Thursday, December 13, 2012

Be Honest: You Need God

Sometimes it’s just plain hard to do what I feel like God wants me to do. I just don’t want to do it. I want a “get out of it free” card. So this morning I woke up at 3:40, hurting, not able to sleep. I laid there for a while and finally got up at 4:30 and got in the hot tub, trying for some relief. I didn't want to face the day, hurting and tired from less than five hours of sleep. I didn't want to leave the house at eight a.m. and be surrounded by people all day, people who want and need me to talk to them, smile at them, and make them feel valuable. I wanted to crawl into a ball and hide.  Then there’s the issue of my book that I feel God wanting me to finish. I’m dragging my feet for so many reasons. I don’t want to face it, don’t want to do it, and don’t want to give the energy it would require. I feel the weight of my own resistance.

I sat there alone in my hot tub thinking about these things, groaning inwardly (and outwardly!) I was at the end of myself. And it’s when we are at the end of ourselves that we find out we really can’t do this life without God. So I knelt down in my hot tub and cried out to God. I asked Him to please help me. Please help. I can’t do this without you. If you do not help me I will not be helped.

I live thinking I believe this truth, that I cannot live without God’s help, and then I come face to face with situations like this morning and I realize I didn't really believe that at all. In reality, I think I can and should do it by myself. And that is a foolish belief. I may be able to get by, but to live the life I’m called to live, I absolutely cannot do it unless I’m on my knees, and God is supplying my strength.

It’s now 6:38 and time to get ready for school. God help me! God help us all. I know He can…and have faith that He will. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Longevity in the Faith

One of the messages Nick and I listened to during our trip was on longevity in the faith. It was about finishing well. Staying loyal and alive to Jesus until the end. It’s something I've thought about often. I want to end my days well. I've seen so many people start off strong in the Lord, but sometime during their lives they fall greatly. Bill Johnson, the pastor who preached this sermon, looked at the history of the Old Testament kings for his backdrop. It made the message much more poignant for me because I've completed the same study, more than once. It’s kind of depressing when you study the Old Testament kings of Judah. There just aren't that many who do it right. Very few get the tag, “just like my servant David”. Of those who begin their reigns close to the Lord, many of them fall away during their lifetime.

I used to read their history with great incredulity. How could they do that? But the older I get, the easier it is for me to understand how this happens. Really, there are a couple of major thoroughfares which lead down that road and they tend to be based on how a person’s life goes. Those who experience success and accolades tend to become arrogant and those who have had pain and disappointments become disillusioned and bitter.

I've come to realize that it’s the reactions to what happens as we go through our lives that affect our thinking and lead us away from our relationship with the Lord. Since it’s been a hard couple of years for me, I more readily related to the disappointments than the accolades at this point. But either way, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I must, on a regular basis, process the events of my life with the Lord. I need to deal with both my victories and my disappointments. I can’t just “go on” and live with things being wrong inside. I can’t let underlying attitudes rot out my heart. I have to guard my heart.

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

I want to deal with the issues of my life so that they don’t choke out my faith and keep me from finishing well. That’s what I've been working on lately!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hiding is a Strategy (But not a Good One)

I've been hiding from God. I didn't realize it at the time, but I have been. I have all sorts of great reasons why I haven’t gotten to this blog lately, but they ring hollow in face of the truth. I didn't want to talk about “God Stuff”.  It was subtle, not anything I could even recognize directly. If you had asked me, I would have said, “I’m doing fine.” But this past week I came face to face with the reality that I wasn't doing fine. In reality, I didn't want to talk to God. I didn't want to admit it at first. Who wants to admit they don’t want to talk to God? It doesn't sound spiritual at all!

The first thing I realized (after admitting that I didn't want to talk to God) was that there was a thick wall between me and God, put up by yours truly. It was all I could see.  I didn't know why it was there or how to remove it.  But this was a start. After that I started praying and talking to the Lord. And I talked to Nick about it, too.  Then God, in the cool ways that He works, began to orchestrate some change. Nick and I happened to listen to a couple of sermons and read part of a book and they all spoke to my heart. 

Eventually that led to me being honest and admitting that I was actually mad at God. So we had to go there next. It’s strange, because now that I am starting to feel better physically, you’d think I’d be praising God and feeling all sorts of faith. For some strange reason, I was mad. I was mad that things had gone so badly for so long. Mad that He didn't fix it all sooner. And that made me not want to trust the next direction my life might take….how do I know it isn't going to be awful? I've experienced some awful. I don’t want to experience more awful. I’m not feeling like I can take any more pain right now. So I was feeling faithless and like I couldn't trust Him and I was hiding. I’m embarrassed to say it out loud.

But God. (That’s an amazing phrase, do you know that?) But God who is rich in mercy, found me out in my faithlessness, came to my rescue and helped me out. I don’t have it all figured out, but at least I’m going to God about it now and we are working through it together. 

Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Plain Old Obedience

Sometimes it just comes down to plain old obedience. The right thing. Following God when you can’t see the end of a thing. Believing when you can’t see a clear resolution. Knowing that you might be wrong, but deciding that the risk of missing God is too great, the chance that He could really be speaking to you too strong to ignore.

What do I have to lose?
My pride for one.
Being right.
Being exposed as thinking God is speaking to me when He is not.  

What have I to gain?
God’s pleasure.
The knowledge that I was obedient regardless of the cost.
The knowledge (both His and mine) that He is more precious to me than my pride, my rightness, or my potential humiliation.

So I’m going to trust Him. Why does it always boil down to trust for me? You’d think that after all these years and all of the ways God had proven Himself that I would be beyond this dance of trust/mistrust.  

Dear Lord, I place myself in your hands.  I choose to trust you when I cannot see the outcome. For “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And so I trust. And so I will obey. Because you are worthy and I love you.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

God's Manifest Presence

Time for a cool story! My husband Nick leads a prayer meeting for our church staff every Monday.  Last Monday he was going to talk about hearing from the Lord. Before the meeting, he asked the Lord to speak to Him and give him something specific for someone in the group.  Nick then went to the meeting and started out with, “I feel like I have something for... Annie (not her real name).”  He then proceeded to share with both Annie and the group what he felt he’d heard from the Lord. What he didn't know, is that at a staff meeting only minutes before Annie had shared her heart with the group. She was feeling down and was ready to quit. The words Nick shared directly addressed all the things she’d just poured out to the team! By the time it was over Annie was crying, as were several team members. It ministered to her deeply and really encouraged everyone in the meeting.

