Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yahweh-Yireh

This year I have resolved to officially give up "worrying," claiming it is so 2011 and very overrated...so when I felt it creeping up this morning, I had to hush it back down with prayer and His Holy Word. Re-reading the familiar words of Matthew 6 always ushers in peace. I love my trusty NIV, but also enjoy holding it up to other versions because God has a way of speaking afresh and allowing His truth to sink in when I do this.

Anyone out there a bit worried about yesterday or tomorrow,
open your mouths and feast on this:

Matthew 6:19-24 (The Message):
(emphasis my own)

A Life of God-Worship
19-21"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

22-23"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

24"You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both.

25-26"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

I don't want to pull down the blinds on the window of my life by worrying and doubting in my yesterdays and tomorrows. No, I want this life to shine and be a reflection of Him. Eyes open wide in wonder and belief. In Genesis 22, Abraham believed God to be a God of provisions. In obedience, he was ready and willing, and when the time came for the unthinkable, "he looked up and there in the thicket he saw a ram caught by it's horns...So Abraham called that place Yahweh-Yireh, which means "The LORD will provide" (verses 13-14). Let this season, and this life, be one that's marked with just that...evidences all along this journey that remind and declare:
Yahweh-Yireh.

Steeping myself...
Now that's a better way to start my day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

tiny breakthrough
in darkness of cocoon,
shedding glimpses of
movement
on new wings of grace.
awareness of work
we've still to sow,
yet beholding
and strengthened
by today's view,
as it's one of
hope
and light.
yesterday's ground plowed in
revelation and
movement,
and hope
in the coming harvest.
a garden sure to rise,
by only
living water and
light of Son.
and the waiting
upon both.
emerging
into what
the Maker has purposed.
a
creation
of
new.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Paper kisses...

I almost didn't write this post because I know Brooke would be horrified if she found out...
But this just tickled me like no other; it's worth sharing.
So, a couple of days ago we went to Target to replace a broken toy that Brayden had received for Christmas. We let Brooke pick out something small and she chose this 2 pack of Justin Bieber folders for $2.00.
Yesterday, late afternoon, I was in her bedroom putting away clean clothes when something caught my eye...It was fairly dark in her room, but I caught a glimpse of a reflection on one of her new folders that was sitting on her bed.
As I looked closer, I noticed that there were lip marks on the surface of each folder, right where Justin Bieber's mouth was...Yep, she was kissing Justin!
This sorta concerned me, but moreso cracked me up. 6 years old and kissing the paper face of Justin Bieber. I don't ever remember doing this as a little girl, although I do remember making my Ken and Barbie kiss. She is growing up too fast. Still wanting to keep the "little" in my girl. But glimpses like this just remind me of the unique wiring God has gifted in the heart of a female...to love and be loved, to be pursued and treasured,
for prince charming to come dashing in on a white horse and lead her to her very own
"happily ever after."
And even at this tender age, to be found captivating.
My prayer for her is that she will always seek and find the answer of her heart's desires in Jesus.
But, until then, first and foremost let her find this in her Daddy,
(and perhaps in the occasional paper kisses of a PopStar).
We have ourselves a dreamer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

what can i bring...

wish i had the song in her voice,
but i'll happily settle for the song of her heart.
close your door. turn up the volume.
take a few moments before Him in reverent worship.
bring all of yourself.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

insulated...

I've been cold for 2 days straight. Freezing cold, to the bone. So cold that my husband came home from work last night and surprised me with an electric blanket. I haven't used one of those since I was a girl growing up in the farmhouse. Brings back memories of fighting with my siblings on frigid days over who's turn it was to stand over the furnace vent. The best was to stand over it in a nightgown and trap the heat in all around. Well, 30+ years later I find myself living in a cold house again. It doesn't help that this house is large, there are hardwood floors and windows all throughout, and although there have been additions and remodels, it is still old and probably lacks proper insulation. It also doesn't help that it has been 11 degrees outside either. But despite the frigid temps of the season, I've felt insulated. Insulated by His grace and presence. And with this, suddenly all of my heart's desires and struggles don't seem as urgent or important as they've begun to melt down around me. Circumstances haven't changed, but His presence and my awareness of Him has. I've been buffered in His insulation.

