...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Monday, December 31, 2012

Fully Live Where I Am- NOW!

December 31st.
New Years Eve.
One year ending.
Another year beginning.

And besides the end of the holidays, and one more food extravaganza, and staying up to midnight, this day means one more thing.

The dreaded New Year's Resolutions. Sigh.

Something about me is feeling very resistant this year to making big resolutions. And it is something bigger than the fact that resolutions rarely work for longer than a month.

Something in the back of my mind has been nagging at me for some time about all the "Live your dream" quotes on Pinterest. Something has gnawed at my mind and heart about an in-congruency between these quotes and a life of faith.

But what is it?

I have a life, right now.
And a family. And a paycheck. And a home. And jobs (both in the home and out of the home.)
I have obligations, and duties, and requirements.
(And those words don't have the same flowery quotes as the word "dream" does.)

So here is my question that sums up my struggle with this year's resolutions:
Do I want to be so busy pursuing dreams, and ambitions, and goals, and resolutions that I miss out on the people and the time that I have right now?

This is my only chance to mother my children at the various stages they are all in right now.
This is my only opportunity to pursue a passionate marriage in it's 29th year.
This is my only shot at being a faithful and loving daughter, friend, sister, and colleague.
This is my only turn at contentedly believing that God is enough and living that out day by day.

God has given me this "right now" life with it's exact complications, limitations, and opportunities. It is not a mistake. It is not a mess-up.
This is where I am.
This is where I am supposed to be.
This is how much I have.
And how much I have is exactly enough.

I have dreams and I have goals. I would like to do some new things in this new year.
BUT- my biggest goal is to FULLY LIVE WHERE I AM- NOW!

What is your dream? What is you goal for 2013?
Let me just say I hope that you make progress toward it.
But in the journey toward that dream don't forget, God has you exactly where He wants you right now.

I won't miss out on my "right now" and the people that God has entrusted me to minister to "right now" in pursuit of something that may never exist.

So Happy New Year, 2013!
A year where I am committed to live fully where I am....right now!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mary and Impossibilities!

Here is a repost, from last Christmas. With the busyness of this year, I have not had time to write. But I am still as amazed at Mary and her obedience as ever.  Merry Christmas!

With the coming of Christmas trees, and the appearance of nativities, and the singing of carols, it has been natural that I have Christmas on the mind.  The fact that the holiday is just a few days away and I am not done with my shopping, has also put it on my mind!

I diligently make the effort each year, however, to concentrate on the WHOM of Christmas and not the what.  But really, this year, the one who has been on my mind the most is not the One. But the One's mother.

I have been thinking about Mary.

I have been picturing the innocent, young girl who was on the precipice of her life: she was betrothed and would soon begin her own home and her own family....just like everyone else did. Just like she was supposed to.

But then God came and told her that what was impossible was exactly what was going to happen. And when it did, it would turn her whole world upside down.

The Faith of a Mom
I think I have been thinking about Mary in a little different light than ever before.

I have been considering what I can learn from her as a Mom.

I have never been faced with the kind of impossibility that Mary was, but as a Mom I am called to some impossible things as well.

Like when I am called to:

  • patience when I am intensely frustrated
  • faith when circumstances seem disastrous 
  • silence when I have the perfect thing to say
  • prayer when I what I really want to do is "fix" everything
  • long-suffering when I am hurt or wronged, or even worse when one of my children is hurt or wronged
  • trust that God loves and cares for my children ENOUGH to take care of them, even when I can't or shouldn't
  • hope....no matter what anything looks like, no matter what my children are doing or not doing, no matter how things seem to be developing,.....a hope that is in God and not in myself nor any other human

Mothering is Impossible
I don't think I understood that mothering, like God calls me to mother, is actually impossible.  At least without Him.  It is the most impossible thing in the world. For everybody.

Because it involves pouring your life and heart into people that you love more than any other thing with a heartbeat (except, hopefully, the one who made those children with you!). And you love them and train them and clean them and scold them and feed them and tickle them and read to them and pray for them and lead them to the feet of their Savior. And all without any guarantees on the return of your investment.  But that is not the impossible part.

The impossible part is that they are individual, willful, cognizant humans who choose, in the end, what to do, what to believe, how to behave, who to marry, what to retain, what to throw away, and who will, someday, stand alone before their God. And you no longer, at that time, can stand in the gap for them.

Mothering is a lot like taking your heart out of your body, laying it on the table, and inviting your family to take all they need.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think mothering is one of the greatest and most fulfilling callings that exist. It is the reason I am most glad that I am female. But having said that, I can also say.....

.....it is impossible.