This is the God I know and love! My God who sees us and cares for us. Our pain and struggle does not go unnoticed by Him. He cares. Deeply. He wants to communicate His love for us. He desires to minister to us in our pain and struggles. He’s actually looking for faithful servants who will learn to hear His voice and then share with others the love and encouragement He offers like Nick did for Annie last Monday.  But in order to do that, we need to have a little more Mary and a little less Martha in our soul at times.  We need to commune with Him and get to know His heart. Then we need to be willing to take some risks!  

I talked to Nick about this later and this is what he said: "It wasn't like I was all confident and convinced I was right. I didn't know if I was hearing right at all. It was more like, "OK, here we go!" But I was willing to be obedient.  I was willing to take a risk. And God showed up.”

I love it when people serve as a catalyst for God. It’s like they take a person’s hand and they place it in God’s hand. Nick was a conduit for a God/girl connection. He connected Annie’s heart to her Lord’s heart. 

Tangible God. His manifest presence on the Earth. Very awesome!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time Is a Trickster

Old time is a trickster.  We poor mortals live in the day to day, caught up in whatever is before us, ignorant that while we carry on in our oblivion, time marches relentlessly forward.   It hits me sometimes, like yesterday.  I drove into town just past noon, after spending two days in Missoula, Montana looking at University of Montana with my senior in high school.  The weekend before, we were out of town for another college visit. That in and of itself is a reality check--my daughter is leaving--soon.  Right after we got home, we shifted into “get ready for the Homecoming Dance” mode. Both girls were busy with prep (and we had one of their friends come over so they could do her hair, too!) They filled our dining room table with primping items and turned that room (which has an amazingly huge mirror) into a salon. I fixed dresses, picked up boutonnieres, went on last minute runs for shoes, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to be a part of the moment.

The girls were caught up in the day, having fun and busy trying not to be late for photo shoots, etc. They were totally oblivious in a way that I was not. I realized that this was Danielle’s last Homecoming Dance. I realized that there won’t be too many more times when they are getting ready together in my house, borrowing each other’s eye shadow and asking for help with the back of their hair. Other than Prom, it might be their weddings before they are ever in that mode together again.

That made me nostalgic; and just a little bit sad. It also made me want to appreciate each moment of life and really live them all, because they are gone in a vapor.

I was also extremely glad in that instant that I have prayed continually for my girls. I’m encouraged, as I’m about to send them out into the world, that their lives are full of prayer. I haven’t prayed for specific things, like “Dear God make my daughter become a missionary” or anything like that. But I have asked God continually to protect their lives, to fill their lives with His presence and Himself. I pray that God would lead and guide them to become everything He has called them to be and fulfill every plan and purpose that God has for their lives. I pray for their husbands (if they have them). I pray that they would draw close to Him.

In the end I have to trust them to Him and know that He loves them more than I do.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Verses I Love

Luke 10:38-42 NKJV
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

So why do I love this section of scripture? It isn't because I’m all caught up in the Mary/Martha debate. I know that we need to be both those who serve and those who sit at Jesus’ feet.  I love it because of the last part:

“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

No one can take me away from my place at Jesus’ feet. If I want that good place, I can choose it, and it will not be taken from me. That spot is available to me and no one can keep me from it but me. I want to live in that place at Jesus’ feet, the place of relationship. In fact, it is a place I love to be. I love being close to my Lord. And I can be. It will not be taken from me! No one stands in my way. I can be close and Hear His voice. 

Here’s a funny story about listening to His voice: The diet I have to be on for my autoimmune is not fun at all. Fruits, veggies, and meat. That’s it. No grains of any type, no corn, soy, milk, sugar, etc. There are a few foods that are OK for some people and not others. One of them is potatoes. I've tried adding potatoes several times with mixed success. I couldn't figure it out, because I kept feeling like the Lord was telling me, “It’s not the potatoes.” That didn't make sense because I was reacting to something. I figured I had just heard Him wrong. I finally found out what it was…..potato chips! I can do potatoes fine, but potato chips give me pain. God was trying to help me out, but I had a hard time interpreting what I was hearing. The cool part was, He really did want to help me. He wanted to speak to me. He wants me in that place at His feet, close to His heart. And I want to be there!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Running Desperate 4: The State of Being Desperate

I don’t like feeling desperate. I like being the captain of my ship. Directing my life vessel in the way I want it to go.  Desperation isn't exactly control. It’s more like the state of being capsized. Out of the boat. Tossed and thrown about by winds you cannot seem to do anything about.  Arghh. Not a fan.

God, on the other hand, loves desperation. Why? I don’t know! But He has His reasons. I was thinking about it this morning…..why does God love it when I get desperate? Why does he respond to me when I’m on the brink?

This I do know. There isn't that much I can give to God. He’s given me everything. He owns everything. He knows everything. He can show me in an infinite number of ways how much He loves me. But how can I show Him that I love Him? That I value you Him and believe in Him above all others?  

I can do things for Him. I can give Him my time and my money. I can worship Him. However, our motives are sometimes so muddled in our giving.  It’s possible to do all of those things with lousy motives. And of course He would know them all. But when I get desperate, when I throw myself into His arms and admit that if He does not help me I will not be helped, that’s raw. It’s real. Genuine.  Desperation smacks of real-ness. It’s humbling. Instead of continuing to try and navigate my ship, I’m just plain honest. I cannot do this. I want to handle it, but I cannot. If you do no help me, I will not be helped. If you think about it, that’s got to be music to God’s ears.  

There are a number of Bible verses that speak about being desperate. Here are a couple of them:

Luke 11:5-11 NKJV
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread[d] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

Words of a desperate woman:
Matthew 15: 21-28 NKJV
21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

23 But He answered her not a word.

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”

24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Running Desperate 3: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Lesson learned: God can teach old dogs new tricks! This summer when things were bad I had someone pray for me. They said they got an impression that perhaps some of the muscle tightness that caused my headaches was related to anxiety. What they didn't know is that I've been the type who stresses my whole life-- wound a little tight. I’m an internally focused perfectionist (meaning I don’t get so hung up on other people being perfect, but I expect it of myself).

