin's day to go Home, he would have. And God would have still been God, and Jesus would still be my Savior. While I can't imagine the heartbreak of those called to bury their children, today I will celebrate that I was only asked to be scared. I celebrate that God gives me to get through each day with Him.
And, while I recognize the Sovereignty of God, we no longer have the California shelving in the boys' closet. Seriously, people, this mom can only take so much.
Friday, December 4, 2009
That is how getting a real Christmas tree has worked for me every year. I love the idea of picking out the perfect tree with the kids and enjoying the fresh pine scent in our house.
I forget about the half hour it takes to get it straight in the tree stand, and the constant re-adjusting of a crooked tree for the next three weeks. I forget about being covered in pitch by the time I finish putting the lights on, and the scratches covering my arms while we are decorating. Somehow the fact that I am still sweeping pine needles from last year's tree escapes my brain, not to mention that I practically had to snap off all the branches to get the lights back off.
This year I remembered it all and decided to get a "real" fake tree, as my friend put it. I will not be a victim of the "Oh, honey, just one more..." amnesia this year. I am very pleasantly surprised with how good it looks, and while I'll miss the fresh scent, I can always light a candle.
Maybe this year I'll even let somehow else help me decorate it.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Sounds pretty idyllic, doesn't it? I realize, too, that it sounds pretty self-centered. And that, friends, is the struggle.
Today, I (subtly) chased my husband out of the living room where he was watching football so I could decorate the top of the entertainment center with my Willow Tree Nativity and listen to Christmas music.
Today, I yelled at my kids for breaking the heads off two of the wisemen in their $10 nativity that I knew would get broken sooner or later. I was trying to tell them who was who in the story, and they were clinking their heads together. So I yelled.
Today, I told them to look with their eyes not with their hands at the Santa display that sits on the roll-top desk. (OK, I am serious about that one.)
Today, I yelled at them for mimicking a song while I was getting my praise on...with a capital "P". If they could just behave so I could worship God properly...Christmas is about showing Jesus that we love Him, and if they could just be quiet, I could love Jesus better.
I am fully aware of how fully aware of myself that I am. Therein lies the tension...how do I teach my kids to love Jesus and discover the true meaning of Christmas if I am busy yelling at them for getting in the way of my "experience"?
Help me, Lord, to express my love for You in a way that invites, rather than excludes, others to join in. You served God through the people, not in spite of them. Help me, Lord, to get over myself so I can make room for everyone else. Especially in this season that honors You. Amen.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Two simple words.
Two simple words that Jesus said to His disciples.
No problem, right? But how far is too far? How far am I willing to follow? It's cool when the warm fuzzy Jesus is telling me to follow Him. It's like, seriously, You want me to follow you? Even though I...You still want me? Cool...I'm in!
But how about now, when life is hard sometimes? When following Him means giving up what I think, what my selfish nature demands, and following Him means making choices that don't come naturally?
Just for the record, I don't like deep water. Or high places. I could never take a cruise, or stand at the top of the Sears Tower. I like to be able to touch the bottom, to know what is under my feet and that it isn't going anywhere.
The other night I had a dream that I was about knee deep in water, but waves were crashing in front of me. I kept trying to dive into the wave and swim really deep, but salt water filled my nose and burned my eyes, and I would struggle back to the top, gasping. I really, really didn't want to go under there.
But, all through my dream, this is what I heard: that you would know how deep and how wide and how long and how high is the Love of God. It's Romans 8:38-39. I would hear this in my struggle...my struggle to try and stop coming up. But I couldn't make myself stay under the water. In my dream I was missing the chance to see just how deep and how wide and how long and how high the Love of God is.
In my waking, analytical hours, I think God is trying to tell me that I am not fully trusting in Him yet. Yes, the salt water will sting my nose and make my eyes burn. But, in the depths of whatever is out there, I will find God more deeply, more clearly than ever before.
But the question is, will I follow Him, even to places I am afraid to go?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
You know what's coming, don't you?
God spoke to me and said, "What makes you so different from them?"
I started thinking about my life compared to the Israelites, and the fact that we are all on a journey towards a promised land. I might not be wandering a physical desert, but sometimes life seems pretty barren and lonely, much like a desert might be. Sometimes I feel like I am wandering in circles, passing the same landmarks repeatedly, not quite sure how to move to the next oasis. But, like the Israelites, I have the promise of something better. I was gently convicted today to persevere, to trust, to find joy. I was reminded of my imperfection by a Perfect God, and shown what loads I am carrying that can be put down.
I love the feeling of honest, Spirit-led conviction. You know it is Spirit-led because you don't feel ugly, dirty, or guilty. You feel loved enough to be shown that there is a better way, and that He will take you there.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I'm learning, again, that life is lived one day at a time.
Friday, October 30, 2009
The changes and relationships I had hoped to see forged have not happened yet. I am not a patient girl. I am pretty intolerant of other people's weaknesses, to be perfectly frank. I don't understand why people just don't be nice when they are given an opportunity to be. I also probably have a really big plank in my eye.
Last night, my husband's rest was disturbed when my son came home work. There was lots of staring at the clock and looking at me...a whole lot of unspoken communication going on. I did my best to keep my face passive, say good night to my son, and not shove said husband onto the floor. (This was made easier by a certain six year old acting as a paper weight on the covers between us.) I am really trying hard to let the relationship grow on its own and not force it. Really really hard.
As I was falling asleep, I was praying "God, seriously, what am I supposed to do here? I don't like the ugliness. Maybe I am in the wrong, I don't know. Father God, I just really want to do the right thing here. Please, please help me know what to say and what not to say." You get the idea. This prayer was on-going until I eventually fell asleep.
"Sow for yourself righteousness." This was my first semi-conscious thought this morning. To anyone else, the significance would escape. Not to me. This was the first line of our family verse. The one I picked, or more accurately, picked me, back at the end of last year. The verse that I picked so Rob would get a spiritual move-on. As usual, something I think is for someone else is usually meant for me. I'm just a little slow-witted it seems.
"Sow for yourself righteousness." Stop trying to sow someone else's righteousness.
"Reap the fruit of unfailing love." There is only one source of unfailing love. I need to tap into that fruit, and stop looking for those around me to supply it. Not gonna happen.
"Break up your unplowed ground." I was pretty sure this was meant for Rob, but now I don't think so. I am praying that God reveal to me what my unplowed ground is. We have made a lot of changes, but I know there are more to be made in the attitude adjustment department. Mine, to be exact. I need to break up some hard-heartedness that I carry so God can plant His righteousness there.
"Now is the time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness upon you." Scripture promises that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. He has mine.