And so the angel speaks:
Most likely Mary was feeling like what the angel told her was impossible. And she would have been right. For her to bring forth a child when she had never known a man WAS impossible.

But the angel speaks:
"And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age (another impossible thing, by the way); and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.  For NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD."  ~ Luke 1:36,37
So the impossible happens.  With God.
Life can be conceived.
Barrenness can be defeated.
The Word can enter the world.
The Sacred can be made flesh.
The Holy can interface with the sinful.

And Love can overcome all that is impossible.

Mary's Response
Mary's reply to the angel, in Luke 2:38, is one of my favorite in all of Scripture:
"Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word."
That is the response I want to have: to whatever God tells me to do, or to whatever God allots or allows in my life, or whatever impossible thing that God calls me to in the life.

WHATEVER LORD! That is why I named the blog Whatever Lord!

Because whatever it is, no matter HOW impossible, I want to say:  be it done to me according to your word.

So for Christmas this year, I want to concentrate not on the packages, bows, menus, cards, parties, ....and on and on and on. Instead I want to LEARN from Christmas and the young girl who laid down her life to God's will.

Yes, Mothering is impossible...without Jesus. And so is most everything else that matters.

And that is why this year I want to concentrate on Emmanuel: God with us!
With us in the impossible.
With us in our parenting.
With us in our marriages.
With us in our jobs.
With us, with us, with us.

What seems impossible to you this Christmas?
Remember, because of the Impossible that occurred in Mary, and was born in a manger, God is with you in the midst of your impossible.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To be Thankful.....Remember!!

It is almost Thanksgiving!
My FAVORITE holiday!!!!
No presents. Lots of family. And the best food EVER!

And I love the story of the Pilgrims: people who were brave enough to leave everything they knew, everything that was safe, and everything that was secure, in order to follow God and serve Him according to their convictions.

But possibly my favorite thing about my favorite-est of holidays is the emphasis: thankfulness.

Because if we don't REMEMBER to be thankful people, we quickly devolve into becoming complainers, and comparers, and unsatisfied, unhappy wanters of something more.

Which must be why God repeatedly tells us so often to REMEMBER:
-God tells the Israelites, as they wander through the dessert and begin to complain, to remember how God did miraculous things for them with Pharaoh. (Ps. 106:7)
-He set up the rainbow as a constant visual reminder of His faithfulness. (Gen 9:16)
-God calls us to remember that His promises are generational and eternal (I Ch 16:15)
And those are just a few examples.

The Word REMINDS us:
-Recall the miraculous deeds He performed, His mighty acts and the judgments He decreed.            (Ps 105:5)

We HAVE to be reminded to remember. Because we so easily forget.
We forget what all God has done to us already. We forget how He has protected. We forget how He has provided. We forget how He has led. We forget how He has loved.

And if we forget.....we can NEVER be thankful! For it is in the remembering and recalling and recognizing and reminiscing and recollecting that we can begin to scratch the surface of the magnitude of all that God has done for us. And once that magnitude dawns upon us, we have no choice but to sing forth the praises to the One Who deserves that praise more than anything.

So take a minute and REMEMBER.
Remember that God is good and that His love endures for generations. (s 136:1,2)
Remember that He has engraved you in the palm of His hand. (Is 49:14,16)
Remember that He has protected you from your enemies. (Ps 121:7)
Remember that He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)

Remember. And then BE THANKFUL! Give Thanks! Over and over again.

I will remember the works of the Lord. Yes, I will remember the amazing things you did long ago!
Ps. 77:11

Monday, November 12, 2012

Are You a Veteran?

Veteran's Day- November 11th.

Along with Christmas, July the 4th, and New Years, it is one of the few holidays that is always on the same date. No matter what day of the week it falls on, it is always the 11th...not on the Monday that is closest so that we can all have a three day weekend.

Why is it on Nov. 11th?
To commemorate the:
11th hour of the
11th day of the
11th month.....

The time and date of the end of World War I....."the war to end all wars."

That war lasted for over 4 years, wounded 19.7 million soldiers, and killed 9.7 million men from all over the world.

The devastating effects of this destructive war are almost unimaginable as new technology exploded into a increased ability for man to kill and maim each other with greater force.

So Veteran's Day, November 11th, marks the end of the "war to end all wars"- which is a war that did not end anything- it began a century of warfare.

But we mark the day, not for the end of war, but for the incredible bravery in the face of fear that every soldier exhibits as they fight for their country. In the United States we mark this day because we realize that as awful and horrific as war was and is, if it weren't for the actions of our brave soldiers through two centuries, we would not have the freedoms that we still have left to enjoy.

In church yesterday there was a moment when all the veterans stood up- the men and women who have served, who were available for battle, or who participated in battle.