My husband and I just watched a CATALYST Conference DVD. Some friends lent it to us a while ago and suggested we watch it, but we hadn't gotten around to it until last night. Perhaps we didn't make time or just got too tired or sucked into the "no-brainer" entertainment of American Pickers or Pawn Stars come night, but we finally sat down and got a chance to watch it. And it was good. We listened to messages of two dynamic speakers/pastors: Francis Chan and Judah Smith. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I'm afraid that the two messages are blurring together for me...but I still want to share what God's laid on my heart in the process. Just know that these next thoughts originated from these two anointed men.

While I've read the works of Francis Chan and have checked out a video or online clip of him here and there, I had never actually watched him deliver a message before. Once I got past his wild and passionately animated style of preaching (If I talked like that with my arms/hands, I'd have biceps and triceps of steel!) the words of his heart rang true and convicting.

Francis posed a question to the conference crowd of thousands, "What if we were to take an inventory of the prayers over the past month from everyone here? What prayers would we see repeated over and over again?" He goes on to tell a story about Moses (Exodus 33). How Moses had already walked with God...He'd already witnessed God's great miracles firsthand, and yet He wanted more. Even after all of that, Moses boldly asks God to, "show me Your glory." See, Moses was after more than what God could say or do. He desired what was beyond the miracles and promises...He wanted to know God. He wanted to know the essence of Him and what made God God. It was like Moses was saying, "God, I want to know who You are and what You're like, I want more of You."

I believe it was in Judah Smith's message that he talked about David, the heart barer and writer of the book of Psalms. The two messages are beginning to intermix, but one of them referenced David's earnest prayer in Psalm 27:4:

"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple."

Out of all the things to be asking God, this was the ONE thing He desired...God's presence. To know Him. Is this your daily prayer and desire of your heart? If we inventoried your personal prayers over the past month, would this be the repeat one above all others? I have a lot of repeat prayers, but I can tell you this...this was not one of mine (and it should have been). Recently, my
struggles haven't changed, but I have...and it's because of His presence. My first and foremost prayer, above all other things should be just this. For His presence.
For more of Him.
And for my awareness and reverent acknowledgement of Him.
As believers He's given us His Holy Spirit. It's within...
but sometimes we are too distracted and too worried to take note and abide.

John 15:5 says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."

In order to know Him, I must spend time with Him and be fully present in reverence before Him. How can I really know Him apart from this? He must abide within, because apart from Him I can do nothing. Without His presence, what use am I to Him? I cannot bear fruit, be used by Him, or make Him known. We need Him first. We also need to rid ourselves of the distractions around us that beg for our attention and connive us into thinking that Jesus is not enough.

If you've had a taste of being fully present in His presence, if you've had a taste of Jesus in an up-close-and-personal kind of way, you understand that it is better than life itself. If you haven't had this before, you can. I beg you to try...seek it and seek Him. It's better than anything this world can offer...it's better than your favorite comfort food, the exotic vacation you've always dreamed of, or the designer purse you scored on the sale rack. It's better than the smell of newborn babies, your children's giggles or the heartiest belly laugh you could share with a best friend. And, it's available to EVERYONE. I wish it was like a plate of cookies I could pass around and give out, but it's not mine to give. It's His.
It's Him.

When you know God, you are not insulated against life's problems. But you can be insulated and covered in His grace, love and strength...and that will help you cope and get through the struggles. It'll equip you to live life abundantly and to see the world through a different lens. Like switching from black and white tv to color. Blind to brilliantly seeing. Lost to found. I've been craving, basking and bathing in Him lately. I don't want to lose this...I'm making David's prayer my own daily repeat because better IS one day in His courts. If you're feeling overwhelmed, in over your head, weary or burdened, you need not look any further than Jesus. He is more than enough.

He was the first thing in my thoughts this morning, before my feet left the warmth of my electric-blanketed bed. And this old song came to mind. Give me Jesus. I added it to my playlist this morning and it's been cycling on repeat like a hamster on a wheel.

It's a cold world out there and we need insulation. While an electric blanket works for the outside, there's only One who works for the inside. Jesus. Give me more of Him. We need more of Him. Go ahead, ask for it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Beholding...

