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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Delight Over You


What a beautiful word.  There is something whole and sweet about the concept of delight.

It is a good word.  For me, it brings to mind little girls twirling, boys making up silly songs and yummy ice-cream cones.  This word communicates to my heart a picture of laughter and smiling faces.

This afternoon, I read words that seemed to jump off the page, "The Lord takes delight in His people..." (Psalm 149:4).  I was so struck with these words, having read them in my devotional,  I actually had to turn in my Bible to check if it did indeed say that... And, it does!  The Lord takes delight.  Delight.  What a word!

I have read this before.  I know this, right?  I would have been able to articulate God's love for His kids.  But, something about these words struck a chord with me today.

Is it because I have taken delight, much delight, in my daughter lately?  I can relate to the word delight.  Recently, I have been aware of my delight over my girl.  I have watched her interact with people, or worship the Lord... and I have delighted.

I watch her wrestle with deep, hard, heavy emotions and communicate through conflict ... and I delight.  As she grows and stretches her budding wings, I have deeply delighted in her.  Recently, I have genuinely delighted in my girl.

To imagine that God Almighty feels such an emotion about His children, ...about me..., touches my heart today in a special way.

And, to be clear, my sweet girl has not been perfect recently.  To be honest, there have been many moments, of late, that I have certainly not enjoyed with my darling pre-teen!  Her behavior has not always been pristine, to be sure.   

But, my delight in my children hasn't been limited to now: when they are old enough to do right, or to respond well, or to love me back.  I delighted in my girl the day she was born.  I remember singing over her and smiling at the sight of her.  I remember hopefulness and awe.  I remember pure joy in her little nose, her wiggling arms, her wandering eyes.  Every non-verbal, non-important sound she made... I delighted.

Even now, I look at my son's face and see his freckles... and I delight.  He doesn't have to do anything...

What does delight feel like?  When I delight in my kids, I feel ...warm inside.  I feel fullness. Contented joy. I feel proud.  I smile.  I feel connected to them.  I long to be with them and look at them.  I stand in wonder and in awe.  I feel happy and I anticipate.  I feel hope when I delight in my kids.  I wonder what they will become, or I long to see them go even further still.  Is this delight?   Is this, in part, how my Father feels about His kids?  Is this how He feels about me... about you?

What a thought!

His word tells us that He delights in His children.  Psalm 147... tells us again, "The Lord delights in those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love".  That is me.  I fear the Lord (certainly, I desire and am learning to fear Him) and I put my hope in His love!  He delights in these--- His kids.

He delights in me.

Do I know this to be true about God's love over His people in general, yes.  But, to be honest, this is hard for me to take-in, to really believe, for me.  I need to sit in this awhile and ask Him to show me His Truth.

Zephaniah 3:17 says that the Lord rejoices over His children with gladness.  He sings over them and enjoys them.  He is happy over them.  Do I make Him smile?

John Piper is famous for his words about our delight in God, and God's delight and pleasure over His children.  And, I am thankful that he (and many other's before him) remind us of this Truth.  (to read more:  Why God Tells Us He Delights, by John Piper).

We need to know Who God really is... and we need to know who we really are, in Him.  

To walk each and every day in the knowledge of His delight over me... how would this impact me, my thoughts, my everyday actions?

Father, show me more of You.  Thank you for Your word that is alive and active.  Holy Spirit, teach me and lead me into all Truth!  May I know You more, Who You really are.  And, may I know Your Truth about me.  ...to think rightly about You, about me and about all Your children.  Teach me, Lord.  For Your glory alone...  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why I write. Why I blog.

I can't help but write these days.  I have blog posts spilling out of me--- filling my head during times with the Lord, during times of worship, during phone conversations and funny moments with my children.  Writing has become a sweet gift!

I read a fabulous article about one's motivation behind writing.  After reading this post, I actually thought, for the very first time... I think I am a writer.

I write because I can't help writing.

I have always written.

I wrote poetry (horrible poetry, really) all through my teenage years.  I began my Christian journey at age 15 with a journal in my hand.  Notebooks and notebooks filled with ideas and thoughts along the road.  ...years of lessons written down, experiences registered.  These journals now stored away in plastic boxes in an attic.  I can't even begin to count the prayers I have hand-written to my Father in Heaven.  Most every sermon or message I have ever heard has been logged and scratched in bullet points and quotes---these notes, now thrown somewhere in the bottom of my purse, in the back of my bible, or in the rubbish bin!

Why do I write?  I write because I can't help myself.  It is, I am realizing, how God made me.  I have a voice.  I have things to say.  His things in me.