I felt appreciation as my husband and many others who have served stood up.

But being in church, the thought struck me, aren't all Believers soldiers?
However, no matter how old or tired or wounded we are, we are never Veterans, because there is no retiring in God's army.
-Our war has never ended either.
-Technology has also magnified and multiplied the ability of the enemy to wage war (and has done the same for our ability to wage war if we use it wisely.)
-Many in the church are constantly seeking to make peace with the enemy, desiring to never have war again. But the battle rages on.
-We have only one choice- engage in the battle or hide from it.

Will you hide from the battle?
Or will you engage?
Because we have an enemy. He is not political. He is not human. But he is behind every scheme that puts God down and every attempt to shut the church of Jesus out of the process.

For us, the soldiers of the Lord, we will have a Veteran's Day someday. But we won't celebrate it until we are in Eternity.

Until then? Read Psalm 18: 29-50.
Be encouraged.
Pick up your weapon.
And occupy until He comes.

Psalm 18:29-50
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.
They cried for help, but there was no one to save them — to the Lord, but he did not answer.
I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets.
You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; you have made me the head of nations. People I did not know now serve me, foreigners cower before me; as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds.
The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!
He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me,
who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me.
Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.
He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Riding Out the Storm~ Part Three.

The storms of life.
They come to everyone.
No one is immune.

The question is not IF they will come, the question is, what will you do WHEN they come.

In the lives of the disciples there was the storm when Jesus was with them in the boat and then there was the storm when Jesus walked out to His disciples. But in both storms, Jesus directed His disciples directly into their paths. Not only did He allow the storm, but seemingly He guided them INTO the storm.

Psalm 107:23-32 is about this exact thing.
But we will start with verse 1:
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He! Is! Good!
In a Psalm that is about to account for some of the worst difficulties in our lives, the psalmist begins with God! Is! Good! And then he goes on to say, "For His lovingkindness is everlasting."

That is the foundation: God is good and His love for us NEVER runs out!

Now let's look at the storm part of Ps 107:

~vs. 23-25a: Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind.
  • Yes, God is the One Who raises the storm.

~vs. 25b-27: which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their souls melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits' end.
  • Storms are terrible, wrenching experiences for everyone who experiences them. And one of the worst aspects is that they are totally uncontrollable by man. All anyone can do is hunker down and ride it out!

~vs. 28a: Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble.
  • Storms leave us no other alternative. Our only hope for survival is to turn to God and cry out to Him.

~ vs. 28b-29: And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed.
  • God is the only One Who can cause the storms to be still and the waves to be quiet.
  • Luke 8:24- ...He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped and it became still.
  • Ps. 66:7- (God) does still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples.
  • Ps. 89:9- Thou does rule the swelling of the sea; when its waves rise, Thou does still them.

~ vs. 30: Then they were glad because they were quiet; so He guided them to their desired haven.
  • He is the One, and the Only One, Who can quiet the storm, Who can bring us joy, and Who can guide us to the exact spot He wanted us to be all along!

~ vs. 31-32: Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him at the seat of the elders.
  • And our response is to PRAISE Him, to give thanks, to recognize His hand, and tell others of His great work!

Storms are not the only difficulty that Psalm 107 speaks of God working in and through.
  • vs 2- He saves His people from the enemy
  • vs 7- He leads His people to shelter and sustenance
  • vs 13- He rescues His people from distress
  • vs 14- He heals His people from illness.
His mighty hand is working constantly in our lives.
But just think about it: WE WOULD HAVE NEVER SEEN HIS MIGHTY HAND if it were not for the storm (or the enemy, or the want, or the distress, or the illness.)

Remember verse 1: God! Is! Good!
All the time.

When times are bad- God! Is! Good!
When money is short- God! Is! Good!
When sickness surrounds- God! Is! Good!
When the enemy attacks- God! Is! Good!

And when the storm clouds gather on the horizon and the waves begin to pitch and roll and the footing is unsecure and there is nothing you can do but hang on and cry out to the Lord.....
                         .....yes, ESPECIALLY THEN, God! Is! God!!!!!  
                                                                                  And His lovingkindness is everlasting!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Riding Out the Storm~ Part Two

There is an African proverb that states, "A calm sea does not make a skillful sailor."

Could that be one facet to why Jesus allows storms in our lives?  Or why sometimes He directs us directly into the heart of them?

Last time I looked at Jesus and His act of sending us STRAIGHT into storms. He didn't do that to His disciples just once. He did it twice.

The first time He was sleeping in the bottom of the boat.
Bad news- He was asleep.
Good news- He was with them!

