Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Enough




I am not going to lie
understanding the grace of God only happens through hardship
When I sing at church...
"Your grace is enough"
I want to think I mean it, 
but then hardship comes in waves
crashing down relentlessly
Barely enough time to breath 
and I cry out for more than grace

I cry out for things I think I need to survive
things I think will keep me from sinking
stability
love from others
community
safety
physical provision

I complain about silly things like
weather
my appearance
falling apart suitcases
gray hair
gas prices
health insurance

And the silence is deafening from My Lord
for He clearly told me
"My grace is enough......."

Oh to rest in this!

I must rest in this

We sing so many songs about God's grace
Its healing power
Its ability to turn a person's story around

But to embrace grace
I must lay down everything else I have chosen to soothe me
I must choose to embrace weakness
For grace can only heal and mend the broken places alone

control, fear, anxiety 
are ungraceful 
they cause me to respond to life poorly

I need grace
God's grace
I am begging for it

to say I desire to be weak is still hard to embrace
who wants to be weak?

Right now
I do
and 
I am

I am weak and weary
and in my worldly weariness 
I desire a break
a chance to get my breath

But God says
"My power is made perfect in weakness"

I want to believe

Lord help me be brave enough to live this truth

Your Grace is enough.....



2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (VOICE)

To keep me grounded 
and stop me from becoming too high and mighty 
due to the extraordinary character of these revelations, 
I was given a thorn in the flesh—
a nagging nuisance of Satan, a messenger to plague me! 
I begged the Lord three times to liberate me from its anguish; 
and finally He said to me, 
“My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. 
My power is made perfect in weakness.” 
So ask me about my thorn, 
inquire about my weaknesses, 
and I will gladly go on and on—
I would rather stake my claim in these 
and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. 
I am at peace and even take pleasure
 in any weaknesses, 
insults, 
hardships, 
persecutions, 
and afflictions 
for the sake of the Anointed 
because when I am at my weakest, 
He makes me strong.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The answer is still no...



No is one of the hardest words to hear
It puts those things that we desire out of reach
Why is it that when I hear "no" from another human
it is easier to hear than from God?
Is it because from another, it feels temporary?
and when I hear it from God...
if feels final
it is final

One of the truths of being a child of God
is that sometimes He says no
I know He does not promise to fulfill all my wishes and desires
So why do I assume He will?

Scripture tells me to bring all my concerns, everything to God
To pray

In my life right now I know of friends who have been told no..
no to good health
no to a long life
no to stability
no to having children
no to marriage
no...

My heart hurts for them
My heart knows what it feels like to be told no
to something that seems good and God honoring

It can feel so confusing
It cracks the false floor we have been building our hopes and dreams on
It isolates us from others who have what we want

So lonely feeling
So confusing

How do I know when to keep being persistent in my prayers
and when to let go?

I must be careful when seeking my answer in scripture
It would be so easy to connect my own dots
to create the answer I want to see

But
God is not here to grant my wishes
The Bible is not a book of magic words

I must be careful
or I will miss the whole point of what His position is in my life



So here is the exam I must take
when the answer is still no

1. Has this thing I am asking for become an idol?
Nah...it can't be, I am a child of God, I wouldn't do that.
Would I?
Deeper still, I must ask the question...
Is it on my mind more than anything else?
Am I pursuing this more than anything else?
Is it keeping me up at night?
Am I beginning to question Gods love for me?
Does life seem unfair due to me not having what I desire?

It is a slippery slope
idols come in all shapes and sizes
and I can find myself holding on to one with all my might
before I am even aware

2. Is there a log in my eye?
Has my vision for what God has for me been clouded 
by something in my life that I need to get rid of 
in order to see His direction for me more clearly?

3. Is my priority to know God more deeply or 
has my priority shifted to know more about what I desire?
Research is so easy these days. 
I can google anything and read tons of opinions and facts.
Am I spending more time researching and reading about other things 
and assuming that I already know all there is to know about God?