Do I want others to read?  Sometimes, no.  Most the time, yes, of course.  Another person's reading my writing is an important part of the process of speaking this voice--- but, it is not the why.  I don't write so you will read. (Well, most of the time---in those pure times).

I write because I just must get these thoughts, ....these phrases, these themes, these lessons He is teaching me... out.   I need them out of my head, out of my heart, and "on paper".

I found this beautiful "blogger's prayer" that I just must re-post (from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience).  The thought of a blogger's prayer actually sounded a bit cheesy to me, to be honest.  Quite cheesy, actually.  Really?  I thought.  And then I read it.  ...all "cheese" flew out the window for me.  And, now I post it and I  pray it.

 I am no longer my own blogger, but Thine, O Lord. 
Refine me with each post how You will, rank me how You will.

Put me to service, or put me to suffering.
Let me post for Thee or be put aside for Thee,
Lifted high, only for Thee, or brought low, all for Thee.
Do with me and each post whatever you will, because You alone know best.
 Let me not strive but submit Let me not compete but care
Let me not desire hits but holiness
Let me be a follower, instead of seeking followers.
 Let my blog be full of Thee, and let it be empty of me.
Let me crave all things of Thee, let me care nothing of this world.
Let my words be worthy of the greatest of audiences: You.
And You are enough. May I write not for subscribers… but only for Thy smile.
May my daily affirmation be in the surety of my atonement,
not the size of my audience.
May my identity be in the innumerable graces of Christ,
never, God forbid, the numbers of my comments.
May the only words that matter in my life not be the ones I write on a screen ---but the ones I live with my skin.
 I freely and heartily yield every sentence, every title, every post, every comment… or no comments… all to Thine pleasure and perfect will.
 My only fame is that I bear Your name
My only glory is the gift of Your Grace
My only readership, Your eyes that seek to and fro to find a heart hard after You.
Make this so, oh Lord…
 Yahweh, You alone are my God, not Google
Jesus, You alone are my Savior, not site meters
And Holy Spirit, You alone are my Comforter, not comments
 So be it, today, yesterday, and every post to come.
 This is my prayer I have made on earth and over this keyboard… let it be ratified in heaven.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tent Living

photo source

It is just a tent.  It is a temporary place to sleep, to play, and to live from...  but, just a tent.

To be sure, I believe it is good stewardship to keep my tent in good repair.  I need to keep it clean, sew up the holes, and patch the weather-worn places.  ...  It would be good and right for me to carry my tent well, keep it secure and store it wisely.

I want my tent to last and to withhold the rain, the wind and the hot sun!  But, in the end, it is only a tent.

Camping here in Wales has been eye opening to me.  Being a Southern California girl, I was accustomed to tent camping that included no rain, no wind and lots of warm weather.  The tents I camped in where minimalist. They didn't need much care!  ...nothing much buffeted them.  Now, I have experienced something very different.  The state of your tent is very important here.  The wind and the rain can be rutheless here.

I am learning (as I age)...the state of my earthly tent is very important, indeed.  But, this body of mine, it is still only a tent.

One must care well for their tent, yes!  It must be strong, sturdy and well looked after ... it would be unwise to go camping any other way!

But, in the end... it is still just a tent.  You live in it temporarily and then put it aside.  It isn't home.

This body of mine.  ...it isn't permanent.

My body is a temporary living arrangement.  It isn't my home.  Yes, I need it to be strong and I believe God would have me care for this tent He has given me, to honor Him with all He has given me.  ...to steward it well.  But, it is really good to remember it is only a tent.

...no hanging of pictures on the wall will be necessary.

...no furnishing needed for long term unpacking.

...no change of address, or forwarding card.

...no painting, no extra bells-and-whistles needed.... just a good, healthy sturdy tent. Good, temporary housing for the camping journey; able to withstand the coming rain, the wind and the weather.

My days are numbered (Psalm 39:4).  I am reminded that I am a stranger here on earth (Psalm 119: 19) and an alien (1 Peter 2:11).  I am looking and longing for a better place, a heavenly home... (Hebrews 11:16)

All men are like grass, their glory like the flowers of a field.  The grass withers and the flowers fade...  (1 Peter 1:24)

I am eagerly waiting a beautifully secure, eternal, fade-less dwelling place.  ...and while waiting, I patch a few holes and clean this God-given tent.  And, I remember it is just temporary.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just One Drop

His love is never ending.  His compassions they fail not.  His mercy is new every morning.  And, His faithfulness reaches to the sky.

His blessings flow like a river... an ocean flood... into my life!

