Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Enter Tangled




Hurry.
Speed it up, lady, you are running late. 
It seems like I am always late, like I live this life a hurried mess. And that mess is always in need of an untangling.

I had organized my tasks upon waking this morning, calculated the time necessary to complete my chores and kept perfect track of the minutes in between. Yet, here I am in the shower, late. My math skills same as my life skills, however consistent, have always proved to be less than acceptable.

The warm water envelops me and I pause reality to savor the moment, yet only until the sharp stinging on my shin forces my return. Examining my leg, I find the telltale trail of blood, the cut of a razor blade.

As the blood slides down the front of my leg the memory of my first adventure with a razor falls into my mind. Young, awkward, and almost always without proper guidance. I made a bold attempt at shaving. Unfortunately, my reward was an ugly slash bleeding red along the top of my shin.

Deep sigh.

Innocence is ripped from idealism when life is attempted at an age too young and too alone. Cuts and wounds lead to pain no matter what age. The cut then was deeper and the sting sharper, but the mess I made, consistent.

Shaking my head, I look down at the bright red blood watching as it works its way down and across the top of my foot, spreading over my toes, and finally washing out into the tub to circle down the drain. I can’t help but to think about the blood of Christ, how it flows all over and across my life washing away the unclean.

A red trail of redemption that continually flows down either side of time because of the red blood that flowed from those pierced hands hung on the outstretched arms of Christ. That red thread reaches all the way back through the pages of time in no hurry to be revealed as it wove itself into the lives of those who placed their trust in You.

Unrealized in it’s fullness, it just flowed bringing life. Past the feet of the priests’ at Your altar, down the wall while hanging from the window of Rahab, and down into the Garden of Eden freeing the first ones to enter into shame. Bright red blood flowing hidden through those pages untangling all the messes of life as it tangled itself into the lives of Your people.

Weaving back through my life You have brought beauty to painful places, quickened dead branches to bloom and bear fruit. And, it’s here I see that some of our mess is necessary for His grace, beautiful in it’s need for His mending. Perfected in His inter-tangling.










Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Weakness Stands As An Invitation




“Write honestly.” I read the words and understand the concept, but I don’t want to.
“They need to be able to connect with you.” I sit paralyzed unable to breathe.
They need to connect with me? The thought is laughable, if not ludicrous.
 Not because I don’t appreciate you, the reader, or even need you. I do. We all need, deeply.
But, how do I tell you, without disappointing you, that connecting honestly is the thing I don’t trust?

I don’t trust for another to hear that I am weak. I don’t want to tell you about how I feel like I can’t get anything in my life worked out right. How I feel like I am always doing the wrong things. How I commit to the wrong things over and over. How, when I finish a project and I feel good about it I am smacked in the face by something that has been done similar and yet so much better. How I hope in friendships I don’t realize are based in greed. I don’t want you to know how the hurt clamps my heart like an iron maiden, and how I have turned all the hurt into a shield. How I place myself on the path of heartache again and again, stupidly never learning that mistake. How personal connections are what I don’t trust?

I don’t want to talk to you about those things because, in part, they bear vulnerability.  But mostly, because they are preludes to the truth, kindling for an incredible story about to catch fire. They stand as open invitations to a God who redeems and heals from brokenness.

I don’t believe God allows hardships to be cruel and I don’t claim to know why He allows some terrible things to happen.

But I do believe when we let God into those places He can turn those experiences around. Our painful and bitter places, our Marah’s, can become sweet wellsprings of compassion and empathy. He can use it all to bend our hearts toward compassion in a way that will enable us to recognize that same agony in someone else. To be able to stretch out our hands with compassion and love.

6 [Who] passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
7 They go from strength to strength, [every one of them] in Zion appeareth before God.
Psalm 84:6, 7 (KJV)

We were never meant to take up residence in the valley of weeping, we are meant to pass through it to the strength on the other side.

I cannot bear to open my vulnerable heart completely. The wounds and scars still remain so sensitive. But, I can tell you about the nail-scarred hands that have so carefully mended them.




*If you journal, try these prompt questions:


  • Have you found that your weknesses led to an open invitation for God to heal you?
  • What does/has your valley of Baca (valley of weeping) produced in you?
  • Have you been able to see God use your experiences to minister and encourage someone else?
  • Have you been encouraged by someone else who has experienced the same types hardships you have?





Saturday, August 31, 2013

Someone is Singing Over You. Will You Sing, Too?




