"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Face Down

The ark of God is stolen and placed in the temple of Dagon (1 Samuel 5). The next morning the theives came into the temple and found a shocking surprise.
"When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning whenthey rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained."
If I had to pick a favorite story from the Old Testament, this would be in the top 5!

Imagine the scene. They walk in for morning worship time and find their marble god face down before the Ark. (oops... uh, you okay, god??) Then, they take their god and put him back up! And, then, the next morning they come in and find their god on his face again--- but this time with his limbs torn off. (hmm... god, you doing alright there?!)

This was the passage the Lord brought to mind the other morning. And, just to be clear, He wasn't speaking to my heart about another person. He was speaking to me about me... and my god. Ouch.

For weeks now, I have been asking the Father to wean me from this earth. What I meant by the prayer was, ...wean me from sin, Lord. Wean me from temptation and the things of this world that lead me away from You. This was the prayer of my heart.
I realized this week that He is answering this prayer... but not, exactly, as I have been asking. He hasn't weaned me from this earth and the temptations. I am still tempted. I am still fleshly. I am still prone to wander. No apparent change there!

What He is weaning me from... or working to wean me from... is my god, my mini-Dagon. It all became clear to me when I was "randomly" reminded of this story. I have a "god" too and I prop it back up, time and time (and time) again. I put it's head on and glue it's legs on. And, it just can't stand in the Presence of God any longer. I come to worship and it must fall face down. It just must surrender.

My god is self. Or, should I call it self-reliance. Self-discipline (that sounds nicer). Self-assurance and self-righteousness. Coping mechanisms and skills I learned young "to survive"... skills that allow me to do most anything I put my mind to, to "be okay" and make it through any situation, to be perfect (or to show forth perfection and avoid weakness)... they all seem to be failing me these days. They are falling face down and loosing limbs!! No, more, Stephanie... my Father seems to be whispering. No more.

As trite and common as it might sound, still, deep within me there is such a pull to earn my way to God. We all have heard it... so, so, so many times. The preacher says, "We can't earn our salvation! It is grace alone." We nod our heads... Yes, Yes! we say with agreement. And, yet...

Somewhere inside I still rely on those acts of discipline, those prayers, those "times with God", that ability to say no to the temptation, that generous service, that self-control, that kind word said about me... as my "okay-ness". I rely on myself. No more, Stephanie.

Sunday I was showered with messages of His love, His unfailing mercy, and His faithfulness. Today I was bombarded with His words of truth... "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and it's not from yourself. It is a gift of God" and, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Weakness. In weakness, Stephanie.

This most certainly isn't the first time Father has dealt hard with this god. Like the Israelites before me, who kept going back to Baal... over and over again, this is a lesson of years. This isn't new. But, my God is faithful to complete what He has started in me 20 years ago. He began that good work and today He is still hammerin' away--- amputating arms, legs and the head of my god.

This idol of self needs to die. She needs to fall face down before the Presence of God. May I not prop her up again. May I truly learn to rely on Him alone--- His strength, His grace, His mercy, His goodness and His faithfulness alone. Oh Father, continue to wean me from this earth.

Deleting my blog...again.

I can't tell you how many times that I say to my husband, "I am soo deleting my blog!" He just chuckles and says, "again?"

Have you ever had that dream where you are walking around a clothed world and you are completely naked. The dream consists of you first figuring out you are naked... and then follows the anxious attempt to cover up you nakedness. Well, often after posting I feel... naked. In my attempt to write from the heart and write honestly--- I sometimes share things on this blog that embarrass me. After posting sometimes I have this sick feeling, something akin to, "Okay, I am seriously walking around here in my undies!"

So, why do I keep writing? In part, I have found that writing helps me learn. When I write it, it seems to solidify lessons of the heart. With the act of writing, lessons seem to settle in my soul in a significant way. And, writing seems to be bubbling up within me. I just can't seem to help myself! I wake up in the morning with blog ideas. So, I guess, in part I write for me. "I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write" ~St. Augustine

I also keep writing because some of my most favorites people in the world read this blog. The people that I deeply love (and miss because I live far away) are reading. These friends with whom I would sit down and easily share my heart with are reading here. This helps me to feel known by these dear ones--- connected to them in some strange way.

Yesterday, when I was processing this "blogging" conundrum I found myself in, I read this quote: "I have found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others."

