Take heart

A day off. An inhale and slow exhale kind of day. That’s what I was expecting this morning. After taking care of the dogs, I laid back on the couch and lazily watched the news while wrapped in a soft blanket. The dogs had settled back down after a morning romp and the house was still. I just kissed my man goodbye and reminded him of how happy I was for him to return in the evening. I got up to make the bed and when I returned 5 minutes later, I saw that my phone screen was full.

Who on earth is trying to reach me at 5:45 in the morning????

It was Roger. In that moment my heart starts to beat with an intensity that left me dizzy.

My mind whirls with horrible thoughts. His heart….. an accident……my hands tremble to unlock the phone and call him, bypassing the messages he left me.

My husband doesn’t leave messages. This adds to my distress and shaky hands.

I reach him. He sounds strong and good and annoyed. It’s the car. Exhale…… the car, just the car. No accident, the car decided to stop working.

What a great thing. Cars can be fixed and replaced. He’s fine I tell myself. I will get him and he will take my car to work and we will deal with his later.

Outside is filled with a fog so intense, we missed turning back into our house when he dropped me off. The fog feels like my head right now. All muddled and full of fear. Anxiety in my chest feels heavy with the panic that came to visit when I didn’t know what was wrong.

Though he’s fine, my body feels like it’s been attacked by a wave of fear that leaves me struggling to orient myself  (for those who don’t know, he has a heart condition that we watch closely).

I thought I’d dive into my Bible. Scriptures have always been my favorite way to connect with God but I feel this invitation to go out and be in the garden.

I walk around a fog-filled, early morning garden and  I voice to God, this is what I feel like on the inside!!! It’s not helping….. Then I sense a prompt to take a closer look.

The fog had transformed everything. The spider webs have droplets on them. The flowers looked as if they were covered with sugar.

In that moment I realized that I’m covered too. I’m covered by a God that is everywhere at once. The garden was covered with a fog that at first seemed completely disorienting and frustrated my ability to view the world around me. Then I realized that it also covered the world with life-giving water. Not just covered things, it made them more beautiful. Something about the sheer wonder around me cause the fear to slip away.

I fear Roger leaving this earth and being alone. The one I’ve loved so deeply and for so long. But the truth is, I am never alone. God is always everywhere all around me and his spirit within me.

Everywhere I looked was an intricate design of grace. I didn’t have my real camera with me and these photos were taken with my iPhone but they are still a delight.

My fight with fear is not over but God’s grace will always trump it if I allow him to lead me through it.

What a tender and powerful God he is.

John 16:33

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

 

 

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FEAR

Fear   

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How do you define it?

Here is what the dictionary had to say.

fear

An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

Fear is also something that can take hold of your imagination (if you have one) and run wild.

It doesn’t tell us the truth about a situation and I find it to be quite an exaggerator.

It is the pessimistic naysayer over all your options.

Fear makes threats it has no power to keep unless we agree with them.

It is the voice that desires for us to color in the lines, stay behind the barricade and not think outside the box.

It is the border bully to the inheritance God has planned for us.

It has a job and it is to keep us from knowing God and experiencing a life that bears the fruit of intimacy & trust.

Fear is just paper chains bragging that they are real.

I have found that it is a lot easier to see ‘fear’ in other people. 

It is much harder to find fear hidden in our excuses.

I am dedicating this year to exposing every little or large amount of fear woven through the decisions in my life.

I will then be exposing that fear to perfect love and sent back to hell where it belongs.

Hope you do the same.

Joy.

rz

When difficulty comes…..

Our trip to France was filled with a fairy tale wedding and time to wander down old towns with a feasting of the eyes and an ear to heaven.

We were in Bordeaux for a week and it is wine country. Fields of vines that were being prepared for the next harvest. Miles and miles of land that was all awaiting the warmth of Spring and Summer.