(*you might need to take a seat and grab a cup of coffee for this one...it's long.)

It seems of late, everywhere I turned, things in my life were beginning to crumble. One asks herself, "How does life get this way? And so quickly?" In the midst of this crumbling, God met me in a beautiful heart-changing gracefall, which I shared in an earlier post. And although my circumstances haven't changed, I've been filled with a peace and joy ever since. This gracefall gave me strength, perspective, and the mind to reach out to all of those prayer warriors and seed waterers in my life. Through this process, God has showed up in BIG ways...or perhaps it's not about Him showing up- He's always been there- but rather me opening up my eyes to finally see Him in this season. And let me tell you, His handprint has been on everything.

On a whim (a divinely orchestrated one, that is), Darcy and I were given the opportunity to meet up with some old friends of ours, spiritual mentors, this past Tuesday night. This couple was instrumental in our spiritual development and we hadn't seen them in nearly 8 years! We drove an hour to met them at a halfway point and spent hours catching up over steak, salad, burger and outpouring of heart. Darcy and I rarely go out. The fact that he was actually able to have an evening free and all the details of these plans were thrown together in a matter of hours, is nothing short of a miracle. God had us right where He wanted; I'm certain of it.

I'm not a believer in coincidence or luck...this was a heavenly ordained intervention. Isn't that how awesome our God is though? That He'd take two people who played a vital role in spurring us into a new life in Christ, and bring them back into our lives some 8 years later, to speak to us as we faced a crossroads in our journey and were staring with confusion at the road signs of life that have been pulling us in all direction, (mainly urging us to travel south taking Discouragement Drive, Lost Lane, Hopeless Highway and Abandoned Avenue to our miserable and broken destination...OK, I know that was a bit cheesy, but you get my point.)

For two days I've been listening to what God has been trying to say. His voice ringing loud and clear as themes that were covered that Tuesday night have begun to resound in echoed fashion all around me. It's given me a new fear and reverence for Him, (and a permanent state of "glory bumps") as I ponder all that's taken place.

One theme discussed Tuesday night was the fact that we are not alone and the LORD is with us. I know that might sound elementary and obvious to some, but one of the issues Darcy and I have struggled with is the feeling that we've been abandoned and unheard, and that there aren't many out there who fully understand what we've been going through, (as a couple or individually as a husband/father and as a wife/mother). When meeting with our long lost friends, it was unraveled that they too, have been experiencing much of what we have...man to man, woman to woman, spot on. Although the details and the circumstances are completely different, the process, the emotion, and the struggle has been much the same...almost haunting. Do you know the comfort and validation it brings to to feel understood and to know we're not alone? His Word says that Jesus understands and while on this earth faced everything that we face and that this life brings us. But, there is a noteworthy comfort in having brothers and sisters, in the flesh, walk alongside of us in understanding and journey. Kindred connection.

Another theme that emerged Tuesday night with our friends was that of "embracing" the wait, the darkness, the valley, the season that God has you in. So often I find myself struggling to get out of this season, or making sure I look for and soak in all of the joys of this season instead of just resting in it and accepting it for what it is. My focus is either on looking to the future and a way out, or searching and straining to find the joys while in it...both options can be exhausting and have often left me feeling a sense of failure. Neither perspective is necessarily wrong or bad. But how about just embracing the season for what it is, even if you don't like it and still wish there was a way out? I hadn't really explored that option before. I'm finding there's freedom here I hadn't yet experienced.

Our friends we met with the other night are in ministry by the way, he a respected and beloved pastor, she musically gifted, serving on the Worship team with the voice of an angel...both of them wise and seasoned in their walks, filled with a magnetic and contagious passion for Jesus, the church, and God's people. I wasn't sure if I should mention that or not because of confidentiality purposes, but I'm not really sharing anything they wouldn't openly share. So, as we are talking about this idea of embracing, our friend references Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and how Jesus was in anguish over what was about to happen, yet He didn't fight it. He accepted it. And trusted His Father. (Trust and belief...one of the key areas God has been working on me as of late). Jesus wasn't spending all of His energy focusing on finding a way out or seeking out the joys and blessings of the moment, but was rather focused on making sure His will was aligned with His Father's perfect will...even if it meant pain, suffering and injustice. He embraced it.

