Wednesday, December 12, 2012

You Are More

Don't you think it's funny when you look back at something that you've experienced and realize that what you thought you had experienced is different than what you actually experienced? I mean in the real world we expect to experience something immediately the way we perceive it with no change to our intent perception. Then, more often then not, the perception and experience is changed dramatically - only most of the time when we are going through the experience we believe that it is happening just as we expect; it is only after the experience is completed that we start to see it differently than we had perceived. That happened this week to me, almost four years ago to the day Lee and I experienced a welcome at a church we were blackmailed to attend (yes blackmailed, no matter what the dear friend who orchestrated this event calls it). When we first walked through the doors at Grace Church in December 2008, there stood my dear friend arms raised, smile on face and singing "hallelujah".  In that experience I only saw her standing there, or at least that was the experience that I perceived. But standing just inside the double doors were two people that perceived something amazing when they saw us, one of which was no more than 4 foot 11 inches in height, that would be a good day, the other no much taller, both - as I recall - what I would say very old. Both easily in their 80s, and both smiling (although I really don't remember that part, I don't remember seeing a day when either of them without a smile - I'm guessing that was true that day too). I don't remember directly if we met these 2 people that day, although I'm almost positive that we did, and that meeting changed, in retrospect, changed 2 lives.

That amazing 4'11" woman, not more than a lovely grandmother looking lady, contained within her a gift that was more than just slightly amazing. And everywhere I remember seeing her stood closely by her husband, giving soft encouragement and support to his bride and, at least in my sight, always smiling and concerned about the direction she was going. I have on many occasions and almost every Sunday morning said good morning to this couple, well that is if they were not greeting new comers into the church, how did they know they people they were greeting new comers, I have no idea.  Lee would say in a sea of 800 people coming in and going out of the front doors, this amazing woman could pick out those who had never been through those doors before. That's how she changed our 2 lives too. After only about 6 weeks, we were walking back through those doors and she immediately stopped us and asked us to become greeters on Sunday morning. At that time, I could only imagine what was going through Lee's mind, not the social butterfly, I'm sure he felt obligated to assist and grant this gracious lady her request. At least that is what I perceived, that is not what actually occurred. All 4'11" of this small framed, smiling woman knew exactly who needed to receive a gift and by far it was not her.  In all the times that she approached people, she knew exactly where their service for God would raise, don't ask me how, I have no idea, but without a doubt she knew that Lee and I were to start at the doors of the church (Lee would be a greeter for much longer - but it was the doors that first transformed me to go later to children's church). She  knew, when we first walked through those double doors, that we were more than 2 unsaved people fulfilling a blackmail order.

I am sure that she is more than what I describe in the few sentences above and although I never took her small group class Titus II, I read this - this morning:  Titus 2:1-5 "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise,  teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers...but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Although her group, Titus II was to train up women, in all of her body, she trained men and women every day, in every experience, whether they knew it or not.  This set of scripture, is an embodiment of Loretta Kauffman, a small framed smiling woman who saw more than what we were in every moment that we met her through the front doors of the church. And in every experience of meeting her  smiling face, she was training me up, an experience that I never saw in those moments, never realized was happening, and was not - in those moments - what I perceived. Rather, each meeting, greeting, hand holding, hug, smile or concerned word was an experience to train me up....for what I have no idea but training up nonetheless.

I can only hope that everyday of my life, I can be that Titus II woman, the Titus II woman that Loretta saw when she met me every day that I met her at the church doors. I hope that with every person I meet ,after I walk through the double doors at the church, the single door at work, the sliding doors at the store, and every door that I open, I can bring the experience that I am meant to bring to the person or persons whom I meet. I can only hope that with every meeting I have, I can bring an experience that, at that moment is perceived as something other than what it truly is, an experience that in retrospect, is something more than originally perceived, no matter how long it takes for that realization to take affect. I will miss seeing her smiling face on Sunday morning or the occasional weekday at the church, I will miss her impromptu training sessions, and the way she knew more about me than even I know today. 

I know that I do not have a gift like Loretta but I know that somewhere in her life she saw a gift in Lee and I.  And from the first moments we walked through the doors, she had a plan to change our lives, to be more than we were, and she succeeded in training us up, slowly and without our knowledge she did just that.  I will miss seeing her smiling face, and her words of concern and direction. I can only thank Loretta, the Titus II woman that I've known for 4 years, for the gift she brought to me, one I didn't perceive during the time we spent together, she showed me Christ every time I met her. I hope with all my heart that one day I too will be a Titus II woman, a woman not to unlike Loretta, and a woman who reflects Christ every day. 
Train up the younger men and women, to be self-controlled, to love their spouses, to be kind, and to love God, in faith and endurance. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Valley

I love to go to places that are new and exciting where something new will intrigue me, and I particularly like to see valleys. I have no idea why, I can't tell you if it's because they are usually beautiful in color and design or if its just because they are easy on the eyes. I don't know if its because when hiking with friends and we finally make it to a clearing and there in front of you is a beautiful valley with, maybe, water or lush grass and flowers, some full of trees lining the valley and masking it. It is all of these things that I love about pictures of valleys and walking into valleys. They are one of the most drawing things I see in pictures and some hold the most intense secrets of the world...don't you agree? It is almost as tho valleys beckon me to  come and walk through them, enticing me to venture toward an end that may be miles away or to see what is hiding around a small bend. Valleys are beautiful to me. Would you agree?

I am drawn to valleys in pictures they seem to call to me whenever I see them in gallery or in a building when I walk past them. This morning I saw a valley, much different than the one in the picture above, a valley that painted a picture that I would have never thought to be beautiful or enticing...the valley of bones was introduced to my imagination.That's where it grew when I was reading about it; have you see this valley or  read about this valley? It is one that probably most of you who may read this know of but one that I had vaguely heard about but never really read or even really knew about. I am not a major prophet reader, the books at the end of the old testament seem to be dismal and destructive, about God's anger and somewhere in between the lines about His restoration...well, that seems like just too much work to read through, come on, you agree too! Ezekiel is no different in the message that he wrote about - in his visions he listened to something that God wanted him to do and without hesitation or fear he did it, even in the dismal and destructive moments. Ezekiel 37:1-14 (paraphrased) "The hand of the Lord was upon me and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.... I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me "Son of man, can these bones live?"...then he said to me "Prophesy to these bones and say to them ' dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.... I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life, I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you...I will put breath in you and you will come to life....So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound and the bones came together, bone to bone....and tendons and flesh appeared on them...but there was not breath in them. Then he said to me "prophesy to the breath...say to it "this is what the Sovereign Lord says: come from the four winds, o breath and breathe into these slain that they may live." So I prophesied...and breath entered them, they came to life and stood up on their feet.... Then he said to me "son of man, these  bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off...This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them....I will put my Spirit in you and you will live....then you will know that I the Lord have spoken and I have done it..."  When I read this it was not  what I wanted to read at 645 a.m., and I'm sure its not the most pretty picture of a valley that you are reading about. So I wondered what was meant for me to really read about in this passage? I don't believe that this passage is about a valley of ugly bones that lie dried and dead on its floor, although that's exactly what I saw when I read this ugly, scary valley...but is it really?