But the next time, in Matthew 14, Jesus stays on shore and sends His disciples on ahead.
Across the sea.
Straight into the storm.
Bad news- There is a storm.
More bad news- Jesus is NOT in the bottom of the boat- asleep or otherwise.

But hold the presses. There is a back story to this story.

Immediately before this jaunty cruise occurred was the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. Jesus had just taken 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and had FED 5000 PEOPLE!

And the disciples were right in the middle of that one. They were the ones who had worried about the insurmountable problem of there not being food for the people in the first place. (Mark 6:35-36) Their solution was to send the people away.

Jesus' solution was to give them something to eat.

Disciples + 5 loaves + 2 fish = IMPOSSIBLE
Jesus + 5 loaves + 2 fish = LEFTOVERS!

But once the collection of the leftovers had been taken care of, Matthew 14:22 says, "Jesus immediately made the disciples get into the boat."

And that is how the disciples got in this storm.

Once again the disciples are in a boat and the winds howl, the waves rise, and the boat begins to get swamped.

It was the second "impossible" situation in the same day! Would the disciples remember their lesson? (Let me give you a hint- NO! They would not!)

Jesus, imposing a third impossible element into the day, and once again showing that He is master of creation and it's laws, not the other way around, WALKS ON WATER! Amazing.

Peter decides (possibly emboldened by the previous events of the day?) to walk out to Jesus. He asks Jesus to call him out of the boat. Pete does okay for a moment...that is until he takes a look at the waves up close and personal, gets scared, and starts to sink.

Peter grew afraid. Jesus reprimanded his lack of faith.
Maybe fear is just lack of faith?

But Jesus saves him and gets him back to the boat. Only then does the storm cease.

Oh, there are SO many lessons here. But I will try and contain myself to the ones that have to do with "riding out the storms" in our lives:
  • Sometimes, like Peter, I might get emboldened to ask Jesus to command me to do something that is “impossible.” But when I get right in the middle of the thing it is MUCH harder than I expected. At that moment will I have fear or faith?
  • I must NEVER take my eyes off Jesus. My circumstances will always be frightening and could also be IMPOSSIBLE.  It is only by looking Straight. Into. The. Eyes. Of. Jesus.... That is how the impossible becomes possible.
  • Like Peter, I need to take a leap of faith in the midst of the storms. Unlike Peter, I need to keep my eyes and faith on Jesus. 
  • It is in the heart of my storms that my most important lessons are learned and my most intimate encounters with my Savior will occur!

What looks impossible to you right now?
What wind is blowing unrelentingly against you?
What wave threatens to over take you?

Look straight into Jesus' eyes. Nothing is impossible with Him!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Riding Out the Storm~ Part One

Sometimes life has fuzzy edges around the picture, a soft-focus, birds singing, a cool breeze blowing, a satisfied feeling, and no mosquitoes.

Anyway, I think it does. It does in the movies at least.

But not around here. Not lately. It seems we have been through a long, slow march through sharp reality, drought and flood, a harsh wind, and most definitely mosquitoes. It is tempting in seasons like this to think, "What are we doing wrong, Lord?"

But think about 1 Peter 4:12 which says, 

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

I can never quite decide if I find this verse comforting or irritating! On the one hand it reassures me that just because something is difficult it does not follow this difficulty is some sort of divine punishment. But on the other hand this verse assures me that sometimes things are going to test me to my very limits.  This verse actual informs me that difficult is normal. Sigh.

Just think about how Jesus trained His disciples. He had no problem at all sending them straight into storms. In Mark 4:36,37, He gets in a boat with His disciples and tells them to row for the other side. And then He lays down and falls asleep.

The winds howl, the waves rise, the boat begins to get swamped, and still Jesus sleeps. He sleeps through the storm that He had His disciples row straight into.

"Jesus Sleeping During the Tempest" by James Tissot
Think about how it felt for the disciples. Think about their panic and their fear.

I love this piece of art by James Tissot, a French painter in the late 1800's. It perfectly captures both the extremity of the disciples and the serenity of Jesus.

Look at how HARD the disciples are working!
Look at how panicked they are!
And desperate, and striving, and fearful.

And look at Jesus.
How peaceful, and confident, and trusting.

What a contrast.

Of course, you remember the rest of the story- the disciples freak out, they wake Jesus up, and He calms the storms. But He also rebukes them for not having enough faith! Could they have truly feared for their life when He was right there with them?

As I thought about this I realized that I have been reacting to my storms in the same way.

My prayers lately have been more like the disciples' when they woke Him saying, "Do You not care that we are perishing?" (Mk. 4:38)

It is true that Jesus stopped the storms for the disciples, but He did not praise them for all their hard work up until then. He rebuked them for their lack of faith!