We also discussed that sometimes these dark seasons in life come, not necessarily out of punishment or the testing of our faith, but for growth AND out of His love for us. We can consider it a promotion from God. Perhaps, He has grown us and taken us as for as He can in blessing, and the only way to grow us upward and into His heart furthermore is through these seasons. Embrace. I feel the need to spiritually exhale, do you?

I left Tuesday night feeling refreshed, not alone, and that God had just wrapped us in a big warm hug. Hopeful.

And then Wednesday rolled around, and I spent the day marinating in pleasant, yet hazy thought...feeling as if there was more to the picture that God was trying to tell me. Or that He was trying to make sure I heard His voice clearly. Right after I put Berlyn down for a nap, I decided to listen to a CD that a friend lent to me a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't really even sure what it was about, but knew it was Priscilla Shirer speaking and it came recommended. And would you believe these exact two themes were echoed in her words? A.) God is with us and B.) We need to "behold" (embrace) the season in life He has us in. Wow! I have glory bumps right now just thinking about it! Could His message get any clearer? Stirring of heart accomplished.

She pointed out that there are several places in scripture where God is with people and because they aren't fully present and aware, they have completely missed out on Him. In Genesis 28:16 Jacob awoke after having conversation with God and said,"Surely the Lord was here, and I missed it." She then talked about how Mary Magdalene went to Jesus' tomb looking for Him and didn't realize that the man standing behind her talking to her (supposing it was the gardener) was Jesus Himself...that in her distraught state, she didn't recognize Him or realize that that was the Jesus she had been looking for. When we are disillusioned and discouraged or when life is interrupted and has been derailed from our plan, our goals, and our ambitions, and when it doesn't turn out the way we had hoped, we can fail to recognize that in our present circumstance God is right there with us.

Luke 24, talks about how Jesus appeared to His disciples while traveling on the road to Emmaus and how they too didn't even recognize Him. He was WITH them and they didn't even realize it. This moved me to tears. How many times in this season of life have I felt alone, unheard, and unrecognized? Too caught up in my own little mess that I failed to recognize Him right there beside me while traveling on my own little road to Emmaus? He was telling me that He has always been with me. I still get moved to tears when I think about His effort and movement to make sure that not only did I know this, but that I believed this. Relentless pursuit of my heart. Thank you Jesus.

How often are we with Him but unaware because we are disappointed, discouraged or feel like this life of ours has been interrupted? Priscilla touched upon how we can sleep or race through one season waiting for the next season...we can essentially sleepwalk through whole seasons of our lives (saying and thinking "I can't wait until......"I'm married," "I have children," "I am this size," "I have this promotion" or "this status,"" or "I'm at this point in my spiritual walk"...you fill in the blank. When we live our lives waiting for the next season in life to come, we risk missing out on God's presence, gifts, and the blessings offered in the right now because we are wanting what is yet to come.

She further discussed a secret in preventing "sleepwalking" and in keeping ourselves fully engaged, awake, invested, and present during interrupted seasons of life. Take a look at the word "BEHOLD." It is used all over in scripture and is an important word to take note of. Often meaning "look!" or "suddenly!" or "right now!" or used as an indicator to "call attention to detail...that something was about to take a change." This happened in Luke 24 beginning with verse 13 (KJV). With all of the disappointment and hardship that the disciples had faced, and even though their circumstances were not necessarily getting ready to change, God was getting ready to do something to invade their circumstances. They were in the midst of a "behold" moment even though they were frustrated and discouraged and disheartened. Their story was about to change.

Priscilla shares that the secret to beholding lies in "knowing that our eyes as believers can be opened to God's activity even in the midst of our discouragement." That often we are completely blinded to His activity, the change that He is trying to make in our hearts, our minds, and in us...and in the character He wants to reveal of Himself to us. Often when we are distracted with our discouragement, we don't even realize we are in the midst of a "behold" moment.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss out on any of His activity or anything that He has for me. I want to lean into Him, to embrace Him, to "behold" whatever He has for me despite my circumstance or season. He wants my eyes to be open, to believe that behind the scenes He is working everything out for my good (Romans 8:28). And that even when everything about my circumstance remains the same, I won't be.