And so, lastly, this is why I keep writing. I wonder if the act of just sharing a real and genuine journey (or as real as can be shared on a computer screen) might deeply touch others. I write because I want anyone who might read my blog to know that all travelers along this journey toward our Heavenly Father are fallen, flawed and unwhole. I want them to know that I am far from perfect and to see, understand, that I live each day--- each day--- in desperate need of my Savior, my love, my friend, by brother---Jesus. I want readers to hear about my life--in it's entirety--- sins and falls, victories and joys. I want them to see God: His unfailing love, His compassion and His faithfulness.

So, I won't be deleting my blog--- well, at least not today. I am not sure, though, after I post this next "idea" which has been floating around in my head. I am about ready to strip down to my skivvies again!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Done

I am so not done yet!

My roommate in college, while working as a waitress, once received a stern rebuke from a customer. While she was asking the patron if she could take her plate, she said gently, "Are you done, ma'am?" The customer, much aghast, looked at her and said harshly, "My dear, cookies and rolls are "done"... people are finished!" We, of course, laughed heartily together for days when she came home with the story. Still to this day, we will ask each other "are you finished?"

Well, regardless of whether it is proper English or not, I am not done yet!!

I am not well-cooked. I am not ready to be pulled out. I am not ripened. Not matured. Not sanctified. I am not done OR finished!

My heart's strong desire is to be perfect. God has made me with such a keen desire for this, I think it must be in my very veins. I want to be perfect. Yesterday, please.

And, I am so NOT perfect! Shocking, I know... (smile)

I do pray and ask God to wean me from this earth. All week I have been asking Him to wean me from this earth. I earnestly seek Him daily and ask to know Him more deeply. I ask, I seek, I pray and desire to be more holy. Am I all these things, yet? NO!
Is He failing to answer my prayers? No. Certainly, I am more weaned from the earth than I was 20 years ago. ...Maybe even more than I was 5 years ago. But, still, the earth, my flesh, my sin... they all cry out and tug on me. I still grope after things of this earth. I still run to things, other than God, to fill me and satisfy me.

I do know Him more deeply than I did 20 years ago. ...maybe even more than I did 5 years ago. But, I know Him so little. I truly love Him so little.

And, yes, I am walking in more holiness than I did 20 years ago. ...maybe more holiness than 5 years ago? But, I am still so full of sin. I am still drawn to darkness at times. I am still unholy and un-whole.

No, ma'am, I am not done! Simple as that.


Yet, why is this so truly difficult for me to accept? Why do I rage against it and want perfection within... expect perfection tomorrow, at the least. Today, would be great. Yesterday, please.

Trust. Is that it? Trusting God would be to completely rely on His perfection for me (on my behalf), His perfection in me and His perfecting work with me. Genuine trust would help me rest in the fact that He began the good work in me; and so, He will bring it to completion. It is His prerogative when, how, and at what speed to make me "done". It is His job to say... you are finished!


Trust. Surrender. Grace. Freedom. Forgiveness. Patience. Perseverance.

I am so not done yet!

Oh Father, Your grace is immense. Your kindness beyond measure. I trust You to complete me. I trust You to finish Your work in me, in Your time. Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weaned one

My son had a dream last night. As he told me his dream, I was struck at "it's" message for my heart. Simply put, he dreamed that it was time to come down and snuggle with me. (We snuggle a bit each morning after he wakes up). But, he knew in the dream that he had to wait until 6:30 am (our house rule). And, in his dream 6:30 had come!! When he woke up from this "wonderful dream" (as he characterized it), he realized that it was 3:00 a.m. and that "made him really sad". Essentially, my son dreamt about me. He dreamt a wonderful dream about snuggling me and was sadly disappointed when he woke up to find it was only a dream.

Obviously our morning cuddle time is important to my son. This time is very important to me, as well. I get up early... and start my quiet-moment with the Lord before the kids get up. But, around 6:30, my ears are attuned to the noises in the house. I anticipate their coming to see me. I love to see them in the morning. When I hear their footsteps coming down to see me, it seems to "complete" my morning.

When my son told me the dream it seemed to accentuate and illustrate a silent prayer that I have been praying these last few days. Like a weaned child, Lord. Make me content, like a weaned child. This prayer comes from Psalm 131:2, "But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me."

