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

Friday, November 30, 2012

He is THAT close...

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I wrote in a post last week about my desire to be known...

This morning the cry of my heart shifted just slightly...  I want to know you, Father!!  I want to know You!

As I sat in quiet, I read and I listened, ...this too was a deep desire crying out from my heart:  To know others.  To be known, yes please!  And, also, to know.

That is real connection, isn't it?  It isn't simply that I want my husband to know me--- I want to know him.  I want to understand him more, to "get him"---just as I desire him to "get me".

My friends.  My children.  My parents.  Yes, I want to be known by them.  But, I also want to know them well.  When we know each other, there is such a sweetness--- such tenderness.

Knowing each other brings connection and closeness.

God gives us this option.  We can know God.  What a thought!

And, since the beginning of time, God has been bringing Himself closer--- from Creation until today, He has been making Himself known.  Knowable.

I can know God. This delights my heart!

He knows me.  And, I can know Him.  We can be that close--- that connected!

As we enter the advent season, I have begun reflecting on the Incarnation:  Jesus choosing earth as His home for a short season.  Jesus, my God, coming down.  Entering a woman... walking on the earth.

But, He has been making Himself known since the beginning of time.  In creation, God's hand splashed color and beauty and order over the earth... He made Himself known to us!  Then, in early days of our history, God gave us His word as He whispered Truth through the pens of prophets and servants.

Then, He came closer...even closer than Scripture!  His son chose to remove Himself from heaven and put Himself in the skin of a man.  He walked and talked and ate with us.  He put Himself closer to me and you!  We can be that close!!

But, He wanted us to know Him even more still.  He offers to enter us!  He offers to Incarnate Himself in my very heart.  "God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts"  (Galatians 4:6)  Can you get any closer?!

Jesus Himself testifies that the Spirit of God---the Comforter --is even closer, even "better" still than His walking on the earth.  (John 16:7)

We can know God that closely...  that tenderly.  With simple belief in the Son of God, His Spirit enters us---Incarnates!---and comes that close to me.  He is that close to you!

You are known.

And, you can know God.  He gives us that option.  He opened up the way.  In fact, it is the cry of His heart!

That is the prayer of my heart this morning.  Lord, my intimate Lord, I ask that through Your Spirit I may know You better!  (Ephesians 1:17)

"Every prayer-filled day sees a meeting with the God who comes; every night which we faithfully put at his disposal is full of his presence."  (Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes)

"You will find the living God in the pages of the Bible.  You will find him also just exactly where you are...  God has sent the Spirit of Truth, he dwells in your hearts.  There is no limit to the ways in which God may make Himself known to you. At every turn in our lives there can be a meeting place with God."  (Mother Frances Dominica, Prayer--quote found in a Guide to Prayer)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I have a hangover

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"A vulnerability hangover" is what author and researcher, Brene' Brown calls it...

I have never been drunk.  So, I have never actually had a proper hangover; therefore, I can't say I know what one feels like.  But, I am guessing it isn't very comfortable!  I have heard a few stories and seen my share of instances.  So, I gather from the puking, purging and pounding-head that a hangover is never a positive things.

A vulnerability hangover isn't fun either.

Too much vulnerability... and you are destined for a sickening hangover!

Let's just say that each time I write a particularly vulnerable blog post---write something deep, hard, or ugly--- I experience the incredible urge to purge!

Within 2 hours of writing and "publishing" my post, I have this desire to go online and delete the post immediately.  Thoughts like:  "Too much", "too raw", "too weak"... pour over my mind.  If I resist the urge to "purge" the post, I then want to "purge" the blog...  "I just need to stop blogging".  "This is stupid".  "People don't want to read and hear this..."

And, if I resist the urge to delete my blog; then, the final 'hangover' symptom is to write a "nice" post.

There are nicer posts, right?  Posts that are true and right and encouraging.  I like those posts, too.  There are blog posts---still honest and real posts---about God's blessings, His gifts, His peace and His Word.  But, after I share one of my "I cried" or "I am in pain" posts--- I desperately want to get on quickly and write a "nice" post.  This last vulnerability-hangover-urge is an attempt to let you all know, "I am okay."  With a "nice" post, I assure you (and me) that "I am not in pain all the time".

I have resisted urge #1, and #2.  So, I am officially saying it now---without writing a "nice" post...

Readers, I am okay!

Did I need to say that?  I don't know.  But, the gut-wrenching urge within me was to communicate to you, my friends and readers, that I am not "the sick person", "the weak person", or "the messy person".  When the fact of the matter is... I am.