I knew the land had lessons it wanted to pass along and I’m always a hungry to learn.  I was amazed at the canes that protruded from the earth with what appeared to be two arms lifted up in a stance of worship.

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Acre upon acre the land was filled with old weathered vines with arms uplifted.  They had survived years of bearing fruit and every year they get pruned back to their bare beginnings.

In Scripture, Jesus refers to the vine and the branches as he is the vine and we are the branches and that metaphor is profound in its own right. But there was another metaphor to see right before my eyes.

I saw these weathered vines with lifted arms and imagined them to be mature disciples of Jesus. Every year we are to bear fruit. Young shoots come off of the main vine and bear fruit. Did you know that a cane (branch) can only bear great fruit one time before it needs to be cut off and replanted become a mature vine, or thrown out? If it gets planted and takes, then it is not allowed to bear fruit for two or three years until the root system is substantial enough to allow it to send nutrients to new vines.  

Every year the pruning to mature vines is drastic, leaving nothing but the original vine and a couple of canes.

I saw the connection. Last year’s fruit in my life is not what I lean on. Yesterday is gone and today requires new shoots, new disciples, new growth in relationships.

Remember, fruit is produced on the current season’s growth, that in turn grows from last season’s wood. Heavy pruning provides the best fruit. Light pruning results in large yields of poor-quality fruit; very heavy pruning produces too much vegetative growth and very little or no fruit. There are lessons to be learned in this life cycle.

I’m a gardener and I remember when I was first learning about how to care for roses that I was mortified at how much of the canes I had to cut back. At first, I ignored the sound advice and just snipped at the roses. In no time at all, I had diseases roses on my hands. Then I became bolder and understood why the cuts needed to be made. Though I still wince when I cut off what looked like a perfectly good set of buds. It’s amazing how God prunes our lives. At times the cuts are at our ego because that ego has a way of spreading the “me” disease on everything.  I never know where God will actively prune my life.

The encouragement I received was in looking at the vines (mature disciples) with uplifted arms, waiting for Spring and Summer so that the harvest can come. Knowing that the shoots that are grown will one day become strong canes that take their place in the land.

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Life at times feels brutal and you wonder if you can stand it but know if that is the season you are in, you are poised to bear the best fruit, just like the grapevines in France. 

Though it feels like barrenness, it is at the hand of the vigneron.

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We are in good hands. I pray this blesses you the way it blessed me.

We worship and wait as we prepare for the Spring and Summer.

Conviction lives between the sea of shame and the forest of judgement.

Have I lost you yet?

Walk with me through a word picture that can aid us in bringing our emotions and behaviors into focus.

Let’s begin with a few definitions.

Conviction: Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit where a person is able to see himself as God sees him.  Conviction in the believer brings an awareness of sin and results in repentance, confession, and cleansing.

This is the goal! But it isn’t easy to find and walk out, but it is possible and the results are beautiful. It’s connection and restoration, it’s perspective and joy, it’s true community and the fruit of maturity, which is grace and peace.

Shame: Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. – Brene Brown

Judgment: Strong’s Concordance notes that the word translated “judge” in Matthew 7:1 can also mean “condemn.” Judgment elevates the estimation of yourself at the cost of the degradation of someone else.

When shame comes to visit it can be as overwhelming as a raging ocean. The pull of the undercurrent grabbing you into the tumultuous deep. The waves violently tossing you back and forth with a vengeance and your insecurities are cold waves crashing over your head. Making you grasp for breath in a state of panic as your separated from your people and feeling overwhelmingly alone and vulnerable. Shame leaves you feeling weak with the exhaustion of trying to find hope that you’re not as bad or worthless as you feel. Shame lies to you and says that people you care about are standing on the shore with life savers, and they don’t want to waste one on you. Shame keeps you too exhausted to overcome the temptations in your life and with every concession, you return to it’s punishing grip.