After my son made his way back upstairs to read quietly, I re-entered my "devotional time" and started writing down all the character qualities of a healthy, weaned child. There are many, I am sure... but here are my first thoughts.

A weaned child is content. When my son sits on my lap in the mornings, he isn't asking anything from me per sey... he just wants to be with me. Essentially he wants my lap. He wants my presence. He wants my warmth. Lord make me content to sit with you. May I long for and be satisfied by You, Your presence and your warmth.

A weaned child is secure. He knows that the lap he sits upon is safe and stable. He knows that I will provide all he need, in time and isn't groping. Lord, make me secure in my relationship with You. May I know I am deeply loved and sit securely in who You are and who I am in You.

A wean child doesn't grope. I had the privilege of nursing both my children. I actually really loved this aspect of being a mom; but, I must say, at times I just felt like the milk-maid. Babies love their milk! They smell it. They always want it... and when hungry, they cry like they aren't going to get it! The groping for milk seems almost filled with anxiety, distrust, and desperation. When my children began to eat solids, the groping began to wane. Their hunger was satiated by something other than... me. The relationship, then, changed a bit. Now, my children do not lay their heads on my breast to eat... they lay for simple comfort and closeness. They aren't anxious, or distrustful, or desperate. They just sit still. Lord, may I not grope after You in order to get something from You. Lord, be my one desire. May I learn to trust You completely and to enjoy You more than Your gifts, Your provision and Your answers.

Just as I have been asking Father to make me like a weaned child, sitting contented and secure in His love, I have also been asking God to wean me from this world. This whispered prayer comes from a quote I heard by David Brainerd, "Such fatigues and hardship as these serve to wean me more from the earth; and, I trust, will make heaven the sweeter."

I want to be a still weaned child of God, comforted alone by My Heavenly Father. And, I want to be (need to be) weaned from this world. I want to be weaned from the things in this world that I naturally grope after. ...Control. Man's praise. Comfort. Food. Relational Harmony. These are a few of the things that have been "my mother's milk" and things I have learned to rely on, go to, quench my God-sized thirst. I long to be free from these things. I long to be free to run the race unhindered and untangled from the earth, the flesh, and sin. Lord, wean me more from this earth.

Weaned. I want to be a weaned one.

In the light of eternity we shall see that what we desired would have been fatal to us,and that what we would have avoided was essential to our well-being. ~Francis Fenelon

Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best;God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take
it. ~George MacDonald

Sunday, May 16, 2010

hungry

I long to grow in my hunger and thirst for God alone.

For a few days now, I have been contemplating a fast from food. A long fast. Well, I should clarify... a long fast for me.

I have never been particularly good at fasting. Why? ...lots of reasons, I suppose. I like food. That is a major reason! I can be affected by a drop in blood sugar. I get headaches. I get cranky. I feel ill when I fast. I get REALLY hungry when I skip a meal. I can get all mixed up inside and the attacks from the enemy, and my flesh, can be intense during a fast. (even short fasts!) And, did I mention, I really like food.

Yesterday the thought occurred to me. What about a longer fast of some sort... a real fast. ...maybe just liquid?

This morning I reexamined the thought and reopened the topic with the Lord. I have been talking to Him about it all day. At church, all I heard in the worship songs were words that reflected the idea, "hunger for righteousness" and "longing for you alone". All I heard in the sermon were ideas that reflected the fasting-thought. "I am the bread of life". As I headed home from church, my stomach growled... I was really hungry! (and I had had breakfast!!) As I ate lunch with my family, I couldn't help talking with the Lord about the fact that I really like food! Our chips and salsa were so good today!

So, the dialogue has continued. Do I fast, Lord? Is this from You? Is this something you want from me, something that would be good for my soul, something that might actually draw me closer to You?

This afternoon, I asked the Lord why it was that I didn't want to fast. What was it that kept me from it exactly? The answer was immediate. I am afraid to fast. ...Fear

I am afraid that I will be cranky, sick, and miserable.
I am afraid I will miss out on great food and "the party" that is my family's meals together.

But, as I dig deeper the fears are bigger and well... deeper.