Rejoice with me!!!  I just finished counting to 1,000 this week!  Joining others at A Holy Experience, I took the challenge to count my blessings.  On a simple spiral bound notebook (now stained and dirty from wear), I logged 1,000 grace-gifts from God!

I am well aware, now that I have reached #1,000, that my list is only a drop in the bucket.  I have only counted a small bit, just a drop, of His endless goodness, grace and blessings to me and to His world!

The drop splashed with these final blessings:

#980.  Cancelled events.  ...grace gifts for a quieter day.

982.  Our lovely hot fireplace on this very cold day.

984.  They still want to snuggle their mommy.

985.  The library.

986.  Spontaneous worship in the kitchen with my kids while cleaning dishes.

987.  Early morning shower.

988.  A deep, sweet , heart talk with my girl.

989.  Emails from my man... missing him much.

990.  Fall beauty, red climbing and orange falling.

991.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Space in my day to wait.

992.  A good price on milk.  I love a bargain!

993.  Kept awake much of the night in order to pray.

994.  There is nothin' like the taste of fried food! Chimichangas!

995.  Touches of His endless love--- moments of sweet closeness.

996.  Pinks, oranges, yellow of sunrise.

998.  A compliment.

999.  Seeing his face on Skype.

#1,000.  His abundance of gifts--- poured out day after day.  I could never count them all!

Just a sweet, thirst quenching, beautiful big drop in the bucket!

If you want to join the hunt, go and visit Ann's blog at www.aholyexperience.com or read her One Thousand Gifts!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Would I notice?

If God were trying to tell me something, would I know?  
If God were reassuring me or challenging me, would I notice? 
I ask for grace to be free of my own preoccupations and open to what God may be saying to me.  
(from sacred space)

Would I notice?  It is a good question.  And, I ask myself tonight... If God were speaking to me, would I notice?  

I remember reading Dallas Willard's, Hearing God and being beautifully challenged with the idea that often times we miss God's speaking because we haven't tuned our ears to hear His voice.  We define God "speaking" in this way, or that way, and in doing so... we sometimes miss Him.  Defining God's "voice" accurately is important!  

I loved Willard's explanation that God has a "tone of voice" I need to learn.  He has a way about Him, a way He speaks, a rhythm and pattern...  I read Willard's Hearing God while in the midst of learning the Turkish language.  Learning a language is never an easy feat, to be sure.  And, I remember realizing that, in the same way, maybe learning God's voice was not all that easy either.  ...maybe I had to work at it just a bit.

Re-defining what God's voice sounds like is a major aspect of learning to hear Him!  But, being aware that He is speaking and Present at all times is half the battle.  
Awareness is key.  

Having learned a few languages in part; I know, also, that you never really become fully and completely "fluent".  I used to internally chuckle at the question put to me in the States, "So are you fluent yet?"  According to any linguistic studies done, fluency as an adult will never be achieved.  

Mastery of certain aspects of language, yes.  Language competency and proficiency, yes!  But, fluency, no.  There are always more vocabulary words to know and learn.  There are always more subtle aspects of language left to be understood:  deep (behind words) meaning, emotional connotations, idioms, phrases, and humor.   We simply can not fully grasp all that goes with a language that is not our "heart language" (that which our mothers first spoke to us).  
Actually, in reality, I am not yet fluent in English!  (wouldn't that be a fun response to the fluency question?)

So, there is much freedom in simply learning the next thing.  Just learn that new vocab word, that new idom, that new joke...
...learning a bit more today than I knew yesterday.  There is much freedom in moving forward, step-by-step, in language learning:  our learning of Turkish and of God's voice.  

I want proficiency when it comes to hearing God.  I want to master His Word, His Voice, and His Truth.  This is my goal.  

This will take some work--- exposing myself to His Word, memorizing His Word, practicing His Truth.  But, being aware that He is always speaking is half the battle.  I have got to notice Him...  And, this takes much grace and openness.  This takes deep surrender and asking for His help!  

I remember so many times sitting in a room full of Turkish ladies while I was totally "checked-out".  I was catching so little of the chatter, that my brain took a break (while my face said, "I am listening").  With so much noise... so many voices filling the room,...I couldn't focus on the one sitting next to me.  I just had to check out!  

How often do I do this to God?  How often do other voices and noises crowd out God's voice?  How often do I feel overwhelmed and miss Him?  ...How often do I "look" as if I am listening, looking for, or wanting God's voice in my life--- when actually I am "checked-out" thinking about the dishes, the laundry, the book I was reading, the hurt I am feeling or the clothes she is wearing.  

