Monday, October 31, 2011

Do You Want to Be Free?

Each year I watch for birds. I look for their nests and count their eggs. I watch them soar in the air. I watch them as they gather twigs and seeds. I listen to their song and my soul sings along with them.

It is true that I have been set free. Jesus has set me free to live fully for him. I can be like the bird let loose from her cage and soar high and free or I can be like the bird who sits and stares at the open door of her cage to scared to venture out into the great unknown.

I have been both.

My cage is fear of rejection wound round the fear of failure, because if I fail, I am rejected. This fear leads to insecurity, which leads to distrust, which in turn, builds this cage tight round about me. Jesus is the door to that cage and he has flung the door wide open and beckons me to come out and soar with him.

Some days I do.

Some days I don't.

It's the days that I stay in my cage that brings me a strange sense of comfort, the fear is what I know, but it also brings with it a sense that I have lost something very important. I have lost the freedom that Jesus provides. So I edge closer to the door of the cage and peer out, 'will he lift me up once again? Will he be there?' skitters through my heart.

I close me eyes, spread my arms wide and step out of the cage and fly.

This journey we are on--it is full of twists and turns as unique as each one of us. But one thing we all share is our heart's journey toward the Father's. At times, we get stuck in a cage, but I believe that the Lord longs for us to open our arms, take that leap of faith, and trust Him to carry us through. And it doesn't have to be a 'big' thing like taking a missions trip, or starting a new job, but it could be just the soul release to smile more or play more or trust more while going about your already full day.

God has called you to follow Him throughout your tasks as a woman, wife, mother, or teacher. Fly free in those areas. Listen for His voice calling you and follow.

To ponder:
Are you stuck in a cage?
What are the bars of your cage made of?

The Challenge:
Identify your cage--look at the open door and step out and let the One who Saves lift you up.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Relevant: 5 minute Fridays

Five Minute Fridays--the time when you write for 5 minutes for the sheer joy of writing, no editing, no worrying how words fit like pieces in a puzzle.

Today: Relevant



The word real is in there somewhere. To be relevant while being real. To take the bad days and the good days and weave them into a relevant life. A relevant life where I am honest about the struggles and taking these words the float through this heart of mine and work them into words and then live them.

Relevently living this life. To take the ideals and live up to them. To write for where I am at, not for where I was or will be, but right here, right now. Encouraging myself that to live relevantly means to let the past lie down--all the accusations and fear that threaten the present--and use the Most Relevant Word to lift me up and carry me through those hard days. To take the Word of Life and live it.

That's relevant.


Blessings on you this weekend as you live a Relevant Life.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Be Still

I am discussing the cycle from apathy and pride to surrender and victory. This is a cycle I am familiar with. I don't have a single answer for the antidote to this problem. What I have are principles I have gleaned from the Lord's word. I don't want to give the mistaken impression that I have conquered this cycle or that I am continually within this cycle. It is just that: a cycle. It comes around every once in a while and needs to be experienced and dealt with.

'Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.' (Psalm 46:10)

Being still is something I am still learning. I cannot just sit. If I am sitting, I need to be reading a magazine or book or working on a crocheting project or going over school subjects. I am drawn to sit outside, but I can't just sit. Pretty soon I am up, walking around the yard inspecting the raspberries or flower bed or trees. This inability to sit still gets in the way of me being still.

To be still in His presence. To soak up His sweet spirit. To be awed by His power and might. To let the still small voice whisper to my frantic thoughts: 'be still'. He will be exalted. His presence will be made known. Know that He is God. Rest in that truth.

Within being still in his presence also forces me to confront the feelings that busy-ness covers. Sometimes I have to let those awful feelings flow through you to get to the other side. Those feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, sadness, or anger. Ignoring them, pretending they don't exist only makes them more insistent in breaking out. When I slow down enough to be still, I need to let the feelings come--give them a name, experience them and then show them the door of Truth. Do I have this mastered? Not at all, but I am learning.

I fall prey to the idea that if my feelings are wrong, then I must not/cannot give them a voice. But it is in letting these feelings have their say, while coming back at them with the Word of Truth, that I find freedom. Freedom from what my assumptions of what a good Christian girl should say and feel and do.

