Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And all they heard it wondered at those things where were told them by the shepherds.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Though the first two items I repeat somewhat hourly to a boy or two in my life, the whole of it, the patience, the stillness, the remembering, the reminder, is a mantra for myself. Words repeated daily to keep my spirit focused and my flesh in check.
Journeys are historically not my favorite. I am a finish line girl for sure. Check it off and move on to the next thing. There is a reason Mary Poppins was a role model in my early days and still is for that matter, and it is not because I desire to be practically perfect in every way, well it's not JUST because of that. Mary Poppins was a doer, a planner, a packer, a cleaner, a beautiful, musical, loving, but to point lady who could snap her fingers and be done.
My desire is to dream and plan, to pray for the Spirit to direct me and show me how He wants me to proceed. When you pray for paths to be directed and listen to the dreams that arise you feel joy as ideas come flowing into your mind and onto the pages of your journals. The difficulty for me is in realizing that saying and accomplishing are entirely different things. Not a far step away from the voice of encouragement is a less than encouraging voice demanding that I hurry up and accomplish all the things. There's your job now go and do it. Alongside is the fear that if I don't in fact get it all done I have failed and should give up trying any further lest I just fail again. It is a daily, yes daily, struggle for me to ignore those lies and wait. To ponder before producing. To give grace to myself as I have been given. To remember that seeds do not grow into oaks overnight. They are watered, protected, pruned and left to grow at the appropriate pace until one day you look over and beauty shades ground around you.
However, in the past couple years I have been learning to appreciate the process. To soak in the scenery and not just wish for it to whiz by faster so that I can get where I'm going and be done with it. I expect this to be somewhat of a lifelong learning process as hardwires are hard to replace and default modes are the easiest thing to slip back into. So while my lists of hopes and desires may seem as if they are sitting dormant, I am reminded that Spring does come and without the season of preparation nothing can grow. So I praise my God for patience and stillness and promise of Hope that He is the one who began the work and He will be the one to complete it in me.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
There is one major dilemma when mixing a planner and a dreamer...at least in this dual-card-holding girl's life. The type A responsible and realistic opinion inside you likes to come to the surface, push its glasses to the tip of its nose, stare down and calmly (or erratically depending on your temperament) explain why, in fact, that dream you so lovingly dream can not and will not ever become a reality. The reasons line up, because they are obviously presented with bullet points and color coded for organization and effect, so you take your dreams and you do your best to push them down, while assuming that's the right thing to do, and you look at what's in front of you for accomplishing the task at hand.
A middle ground can always be argued. No, I can not let my life be ruled by emotions, constantly switching back and forth from thought to thought, and idea to idea, with no grasp of the reality of what being a responsible adult means in the world around me, or without the effort of concentrating and dedicating myself to a single task at a time. Oh but on the other side, to ignore part of myself, part of the person God created me to be, is a dangerous, yes dangerous, place to be.
While teaching children's church this past Sunday we were discussing the story of Zachariah and how that Godly priest was left mute for months because he couldn't quite believe that God was in fact going to do what the angel said He was going to do. Oh that familiar pride and unbelief that plagues us all. The phrase "too good to be true" was chatted about, and how we all hear things that sound great but don't quite measure up. Then we talked about God and His promises, and that we can believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that anything and everything He says is true. Next in the sequence of teaching this truth to young minds came the conversation of how God speaks to us. The bible was first on the list (right after the inevitable answer of "Jesus" that is blurted out to every question asked in church ever in the history of Sunday school). Then a sweet voice answered "God also puts things in your heart". Let the little children come to Him indeed!
While Disney is not the gospel, the gospel is in fact everywhere. So when Cinderella sings "a dream is a wish your heart makes" with the birds and mice in the top of her tower, the Holy Spirit is the first person that comes to mind when I hum that tune to myself, as I'm doing now. Living inside me is the third person of the Trinity. Living inside me is the very Spirit of Jesus. Living inside me is a loving guide that shouts at times, but more often whispers reminders of the person I am and the way I should go. So to push down those dreams that continually come up, is to ignore the voice inside me which directs my heart, directs my life, and asks me to repent of my naysaying ways, and instead trust that the lofty and impossible is exactly what He does. If I already knew how to accomplish all the things, what is my faith for anyway?