So as I ride my boat through the storms of my life that Jesus is allowing I have two options:
  1. I can strain at the ropes with fear and desperation in my heart while I try to shake Jesus awake, or...
  2. I can crawl down in the bottom of the boat with Jesus, and hold on to Him, and TRUST Him to bring me through.

I. Choose. Jesus.

More thoughts on Jesus and storms next time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Make a Joyful Noise!

We sit up front at church.
Second row.
That way we can see. And we are not distracted.
And since very few people will ever sit on the front row, there is no one in front of us.

There is another advantage to sitting in the front row with no one in front of me that I never knew until this weekend.

This last week we decided to shake things up a bit and sit in an entirely different different place in church than we usually do. You ever noticed how families always sit in the same place week after week? (We are the up front, second row, on the right people.)

In fact, one week we walked up and another family was sitting in OUR row. We stood there for just a moment, staring at them, looked at each other, and then turned and walked back down the row to find another seat. IN THE BACK! We could barely concentrate on the sermon!

But this week, we sat toward the back on purpose. We just didn't want to get in too much of a rut. It was all going fine until something unexpected happened. Good friends sat immediately in front of me right at the beginning of our singing section of the service (and we sing for quite a long time!).

Now let me back up a bit.
I LOVE to sing. Really, really love to sing.
If there is any one gift that I would pay a lot of money to have it would be the ability to sing incredibly well. Like stick a microphone in my hand, shine a spotlight on me, and I belt out a tune that brings a tear to the eye.

As it is, if someone stuck a microphone in my hand and I sang, it sure would bring a tear to the eye. But for a totally different reason!

So back to church. When my friends sat DIRECTLY in front of me I was faced with a moral dilemma.
Do I sing loud? When people I know can hear me?

Now, I don't sing loud for loud's sake. I sing loud because I love praising God with a joyful noise! And when no one is front of me I don't have to think about it. But now someone was in front of me. And it was someone I knew! And I was thinking about it!

What to do? What to do?
I decided my biggest fear really boiled down to my own reputation. I didn't want someone I know well to know how "well" I sing.
So did I fear man or fear God?

It was tough, but I swallowed my pride, closed my eyes and SANG.
And soon my mind was off myself. And my friends.
And it was on the only place where it needed to be. On Jesus.

Where am I going to sit this next Sunday? Hopefully in our "regular" seats! But no matter where we sit, or who sits in front of us, I know one thing.

I will make a JOYFUL NOISE!

What is God calling you to today? Will it be uncomfortable? Could it embarrass you? Is it outside your comfort zone?

But is it to His glory? If it is, do it LOUD!

O sing unto the Lord a new song...
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Psalm 98: 1, 4

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

All My Boys Are Grown Up

It is such a strange thing- getting older.

One minute you are a child.
Then you turn around and you are an adult.
And getting married.
And having children of your own.
How did that happen?

When those children are all small the days seem long. The runny noses unrelenting. The dirty diapers never ceasing. The skinned knees unending. The hungry stomachs unsatisfiable. The dirty clothes mountainness.

And then you turn around again.

My favorite picture! Two and a half years old.
And they are grown.

And now my baby boy is turning 21 tomorrow.
Three sons.
And now three adult men.
How did that happen?

Yes, my Aaron is turning 21.

And yet I have crystal clear memories of snuggling his baby-soap scented cuddliness and reading him "The Big Red Barn"....just one more time.

And I remember with perfect clarity him smiling his toothy smile at me, melting my heart, and causing me to forget why I was scolding him.

And then I turned around.
And he was taller than me.
And he had that same toothy grin (although it was no longer only my heart he could melt.)

And now he is his own man and thankfully he is God's man too.
He is funny, and messy, and a goof ball, and in love with his Savior, and in love with his girl.
He tells puns and harmonizes when he sings. And when he sings to Jesus it is with his whole heart and being.
And when he can tell I need a hug he hugs me with love and warmth that melt me still.

Happy birthday my son. You are a true joy and a delight.
21. How did that happen?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wait For It......

In spite of not having cable or any other kind of TV hook-up, we are still able to watch more than we need of TV shows. DVDs. Netflix. Who needs cable? This set up has the added advantage that we have more control of what comes into our house and NO advertisements.

(And, as a side note, may I just say that when I am somewhere with TV, and I do see advertisements, I am shocked. They are worse than many TV shows! And that is saying something.)

Shawn and Gus
Anyway, back on track....one of our favorites is "Psych". Now, I am not saying it is a perfect show, or even recommending it. I am just being transparent and honest. Hello, my name is Susan. I watch Psych. It has been one week since my last episode.

