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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Please Solve This For Me

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I am a planner. I am a "solver" by nature. I organized and manipulate data. I figure it out and work it through.  I think and I analyse. I make lists and check them off... and then make new lists when the old list gets too short.

I believe God has made me this way. I believe that part of His divine knitting was this very aspect of my personality and gifts. He made me a multi-tasker and a planner. And, I think He is pleased by this part of who I am ...

And, I also believe that this very gift-aspect of His creative hand sometimes gets in the way of my relationship with Him. ...almost daily. In this, I am certain He is sometimes displeased or, in the least, saddened.

When a problem comes my way, or even just as small obstacle, I very naturally decide how to overcome that problem. Again, I begin my list-making and planning. And, I do this time and time again without God. Entirely void of a simple pause to invite Him in, I go on with a knee-jerk reaction and take charge. Often, I act out of some false, deep belief that "I [you] shall be like god" (Genesis 3:5). I decide what is good and evil, take my course of action and go my own way. Essentially, I use my god-like creating abilities to make all things "right". ...right in my own eyes, that is.

Now, because my Father in Heaven is deeply loving and always faithful, He often rescues me or even blesses me even though, or "inspite of"; often, He does allow my plans to be fruitful and my organizing to prosper.  This sweet grace is beyond perplexing to me!

And yet, ...and yet... I miss out on Him. I miss out on doing it with Him. I miss out on relationship!

And, I also think I often miss His best... His solutions, His ways, His very best plan.  My plans are a just settling. When I forget Him, I settle for second best. I settle for action devoid power, plans devoid His wisdom and activity devoid relationship.

Recently, I have wanted this to change. I have really, deeply wanted it to be different. And, this year, I have attempted to stop the natural planning... and simply to ask God to "solve it".

In this I have asked God to help me to remember, to pause, and to ask for His solution. ...and even better yet, to just simply "solve it". And, He has!! He really has done this for me.

Simple things. Small things. Big things. Silly things ...I have seen Him solve them. I have stopped. Waited. Prayed. Hoped. And, I have asked for His solutions.  Father, You are going to have to solve this one! has been my prayer.  It has been sweet to watch Him work.

I certainly don't entirely "get it". I am far from daily practicing this surrendered-reliance on Him. And, I believe He still wants me to use my skills, my gifts, and my Hand-Created personality. But, I really believe my Father wants to do it all... all of life ... with me. He wants to do life, and all it's obstacles, together.

And, His solutions are just best. His ways are better.

This is a re-post from December 2010 ...but, I certainly could have written it yesterday!  ...still learning and re-learning the same things!  You?  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Buzzing Mind

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My mind was whizzing and buzzing and clanking and spinning when I sat in my "quiet-time" chair.  Far from quiet, the thoughts whirling in my head reminded me of some Dr. Seuss rhyme describing Christmas morning noise!  Noise. Noise! Noise!!

Do you ever feel like your brain just won't shut off?  Busy.  Loud. Non-stop.

I felt that way this morning.

As I sat, I attempted the "breathe prayer" that had been so sweet and special to me last week:

"Be still... Be still and know that I am God".

Nothing seemed to bring calm.  Nothing stopped the next "to-do" flooding my mind.  ...more plans to make, lists to write and calculating needed.

Time passed and the internal noise only continued.  A bit frustrated and still buzzing with thoughts, I rose from my noisy-quiet-time and began my day.

While cleaning the dishes, I decided to listen to my "pray-as-you-go" app...  (wonderful resource!)  And, it was in that moment, with the first note of the song playing that the Spirit of God brought calm to my mind.

Beautiful words wafted from my ipod into and over my heart.

Almost like a sinking down, I could feel myself take a long, deep, full breath from the Words...

"O Lord, You search me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise... you perceive my thoughts from afar.."   The Sons of Korah sang God's word over me and the Word brought light and peace.

Right there in the midst of my kitchen... hands soapy and dishes piled high... He brought rest and quiet. Quiet in the midst of noise.

I know you, Stephanie.  I know these thoughts.

He knows me!

He isn't surprised at the whiz and busy and buzzing.   He isn't upset and He isn't bothered.  He knows.  

Just the thought of my Almighty, All Powerful, Ever-Close Father knowing my every thought brought comfort.  He knows.   He knows what I have to do today and He knows where I am borrowing worry for tomorrow.  And, He is okay.

