Friday, October 30, 2009

Sleep Talking

God spoke to me this morning, as my mind was first becoming awake. I have a feeling that this was the tail end of a conversation that lasted all night. Let me back up to my last waking thoughts to fill in the gaps here. Or maybe, I should back up to the last few weeks. Since "accepting" a radical rocking of his boat, my husband has continued to give me opportunities to grow in patience, self-control, and mercy. Take that any way you want to.

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.
"Sow for yourselves righteousness. Reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground. For now is the time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness upon You." Hosea 10:12

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

Catch Me!

Justin and I had a little extra time today so we stopped at a playground we never played at before. He wanted to give the monkey bars a try, but wanted me to hold on to him too. He would go about three bars and then tell me to let go, squirm for a minute, then holler for me to hold him again. We continued in this fashion back and forth across the monkey bars a few times. Each time, he would be sure he was ready to do it alone. Each time, I would let go but stay close enough to catch him when he needed me to.

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.
He is our ever present help in time of need. Psalm 46:1.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Concert vs. Worship

Anyone who knows me know that I am a concert junkie. Last night was Casting Crowns and Matt Redman at Elmbrook. I thought I was going to a concert, but it was truly a night of worship. Mark Hall of CC is also a youth pastor, and the night was interspersed with prayer and sermon snippets. I got such a visual in my head that I had to grab a pew card and write it down in the middle of the service so I didn't forget.

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 was a night of worship.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hanging Out

Last night I really felt like journaling and hanging out with God for a while. I had just finished reading "If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat" by John Ortberg. That, coupled with Pastor Guy's sermon this weekend on being a Believer vs. a Follower of Jesus pretty much left me smoldering with a desire to do something BIG for Jesus. I'm always trying to figure out what God might have me do, and thought that journaling and spending a little time with God would help me clarify what I am feeling.

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

Learning Opportunities

Sometimes as a mom, I wonder when it is time to introduce a new concept. Like, how early do you tell them they can't cross the road by themselves? Probably when they start taking steps would be the best. So, I'm thinking it is time to introduce a new concept to Connor. And of course, Justin will learn by default.

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

Beth Moore and the Quiet Game

Who remembers the Quiet Game? It is really popular with parents...let's play a game and see who can be the quietest. I have to admit to playing the quiet game as an adult, and for very different reasons. If I don't stay quiet, I might be left with consequences I don't want to deal with. I might create a conflict. I might have to spend more time dealing with something than I really wanted to.

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

Growing Pains, Again

Being a bit of a wordsmith, I can come up with a million different ways to describe something, except sometimes the truth. There's once again, no cute story here. Just someone finally looking in the mirror. And maybe putting someone else in a headlock until they look too.

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

Silence, Please!

I like to write. I definitely like to talk. I am a communicator. That works in my favor a good lot of the time. I am pretty sure if I can just find the right words I can convince anyone of anything, so I spend a lot of time crafting the perfect conversations in my head, just waiting for an opportunity to use them. Or, when the situation is heading south, I am sure it is just a matter of me figuring out the right thing to say.

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

That The Blind May See

My husband and I both got our sight checked last night, but probably not in the way you are thinking. We were sitting side by side in the bed, reading our New Testament Challenge, which, if you are not aware, is a cause for celebration in itself. But, in the middle of reading, he looked at me over the top of his Walgreens magnifying specs and said, "I don't stand a chance. I guess I'm going to hell."

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

Love Story

I have started and restarted this post three times now, trying to make a little cute story for you to relate to before I get to the heart of it. But, plain and simple, I am really loving my God. I used to be really caught up in the "doing" for Him, but lately I am really feeling the "being" part of our relationship. Like He is really, really enough. When life throws me a curveball, He restores me. I stop, breathe, remind myself that He is my portion no matter what, and He "absorbs" my hurt. God even makes it possible for me to love those throwing the curveballs better, more freely. I am able to love with less expectation of being loved in return, because I know that I am not alone.

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

LPM Verse #19

I have not posted in a while about this, but I am still plugging along at the Living Proof Ministries Challenge to memorize a new scripture every two weeks without forgetting the previous ones. As I go back through my little index card binder and read the verses I have chosen since January, it has been a reminder of the journey God has had me of learning to set myself aside and learning to trust Him. I know it is a process, not an event, to surrender completely to His Will, but looking back at the previous 18 verses also has strengthened my testimony of God. I can trust Him. He is always faithful. His plan is to prosper me, not to harm me.

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.