Beholding. Spiritual vision. He's equipped us with everything we need to seek and see His help, to feel His peace and to grab on to the "behold" moments even in the midst of chaos, discouragement and life's interruptions. We have HOPE that this world doesn't have.

Oh, there's so much more to share, but my inability to keep things concise will force me to stop right here. I've gone on way too long with so many run-on sentences I could be arrested for it. But here's the deal...I want to experience Jesus. I don't want to miss out on a thing He has to offer me. I believe that He has been here every step of this long difficult season, but I haven't always had my eyes open to Him because I was too eager to move onto the next season in life or I was straining to find His blessings and joys versus straining to just find Him.

Little by little, I'm learning to embrace, to listen to Him in my silence, to see the beauty in this season, even when my circumstances don't change...to step on the path that He has set before me, the path of Jesus...to believe that He is with me and that He is for me...to be fully present in Him...and to keep my eyes open for all of the "behold" moments that come in between.

Thank you for your prayers. I beg you not to stop!
And thank you for letting me share my heart, even in run-on sentences.

"Behold"
He is making all things new.

opening wide...

God is up to something BIG...I can taste it. I've been opening wide since the gracefall; eyes, ears and mouth hungry, enlightened. The wise Spurgeon references Luke 24:45 in today's devotional (the timing of this particular passage just another God orchestrated detail that is blowing my mind. I'll dive into that on another day)...He's speaking, oh is He ever speaking.

"He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures."
~Luke 24:45

Spurgeon pens, "Many can bring the Scriptures to mind, but the LORD alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers. They reach the ear, but He instructs the heart. They deal with the outward letter, but He imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savor and spirit....Other schools may teach us what is to be believed, but Christ's alone can show us how to believe it."

He has been doing just this. For the past couple of days I have been marinating in things of Him, savoring a side of Him that I have never tasted, and in the process of chewing all that is being taught and revealed. He's brought teachers alongside of me to water the seed, but He has been performing the intricate work and pruning of the heart. The good Gardener.

I've been opening wide. But, like any fine delicacy, we don't really know how "good" and "satisfying" it is while it sits in our mouths...it's not until it has been fully swallowed and finds our bellies that we are truly satiated and understand its goodness. I'm still chewing and savoring, and have just begun to swallow. The "recipe" still in the works.

One of our teachers just introduced me to this song of hope.


Behold, this is not the end...
I'm opening wide.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

beautiful things


Back in August of last year I posted this video, not realizing how much these lyrics would continue to resonate with me, penetrating even deeper with time. With each progressive beat, I find HOPE rising within...pleading for just this, the making of all things new, beautiful things out of dust...beautiful things out of us. This has been my heart cry. Believing today that He will do just this, for me, and for those who fully seek and surrender. Pray along.

Friday, January 13, 2012

the gracefall...


"Let the beauty of the LORD our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us,
yes, establish the work of our hands."
~Psalm 90:17

LORD, I'm amazed by You. So much talk about snowfall today. With one glance outside my window I watch as it begins to lightly fall to the ground...imagery much like the gracefall You've covered me in over the past week. And not the type that's a light flurry, just dusting the frozen ground. No, Your grace has fallen thick and luxurious, resting heavily upon me when I least expected it, inch after glorious inch. I'm breathing it in, tasting each flake that falls and thickens what You've already begun.

My daily prayer for a couple of months now has been Psalm 90:17. For the past 16 months I've been fervently praying and believing God will provide and build our business and Darcy's career, but this exact Psalm has been new to me. It has often felt like He hasn't heard my cries as I continue to wait in the unanswered realm of hopeful anticipation and doubt. When I was first introduced to this scripture, ("Power of a Praying Wife Devotional" by Stormie Ormatian) I was immediately drawn to it for its eloquence, relevance, and for how it so concisely captured my heart's desires in this area of my life. But my real focus had been on Him establishing the work of our hands part, often not paying much thought to the verse in its entirety. So it was an unexpected delight to receive part A of this prayer in such a lavish way...His beauty resting upon me in nothing less than a breathtaking gracefall.