When she said this to me, I was rather despairing. I know the verses about anxiety “be anxious for nothing” and I've addressed this multiple times in my 48 years.  However, having non-stop headaches and muscle pain that erupted into migraines all summer created a certain amount of desperation. No matter how hopeless change seemed, I needed to face this issue. God brought it to that person’s mind—that had to be a positive sign, right?

Anyway, I turned and faced this. I started talking to the Lord about my problem. I asked Him for help, said I was willing and desperate to change. He started showing me some things I hadn't been paying attention to. Being a focused individual, I tend to tune things out so I can push to reach whatever I’m focused upon. Well, the good Lord started to address that. He showed me when I was getting tense or upset and didn't realize it. He showed me that I tend to rush places and push myself when I should really quit. Little by little He started pulling out the threads on the big huge knot of my being anxious.  I can’t say that I’m totally “all better” but things are definitely much better…. and I can feel it. Now I’m committed to keep working on it by His grace. I know there is only greater freedom for me here, and I am much more confident that God can do anything.

Six months ago I would have never believed this was possible….but as I continue to learn…..with God ALL things are possible. We must continue to believe that He is the God who sets us free… matter how old we are!!

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Running Desperate 2: You Never Know When God is on the Move

 I told you I’d explain  the picture I shared in my last post, but I gotta be honest…..I’m not entirely sure what it means. Here’s what I know. It was the third in a series of pictures I got this spring (I talked about the first one on April 15th). I was in the middle of a major poor health drama at the time and so I have thought these images refer to my health. In the first picture I’m stuck miles behind enemy lines in a burned out city, hiding. Jesus and two angels come along and tell me they are going to get me out of there but I’m going to have to get up and get moving….and trust them.  I have a second picture where we are together on the run, trying to get out of enemy territory. The image from last week was the third image.  At the time I was really surprised. My leg was getting so much better and I thought “Surely I must be on the upswing. The drama is over and things are going to be fine now.” But this picture wasn’t an “everything is alright” type of picture. It indicated struggle and a dramatic sense of trying to overcome the attack of the enemy. I was rather bothered actually. Don’t tell me that there’s more difficulty to come, Lord. Really?  I even wondered if maybe God was showing me where I’d come and that I was already across the line and home free. I didn’t know whether to rejoice or brace myself. I decided that God would show me in His good time.

Well, it wasn’t an easy summer physically in many ways. My leg was so much better that I wanted to focus on that victory. But I lived with constant upper body muscle pain and I had an almost continual headache that kept kicking into a migraine. Everything set me off. I couldn’t sit or stand for very long without it giving me a migraine. I got one on the fourth of July and when I was with my parents at the lake. Not great timing. I was in bad shape. Then I started having stomach problems and the medicine I was taking for that wasn’t working either. It got worse as the start of school approached. After one week of school my leg started hurting again from standing all day. I was worried I would never make it through the school year at this rate.

I kept thinking about that picture, and at some point decided that it was now totally apropos. I did feel like I was running for my very life.

I didn’t know what to do…how does one get across that no man’s land and into the arms of Jesus?  Nick and I prayed about it all summer. We tried to trouble shoot things medically and spiritually. We went for prayer. Somewhere, somehow, in the middle of all of this, God began to move. I’m doing better. I can’t say I’m across that line (and I’m not sure if that’s a definitive moment that’s coming soon, or more indicative of the end of my days). Regardless, I’ve seen some victory and I’m going to share what I’ve learned over the next couple of posts.  One thing I know: God is good and I can totally trust Him, even when things are their darkest. You never know when He’s about to do something. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Running Desperate

I was nearing the front lines and running hard. The landscape looked like a scene from some old war movie. There were enemy guard towers and guards monitoring a white line drawn with chalk. For about 100 yards beyond that it stretched--no man’s land--the space between the enemy and the good guys. Switzerland, or whoever they were. At the end of the 100 yards the good guys had their own white line, guards, and towers.

Dirty, tired, clothes torn and desperate, I by some great miracle burst upon that scene and cross the enemy line into no man’s land. Shots ring out and bullets pepper the air around me. My muscles are burning and my lungs are on fire as I push my way forward. I can feel someone on my tail, gaining. I look ahead and there they are--Jesus and the two angels who had been with me. They are now standing right on the edge of the “good line”, the white chalk that meant I was home free. Soldiers from the “good guard towers” are firing at the enemy, trying to help me. I’m so tired I don’t think I can do it. But then I look up at Jesus.  He is screaming. He’s screaming so loudly his entire face is contorted, his body leaning over the line and his arms outstretched.  "Don’t stop! You can DO this! Come on!!”

The angels are screaming too, but I don’t really notice them. My eyes are fixated on my Savior, the only one who can truly help me. I feel the enemy close in behind, as if one big grab is all he would need to take me down. I am scared beyond belief and my heartbeat is pounding in my ears. Somehow I dig down deep, beyond the place where there is nothing left, to reserves only God can give. And with one last burst of energy I launch myself across the line. I go flying through the air and my ankle brushes between the enemy’s grasping hands as I throw myself into the arms of my Savior.

Blogs aren’t supposed to be long. Technically, “they say” an entry should be no more than 400 words. Not wanting to defy the experts, I’m going to wait and explain this picture on my next post. However, in the meantime, think on this. God is totally for us. He’s urging us on in the fight. In the midst of any crisis, any struggle, He’s waiting for us, wanting for us to run to Him with all desperation and throw ourselves into His arms. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guilt and Shame are Ugly Words

Guilt and shame are ugly words. They sound bad and they make people feel terrible—like carrying a big load of rocks you can never put down. A couple of weeks ago Keith preached a message about shame.  One of the advantages of being 48 is that I’ve dealt with so many life issues that I’m not walking around with a load of shame from my past. I figured the message would be nice but not entirely relevant.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, I was completely wrong. God used that moment in time to dig into my soul and expose some wrong thinking. It was a “hurt so good” type of moment.