Why do I feel the deepest urge to write "I am okay... don't worry about me"?  Or, elsewhere--- other times in my life---why do I need to back away and tell you, "Please don't be bothered about me!"?

I am pretty sure it is because at some point in my life (probably more than one point!), I believed the lie that I am supposed to be perfect.  I am supposed to be "okay".  Not weak.  Not in-process.  Not a bother.  And, certainly, not messy.

Well, the truth is... I really am okay.  I am well.  And, happy.  And, at peace today.

But, it is also truth that I am a bit messy, too!!  Both.  And.

But, none-the-less, vulnerability and weakness are hard for me.   I talked to the Lord about this today--- can I just delete that post or this blog, Lord?  ... I felt prompted to keep on sharing, keep on posting, and keep on getting drunk on vulnerability.  Courage to share weakness is one cure to perfectionism!

And, so I "drink" the healthy carrot-orange-alka selzer juice concoction of this blog post to bring a little healing to my hangover!

That said, right about now I am feeling a bit over-vulnerable---tipsy, you might say----so give me about 4 hours and I will be sick with my vulnerability hangover from this post...

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Painful Conversation

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But you see, Lord...  I was supposed to be perfect yesterday.      

Silly thought?  Maybe.  But certainly my thought---my honest and deep thought ---that rose to the surface as I wrestled with a new health issue in my life that reared it's ugly head last night.

Anger, mixed with sadness.  Frustration, mixed-up with worry and fear.  ...my heart cried out to the Lord!

I am supposed to be well.  All better.  
I am supposed to be done with pain and suffering!  
I want health!  I want well-being.  I want to be strong.

...for you...  for your glory ...  Even as I thought it, there was a 'check' in my spirit.

As I prayed this prayer through tears, a gentle response wafted across my mind.  For Me?...  Really, Stephanie?  You want perfection for Me?

And then came a wordless impression that accompanied the tender question:  Do you want my best for you?  My best----  

His best.   After a 25 year journey through pain that was (mostly) healed with an operation June 2011, I have learned that sometime His best... His deep, loving, expansive best... comes through and in pain.  Pain is not a bad thing in-and-of-itself, I have learned.   Pain can be a gift.  God's best for me here on earth can include pain and suffering.  Like a wise gardener knows, pain can be pruning... and a tender cutting back---that looks to the outside as ruthless hacking!

Do you trust my boundless love for you?  Do you want my best for you, in you?  For My glory?  My glory in you, through you, for you?   

And, I cried some more.  And He met me with peace.

I want to be perfect, Lord.  I hate being weak and vulnerable.   I feel so afraid when I am weak and sick.  I hate being the "sick one".   I want to be the "well-one" for once!  

I know, Stephanie...  

Oh Father!  But, this might not be for today...  Right? Father, maybe this desire for perfection is not for the now.  Or, at least, not for today.  

My strength is made perfect in your weakness, my sweet girl.  

Your strength...  Your perfection, Lord.  Oh!  I have so much yet to learn about You.  ...

There are many, many things I know in my head.  Things I can write here or preach next week at Bible study.  True things.  Right things.  Some of these things I know well in my heart, too.  He has brought them home to me and they sit in my gut---informing my days with peace and wisdom.

But there are other things... other Truths... , many other True things that are harder to swallow depending on the day.  Depending on the hour.

I still have trouble seeing You, knowing Your Presence, in the midst of pain, Father.  

Yes, ...yes, you do, Stephanie...

So, I ... have further to go in this lesson...  higher up, deeper in.  I do want Your best.  I do trust Your loving hand.  

...And, surrender did come this morning.  Real, deep, honest surrender to His Love and His best did happen in my heart.  This surrender, too, was a moment of His grace...  

Because, My grace is sufficient for You, Stephanie (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Known


I so long to be known.  I want to be well known.

The more I am getting to know myself, the more clear this truth becomes...  I just want you to know me.  That is the cry of my heart.

Please know me.

And, I think this is a human cry---or at least a common one!  For most people, if you ask them about themselves (or something that interests them), they won't stop talking.  If you can get someone to share even a bit about themselves, it opens a flood gate of conversation. Generally humans want to share themselves--- of course in safe places--- but, they want you to know them.  I want you to know me.  The deep bits and the surface bits... the mountains and the valleys.

Have you ever seen the glow in the eyes of a young child?  When you get down to their level and look straight into their eyes, asking and inviting them to keep sharing their thoughts,  "Tell me more about that!"   We seem to come out of the womb wanting to communicate who we are, what we are feeling, and what we think about this and that...