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In an effort to break free from Shame’s grasp, we run into the forest of JUDGEMENT. All of a sudden our vision is obscured by the density of trees and we believe that it’s everyone else’s fault that we are experiencing this negative feeling or situation. Judgment walks around finding blame in everything and everyone and justifying its own selfish actions. We run from tree to tree saying, “it’s your fault, it’s your fault”. It’s dark in this forest and there is not clarity of thought, just the twists and turns of anger and frustration as you trip on roots systems of old trees and keep looking to blame everything in sight while excusing and condoning your own actions.

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Neither situation will ever bring us freedom for only the truth will set us free.

Now imagine with you there are two mountains with a very long bridge between the North and South mountain. On the left is the sea of Shame and on the right is the Forest of Judgment.

This wooden bridge does not have much to hold on to so you must not lose your balance. It’s high enough for you to have complete perspective as to where you would fall, and what would happen if you did. It will take courage to choose this path and you must face your fear to get to the other side. You know that you don’t want to be churned around in the wild sea of insecurity & shame or running around in angry frustration in the forest of judgment.

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To walk along the bridge of conviction you must go slow enough to keep your perspective set on truth and to walk in enough humility of spirit to know both your worth and the truth. You must own what you need to own and remember that you can only control yourself. You are empowered to extend grace to others and an apology if necessary. Here is where lessons are learned and wisdom is earned.

Not many people find the bridge of conviction. It leads to redemption and very few choose it because it takes courage and maturity to get to the other side. You must pass through fear’s painful grasp and not allow the manipulation of anger to control you. It is a worthy endeavor and believers in Jesus Christ must allow the Spirit of God to guide us to the bridge and hear his whispers of encouragement all along the way.

Wisdom awaits us.

The power of God

Grace overflowing

Peace beyond understanding

Love without borders

Goodness and perspective

Kindness and joy

Wholeness and holiness

Just a few of the treasures that are on the other side of the bridge of conviction.

God speed.

Tiny little kindnesses

When I leave home for a few days I often notice the things no one but me would see.

My flowers whose faces are in search of the sun become thirsty and just a bit droopy.  

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I walk around watering herbs and flowers and looking for down cast heads.

I then notice that the bird feeders are also in need of more seeds.  The blue jays and robins are searching and searching the bottoms of the feeders.

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I refill them and walk along the porches to push back the cobwebs and sweep away the pollen.

In every corner of my home I issue tiny kindnesses that help to keep things flourishing.   

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It occurred to me that life is also full of the opportunities to sow tiny kindnesses all through out the day.

Kindnesses towards people can nurture their souls the way water can make a flower bloom. 

The same way my grandson turns his face towards mine for more kisses because love always searches for more goodness.                                                         11410754_394845570699936_604079107_n

A text message, a hand written note, a timely email, can all be kindnesses.

A phone call can remind a young mother that she can and will make it through a hard day.

A few minutes with a friend can bring clarity and push confusion back.

Small group meetings with young married’s help them feel safe enough to ask questions and practice their faith.

Meals with friends allow the truths of God to bloom deeply into our souls and shine out our actions.

Kindness becomes of habit of giving life in whatever way it’s needed.

Nurturing life wherever one finds it.

If we choose to go slow enough in life we can see, really see, where we can sow a kindness.

There is such power in tiny little kindnesses.

Tender days

 

There was a plan.

Roger and I have been faithfully working on that plan for many years.

The plan was to be debt free. To have our house paid off along with all the debts in our lives.

Now imagine being able to know that the finish line was only a year away and then…..

A young person walks into my house and compliments us on a lovely home and asks me a question, “what brings you back to Lawrenceville?” To which I answer her with our long term goal of being debt free. She then looks at me with her beautiful big shiny eyes full of excitement and curiosity and asks me, “then what?”

I look at her and stutter, “what do you mean, ‘then what ’?” The goal is TO BE DEBT FREE, to which she says, “yeah, that’s awesome, then what”. Can I tell you that my ears started ringing a little bit. My mouth went dry and my heart was beating a little too fast.

