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.”

 

 

 

Dear Bad day – I’m putting you on notice.

Ever have one of those days? You know the kind that makes you forget the sun is warm and the sky is a stunning blue?

The kind that whispers lies into your head and reminds you of your worst fears or deepest hurts?

I received an email from someone I care deeply about. She was deep in the pain of the terrible day.

Here is a bit of what I wrote back.

Maybe a few of us need to hear it today too…….

Baby, just breath and hold on. These emotions are not the truth and they will pass.

A few days ago I had a weird experience. My nest was empty and I was hit with an overwhelming feeling that I was inconsequential.  Nothing I did mattered anymore. My best is behind me and there is no where to go but down.  The weirdest thing about this lie is that it came with weight and it felt true. My mind new better but I couldn’t help the pain that I started to feel in both my body and mind. For 3 days my body became sore and inflamed and I had a good ol flare. My auto immune system entered the fight.  This one soft thought kept floating above me saying, hold on, just let it pass, it will pass. Don’t panic and don’t make any decisions from this place of pain. This is just grief and it is an emotion that must come and do some shaking but the things that are true in me will hold fast.

It was a long 3 days. I sat in scripture, I prayed prayers. I couldn’t feel God the way I normally do, but I still believed that he was present.

Then I woke up and it was gone, just gone.  I need you to know that I spent those 3 days doing the right things, though I didn’t want to do anything but sleep since I was in so much pain both physically and emotionally.  I asked a few people to pray, I confessed my fears and grief to my husband and close friends, and it passed.

I am believing the same for you.

I typed out all those biblical affirmations of faith.

I’m going to send them to you.

Just breath, read out loud, and hold on.

It will pass. God will heal you though His Word.

Those lies that feel like the have a strong hold on you and are  tormenting are only paper chains. They have no power or right to keep you in bondage.

Love you.

For those of you facing the bad day, I pray this walk through His Word will shake the shame off of you, douse you with the fire of His love and fill you with the joy of His being. Just hold on, it’s coming. The good day is closer than you think.

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Here are some biblical statements with the power to focus our minds on God’s truth and dispel our emotions that often lie to us.