In the meantime, I will try to spend less time sowing someone else's seeds of righteousness, and concentrating on me doing the right thing first. Regardless. I will stop looking for perfect love here, and rejoice in the love I do have, while always leaning on the unfailing love of my Savior. About the unplowed ground...oh, where to start. Where to start...When I don't know where to start, confession is usually a good place. That's an eye-opener.
Afterthoughts: I was just reading back through previous months and came across this blog that I wrote in May. Apparently I am thick-headed in addition to being slow-witted. So painful. Read it here if you want to.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I feel like there were some lessons from God in this. We are so sure we want to head out without him, but end up floundering on our own and seeking his safe embrace. But bigger than that, He promises to always answer when we call. He will not leave us to kick and flounder about.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I got this picture in my head of Old Testament times, Moses times, when they would gather at the foot of Mt. Sinai to praise and worship God. The stage was dark behind the musicians, and I could easily imagine it stretching to the sky, with all of us spread out before it like a tidal wave of believers, a flood of people in the desert, worshipping and praising God. I just love watching people sing with their eyes closed, hands raised to our Lord, freely giving themselves to Him.
I also learned a few things last night that gives new insight to the songs.
- Since all of the CC members work within youth ministry, their songs are about real people and real situations. That must be why they strike such a chord with me.
- Matt Redman's Blessed Be the Name was written after 9/11.
- MR's song Never Let Go was written after his wife suffered her 4th miscarriage in a row.
I was also reminded last night that there is no place God won't go to find you, nothing He can't see you through. Also, showing up to church on Sunday is great, but we can't stand on someone else's testimony. We need to be in the Word, seeking our own relationship with Jesus. And, that when we focus on the Brightest Star in the sky, everything else slowly fades away. Last night was definitely more than a concert...it was a night of worship.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Just as I was leaning over (I was sitting on my bed) to grab my pen, my son came home from work. Instead of writing, we sat on my bed and visited for about an hour. It was fun just hanging out and hearing about everything he is up to. It has literally been about six years since we sat on my bed and visited, so I was really just treasuring the time.
This morning, I grabbed my notebook and started to jot down some thoughts, thinking that it was too bad I missed the window of actually feeling like hanging out with God. The picture of Mitchell and I sitting on my bed visiting came into my head, and God said, "We did hang out."
I am realizing that it is in the every day things that God will reveal Himself to me. When I try to "make" an opportunity happen to feel close to God I am missing the point. It sort of makes me sad to know that I don't always recognize when God is coming near to me, but it also gives me hope that I will see Him more fully, as I learn where to look.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This weekend we had some little houseguests while their parents were out of town. I think Connor might be getting his first crush on an older woman...she is one year older than him. At the zoo, it was her hand he wanted to hold instead of mine. Hmph.
Anyway, all five of the kids were playing upstairs and it was sort of quiet. Because I'm a quick study, I immediately noticed that two children were missing. Connor and older woman were in his closet. With the door closed. When I hollered for them to open the door, they came out looking like Cheshire cats. Now, truthfully, I don't think they were doing anything that I would consider out of line. They are six and seven years old. They probably looked sheepish because they were climbing to the top of the closet on the shelf system in there.
But, this is definitely the time to introduce the concept of what is appropriate behavior between boys and girls. If I wait until the sheepish look is caused by more than climbing up a shelf, I am already in trouble. So, we made the rule that it is not appropriate to be in a closet with a girl with the door closed. No matter what.
Romans 13:14 says to "Make no provision for the flesh." Don't leave candy around if you don't want to eat it. Don't ignore an opportunity to teach your kids if you don't want to clean up the mess later.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I played the quiet game in the grocery store once. (I wish my kids would play it there...!) But, seriously, this was about six years ago. I was with my husband and Connor, who was a baby at the time. There was a mom who really had full hands...a screaming infant she was trying to make lay flat in the seat, and a screaming toddler who would not stay in the back of the cart. I knew I was supposed to do something to help her. Our shopping patterns made me come face to face with her in every other aisle, and I could hear the baby wailing even when I couldn't see them. But, I was playing the quiet game. I knew it wouldn't go over well for me to volunteer Rob to care for Connor so I could help the other lady. I eventually left the grocery store not doing anything to make a difference. I wouldn't recognize the other mom if I ever saw her again, but I have never forgotten the pit I felt in my stomach knowing I walked away from something that I was not supposed to. I was playing the quiet game. I was afraid.
I was playing it again until recently, which is what my last post was about. Not playing has not made my life any easier, but it is freer. Since I stopped playing, my 17 year old son has moved in and I am babysitting four days a week for my granddaughter. Not playing the quiet game has added a whole new dimension to my days, but I am where God wants me to be. I won't let the fear of what might happen if I talk outweigh the blessing of following God where He wants me to go.
That is where Beth Moore comes in. I don't think she has ever played the Quiet Game, but it is time to choose a new memory verse:
"This is my command to you: Be strong and courageous!Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
In what areas are you playing the Quiet Game, pretending things are ok when they really aren't? Does anybody really win as long as you play along? Will you step out in faith and take God at His Word, that He is with you wherever you go, when you make a decision that honors Him?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I like to think of myself as a peacemaker, doing whatever needs to be done in every situation to keep everyone happy. Another word for that is coward. Or maybe an enabler. I have allowed people to behave in a less than loving way as a means to keeping the peace. I have allowed an ugliness to thrive because I was afraid of confronting it.
Walking a tightrope only results in sore muscles, because you can only hold the pose for so long. Tonight I jumped, not caring if there was a net below or not. And boy, did it feel great. But, and it is a really big but, anger does not produce the righteousness of God. But a righteous anger does. There is a difference. Not standing for injustice and inequality, but doing it in a godly way, has miraculous results.
We had a miracle tonight in my house. God is definitely at work. We don't always like the means He gives us to grow, but when we handle conflict in the way He intends, miracles happen. Growth happens. Love has a chance to flourish.
Friday, October 9, 2009
What God has been speaking to me lately, though, is this: it isn't about me having the perfect words. It is about Him being the perfect God. My number one best defense, and offense, and everything else, it to be about the business of praising Him.
I heard an interview on the radio with Jeremy Camp today. (You know how I love me some Jeremy Camp!) Anyway, he said he was praying that God would help him write songs that would touch people's hearts for God. God told Him to write songs that would touch His heart.
One other thought, if my perfect words change a situation, where does faith come in? I'm not saying that we should all stop talking. But I, for one, should stop acting like the world hinges on me coming up with the right, convincing thing to say, and start trusting God. I have been making a concentrated effort these last few weeks to keep my mouth shut about certain topics, and God has definitely been at work. He has probably just been waiting for me to stop yapping so He could get a Word in edgewise.