Ok. Where was I? Oh yes, being transparent and talking about "Psych." One of our favorite lines is when the characters Shawn and Gus are about to make the big reveal of the mystery and they say....

"wait for iiiiiit........"

Maybe I am easily entertained, but that always cracks me up.

That brings me to this morning. We have had a school break this week and I have fully participated in the idea of the work BREAK. Which is not even to say that I didn't do any work. But I did allow myself to sleep in and at least relax a little.

This morning I was feeling tired and uninspired and slightly guilty that after a week of sleeping in I was still feeling tired and uninspired. Then I began to think about Isaiah 40.  I knew there was something in there about how to get more strength from the Lord, but I couldn't remember, in my fuzzy morning state, what I was supposed to do. What was I supposed to do so I could soar like an eagle? I couldn't remember. So I looked it up.
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not become weary or tired. He understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with winds like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.  -Isaiah 40:28-31
Did you see that?
I wasn't supposed to fast and pray.
I wasn't supposed to give alms.
I wasn't supposed to get busy at church.
I wasn't supposed to spend time examining my heart and confessing my sins.

And none of those things are bad, by the way. In fact they all have their place. But in the end they have no more value than filthy rags because they are MY actions. Not God's.

No, I wasn't suppose to do those.
I was suppose to........(imagine a drum roll and Sean saying in the background, "Wait for iiiiiiiit......"

Wait. For. The. Lord.

If I want to soar with the eagles, I need to sit down, get still, shut up, and wait for the LORD.

Waiting. Never easy. But really simple.

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Is Not My Home

This morning, at church, I talked with a friend:

Me: So, how are you doing?
Friend: I am just so weary. Life is good, but it is so tiring.
Me: (with a sigh and a knowing look) Isn't heaven going to be great?!
Friend: (with a reciprocating sigh and a sweet smile spreading across her face) Yes, it is!
I identified with her sentiments of weariness and the feeling of being heart-tired. And it, once again, made me wonder:
~Why is life sometimes so hard?
~Why does it make us so tired?
~Why is it so dirty and require so much "clean-up"?
~Why is it such a struggle?

Could part of the problem be our expectations? After all, we are made in the image of God and therefore somewhere in the depths of our hearts is the impression of the perfection of heaven.

So we strive to make a bit of that "memory" of heaven on earth. We look for the perfection but nothing has the capacity to measure up. But that doesn't stop us from trying!

  • We try to make our homes look like those pictures in magazines or Pinterest.
  • We struggle to maintain our bodies to the standard of the air brushed photos in advertisements.
  • We strive to maintain our love stories to the level of Hollywood's glossed over non-reality.
  • We work to obtain wealth and advantage and position that we envy in others.
  • We look to cars, homes, jobs, fashion, decor, or any other of the number of false markers to our value to create a little "HEAVEN ON EARTH"!
But here is the problem with Every. Single. Effort.
This. Is. Not. Our. Home.

This is not Heaven and it never will be.
This is a fallen world where the best we can do is look on and see the redemptive power of God.
But as hard as we try, we will never make this heaven.

So let us look forward to that Beautiful City which will someday be our residence, but let's free up our present reality from the disappointment that comes from wanting to see that perfection now.

Yes, right now can be tiring. But even in it's grimiest reality it can still be beautiful.
Instead of being disappointed, let's be THANKFUL.

"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me."                 ~Psalm 50: 14,15

Sunday, July 29, 2012

When I am Weak...

What do I do?

What do I do when the math equation in my life doesn't add up? When the addition of the tasks + jobs + needs + requirements is greater than my strength?

What do I do when life comes in as a flood and I am overwhelmed?

Well, this morning, when I was feeling as if the flood would win, I went to the Word. (Confession: while I have been feeling overwhelmed for several days, I had not done much of this one simple step)

And this is what I was met with:
The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sites as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace. 
~Ps 29: 10,11

God sits as King in the middle of my flood too. In the flood of my emotions. In the flood of my fears. In the flood of my activities. In the flood of my tasks.

God sits as King.

And as He sees me struggling and striving to survive, He does not scold me or look away or laugh.

No. He gives me strength. And He blesses me.

So what's a girl to do when she is feeling worn out and not up to the flood that surrounds her?
Go to the Word.
Every. Single. Time.

Because there I meet my King Who will give me strength.
Because when I am weak, He is strong. (II Cor 12:10)  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What We Will Do For Free Food!

Three "cows"! Oh, what we will do for free food!

"If we dress like a cow, we will get free chicken!"

Are you kidding me?