  • I love the Lord my God with my whole heart, soul and mind (Mark 12:30)
  • I walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • The Lord is on my side. I will not fear what man can do to me (Psalm 118:6)
  • I am competent not in my own abilities but because He has made me competent by His Spirit (Corinthians 3:5-6)
  • I abide in Christ, He abides in me, and I bear much fruit (John 15:5)
  • I have the mind of Christ: therefore I act in a way that is consistent with His actions (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5)
  • I do not look with disdain upon my weaknesses. I see them as opportunities for God to display His powerful strength and grace through me (2 Cor. 12:10)
  • No weapon formed against me can prosper, and every tongue that rises up against me in judgment will be condemned (Isaiah 54:17)
  • I will be hospitable without complaint (1 Peter 4:9)
  • I will not use my tongue to speak cursings, but rather I will speak life-giving blessings to everyone I meet and in every situation I face (James 3:8-10)
  • The Spirit indwells me: therefore I am the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16)
  • I am faithful over a few things, and I will be made ruler over many (Matt. 25:23)
  • I humbly submit to God, and I actively resist the work of the devil, knowing he must flee from me (James 4:7)
  • I will not give the enemy an opportunity or foothold in my life (Ephesians 4:27).
  • The One who is in me is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
  • I choose to obey the Lord and receive the prosperous abundance and blessing He will bestow on me (Deuteronomy 30:8-9)
  • My heart keeps the commandments of God. They will add length of days and peace to my life (Prov. 3:1-2).
  • I walk by the Spirit and do not fulfill the desires of my flesh (Galatians 5:16)
  • I am enabled to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • The Lord guards my going out and my coming in, today and forever (Psalm 121:8).
  • I rejoice in the Lord whether circumstances are good or bad (Philippians 4:4).
  • I will not be afraid when I lie down, and my sleep shall be sweet (Proverbs 3:24).
  • I obtain the favor of the Lord (Proverbs 12:2).
  • The Lord is in my midst, and He sings over me with joy (Zephaniah 3:17).
  • I am the apple of my Father’s eye (Deuteronomy 32:10).
  • Goodness and mercy will follow me not only today but all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6).
  • I have been made in the image and likeness of God Himself. This is my heritage (Genesis 1:27).
  • I have not been given the spirit of this world; rather, I have the Spirit of God that I might know the mind and will of God for me (1 Cor. 2:12).
  • I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16).
  • My steps have been ordained and ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23).
  • I only allow my mind to entertain what is honorable, right, pure, lovely, noble excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil 4:8).
  • I long for the pure milk of the Word that I may grow up to spiritual maturity (1 Peter 2:2).
  • I seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14).
  • I am a necessary and useful part of the body of Christ, and I will use my spiritual gifts to edify others ( 1 Cor 12:7).
  • Faith, hope, and love – especially love- abide in me (1 Cor 13:13).
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:21).
  • I have been given victory in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 15:57).
  • I am meek and I will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5).
  • I extend mercy to others, and I will in turn will receive mercy ( Matt 5:7).
  • I have a pure heart before God, and I expect to see His manifest presence in my life (Matt 5:8).
  • I discipline myself for the purpose of godliness since it holds promise for the present life as well as the life to come ( 1 Tim 4:8).
  • My ambition is to be pleasing to Him and Him alone (2 Cor 5:9).
  • I do not judge fellow believers so that I will not bring judgement on myself (Rom 2:1).
  • My priority is to seek first the kingdom and God’s righteousness and I expect all needed, secondary things to be added unto me (Matt 6:33).
  • I am a true worshipper. I worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).
  • I do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).
  • Rivers of living water flow out of my inner being (John 7:38).
  • I have been chosen by God to bring forth fruit that shall remain (John 15:16).
  • I am a brand-new person. My old sin nature has passed away, and everything has become new (2Cor 5:17).
  • No matter my past, I am forgiven of  my sins because of the lavishness of His grace upon me (Eph 1:7).
  • I have been given every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Eph 1:3)
  • Because He was wounded, I am healed (Isaiah 53:5).
  • In Christ, I am whole and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:4).
  • Whatever I ask for in prayer according to the Father’s will, I believe that I have received it (Mark 11:24).
  • I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation, I am one of God’s own people (1 Peter 2:9).
  • I will not be afraid because I know the spirit of fear is not from Him. He has given me a spirit of power, love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7).
  • I am not a stranger to God. I am a citizen of God’s kingdom and a member of His household (Eph 2:19).
  • I have been sealed by the Holy spirit who indwells me. He is a pledge from the Father of my coming inheritance (Eph 1:13-14).
  • I am a masterpiece created in Christ Jesus in order to walk in the good works He has prepared for me to do (Eph 2:10).
  • For freedom I have been made free. I walk daily in the gift of freedom (Galatians 5:1).
  • I am dead to the power of sin (Romans 6:11).
  • I have been raised with Christ, and I sit with Him in heavenly places (Eph 2:6).
  • I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt 5:13-14).
  • I will not fear because the Lord is my light, my salvation, and the strength of my life (Psalm 27:1).
  • The joy of the lord is my strength (Neh 8:10).
  • I trust completely in the Lord; therefore I will be like a fruit bearing tree that continually finds nourishment despite dry, parched weather (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
  • No good thing will the Lord withhold from me as I walk uprightly before Him (Psalm 84:11).
  • Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and I will do the works that He did (John 14:12).
  • In Christ I have become a child of God, and I receive the blessings God has for me (John 1:2 ; Romans 16:17)
  • In Christ, God has chosen me as His own and made me strong. He has placed His mark on me. He has placed His spirit in my heart as a guarantee for all He has promised (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).

Discipleship Tip #1 – Don’t take it personal.

Upon request, this blog will elaborate on the former discipleship tips from last week.

The first tip was – Don’t take it personally.

When meeting with anyone, it is important to remember that he or she comes with a full history of relationships that are both good and bad.