I am afraid that I will fail. I am afraid I will not finish the fast.
I am afraid that my heart and motivation will be, or is, twisted and wrong. Will the focus change. Will I fall into old patterns of vanity and desire for weight loss? What a mess that would be in my heart! Will I fall into self righteousness and self congratulatory thoughts? Pride would steal from any fast! What a mess that would be in my heart!?
I am afraid that the fast won't be "successful". I am hungry for God. But, I want to be more hungry for Him. I desire in my heart more love for God, more hunger for His righteousness, more thirst for Him alone... more of Him. What if I don't get that? What if it is all in vain? Am I am afraid that He won't show up and I won't be different after the fast?

So, I am contemplating a fast. Lead me forward Lord!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Talkin with dad

My kids really love talking with their dad. They like to discuss thing with me, too. But, there seems to be something very special, and very unique, about their conversations with their father. It might be because he can answer a lot of their questions, he banters with them, pokes and probes with them, and always adds levity to any subject... they just love a dialogue with him.

Recently, each morning, my husband has been starting his day with a half hour of reading to the kids from Scripture and then they discuss together... "what jumped out at you from this passage?" They love this! It is almost funny to watch. It is almost like they "feel grown-up" to be having this intellectual conversation with Daddy. They truly attempt to engage him in an almost adult-like mimic.

They ask. They probe. The make grand theological statements about God's love, man's sin and Satan. They share their feelings and they make all sorts of connections---sweet insights from their childish minds. "This is like the time when I lied and felt really bad.... Do you think Abraham felt bad when he lied? Why did he lie? Was it really a lie, Daddy? Sarah was his brother... sort-of!?... Is it always bad to lie?" ----and the conversation continues through and over the breakfast table.

They just love to talk. But, it seems more than them loving just to hear their own voice. They aren't just talking for vocalize their opinions. They love to talk with him. It is the engagement they seem to love. They love the banter and the questions he asks them. He asks. He probes. He shares his feelings and his insight.

This. This is what I want with my Heavenly Father. I want to continue to learn to talk to Him and with Him. I want to ask and to probe. I want to share my feelings. I want to engage with Him and hear from Him. I want Him to ask of me, to poke, and to share His feelings and thoughts with me. I want to talk with my Father... I want to converse with my Daddy.

O Father, please keep teaching me this. Attune my heart, my mind, my ears, and my eyes to you! Please engage me and keep my heart soft to hearing You. I want to know You more and to know Your voice. I want to talk with You, my Father.

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. - Brother Lawrence

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce

It is truly amazing what will shake my peace and steal my joy. Today it was spaghetti sauce.

I know it sounds seriously wrong to admit that splattered spaghetti sauce (twice, I might add!) on my new sweater would send me into a *mild* tantrum. But, it did. Joy gone. Peace squashed. ...all because of the spaghetti sauce!

I was just so mad. And, it wasn't supposed to happen! I was being so careful. And, still it slopped, spattered, and jumped out of the pot ALL over my clothes. ...down my leg and even onto my sock.

There are moments, I think, when I almost stand outside myself looking in. In this moment, when I "arghh"-ed my way to the sink. "Man!" I said ... "No!!"... "Ahhh!" I said under my breath, as I headed quickly to the sink to attempt a sweater rescue... (but actually just spread the spaghetti sauce wider with water and deeper into my new (light colored) sweater! ) Can you just feel the frustration?

But, truly, I could almost stand outside myself and watch my reaction, my behavior. Or was it me watching? Right smack dab in the middle of the frustrating moment, there was almost a..., shall we say,...a still small voice... commenting as I stomped, and scrubbed, and ranted. "Really? This reaction?" it seemed to say. Was it my own voice or my own conscience? ...was it the Spirit of God? Was this His voice? I do believe the Holy Spirit of Christ lives in me and around me. Was it Him watching on and speaking to me?

I will say that this watching-commentary of sorts was kind in tone. I wasn't hearing condemnation. I was hearing more of an invitation really. ...a whisper somewhere in my soul that said, without words, "This doesn't have to rock you." This doesn't have to be that big of a deal. You can be unmoved by this.

I know God invites me to perfect peace. His invites me to have an unshakable faith and a trust that is solid, and unmovable. I know that He says it is possible to be thankful in all circumstances and to rejoice in difficulties. He tells me I can do all things without complaining or arguing. He tells me that His strength gives me power to do all things. He says I can rest in Him. He invites me to all this and more.

Is splattered spaghetti sauce outside of this promise and invitation? I don't think so.