Ok, this is my last thought for now, on this subject...when I concentrate on praising God, He comes closer. The way a situation turns out seems less important than knowing that God is in the midst of it.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Here's a guy who is pretty sure everything he does is golden and has probably never seen a reason to change. And, to be fair, stacking him up against the rest of the worldly world, he's right. He's a hard-working, black and white sort of guy. But, stacked up against what Jesus says in Matthew 6, he's not measuring up.(Can I just say here that I know I don't either? I don't want this to smack of self-righteousness.) For him to see that for probably the first time was so important, for his blind eyes to be opened to his need for a Savior. We had an amazing Spirit-led conversation after that. You don't recognize your need for grace until you recognize your need for grace.
When we went back to our own reading, he handed me the Walgreens specs to try out. "No thanks, I said. I'm good...I don't need those." Finally, just to not break the mood of camaraderie, I put them on.
I could see ten times better. Words that had been a light gray and really small to my eyes were suddenly deep black and leaping off the page. Who knew?! So now, at my house, we have two sort of blind people who are beginnning to see their need for something that previously had not applied to them. Or so we thought.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
When Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt and they were wandering around in the desert, God was physically present as their leader. He led them as a pillar of smoke in the day, and as a flame at night. If the smoke or the flame wasn't moving, neither were they. They never broke camp without His guiding them. (They could have left without Him, but it never went well.)
That is how I am trying to live my life, waiting for God to lead. Not breaking camp without Him. I am content right now, in this place, in this time, because I know that I am where God wants me. My throat is tight and my eyes are stinging, but in a really good way. I am learning to just "be" in Him, to rest in the nearness of Him, leading me by day and night.
I was thinking about the word "understand" tonight. To "stand under". To stand under the amazing beauty of His love. I am understanding it better than ever lately, and it takes my breath away.
Here is a song by the David Crowder Band that says it all. Close your eyes and listen, let the words of truth wash over you. You are Loved.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
For the current verse, I chose Isaiah 7:9b "If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all." Pretty straightforward, hey? But, in my head, anytime I hear the word "faith", it brings me to Hebrews 11:6, which says "Without FAITH it is impossible to please God, because those who come to him must believe that HE IS and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." So, this current memory verse also tells me to never forget who God is, what God can do, and who I am in Him. And, who I am not.
If I stand on my own, I eventually will not stand at all.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
M.O.M. Time is, at its heart, a mentoring ministry. We seek to help other moms navigate, biblicially, through motherhood. This has always been the goal, and the M.O.M. stands for Mentoring Other Mothers. It is not easy being a mom. Some have given up careers to stay home with little ones. Some had little ones before they were done being "little" themselves. Some thought they were done having little ones and find themselves right back where they started from. (In case you didn't know, that's me!) Regardless of when you became a mom, you can end up feeling like you've lost a part of yourself in the process. There are unique challenges associated with being a mom to little kids that can suck the life right out of you.
Or, you can view it as God does. He will use your children to grow you up, to look more like Him. God will use your kids to shape you into the woman He knows you can be. M.O.M. Time is a forum for learning about that, hanging out with friends, and making some new ones. (We are making it easier to accomplish that last one.)
I am really excited about this year. It will look a little different than past years, but the mission is the same. I know many of you are wondering how Journey and the New Testament Challenge fit into M.O.M. Time, and how M.O.M. Time fits into Journey. Basically, Journey is the umbrella that all other groups at FRCC fall under. Even though you don't have to attend Fox River to be in M.O.M. Time, it is still a Fox River group.
All of the Journey groups, including MT, will be doing the New Testament Challenge, reading through the NT in 9 weeks. But, we are still focusing our Tuesdays on exploring what the Bible has to say to moms of young kids. We will be encouraging our attendees to read the assigned portion each week, but we will be focusing on a narrow section of scripture to discuss, and you will know ahead of time what that is. Many of you have wondered if you should still come to MT if you are signing up for something else. MT will obviously have a different slant than the other groups, because we are specifically geared to a specific season of life, that of raising young children.
I hope you will come join us and find out what the Bible has to say to you as a mom. It is a season that redefines your life, and if you don't find that definition in Christ, it can be a tough time. Come navigate that road with others who are walking it with you. Our leadership team, made up of Sherry Judy, Rene' Wade, Becky Thomas, Shelley Gallamore, and myself, has over 75 years of parenting between us. Some of us have walked with Christ the entire time, and some of us are just figuring that out. Come learn and grow with us!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Tonight I stayed up way too late to finish reading My Sister's Keeper, which details a family's battle with their child's cancer. As I was sitting here reading, I had to fight the urge to go check on my kids. To put my hand on their backs, to feel their chest rise with breath. I love tucking them in at night, feeling their little heads beneath my hand, giving them one last kiss in the little sweaty fold of their neck while they lay on their tummies. I breathe deep, smelling little boy smell...a little dirt, a little ice cream, sometimes shampoo.
Time has a sneaky way of erasing things we think we will never forget...the weight of a baby's bottom in our arms as we nurse, the scent of a newborn, even the way their little voices sound and the funny words they make up. My older kids are 17, 21, and 22, and it hurts me to say that I know I've forgotten things I was sure I would never forget.
Some of these precious memories are given back. When my oldest daughter holds her daughter, I am reminded of my first years as a mom. But even now, I marvel at how fast time passes. Treasure it, I want to shout. Even knowing all I know, it is so hard sometimes to live in the moment, appreciating how fleeting it really is.
Tonight, my six-year-old wanted me to come out after dinner and play baseball with him. I can still see his little face looking through the screen door, watching me finish up the dishes. He said, "I know cleaning up is more important than playing. I'll wait."
I turned off the water and went outside. We played until it was too dark to see the ball.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
In an effort to not eat Aunt Jemima Complete Pancake Mix pancakes for dinner more than once a week, I am trying to get better organized on the cooking front. I have perfected the art of meat muffins, which, as funky as they sound, are a life saver. Anything you can make in bulk out of ground beef can be frozen in individual servings in a muffin tin. My favorites are sloppy joes and taco meat.
A recipe I learned from my friend Shelley is to put all of the ingredients for beef stew in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the potatoes or they won't keep well. You can store it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it for future use. (This is how I ended up with beef stew popsicle all over my head. I had just a little trouble getting the block out of the ziploc bag. Shards of broth were flying...I almost got the goggles out of my kids' tool box.)
Last weekend I decided at the last minute to attend our block party, which of course meant I needed a dish to pass. A single serving of chili saved the day. That, and my love of all things cheese. I spread cream cheese in a pie plate, topped that with the chili, and sprinkled it with some shredded cheddar. While that was baking I ran to Pick-n-Save for tortilla chips. Voila'...a dish to pass.