So what was my big revelation? Well, there’s the shame from past sins that is haunting. Then there’s the shame that’s more about who we are as people.  Like “I’m so ashamed that I can’t control my temper” or whatever.  Well, I may not feel a weight from my past, but I do carry around some big bricks of shame related to who I am not.  My house isn’t clean enough. I’m not a good enough wife, mother, friend, co-worker.  You name it, and I’m not good enough at it. It’s part of a perfectionist’s nature to see the ideal and consistently fall short.

What I didn’t realize was that down below the waterline, where I wasn’t aware, my feelings of failure were choking me. They were casting a shadow over my day to day existence as I continually focused on what I am not and felt shame and guilt over my failure.

Facing that junk wasn’t exactly a picnic, but it’s born good fruit. I had a good talk with the Lord as He exposed the extent of my thinking. I talked to Nick about it and got to hear his perspective or my life as a wife and mother (which was much more encouraging and positive than my own viewpoint). I got to repent of not going to the Lord for direction. I need to take my feelings of failure to Him and ask Him what He thinks. If I need to repent, then so be it. If God doesn’t convict me then I need to walk in freedom.

God’s about freedom. He’s about life. He’s positive. He doesn’t want us walking around in shame and guilt. If you’re feeling shame or guilt over anything, I suggest you take it to Him and He’ll show you what to do with it……I highly recommend it!

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What Brings God Joy

My husband is a water skiing stud. Seriously, I know there are people out there who are better than he is, but I’ve never actually seen anyone in person who skis as well. It makes it fun for me to go boating because I can say “Hey, that really cool guy is my husband!”  Anyway, we have a boat and he loves to water ski. Today was a busy Sunday because school started this week and I didn’t really want to try and make time for a quick trip to the river. But I know how much joy he gets out of skiing--it is something he absolutely loves to do.  And it makes me happy seeing him so happy. It makes me glad when I get to see him enjoying something he loves and does really well.  So I went and drove the boat for him and had a great time with our friends Jordan and Rebecca.

On the way home I was thinking about how much it blesses me to see him blessed. And then I started thinking about God. We were created in his image. The parts of us that express love are mere reflections of his greater love. It is an act of love for me to be blessed when my husband is blessed. That means that this love I feel for Nick pales in comparison to God’s infinitely greater love.

And this is what that means to me. It means that God loves to see my heart happy and full of joy. I think we’ve all heard so often that “God’s more interested in your holiness than your happiness” that I forget God is blessed by my joy.  It makes me want to walk in joy more often knowing that it pleases Him.

God loves to see my heart singing. My smile brings him joy. When my heart is happy it makes Him happy.

God loves to see me walking in my strengths, like I enjoy seeing Nick walk in his. When I’m fully being the person God created me to be my Lord is glad. When I find delight in who God made me, God is blessed. He looks at me like I look at Nick, enjoying watching him have fun and fully be himself. Only it’s a much deeper love, because that’s just who God is.

This was worth thinking about this today. J

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wrestling With Forgiveness Reprised---God Has a Sense of Humor

I’m convinced God has a marvelous sense of humor, and like any good believer, I have scripture to back me! Here’s one example. Amidst all the high minded verses in Proverbs about faith and wisdom, there’s this little gem in Proverbs 27. It makes me laugh every time I read it.

Proverbs 27:14 “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.”

So it appears God may have an important opinion regarding morning vs. non-morning people. It kinda looks like he’s siding with the non-morning folks! So morning people, time to be on your toes. J Maybe I’m just a Bible nerd (a nerd being someone who obsesses over the thing in which he or she is extremely interested) But I kind of chuckle that it’s in there.

I felt like God got a good chuckle out of me this weekend. I’m convinced He was looking down on me, laughing, and saying “I told you so! Now do you believe me? You owe me big!” He was having some fun with me….and I deserved it!

So what did I do to deserve this teasing?  Well, it had to do with my last post. I admitted that my husband had hurt my feelings and I felt like God wanted me to just drop it and forgive him rather than “make him pay” by hashing it out. I wasn’t sure I could really do it, but said I’d try.  Well, that was Friday morning. If I had not chosen to forgive him, things would have gotten ugly when he got home from work until we talked it out. Some of the gist of what I would have told him is that his words made me feel unlovable (with a definite you weren’t caring for me sort of tone).  Thank the Good Lord in Heaven I didn’t do that! You see, I didn’t know it, but I had contracted the flu, good old-fashioned influenza. Only there’s nothing good about it. By late Friday night I was feeling awful.  It’s now Wednesday, and this is the first day I’ve been up and dressed since Friday. I don’t feel great, but I’m not comatose anymore.  My husband waited on me hand and foot for 5 days. He took two days off of work and stayed up with me in the middle of the night. I was pretty much incapacitated.

If I had launched into him with my wounds and hurts after work on Friday, it would have made the next five days soooo humiliating! Besides, regardless of his hurtful words, he basically proved to me with his actions that he did care for me very much.  And in this case, the actions spoke much, much louder and more honestly than his careless words. It could have robbed my husband of the joy of his service if he was licking his wounds from a big confrontation. I don’t want that for him.  Also, he may have not wanted to help me after we had a big blow up, and I really needed his help. I was in a needy state.

This was just one more opportunity for me to realize that I need to continue to trust the Lord to guide my steps. He will lead me in right paths.  I need to keep listening to him.  He sees what I cannot. 

And, even though I know that God’s not much into pride…in this case he saved me from great humiliation…..and I do owe Him BIG!! J

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wrestling With Forgiveness Reprised

Today is the one year anniversary of the beginning of my blog! I had NO IDEA the road I would travel upon when  I finally decided to be obedient to the Lord and just start this darn blog.  I also didn’t realize that I would actually enjoy the experience of putting my heart out there on the Internet….but I have! It’s been a growth process for me. Thank you to everyone who has shared in my life and my walk with Christ. Your comments and encouragement have been so meaningful, and have definitely helped in the difficult moments.