Kind, gentle Father continue to teach me about You, Your peace, and Your Presence. Father, please fill me to full. May the peace of your son, Christ truly rule, and reign over me. May every moment of my day be filled and sustained by the power of You and Your strength.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mud settles

Silence and solitude are essential for me.

My soul was a bit clouded this morning. A multitude of thoughts were whirling and swimming in my mind, my heart and my soul as I started my day. The "mud and muck" that was clouding me and my soul were not bad things. There were no particular "bad" thoughts... they were just thoughts..."to dos", questions, problems, and ideas.

I just seem to need space, time, and quiet to let all the thoughts settle down. In his excellent book, The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen deals with this human need for solitude so poignantly illustrating his point by likening our souls to a pond. Like a pond, the water (or our souls) easily becomes cloudy. As we trod through our week, the mud and muck are stirred up within us. Looking at the muddy pond quickly, one could think there was no life within its banks. But, given a moment... maybe a long moment depending on the trodding... the mud settles, the sediments find their home at the bottom of the pond and the water clears. In the water's stillness, life suddenly appears. We can see clearly what is in the pond, the life that lives there. We need to give our souls moments... sometimes long moments... to settle.

Day-in-and-day-out I am bombarded by thoughts, ideas, problems and tasks to do. Sources of input, both internal and external, are innumerable. Each week, maybe each day, solitude and silence are essential for me.

I remember a mentor once explaining that it took him an hour in prayer just to get past all the random, wandering, wavering and bombarding thoughts. He just expected it. He needed at least an hour of thinking, and sitting, and settling. He needed that first ...and then he could pray. I think I am realizing how important silence and solitude are for me.

I went on a long walk today. I walked and walked and walked. At first I was walking fast, hardly aware of my breakneck speed. Where was I going? What was I rushing for? It seemed my body was expressing outwardly the thoughts that were filling my mind. Busy, full, fast thoughts raced as I moved along quickly. But, as the walk continued, I began to slow down. As the solitude and silence of heart (for my walk, of course, was full of noises all around) allowed me time, space and a quiet moment, I was able to think all thoughts that were reeling in my head. The pond began to settle. I just needed to think them.

Silence and solitude allowed my heart and mind to settle down. And, now I can pray. Or have I been praying all along? Did I pray on my walk? Yes. and no. Is it prayer to know you are walking with the Father, calling on His name every so often, and then just thinking?! David Hansen who wrote Long Wandering Prayer would suggest that this is most definitely prayer. I am still learning and broadening my definition of prayer. I think I might agree.

But whatever you call it, I just needed to think. I needed to think with God. There were just many things-- much... much was stirred up within me and it needed to settle down.

The mud and muck has settled and my soul feels quiet. Looking in now, I can see life again. In this pond-soul that is me, I am settled down and still.

Silence and solitude are essential for me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Unwholesome talk

I think God likes to rearrange, challenge, and push my definitions from time-to-time.

Unwholesome talk: I would say that this has not been a particular struggle for me. Even as a non-believer and early in my walk with Jesus, I have never been a big cusser. I am not prone to crass words or crude jokes. In fact, as long as I can remember, I have always been bothered by it.

Reading this morning in Ephesians, I had a mild shock when I realized that God contrasts unwholesome talk with "words that are helpful for building up others" (Ephesians 4:29). Essentially my kind Father instructs me to not say this (unwholesome talk)... but instead say this. ...instead say "words that may benefit those who listen".

I read this and, I believe, the Spirit of God poked me a bit with His Word. It became very clear that my words are not always helpful. My words are not always building up others. And, my words are not always benefiting those who are listening. I sat for a moment and asked the Lord for direction here. Quickly I was reminded of very recent instances where my words were boastful, complaining and even slanderous.

Looking up the Greek word for "unwholesome" at Blue Letter Bible, quickly reveals to my heart that the talk that God is referring to here is not only dirty talk, cussing, or foul jokes. This word in Greek means anything that was worthless or rotten. It means anything that is of "poor quality".

When I complain to my husband or winge about a certain circumstance or person, are my words good quality (as opposed to poor), valuable (as opposed to worthless) and pure, untainted (as opposed to rotten)? Are they helpful for him? Are they building him up?

Where is the balance between expressing honest emotions in a safe context and slander? Where is the balance between venting genuine hurt or valid feelings and complaining? I really don't exactly know the answer. ...But, I want to ask Father for His direction. I need His guidance and His clarity.