My downfall, though, to preplanning, is skimming, not reading, the recipe. I made a big pan of lasagna for my mom's birthday celebration one year. In an effort to be the gracious hostess not tied up in the kitchen, I made it earlier in the week and froze it. I read the baking directions: cook for 45 minutes without foil. No problem...except when I took it out from the oven it was still frozen solid. I had missed the part that said cook for one hour with the foil on top. There I was in the kitchen sawing frozen lasagna into chunks to put in the microwave. That, and a screaming infant in the Johnny-Jump-Up swinging from the kitchen door, made it a night to remember.
What tips do you have to share to keep from singing the dinner blues? Anything you do ahead of time to keep the bewitching hour unbewitched? I know I have a lot of smart friends out there, and most of us are tired of rotating the same six meals. Let's share our ideas.
Some of my favorite, albeit under-utilized, resources are:
Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade cookbooks
Taste of Home cookbooks
If you are a blogger, let's link up our posts. If you are reading this on FB, leave your best thoughts in a comment. I'm looking forward to sharing life with you!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Anyway, I was sitting here this morning reading in the Psalms. 56 and 57 to be exact, trusting God under persecution. What I have learned through my five years of actively pursuing God is that Christians are not exempt from problems. Following hard after God doesn't mean your life will be perfect. (Can I get an Amen?!) But, what it does promise is that you will never again walk alone through your troubles. It also means that in your Bible you have all the instruction you need to deal with trouble. The tricky part is doing it.
I am a can-do kind of girl. Independent. Sassy to a degree. I like to fight my own battles to prove that I am right. God, however, has not asked us to do that. He has asked...no, commanded, us to take refuge in Him. Let Him get His hands dirty on our behalf. For someone who likes to get the last word, that is not so easy.
God has allowed a situation into my life lately where it would be really easy, and even justified in the world's eyes, to do some mud-slinging. But, God is very clear about His expectation. If you are in a hard spot right now, even one that would normally demand an aggressive response, may I point you to Psalm 56 and Psalm 57?
As I sat here this morning, reading in my Bible, letting the words sink in, it officially became day time. The world is a little brighter. And I am grateful that I crawled out of my cocoon, to sit with my Lord, for "He has delivered my soul from death, my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life." Psalm 56:13.
He will do the same for you if you let him.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
There's a lot of things that I should surrender control over but I don't. I won't say I can't because I truly feel that anything we claim not to be able to do is a choice we are making. Some things are just harder than others. So I won't say that I can't surrender control of some things, just that it is really hard. Like my husband's walk to faith.
Once again, I felt God calling me, telling me, to give Rob's journey to Him. As I sat in church this morning (by myself*) singing "Savior, He can move a mountain, my God is mighty to save..." I heard Him speaking to me through the words. I am trying to move a mountain one spoonful at a time, and it is really not going that well. The mountain doesn't particulary want to be moved, and I am getting tired of the lack of progress I am making.
For an added eye opener, I was reminded that I am not respecting God when I try to do His job. His timing is perfect. Mine, not so good. God does not honor a pout, and my husband doesn't do so well with that either. So, once again, I will give my husband back to God. I'm not sure what that will look like, and I will need His help to be gracious about it. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a season for everything. I'm sure God has a reason for Rob's eyes still being half-closed. Maybe for me to learn surrender, gracefully, without a door slam on the way out.
*I say I was by myself, but not for long. I sat with a new friend today. I'm never really alone at church anyway, because the One I came to meet is always there.
Friday, September 11, 2009
But, when I read the title, it spoke to me on its own. Today is the day the Lord has made, so don't miss it. Don't miss it because you are looking backwards at something you can't forget. Don't miss it because you are so excited for something coming up , or even dreading something that is coming up, and the future is sucking the life out of the present.
Keep your eyes open, keep your heart open, and I promise you will see a miracle today.
Don't miss it!
p.s. When you do see your miracle, whatever touched your heart that you might have missed, leave me a comment so I can celebrate with you.
Monday, September 7, 2009
What did you think of immediately upon seeing this word? For most of us it signals a crisis. When a friend shares tough news, we might say "I'll pray for you." And we should. But, at its simplest, praying equals talking. It also equals hoping, confiding, dreaming, loving, and whispering to the One who wants to hear it.
I just read a post by a parent who was sharing the prayers she lifted for her daughter as she was growing up. The mom is beginning to see the results of those prayers. Until I read this, it didn't really occur to me to be praying long-range prayers for my kids. Most of them center around a "Dear Lord, please help them stay out of trouble theme." The tyranny of the immediate seems to suck up most of my prayer time,whatever that may be.
Diligence is not my strength, but I am going to try to pray for my kids in a long-range way. Praying for my little boys to find godly wives, and for them to be godly husbands.To not feel the need to go with the crowd, but to stand out and stand for something. For my older kids to find out (quickly please!) who God wants to be in their lives. Okay, so that isn't longe range. I want that now. I would like to pray for my marriage, for God to shape it as He sees fit. To pray to know God's will for my life after the mommy years have passed. I should have a few good ones left...
Mostly, though, I would pray to see this life as a journey, and not just a series of happenings that somehow string together days into weeks into months into years. I want to always be aware that I'm not just getting through, but that everything layers onto everything else to build something lasting and beautiful.
Prayer can be the glue that links our present to our future in Christ.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
This day started as a lot of our family time seems too...distracted, un-unified, somewhat tense, with kids getting yelled at for acting up. Of course I know they are acting up because no one is paying attention to them. The grown-ups are too busy balancing the chips on their shoulders.
The Mr and I were not communicating well. I wanted to do one thing today. He did not want to do said one thing today. I got fed up with not getting my way and said something snippy about needing my Facebook friends because he never pays attention to me. And he said...maybe if I backed him up on a certain issue...blah,blah,blah. No disrespect intended, but I really stopped listening at this point.
Right now you are probably thinking, uh-oh...But, this is where God stepped in to save the day. No, He didn't make the Mr say everything I wanted to hear. He, the Big He, shut my mouth and opened my ears. And poured into my head the scriptures that I claim to carry in my heart. We were having a Love and Respect fight! And through the grace of the Almighty, I was able to slow down and talk it through. I sat down and looked my husband in the eye and apologized for not showing him the respect he is due as head of our household. We were able to move from irrational and emotional to just emotional. (I am a girl after all.)