It was only about a week or so ago that I was breaking down behind the privacy of showerhead and curtain, as Gungor played in the background of my bathroom with a song of painful beats and beautiful melodies that precisely echoed the struggle and petition of my weakened fragile spirit. My heart sang along in pleading as I was not feeling that there was anything much beautiful within me. It was only but a week later in this very same room that His grace began to fall. And it fell hard.

I've had a handful of precious, hard to articulate, encounters in which I have felt the presence of the LORD so strongly. I call it a "dose of the Holy Ghost." A holy high that compares to no other drug, leaving you craving and jonesing for more. Like a divine needle straight to the heart flooding my veins with His unsurpassable peace and joy. His presence, overwhelming, intimate. As if He entered that bathroom, sat Himself down using the closed toilet seat as a stool, and intensely listened and responded to the words of my heart. And it was there, when still, our circumstances hadn't changed and I still struggled to find anything much beautiful within that wasn't covered in dust, that His beauty rested upon me...yes, a gracefall like no other; one that does not forsake in weakness, and comes though undeserved. It's done something to me...expanded my limited vision, changed my primitive perspective, allowed me to get a glimpse of the world and my place in it from a fresh lens. A heart change in trust and belief and gratitude. Revival at its finest. He's wiping off the dust and making me new...carrying out His work in me as in the great Philippians promise.

I've been hibernating in a way- but not as I've been prone to do in times of discouragement and strife. This time, I'm burying my heart in the mounts of grace that have fallen all around, allowing Him to be my hiding place. Breathing it in, not wanting the gracefall to end. Forget the tv. Forget a novel. Forget facebook and pinterest. The cravings under this drunken grace spell lead straight to His Holy Word. I'm finding my morning time with Him is going by too quickly; it needs to last longer. He's consuming my thoughts throughout the day as I look for more quality moments to fit and soak Him in. I'm reading His word with excitement and discovery. I put together a new worship playlist and I can't seem to turn it off, taking it with me into the kitchen as I cook and wash dishes, into the car, and into a hot bath with ear buds because I can't bear to pull myself from the praise that's bursting within.

In a winter state, where sleep seems to be the norm, something's come alive inside. Under His exhilarating captivation, I exalt Him. How can I begin to tell of a God who is so good? One who dances over me and surprises me with love agape in my very own bathroom. Oh, a garden's coming up from this dry ground. For now, under this warm, heavy blanket of grace, I'm resting in pure perfect amazement...

with much gratitude for the gracefall,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Make do...

So, I've had my eye on this pragmatic vase for a while. I've been holding onto a giftcard to one of my favorite stores (Anthropologie)- apprehensive to use it until I see something that truly wins my affection. I eyed this in the store a few months back...picked it up off the high shelf, smiled at it with fondness as it sat perched in my hands, paused, and placed it back on the shelf with hesitance. I've seen it online and in the monthly catalog and it keeps grabbing my attention, but i haven't wanted to pay the extra charges for shipping.

But, as the New Year has rolled around, I've been carefully considering personal goals and resolutions. I already knew that one of mine for this year is to love well, and live well. Part of loving well is making people more of a priority in my life. It's so easy to get caught up in our own little family that I hardly have (or make) time for much else. I've always been very social, but not necessarily a great initiator of plans...meaning, if someone asks me to get together, I'm there! If they call, I talk! But, sometimes I do a poor job of being the one asking and making the initial phone calls and plans. It feels good to be asked and invited and called, and I need to be more intentional in this area of my life. [On a side note: With all of these thoughts about love, I've done it. I got my Valentines decorations out this past weekend. I found some fun ideas for this on Pinterest (photos to come). Even with the cleanness and freshness of an uncluttered house once Christmas left us, I still couldn't resist an early start on Valentine's Day. I'm loving well in advance!]

There are countless examples of living well in the Bible. All one needs to do apart from our perfect example in Jesus, is look at the life of Paul. The book of Philippians, authored by Paul, offers a few great places to start living well.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." ~Philippians 4:12

To "do everything without complaining or arguing."
~Philippians 2:14

To "not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
~Philippians 4:6

Faith with gladness.
To Make Do.
So, while all of this was mulling over in mind and heart, Becky Jo, a dear friend over at Sweet Abundance, asked an open question in cyberspace, "If you could pick one word for your goal for the year, what would it be?"
It didn't take long to discover that my word would be "well."