I wonder if the bones of this valley are those bones that are in my body; I wonder if the bones that God is referring to are those of me that are not filled with life or love. I know that I know that this passage is a reference to God speaking to the house of Israel before Christ's arrival but what does that entire passage have to do with me? Probably a lot but I don't know if I really in truly care about the whole picture, what I do care about is the valley of bones that need life spoken back into them. I have been, in all honesty, a valley of bones not unlike the one the Ezekiel describes, a valley of non-living ...well life, and in this passage this is what I read. "These bones are dry and dead but I, the Sovereign Lord will speak life into them, giving them tendons to my heart, flesh that is not unlike my son's, and breath that will bring new life to you. I will open up the grave of your closed spirit and bring you up from its hold on you and I will put my Spirit in you and you will know that I have spoken and have done it." I know that my bones are dry and  lacking breath of life, I know without a doubt that even tho Ezekiel was delivering God's word to Israel, in this passage He was clearly speaking of my bones, lying without desire to breathe, and this was His word to call me back from the place that I choose to lie. So what will I do? How will my bones react? I am right now jittery and shaking, not unlike those bones that Ezekiel spoke to, and I am willing and full of a new  life that I can only attest to is not of my own will. What I allow to fill those bones that are, I hope, no longer dried and lying on the valley floor with, well that's a climb out of the valley that has begun and that I have to complete. I hope you are not familiar with this valley but if you are do not give up hope, the Spirit of the Lord will breath upon you, when I don't know, how I have no idea, but your little faith, not unlike mine, is enough that God knows when His breath is coming. The valley is not that scary, although it is not that pretty either, it is the valley that I am in and the one that I am climbing out of, with a spirit in my bones and a new destination that's unknown.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1 New Life, 1 Growing Life

I sit here this morning and look back at my mom and mother-in-law, the times that we would visit and get ready to leave and they would cry, and I think "what in the world are they crying for its not like we are leaving forever, never to be seen again." I remember hearing Lee say that when he left for college his mom cried, I remember hearing about my mom crying when I left for boot-camp and when Kaleb and I moved to North Carolina. And I remember thinking "its not that big of a deal, we're just moving to North Carolina." And yet here I sit, holding back tears that seem to be flooding my eyes, holding back fears that seem to be filling my mind, and I think "well this is just stupid!" If you haven't made it to this point in your life, don't worry, do not fret, you'll one day find yourself sitting on the couch saying "well this is stupid" just like me. Just go a head and accept that - its just a matter of time.

So I as I was trying to stay busy this morning at 6 A.M. I was trying to think of something to do that would keep these thoughts and times off my mind when I thought "why don't you write about this". I don't know if this will come as it always does when I sit down to write, I don't know if this will be  forced or flowing, so in advance I apologize for any ranting, missed message and well let's face it, tears. And at this moment I find I have two daughters who are full of two new lives, one a new life a new start and the other a growing and changing life. It has taken a lot be see these two little girls in a new light, the other day I caught a glimpse of Jenn's new life, she was sitting on the couch and turned just right and all of a sudden she was no longer the little girl I watched grow up, she was a woman. It was just a second, only a small moment and glimpse that I got to see a courage in a her that I hadn't noticed before. I have wondered over the past week how she is doing with this move from home, to a new life at college 4 hours away. And in that few seconds, I saw the answer.  Matt 9:21 Then Jesus reassured her "Courage daughter. You took a risk of faith and now you're well." (MSG) This, as you can tell, is not the standard Bible verse, it is from The Message Bible and I think it fits my beautiful courageous daughter perfectly.  The new life I saw in her, in that moment of seeing her grown up, should not have been a surprise, I saw courage. In the past week or more she has endured something of untreaded territory for her. This summer she ventured out of her comfort zone and opened her heart to a young man to have it broken, she became the first child to go away to college and found that she probably missed her brother more than she thought, and today she will enter a new chapter in her life maybe little reluctantly.....Courage.  While Jesus may have been speaking to a sick woman who was trying to get healing from the passing Messiah, He knew to well that she what she really needed was  encouragement that her faith alone was what she needed for the healing she so desired to find. I don't know if Jennifer is really prepared for her new life, I have no way of knowing for certain, but I know without doubt that the courage she has is derived from her faith that gives her strength. I know without any hesitation that she is ready to begin this new life she is treading into, and I know she does not go alone, she goes with a courage that is built on her faith.

And still in my reach is the growing life that is happening every day, the one that is shaping into a different young woman every time I see her. She is here in this house now alone with a teary eyed mother and a father who sometimes seems distant but who is more the leader of this family than she realizes. I feel for her, I was not the baby in the family, I got to leave well before my younger brother, but this young woman, has changed somewhat - all of a sudden she became a junior in high school and changed her direction in life.  She is and always has been full of heart - she is more than compassionate, she is heartfelt, something greater than compassionate. You can not get her to say something bad about someone, although it has escaped her she immediately feels bad and apologizes for her hurtful words, even when those words are spoken outside of the ears of the one she is speaking about.  Her heart is overwhelmingly filled with love and strength. And as she enters a life that is in some way forcing her to grow up,  I see her heart still steadily the same, still full of love and life. Matt 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you...for I am gentle and humble in heart..." There is more to this scripture, most of us know what it is, but the words that struck me this morning are these words. My beautiful Sydney is struggling with  her faith and while most  parents would make her venture to church and move toward those things that are faith filled, I have decided to let her heart lead her. (Go ahead gasp, I know you want to.) But in these moments that I am seeing her grow up, I see a gentle and kind person, a heart so humble that it hides itself under some of her sarcasm but it is there. I know that more than things that I can force upon this growing young woman that her heart is full of life and love, gentle and humble. Her mind may be faltering and not ready to go toward faith, it may be hidden deeply, but there in this growing life she is full of heart, one that was carefully bestowed upon her.

So here I sit, no more tears, I don't know where they went really, but they have ebbed for now. And I looked back at this blog, probably long and wordy and noticed that god so generously gave me two scriptures from the same book.  It was not planned or made that way, at least not by me, and each of these two places fit my daughters to a "t".  A new life filled with only courage to take a step forward and a growing life filled with heart. I'm so very proud of these young women, each for their courage and each for their heart, two things that they share in common, two things that each taught the other. So on today I go, my heart sad and courage failing, and as these wain in me, these things are strong in them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Part III