The day went on. I took the kids to the zoo by myself. He called to see if I wanted him to pick up dinner from KFC. We had a fun evening of playing hide and seek, which is hilarious with little kids, and went to bed. Before he went to sleep, he asked what time I want to go to church in the morning. *sigh & smile*. Then I turned on the Billy Graham Crusade on TBN. (I don't like listening to the news before I go to sleep. Not uplifting.)
Only God, and those who read the channel guide maybe, knew that Billy was preaching on Christian marriage. As I was watching, burning with conviction that the Mr should not be sleeping and should be hearing all of this, the conviction turned to shame. God was like, don't you think I knew he'd be sleeping but it is you who needed to watch this? Hmm...yessir, I confessed.
So, as I'm sitting here not sleeping because it has been an exciting day all around, lyrics to Only A God Like You are running through my head. This day has been like a discipline sandwich...yes He loves me, and he loves me too, but in between there has been a lot of Truth going around. The kind of Truth that saves. People, marriages, families, a lot of saving going around, that's for sure. Amen to that.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
This was the question that Jesus posed to Peter. And, scripture promises us that someday we will each have to answer that question. While we each need to arrive at that answer for ourselves, it helps to know who we are dealing with. I have been blessed to know some very faith-filled women who, when troubles come, they just "give it to God." For about 5 years I questioned just exactly how they did that. What I have realized is that I didn't know Him, only of Him.
Hebrews 11:6 says that "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
I was in a Bible study called "Lord, Teach Me to Pray", by Kay Arthur. She spends a portion of it teaching the names of God as the people in the Bible knew Him. Some of the names that have meant alot to me are Jehovah-jireh: The Lord Will Provide, Jehovah-shalom: The Lord Is Peace, Jehovah-rapha: The Lord Who Heals, and El-Shaddai: The All-Sufficient One. This is the aspect of God I would like to focus on, His All-Sufficiency, El Shaddai.
I was thinking about sinning awhile back, not about committing any particular one, but about why I sin. I think it is because I forgot that God is El Shaddai. I sin because a present situation is not meeting my needs, and in my pride or desperation, I decide that I am the only one who can fix it. I rob God of his El-Shaddai-ness. In Philippians 4:19 Paul writes that "God will fully satisfy all of his needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." If I could share one message with everyone I meet about God, that is what I would want them to know about Him.
Imagine the scene from Luke 4:16-21: Jesus has returned to his hometown after performing many miracles in the surrounding towns.
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Can you imagine hearing those words, and understanding them? Do we really understand what that means to us in our lives, right now?
It means that El-Shaddai, our All Sufficient One, is more than fully capable of meeting our needs, and in fact, came for that purpose. In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told to cast all our anxiety upon Him, because He cares for us. He cares for us. The God of the Universe, in whom all things were created, cares for you. We do not have to sin to meet our needs. We need to bring them to Him.
So, for the woman who needs to find someone, anyone, to sleep with just so she isn't alone, God longs, longs to hold you. He gave His Son to make it possible for you to come to Him when you are lonely.
For the woman who drinks not because she is thirsty but because she is empty, God longs to fill you with His Holy Spirit. He gave His Son so that His Holy Spirit could dwell in you forever.
For the woman searching for meaning, God longs to tell you that the search is over.
The prophet Ezekiel spoke of Christ's rescue mission in chapter 34. Verse 16 says "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak." This verse gives me goosebumps, because I have been the strayed, the lost, and the injured. He sent someone for me.
Think for a moment, what matters are you taking into your own hands? What is holding you captive? What is breaking your heart today? Have your blind eyes been opened? Are you trying to handle it on your own, or have you brought it to Your El-Shaddai, Your All Sufficient God to handle for you?
This is the acceptable year of the Lord, sisters, and He has come to set you free.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The apostle Paul says that a thorn, figuratively, was allowed to remain in his flesh. The purpose: to keep him humble. To remind him that when he succeeds, it is because of God at work. The thorn was allowed because if Paul was in perfect condition, it would have been easy for him to take credit for his ministry, instead of recognizing God as the true source of all power.
Don't think though that Paul didn't beg and plead with God to remove the thorn. But, God, in His grace and wisdom, gave him a promise. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Is there a thorn in your flesh that you have been begging to remove? Is it possible that He has allowed a particular situation in order to show that He is enough for you? I know the circumstances that I pray to God to change...and He hasn't really. I have dropped to my knees in the quiet of my kid's closet, because that was the only quiet place, and asked Him, "How am I supposed to do and say the things You want me to in the middle of this?" In His wisdom He directed me to Paul's thorn. Paul probably said the same thing...You want me to go where and do what with this going on? God's word to Paul applies to me, and to all of us.
So, like Paul, I suck it up, bite my lip, and focus my eyes on God. And in the end, at the end of the day, I know that God was with me. Every step. There is no place He asks us to go, literally and figuratively, that He doesn't go before us and behind us. If you are facing an impossible situation and are using a thorn as an excuse to behave in a less than godly way, stop. Do what you are feeling justified in not doing, and watch God work. If your life was perfect, with no conflicts or thorns, you would miss an opportunity to see God.
Let His grace be sufficient for you. Accept it for yourself, but don't forget to offer it to others. That may be the lesson He is waiting for me to learn.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Anyway, after looking for things to be further ticked off about today...and did you ever notice how easy they are to find when you are looking?...I decided to apologize. Don't think for a minute that I didn't know who was actually at fault here. 1 John 1:9 played through my head all day...God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness when we confess our sins. I just couldn't seem to confess without a chorus of yeah...but's following each confession.
So anyway, at about 6:00 pm I decided it was time to apologize. I practiced in my head. Here's a couple that I didn't go with:
1. I am sorry that I couldn't tolerate the way you acted all day yesterday.
2. I am sorry that you frustrated me so badly.
3. I am sorry that you lost it yesterday and I got mad at you.
4. If you would be more patient with the kids, I wouldn't have to get so bent out of shape.
5. I am sorry that I wasn't the bigger person yesterday. It's hormonal.
As you can see, all of these still place the blame for my behavior on someone else. You can't sincerely apologize if you are still excusing yourself. In the end, I went with a very sincere "I am so sorry for the way I acted yesterday. We were both stressed out and I didn't make the situation better for anyone." Of course he agreed completely with me and pointed out that the two hour family trip one way on a train was too much. Of course I pointed out that we wouldn't know that without doing it. But I think we are at a truce. At least I feel like I could ask for the light to be off without starting a new round. Maybe tonight I won't need the dark silence quite so badly either.
Monday, August 24, 2009
This has been a day. Every nerve ending is laid bare. God has given me many opportunties to show grace, compassion, and mercy. Remember, all these things imply that the recipient is not deserving. Yes, many opportunities.