We have always told our kids, "If you tell me once, it is information. If you tell me twice, it is complaining." Is this the standard?

What is God's standard for unwholesome talk... I think He is redefining and refining this for me today.

Father keep me aware. Make me aware. Help me to have a keen sensitivity to sin. Please Lord keep a guard on my tongue and help me to take all thoughts captive, making them obedient to You, Your grace and Your truth. Teach me Lord what it means to not let any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth. I want to learn, Lord.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Just more.

"Mommy, why are you always on the computer?" my sweet son said to me one day last week. Ouch!

Immediately, I felt a mixture of defensiveness and guilt... a strange mix, isn't it?

My heart cried out, Ugh!! I am NOT on the computer all the time! Did he not just watch me clean the kitchen, make him lunch, and correct his math work?? But, then again...well, ....okay, I am on the computer a lot. And, his world is very small. And, yet, his comment did hit a tender spot.

To be fair, and in my defense (smile), my computer is a multi-faceted tool. It is my dictionary, my newspaper, my shopping mall, my atlas, my cookbook, my telephone, my mailbox, my library, and even my bible at times. I know I am not alone in this. And, thus, why I am "on the computer a lot". So, I have a clear and justifiable reason to be on the computer much of the time. Right?

So, why the guilt with his question? I suppose if I am honest, I had already felt the touch of Father's hand on this place in my life. These little words from my sweet boy were only a reminder of what God had been recently pressing on. Finally, earlier this week I read a wonderful series of
blog posts which "sealed the deal" for a God-theme that could not be ignored.

My computer is a tool, yes. But, my computer can also be a place of entertainment... maybe escape... possibly a refuge, a safe place or even an idol. Is "idol" too strong of a word? I don't know exactly. But, I do know that I have felt God prodding this area and asking me this question for a while now.

It isn't that blogging, facebook, email and the like are all bad in my life-- or in any way a full blown sin issue. In fact, they have all been a deep blessing. But, well... to quote Sabrina in the 1995 remake of the classic film, "Sometimes more is not better. It is just more." ...Sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much.

So, why do I go to facebook "too much" or check my email "just once more before I head to bed". ...or why do I check again (and again) on that one blog I love. What am I doing here?

I am entertaining myself, I suppose, like someone who sits and just automatically flips on the television. I don't do the television. I do this with the computer instead! Similar to the non-thinking act of eating too many chips, I am escaping into a "non-thinking" environment. I am reading about the lives of others... Escaping a bit.

...Or, am I also looking for connection? I think I am seeking connection in these things. Maybe I can feel close to this person or that person... Connection. Refuge and a safe place. ...

But all these things are happening on a computer screen in my house, surrounded by living-breathing (and quite entertaining), real, connected human beings. And, instead of interacting with them, I choose time-and-time-again to sit and stare at this light filled box... relaxing, resting, and escaping into my email, my facebook and my blogs.

So, I won't be sitting at my computer too much in the coming days. I have talked long and hard with the Father about this and have come up with a plan... how much time would be appropriate, Lord? How often, Father, do I need to really check email and facebook? How often do I need to read blogs?... With my Lord's help, I think, I have worked out a measure, a plan, and a goal. Now, I have boundaries to walk in and within which I can enjoy the freedom of reading a good blog, or checking my facebook page.

I do want to say, though, that the clear boundaries have made my week strangely difficult. It is hard to break a habit... and sitting quickly to check email, "one more time", had become a regular habit. But, in this simple, mild struggle... and obedience, I have truly found freedom, joy and peace. It feels similar to the beauty I find in fasting from from food. It is good to push myself sometimes---

I am sure my son may still ask me that same question... because frankly, as I sit here, (after purposefully NOT sitting at my computer much at all this week...), he is anxious for my attention and is possibly wondering the very same question. But, now before the Lord, I know I have not spent too much time on the computer this week. And, therefore, I can smile at him and say, "Silly boy, Mommy can have these 20 minutes on the computer and then we can play a game of cards, okay?"

No defensiveness. No guilt. God's kind and clear direction and my surrender has allowed freedom today.

Father, keep working on my heart. Please, sweet Father, keep showing me, molding me, changing me, challenging me, and making me more about You. I love your direction. I love your discipline. I want to learn to let you in on all, and every aspect of my life!