If God were trying to tell me something, would I know?
If God were reassuring me or challenging me, would I notice?
I ask for the grace to be free of my own preoccupations, and open to what God may be saying to me.
Psalm 27:8  My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And, my heart responds, "Lord I am coming" 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Worship Through Tears and a List

She wept in my arms today.  My 12 year old daughter.  My girl.  And, I cried with her.

While curled into my embrace, she cried for the lost.  She wept for those she loves who don't know her Lord.  She spoke out her heart to God, in a loud voice, "I just want them to know!  They are missing out!  Why won't they believe?!"  Through tears her words poured forth...

These hot tears and loud voice were a moment of worship.  It was a holy moment.  A moment of intercession.  ...a deeply painful one, to be sure.  Painful for her, for me and for God.  But, it was worship.  And, I believe she cried some of God's tears today.

When we hold up our hands to God Almighty, we can worship with dance and laughter, smiles and joy  And, we can worship Him with righteous anger, deep sorrow, surrender and sadness.   Today I saw this in my daughter.

I join the worship tonight, as I type out just a few blessings...  counting sweet blessings of grace... that He has poured out in my life this week.  And, I join others at www.aholyexperience.com holding up my hands and offering my worship with gratitude.

Counting 1,000 gifts of grace:

#962.  A rainy walk with my son.

963.  A friend initiates time with me.

964.  Giggles...

968.  My man gets to go---and I already miss him.

969.  Forgiveness given that was hard to give.

976.  Laying on the grass together.

978.  She talks, animated with her hair blowing in the wind.  I love listening to her.

979.  Tears for the lost shed in worship and intercession.

Those who sow with tears, will read with songs of joy.  Those who go out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126:5-6

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just a Little Princess

So, I feel a bit like George MacDonald's Princess Irene, being led by her grandmother's silver thread into the depths of the dark mountain where the goblins live.   This sweet, young girl knows for certain that her loving grandmother is leading her.  And, yet, as she goes deeper and deeper into the mountain's belly, she begins to be very afraid.

"And still the path grew rougher and steeper, and the mountain grew wilder... For a little way there was a brown glimmer, but at the first turn it all but ceased, and before she had gone many paces she was in total darkness.  Then she began to be frightened indeed."  

Frightened indeed.  We find ourselves in difficult places, rough terrain,...even darkness.  And we get... I get... frightened indeed.  

"...as she went farther and farther into the darkness of the great hollow mountain, she kept thinking of her grandmother, and all she had said to her, and how kind she has been, and how beautiful she was, and all about her lovely room, and the fire of roses and the great lamp that sends it's light..."

As I look ahead at the ambiguity of my health, I find myself, like the sweet, darling princess Irene, strangely peaceful.  Like her, I am comforted as I remember.  

When I begin to feel worried or afraid, all I have to do is think about my Father.  I keep thinking about all He has said to me, how kind He is, how beautiful He is and ...like Irene, I remember being with Him, sitting with Him and His Presence.

His word has told me that, "He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in Him."  (Isaiah 26:3)  His invitation is to "take His yoke upon me, which is light and easy to carry".   And, He reminds me that He offers me to always "come to Him and He will give me rest".  (Matt. 11:28-30)

Yesterday, in worship, as I was thinking on Him and His beauty, I had this unexpected wild array of mental images flash through my mind.  Memories...  Me, at 15 years old...  me, at 16 years old, ... me at 18... and so on and so forth.  Some of the quick, flashing memories were hard times, some were moments of amazing blessing--- but, as I "watched", I knew all were in Him.  He was there in all of them.  He has been faithful.  He has always been Present.  

I am amazingly unafraid.  I am wonderfully unworried.  What a gift!  

Perfect peace.  This is what I have available for my soul when I keep my mind on Him and trust Him.  
So, like Irene, I walk on into the dark mountain ... not with blind-faith, no!, but with remembering trust.  Like a child, I simply look to my loving Father and I remember Him---all He is and all He has done, all He will do!  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pain for Good

Pain can be so very good.

For most years of my life, I have lived with chronic pain.  It has just been a normal part of life.  Not a fun one, to be sure, but normal.

Simply put, without sounding horribly trite, there are lessons I have learned ...hard lessons of trust, surrender, and His unfailing love... that I can't even imagine having learned without the pain.  Pain has, by-in-large, led me to God and opened my heart to Him.  Pain has been a road leading me to good.  

For those of you who have read these past years, you know that my pain had been increasing and intensifying.  In June, I was blessed to have an operation that has brought significant health and wholeness to my body.  And, that operation has ended the pain. Well,... mostly.