It’s interesting that today’s blog post is on forgiveness.  When I started writing this entry, I didn’t realize that I was so close to my one year mark. One of my very first posts was on forgiveness, and now one year later I find myself coming face to face with the issue again. I want to get this thing, forgiveness, since it is so central to Christ and everything He is.

My husband hurt my feelings yesterday…..pretty significantly. That’s unusual for us; we aren’t usually offended by each other. What’s even more unusual is that I didn’t really want to talk about it at the time; normally we talk everything out and are quick to do so. I actually think he was relieved when I didn’t, like maybe he dodged a bullet!  He doesn’t realize that I’m still mad and hurt about it. When I was talking to the Lord about the whole thing this morning I felt like He was asking me just to forget about it, to just let it go.  And I wasn’t sure I could. I realized that part of my desire to “talk it out” was to make him pay. I want him to hear how hurt I am, how much his words damaged me. I want him to feel badly and regret it and maybe even grovel a little.  Some of my desire to “get things right” is really about getting back. Could I let this go? Could I forgive the way God does--freely, putting my sins as far as the east is from the west? Could I take the pain myself and let Nick go free?

That was the issue….could I let him go free? I believe that talking things over and being honest is essential to a good relationship with my spouse, so I don’t think this is what I should do all the time. But it might be what God wants this time. I also realize that if I can’t let him go free, I will have to talk to him, because I don’t want anything between us. I'm not sure I can really let this go, but I'm going to try. 

This incident helped me realize how different my forgiveness is than the Lord’s--and how incredibly amazing God’s forgiveness truly is. Freely given, with the pain and the payment totally taken by Him. Freely erasing all our sin. Setting us free.  Just trying to be this person makes me understand God’s heart a little better. Dear Lord, please help me learn not to make people pay… me learn to set people free.

Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Never Take the Little Things for Granted

I just want to take a minute and thank the Lord Almighty for being able to walk! I hope I never take walking for granted again. My leg muscles quit working two years ago this July. I had NO IDEA at the time that I was on the verge of a life altering chain of events. I thought I’d pulled a muscle and that it would recover with a couple of weeks’ rest. WRONG.

This month I’ve actually been doing things I haven’t done in two years. Last year at this time I was just barely able to walk. I can now walk for 15 minutes and even bike for 30 minutes! I’ve actually done some yard work, too! I remember one day last summer our family was working on a project in the yard. I walked out there to check on the family about five times and I was done for the day. No work at all. No helping. Just walking outside five times and I was finished. This July I actually shoveled and raked bark with the rest of them. I kind of got teary. It was the beginning of being a part of the solution rather than the continual problem. I felt normal. Like a real person. Getting to work in the yard was very meaningful for me and I don’t even like yard work. Who knew?

I just started being able to walk across a parking lot rather than use my handicap permit. My daughter laughed at me today when I looked at her with an eager grin and said, “I’m going to park far away…..because I can!” Not exactly how I used to think about parking lots. It’s amazing how a person’s perspective changes.  

God knew the road I was about to walk the day my muscles stopped working. He was not surprised or confused. I mentioned this in my blog once before, but I had a person come up to me after church about a month after my muscles first hurt.  She said, “God wants you to know how much He loves you and how proud He is of you. He wants you to know that He is a strong pillar for you. You can wrap your arms around Him and He will be strong for you. He wants you to know that He isn’t a hard pillar. He’s warm and soft and you can hold tight to Him.”   In retrospect, that word amazes me. I should have realized I was in for a ride if God made such an effort to give me a word to hold onto. But I had no idea what I was really facing, that it would be two years before I could walk into a grocery store from a regular parking spot like a normal person. He knew.  He is so good and so faithful. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness to me! (I think I’ll go drive to some parking lot and walk into the store...just because I can! J)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

God Just May Be Speaking To Me

I've been out of town and haven’t posted lately….my apologies! I hope everyone is having a great summer.

I may have been on vacation but the dear Lord has continued to speak to me. I’m glad for that! I need all the help I can get. J 

I’m a bit obtuse sometimes. I’ve had the same thing happen to me over and over again, and every time I’m surprised.  This is how it goes down. I find myself upset about something. In one case this summer it was character issues with my children, or rather lack of character issues. Anyway, I find myself mulling this over and over in my head. I’m upset. I’m thinking about it. I’m worried. I ruminate on the issues for a while (often days!) I let my poor husband have a huge earful of my concerns.  I just can’t shake it.   Somewhere in the middle of all of this I cry out to the Lord for help. I pray. I beseech the heavens.  And lo and behold God moves. In the case of things with the girls this summer, I felt like God gave me clear direction for how to work with them and I moved on it.  I’m now feeling pretty confident that God wanted me to address these issues with the girls all along….and now I am.  That sounds really spiritual and great, doesn’t it?

Here’s the funky part. When I’m in the middle of my distress, one of the things I often do is try and talk myself out of being concerned. I even use scripture. “Be anxious for nothing….”  “Trust in the Lord”….you know the verses; there are many of them. I am upset that I’m upset and I try to counsel myself off of the proverbial ledge, like there’s something wrong with me for being worried.  I’m convinced that I shouldn’t be worked up. It never dawns on me that GOD may be bringing up this issue for me to deal with. It never dawns on me that He may be trying to get my attention!  I’m feeling like I lack spirituality because I’m concerned, and He’s trying to direct my heart and mind towards something He wants me to deal with! Now I’m guessing He doesn’t need me to get quite as worked up as I manage to do, but I’m grateful He’s willing to work with what He’s got…..a faithful but flawed individual!

What I want to learn to do is this: I want to learn early on to ask God what HE may be doing in the situation. As soon as I feel the burden on my heart…and before I jump to conclusions that it’s just me worrying…..I want to take it to Him and ask Him what to do with it.  I want to be willing to think that God just might be trying to speak to me! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Lies We Believe

When did I get to be old enough to have a senior in high school? I swear I've been ambushed! I've actually been somewhat stressed over that reality. She’s in the midst of career and college decision making and the enormity of the decisions she’ll be making in the next few years just hit me like a ton of bricks this summer. With the economy the way it is, it seems that making a good decision is more important than ever. She needs a career where there are jobs available, and she needs to make a choice where she doesn't come out with a lot of debt. Finding godly friends is another important ingredient of a successful transition to college and deciding which school might lend itself to being the best place for all of these things has me sweating.