Living well.
Loving well.
Being well.
(and doing it all with intention...even on those days i don't feel like it)

With all of the above, I purchased the vase. She arrived a few days ago and sits with loveliness and purpose above my kitchen sink, where I spend much of my time. A daily reminder for me to make do, to intentionally live and love well.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well,with my soul.


Making do (with a smile), one day at a time,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

the faith of Abram

I haven't written much lately. Haven't had much to say and sometimes struggle to even put words to the heaviness of heart. Oh, that heaviness, it isn't there all of the time, but it crouches in the backdrop, like lion in the bush, there like predator to prey, waiting to pounce upon me. Some days, I have the strength to dart and run...a fast determination to flee from all that attempts to rob my joy. Other times, I can hardly move, but sit and watch in slow motion as this beast comes and sits relentlessly upon my heart.

Through my prayer journal this morning, I began to pour my heart out to the Lord. Not even 8:30am and the tears are flowing. I took on the challenge of reading through the Bible in a year. I'm on Day 5! Today's reading was about the LORD's covenant with Abram. The LORD said to Abram (Genesis 15:5) "Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!" I've read this passage so many times, but felt relieved that God can speak something new and relevant just when you need it most. He's been working in small ways like this lately. Giving me enough of a taste to know He is here, that He is listening, and that He cares. Nothing major and profound, just enough to carry me through. The next verse is the one that began to tug at my heartstrings. Genesis 15:6 says that, "Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith." That's where I want to be. A believer...not just of mind, because that's what His word tells us, but a believer of heart...that through the struggles that this life brings, even when situations seem to bring no relief and months turn into years and I'm growing weary, that I will have the faith of Abram...in our God, in His abilities, in His power, in His plan and in His purpose.

Following God's lead for our family was not as difficult as one may seem, although it may have appeared absurd to many at the time. I've said before, Noah obeying God and building an ark probably seemed crazy to others. Following God's lead may seem irrational to some, for us it was fairly simple. Our real challenge lies in fighting discouragement and trying to understand where He has led us as we sit in our ark and the torrential rains keep pouring down. Trusting. Believing. The true heart knowledge. Some days I burst with joy and hope and find it easy to claim the future blessings He has in store for us. The rainbow sits on the horizon in plain view. I look at my kids and look around me and feel fullness of heart, that I have more than enough. Other days, I wonder why life has to be so hard, why it is such a struggle to have our basic needs met? Why life seems to come so easily for others, full of luxuries and conveniences, yet there seems to be no relief for us? I tell you this is dangerous territory to tread upon.

Later in my Bible reading this morning, Abram asks the LORD how he can be sure of the LORD's blessing of the possession of land He has promised. Verses 9-11, "The LORD told him, 'Bring me a 3 year old heifer, a 3 year old female goat, a 3 year old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.' So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not however, cut the birds in half. Some vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away."

This last verse struck me as odd. I thought to myself, "Why is this included in the Bible? Who really cares that vultures swooped down to eat some dead animals? Is this relevant?" I am no Bible scholar at all, in fact the farthest thing from it, but I stopped at this verse and a few things came to mind...

Like a vulture, the Enemy tries to steal our offerings to the LORD- our praises. The struggles of this life attempt to destroy and run away with our hearts - and all that is rightfully the LORD's. Envy, jealousy, anger, depression- all thieves, vultures swooping in for the kill. I want the LORD to look at my heart and to count me as righteous because of my faith. Some days, it seems so wavering. I want to be like Abram- strong in faith and able to chase the vultures of life away, refusing to allow anything to steal what is His. Father God, give me the faith of Abram that I may believe and be blessed. LORD, increase it today. Help me to fight to chase away all that attempts to steal and run away with my joy, my strength, and my praises to You. You are and should be more than enough. Provider, Sustainer, Grace-giver, Lover, Father, Protector, Friend, Redeemer, Restorer, Creator...You are.

Even with weakened heart, I'm believing,