I am now five months post-op and, according to my doctor, I should be totally pain free...  mostly healed up from surgery and moving on.  The problem is... I still encounter pain most every day.  Most of the time this pain is not intense--mild, in fact.  I praise Him for this! And, for months I have written-it-all-off as "recovery pain".  ...but, after talking to my doctor today, I am realizing that maybe, just maybe, I still have some troubled issues in my body.  And, ...that indeed, while the surgery did help, it may not have completely solved the problem.

As you can imagine, this has been a bit jolting to my heart and mind today.  ...more pain to come?  ...more issues and problems?  ...bigger ones, even?  In fact, maybe it is nothing at all.  It truly could be nothing of consequence.  I don't know.

And, that is the key, right?  I don't know.  I just don't know.

As I learned so intimately from the Lord months ago, only He really sees those deep insides of my body and my heart.  Only His hand can really touch and heal.  And, so to Him I turn with this news.  I turn to Him with this confusion and this pain.

And, I have a choice, don't I?  I can rest in all He has taught me along the way... I can recall and remember. I can be still and know He is God!  Or, I can worry and fret.  I can be afraid and try to solve.

Today, I recall what He spoke to His people in Deuteronomy 8:
Be careful... Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

He led you through the wilderness and let you hunger to test your heart and humble you....

I choose today to remember all He has done and all that He is.  I remember that I have learned that man does not live on bread alone!  I remember, today, that sometimes He causes hunger... pain... to teach, to lead, to humble.  And, to feed.  I remember He has fed me.  I remember that this pain has been for my good. It has been good pain.  

There is no greater mercy that I know of on earth than good health except it be sickness; and that has often been a greater mercy to me than health…
It is a good thing to be without a trouble; but it is a better thing to have a trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it.” ~Charles Spurgeon (quote taken from www.aholyexperience.com)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Absolutely Anything but God

It is amazing how easily man will choose most anything but Almighty God.

I just listened to a podcast.  This program is produced by a few people I know well and love deeply.  So, I listened intently... enjoying just hearing their voices.

The topic: random conversation about science and medicine.

As I listened to their discussions which included topics of quantum mechanics and the human brain, the further into the podcast I listened, the sadder I became.   Deeply sad.

In one way or another they were actually stating that science shows that we are not the center of the universe.  In their opinions, medical and scientific study seem to prove this earth and what we see before us is not everything there is.  There is more.  They excitedly discussed that we are most certainly part of something bigger, ...much bigger, than ourselves.    

Bigger than me.  Bigger than my life.  What a great, profound, and comforting truth!

But, in this podcast they were willing to describe this "other" as anything, absolutely anything, other than God.    There was a grand discussion, lively debate, about the fact that it is a real possibility that we could be living in a computer simulation.  ...manipulated or influenced by an intelligent being(s), or another intelligent civilization.

Computer simulation?  Really?  ...you open your eyes, you see the evidence that medicine and science point to... the fact that we are complex and there is so much more than what we see...  and you decide your best guess is that we are a part of some mad scientist's experiment, or a computer simulation.

Why o' why?  Why can't the eye-opened wonder, these undeniable facts of a universe that is vast and complex, ...lead you, or at least allow you, to conclude that we have a Maker.  And maybe, just maybe, that Maker is loving and kind.  Powerful and good.

Discussions were had about studies that show the human brain's ability to affect the universe.  Apparently studies show that when groups of people think 'together' on the same thing they can clearly make changes to circumstance.  What might this be?  Clearly, according to these friends, it is the brain's capacity when joined with other brains to send thoughts into the universe... the computer... and have an impact.  ? ? ?  Really?

 Could this be prayer?  Could it be, just could it be, that there is a loving Father in heaven that listens to the requests of His children and works on their behalf. This hypothesis would not be tolerated, to be sure, in the very scientific (non religious) discussion.

Ugh.  And Sigh...  I just feel sad.

These incredibly intelligent, clearly genius minds... and I mean that with sincerity and honestly,... are just missing it.  Why won't you even consider it?

They just seem to be willing to consider so many other possibilities except God.  Anything but God.

And I can't convince them.  And, science can't convince them.  And, discussion doesn't convince them... they have to meet Him.

That is what I ask for today.  I pray.  May they have a real, in-your-face, can't deny, deep and significant encounter with the Bigger than Life Creator, my Father.

After posting this yesterday, I read in a lovely book, The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald a beautiful conversation between Irene, the princess, and her grandmother... ...where her grandmother kindly rebukes her with these words:  "People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less.  I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn't seen some of it."  