All I can think of was, “oh no, there might be some reason we are doing this other than to ENJOY BEING DEBT FREE.” I don’t know why it never entered my brain. To know me is to know that I overthink everything in life. Everything in life is not an exaggeration. Thinking is what I do in my free time and I believe I even do it while I’m sleeping!

It is as if I literally saw a new mountain arise behind the mountain we were currently scaling. The mountain called debt.

Then the wrestle began with the still small voice.

No, no, no, no, no, no, it can’t be that there is another adventure to be had. Another mountain to scale, another B zone to conquer.

God, you do know that I just turned 50 right? That’s oldish if I do say so myself. Not the time to be taking financial risks and doing daring things (I said in my best hobbit voice). It’s time to grow up and enjoy some of the payoff that living right and hard work has to offer.

Then I could sense that heightened awareness of God’s presence wanting to get a word in edge wise. “You were created to live on Mission Rozy”, is what I kept hearing over and over again.

In my younger years I would have done the not so polite thing of putting my metaphoric hands over my ears and start singing lalalalalalalala, I can’t hear you, by choosing busyness and distraction.

But being older and a bit wiser, I know those are just delaying tactics.

It was time for me to just listen to the whisper of possibility, to pull an old dream out of the dusty basement of my soul and remember it.

When I was younger I would dream about having a house where learning and living and thriving could happen. Where people who were worn and tired or just needed to remember the goodness of God could come and be rekindled. A house of bread and wine, of laughter and joy and surrounded by all things beautiful.

“Home is a place of ministry. Redeeming words, thoughts, and actions are shared and taught, the wisdom and instructions of God is passed along, and God’s love is offered to all who come under its influence.” -From the Living Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sarah and Sally Clarkson

I had packed that dream away and tucked it just out of arms reach. But it wasn’t out of the Spirit’s reach.

After much prayer and courageous conversation, Roger and I decided it was time to house hunt again, closer to where I work in Gainesville.

To find a home where souls could flourish. Where our whole family could continue to thrive together.

I’m happy/scared to say that we found one. We are set to close on March 18th and move on the 19th.

Moving is hard on my sentimental soul.

So if you think of me offer up a prayer.

Sky Cottage

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On a lake in Gainesville GA.

Confessions of an over thinker…..

I absolutely hate to confess that I’m an over thinker.

Can you relate?

Spending hours and hours of time thinking about things that I can’t change or have no power over?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m aware that thinking and the process of problem solving is a gift but all gifts have their limits.

I have a really smart brother in law that once told me that energy is like having a 100 pennies a day. Wherever you use your pennies, when you get to the end of a 100 your done.  I realized that I have wasted a lot of pennies on thinking about things I cannot solve.

It’s like climbing a short stubby tree.  I have a few of them in my backyard. If my 4 year old grand daughter were to climb one, she would not come to harm, but she is also not gaining any added perspective in climbing such a tiny tree.

How silly is it to stare at the ground (problem) over and over again thinking you will solve a problem that is out of your control?

But as I was praying and lifting those concerns and questions up to God, I actually saw another tree in my spirit.

It was this huge tree that was on a cliff, overlooking the whole valley and mountain range.

As I took my eyes off my issues and placed my eyes in a state of worship and gave things over to God, He guided me to see how He sees. How to pray effectively for the things that had me bogged down and tense. How to get lost in His wonder and beauty and enhance my vision with His truth.

When I climb the thinking tree my problems grow in clarity and weight and my limitations and hopelessness and frustrations increase.

When I climb the worship tree the size of God grows and my problems seem minuscule in comparison to the one who created all things. The God who knit me in my mothers womb and has planned all my days with His creative goodness. The One that knows all the paths and the solution to all the issues in the world.

I’m tired of wasting pennies.

I’m climbing the worship tree today and there is space enough here for you.

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