While some might say, "Are you kidding me? You think I am going to dress like a cow just for some free chicken?!"

I said, "Are you kidding me? All we have to do for some free chicken is dress like a cow?! Lets go!"

Chick-fil-A does this once a year. And all I have to say is:
Well done Chick-fil-A! What is my dignity compared to a free meal!

I think Chick-fil-A is a great company. They have good food for fast food. Their waffle fries are heavenly. They started in Georgia so they completely rock at Sweet Tea. They are always clean. And when you ask for anything their employees answer, "It is my pleasure!"

So when there was a chance at free food.....no brainer! Where are my spots and my ears?

And if you don't think it can get any better than a free meal, try this! You can go to as many Chick-fil-A's in a day as you can get to. So we hit one at Noon, then did some errands, and hit a different one about 3:00. My little slip of a ten-year-old ate 24 nuggets yesterday!

What is pride compared to 24 nuggets in one day!

But as I drove down the road, with my cow ears flapping, I thought about what Jesus said:
And Jesus said unto them, "I am the bread of life: he that comes to Me shall never hunger"  John 6:35
As I looked down at my cow spots adorning my clothes, it occurred to me again how amazing God is. He doesn't require us to dress up, or get ourselves together, or change our ways, or fix ourselves up, or pretend we are something we are not.

He wants us to come to Him NOW! Just as we are.

And then Jesus offers us the free-est of free meals!

He offers us Himself!
He will fill us.
He will change us.
He will fix us.
He will even dress us!

And all because of Who He is, not because of who we try to be.

Chick-fil-A's meal was great for a day. We sure were full after we ate there, and we appreciated a Company with generosity and a sense of humor!

But today we are hungry again.

But Jesus is the Bread of Life! He is free!
And when we partake of Him, we never hunger again!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Finding The Way Out

I love hummingbirds.

I love how small, yet powerful, they are.
They are fast.
They fly backwards.
They stop in midair.
They are as close to perpetual motion as I have ever seen.

They also remind me of Colorado, which to me means VACATION!

I just got back from vacation, and being on vacation would be one of the reasons I haven't written anything for two months. Only one of the reasons- but a happy reason, so let's stick with that one.

And while up in the mountains, I had the most extraordinary experience.
One of my favorite vacation "activities" is to lie on the swing on our screened in porch and read. And read. And read. And then sleep. It is awesome.

But one afternoon, as I was reading, I heard the sound of a hummingbird that seemed really close. And sounded a little odd. When I looked up I saw two hummingbirds INSIDE the screened in porch! The door was slightly ajar and they had somehow managed to fly in.

My amazement was matched by their frustration.

They were on the screen.
They could feel the fresh air.
They could smell the flowers.

Yet the screen posed an insurmountable obstacle. Freedom seemed so close, and yet was so elusive. They flew and flew up and down that screen, but they could not figure out how to go THROUGH it.

Susan to the rescue!

Brilliant idea #1: open door wide, and they will sense the air and fly through.
Result: Nope. They stayed on the screen, trying desperately to get to the fresh air they could feel flowing through.

Brilliant idea #2: gently herd them toward the door. 
Result: Ever tried to herd hummingbirds? Yep. About as easy as it sounds. They flew around the door to the screen on the other side!

Now I was out of brilliant ideas.

But, after a bit, the sweet little birds were getting so tired from trying so hard they began sitting of the ledge. I saw a small window of opportunity.

Brilliant idea #3: Pick them up and take them to a feeder.
Result: First of all, I now know from personal experience, that holding a hummingbird in your hand is about like holding a cotton ball. They weigh almost nothing. And second of all, if they are tired out from beating against an immovable object for an hour, they will let you carry them.

After getting them to nourishment, they flew off. Slower than normal. But they did fly off.

But I had been thinking.
How often was I like those hummingbirds?
  • I get myself into a pickle.
  • Then I beat against an immovable object in frustration.
  • I ignore the way out in my pursuit of what seems, at the time, the only actual option.
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."  -I Cor. 10:13

How often has God opened the door to my way of escape but I have stubbornly ignored it while pursuing what seems the only logical solution?

How worn out do I have to get before I will let Him pick me up and carry me to where I need to be?

Watching that bird try desperately and hopelessly to make its own way out, convicted me deeply.

Instead of TRYING SO HARD to fight my circumstances, and achieving no result, I should cry out like David did, "I am in trouble; hear me speedily. Draw near to my soul, and redeem it; deliver me!" -Ps 69:17,18

What insurmountable obstacle is in your way this morning?

Cry out to God!
He is faithful!
He has already made the way of escape!
He will deliver you!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Life is Messy

The end of the school year and the beginning of summer.....makes life a little crazy. So here is one from the vault!  