She’s been sold on medicine, but nationalized health care is wreaking havoc in the medical scene. It won’t be possible to come out of medical school with $300,000 of debt if there are ceiling caps for doctor salaries. 

She’s been praying about her decisions and trying to hear whether God wants her to pursue something medical. Recently she told me that, at least for right now, she believes she’s supposed to go for medicine.  She said, “I always thought I’d live in the nice house and go on mission trips in the summer. But I’m not so sure anymore. I think it may be an all the time thing.”

On one hand, I was thrilled. My daughter wants to lay her life down for the needy. Isn’t that what I’ve prayed for since she was born, that she would serve God all her days? On the other hand, how on earth is this going to happen? She’d have to come out without a lot of debt in order to follow that path! I don’t want her to be disappointed if this doesn’t all work out either. My instinct to protect her is on high alert.

As I listened to her I was absolutely cut to the heart. She was a LOT more matter of fact about it than I was. She figures if God wants her to do this, He will make a way.  I’m the one whose faith is questionable.  ME. The example. The mother. The one who has been trying to show her the path to Christ her whole life. I was caught in my desperation to control all of these circumstances. Somehow I thought I could. I was convinced I should. I must. Protect her. Make sure she’s on the right, happy path. What a lie I have believed. I cannot control this. Oh mothers of young children! Appreciate the time when you can control the day to day workings of your small ones. That day will evaporate. And when it does, I hope that you can cling to the truth that God is in control of their lives and He will lead and guide them in the way. I have to keep opening my hands and surrendering them to God….and trust that He will take care of them, because the real truth is, I cannot. He is the only one who can.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

God is a God of Victory

True confessions: I hate going to the dentist. I have endured migraines and leg pain and shoulder pain that keeps me awake…but there’s something about the dentist that reduces me to a quivering mess.  This has not always been the case. I used to love the dentist. I didn’t have any cavities until I was 30 years old and pregnant, so up until that point getting my teeth checked was lovely, a great opportunity for me to enjoy the dentist’s accolades as they all beamed at me in approval, commented on my “beautiful mouth” and sent me out the door.

What I didn’t know until I actually had to have dental work is that my mouth does not go numb easily. This was discovered the hard way.  They would give me a shot of Novocain, then routinely in the middle of drilling they would hit a raw nerve and I would just about go through the ceiling. Due to my limited experience with cavities, it was several years before I found out that my experience was not one shared by all those who frequent dentist chairs.  I switched dentists (twice) and found one who was better at giving shots, but by this time the damage was done…and I no longer skipped into the dentist happily, ready for my applause. I had officially become one of those people who dread the dentist.  I know the gory details are a bit dramatic, but you must know that my jaw also locks when they are doing dental work and I’m one of those lucky souls with sensitive gums and exposed roots. So much fun.   

As you might have figured out by now, I had an appointment today at noon. I didn’t wake up quivering, but as the time approached, there was a certain amount of dread that increased as the clock hands marched towards 12. I sat down in that chair and my jaw was clenched so tight I had a headache within the first five minutes.

My God showed up at the dentist’s today. Did you know He makes office calls? Fear over what I cannot control is one of my major stumbling blocks, a core issue that resurfaces in a variety of ways in the fabric of my life. And as I sat with my jaw clenched I had an incredible epiphany: my worrying over this possibly painful situation is not helping. It’s making things a lot worse. In reality it will never help. My belief that being hyper vigilant will somehow help is a lie and one I have struggled over believing since I was small.  I’ve tried to talk myself into the truth (and so has my husband a number of times), but today I was convinced. My fear was giving me a headache and making my jaw hurt! 

I prayed right then and there. I told myself the truth--if it hurt, it hurt, I had no control over that, but my being all tense and worked up was not the answer. I worked consciously to relax and things went great! It was the easiest dental appointment I’ve had in years. The amazing this is, I have tried to talk myself into relaxing in other situations before and it just didn't work. I couldn't let go of whatever was making me afraid. Who knew that I’d get the victory over a core personal issue today? I didn’t even see it coming. It reminds me that we need to be hopeful, on the lookout for victory, for God to show up in our lives and change it for the better. We never know when we are on the edge of breakthrough! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How Great Thou Art

My grandmother died in the hospital when she was about 90 years old. I didn’t get to see her right before she died, but my mom told me this story about her death that has always stayed with me. Grandma had been blind since my dad was in high school.  She was amazing and I never heard her complain. She cut her own hair, cleaned her own house, and even had a system that served as a grocery list so my grandpa knew what to buy at the store. But more than the remarkable overcoming of her disability, I will always remember her for her devotion to God. Talking to my grandma about the Lord is my fondest memory of time spent with her.  I love it that she didn't turn from God when her life became difficult, but instead she clung to Him in faith.

Anyway, she got sick and wound up in the hospital at the end. I think it was pneumonia or something. Somewhere along the way she just stopped eating. The doctors realized that she’d decided she was done with this life and they planned to keep her comfortable until she passed. She hadn’t eaten for days and hadn’t spoken to anyone either, but the nurse walked into her bedroom one day and she was singing “How Great Thou Art” at the top of her lungs. She never spoke again after that and she died within days. As far as anyone knows, those are the last words she said aloud.

I sang “How Great Thou Art” at her funeral.  Some people cautioned me when they heard I planned to sing that song. “You’re going break down in the middle of it and that will be bad.” I thought to myself, “If Grandma can get up the strength to sing that song on her deathbed, then I can sing it, too!”  What a way to go, really, with a heart full of worship.

Today we sang “How Great Thou Art” in worship and of course, I thought of her. I’m not sure she would have recognized it, because our young and vibrant worship band sings it the modern way with guitars and drums and keyboard, but it was lovely. I wondered if she could see me from where she is in heaven. Could she see me singing my heart out to this song? Was she singing, too? I smiled and even teared up a little at the thought of her singing her version while I sang mine, both of us at the top of our lungs. I will see her some day, and we will sing it together. J

The last verse and chorus of “How Great Thou Art”

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

 Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stories From South America

Nick and Danielle are back from South America!
Here are some quick sketches from the mountain villages of Ecuador:

There was an 8 year old boy who received medical care from the clinic after school. They wanted to give him medication to help with his fever, but the medicine would make him drowsy and he needed to walk two hours in order to get home. He walks two hours to school and two hours back daily. They go to school from seven to one so the school won’t have to feed them lunch.