"We generally make our worst mistakes in matters which appear to us to be so plain that we think we do not need direction from God concerning them." - Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Broken bones

When a bone is badly broken, it needs to be set correctly in order to heal rightly. When a broken bone heals wrongly, it needs to be re-broken. A doctor must go in and break the bone. What a horrifying thought! Think about purposefully re-breaking your leg bone.

Why would we do it? Why would we ever allow a doctor to re-break a bone?! If the bone heals wrongly, there will be a long term problem. A wrongly healed bone will cause a limp. If there is a limp, even a slight limp, the whole body is affected. Growing up in a Chiropractic family, I know that an ankle bone, wrongly set, can seriously affect the shoulder or the neck. ...the whole body is affected other parts of the body. A limp will have it's hay-day on the body.

My friend had her "leg" re-broken recently. Figuratively, the Greatest Physician has gone in and purposefully broken her bone. A very healthy individual, she has been walking with an almost undetectable limp all her life. Simply put, a place in her soul had been broken as a child. That place had never been "set" right. This place in her heart had healed, of course. We heal. God made us to heal. But, that place had healed wrongly... just a bit off. And, she has been limping ever since.

The breaking of a bone is very, very painful. She is in pain. It hurts me to watch her in pain. Just as one would know that the doctor meant well in his painful attendance and actions, she knows that the Father is being faithful and kind in His breaking this bone. ...but, it hurts. Simple as that... It hurts to be broken. And, it takes time to become whole again. A broken bone does not heal overnight.

But, our kind God doesn't just break. He breaks and then He heals. He breaks and then He sets things right in our souls and heals. A verse in Hosea comes to mind, "Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us. He has injured us, but He will bind up our wounds." (Hosea 6:1)

I have a limp, too. ...a few, to be sure. My broken bones are a mixture of things I have chosen, through sin, and things that I have been a victim of... someone or something broke my "bone". It doesn't really matter now how they came to be broken. They need to be set right and healed.

I have been broken by God before. He has reset me and places in my soul more times than I can count. And, He will come again. He will come again when I am healthy and ready to take another breaking. He knows what "my body" can handle. He has torn me to pieces and has restored me. He will injure me and will bind up my wounds. For, when bone is broken it needs to be set rightly in order to heal rightly.

When the bones heal rightly, then the body is healthy and whole. I can't wait to see my beautiful friend even more beautiful. ...More whole. I can't wait to watch the healing process and to see her soon walking without this limp.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Eyes afraid

Koz korkup, kol batir. This is a simple Kazakh saying that you might hear repeated in our home every so often. We ended our night last night saying it with a smile and started our day saying it to each other with hope!

The Kazakh people are truly a hard working people and their perseverance, as a whole, is to be admired. This saying is a proverb that they all have heard from their parents, who heard it from their parents and so on... for generations past.

Koz korkup means "Eyes are afraid" and kol batir means "Hands are the warriors"

Essentially the phrase means that you get afraid, or your eyes look with fear, when you look at the work ahead. You might feel overwhelmed. ...by the mess, by the "to do" list, by the day ahead. But, no worries, just get your hands moving and they will fight for you! Get to work and before you know the battle has been won!

Last night we had a sweet time with neighbors for a dinner party. After they all left, my husband and I looked around the room and the disarray was absolutely overwhelming (especially at 11 pm!). "Oh! Let's just go to bed...", he said. "We can deal with it tomorrow". I knew, though, that waking up to a mess like that (none-the-less trying to fall asleep when dishes are strewn throughout two rooms) wasn't appealing. Time for the saying and time to push through and let our hands do some fighting for us. Koz korkup, kol batir!!

So, we just dove into the mess. In no time at all, it was all done! It worked! We smiled as we whispered the saying to each other and went to sleep with a clean kitchen.

Today we began the day knowing we had to clean out the garage. For the past 6 months our garage has been nicknamed, "the bear pit". It was a nightmare mess!! So, all four of us looked at each other this morning and my husband said, in his most convincing tone, "Koz korkup, kol batir". Again, we dug in and got to work... and as we put our hands to the test--- the battle was won! The garage, as I sit here and type, is clean and ordered!

We truly learned a great deal from our Kazakh friends while living among them a few short years. This is among the greatests of the lessons we learned... or, are still learning!
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