'But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.' (Psalm 131:1-2) This is something I must do. It is up to me to still my own soul. I must choose to be still and quiet, resting in my Lord. Leaning back into Him, looking into His face with all the trust of a child. Knowing that despite my rolling feelings He is God--exalted above the nations. He will be made known.

Be still. Know that He is God.

To ponder:
1. Do you try and deny your negative feelings?
2. What happens when you do?

The challenge:
Next time the feelings are roiling and boiling inside of you, will you try and give them a voice and then a name and come at them with the Truth of Scripture?


Monday, October 24, 2011

Self-Pity or Pride?

Apathy is a dangerous place to be. Apathy, for me, quickly leads to questioning my purpose. It leads me down a path that is difficult to climb back up. Apathy can lead me straight into the arms of self-pity. First I think I don't care and then I think nobody really cares about what I say or do. I am just one women against a tide of four and against the tide of culture and against the tide of time.

I am a woman against the tide of four because I am tasked with the charge of raising and taming these four children I have been blessed with, but I am dealing with not just innocent children, but five natural, sinful natures (mine included) all vying for top position. It is exhausting.

I am a woman against the tide of culture because I am seeking to raise and train these four blessings in the path the Lord is leading us down and it is contrary to popular culture.

And time, it keeps going by faster and faster. The days begin and end before I can even catch my breath. All the relationship building I want to it even happening? I have less than ten years with my oldest child and just over a decade with my youngest. I can't keep up with time.

Recently, I became overwhelmed by the tides. It started out innocently enough, just dealing with life's ups and downs, but it quickly spiraled into a battle between what I was feeling and what I know to be True. I believe that our feelings need to be recognized and dealt with, but they cannot be relied on for Truth.

I was questioning my ability to mother: was I really making a difference? Is all this sacrifice really worth it? Do they even hear me when I speak? I was looking at my ideals and realizing just how far away I was from them. Am I even capable of being the kind of mother I dream of being?

Then God spoke. He said, 'if you want to be like Christ, then empty yourself and become a servant.' Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves'. (Philippians 2:3-7)

This slammed into me. I saw my pity party for what it really was--pride. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to appreciated. I wanted to be heralded as this great motivator.I wanted my family to rise up and call me blessed. I wanted my efforts to be applauded.

It's not about me. All that God has blessed me with, all that he has given me, all the opportunities to bring him's not about what I can do or what I am good at. It is my heart. My heart needs to be emptied of myself and I need to be a servant. I need to check my motives through His filter.

But how does that help us when we are beaten down? What about when we are exhausted? What do we do, when we know all the 'right' answers and yet our feelings fail us every time?
I hope to share what I have learned and am still learning to put into practice. Speaking God's Truth. Learning discipline. Humility. Understanding prudence. Weaving it all together while still trying to figure it out. Sharing it with others--my gift to you.

May God's blessings be upon our journey,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday Blessings


'From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the Lord's name is to be praised.' Psalm 113:3

May your Sunday be filled with the Light of His presence.
Blessings from our family to yours.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Its Dark


'Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then will I go to the altar of my God, to God, my joy and my delight.' Psalm 43:3-4

May your morning bring you His light and His truth. May you joy and delight in the one who guides. He will turn the darkness to light, I know. Times of darkness creep in and overwhelm, but there is always Light. This amazing sunrise took my breath away and filled me with awe for the Artist Creator. In it, he showed me himself: his beauty and his faithfulness for the sun always rises. May you reach out and spend time at the altar, where you will find joy and delight.


Monday, October 17, 2011

I did it again.

I used my words for death instead of life. The words that came spewing out of my mouth were bullets which not only wounded the one to whom they were directed, but also the other hearts within hearing.

So often the tongue is a whip and This. must. stop. How can I expect to teach Life into their hearts and minds if my words bring death? But what is it about words that kill? Where do these words come from? Is my heart and mind so black and depraved that God's light is far from me?

My mind is where the words form before they become. So it is my mind which needs the Spirit's control--not my tongue. And yet if my heart is not under the Holy Spirit's influence then my mind cannot be either.

Heart. Mind. Tongue. First one, then the other, until, finally, the tongue is bridled. My words are an indicator of the state of my heart. This is why the Lord calls us to have a undivided heart (Psalm 86:11) and for our minds to be renewed (Romans 12:1).