My house is quiet now, and all I can hear is the whir of the ceiling fan and the crickets in the yard. Sounds peaceful except for the grinding of my teeth that I can't seem to stop. I know I should act one way, but after trying all day, I'm done. Exhausted. The sad kind, when you know you should feel differently but you can't pull it together.
I know what God would have me do right now, and frankly, I don't feel like it. Not a good place to be. This is the part where the rubber meets the road. Do I submit my will to His, or do I continue to sit in my irritation and my self-righteous attitude and replay every judgmental detail over and over? I tell you what I would rather do...get my pillow and sleep on the couch. Will I? I don't know yet. Not feeling the love on my own strength. Time to confess my own ugliness and tap into some Holy Spirit.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
When I turn on my computer in the morning, the first email I read is the KLOVE verse of the day. Then, I read my actual emails from people, then I read the Proverbs 31 devotion. All good stuff. Each thing I read makes me nod my head and say, Ooh...that's good. Now I have a friend sending me devos, which I read, and say, Oooh...that's good. Then, I might work on a Bible study, or read a devo in a magazine, and say...yup, you guessed it...ooh...that's good. Then, midway through the morning, when real life is setting in, I try to draw strength from the Lord. With everything I have read, you'd think something would stick. But it doesn't, because I have been skipping stones with the Lord.
Instead of a big satisfying thunk of a bubble, as His Word sinks to the bottom of my soul, forming a firm foundation in the sand of my life, it never really settles beneath the surface. What to do? What to give up? I think the answer lies in the word "illumination". When something catches your eye, and you can't stop going back to it, stop there. The Holy Spirit could very well be telling you that this is your big rock. Grab that one, and settle there for a bit. Ponder. Meditate. Dwell there. Watch for the big bubble.
Father God, please grant that Your Word would dwell in us richly, not just scatter a few bubbles across the surface and keep moving. Yours are the Words of life, the Lamp to our feet. Please displace me with You, sending up a big bubble of surrender. Help all of us who are guilty of dabbling, but never really dwelling. In the Name of Him Who Makes All Things Possible, Amen. Not my strength, but Yours, Father.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
So, having said all that, God does provide, and continues to amaze me. I must get my sense of humor from Him, because He definitely has one. I made my husband a present for his 50th birthday, put it on the charge card to get it ordered, and planned to pay for it with yesterday's babysitting money. Seriously, Rob shouldn't have to pay for his own present, right? Then the little girl I babysit for was sick. Plan B. I took some time to focus my thoughts on God, thank Him in advance for the provision I know He can provide, and went about my day. You are wondering about the funny part...
I let the kids make homemade pizza for dinner and decorate it themselves. As I was cleaning up afterwards, I piled all of their leftovers on my plate and was headed to the garbage. My 20 year old daughter dared me to eat the leftovers for $50. If you've ever watched kids eat pizza, you know leftovers aren't always pretty... She didn't know about the scrapbook needing to be paid for. I thought about it for about a minute, deciding if there was an empty corner in the gut to be filled, and went for it. I won. I had her write the check directly to Rob.
Until this morning I didn't really see this as God's provision, just a silly way to make $50. But, when we pray for God to provide, we don't always know how He is going to answer. I might've had less indigestion if a long lost relative sent me a check out of the blue, but providing is providing. Imagine the blind man who wanted to see...mud and spit probably weren't what he was looking for, kind of gross actually. But what wouldn't he accept for sight?
There isn't really a moral to my story, but it just makes me see even more clearly that God can handle anything I bring to Him. Even with a chuckle, I imagine.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Laying outside the other night, watching the Perseid meteor showers, all I could do was praise God. I could imagine the stars being excited because they were called. Not because of anything special they did, but because God chose them to hurtle through space at that moment, (actually thousand of years ago, but we finally see the light of it), for His purpose.
"All who claim me as their God will come, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them." Isaiah 43:7
Friday, August 7, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
From the very first session, the focus was on Him. There were technical aspects in each talk, but the out-loud, up-front focus was Christ. If we are not relying on Him and using the gifts He gave us, acknowledging Him as the driving force of all we do, we are not doing it to glorify Him. The minute I decide that if I stopped showing up a ministry would cease or fall into trouble, I need to walk away and get on my knees. God does not need any of us to accomplish His purposes, but He allows us to take part in His awesome story. Definitely humbling to be reminded of this.
I was also reminded that if God has an agenda, nothing will get in its way. You know the song "The Waiting Is the Hardest Part"? It's true. Sometimes I feel like God is calling me to something, but I'm not sure what it is or how to get there. If He has a plan, which He does for each of us (Ephesians 2:10), we need to keep doing the things we are supposed to do. Study the Word. Be a prayer warrior. Love and serve others. Stay on the path we know we are supposed to be on, and it will lead us to His purpopse and plan for us. I always worry that if I'm not intensely trying to make something happen, to force His hand, that I might miss His call for me. It doesn't work that way. That puts the power on me, and that isn't where it belongs.
The point was also made this weekend, which I am very, very familiar with, that when we are about Kingdom Business, anything done to glorify God, the enemy is watching. Waiting. Whispering. Reminding you that you aren't good enough or smart enough to do something. Telling you that your past disqualifies you from your future. Because of the blood of Christ, this is not true. Read it again: This is not true.
The last biggest thing that I will take with me after this weekend is to live the story God has given me. He has allowed my particular circumstances and mistakes for a reason. Don't cover up certain things, because that doesn't glorify God. He hasn't asked us to be His reporters, speaking generically about what He can do in a life, but to be His witnesses, telling of the transformation He has made in our lives. If, now that you "have arrived" and have your Super Christian ID card, you are ignoring certain parts of your past, stop. Remember, God is sovereign. He could have stepped in and steered you in another choice than the ones you made, but He didn't. If God allows it, He can use it. Takes guts, and it's scary, but entrust it all to God. Covering up denies His power. This is really enough fodder for a whole new post, so I will close now.
Suffice it to say that God is in control. We belong to Him. He will accomplish His purposes through us, not because He needs us, but because He loves us. Live the life He has called you to. Stop looking at everyone else's race, or you will trip running your own. I could go on, because my heart is so full, but let me close with this: If you do not know the Lord, I would love to help you meet Him. He has a plan for you, and is waiting for you. I am not any more or less special in His eyes than anyone else. We are all prescious in His sight. If you have questions, I would love to help you find the answers.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
How did that sound? I am getting ready to head to North Carolina, y'all, to attend the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference. It is my first time and I am super excited. It will also be the longest period time I have left my husband on his own with the kids.