I can tell within moments if the person that I am meeting with has a good or bad relationship with their mother.  The person being discipled will immediately project an attitude or posture that has little or nothing to do with me.

I’ve heard everything from.

“I don’t really respect women.”

“I don’t trust women”, along with a variety of different responses.  Often my age (close to 50) will also solicit a reaction that is either good or bad depending on their history.

I often start with many questions to hear their story and piece together how many walls there are between us. 

Influence cannot happen until trust is established.

If I am oversensitive or over-react in any way (if their behavior is less than stellar), it will add to the distrust that has already come in our relationship.

When I hear an uncomplimentary response, I often just ask why. Why are women hard to trust (for example)?

At all times I ask the Holy Spirit to allow me to discern the hurt behind the comments and that the shield of Faith would extinguish any darts thrown at my heart, whether intended or not.

The un-offendable person always gains the higher ground. The person on the higher ground will always have more perspective.

If by chance a comment spoken from the disciplee happens to sting, I take note of it but do not respond to it at the moment. I do not justify, argue or defend myself.  If clarity is needed because an untruth is spoken, then I do that calmly.

I will take the wounded place back to my prayer time and if I know that it still remains as pain, then I talk to my sacred circle of people that know and love me so that I can displace any lie trying to take root or ask for healing for a wound not completely healed.

There is power in keeping my peace and joy in all conversations.  My security and identity are rooted in God’s opinion of me and not man’s.

I refuse to allow the chaos of choices made by people in process to steal the peace that was gained in fellowship with Christ. I can empathize without agreeing and it is my role to bring the light of truth into the darkness. My light should be contagious and not their darkness.

At the end of the day, if I discover that I have a sore place in my heart after meeting with someone, then I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to discover it so that I can walk in wholeness and love for Him, for me and for others.

Luke 10:27

He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

Hope you find these words helpful.

Can you still bow?

Can you still bow? 

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Has your year has been beyond your wildest dreams, or have they been filled with hardships and griefs that are welcomed to never return?

Has it changed your view of God?

Has God become less good because our lives went sideways when we thought we had a good plan in place?

Have people gone that you thought would last a lifetime?

Has loss come to visit or has it been fortune?

Last year brought both extravagant blessings and severe grief.  My emotions have been stretched beyond their boundaries and are in foreign soil.

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In a year that has rivaled it’s predecessors; this is what I know for sure.

God is good.

He is hope eternal.

He is the anchor that holds.

His love is deeper than any grief and richer than any blessing.

To KNOW Him is the continued cry of my soul.

A few weeks ago, I rose from my bed and heard the cry of a little girl calling me from the basement apartment. My grandchild had been up and playing and decided she wanted her Nana. As I entered the room she jumped up in my arms and realized how warm I was in my robe. She bowed into my warmth and let my embrace fully sink in. I was overwhelmed with delight to hold her, and warm her little self, with all of me.

So I pray this year we can bow into His goodness and warmth and know how deeply that action delights Him.

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I have no idea what 2015 will hold but I know who holds my heart in 2015.

Rambling from a broken heart.

Last week I spent 5 days traveling through hell’s playground (sex slave industry) in Chiang Mai and Bangkock Thailand. Never before have I ever witnessed human beings treated with such violence and disgust.

What will man not to for the sake of his own pleasure?

Sin strives to strip away beauty and life from all things that are good and innocent.

It would be easy right now for me to feel indignant at the horrors I’ve just witnessed. I’ve held the hands of women that wept as they recounted the rape and abuse they have endured for years and held the children that are left abandoned in the warfare of the flesh. They are unguarded innocent lambs among the ravenous wolves. I must and will do my part to end this war of flesh and innocence but even more than that I must come to a deeper understanding.

I must remember that ANY interaction with another human that has only my vain desires as a focus is just as potentially harmful. All pursuit of happiness outside of God’s plan or Kingdom principles will bring this world into deeper deterioration.

Oh how I long to increase love, beauty, and truth and not just be a fan.

This is my season to make a difference in the lives of the innocent and helpless but also to live a life of kindness and patience in my daily interactions with all those I meet daily.