It is why we share our thoughts about politics, about the traffic or the weather.  It is why we are desperate to tell people about our achy leg or our bad night's sleep.  And, when someones remembers or follows up about our painful shoulder:  "How is that feeling?"... we feel loved.   We feel known.

Or, at least, I feel loved.  And, known.

On the flip side, I realize I get hurt when I perceive that someone doesn't want to know me.  When they are too busy, or two preoccupied to really listen or to remember to ask.  I realized this morning that when I am not pursued, or asked, or "cared-for" in this way, ...somewhere deep within me I get hurt.  It is a "little-girl" kind of hurt.

I feel unwanted.  Devalued, maybe.  Do you see me?  Do you even want to know me?  

Maybe this is an old wound from childhood---when I felt too young, or too quiet, too ugly, too stupid or too unimportant to be remembered or asked after.  Pushed aside.  ...what I felt or thought or saw was not as important as the big "other" people around me.  What they are thinking and feeling trumped my thoughts and my experience.  I don't know.

Early this morning I became aware again of this ache.  I felt unsettled and asked the Lord, "What is it, Lord?"  Why is my soul unwell this morning...? 

I just want to be known
.  The thought bounced around my head.  I want to be thought of and valued.  To be noticed.  Seen.

Then my eyes fell to Psalm 95:4, "In his hands are the depths of the earth.  The mountain peeks belong to Him."

The depths of the earth.

We just studied the layers of the earth in science yesterday.  Did you know we have never actually seen beyond the earth's crust?  No human.  No scientist.  No actual instrument has touched the center of the earth.  (or even come close!) We haven't seen the mantle and the core.  On one level, we don't really know what is down there.   We have never made direct observations of the earth's mantle.  Now, we do have much data that explains what is beyond the dirt upon which we walk. We have solid and trustworthy hypotheses and indirect observations that describe the depths of the earth.  But, we don't know.  We can't dig deep enough.  There is no drill to go that far---it has been unreachable, because of temperature and pressure.

But, this He knows.  The depths of the earth are known to God.  He holds them in His hand---he can see them, touch them, manipulate them, care for them and crush them if He wills.  He holds them.  He knows.

I know you, Stephanie...  His loving Spirit whispered into my soul.   You are known...



He knows you, too, my friend.  He values.  He sees.  He hears your heart's cry.  You are known.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Light can do!

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It was just a moment in time.  The beauty left as quickly as it came.   And, I saw it!!

As I began my walk yesterday morning,  the sun was rising quietly behind a blanket of dark clouds. The grey-covered sunrise, brought shadowed light to the town I live.  It was morning indeed, but it was a dark morning.  But, as I climbed the stile leading into the field by my home, the sun's strength suddenly burst forth in radiant splendor.  Blasting through an opening in the sky it shown with dazzling beauty over the fields and my town.  There was an instant, spectacular glow that is hard to describe with words.

From darkness to light in one instant!

When I saw it, all that came to my mind was, "Oh, Lord, what light can do!!"  The grass was a prettier green color than I remember ever seeing it!  Every field marked out by hedge rows was lit and on display.  I could see everything for miles.  Gold and orange light transformed the morning in an instant.

In that moment, I worshiped my God and asked Him to display His light in me with such brilliance 

And, then... as quickly as it came... it was gone.  It was just a moment in time.  What light can do!!

The remainder of my walk was a dialogue with my Father in Heaven.  What clouds---thoughts, actions, beliefs--- block out Your light in my life?  What are the dark things that hinder You shining in and through me--- making me more beautiful with Your Light.  Teach me, Father.  Lead me forward in Truth, Holy Spirit.  

He tells us that through our relationship with Jesus, we are transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light.  His Light is ours for the taking!  We are, in fact, children of Light.  But, He also warns us that we need to walk in that Light!  ...we can, indeed, grieve and cover and hinder that Light from shining in us and through us.

Are there certain thoughts and ways in your life that might be hindering His Light in you?

When I let certain lies, certain attitudes, and certain actions in to my life... the beauty can leave as quickly as it can come.   I just need to see it!

Give me eyes to see it!  Give me an awareness of heart, Lord Jesus!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Following Him into the kitchen, too...

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I have had a particular image bouncing around in my head for a while now.   This picture came to my mind again today, as I was praying.  How do I describe what I see?

Shall I give-it-a-go and try to describe my imaginings?