So here I am ... at the end of my lengthy first title. And after the praise and distractions, where have I landed? What am I standing in now? Smack dab in the middle of a fight. A fight that is not one that you can see (unlike the one Syd and I saw at the high school open house last night between two parents!) but one that you may miss seeing me entangled in, one that you probably won't even know exists. What kind of fight am I entangled in? A fight between flesh and spirit; a fight dug deep within my soul that pulls me in ways that I can not explain, a fight that only I am involved in, a fight over my heart.
I don't know how long this fight will last and I have no expectation that I will suddenly and unexpectedly win this fight. There are many deceiving moves that my opponent has been armed with, moves that I am not prepared to defend, so how do I fight? How do I get through this fight? 2 Cor 10:3 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh." There are many scriptures like this one, actually more than I thought I'd find when I started to realize that this fight was going on and I was in the middle of it. Were they all encouraging, supportive and full of great help...NO! I'm just putting that out there in case you were wondering. I think that most Christians would tell you that is not true that His word is full of encouragement and words of wisdom, and they are right, but most of those words are taken out of context. Wouldn't you agree? I mean if you read every part of scripture that was encouraging and full of life either before or after that is a section of strife, discouraging moments, anger, and faithless moments. So why do 'we' give someone all the good in scripture to encourage them? What do 'we' expect to accomplish? I think 'we' believe that  if we give encouraging words that those we speak to will be able to be lifted. But are they really lifted? Are we really encouraged? Well, I don't know, I never really was, but something does help me feel encouraged. The fact that every one of God's chosen went through a battle, a fight, a faithless walk that ended, somehow, in life of the spirit and encouragement. That is where I find comfort, in the fight that those He knows have walked through and won.
The fight that I am in is over my heart, just like all those who we read encouraging words from in the word. My fight is a set back, one that I wasn't expecting, one that literally sneaked up on me. I can't be certain how this battle will end up, I can not foresee how this fight will be different than those that I have been through before. What I do know is that this fight, like those I have read over, is the same fight, the same struggle that many others have walked through without receiving any relief. There is only one way to get through this fight, by going through it. I didn't even realize that I was in a fight until 3 days ago, so how did I get here - how is is possible that I ended up here without seeing the first blow? It is meant to be that way, really in the heart of it, the enemy (no matter what name you give it, anger, fear, depression, loneliness, etc) doesn't want you to see the first blow.  It usually hits you when you least expect it and can take you down before you even know you've been hit. There are many ways to fight, my favorite way is to run. I don't think that I will be so lucky this time to run away, although that is my preferred fighting technique, I don't think I can outrun this one. So how do I fight this war? I need to first realize that this fight is a struggle but not of the flesh, don't get me wrong sometimes it feels like it is of the flesh and sometimes it really is against the flesh but not this time.
I can only remember and hold true to the fact that this fight will be a battle that I fight with faith, placing the full armor of God on (Eph 6:12-18) and knowing that this fight is not a war in the flesh and I can not win this fight in the flesh but through faith; no matter how far away that faith is, no matter how little or faint, faith will be on my side if I chose walk with it.
I wonder what fight you are in, what fight has drug you backwards to the middle of it, setting you back to the place you thought you were through? There is not doubt that I am in the middle of a fight, it happened without me even seeing the first blow, probably the same way it happened to you. Now, more than ever, I need to fight. Now more than before, I need to realize that this fight is going to be longer than I wanted, desired, or expected. Now, I have to fight. I wonder what you will do?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Part II

Just in case you didn't know, I am a 'bright and flashy girl'! Why do I consider myself this type of personality? Well I could be totally focused on one issue or project and quickly get distracted by something else and that will be it...I'm off and running on another project. It has, believe it or not, gotten much better over the years of my life and I am able to contain most of the bright and flashy moments and continue with an on-going project. If you don't believe you are one of these people, well I hate to break it to probably are you just don't know it. To be honest, I'm not totally 100% sure when the bright and flashy thing happened and I tried to remember what exactly it was and when it happened to no avail. And, after along processing of trying to figure out what in the world happened....I realized that I was completely and totally distracted from a track that I had begun just a short couple of hours before the distraction occurred. Why did I have to back track and figure this out? Because it was the beginning of a series of distractions that played into Part II and was the occurrence that made me realize that it was the ultimate distraction.

For a few of you, you are aware of the main distraction, the one thing that occupied my life and mind immediately and without a moments thought may have thrown my family into financial distress...I am choosing not to share that distraction so for this story we will call it "The Main Distraction". (Come on you have to admit that's pretty ingenious!) 
Over a week ago The Main Distraction pulled me away from my track of praise; it took hold of my whole being, the being of my husband and daughters, of my close friends, and a family that we have been part of for many, many years. Even today, it is controlling many of my thoughts, even with prayer to have it removed, I have not been so lucky to have it replaced. This distraction put into play a series of events that bombarded our life for over a week. The distractions just kept piling up in monumental force trying to divert and distort a path that was established on Sunday morning 2 weeks ago. But, on Saturday afternoon, I started to question where the distraction began and what had happened. You would automatically assume that it would come like a flood with a memory of The Main Distraction, and that was the first and foremost thought, but it was not the place this distraction started. How did I know that? Well I don't know, I can't even begin to tell you why I knew The Main Distraction was not the origination of the course of Part II...When did I realize that? When I was standing in the shower (yes of all places, the shower) and I remembered something; something so small and vague, I almost didn't give it credit. In order for you to understand how this remembrance, to me, is the beginning of the distraction, I need to give you a little history of me.  I am a fantasy book reader, always really have been, they have been my escape from reality; the place that I ran to to get away from the world and the career I had chosen. One of my favorite writers, Laurel K. Hamilton, is a very good fantasy writer; one with vampires and werewolves, with a mix of a human private investigator, and it was amazing the connection and story-line of the books. I had every one of her books! I mean I loved to read this woman's books.  I even read them well after becoming a believer. Sometime after starting my life in Christ, I was cleaning our room out (a very typical chore) and I was compelled to get rid of all of these books. And let me tell you it was a fight for me, remember I loved these books! So, I packed them up and carried them around in my car for about 2 weeks, intending to take them to Goodwill.  That didn't happen, one morning when Lee and I were making our usual run to the dump, I was compelled (for lack of a better description) to throw the books away. It was instantaneous and a short struggle for my will to do what my heart wanted to do- nonetheless, I threw the book series away. (Don't misunderstand, I do not believe that when you become a believer you need to throw everything away that you have from your former life, I believe that when God moves you to remove those things from your life, you will-but not until that time.)WooHoo! What a freedom....well at least I thought so.  Sometime on Sunday afternoon, 2 weeks ago, I was doing the clean out again, and I found a book, just one. I can't tell you where I found it because in all honesty I don't remember, I just very clearly remember finding it. What did I do with it? Well, I don't remember if I threw it away or first instinct is to say that I threw it away, but I do not remember. What does this have to do with The Main Distraction? It was the main all ways you can think of, this moment was the beginning of the series of distractions that I and my family (far and near, friends and relatives) encountered over the past couple of weeks. I know you're saying "come on, you mean to tell me that finding some book in your room that you forgot about is the cause of all the crap you're trying to describe!" Yea I guess I am. 
Gal 5:7 "You were running the good race. Who cut in on you...." There are things many things in this life that cause me to get distracted (you too if you really think about it). Those things can be anything that I give credit too, anything that I make a priority over Christ, over the path that I am suppose to take. Do I believe that a book is what caused a series of events that started almost 2 weeks ago, not directly but finding that book distracted my attention, my focus, even if at first I didn't realize it. I have no explanation as to why I was probing on Saturday afternoon, what I was looking for, probably an answer to all that had been going on, probably for relief and peace to the distress that I was feeling. What I found was the distraction that began to divert me from a path that I had taken willingly. I was beginning a race that I had re-started, this one thing brought in my life a distraction of my soul. Why? Because I gave credit to a series of books over the seriousness of Christ. I am not saying in anyway that this book was the origination of bad things, I am not suggesting that this book series was the 'bad' that caused The Main Distraction, I am not saying that if I hadn't had this book in my life that none of the things that occurred would have happened. What I am saying is that I gave credit to something, not of Christ, not of life, but of desire and want; I gave a large portion of my life to this particular book series and I seriously lived to get home to read the next page, chapter and book. And for whatever reason, this book was the thing that happened to me, it was the distraction that caused me to doubt and was offering a way out of my serious life to a world that I could escape, it was the thing that cut me off 2 weeks ago. 
I have no idea why I believe this, I just do. You don't have to and you can scoff at the comparison to finding this book to The Main Distraction that is encompassing our life. But I ask you this...what is the distraction in your life that is causing you to be cut off? What is the thing that is hiding itself carefully away from your sight so much that you could easily forget that it existed? There is something, believe me it is there, keeping you from finding it - giving you an escape from facing the distraction that is before you - keeping you from totally going to Christ for hope and escape. Mine was a book series, that opened a door to many things to distract my path, and for whatever reason, unknown to me, it is Part II. I hope that you are not so easily distracted, so easily diverted from the path you are on, I hope that the race you are running is easier than mine or ours. And I have no words of encouragement for you, I have no words to give that are true fruit of the lips, I only have this... Whatever has cut you off from running the good race is a distraction and remember that there is nothing that can separate you from the love of Christ, nothing...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Part I

I started to write something a couple of days ago and the title was lengthy but the blog began to develop as much more lengthy, so I decided to break it up into pieces, hence the title. I also decided not to let on to the content of this writing. Why? Well probably more for my own contentment then for drawing you in but I hope that the later works. So what is 'Part I'? It's something that has escaped me for a couple of years; something that I have ignored and avoided; something that I believe is easy for others that have not been through a fight or depression.... praise.