These are painful questions
and I don't always like the answer to them

But what if I can honestly say no
no, this desire is not an idol in my life
no, I have no logs
no, my priority has not shifted

If these things are true
then when God's answer is no
I have a heart that is able to accept



So,
As I plead my case as did the widow in Luke 18 
I must hear and accept the words of Jesus...
In regards to justice (not desire)
Luke 18:7-8 (ESV)
 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? 
Will he delay long over them?  
I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. 
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

I plead and He asks....am I faithful?

And for the things I long for and desire
I humbly lay them at the feet of the cross

I believe Psalm 37 gives me 
the Dos and Don'ts
to keep walking in faith...

Don't
be upset or jealous of others (believers and unbelievers)
be angry when other's plans succeed and yours don't
be proud
wish or plan against good people
grind teeth in anger
choose abundance with corruption
do evil
borrow without paying back
be cruel
sin


Do
trust the Lord 
do good
feed on truth (God's Word)
enjoy serving the Lord
depend on the Lord
wait on the Lord
receive the peace of God through humility
be content with little
be honorable
stay innocent 
follow God
lend freely to others
keep Gods word in your heart and mind
wait on the Lords help
be honest
be at peace with others

Turning my eyes away from that thing I so desire
and towards The One who wants my full attention
This is the beginning of accepting
the no
the not now
the wait here
and even when He says yes

Psalm 37 (NCV)

 Don’t be upset because of evil people.
    Don’t be jealous of those who do wrong,
 because like the grass, they will soon dry up.
    Like green plants, they will soon die away.
 Trust the Lord and do good.
    Live in the land and feed on truth.
 Enjoy serving the Lord,
    and he will give you what you want.
 Depend on the Lord;
    trust him, and he will take care of you.
 Then your goodness will shine like the sun,
    and your fairness like the noonday sun.
 Wait and trust the Lord.
    Don’t be upset when others get rich
    or when someone else’s plans succeed.
 Don’t get angry.
    Don’t be upset; it only leads to trouble.
 Evil people will be sent away,
    but those who trust the Lord will inherit the land.
 In a little while the wicked will be no more.
    You may look for them, but they will be gone.
People who are not proud will inherit the land
    and will enjoy complete peace.
The wicked make evil plans against good people.
    They grind their teeth at them in anger.
But the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    because he sees that their day is coming.
The wicked draw their swords
    and bend their bows
to kill the poor and helpless,
    to kill those who are honest.
But their swords will stab their own hearts,
    and their bows will break.
It is better to have little and be right
    than to have much and be wrong.
The power of the wicked will be broken,
    but the Lord supports those who do right.
The Lord watches over the lives of the innocent,
    and their reward will last forever.
They will not be ashamed when trouble comes.
    They will be full in times of hunger.
But the wicked will die.
    The Lord’s enemies will be like the flowers of the fields;
    they will disappear like smoke.
The wicked borrow and don’t pay back,
    but those who do right give freely to others.
Those whom the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
    but those he curses will be sent away.
When people’s steps follow the Lord,
    God is pleased with their ways.
If they stumble, they will not fall,
    because the Lord holds their hand.
I was young, and now I am old,
    but I have never seen good people left helpless
    or their children begging for food.
Good people always lend freely to others,
    and their children are a blessing.
Stop doing evil and do good,
    so you will live forever.
The Lord loves justice
    and will not leave those who worship him.
He will always protect them,
    but the children of the wicked will die.
Good people will inherit the land
    and will live in it forever.
Good people speak with wisdom,
    and they say what is fair.
The teachings of their God are in their heart,
    so they do not fail to keep them.
The wicked watch for good people
    so that they may kill them.
But the Lord will not take away his protection
    or let good people be judged guilty.
Wait for the Lord’s help
    and follow him.
He will honor you and give you the land,
    and you will see the wicked sent away.
I saw a wicked and cruel man
    who looked strong like a healthy tree in good soil.
But he died and was gone;
    I looked for him, but he couldn’t be found.
Think of the innocent person,
    and watch the honest one.
The man who has peace
    will have children to live after him.
But sinners will be destroyed;
    in the end the wicked will die.
The Lord saves good people;
    he is their strength in times of trouble.
The Lord helps them and saves them;
    he saves them from the wicked,
    because they trust in him for protection.









Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lessons from the cul-de-sac




Cul-de-sac: a circular turnaround at a deadend street.

The house where I now live is on a cul-de-sac
I have always heard that living on a cul-de-sac is preferred to living on a thru street.
Less traffic, quiet, etc.




That has proven to be true at certain times of the day
At other times we have multiple turnarounds. I am not completely sure why. 
We are deep in the neighborhood and there are signs that warn drivers
 that there is no way out if they continue down the street. 
And yet, every day, I see multiple cars drive into this little cul-de-sac, 
startled to realize they can not go any further. 
So they speed away looking for another way to get where they want to go.



It has become a type of metaphor 
for where I am physically and spiritually right now. 

Oh, how easy it would be for my introvert self 
to stay in the safety and quiet of this cul-de-sac. 
Keeping guard to make sure no one comes in 
that was not invited or does not belong here.
Finding purpose and permission to hide away, 
weary from the battle, 
full of scars that I am tired of explaining. 
Labeling my actions as rest, 
when I know in my heart it is something else.

I keep looking for validations, 
okay, 
excuses to stay tucked here in my cul-de-sac.

And I can find them, believe me!
They are best found under certain conditions:
When I stay away from church
When I stay silent and don't reach out to friends
When I stop reading God's word and replace with other authors
When I allow my ears to be tickled by mindless media
When I use things of this world to escape

But there is a huge problem with this
because I am a child of the Most High
after a while it becomes uncomfortable
It does not bring me the peace and settled heart that I truly long for.

God's way is counter-intuitive
For me to gain the peace and settled heart
I must leave the cul-de-sac
There is a time and place for rest to be sure
but there is never time for hiding and escape
never

I know this in my heart
but sometimes my head has other ideas
when I choose to allow those thoughts to linger
they can cause doubt and confusion
which is not of God
ever

My life is not a dead end
it is more like a cul-de-sac
I have room to turn around and get back out there

God lead me to this cul-de-sac
It has the ability to be a green pasture and still waters
where I can be refreshed
But God did not leave me here to get fat and sassy
His expectations, 
His call, 
is to lead me back out
where I engage in my church community
where I embrace and invest in friendships
where I hunger and thirst for Holy Scripture
where His voice is louder than any other
where I see the things of this world as they truly are


2 Peter 1:3-11(MSG)
Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God 
has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, 
personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. 
The best invitation we ever received! 
We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—
your tickets to participation in the life of God 
after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.
So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, 
complementing your basic faith with 
good character, 
spiritual understanding, 
alert discipline, 
passionate patience, 
reverent wonder, 
warm friendliness, 
and generous love, 
each dimension fitting into and developing the others. 
With these qualities active and growing in your lives, 
no grass will grow under your feet, 
no day will pass without its reward 
as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. 
Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, 
oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, 
his choice of you. 
Don’t put it off; do it now. 
Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, 
the streets paved 
and the way wide open 
into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.









Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5-4-3-2-1



I am experiencing my life in numbers
Marking time and events
Making sense of what looks like chaos.
Just the act of writing it all out has reminded me 
of the grand adventure, 
this boring Jesus girl has been on
and the continued journey.