This has been a long week of auditioning outfits to see what looks good, writing and practicing two talks to be evaluated on, and trying NOT to coach my husband on how to handle things.(Just in case Jen peeks here, I have nothing but bargains and hand-me-downs filling my suitcase, even some stuff I pulled out of a bag that I intended to bring to Goodwill.) I have not spent nearly enough time doing what I wanted mostly to be doing, spending time in prayer. I'm getting caught up in the details and not preparing in the way I know will be most beneficial, praying. But seriously, God knows my heart. None of these other ladies know me at all. You only get one first impression.
I am looking forward to connecting with the other ladies (sisters, really) who are also passionate about serving God and other women. God has gifted all of us, each and every one of us, in the way that will best serve the people He has put in our lives. I am praying that I am man enough to recognize that we may not all have the same gifts, and to not be jealous if someone is "better" than I am. I am also praying that God give me a humble heart, to be gracious to everyone. Even those who are better than me, lol.
I will be excited to tell all y'all about the conference when I get back. (For you Yankees, that is plural for y'all.)
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Then, tonight, I'm minding my own business, and everyone else's, on Facebook, and I get a friend request from a guy from high school that I haven't seen in...gulp...24 years. (OHMAGOSH am I really that old?!) So then, I start looking through pics of his friends, then their friends, and before you know it I'm having a little class reunion all by myself. I left the town I graduated high school in six months after graduation and never looked back. I was never able to attend a reunion at first because I was out of the area, then I lost interest. Tonight was my first time laying eyes on any of these people since graduation. There was even a picture of the guy I was so madly in love with all through high school. Not my actual boyfriend, but the one I could never quite snag.
Before anyone starts worrying about my stalker potential, I did not send anyone a friend request. Most of these people were acquaintances, not real friends. It is just really weird how much smaller the world has gotten lately. Oh, and in case anyone was going to be nice and say, you're not that old...a little girl I used to babysit for is a professor at Cardinal Stritch. Seriously, people. How is this possible?
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I was cruising along some more, coasting on a flat stretch, when I could see a hill in the distance. Nothing you would notice by car, but biking is a different story. Instead of continuing to coast, I slipped into a lower gear and started pedaling harder, hoping to save up a little momentum to help me push up the hill. Propel me forward. Prosper me, in biblical terms. (Did you know the deeper meaning of prosper is to push forward, as God promises to do for us in Jeremiah 29:11?)
Life is like that sometimes. We get comfortable, coasting through the easier times. We just whistle our way through, unaware of rough terrain or a hill looming on our horizon. It is during these times that we should start storing up God's word in our heart, so it can propel us through the tricky times. God's word can be a lamp to our feet, but we need to keep the batteries charged. Have you ever tried to replace batteries in a burned out flashlight in the dark? Don't wait until the storms come and the lights are flickering to get charged.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Anyway, I have been praying while I clean. Not like when I was praying while cooking dinner last week. Just changing the focus of the drudgery of cleaning. Although, seriously, anything done to Third Day in the background is not drudgery.
Ok, anyway. Praying. Thanking our God Who Provides, Jehovah Jireh, for each thing I have as I am cleaning it. Thanking Him for this house, these floors, even a little boy who is learning to pee standing up. I could thank Him many times during the day for that. Asking Him to bless each room with His Spirit as I finish up, to make this home a refuge to all who come through these doors.
Hope that helps someone who has a less than cheerful heart as they go about their chores. No guilt intended. Just joy and the recognition of a generous God.
Here's a little Third Day for you if you don't have any!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Twice yesterday, I started to whine (I know, seriously, me?) to get my point across. Twice I prepared messages to send via text and email, and twice I felt very strongly that I should not send them, so I actually didn't. Twice our amazing God went before me, and behind me, to smooth the way with the exact thing I was going to ask for. Twice He showed me that it isn't about me taking matters into my own hands, but about bringing it to Him. It's like He's reminding me that He can't get done what He wants to do if I keep running my mouth.
Here's the verse:
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
- We are expanding our bike rides to include crossing the streets. I am constantly telling the boys to not cross behind me, but cross on the inside, while I block them from the road. God gives us the same message. He hems us in, going behind us and ahead of us (Psalm 139). It is when we try to sneak around the barrier that we get hurt.
- You have to learn how to fall so you can be safe. That is Justin's explanation to me about why he falls off his bike and gets back on. There is deep 3-year-old wisdom in that. If you learn how to fall properly, in a godly way so to speak, you won't get as hurt.
- And, last, sometimes you need to take the training wheels off before anyone but you thinks it's a good idea. Sometimes you might be the only one who thinks something is a good idea, and you just need to go ahead with it. I don't actually recommend that advice often, but, once in a while it works!
Anyway, it promises to be a long summer of hearing myself talk. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't. Hey...I thnk He just agreed with me.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I learned something last night during some Beth Moore homework: Love never fails. OK, so I have heard that before, and so probably have most of you. But here is the Greek translation of fails: to fall off or put down. Love never falls or is put down. If you reach out to someone in love and they reject it or don't respond the same way, your love hasn't failed. Your God, Your awesome Savior, is holding that love in His hand. It never fails. It may not be received in the way you intended, but it did not fail. So don't stop putting it out there. Don't give up, dry up, or shut up. Keep putting it out there. If for no other reason, you now know that God is holding it for you. Makes it a little easier to keep trying, doesn't it?
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Let me give you a picture of what you would see if you were looking in my kitchen window right now: I am sitting on the floor, laptop in my lap, Third Day blasting on the kitchen cd player (May Your Wonders Never Cease is on right now), dinner preparations all over the counter, and a lump in my throat the size of an avocado pit. My dad is coming to dinner tonight, and I need your prayers.
The relationship with my dad has been strained probably since the day I was born, but he has gradually withdrawn from my life almost completely. He is not a bad guy, just one who has never learned to connect with me, and now with my kids. It is the musings of Connor, 6, wondering why he doesn't have a grampa like the other kids that make me bang my head against this wall time after time. My older kids gave up asking a long time ago. So, the cry of why doesn't my dad want a relationship with me has moved to the next generation. I invite him to things a few times each year, and this time he said yes. He and his wife are coming to dinner tonight.
I have been praying, asking for a nice time of fellowship and no seriously naughty acts by my little boys. While I was chopping, slicing, and dicing stuff for dinner tonight (fajitas if you were wondering), and getting my praise on to Third Day, God was asking why I was asking for so little. "Don't you know who I am? I am the Healer of all things, the Builder of all things, the Restorer of all relationships. Why are you just asking to have a nice time when I have all this I can give?"
Hmmm...good question. Because I am hitting my head on my limits.Because I am struggling in my own power. Because I am forgetting that this awesome, huge God of the Universe is capable of so much more than a dinner party.