Nick saw a five year old boy take his toddler sister in for medical care. No one knew where the mom was.

Danielle loved playing with the children. She played many of the games we loved as kids--Red Rover, Duck, Duck Goose, and piggy back riding. One mother came to get her daughter and she thanked Danielle for playing with her.  She said she had never seen her daughter smile before that day. The little girl was about three.

Nick said the adults never smile. Their lives are hard. Most people are hungry. Nick said they live in pain daily and struggle to survive.

After hearing stories like those, it sure makes this American life I live look pretty good. It was convicting to me because the last two years of my life have seemed hard to me. I don’t like it that I hurt most days and often have a hard time getting out of bed.  These stories remind me that I live a life those people would never dream about.

I love the Lord SO MUCH. I was talking to Him about all of this and of course expected some great chastisement.  But this is what I felt like I heard:  Pain is pain. He looks down on the pain in the world and He cares. He cares about it all. He cares deeply. He cares about the pain the villagers feel and he cares about the pain I feel.  He’s never going to stop caring. It’s good to be grateful for all I have and realize that I have it much better than most of the world. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t belittle any of our struggles. Whatever you are going through.....God cares about you. He wants to meet us all  in our need and touch our hearts. He wants to be there for us and show us his love. 

It was delightful to hear about the large number of people who gave their lives to Christ during this mission trip and who will receive follow-up from local pastors. In the midst of such difficulty, Jesus can be their comfort and the answer in the midst of their desperate need. He is my hero. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Caught Being a Skeptic

I don’t think of myself as a skeptic. I've seen miracles. I’ve shared stories of miracles I've experienced on this blog. So actually, I think of myself as a faith-filled believer. Someone who believes this verse in Matthew:

Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

But I got caught being a skeptic today and it shamed me. My husband and daughter are in South America doing medical missionary work right now. I miss them terribly but they are having an amazing time. I’ve been getting email and I actually got a call today! One of things they are doing is distributing shoes and socks to very poor people who don’t own any. They brought over a 1000 pairs to give out. It was the email about work at the “shoe clinic” that tripped me up. This is the story they told:

Today they ran out of shoes in a boys shoe size that is in high demand. Not knowing what to do, they focused on fitting shoes for girls until lunch. They went to lunch, and when they came back there were more shoes in that critical size for boys.  They had witnessed a miracle. When I heard that, the first thought I had was, “Yea right. What did they do, just forget they had shoes in that size in another box somewhere?”  I hadn’t let the thought simmer too long before conviction hit. I know these people. They are rational, hardworking people of faith.  If they were out of a shoe they would search until they knew there were no more. They certainly wouldn’t claim a miracle if there wasn’t one and it was just a matter of misplacing some shoes. 

Why was it SO hard for me to believe the truth? There are probably over 20 people praying for this trip regularly. It’s been soaked in prayer. Why don’t I expect God to move powerfully? This sort of thing happens in the Bible all the time. Jesus even said to the disciples,

John 14:12 (NIV)
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

In my rational, logical American mind, do I refuse to see the truth before me?  Dear God, help me to see the world the way you see it, as full of possibilities; full of your moving and your works.  Help me to see you as a God of miracles.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Choose What is Better

If you have God, you have it all. If you pick Him, you get the best of everything. Live in His presence and you have chosen the better portion.

Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is what I’ve been thinking about. I want a greater portion of the Lord’s presence in my life. I want more of what cannot be taken from me. I let my heart become filled with worries that distract me from just resting in the Lord’s presence.  This scripture is clear that He WANTS us to sit with him. He WANTs us to choose Him, to choose what is better.  To be filled with peace regardless of the chaos.  FEW THINGS ARE NEEDED….

Dear Lord, please help me learn to believe this truth, that few things are needed, or indeed only one….and that’s you yourself.  

Dear Lord, I pray that your presence fills the hearts of the people who read this blog. I pray that your spirit moves in their lives and draws them to you. I pray that they would know you better, Lord. I pray that your will prevails in their lives. Let them choose the better portion….let them choose you. Let us all choose you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Not a Secret Identity, but a True Identity

On Thursday night my husband and I, our two kids and two friends crammed into our crew cab truck and drove to Spokane to listen to a speaker named Graham Cooke. The fact that I stayed up until midnight is an even bigger indicator of my determination to see in the flesh someone whose sermons had impacted my thinking so greatly over the years.

I was not disappointed. It wasn’t flashy but it was truth.  And it was truth I needed to hear. Graham contrasted the way we see ourselves versus the way God sees us.  We are so prone to focus on our weaknesses, failures, sin. We stare at all of that garbage and are sure God sees us that way as well, maybe even worse because, after all, He’s perfect.  What Graham said was that Jesus’ blood covers all of those sins. He paid for those sins. So when heaven looks at us, we are seen without all the garbage. We are seen as we truly are--the person God had created us to be.

Are we in touch with that person? Do we know the person whom God sees? Do we know the person we were created to be, or are we stuck looking in the mirror at something God isn’t focusing on at all?  He went on to talk about how to connect with the vision that God has for us.  Do you have a verse that you feel is “your verse”? You might call it a life verse. Or maybe someone has spoken this verse over you. He suggested that we take that verse and meditate on it. Pray over it. Talk to God about it.  Ask Him to show you how this verse is connected to your true identity in Him. It’s a cool idea, isn't it, having an identity not marred by sin, one ordained by God? The thought that God has a destiny and purpose I am uniquely designed for is inspiring to me! It makes me want to push forward.  One of my “life verses” is Isaiah 61. I’ve been reading it every night before I go to bed, asking God to show me who I am that gets so stirred every time I read it.

One other exciting thing Graham said was that our trials and struggles are tailor made to help us on the road to the person God sees.  It made me think of the difficult spring I’ve had in a whole new light. Lord, what do you see in me that would grow through those trials? What in Isaiah 61 speaks to the spring I’ve had?  Below is one verse from that chapter that I know I learned something about this spring!