I can't honestly say that I have been praising outright or at least not how many would praise. I believe people think praise is the constant recognition of God in words of praise. An outright praising. A way of expressing praise of God in words.  So was there 'praise'? Well maybe, but am I positive that it happened, no. I was in a way praising God's continual presence and pursuit of me through and over the past couple of years. When?? Two weeks ago standing in the worship center at church, I suggested something I would have never done...probably ever. I encouraged healing prayer over a young girl, a friend of my daughter's, and those around me agreed.  Is that praise? Well probably not by many peoples standards. I feel that I just obeyed something that the Holy Spirit pressed against me, something that I have felt before but chose not to do. Did I outright say "Praise God!" (note that there's emphasis on this and a slight southern accent to boot!)? Well, no, I didn't. So 'praise' was not evident, it was not something that I purposefully expressed out of my mouth in a phrase and I didn't  really let anyone know what I had suggested or led. (Minus those who were with me.) So was it praise?  No. I don't believe it was, even if I posted it on Facebook-praise was not included.
Later that week I was riding with my friend and she asked about my post and I told her what had happened. Is that considered praise? I mean I didn't say "well praise God" or anything like that but I think the words that I was saying could be considered praise. This short question with a long answer began a conversation of healing that lasted well over an hour. Is that in anyway praise? I have no idea! Have I looked and searched for an answer...oh yes, I have! Heb 13:15-16 "Through Him the, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. and do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased'. Well that actually didn't help...not at first. I have been all morning trying to make these scriptures work for my definition of praise and do you know what stands out in this passage? "...the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name"... yay! Exactly what I wasn't looking for, a passage that outright tells me to give praise to Him by my lips. If that isn't an epic fail on my part ... I don't know if I can get much farther away.  So I walked away from my computer, took my Bible - yest with this enlightened passage open- and went to my room. (In all honesty to find another passage of scripture that would read how I wanted it to read. Don't lie, you do it too.)
Have you ever no liked someone's answer to a problem? Ever try to make that answer fit into the answer that you want rather than conform and change to the answer that is given? Ok, quit denying this and just accept that fact that you do this along with me! I think its human nature, the overwhelming will in our individual mind and life to be ... well, RIGHT.  So, I looked for the RIGHT answer to of which I decided was not Hebrews 13:15-16. And found.....nothing. I read further in Hebrews 13 and then re-read this simple, direct, and pointed passage again and again. And then, without knowledge or fight, I found what I was looking for.....praise. I know like me, you probably are now hooked on "the fruit of the lips that give thanks to His name" its evident and direct and right there in the middle of the passage and says exactly what everyone wants to hear.  "Give Him praise in everything you say and anything that happens"..right? Essentially that's what it says. But there is more and there is an answer for my dilemma of finding what praise is...I just had to see it. "...let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise...." that is the beginning of praise, it's the sacrifice of myself to His will. It is without doubt the acknowledgement of healing, even alone and between two friends, that says thank you for pursuing and continuing the fight.
Do I use the phrase "praise God"? No, I don't know that I ever have at least not intentionally. But does the fruit of my lips give Him praise, do I continually offer up sacrifices of my lips, I believe I do. But does that constitute praise to those around me? Do they see it as 'note worthy praise'? Probably not, but I am not out to impress those of this world. I am not set to make those around me happy with my words or make myself out to be something that I am  not. I am, however, attempting at all failures to be pleasing in some way to Him; to give up when He tells me to; to recognize something that I didn't see happening; to begin praising Him for Him in my actions of obedience and acknowledgement of Him in my words that don't necessarily say 'praise God'. I hope to continue this journey. I hope that all my body continues to agree with His plan, even when I don't want to. And I hope in Him that I will find the right words of praise.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

the unraveling

Have you ever had a shirt of jacket that starts to unravel at a seam? And when this happens it can't happen to the article of clothing that you'd just throw away, no its usually the piece of clothing that you most like to wear that starts to unravel - causing a set of events to begin that may never end. I may be different than most people but when this happens to me, I immediately go to find the one thing that will fix it....needle and thread..and start reattaching the seams, ugly as it may be in the end, they are together and work, well for a while. Doesn't it always 'seem' that sometime in the future, that unraveling seam begins to separate again? Farther up the seam there is a hint of thread that, in an attempt to quickly remove, it starts another process of separation, requiring yet another set of mendings, and the process goes on and on. An still every time an unraveling is found, I run to my needle and thread and try to save that piece of cloth. Why? I have no idea but at the time it 'seems' like a good idea, until the end result is not so pretty, not so even, and I have to throw the clothing away in defeat.
An unraveling is taking place in a not so far off life of mine. An unraveling of friends who have been together for over 12 years. An unraveling that began almost 6 years ago and shortly after the attempted mending process started. The two seams began their process, one unraveling and one mending, one holding at first then pulling away as time went on, the other sewing faster with the ebbing of days. Then, as it always happens, the thread that is loosened and pulling apart starts to unravel faster and faster along the seam, racing to the end of its tattered thread; all the while the mending is working harder and harder to put the two seams together, trying to miss fingers with pointed ends, attempting to appease the tattered thread with new hope, and to no avail, the unraveling races on.
I have known for a while that this unraveling was taking place but like all who see a seam pull apart, I tried to offer mending to hold the 2 pieces together, trying to help the mender as much as possible, until the seam became to difficult to work, and I left the friendship. This week another friend has felt the peace of leaving the mending game, taking peace of mind to trust God in the decision, she too is leaving the process, and I wonder and fear what will happen to the mender? How will this affect the mending effort? I wondered so much about this that when I was told about my other friend leaving the relationship, I felt worried for the mender, concerned, and I didn't know what, if anything, I could do. That's when I heard the word unraveling, in my head, and I believe it came from God, without doubt, it did. It spoke directly to the long time friendship that has been falling apart and I wondered where it would lead me...and this is what I found. Rev 18:14 "Everything you've lived for gone! All delicate and delectable luxury, lost! Not a scrap, not a thread to be found."  You may think at first that this has nothing to do with the friendship I refer to but you'd be wrong. You may think that verse has nothing to do with you or any part of your life, and I think you'd be wrong. The things I cherish most, the things that I may not consider luxury or delicate, the things in this world that I hold, every thread of my being......that is what He is saying. Well that's not exactly what I wanted to hear this morning! trusting as He is, He gave me another verse. James 2:26 "The very moment you separate spirit and body, you end up a corpse....." Well, gee thanks! That's exactly what I thought when I read this the first time but it held the words that I was most drawn too.  Why? The unraveling of a friendship, long together and lately being held with a thin thread, was not only resonant of the true friendship I am referring too. That same unraveling took place in my life, and like every other time, I ran to find a way to start the mending. In the end, something I realized just yesterday, that unraveling has been a separation of my body and spirit; oh, no not in the way of 'I'm dying' separation, but in a very real way nonetheless. I have tried in every way to mend the in my own way the separation of my body and spirit, struggling to be a little closer in my relationship with God, to no avail. Just like my friends, I have been trying to mend the seam, and I have realized that is not something I can mend. The unraveling moves faster the harder I struggle and I can not catch up to the pulling thread. The unraveling that I'm trying to mend has been a fight fought alone; one in my spirit and mind, between my body and soul, and I realized yesterday that I have lost that fight.....and that's ok.
See, just like my friends, when their unraveling began a fight ensued, an unseen fight, that has continued over 6 years; 6 years of neither of the 2 friends talking about the unthreading seam. One fights one way, the other fights another way, both in opposite directions, one always struggling to mend the seam, the other running faster and farther away. That is not unlike my life (and probably not unlike your life). The fact is that no one can mend the seam that is unraveling between my friends, just like I can not mend the seam that unraveled to the place I am this morning. It is suppose to be that way, it is without doubt the thing that is suppose to happen, I am not suppose to win the unraveling race. The Mender, the only One who can put the seams together cleanly and completely is asking me to step aside, something that does not come easy for me to do! But when I look at my friends caught up in the unraveling they are in, I see that on the outside they are fine, the seam 'seems' to be holding, but on the inside the separation has taken place and only a corpse remains, every thread is quickly disappearing, and the fight is coming to an end. That is what I look like, fine on the outside but inside I was slowly becoming a corpse to life. I know now that the seam in my life, the one between body and spirit, mind and soul, can be mended but not of my own needle and thread but that of God's needle and thread. He is my Mender, He is the Mender who can put my seams together without a fight and I just realized that last night. When will my friends realize that? I don't know, maybe sooner rather than later, maybe not in time, maybe never. When will you realize that? I don't know, I can only hope that, unlike me, you can see that the Mender is waiting to put the seams together, without your own effort, without your own fight, He can mend.
The very moment you separate spirit and body, you are a corpse. (James 2:26) Everything you've lived for, gone! Not a scrap not a thread to be found. (Rev 18:14) [but] there is a time to rip out and a time to mend. (Ecc 3:7)... let this be a time to mend.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back in the Saddle...