In my mind's eye I see Jesus walking into my kitchen and I am following Him.  I follow Him into the kitchen and watch Him pull up those long draping sleeves and dig His hands into my sink full of soapy water.  Dirty dishes.  Then, I follow Him.  I pull up my sleeves, dig my hands in and wash those dishes.   Together.  We finish the dishes and then He turns and walks into my hallway... headed for the closet---the vacuum cleaner.  I follow.  We vacuum.  Together.

Like two oxen plowing a field, we are yoked together.  Beautifully bound in unity, we work together as one. His strength making all compensation for my weaknesses.  His wisdom directing our work.   His Presence bringing Light and Joy and Peace.

Him and me.  Bound together because of His gift of grace and my choice to follow.

When Jesus physically walked the earth over 2000 years ago, He said, "Come and follow me".  And, they did.  James, John, Peter, and Thaddeus...  they followed Him.  They watched Him and did what He did, with Him.  They ate together and slept next to each other.  They walked and talked and did.  Together.

Bound together because of His love and their desire to be with Him.

And when Jesus physically left the earth, He reminded these friends--his followers--- that He would always be with them.  Always Present.  Always near.

Today, He reminds me.  Me, His friend, His follower... He reminds me that He is always with me.  He offers me Himself---His very Presence.

Come and follow me, Stephanie, He says to me today.

He invites you, too!  Follow me into your kitchen, your schooling, your phone call and your errands.  I will be with you always!  

"As for me, the nearness of God is my good."  (Psalm 73:28)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Small Efforts


"The repetition of small efforts will accomplish more than the occasional use of great talents." Charles Spurgeon

I read this quote this morning and thought, "Now, that is mothering summed up in a nut-shell!"  Parenting, really.  Life, actually!  

Repetition?  Yep.  Laundry.  Laundry.  Laundry.  Dishes. Dishes. Dishes.  Hugs.  Hugs.  Help with schoolwork.  Making of meals.  Night-time tucking little ones into bed.  Daily repetition.  

And, all these things are most certainly "small efforts" in the scheme of life, history and the world-at-large!  

Repeated.  And, small.  

But, I know Charles Spurgeon is on to something here.  I hear Truth and encouragement behind these words.  I do believe that these small things matter.    

Small things are only missed when they are lacking, aren't they?  When the "small efforts" are not made---we call this neglect.  But, when the small things are done and dusted, we take no notice.  

What do these things "accomplish" in the Kingdom of God?  I am not sure I can articulate the what, exactly.  But, I do know they have meaning.  It matters that my kids are well hugged, well-listened-to, well taught and well fed.  It matters that I answer that email.  And, it matters that I smile at my neighbor and stop to talk to that sweet lady on the street.  

Small.  Repetitive.  Yep.  But, strangely important.  

So, off I go to make some small efforts!   Off I go to make much impact with another load of laundry, another sink full of dishes, and another math lesson to teach!!  May it be for Your Glory, Father!  May it accomplish much for Your Kingdom!   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Alive. Powerful. Fresh

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It never ceases to amaze me!

The Power of God's Word.

His Word is so fresh and alive and active...  Today it woke me up like a crashing, cool wave!

Groggy, half dazed I slowly dragged myself out of bed this morning.  I was awake... but just barely.  And, I had wanted to sleep in!  But, I was awake.

Something within my soul beckoned me out of my warm, comfy bed this morning.  Early.  So, I turned off the alarm-not-yet-rung and dragged myself out of bed, quickly donning my thick warm sweatshirt in hopes to preserve some warmth from my bed.

Coffee.  A cookie.  Slippers and a blanket to cover my legs.  I sat down in my special chair, for that quiet moment with the Lord.

To be honest, I was still groggy.  I hadn't even had a sip of the coffee yet, or a bit of the cookie.  And, I had little expectation.  ...little thought really---half awake.

I opened His Word and read my "assigned" reading for today.  ...it was just routine at this point.

"The heavens declare the glory of the Lord..." (Psalm 19)

Whamo!!  

How else do I explain?!  Bam!!  The life, the breath, the emotion, the sweet Truth that hit my soul like a massive wave---and in an instant it woke me up.  I was awake!  Very awake.

I had read that very verse yesterday, too.  It was good.  It was Truth... but there was no "Bam!"  His Spirit had quietly nudged me with a different portion of Scripture... a quiet whisper, a tender tug.

But today... Wham!  

I am so glad I headed that call, the beckoning, this morning.  I am so glad He gave me the ability to drag myself out of bed.

It never ceases to amaze me.  The Power and the Life that is in Him.  The Breath that is in His Word.    All I did was show up.
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