God in all His omnipotent glory will call us all to impossible things. Not just scary, "please let me scream no and run away like a kid" things. For example, killing giants like David or moving your entire family to a land that you don't know how to get to like Abraham, or speaking to a king and risking your life like Esther were huge and scary things. Yes, God gave them victory, and if He calls us to those things He will be the one fighting the battle through us and YES we can do it with Him. But the huge and scary is not all He does, and I tend to fear so much that that is the type of thing He will always ask me to do, so I hide and ignore all His requests without really listening, assuming it will be too scary to even think about facing.
My God is a loving God who works in a million and a half different ways in the lives of us all. Along with the Davids, Abrahams and Esthers are Elizabeths, Marys and Solomons. God places dreams in you and I as well. Big, huge, beautiful dreams. Yes they can still be scary, just not in that 'grab a sword and head into battle' way. We are creatures of structure and comfort, and anytime you are brought out of your comfort zone you shake a little in the fear of the unknown, the butterflies of excitement and doubt all mixed together inside. Jumping for joy and anticipation while being sick from the suspense are familiar feelings for me and I'm sure I'm not alone. Listen to the things in your heart. Don't push down the dream that doesn't seem to go away. God is speaking to you through His Spirit. He is guiding you in the ways that He wants you, specifically you, to shine His light in this dark world. No bushel hiding allowed.
He's taken me through scary hard places before and I've got the inward scars to prove it. He will take me to those places again in this life, I'm sure, and I'll dread the onset and fight it along the way. But I pray I will quickly remember His familiar comfort like I did in the past, and have full view of the place I'm in now and submit to His journey. Some of you have already gone through this and know exactly what I'm talking about, or are going there now and are in the midst of the tumultuous emotions between fear and security. For those who may not have been there yet, I quite possibly just freaked you out and now you're running in the opposite direction or are in your bed with covers pulled high :)
I could spend hours sharing why you should come out from hiding, but for now I'll pass along the words the angel of the Lord shares over and over again as he appears to others just like us, "Do not fear, do not be afraid." Listen to that still small voice, and dream.
Friday, August 7, 2015
It's quiet. It's the first Friday of school and it's the first day in two months that I've sat alone in a quiet home purposely focused on the most important task at hand, quieting myself in front of my Savior and my God.
Times of study have happened but "quiet times" they were not. Throwing some convoluted thoughts on paper after reading the daily SRT while Wild Kratts plays ten feet away and there are constant interruptions, cute interruptions but interruptions nonetheless, asking for milky and another flat egg or poptart doesn't fill the soul.
Maybe it should. Maybe I should be able to have full and meaningful times with God in the midst of all that. Maybe you are able to and if so I am honestly so happy for you that you can meet with him in the midst of it all because I know for a fact that He IS there in the midst of the chaos, I have found Him and felt Him there numerous times. But I'm also tired of shoulding myself in regards to this. Maybe one day I'll reach that place that can vividly hear God's call no matter what sounds are all around me, or maybe, just maybe, God designed me to need the quiet. Maybe He created my soul to grow as I sit and be still without the distractions around me. Maybe He created some of you like that as well and we're trying so hard to prove we can meet Him in the chaos that we're missing His command to step away.
My favorite things to do should tell me that this is true. When you spend your college days at bonfires and dinner parties instead of clubs and frat houses it points to the loud and crazy not being your thing. When your favorite part of visiting NYC is walking around old neighborhoods and shopping flea markets but cringe in the middle Times Square, confirmation is at hand.
I'm a concentrator, a ponderer, a viewer, a listener, a quiet encourager. Yelling exists, don't get me wrong. I am not a meek and mild church mouse who acts like the epitome a of perfect, humble Christian. Anger erupts way too quickly. Snark comments are constantly being cut off at the tip of my tongue lest too many escape. Truths that I KNOW that I know go too quickly to the wayside most days as I struggle to abide instead of give in to the desire to just go and get it done myself. But I also know that when I'm closest with my family, my friends, myself and most importantly the Spirit within me it has happened in the purposeful getting away, the act of seperating myself so that nothing else can grab my focus.