Have you ever given something up? Something that you love but then turn to hate? Something that no matter how much you seem to love it, it has become a job, another thing to do on your schedule? And you sit and wonder, what happened to the love I had, where did it go? Four years ago I had that happen. I love horses, I always have, or at least for as long as I can remember I have loved them. Then one day, I came home from work, started dinner, and got ready to go riding with my endurance friends, and it hit me, I hated riding, I hated everything about it! I sat in my room, looking out the window at the  trailer pulling in and cried because I just did not want to go out there. I didn't want to ride any horse let alone see one..the love that I once had, died and was replaced with a hatred that I couldn't even bear. My horses had become a source of irritation, anger, and just another job. This had never before happened - I would have to say if you told me to give something up, at one time I would have given everything up by my horse; well until that day.  It took over 18 months before I started really riding again, I mean riding for the joy of it and enjoying it. And over the past couple of years it had to be a job for a little while, making me do something that I was reluctant to do but forcing myself into the world of riding once more has finally changed the hatred that I developed, changed my heart and I am once again .... back in the saddle.
I am riding very frequently again, training for an endurance ride, a set goal that I have to complete a 50 mile ride at the end of August. As every athlete knows, in order to perform at any event, you have to train, prepare you body and mind, and make every effort to make yourself ready. This is what I do with my horses. I help them prepare their body for an event, riding on a frequent time schedule, for a set amount of distance, building their endurance level and muscles in their body to sustain them and me through a given mileage.  And as most athletes know, the muscles take time to build, strengthen, and condition to their maximum level, and all the while, through this training process, the ultimate goal is to build and strengthen the one muscle that controls everything....the heart; the last of the muscles to be fully conditioned, the last muscle to reach the peak level of strength.

The heart is actually a very ugly muscle ( I think you'd agree looking at this picture), organ if you'd prefer, but in its essence the heart is a muscle, it probably works harder at more things than we give it credit. Not only is it required to pump blood through our body, it exchanges bad blood for good blood, and increases its rhythm when needed, providing sustaining life when we are most in need.  The heart holds all of our emotions, love, kindness, hatred, anger, hope, desire, and longings, all of our emotions are wrapped up in our heart. Although it is known that emotions come from our brain, we are reluctant to believe that, if you were to ask someone hurting why they are so sad they would reply 'their heart is broken'. The heart takes a toll in every essence of our life, in every dynamic part of our life, we ask our heart to do .... well, everything.
This weekend I heard a verse that I'm sure I've heard a thousand times before, but it meant something new to me, it rang clearer than it ever has before, I can only equate that it is because I have refound my love for horses and it struck my heart strings. Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." I have had many occasions where I wanted a new heart, a refreshed and healed heart. I'm sure you have too. Over my life, I found that, even when I didn't believe in God, He did find a way to give me a new heart, usually when I wasn't looking. He gave me a love for an animal that gave me a renewed spirit when I was a teenager, He gave me my husband who renewed my heart for love when I was most hardened to it, and He gave me friends that I know look at and know for a fact they are nothing but from Him.  Know, at a time when I have a hardened heart toward Him, He is asking me to find a renewed love, to strengthen my heart, condition it, build it up, and find my place with Him once again. This is by far no easy task! Just like an athlete training for an event, this task is not an easy one to accomplish and maybe that is why Ezekiel's passage has a new meaning to me.
I have, in all essence, received a new heart, it happened over 4 years ago. Friends told me over and over they could tell a change in me, although it was not something I saw (I guess just part of the training process). And this little heart has had some events that it has passed through that has torn it, broken it, strangled the life out of it at times, hardened it toward God, hardened it toward life, and yet...through all of that it still beats on.  "I will give you a new heart" what does that mean to me today? It means that while I am training, working hard with my horses to prepare for an intense and long distance ride, preparing their bodies and mine  for an event that will put pressure on them, I am also training my heart and spirit.  Pressuring my heart to spend time, much needed time, with God when my mind and body refuse. Training my spirit to seek Him, when I should be spending time feeding, cleaning, doing laundry. Training to be closer to Him.

"I will give you a new heart...I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." I wish my heart was not so troubled, I know that this is part of my training schedule, fighting through the walls that I have put up, struggling to find a crack; but it would be easier if it were not so thick a wall.  I know how hard it is to push to the end, I know how I feel when riding and we near the end of a training ride and how my horse starts to slow when the trailer is in sight. I know how I ask for her to go a little farther each ride out and use a little more strength, to complete to the end where we stop. And she does, with perked ear and soft eyes, she makes her body and heart push ever on....finishing what I asked her to do.  I hope with all my heart that I can be as strong as my horses are; that I too can complete, push on to where I am asked, to not stop with faint heart and tired body, but to make it to the stopping point with a fresh heart, and joy in my spirit. "I will give you a new heart ..." all I have to do is accept it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

You Are Here

These are the signs that I remember reading at every place we went as I grew up traveling across the western part of the country. At every rest area, I'd go see where we were and how far we had to go; although  my mother did teach me how to read a map, it was always something to see that sign "you are here" with an arrow pointing directly at the spot on the map. This map is from a park, one that I probably haven't been to but a map nonetheless that I have been drawn to at every state park we visit. For what ever reason, I am drawn to know exactly where I am ... I have no explanation for it, no real reason for it but I am drawn to the maps (yes, even those in the mall - go figure). I don't know if there's are real reason except that I may have a slight mental problem with location....and since that's the only answer I can come up with, I think I'll stick with that reasoning. Oh you can deny it, I'll let you, but in actually every one of us have it ingrained in our psyche to find out where we are - especially if we took a little nap while we were getting to wherever we were going. The ingrained desire to have a respective idea of where we are is something that we grow up with and carry into our adult life. I have found that I am always wanting to know where "you" are - whether its knowing where my girls are, what my husband is doing or where my closest friends are...I want to know, and I believe on some level so do you.