I love neat, and organized, and color coordinated, and plastic containers, and labels.

I love for everything to have a place and to be in that place.

I love to open the drawer and have the scissors right where they belong. I love for my file cabinets to have neat, alphabetical files with everything in them, preferably in chronological order.

I love to have a schedule to my day, my week, and my year.

And this is just how things are.....on the planet of "How Things Should Be".

But not in my house.

I can always envision it, and draw up lists to get there, and plan on days to accomplish it, but it just doesn't happen at my address.

It is sort of like when I sing. I love harmonies. I hear them in my head. But somewhere between my brain and my vocal cords the note changes or gets translated or altered or something... because when it comes out, it is not harmony...it is usually the opposite. When I manage to actually hit a good alto harmonious note it just gives me a thrill and sends shivers down my spine. And when I stand next to someone who sings perfect harmonies it both blesses me ... and condemns me. Why can't I do that, I wonder?

It is the same feeling I have when I walk into someone's home which actually looks like they live on the planet of "How Things Should Be". It gives me a thrill just to look around and see that it is possible and it condemns me as I ask myself, why can't I do this?

2 Corinthians warns us in 10:12: ...but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

This Scripture actually refers to boasting and feeling pride as we compare ourselves. I personally don't deal with the temptation to boast all that often. I am pretty sure that almost everybody else has figured this thing out better than I have. I am, through being so aware of my weaknesses and failings, so incredibly grateful of the grace and mercy of God, because otherwise I would be sunk.

My comparing however brings about other sins, and they are ones I see in many women. Discouragement. Dissatisfaction. Regret. Self-condemnation. Weariness.

And in reality, ingratitude. So, while I am grateful for His grace and mercy, I am not grateful for what He has allotted to me.

My looking at others' strengths and letting them magnify my weaknesses, makes me ungrateful for how and what God has created and given to me. I am an idea person who starts projects before the last one is finished. I hate waste and therefore don't want to get rid of things that might be needed later. I am a Mom of a large family of varied and talented kids that are involved in projects and activities that require stuff and driving and traveling and equipment. I am a wife to a man with qualities and talents that have brought opportunities and requirements into our lives that necessitate me to stretch. I am a homeschooler who has a school library, computer lab, and various and a sundry other supplies to corral.

In short, my life and my abilities, and my weaknesses do not fit in a closet filled with Rubbermaid that has been attacked by a label maker.

This weekend I had a lesson in the fact that life is messy. We were staying with sweet family who put us up while we went to a Speech tournament. Their house looks perfectly clean- smooth counters, no piles, no dust.

And when we would come home at night between 9 and 10 they would already be asleep, with their house in order.

I on the other hand had made a mad dash out of my house (leaving it a mess), on very little sleep, trying to get everything ready for what I was leaving behind and where I was going. We had been going to bed late and getting up early.

At least twice during the weekend, when I thought I was feeling great and even smiling, someone would ask me, "Are you all right? You looked so tired!"


I didn't think I looked bad, and I looked bad.

What do I look like when I know I look bad?

I was already feeling the condemnation rolling over me as I left their neat, well-rested house this morning....late by the way....to rush off to our next activity, when life got even messier. Some minor mess ups, some accidents, some irritations, some miscommunications.

No reason to go into specifics.

Suffice it to say, life is messy.

Life is messy.

And I was discouraged.

Alright, I am still a little discouraged. But that is why I felt the need to write about this. Because I don't think I am supposed to be.

I don't think I am supposed to let the weight of the world rest on my shoulders, but rather let the One who placed the world on its foundations carry the weight.

I don't think I am supposed to be overcome, but rather rest in the arms of the Overcomer.

And I don't think I am supposed to be surprised that life is messy!

So if it is a fact that my life is messy, what will my response be?

  • Will I sit back in my condemnation chair, singing "Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen"?
  • Will I give up and become bitter and angry?
  • Will I decide it is just not worth it and live for myself alone?

no. No. NO.

2 Corinthians goes on to say in 10:13: But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned (assigned is another translation) to us as a measure to reach...

If the God of the Universe has assigned me a messy, non-containable, unorganizable, full to overflowing life, then I had better stay within the "measure of the sphere He apportioned" and quit looking at other spheres to determine how I am doing. And I had better stop looking at the sphere of the planet of "How Things Should Be."

And I had better start praising Him and start being grateful for all He has given me.

Praise God for these messy days. These messy, accident prone, question provoking days. These days that keep me leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

These days, that confirm in my heart, that even if I wanted to boast, I have nothing to boast in.

2 Corinthians 10:17: He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.