And, like Irene, I respond to this rebuke,  "Ah!  yes, grandmother, I dare say.  I am sure you are right."  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Join the "Hymn" of Thanksgiving

For home school this morning we read from Then Sings My Soul by Robert Morgan:  a beautiful book that shares the stories of 150 classic hymns:
  "An old English preacher once said, "A grateful mind is a great mind," and the Bible agrees.  There are 138 passages of Scripture on the subject of thanksgiving...  Colossians 3:17 says:  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him"  I Thessalonians 5:18 adds, "In everything give thanks, this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.'" (p. 17)
We read about a hymn of thanksgiving written in the midst of the most dire circumstances.  Poverty, sickness, and death surrounded the writer of "Now Thank We All Our God"   ...the man who wrote this hymn was certainly practicing Paul's command to "Rejoice always!"

Today, I join others in a "hymn of thanksgiving" at www.aholyexperience.com.  Joining Ann Voskamp and others, I continue counting, on my way to logging 1,000 gifts of love and grace from God.  For, I agree, a grateful mind is a great mind."  I want my mind to be great with gratitude!

Here is a portion of my list from this last week:

#945.  A good, healthy "fight" with my husband.  Good resolution, healthy conflict, forgiveness...  connection and closeness.  Understanding.

946.  Freedom to sleep in on Saturday!

947.  Helpful customer service.

948.  Hair products as a testimony of Father's kind love to a friend.

950.  "Yes, Mommy!"  said with joy and obedience.

951.  Wind that howls outside.

952.  That good ol "cried wolf" story told by Daddy to make a point.

953.  Evening walk with my family.

954.  Berries off the bushes for dessert.

955.  Silly (stupid) movies that harmless and funny.

956.  Classic literature that moves me.

959.  Leaving dishes in the sink with joy and freedom.  They don't scream at me as loudly!

960.  Plans made with friends.

961.  Beautiful, handmade birthday cards made for Grandma.

961.  A rainy walk with my son and then a close cuddle on the couch to warm up with a book.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

If I can?

"If you can do anything to help..." the father pleads with Jesus for the healing of his son.  (Mark 9)
I can only imagine the agony this father has experienced.  I hate watching my children hurt.  It breaks my heart and it brings me to my knees asking God to heal, to protect and to help.
This father is no different.  He brings his son to find healing and when Jesus looks at him, he says, "If you can do anything to help, please take pity on us".  (Mark 9:22)

What was Jesus' response to this request?

"If I can?"  (Mark 9:23)

Can you just picture the scene.  The love and faith of this father is remarkable.  He believes enough to bring his sick son to the disciples and ask for help.  He is desperate. He watches and listened while the disciples argue with the Pharisees... about who knows what.

Then, Jesus returns from His heavenly-touches-earth-moment on the mount (the Transfiguration) and interrupts this confusing soiree with His presence.  His arrival breaks up the crowd, they are in awe.  And, Jesus is clearly annoyed.  "You faithless generation.  How long do I have to put up with you?"  (Mark 9:19).

And then He turns to the real issue at hand...  the boy and the father.

"Bring the boy to me", He commands.  Do you think the father might feel a little afraid, a little on-the-spot, maybe discouraged?  I don't know.  Maybe the look in Christ's eyes is one of compassion when He addresses this father.   But we do know that, because the demons are agitated, right there and then the boy goes into convulsions.  What agony the father must have felt every time the convulsions started.

And then he pleads...  "if you can... have pity".

Jesus rebukes him, steering him toward truth.  He responds to the father, "If I can? All things are possible for those who believe".  The father says profoundly, "I do believe.  Help me with my unbelief!"

I do believe, I say.  I do.  You know I do.  I really, really do. 
And, please Lord Jesus, help me with my unbelief!  

Right now I am reading a beautiful, beautiful story written by George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin.
I am only half way through and I am in love with this book!  It will top my favorite's list, to be sure.  What moved me today, though, is the amazing way MacDonald's reminds the reader about our need to remember--- or, our tendency to forget.
"'..child, you must come back to me.  If you don't, I do not know when you may find me again.'  'Oh! Please don't let me forget.'  'You shall not forget.  The only question is whether you will believe I am anywhere--whether you will believe I am anything but a dream.  You may be sure I will do all I can to help you come.  But it will rest with yourself, after-all.... During the whole of the week, Irene had been thinking every other moment of her promise [to visit], although even now she could not feel quite sure that she had not been dreaming.  Could it really be?"  (The Princess and the Goblin)
A dream.   ...we think, do we sometimes and somewhere deep within think, that this "all things are possible" spoken from Jesus is just a dream.  ...can it really be true?  Did He really mean all things?  We believe, yes!  And, we remember to believe right up to the moment we do forget.