Summer with my boys was wonderful. The Spirit tugged at my heart and helped my focus not be on the thousands of thigns that could grace the to do list of a self proclaimed decorator and homebody who has been waiting 6 years to get a home. Instead, I wanted the focus to be on time together, having fun, making memories and showing them love means showing up. Tasks were done obviously because I'm still me and laundry is always there but it was very refreshing not to worry about the doing, or at least not as much as usual.
However, there was a very important task that slipped almost completely as well. Remember that not so quiet time I mentioned? For this girl that is something I can't afford to let go and I'm learning it all to well as I've been trying to pinpoint why recent events that appear very small have sent me spiraling. Props to my husband who in one short sentence responded to my complaints with "well is it because you haven't gotten away to write?" Even though my immediate response was denial, which it way too often is, a light dawned/shined direction into my eyes to wake me and and said "well DUH!"
It never happens quickly, that slide backward, because it would be too easily noticed. No, when Satan wants to screw with you He does it slowly. So slowly that you don't know what's changing and by the end you know something is different but have no firm proof to back it up. With the right heart it could be called patience but with the wrong one it's just calculated assault.
My soul needs quiet. It needs concentration. It needs purposeful time. It needs less PBS as background music. It needs to be still. What does yours need?
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Thinking requires quiet moments therefore writing requires quiet moments because writing without thought can turn a beautiful idea into a dangerous weapon with words that harm instead of heal and words that confuse instead of encourage. Oh how I desire to share words that perform the deeds of that latter.
In a house of three young boys, two major fundraisers, preparing for not one not two but three houses for a move, and just living inside my brain, quiet moments have been more nonexistent than even few and far between. All my so called 'downtime' has been spent sleeping and many nights that has been fleeting as all thoughts jumble in my head until none can make their way out and I'm too tired and honestly too intimidated to try and sort through.
As I lay awake at 4:40 in the morning praying for no rain so my precious babies ballgames don't get canceled again my heart is drifting to all those whose prayers I want to lift up. Those close to me who are living with fear and rejection and unknowns, those who I haven't spent time praying for because I haven't spent time with my God.
He gently reminds me how I have turned him into a brief pit stop instead of a place of refuge. How I've let my time before Him get lost with everything else jumbled together into a giant list I want to block out.
He gently reminds me how quickly it can happen. Just days after continued vibrant times together turns into days upon days of quick thoughts and glances at best and complete avoidance at worst.
He gently teaches me that exhaustion is one of Satan's favorite ways to separate us. That whether the physical or spiritual tiredness comes first it will lead into the other and that my very first inclination is to let go of it all instead of clinging fiercely to the Hope I have.
He lovingly reminds me that when I let go, which I often do, He never has. He still and always will hold on to me. His love is that strong. His patience is that strong. His faithfulness is that strong.
While in my personal picture of perfection a quiet moment is one where all the things and people are at peace and there are no distractions anywhere to be found I am again gently reminded that peace and quiet of the heart come from one source and one source alone.
Quiet moments can be found and my heart can be renewed in the wee hours of the morning yes but even in the chaos, especially in the chaos, of the day to days of this fallen world we live in, quiet moments can and will happen in the midst of the worst. We need only be still.
Monday, March 30, 2015
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
As much as I like to think I like new and adventurous things, it doesn't take more than five minutes before my insides are twisting, my heart is racing and my mind is screaming for the comfortable places I know. More often than not I leave on a trip looking forward to the time it is over and I can be safe again in my own place. No matter how much I really do want to go on vacation, or serve others on a foreign mission trip, or just have a night out downtown with friends, there creeping in the back of my mind is the vision of holing up in my comfy abode surrounded by the people and things that make me feel safe.
This concept follows me to the new people category as well. There are set times in your growing up where having to meet new people is a given even if you grew up in the exact same place your whole life. The move from elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school and from high school to college are milestones for meeting new people. Then still, you experience this after you move away from everything you've ever known to a new state, a new job, a new marital status, a new home, and a new church, and the only familiar things you see is the clothes you packed in your suitcase. And even those aren't too familiar because you just bought them a couple months ago so you'd look cute on your honeymoon.