So friends, I have abandoned my meal prep and cleaning to do some serious prayer and worship of my God. Tears stream down my cheeks as I consider all He is and all He has done for me, for all of us who believe. If tonight does not result in a brand new fresh start, I will still turn my eyes upon Jesus. He is the one who puts His breath in my lungs, allowing me to stand in the face of all things.
If you have a little time between 4:00 and 7:00 today, lift a prayer for us.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The deeper thought there, though, is if we never bump up against our limits, how do we know where they are? Why stick with status quo when we were built for so much more?
Saturday, July 4, 2009
and heal their land.
This verse is speaking directly to those of us following Him now, today. We are the ones told to stop being proud, pray and search for God, and repent. He WILL hear us and He WILL heal our land.
I challenge you today, to take some time, examine your heart, and see where God leads you with it. Pray for our country.
We have our marching orders, troops.
Friday, July 3, 2009
For #13, I picked one that is short and direct:
It reminds me that as long as I whine and complain about things, I am putting the importance of that stuff before God and the work He would like to do. Maybe certain situations exist for the sole purpose of me getting to see His grace in action. If I stop coming up with my own idea of perfect and striving for that, God is free to offer His grace that is more than enough to cover anything.
Monday, June 29, 2009
I don't want to over-analyze the feeling. I felt joy when I should have felt exhaustion after a very long night with a sick hubby. I felt anticipation and excitement for the future, not really knowing what it holds, but knowing my God and that is enough.
I felt joy today.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I used to view church and the Ten Commandments as just more rules to follow designed to keep me from having fun, pretty much the same way my kids view what I say. The difference came when I realized that God loves me, even though I was not following His rules, which made me want to follow His rules. It is a process to learn that there is so much freedom and protection in staying on the path.
The very first thing God says when He gives Moses the Ten Commandments is I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD. If we would base everything else on that, things would fall into place.
Why would I need idols, when You are MY God?
Why would I speak Your Name with anything less than reverence, because You are my GOD?
Why do I need to make something to represent You, when You ARE my God?
Why can't I set aside even one day to worship You, when YOU are my God?
Why don't I honor the parents You gave me, since You are MY God?
Why do I worry that what my neighbor has is better than what I have, because You ARE MY GOD?
Why do I consider adultery as an option, in all its forms, when You are My God?
Why would I color the truth, even a little, when You are My God?
Why would I want to kill someone, when You are My God?
Why do I need to take what doesn't belong to me, when You are my God?
I think the reason we decide it is okay to compromise these commandments is because we haven't taken the time to get to know Him. It is much easier, desirable even, to serve someone you know. We are so blessed to serve a God who puts relationship at the beginning of everything. Having said all this, God knew we would not be able to do all of this all the time. That's where grace comes in, but that discussion is for another blog post.
If you are still seeing Him as a rule setter, fun stealer, and generally a kill-joy, I would challenge you, plead with you even, to get to know Him. Allow yourself to be proven wrong.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I have put some things on the back burner, like training for a run I really wanted to do. Pick your fights, I always say, when it comes to parenting. I have had to take my own advice. Even though all the things I would like to do are extremely worthy in my eyes, God wants my heart above all else. And if my heart is full of myself, it won't be full of Him. So, once again, I am praying for humility, which is kind of like praying for patience. You never know how God will provide that lesson...stay tuned.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
In my quiet time this morning I listened to Matt Redman's Facedown. Love, love, love the lyrics of that song. We are welcomed in to His holy presence, King of Glory here be found. I will take those words with me as a prayer today, reminding me that even though quiet time is over, literally and figuratively, I can take Him with me.
To be truthful, I am not looking forward to leaving my little room here and going upstairs to face the chaos of the day. Selfishly, I want to sit here at His feet, feeling the way I do right now. I am wondering how long before the peace I feel will turn to irritation and frustration. But that is forgetting the whole point of why God has put me in this place right now. To share Him with everyone else, through my thoughts, words, and actions.
On the other hand, taking the time to fill up with Him is number one, because you can't give what you ain't got. Not that I am competent to claim anything as coming from me; my competence is from God, who has made me competent to be a minister of a new covenant.
2 Cor. 3:5-6.
Author's Note: I just went upstairs and Connor says,"So did you have a good reading time?" Hilarious.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This morning as I sat in my blue computer chair, this is what God told me: Tell them that I AM ENOUGH FOR THEM. I know what it means to me.
It means that even though I may not get the ROI ( a little business term that means return on investment) I am seeking in my life through what I give to those around me, GOD IS ENOUGH.
It means that when I intentionally reach out to my husband in love and he doesn't slow down or notice, GOD IS ENOUGH.
It means that when I have had an awesome God moment and really want to share it, and there is no one in my house who "gets" it, GOD IS ENOUGH.
It means that when I do my best for the people I care about, but it still isn't good enough, GOD IS ENOUGH.
Mostly, though, it means that when I am lonely, afraid, or let down, GOD IS ENOUGH.
I needed this reminder today. I have been lazy in my quiet time, and missing out on the "enoughness" of God. I have been wanting the people in my world to be enough, and they never will be. I will never be. It isn't a slight, but a fact. Only God can be enough to fill all the empty places. When I start putting my hope, trust, and confidence in mere people, I am setting myself and them up for failure.
Today is a good day to start fresh, seeking Him first thing in the morning. Why would I wait until my cup runneth completely bone dry, when the Lord, who is my portion forever, is waiting to fill it to overflowing?
What areas in your life are you not letting God be enough in? Pray about it. He is standing at the door, knocking, waiting. How long will you drown in your own self-sufficiency before you take His hand?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Pastor Guy talked about synergy last Sunday. Synergy is one of those buzz words of this century, but what does it mean? It's more than working together. Here is the illustration he used: If you have two horses that can each pull 1,000 pounds, how much can they pull yoked together? 2,000 pounds? Nope, 4,000 pounds. So, if we were all praying each others one prayer, can you see how we would work together to storm the gates of heaven? Which, by the way, are just waiting for our storm.
My one prayer is this: Ok, it is hard to put into words. Good thing the Spirit intercedes for me so God knows what I'm trying sputtering about. I want the people in my life to see God at work in theirs, without me having to point it out to them all the time. Aahhh, that may be the problem. Maybe my one prayer should be for God to shut my mouth. Maybe that was someone else's one prayer...wouldn't that be something?
Anyway, if you would like to add your one prayer to mine and we could pray for each other, leave it in a comment. If you don't want it public, but still want to be prayed for, email me. I would consider it a privilege to do some gate storming on your behalf.