5   
This is the number of past Januaries 
I have purged and packed my home.
I was shocked to find this little statistic pop up 
in my January Facebook memories.
It had not occurred to me that this activity was consistently
happening at this time of year for the past five years.
At first, I was surprised.
I confess I grumbled and complained.
Remembering each item 
I once thought as precious that I gave away.
And the packing!
So much packing!
This is not a new skill I thought I would be acquiring.
But now, I can truly say, this is something that I am good at.
Not in a sarcastic or prideful way.
I have been able to use my experience to help others 
as they purge and pack.
What a funny, unexpected gift God gave me.
The many hours of January purging and packing will not go to waste.



4   
This is the number of addresses I have lived at in the last four years.
With each move, the emotion of it has become less and less.
I am older with each move, 
so I do get physically tired faster.
The weariness of unpacking has not gone away.
I have found myself saying things like, 
" I am so sick of packing and unpacking."
Shame on me!!!
Even now I am ashamed of complaining 
about such a first world problem.
I find myself struggling between 
knowing God continues to care for me
and my selfish complaining over the details.
The lessons of life that I have learned 
could not have been acquired any other way.
At first, all I could think about was my comfort,
my list of demands for each address.
But over time, 
as it became apparent that our address would change,
my hearts desire changed too.
The gift...
understanding how temporary my life is,
and what is precious.
If I had stayed in one comfy cozy place 
my whole life 
I would not understand this.
My things are valueless,
even where I live is not important.
In each address, peace only came
once I dedicated the space 
that was so graciously given to me by the Lord.
I learned over time to pray 
in each corner,
and each room
for His presence to remain 
and that He may use it for His glory.
On the days where I still find myself 
longing for stability and comfort,
I must remind myself what I know...
that there is something more important 
beyond stability and comfort,
This is the ability to see
through the lens of service, 
and minister where ever I lay my head.



3   
This is the number of homes 
I have painted walls in 
over this current time period.
Another unexpected gift!
I actually know what "cutting in" means,
and my skills as a painter have improved with each home.
Painting the walls of the rooms of my current abode
has become a type of meditation time for me with the Lord.
I have come to enjoy the process of renewing a space 
and the time it takes to do that.
With each stroke of my paint brush
I pray, imagine, reflect
and speak blessings on the space God has provided.


2



This is the number of churches 
I have served and attended during this time period.
The gift of having two church bodies has been huge.
The experience has enlightened me 
to how vast and different "the church" is.
I have experienced the ups and downs of the Christian community,
Of investing in the broken and of being loved on.
This experience I would not trade for anything in the world.
It has caused me to understand that no matter where I am,
God's people can be found.
I wonder how the Apostle Paul did it.
Moving from one body onto the next.
Hoping he would come back around to see them again.
I feel that.
I love these two bodies,
who speak God's truth boldy
who continue to love on me
and pray for me.
The gift...
the understanding that I need to be involved in a church body,
no matter where I find myself.
It helps to keep me on track, 
to be fed so I can remain strong,
and it is the best place to go for truth and support.


This is the number of loves 
that walked and walks with me through thick and thin.
Through every change.
The pouting, the sighing, laughing, sleeplessness,
exhaustion, exploring, prayer, everything.
My guy was there.
So patient.
The gift...
a deeper love for one another than we have ever known.
He is my best friend.
So kind, loving and mercy giving.

As I look at these numbers, all I can do is fall on my face
I see my grumbly
complainy self
stumbling along
fighting to keep my eyes on Jesus 
and not on my circumstance
I thank God for these numbers
For giving me markers of reminders
And, it occurs to me that no matter what....
He is not letting go
He does not change
His love is consistent
He is helping my faith and trust to grow through this season
I do not deserve such a Savior


Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 (NCV)