I must choose love in the face of hate or indifference.
I must choose wisdom even when I am forced to pay the price of another’s foolishness.
I must be kind when others actions feel cold and cruel.
I must give myself away in a million little ways that feel like they don’t matter but in truth make all the difference.
I must weigh the needs of others even more than my own.

This is all so easy to say and hard to do but it is our part in the daily war for light and love.

I am in a state of hyperawareness that bad things happen to good people BUT good people CAN happen to bad things AND make ALL the difference.

When I share the light of God my light becomes brighter.

By giving myself away, I increase and love grows and the darkness has to take one more step back.

One day I pray that my steps become a dance and that as I join others that we will serve as guardians and light dancers.

Light dancers that diminish the darkness for God’s glory.

May God’s goodness become manifest through you and through me today.

Whispers of Wisdom

Orientation – one’s position in relation to true north, to points on the compass, or to a specific place or object.

We live in busy and stressful times with more distractions than any generation  before us.

Never before did people have devices that ding, buzz, light up and never leave us.   All those pulls on our time that falsely tell us how important we are and central to all that is happening in our world.

We are busier and more disoriented than ever.

While taking a week at the beach this week I witnessed an interaction that served as a perfect example of what we experience daily.

There was a child playing along the seashore running back and forth and in and out of the ocean. He was only about 4 years old and at first he kept his eyes on his momma while investigating the delights of the sea. He played and twirled, fully invigorated and enthralled with the waves and the sand as it splashed his feet and knees.  In his excitement he forgot to keep orienting himself to momma.  At one point he drifted a few yards away from his original spot and when he looked up, momma wasn’t there; or so he thought.  His eyes found me many yards away and in his confusion he started screaming at me and running towards me.  Momma, momma, momma, I smiled as I saw his mother rise from her place and lift her voice to orient her baby.  The boy found his momma and quickly followed her back to his original play area.

I giggled in relief as I watched this exchanged and also felt the whisper of wisdom reveal to me that I was watching a version of what I do when busy.

As the day begins I set out to center myself through prayer, worship & study. These are spiritual disciplines that have served to be my greatest source of life and orientation.  I realized by viewing this incident between parent and child that I at times commit the same mistake as the boy.  When life gets busy I stop orienting as often as I should.

Daniel in the Bible was onto something when he committed to pray and worship three times a day.  In the midst of great political turmoil and high responsibility he understood the power of orientation.

Daniel 6:10

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

When life is pressing how much more should we be stopping to orient ourselves with our true north?

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The painful beauty of transitions.

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The sea is rolling and churning and I serve as a witness to the turmoil the sand is undergoing in the powerful twisting force of the water. The sand is propelled upward that the water seems filled with sand. Beige water contrasts blue and I stand in awe of the sheer force of the waves.

 

My life transitions remind me of my time in the sea. Relationships that were hard won are now shifting and moving and the result remains to be seen. Makes me so sad for what was but hopeful about what will be.

 

This is what I do know is true. God has a plan and I will be moving into things not away from them. I always mourn. It’s half how I am wired. I give it all away and then grieve but,  I know how to move forward.

 

I just don’t know how to do it and not hurt.  This is what I have learned as silver appears on my crown, some pain is worth the cost.

 

I ask God what will come next for me in life. I can’t see yet. The water of my soul is murky.  Just like the ocean that I am relishing this week. I’m churning and churning and the salt water is stinging my soul eyes.  It will pass and soon my vision will be restored.

 

My water play is just like my life.  You see I had a bout with the sea and the sea won.  It flipped me around and I laughed as I scraped along the bottom and got tossed like a rag doll.  It felt like I was playing with God.  I play catch with him in my spirit and this was a manifestation of our game play but with water.  To experience the expanse of the ocean is probably the only natural thing on earth that can best serve as a metaphor for his sheer greatness.  It can surround me and overwhelm me yet it lifts me and propels me forward or back with great power.  I am lost in its volume yet not lost put part of something so much greater than myself. I worked to stay afloat and above the waves. Some just crested my head and made me laugh with all the bouncing around.  Refreshing and invigorating while also being exhausting and filling.  When I resist the movement of the sea I get pummeled but when I surrender to its rhythm I am thrilled by the wonder of all that movement and sheer force. Lifted beyond what I can possibly do on my own, brought into the depths or out to the shore. 