Even my deepest, truest, most fervent belief is tainted by unbelief.  This is why we need Jesus so.  He reminds us.  He keeps pursuing us and keeps working on our behalf.  He invites us to believe.  And, rebukes us when we don't.  And, then he heals our sons and daughters.  He answers our prayers.  ...or doesn't (as we see it).  But, He can.  He can.

And we must bring Him our sons.  We must come.  We must ask.  We must keep looking for Him and seeking Him.

This is what He is reminding me tonight.
Ask me, Stephanie.  Pray.  Tell me what you need and what you want.  Ask and you will receive.  Believe and trust. Bring it to me.   

With a welling heart, full of hope, I say to Him, "I believe.  Help me with my unbelief".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Something Heavenly

Do you ever look at the news, or hear the voice on the phone, or watch someone's behavior, or read the email and just wonder if He really is hearing your prayers?  Is He really at work?!

Yesterday, I walked and prayed.  ...and a niggling doubt lingered.  Does this really matter?  Do you hear me, Lord?

I do wonder sometimes.  Is He working in this world?  Inside of me...  In others...

Sometimes I wonder and sometimes I forget.  But, today, He has reminded me again!  Yes, Stephanie, I am at work!  

He is at work... And, I am reminded that whatever God does is big!  ...and good.  ..and important.  From the small minute details of life to the partings of those Red Seas... whatever He does is Divine and Big.

In your life and in mine.

So, I shoo away that niggiling thought and say, I trust You Lord.  Today.   Because my Father is always at work and whatever He does is big!

My job is to "Trust the Lord and do good" (Psalm 37)  My job is to respond and rest in His love and His plans.  My job is to surrender and open my hands.  It is my job to "give in" and allow His work.  It is my job to look, listen and ask.  It is my job to do what He wants and to work with Him and for Him, in this world...  in others...  INSIDE of me!

Friends, we are just this side of heaven.  And, something is happening in you and in our world that is larger than life... something heavenly, something Divine!  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Silence and Noise

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees, flowers, grass--- grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence. We need to be silent to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa
Life includes a lot of noise, doesn't it?

Not all the noise is a bad thing, for sure! Some of the noise---maybe even most of the noise---is beautiful and a deep joy!
...My kids play, songs and laughter ...The noise of the piano practice ...phone calls and friendly visits ...rain on the windows ... and the noise of the washing machine. All these are blessings. All gift-noise in my life.

Last night the wind whipped loudly through the street outside my window. It was strong and loud. The wind's activity was loud enough to wake me. It's noise powerful enough to break through the double glazed window in my room. And, it wasn't an unwelcome noise, or a "bad" noise. Not really. When I hear or see the wind here, I am often moved to worship and in awe at our wind-Creating, wind-Controlling Father in Heaven!

But, it did disturb my sleep. Even the wind, not a 'bad' noise, was a disturbance none-the-less.

Silence in my life is necessary. I must sit and be still. If I am to hear the thoughts in my mind, the movements of my spirit or the motives of my heart... I have to listen. We must take time to listen. And, silence takes time... it is more than just one moment.

I must choose it. As much as possible, at times, I must walk away from and put a stop to the noises of life.

But, silence is far beyond simply ridding myself and my surroundings of external noise. I believe it is much more than that. I believe God invites us to something much deeper within. I think He invites His children to a different silence, a Spiritual-soul silence.

As I have shared I suffer with tinnitus... a constant, multi-toned, constant, high-pitched, (did I mention constant) ringing in my ear... So, for all intensive purposes, I can never really rid myself of noise.

Oh! but, I can!? And, that is what He is showing me. Silence is deeper. Deeper within...

Yes, it means I must still choose an actual quiet moment (or moments) in my day. It means taking time to sit, to be still, to think and to ask Father to search... but, it is more than that... it is a soul silence I need to seek, to develop, to ask for within. Within and throughout. A silence that I can walk in all day long.

This is what I am asking for today. I am asking for this life of the Spirit, deep within, that allows for deep, abiding silence while the washing machine is going, the piano practice is in full swing, and while the wind howls outside. This silence is what I need and long for.

For, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17)

And, "the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6)

Freedom. Life. Peace.

What an invitation we have from God, who is Spirit! What a glorious, beautiful invitation!