I don't know for sure where you are right now, my immediate guess is sitting on your couch waiting for coffee to finish, scanning the computer and maybe even Facebook I close? The sad thing is that I don't know where I am , I've tried to figure that out for the past couple of months and all in all am at a loss for finding the answer - or the indicative arrow pointing to that place on a map stating exactly where I am. I have found myself in this place before but with a little effort I have been able to locate a map or a sign to show me where I am and what way I need to go...lately, tho, I am finding that I am simply wandering around and probably going in circles. There are things going on in this over complicated life that I am avoiding and simply moving around to make it through the has been happening now for about 3 months but last night I realized where I was. My best friend said in a conversation "It makes you wonder why things like this happen to good people." Almost as soon as she said it, I saw my sign "you are here" with a flashing arrow pointing to right where I was standing. In all the months that I've tried to figure out what in the world I'm doing, it took a sentence to make that sign appear...and it took 10 hours for me to see the flashing arrow but I finally know where I am....Psalms 38:17 "I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me." The statement my friend made was about the loss of a husband suffered by a friend of hers, but I think it was more than just that, I believe it was a statement of the place we have been for a while, walking in circles trying to figure out why we suffer things that are bad, when there seems to be no reason. "I am about to fall..." Literally, the fall happened over 2 yrs ago, that's when the questioning began and when the fall started. I started questioning the reason that "we" suffered something so unbelievable after moving out of a life without Christ and into a life with Christ. There are no answers, trust me I've looked.. But I did find a direction, probably not the direction that I wanted but I found it nonetheless....1Peter 2:19 "For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God." No, this is not the direction or arrow that I wanted, it is far from a answer to the life that I am now standing in, but it is nonetheless, an answer. I am in a fall, and no matter how much I try to avoid the pain that I (and those around me) have suffered, it is..forever with me. There is no running from it, no hiding from it and by far no way to get that arrow showing me where I am; I am aware of God through this unjust suffering, even tho I am stuck with trying to find a direction, and through questioning, I am aware of God's presence how ever far off it is, I am aware.

Friday, May 4, 2012

"I Know.."

"I know" seems like a simple set of words...doesn't it? I haven't written here in a long, long time and those of you who may frequent this blog would say .... "I Know!" As a mom, I am constantly saying "I know", "I know", "I know". And then something happened this Spring that I was prepared for, wasn't in "the know" of, something that will define a future from constant and stead, trekked through fear, and now into a time of faith, a place I "know" to well.

This Spring our daughter Jennifer became a 'real' senior in high school. One day she got up and she was a young girl, at least in my eye, and the next day she was a young woman, preparing to graduate and thrust into a season of faith.  She did not make this trek alone, she had by her side her little sister-a growing young lady who in all ways makes you laugh when you least expect to-and in the background stood me and her father.  This Spring we spent all week running from soccer game to soccer game, thing to thing, to and from Montreat College, and all while working toward a date that may have stopped all of our plans. We as a family are entering into a new life, a life where we will see Jennifer move away to college, where Sydney will consume all of our time, and where Lee and I may be able to recover into each other once in a while.  And we don't "know" what will happen, how we will fair, and what the outcome will be we move ever forward. What I "know" is that it doesn't matter.  More than four years ago, I had a feeling that there was a plan for Jennifer a great plan that I was not privy too. This week I re-read something that I'd read more than four years ago, and I realized that the future of our lives is taken care of. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

"I know" that is all that matters, those that words "I know", because in those words there is peace and grace. I know my daughters are strong and amazing young women. They are held up by hands that I do not see, directed by a plan that I don't have control over, and they are beautiful young women who are more then blessings in my life. They give me a day of laughter when I least expect it, they "know" when the other needs to laugh, they give grace to a home that sometimes isn't the liveliest to be part of, and they are loved more than they "know". Our girls, they "know" somethings that they don't even realize, they "know" how to make a  smile and "know" how to draw one out of us. They "know" their heart and don't have a problem speaking their minds (although I have no idea where they get that from) and they are full of life. They may not "know" how much they mean to me and Lee, and that's ok, they probably don't realize that they are more than just our daughters but daughters of friends in our life. They, together, are a future in the shadow of tragedy, they are laughter in a time of tears and fear, and they are the loves of my life. From flowery outfits and playful words, to strong opinions and faithful hearts, these lovely young women are love and flower, peace and grace, strength and presence...they are the breathe of my life every morning when they trek downstairs...they are our daughters!

 "for I know the plans I have for you", "plans to give you hope and a future"..... the future of hope  and plans of prosper....I know that there are strong plans for our daughters in this coming future and I can't wait to see who they become! With all my love, to my daughters, Jennifer and Sydney.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Purge It!

That's right those of you who will read this post, purge it, and I do mean this emphatically! Why? Well mostly because I believe that every once in a while you just got to purge stuff - any stuff, all stuff, some stuff, most stuff, whatever it is, this is THE PURGE!!!!

You might be or might not be interested how I came along this idea but since I don't know your state of thinking I'm going to share (I bet you want to run now!). Last week, I indulged in something that I generally do not do and as a result of this indulgence, I was forced to 'purge' my stuff right out of me.  Unfortunately, this particular indulgence carried over to a friend who, like me, spent most of the night (and the next day) purging the indulgence away.  And like most things that just seem to pop into my head, the word purge came to me at around 5:30 A.M on Saturday morning - and like most things that just come to me, I haven't been able to get the word, the commonality, the direction, the whatever it is, purged from my mind.  So here I am, writing about it - so hunker down, this might not be what you want to read.

I looked up the word 'purge' in the dictionary and was surprised to read the definition. Merriam-Webster defines purge  as 1a: to clear of guilt; b. to free from moral or ceremonial defilement; 2a. to cause evacuation from (as in bowels). There are other definitions beyond these but I stopped here. I found myself intrigued by the definition and how it related to my physical position last week and how I related to the words that were in the definition and I was surprised how Merriam-Webster defined the word. Who would have thought the first definition would be to 'clear of guilt' followed by 'to free from moral or ceremonial defilement'.....I don't know about you but, yay! I couldn't resist with looking up this word so I went on to a word that I thought would be synonym - remove. It's kind of odd you'd think that these two words are similar enough to hold a similarity in their would be wrong. Merriam-Webster defines remove as 1a. to change a location, position, or residence; transfer from one court to another; 2. to move by lifting; dismiss from office; 4. to get rid of. Ok so that didn't work out for me as well as I had originally planned! I'm guessing the same is true for you.  I am far from perfect and last week when the purge was needed at that time of indulgence beyond desire, I had to remove those things from within that were causing the undesired purge. And as I was going through this not so pleasant  purging and removal process, I wondered why I was being subjected to time in my life when I didn't desire for such type of removal. I have and still am quite desperately moving through the horrible process of grieving over the loss of my son and his friend; still going through the motions of 'being ok' and I wonder how do I get through this more quickly, how to remove it from my life. I've asked myself and God this hundreds of times with no response, well not really. I have asked for this to be removed from me and to be wakened from the long dream of the past 2 years, with no compliance or notion of rewind. And the thought of the god that I love who did nothing to reverse the situation brings anger and distress, fear and insecurity to my life. What was going on at that time that He didn't respond? Where was my miracle? I have tried to compare my feelings with those of the Bible, the anger that David had toward God where he continually yelled at him throughout his flight away from Saul. The unbelievable courage and love that Job resounded through all that was taken and destroyed of his by the  non-movement of God. The knowledge of pending death by Jesus when He asked "Father, remove this cup from me."(Luke 22:42) And I have failed to truly fit into those characters, truly missed the mark. I have yet to purge my life of the fear, insecurity, distress, anger, etc, that rules my days. I still have those moments when all else has failed and I am just mad at the loss that two families suffered on the same day. I am by all means unable to purge those emotions, unable to get rid of them, and I have yet to have this cup removed.