While reading different blogs this morning, I came across a post by Ann Voskamp at (in)courage.me.
This is the title and a link to that post:


The story's center of focus is a young girl who has lost her way.
It unfolds with her Mother's pregnancy. How, while pregnant with her, the Mother began to sing a song over her. How the song she sang over her daughter became her identity. The tune became the audible embodiment of all her characteristic's, traits, relationship's, hopes, and dream's. The song sung was her song, and it was sung and known by those who loved her and knew her.
When the young girl went wayward, the Mother is implied to have lost hope for her
daughter.
In the midst of her despair, she hears her daughters' sister's singing her daughters' song. A tune of personal acknowledgement and love to the young girl, calling her back. They sang of what she once was, and to the center of who she truly is. They sang to the sister they love and know despite the wayward way she had taken. The sing to bring her back to remembering the loved of who she was and who she truly is.

This post brought tears to my eyes several times. 
Who is singing my song? Is anyone singing over me

The verse quoted at the end of her post:

 Zephaniah  3:17. 
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."

The Lord sings over us, my friend. To each and every one of us. He knows us from even before the moment we are conceived and He chases us with His love for the entirety of our lives.
If I am lost, will the Lord still sing to me?

Compelled to read more about this thing, I noticed a link to a similar story, here:




Please take a moment to read this now.

I was struck with such conviction. 

Whose song do I know?
Who has gone wayward that I know? 
Am I still singing their song?
Do I still sing to the one I know who is the core of who they are or am I singing songs of the guilt they have incurred?

What about you? 
Do you know someone who has left a blessed path?
Do you continue to sing the songs of their soul out to them?

My prayer is full today, asking the Lord to teach me how to love to those who have moved from His love. And also, to those who have never known His love.
I know He can show me how to love with His kind of grace and tenderness. 

*If you journal your prayer, here are some journaling prompts to try:
~What is the song you imagine God is singing over your life? Is your story mostly redemptive in nature?  Has He helped you to avoid making wrong choices?

~What are the songs you are singing over those you love? & Ask God to show you if you don't know. Ask God to teach you how to express love to those who need it.

~Ask God to show you to someone that needs an expression of His love today.

**If you feel like you have a hard time seeing God move in the lives of others or in even your own life, ask God to reveal something to you.
Ask Him to open your eyes and mind to be able to see.
Sometimes we can't see Him working because the time isn't right. Sometimes there are things in a person that God has to work through before are able to see any changes.
There are also times when things only seem to get worse after we have prayed. Take heart. That in itself could be an indicator of God working. Remember, it's not always comfortable when God works on the heart.










Friday, May 3, 2013

Doing Great Things, Small




Opening the dryer door I breathe in deeply savoring the scent of freshly cleaned clothing, enjoying the greeting of the smell. My shoulders slump toward the warmth as it pours out to embrace me in a brief reminder of a patiently awaited near-day Utopia. However now, I simply get ponder the meaning of this life I have been given, wonder if I am getting anything right. There are so many people doing such big things and then there is me. Doing laundry, making dinner, barking orders (actually, sometimes it is the same order again, and again, and again…) and the biggest battles I have to face are usually the ones to take place within my head

It is also there in my mind that I keep a list, a list of failures and struggles which seem to accumulate daily. And, constantly, presently am I found always seeking to turn away from it. To refuse to believe in the words those banners hail over me. The names the enemy calls out me, even though they sting with truths.

But, on that glorious day I will receive a new name, inscribed upon a white stone presented by the One who calls me. Will that name reflect our union as He counts me as one of His beloved?

What is in a name really, but an identity?

As a young girl I searched for the meanings of my own name, in hopes of finding the one I could claim for my calling. One that could hold great meaning over my life and all the things I would do. Never finding the right one to satisfy the thirst, never the name to announce an appropriate calling over me. When I married, I took upon me the name of my husband and it bound me to him, when it is read our union is declared. All that I am is his and all he is became mine, to be as one. To be seen as one.

Yet, the names called over me now don’t seem to have much greatness. If I entered a room would I be hailed as, “The Queen of the Laundry”? Or perhaps, “Maker of the Dinners”? ”The Summoner of the Chores Doers”? I must admit that I excel at the title, “Master of the Word No”?...

Sighing, I pull more clean clothes from the dryer. The refrigerator door squeaks open because one of my daughters has risen early this morning. Usually this means her supper wasn’t to her liking and she is hungry. “Maker of the Dinners” must now be ingloriously struck from the list of my grand titles. Ah well, I didn’t like that one anyway.