There is a time for everything,
    and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born
    and a time to die.
There is a time to plant
    and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill
    and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy
    and a time to build.
There is a time to cry
    and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad
    and a time to dance.
There is a time to throw away stones
    and a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug
    and a time not to hug.
There is a time to look for something
    and a time to stop looking for it.
There is a time to keep things
    and a time to throw things away.
There is a time to tear apart
    and a time to sew together.
There is a time to be silent
    and a time to speak.
There is a time to love
    and a time to hate.
There is a time for war
    and a time for peace.
Do people really gain anything from their work?
I saw the hard work God has given people to do.
God has given them a desire to know the future.
He does everything just right and on time,
but people can never completely understand what he is doing.
So I realize that the best thing for them
is to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.
God wants all people to eat and drink and be happy in their work,
which are gifts from God.
I know that everything God does will continue forever.
People cannot add anything to what God has done,
and they cannot take anything away from it.
God does it this way to make people respect him.
What happens now has happened in the past,
    and what will happen in the future has happened before.
    God makes the same things happen again and again.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Bird Watching



It is hard to believe that I have not written in this space for months
It is not out of laziness
or giving up
or distraction

I have been busy
Working towards the future
Reflecting on the past
and bird watching

This school semester I was required to take 
an upper division scientific writing class
To be honest, it sidelined my creative writing bent
Time flew as I wrote my little heart out

I also dared to consider and reflect on all the Lord has done for me
This led into an activity 
that I had done only on desperate occasions in the past

Bird watching
Not just plain old bird watching
Holy, Scripture-drive
Bird watching

Matthew 6:25-26
25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, 
what you will eat 
or what you will drink, 
nor about your body, 
what you will put on. 
Is not life more than food, 
and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air: 
they neither sow 
nor reap 
nor gather into barns, 
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not of more value than they?

These past few years have been crazy, 
undescribable (although I have tried!)
So full of twists and turns

I have a set of friends 
who have only known me during this time in my life
Sometimes I wonder if they believe me
that I use to have a slow uneventful "normal" existence
Whatever that means!

I also have a set of friends 
that have known me for a long time
I wonder how they interpret my life?
Do they believe the outlandish topsy-turvy stories I share?

It really does not matter....they are all my friends.
God given for such a time as this
and I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

I also gained a few enemies during this time
Fear and Anxiety
have you met them?
Not nice

Sometimes fear and anxiety would get a grip in such a way 
that no matter how hard I tried 
I could not shut them down
I could not quiet the noise 
I could not concentrate
I could not sleep
I forgot
I assumed the worst

This is no way to live
It is not living at all

Then a little birdie (a friend)
challenged me to discover how to remove
fear and anxiety
She did not give me a book
Or the answers
just the challenge
The wonderful Jesus driven challenge.
I am not even sure she realized 
how God used her to prod me on.
God is so cool like that!

So
I prayed for attention
I prayed for direction
And here is where I found my answer.....


Matthew 6:25-26 
25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, 
what you will eat 
or what you will drink, 
nor about your body, 
what you will put on. 
Is not life more than food, 
and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air: 
they neither sow 
nor reap 
nor gather into barns, 
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not of more value than they?

Do you know that it is impossible to watch birds 
when you are frenzied, 
running around 
and acting like the sky is going to fall?
Try it.....
Go outside right now
Find a bird
Now run!!!!
Where did the bird go?
Ahhh...you lost it

In order to become a bird watcher
you have to sit still
quiet
and wait a while
to see what the birds are doing
what they are singing
where they are going

When Jesus speaks in Matthew 6
He says...do not be anxious about the details of our lives
and then.....
He tells us to look.
Stop looking inward!
Look out here...
breathe...
quietly...
unstirring...
observe...
watch...
Jesus is saying that to all His children
get out of yourself
look around at the world that He made
every living thing is going through its life
Just as He intended it.

And then He asks a question...
Are you not of more value than they?

I have come to realize that as a child of God
He expects me to bird watch
not as the world instructs
But His way

Holy
Scripture-driven
Bird watching

Turning my focus off myself
is the only sure way to see what He is up to

A
Holy
Scripture-driven
Bird Watcher

When I do that....
my trust in God overflows
He lovingly shows me His world

when I stop looking at myself
and I look out and up
Then I see how 
He loves me
more and more and more