Your loving knowledge is amazing to me.  I am so grateful!  I am also sorry, Lord, that I worry and I run around panting for mental breath and rest.  You offer me daily rest for my soul.  Thank you for the grace that covers all that!  You know me and your love is unfailing.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Keep My Ankle from Turning...

I fell down a few weeks ago.

Not literally, but emotionally, I fell flat and felt buried in sadness and anger.

Strong and painful emotions raged within my mind and heart.  I was deeply sad and I was mad---very, very mad. But, the emotional pain of my tumble was only secondary to the excruciating pain which came in the aftermath---the aftershocks in my soul.  For days afterward, I was angry at myself for this fall.  The "beating up" began only moments after the fall.  Accusations were loud and intense:  How old are you, Stephanie?!  I thought you were better than this... stronger than this...  Is your faith even real?  Have you learned anything?  Who are you to teach?  ...to lead?  You are such a looser.  Where is your faith now?    The hissing lies from without and within were dark and heavy.    These words I was hearing brought only chaos and more anger... more sadness.  More dark.

Lies always bring darkness, shame and chaos.  Truth brings Light... and repentance...and peace.

Today I walk upright and sure.  Those angry voices are silenced and I am walking at peace with myself and with my God.  And, I am learning and re-learning new and old lessons as I ponder and pray and look back on what happened inside.

Maybe I will write later about how God "righted" me...  Or, why I believe (wrongly) that strong emotions or "falling apart" is cause for shame...  Those, and other lessons, are for another post.

For now, it was so good to be reminded of my vulnerability and my weakness.  I am vulnerable.  Every day. It was so healthy for me to find myself so in utter need of Jesus, ...just Jesus, to lift me from my fall.  And, He did.  He lifted my head and filled my mind with Truth.

I am finding that my prayers lately have shifted just slightly.  Where before I might have asked God to strengthen me, I am asking Him to be my strength.

I was reading yesterday and I was so struck by these beautiful verses, "You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankle does not turn" (Psalm 18:36)

This.  This is the heart of my prayers recently.  Not that God would strengthen my ankles... but that He, Himself, would be my strength.  Asking that He would broaden my path and keep my ankle from turning. Psalm 18 begins with, "I love you, O Lord, my strength".

O Lord, my strength.  You alone are my rock and my defense.  You are my shield.    

A subtle shift has happened in my heart.  ...More dependence and more awareness of my need for Him every hour and every minute.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Daily Invitation to Rest

Life can be very loud.  The noise isn't always discordant.  It is just noise.  Things to do. Places to be.  People to see.  Life's daily orchestra playing day-in-and-day-out---the instruments of people, appointments, and laundry.

The choice for solitude and silence is never easy.  Quiet and calm aren't easy to find.

Then to add to the hubbub of life there are noises in my heart; or, better said, from my heart.  In my mind and in my soul is a cacophony of sound shouting for attention.  Worries about this and about that.  Concerns about him and about her.  Plans for this...  Fixing that...  Wondering and hoping...  I am calculating and re-living.  I am analyzing and accusing.  The noises are numerous--and loud.  

Quiet and calm aren't easy to find.  But, they are available.

Often I find calm and quiet in a good book.  As a habit, I attempt to read regularly.  I read mostly because I need to remember.  I need to be called-back and to be reminded.  I read because I have a need for deep dialogue. Sometimes I desperately need right thoughts to counter the clamor filling my mind and my heart.   I don't read looking for new or profound things.  I read to remember and "talk" about True things:  old things and learned thing.

Currently I am having a lovely "conversation" with Eugene Peterson in Eat this Book.  And, last night in Richard Foster's Prayer, he kindly reminded me of the beautiful invitation I have from God to come to Him and rest.  


The prayer of rest, Foster calls it and I read his story.  Foster reminds me of the words of my brother, Jesus:  "Come to me all who are weary or heavy... and I will give you rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28).  

My mind needs rest.  My body needs rest.  And, most certainly, my soul needs rest.  Often.  

So, I responded to Richard's reminder.  I closed the book.  And, I sat.  I entered the Rest offered.  

Be still.  

Just be still, Stephanie. 

Be still and know.  

Know, right now, my love. 

Be still and know that I am God.  

And, in that moment the voices died down.  The waters went still.  The to-do list was released.  The worries and the calculating were engulfed in a calm and a Presence that is my God!

Father, what a gift you give me in Yourself.  Jesus what an offer!  I choose You today.  I open my hands and I open my heart and I say, "yes" to the rest You offer me today.  Thank you.  Would You remind me again and again to remain in this Love...  to remain in rest... to remain in You!  
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