I wonder if there are others like me? You who are out there unable to purge away the things that have caused the place you now find yourself. I wonder if you too have asked, in not so many words, to have the cup removed from you, with nothing but deafening silence to follow. And I wonder why us? Why at this time in our life have we been given such a cup that He will not remove from us? And no matter how much we beg, plead, sweat, run from, hide from, blurt it out, or sit with it, we are unable to find a way to purge it from our lives.  I don't believe it is acceptance, although those who counsel would disagree. I do believe that this is a time of drawing, either to or from Him, in our own ways we are drawing in some direction. I believe that this will not be purged or removed from us, for no other reason than if it were to be removed, it would already be done. And I don't know the answer to getting to the point of removal of this place and I don't know that being removed will ever happen. I do believe that this is my cup, maybe yours too, and removal is a something that does not lie in the balance. "Father, remove this cup from me." 

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I wonder sometimes how it is that Hansel and Gretel left crumbs of bread on a trail so they could find their way home? I mean, obviously it didn't work, but why crumbs? They had to have known, at least a little bit, that birds and other animals would eat the crumbs that lead the way out, didn't they? Well who knows maybe not-but I can only assume that since they were raised in a forest they had to have some common knowledge about that kind of thing, or at least I would hope so. And yes it seems that a fairy-tale is the bread of my blog today (haha! like that punn!). I do have to confess to you that even if you read this once in a while or look for something written everyday, I do not find the things to write about. I have tried to find things and have forced writing sometimes but in truth, the things that I write here are not my words. If they were mine, I would write about things that I find and want to write about, instead.....I'm writing about Hansel and Gretel...and crumbs.

I was surprised when I started writing the first sentence that Hansel and Gretel came out, I had no idea that this is how I would begin but in reality, it makes sense to me and it will to you shortly. I pulled out my devotionals today, first time in a while, and had two things stand out, one was part of a verse...Matt 15:23 " Jesus did not answer a word..." Well I had to know what the story was behind this statement from Matthew. So I read Matt 15:23-28, a story I have read before, and so have you. It's about a Canaanite woman with a sick daughter, and she is continually begging Jesus to heal her daughter, even tho she takes care of her dogs first and foremost. She is criticized about this, chastised by Christ for giving her dog bread before her children. Her response "Yes...but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." Hummm, kind of an odd statement to rebut being chastised; but Jesus answers her back saying "Woman! You have great faith. Your request is granted!" Crumbs...that was her answer, crumbs and He just gave her what she wanted. Who knew that something so little would get a gift so great....crumbs.

I wonder how much faith it takes to get a gift like this one from Christ? I wonder how much faith I have to have in order to get a healing of great worth? All through Christ's days He says faith just needs to be small; as small as a mustard seed to move mountains, as small as a crumb to get healing, small. And yet, I wonder how small is that faith? How small? I mean I can see a mustard seed and crumbs, so how small. Small enough for someone to be able to see but not discern what it is? Small enough that when trouble comes, He is the first one you run too? Small enough that no one else knows its there? How small is small!???!!!  I would say I don't know the answer, I do know, however, how it feels to have Him not answer.  Some people call this feeling a 'dry season' a 'season of pursuing faith', a 'season of reflection'. I call it a season of crap-yep there you have it, I said it! I don't know the answer to my questions and I probably never, never will know the answer. I thought that faith was something seen by only Him and that He measured your faith. But through these years of doubt and dryness, I have found that others see my faith, or more pointedly lack of it in their eyes. I don't know how small, small actually is but I do know what 'no answer' is. It is the silence that comes when I scream for a gift and none comes; it is the silence that echos in the room when I can't sleep; it is the inevitable sound that I once knew, then walked away from, and has now returned.  How small of a crumb is needed to receive a gift for Him? I don't know. But I do know this, my faith is small, sometimes so small that I don't even know it exists. My faith is weak and it is hidden well in me, where most can not see it and I'm sure He would have to look hard to find. My faith is faltering and there are things that cause me to stumble continually in the sight of those around me. And He does not answer every time I beg, plead, or bargain. But I am standing on a crumb, a small and fine morsel of faith, hidden as it may be, I am standing on it. I hope that all this silence is just a passing moment and soon I will know that my crumb has not been scavenged by dogs waiting for a morsel from their master. I stand on my crumb, sometimes faltering, sometimes wavering, and sometimes hiding it and I hope that He sees how great I want my faith to be in His sight. Just a crumb, that's all that is needed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Horse Communicator!

Yep, that's right! The horse communicator! Aren't you glad you tuned in today!? What is a horse communicator? Well you got me! If you know right now, please email me and let me know because I have no clue how this works or if its even real. And yet, here it is, title to my blog today and focus of my writing....go figure.

In reality, I do know what a horse communicator is or, more to the point, what they sell themselves to be. Whether or not they are real? Well, lets just say the jury is still out on that one (and probably will be for some time). So what is a horse communicator? It is a person who claims they can talk to horses, by simply looking into their face, and telling the owners what is wrong with the horse. The horse actually speaks to the person is what happens-or at least that's my understanding. I picture this process not unlike the picture I picked out of a person trying to communicate with a horse. Doesn't it look like she is communicating with the horse? He must have a lot to say and must be in serious distress.....Looky there, I'm a horse communicator and I'm not even at the place with the horse! Ok so that was thrown in to make you laugh, so go ahead and laugh. But I wonder if maybe on some level, I'm not a horse communicator too? I mean I know my horses very, very well. I can tell if something is bothering them and if something is hurting them just by their body language; they way the keep close to me when I don't have food(!); the actions they perform in the field or when they are with me out of the field. See, I told you I was a horse communicator! Haahaa.

I don't believe that people can talk, literally talk to horses or dogs or cats or birds, although there are those out there who desire for anything to make their pet more humanlike and will pay anything to make that happen. What do I really believe? I believe that we become tuned to our pets, not unlike we become tuned to our family, and we can tell when something is bothering them and most of us can figure that out in a matter of minutes or maybe days, so see you're a communicator too! Now aren't you glad you tuned in?! Its the same way with God, believe it or not, He still communicates with us in many ways. Most of the ways are through scripture and many of us can feel that communication and yet many of us have a hard time believing it. Some of us go through times when there is a drought, so to speak, where we heard His voice clearly and then He just disappeared, and still some of us call 'hoodwink' on the stories of hearing God's voice. So here I am, a non-believer of the horse communicator and a returning hearer of God's voice, how in the world am I going to make this connection for you? I can only tell you this, everything I read this morning (well up to the horse communicator story) was saying "follow Me". (Just to clarify, the horse communicator story was not a devotional but a story, a real one from a horseman, who already knew the answer before he paid someone to tell him the problem.) 2 Cor 4:15-17 "Therefore, we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day to day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal." Why this scripture and why the horse communicator? For me, I look for something that is real, factual; something that I can touch, something that can tell me now what I want to hear, not unlike a horse communicator to an owner. People, we, use horse/animal communicators, and probably pay them well, because we want someone to tell us exactly what the animal wants! We do not want to wait, we do not want to ponder and take time with our pets, we want it NOW. The same is true for with a walk with God, at least for me. I have a tendency to want an answer today....ok that's called impatience! And there it is, the answer to my horse communicator non-belief. The answer was there all along, impatience, busyness, and ultimately laziness to figure out and listen things that I already know but don't want to wait for.