 

 Yeah sounds God like to me.

 

I surrender in life and in the sea and enjoy my water play with the Creator.

 

 

Soul Care

I just returned from a soul care conference. The conference time was skillfully designed to go from head to heart.  They had teaching time always followed by a time of reflection and the sharing of our sacred ramblings in triads.  The added weight of perspective by people who know you and care for you was powerful. Image how limiting it would be to walk into a dark room with just your candle and try to see every detail of the room but if you can add others in with their candles it’s a game changer.  When trusted sojourners join the process the exercise turns into an exchange of life and deepened awareness both of God and yourself.

 

As I return home to my beloved family and cottage I have this deepened sense of peace and gratitude in my soul.  I smile as I walk from room to room counting my extreme blessings. It’s as if I can see even more beauty around me than ever before. My eyes keep welling up with happy tears. I marvel at the light that baths the walls and spills into the family room.  The breeze that drifts past me while I sit in the shade under a tree whose leaves trap the light and grant me shade.  I realize that I can see and experience more beauty and love because I have removed more darkness from my soul.

 

As I tinker in my flowerbeds dead heading the dahlias and realize how similar this is to our soul excavations.  I view this lovely heap of color with both life and death intermingles in its form. The old finished blooms can actually start to damage the life around it.  I clip away without regret and examine the gorgeous blooms that still raise their heads to the sun. When the process is complete, nothing but life remains. That which cannot contribute must leave. Just like in life we have situations that leave behind messages that can bring us death. When we don’t take the time to examine what to let go, what to keep, and what to learn from, we end up with mixed messages.  The danger to our souls is that we start to carry as much dead thoughts as living ones. Truth becomes intermingled with lies and we often don’t know how to sift our souls for fullness and life.

 

What great lovers of God and man we would all be if we cared for the conditions of our soul.

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What does it mean to live fully?

What does it mean to live fully?

In one day I came upon  a glorious quote twice.
What are the odds of that happening?
Since I’m not a big believer in coincidence but a chaser of God’s fingerprints, I knew a message was trying to reach my soul.
Here is the quote –
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming/ but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. ”
Theodore Roosevelt
To add to this delightful quote like a a perfect bookend I came upon this quote this morning.
“You can live on bland food so as to avoid an ulcer, drink no tea, coffee or other stimulants in the name of health, go to bed early, stay away from night life, avoid all controversial subjects so as never to give offense, mind your own business, avoid involvement in other poeples problems, spend money ony on necessities and save all you can.  You can still break your neck in the  bath tub, and it will serve you right.”
I had to laugh between these two quotes lays my life.  The glory lies in the risk. In my minds eye I can see the hand of Jesus standing on stormy seas, extending a hand to me and saying – come on girl, let’s walk on water.
I’m choosing to live big with my whole heart.  Maybe we can squeeze out all of life that it has to offer when we take His hand and get out of our boats of safety and false assurances.
See that bird on the top of the page. Let’s do the same today.
Throw back your head and let your life rip!

One Thing

Father in Heaven! What are we without You! What is all that we know, vast accumulation though it may be, but a chipped fragment if we do not know You! What is all our striving, could it ever encompass a world, but a half -finished work if we do not know you: You the One, who is one thing and who is all!

So may You give to the intellect

wisdom to comprehend that one thing;

to the heart,

sincerity to receive this understanding;

to the will, purity that wills only one thing.

In prosperity, may you grant

 perseverance to will one thing;

amid distractions,

collectedness to will one thing;

in suffering,

patience to will one thing.

You that give both the beginning and the completion, may You early, at the dawn of the day, give to the young the resolution to will one thing.  As the day wanes, may You give to the old a renewed remembrance of their first resolution, that the first may be like the last, the last like the first, in possession of a life that has willed one thing.

Soren Kierkegaard