Isaiah 61:3
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”  

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Mystery of Who He Is

I’m almost done with my novel that I’ve been working on for years. I’m currently finishing up one of many rounds of revisions. It’s “Shack-esque”  (if you’ve ever read The Shack) in that God visits the main character and interacts with her on Earth. I’ve hit a place in the book when God has to leave her and she is heartbroken. My heart and mind have been full of this all day. What would it be like to know God face to face? And then to have Him leave? What does His love look like and who is He really? We know such a small part of who He is, as if a puppy can know everything there is to know about the human who looks after him.  

If God is who He says He is then He is Amazing. Powerful. Beautiful. Loving beyond anything we’ve ever seen or can comprehend. He is the epitome Goodness, Gentleness, Patience and Joy. He is capable of frying me on the spot and loving me to a degree that dwarfs human love and makes it look feeble. Take every good thing that humans are capable of and magnify that 1000 times.

To taste of that and then lose it would be devastating, crushing. Could I even go on? Could I continue to draw breath or would I just curl up in a ball until He came to carry me away?

Do I live every day attempting to more deeply connect with such a being? Do I seek out the mystery of who He is? There is a vast greatness to Him that I do not know. How much am I seeking to know Him more?

I am not despaired over my lack, as I know much more of Him than I did when I was younger. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good for myself. But writing today has reminded me a fresh that I have only scratched the surface. I don’t want to stop pressing forward as if there were nothing more to know in this life.  I see how I have stopped lately as if to say, “I have enjoyed a portion. I have been blessed with all that I can know of Him right now. What more can I know?”  How wrong I am!

There is more to Him than what I know and I would spend this side of heaven in search of Him. And I believe He really likes that. J

Psalm 34:8(NKJV)
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Do You Love a Good Mystery?

There was a mystery at my school today! I had students walking around the building after school, questioning “suspects” aka teachers …….”Where were you at 1:45 today?” How did I inspire such zeal?  I made some cookies mysteriously disappear! We are reading mysteries this month and today while students were deep into Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew I stopped the class. “Has anyone seen the two packages of Oreos that I had in my desk drawer?” All the students knew that these cookies were slated to be served tomorrow in honor of our last state assessment so of course they were alarmed.

A few minutes later the custodian came in and asked me if I’d gotten the coffee mug he’d dropped off at my desk during last recess while I was out at recess duty.  I thanked him and said I had. The minute he left, students (who have clearly watched too much hoodunit TV) immediately said, “Hey, he was here. Maybe he took them!” it was decided that he should be questioned. After the class created a list of questions, we sent two detectives off in search of information. They returned with these facts: Mr. Russell had seen the secretary in the hallway at that time. He did not take the cookies, though Oreos are one of his favorites.

At this point the students were beside themselves with excitement and anticipation. I had a throng of would be detectives begging to get to interrogate the next witness. Notebooks were produced and one student quickly created some spy glasses (while she was supposed to be reading no less.) That led to three children wandering around Sunnyside Elementary looking for clues after school. I do have a series of witnesses lined up for tomorrow who will lead my eager gumshoes to the glorious cookies. Even though they are all pretty sure that I am involved (I was thoroughly questioned) they are still eager to solve the mystery.  They are loving the hunt. This may seem an odd segue, but guess what? God loves a good mystery, too.

One thing I have taken away from my years of Bible reading is that God loves a good mystery. He likes being mysterious and He has no problem revealing partial truths and keeping things vague. To a mere mortal like me it can be extremely irritating! I want clarity! A list of rules. A map. Something.  God wants me to trust Him. Blindly. He wants me to search Him out. He wants me to run around with the same eager zeal of my students, seeking to know the truth of who He is. I had a picture of God today, smiling and totally excited about me seeking Him out. He’s left a series of clues and witnesses for me. He loves it when I love the hunt. Seeing His happiness makes the idea a lot more fun for me, too. Let’s go seeking Him, shall we? I think we will find something better than cookies!!

Proverbs 2:4 (NKJV)
If you seek her (wisdom) as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

Proverbs 25:2(NKJV)
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Standing in the Storm 2: God Ministers Our of His Goodness

I’m so sorry I've been off line for a couple of weeks. It’s hard to tell with the Internet if anyone even notices. (And I don’t mean that in a self-pitying sort of way. It’s just, when you throw something out to cyberspace you have no idea what’s going on!) If you did miss me, I didn’t mean to let you down. I got sick and it knocked me out for a while. I’m doing better now and I’m back in the game!

Even though I haven’t written in what seems like a very long time, I have continued to think about the last post I wrote. Specifically, I’ve pondered what God spoke to me. It blows my mind. You see, I was on my last leg. I was ready to quit. I’d had it. And because of that I was feeling like a failure and a loser. Weak. Unable to be strong. Clearly not enough. God could have said so many things to me. We can become wrongly convinced of the things we think He’s going to say. He might tell me to repent of my lousy attitude, to quit being a whiner and a wimp. He could tell me to get up off the floor because, after all, I wasn’t exactly carrying a wooden cross and did I have any idea of how hard some people have it in this world?

He didn’t say anything at all like that to me. What did He do instead? He told me I was tough. He told me I was determined and that He was proud of me. He reminded me of who I was. He reminded me of all those years when I’d worked so hard to become strong….and He said, “That’s who you are.”  He put his finger right on the core of who I am and helped me to be that girl. I can’t tell you how encouraging that was to me, how it lifted my spirits and helped me stand tall. He didn’t even mention my quitting, didn’t even talk about it.

My God IS love, joy peace, gentleness….all of the fruits of the spirit. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that He ministers to me out of that love and gentleness, out of the positive nature of goodness and joy.  He is so amazing. We have no idea how awesome he is. We continually assign to Him human attributes that are less than who He is. We expect Him to judge, to be harsh, to condemn, and to shame. But that is not who He is at all.  Dear Lord, help me to grasp the wonderfulness of who you are. I know it’s beyond my comprehension, but I would like to continue to know you better and understand you more. You are precious and beautiful.