I have very vivid memories of the pains of those times, when the familiarity of my surroundings kept growing into a bigger and bigger pond with more fish to get to know (or hide from). There are some who relish those experiences, and think that life can only get better and be more fun the bigger the place and the more the people. I envy that mindset. There are others, like me for instance, that might have possibly quaked inside more than a little at the task of not just getting to know others, but of being known yourself. To tell the truth, it was never really the first half of that that bothered me. It was most definitely the second.
Inside of me, of us, is this desire to be known. For someone to see and know and understand you, and in the end not only love but want to. Whether that want is a romantic one, where you find the one whom your soul loves, or a friendly one where you see that bosom friend in the heart of another, or a casual one that is only there for a kind smile and word at your sons ballgame. That desire is present in all of us. There are two problems that can arise, however, and I share this with years traveled on the problematic paths! The first is the doubt and fear that keeps you from letting others truly know you. The second is giving other people the power to make you feel known, instead of placing that power in the hands of the only One in whom it should rest.
It sounds pretty common sense to say that you can never know someone, and they can never know you if you don't share all there is to share, but I'm here to tell you that you CAN NEVER attempt to truly know and be known by another human being unless you share what there is to share. I'm talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Giving others the polished and condensed version of myself might be thought of as more proper and socially acceptable, but that will never result in a true and honest relationship. Now, before you jump up and start spilling all your deepest darkest secrets to anyone who will listen, that isn't exactly what I mean. I am not meant to be close to every person who walks by me, and I am not meant to spread my pearls before swine, BUT I am meant to be a light and walk in the Spirit and follow His leading and be transparent when the opportunity comes up. From there, He will take those relationships to where they are supposed to go, because as amazing as it is to feel as if you are known and wanted by friends and family, that is just a glimpse of a relationship that is already present. I am KNOWN and have been my whole life.
To let anyone else fill my desire to be known is just the same as filling up a bucket with a hole in it (and all the other cliche metaphors that fit this situation). Giving anyone the job of something my Creator is supposed to do will only result in failure. Maybe not right away, but eventually it will happen. I say this from 30 years of seeking out the approval of others, and seeking my cup to be filled by my relationship with others. This is the very reason my list of identity verses started, and the very reason I now every (ish) Tuesday have made it a goal to share one of those verses, and why it is so desperately important to know who you are. Because Christ is in you. To paraphrase the most comforting words to fulfill this desire...
Whether you are a current or recovering quaking in your boots club member with me, or love the adventure of sharing your everything, remember that all you desire is already done, and you are KNOWN and loved by the Creator of the universe. And the only thing left to do is to let Him use you to help others know Him.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
If Paul reminds the church that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, the present nor the future, nor any powers, height nor depth nor anything else in ALL creation can separate from the Love of God than I (and you) are anything but failures. Yes I know in context that he was speaking to people who were being persecuted but we take these truths in the Word and we apply them to our lives and whether you are dealing with screwing up a work report or feel like you are screwing up your life with the decisions you have made. Nothing. Not even the worst thing you can imagine doing will separate you from God's love because you are a conqueror through Jesus. Dang good news.
Inspire Me Monday
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Love comes down
I brought You all my foolish crowns
With trembling hands I laid them down
Expecting wrath to be poured out
But You placed mercy on my brow
Still my best is nothing less
Than filthy rags and emptiness
One drop of blood raised me from death
And You see me through Your righteousness
Oh how sweet amazing grace
Wraps me in a warm embrace
Oh my heart rejoice
I was lost, now found
All my praise goes up as Your love comes down
Now daily I walk safe, secure
Even through trouble You endure
I’m not afraid for I am sure
That You are mine and I am Yours
What a great day that will be
When I stand there at my Savior’s feet
Singing thank you for all eternity
All my praise goes up as Your love comes down
(oh’s over amazing grace)
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
All my praise goes up as Your love comes down