Entering the kitchen I remain silent, as does she. Talking is not my forte` in the early hours. Or, quite honestly, not at any time really. They all know this. I begin to wash the dishes that have collected in the sink while trying to muster up the good mommy character from somewhere deep within to attempt a cheerful, “Good morning!” She startles me after I say it by jumping forward throwing her arms around my waist pressing her head into my belly and giving me the biggest tightest hug she could. And, in that moment, when routine is overthrown by wonder, I find grandeur in the title of, “Mom”.

A slight shame pours over me when I realize the proud banner hoisted over me by my family reads, “Love”. It is seen in the small things I do. Not in the great accomplishments I could wish to achieve. It’s born in doing their laundry and making their meals. It grows when I tuck them in bed at night and tell them to brush their teeth in the morning.

It takes life in the little things I do to take care of them. And it is great, and it is noble, and it is beautiful.

Love, at the best times, is found bowed down and small; the way we are called to be.






**Scriptures of reference:
                  
Do all things in love.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For Your Prayer Journal

Here is a new prayer journal page.

I hope you are praying the life of God's Spirit into your prayers. His life conquered death, so let that encourage you about any outstanding requests you have before Him.




You can download this journal page here:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9oXTVKifFCjSEJWOEROcWF5Wk0/edit?usp=sharing



*For your personal use only.
*Do not share or claim images or downloads as your own.







Monday, April 22, 2013

Bringing Life to Prayer


My hands wrap tightly around my cup. The warmth it emits saturates my cold palms and fingers. Staring down into the coffee I allow, for a moment, my thoughts to glimpse upon the harsh situations surrounding the many lives of those I love.

Mom recently went through her third round of chemotherapy. She is strong and her spirits are always high. But strength, like life, needs to be supported. And with the passing of every other week her body remains estranged, a dichotomy of life and death. As willingly as she can be, she opens herself and allows death to be pumped into her body, to course through her veins, in hopes it will disarm anotherdeath within her. These are the times when life offers no asylum only adversity and time coldly compiles tragedies into long moments of grief.

Yet, a recently spoken theme grips my concentration, “What you receive will be the fruit of your prayer life.” And, that is it really isn’t it? That everything bears the fruit of its own kind. Beginning in the garden when the Lord made all to bear fruit after its own kind in the garden. Then when Eve and Adam reversed their position it was due to the death they freely consumed. Death in the form of a lie, which once eaten bore fruit of death within them while subjecting us all now to a life naturally committed to sin. Flesh will yield flesh. 

But now, we may consume the bread of life.


And, Spirit yields Spirit. 



His Spirit, life.

His word is full of life from Genesis to Revelation. It speaks of life, gives life, redeems it. In the beginning was our life in Christ.

I mentally survey past prayers, the fruition of each one. Some fully birthed while others remain in the process of growth and a scant few still completely silent. Fruit of my prayer life.

What if I had remained silent? What if I had not invited His Spirit into these places?

If I had not had invited the Lord into my marriage when we spent more time arguing than loving would we have the blessed relationship as we have today? Would I still have found all the direction His word had given to me? If I hadn’t prayed for protection over my son in school would his school counselor have watched over him so intently just because she had a strange feeling that she should?

My prayer life bears fruit because His Spirit is at work in the places I open up to Him.

Haven’t we been told we have not because we ask not.



If I want more, why don’t I ask more? Shouldn't I desire a greater harvest of works from God in my life grown by earnest cultivation not born from mere trepidation? Why is it that the seeds of ill should bring me to my knees more often than the seeds of life? Could the answer be that my prayer may be rooted in flesh instead of His life-giving Spirit.



Kneading all this in contemplation, I prepare my prayers upon a table of communion. In broken honesty I ask Him into those places. To break up the soil of the things or people not yet ready for Him and asking Him to plant His Spirit in the heart of the petitions I raise before Him. I invite Him in to the table before me.



Asking for His help, His love, His redemption, His endurance, His grace, His blessing, His motives, His life to be seeded in those places of my life I opened up to Him. Believing…knowing His life planted in my prayers will in time bear the fruit of it’s own kind, His life, His death, His rebirth.


This life may offer no asylum when times are hard to endure, but I know how to call on the One who dwells in the true sanctuary and my heart rests in Him.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Right Focus




In whatever decisions I make, I have found it best to choose the ones I know will be pleasing to God.


In whichever direction I turn, despite what the world tells me about how to achieve anything, I have found the best path to walk is the one that leads me to Him.

Success is not based on the things I see or the things I do, but rather on the destination I choose.

When I fall or fail, because I will, if my mind is focused on Him instead of my failures, He will lead me still.

It's not the addition or the display of works that will bring me into His presence. Rather, it is my heart set on seeing Him.