I need to wash everything by his word and by his grace. 'For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sward, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing is all creation is hid from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.' (Hebrews 4:12-13) So every thought that flitters through this mind, good or bad, must be held up to the standard of the Word. And I cannot pretend that I didn't just think 'that thought'. The One who sees all things really does 'see' all things--even those thoughts we wouldn't want anyone to see.

Yet, I am not left with this seemingly impossible struggle. Hebrews 4:14-16 goes on to say: 'therefore, (I love therefores!) since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.'

Can I get an amen?!

First, hold onto your faith. Do you believe Jesus is leading you, guiding you, helping you build your house? Then hold onto that faith! Don't waver. Don't sway. Hold on. Walk in faith. Secondly,
walk boldly up to that glorious throne of grace and lay it all there. Before those death words come pouring out, stop!, boldly go to the throne of grace and find the grace you need for the moment. It is there, waiting for you to receive. To receive grace and life-giving words. Words to encourage and teach. Words to speak life and love into hearts and minds.

When I rain word bullets down, I know that there is forgiveness and I also know there is grace. I have experienced days when my words brought life and when also they brought life. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my High Priest is waiting to intercede for me and to offer me grace.

For you, too.


Friday, October 14, 2011

'Catch' at Five Minute Fridays

The goal: to write from the heart, unedited for five minutes.


Catch. I hold my hands out hoping my heart will catch those grace moments in each day.

Today I caught the message that my God is all sufficient for my heart needs. Today, I caught the much needed phone call from the precious one who is no longer a daily part of my life.

Today, I caught the boy and held him close when he climbed over his chair during reading class to squeeze me and tell me how he loves me and I am the 'best'.

Has my heart caught the grace that my God gently rains down like manna? I hold out my hands and open my heart to receive--and me, the girl, who cringes when a ball is tossed at me, knowing that I. will. miss. But, not today. Today I caught each grace moment and held it close to the heart.

Catch. Catch this: The One who loves, the One who sees is raining down grace. Are you standing waiting, ready to catch the manna?


Blessings on your weekend,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do You Hear?

This is the call I hear:

'Remember these things, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I have made you, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.' Isaiah 44:21-23

Can you hear him calling you? Let his forgiveness sweep over you and through you. Let him sweep away your sins like the morning mist. Will you respond?

Forgiven by grace,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Build a House

'He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.' Isaiah 40:11

I have rested in this verse in my years of mothering. I started out mothering with ideals and fear of the unknown, but this verse has brought me great comfort when I felt as though I were wandering in the dark (and some days still do). I rest in the knowledge that Jesus is carrying my children and leading me to his 'best' for them and me. I trust that as I pour my heart and soul into the souls of these four precious ones, that He is carrying them close to his heart and will finish the work.

'The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.' Proverbs 14:1

It is in Proverbs that I learn the wisdom in having a plan for my family. Being prepared, having a direction protects my family from being swept up into the cultural storm with no anchor to hold us to the One who leads and guides. God's word is my blueprint for building my family, but if I fill my mind with principles and philosophies contrary to God's word, I will be tearing down my family with my own hands. To build without a plan invites failure. Who has seen those little old farmhouses with rooms tacked on here and there? Hand raising over here! Those homes served a purpose, but were left without forethought and planning and the result was a home that could not withstand the test of time. My heart's desire is to build a home to withstand time and be a blessing to those whose lives we touch. God's word has the plan. Am I following the plan?

'By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.' Proverbs 24:3-4

Beauty within my home is important to me. I love playing with colors and textures and putting it all together to create a cozy, 'come sit with me' kind of feel. But God is continually bringing these verses to mind and showing me that I can create all the cozy spaces I want, but without Him, it is cold. God's word is where wisdom is found, and it is the blueprints for my home. Understanding is the Holy Spirit's inspiration and it is through the Holy Spirit that I can follow the blueprints. Knowledge is application and how God's principles and word will apply to our specific and individual family.

As you journey along this mothering road, take encouragement from God's word. He is leading you. He is carrying your children. He has a plan for your home. He desires to fill you with wisdom, understanding and knowledge. He will hold your hand and guide you. He will never, ever leave you to flounder on your own. He is journeying with you. Take his hand and let him lead.