I will look for You, today, Father... You, God Almighty, friend of silence. You, giver of freedom, life and peace. Today, I will look within for where You dwell in me, for I am Your temple. And, by Your grace, I choose to walk by Your Spirit... to seek You beyond the noises of life and mind. Thank you, Jesus, for opening the way. Thank you, Jesus!
No man can hinder our private addresses to God; every man can build a chapel in his breast, himself the priest, his heart the sacrifice, and the earth he treads on, the altar.  ~Jeremy Taylor (1613)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gray Skies... gray mood

The weather this week has been magical. So warm. So sunny! Then, the sun left yesterday in the snap of a finger. One moment passed and it was gone.

I watched it happen. Before my eyes the sky changed.

When the sun left, the gray and rain came. And, out with the sun seemed to go my happy mood.

I wouldn't have said that I am particularly affected by weather, nor very 'solar-powered'; but, I felt this one... I have struggled to feel 'happy' since the sun left yesterday.

...struggled today to crawl out of bed into the cold, dark morning. ...struggled to do this and do that. ...struggled to enjoy even my afternoon coffee...

So, I decided (just now!) that the very best thing I could do was to "count!" and remember the abundance of blessings that rains down on me every day!! So, I stand up (on the inside--- smile) and raise my face to God and say, "Thank you!". ...asking that He would shine into my life and my heart--- because in heaven there is no need for sun, it says. And, so, He can certainly give me all the spiritual vitamin-D I need; and, thankfulness is a good place to start!

The sharing of my list here today is a spiritual act, a discipline, of worship!!

Here is a portion of my list from this past week... counting my way to 1,000 gifts with Ann and other folks at http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/10/why-christians-are-the-happiest-of-all/:

#928. His name that delivers me from nightmares.

929. A miracle of a healed sore throat.

930. Safety in our home--- His rod and His staff they comfort me.

931. Spontaneous generosity seen in the actions of my son.

932. Helpfulness and alertness seen in the sweet, kind, serving actions of my daughter.

933. Birthday gifts all wrapped in pink and ready to give.

935. Prayers said while picking blackberries.

937. Watching him love me in my love language---vacuuming the rug.

940. Feeling so proud of my man.

943. Invited to go deeper with God... beyond my head.

944. Sweet faces of newly painted ceramic animals.

Do you seen how close I am to logging 1,000 gifts?!!! I am on the home stretch and enjoying the hunt each day.

Do you want to see other portions of my lists? --------------> click on "thankfulness" in my "topics" list and worship with me!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Still Afraid Sometimes

So, I found myself afraid last night. It was a significant fear that I struggled to shake off. No real reason for the fear;it was irrational fear, really. But, man!, was it a struggle as I tried to fall asleep.

As I worked my way through the night, waking many times, I prayed much and fought with spiritual weapons I have learned to use--- the Name of Jesus being the primary one!

But, still the fear lingered and poked and nudged it's way into my sleep, my dreams and my whole night. What is this?

I woke this morning and it had all dissipated with the morning sun. Was it simply childlike fear of the dark!?

As I woke, I wondered (in prayer) with the Father at my lack of trust or faith. Not at all in shame or guilt... but in reflection and wonder. Like my brothers, those disciples, who rode in a boat and were afraid of the storm... I felt Jesus whispering to my heart, "Do you still lack faith?O, you of little faith. Why are you so afraid?". (Mark 4:35-40)

Why, Stephanie, are you so afraid?

I don't know, Lord. I really don't know.

True love, I know, casts out fear (I John 4:18). Trusting this True Love, His True Love, is the key to faith and will solve fear... I know. But, I felt stuck last night. I felt overpowered by the winds and the waves.

There were moments when I felt deep peace last night, I must share. And, those moments were when I remembered, and worshiped, WHO God is and WHAT He can do and has done! These moments opened light into my midnight darkness. ...maybe that is the beginning to wisdom. Just maybe...

This fear. The fear of the Lord. The knowledge of WHO He is and trusting Him as He really is... Almighty King and Loving Father.

This was the response of the disciples after Jesus' rebuke that day, "The were terrified and asked each other, 'Who is this that even the wind and waves obey him?'" (Mark 4:41).

My brothers went from fearing the waves and fearing for their safety to fearing HIM... they were terrified, it says. Maybe it is this right understanding of WHO God is that will bring deliverance from fear. Fear that frees us from fear!

But, it isn't just knowledge, is it? No. I am much more complex than that... there are far too many other variables in my heart--- my past, my wounds, my personality, and the enemy's work--- that were in play last night.

But, this fear... this good, awe-inducing, eye-opening, Spirit-led fear of my Lord... is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10) And, I needed some wisdom last night!
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