You and I are probably not that much different. I'm sure you are, at some point, just as impatient as me when wanting an answer, and like me, you probably would rather pay someone to give you the answer you already know but just want someone else to say.  That is unbelief.  And so a struggle of unbelief begins, when does someone give me what I want, tell me what I want to hear, and do it now? I want it now, not in 3 days, 4 years, or 50 years, but now. I want to know now, as do you. And yet, the answers are not a now answer, they are a long way ahead of us, at least most of them. So we search for someone here to give us the answer and direction that we long for now. When all along the answer is right in front of us "fix (your) eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen".....ahh, belief.  I struggle to fix my eyes mostly because it is easier to fix my eyes on what is in front of me as opposed to what is not, and yet "follow Me" keeps repeating itself in my head, in the unseen.

I don't believe that there are horse communicators, people who can talk to animals in humanlike voices, but I do believe that God speaks to us daily, we just refuse to hear it. I don't have a true close to this writing, just a short prayer. Lord help me fix my eyes on what is not seen, on the things that You have prepared for me. Show me that desperation and impatience do not show me the way, for those are temporary and fleeting. Show me how to follow You. Amen."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hyssop? Really?

I know, I know - what in the heck is hyssop? Well at least that's what I asked myself when I heard the reference this morning. So I was somewhat surprised to find it's a plant and a very fragrant and beautiful plant too!(Honestly, something I'm considering planting.) I was surprised too to see it looks similar to lavender. So I did a little research on hyssop and thought I'd share some of what I found out with you...aren't you excited?! I knew you were (haha)! So hyssop, a little education, there's a lot of websites and information out there regarding this lavender looking plant and I found information from medical/drug sites that talk about "beliefs" from herbalist to just simple plant sites that discuss the plant itself. This particular plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean area, it was transplanted to Europe and then to America by immigrants. What I found also very interesting is that every site, from the medical ones to the generic blogs, site the plant in the Bible and Biblical references! HUH? So what is hyssop? Its an herbal plant that has a camphor-like odor that can be dried for decoration (the major use), dried for extracting an oil from it to make a tea for elixir (by herbalist) which is used help with sore throat and some cold relief, left to bloom it can help prevent some insect infestations and attracts bees - honey from hyssop is said to be very, very flavorful and good to taste. So, there's your hyssop lesson, aren't you glad you tuned in today!? :)

Hyssop. In all truth I heard this word in my channel surfing this morning and I happened to stop on a Raleigh channel that airs a Minister from a Raleigh church and he was talking about being restored (there was more but this is what I heard). He was referencing several areas but centered on this verse Psalms 51:7 "Purge me with  hyssop,  and I shall be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow." Hyssop is only referenced in the Bible and for as much research is out there, no one can find the origin of this plant (this from many websites mostly those from medical site). David was speaking here, he was asking God to cleanse and heal him from the inside out (this from commentaries). I was curious when I heard this statement on the TV and so I listened for a while. The reference scriptures were really all over the Bible but the message was this, in simple terms, "God restores what the enemy has stolen". That was it...that's all. John 10:10 "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, I came that you may have life and have it to the full..."  I know this scripture but have no idea what it has to do with the Psalms reference or at least I didn't have an idea. When David asked God to "purge" him "with hyssop" he was asking Him to restore his heart, restore the things that had been stolen from him, restore him to joy. Sounds similar to John 10:10 not exactly but similar don't you think. I wonder what the enemy has stolen from you, I wonder if you know all that the enemy has stolen from me (even tho in all honesty I'm not willing to share "all"), and I wonder if He really restores and how He restores? When will he restore? Don't you want to know how He's going to restore? I do, sometimes every day I wonder...when? And yet everything in scripture says "I will restore" or "he will restore" everywhere it says this in one form or another, in one way or another, He tells His people/children that he will restore them the things that they missed or the things that were stolen. You may not see the connection in the 2 scriptures I chose - but both of them describe theft, and ask or tell of restoration. In Psalms, I think David was in torment (as was most of his writings and prayers) and his heart was broken and he was in distress; in John, Jesus was telling the people that He is the restorer from the enemy's desire for distress, hurt, and broken hearts, He will restore...but when? Maybe some hyssop right now wouldn't be a bad idea.

If you are still reading, even through the obvious crazy start, weird middle and struggled into end, I guess you are probably going through all the things that the enemy has stolen from you, if you're not well then you are a much stronger person than I. In reality, I think many of you are probably making a mental list of the things, people, land, and life that you have lost. You, like me, are recounting the hurts, agonies and struggles that you have been through. And like me you are probably wondering when is my life going to be full? When will it be restored? I believe, in all actuality, for me anyway, it was restored; it was restored when I accepted Christ as my savior, when I realized and become close to God for the first time in my life. So why do I need to be restored? Because through this struggle of life, I have had more stolen from me. More hurts, more heartbreak, more distress, more, more, more....more than I ever thought I could withstand. I bet you have too. "I came that you may have life...." I will restore.

Believe it or not, you and I have been restored, even though I believe that more will be restored in time. When? I don't know. How? Have no idea. Do I hope it doesn't take 40 years? Yes, I do! But, through all this life, through all this time of waiting for full restoration, I believe that restoration is in the horizon; set far off so that it looks as though I am still in the dark and unrestored, walking blindly through life with no direction or hope for restoration, and with no hyssop in my bag. Hyssop is actually in my bag, hyssop is full in my life, I just misplaced it for a while, lost it in the dark. I've always had it, I just didn't know it.  "I came that you may have life.." He is my hyssop. Is He yours? I bet He is you just don't know it, you've just misplaced Him in the dark. He is my hyssop.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lead Me

Do you like music? I love it. I like to hear it all the time and most of the time I find a way to dance to it; my husband would say I dance whenever I can, no matter where. I guess, to some degree, he is right, he'll love seeing that! I was cleaning this morning and heard a song I haven't heard in a while, one that when I first heard it I was just drawn to the words. Songs can do that to you; they can make you remember a place or time when you were growing up, they can bring a memory that was long forgotten, or they can bring an emotion so strong that you can not deny its presence. That's what happened this morning. I heard a song.

Do you know what it means to be lead? I know for most of us we know what it means to follow, but to lead, what does that feel like? What does it mean to lead? I don't really know, not really, not when you get down to it, I have no idea what it means to lead. And I'm sure for most of us that statement is true. We may move and go through things in a leadership position and sometimes we lead the way toward some set goal. But do we mean to lead or are we leading at all? I don't know but this morning I heard this song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real and thought about those words lead me. I know for all purposes we can as for leading, seek leadership, find leadership, and know what it is but to be lead or to lead I believe most of us have little experience. So I looked up pictures of 'lead me', funny I know! But you would be surprised what you find when you look up Google pictures for a phrase, I was when I found a picture of 2 horses walking in snow, one leading the other, and like a passion I looked up horses in snow. I found many pictures of horses in snow, some taken some drawn, and this one. You are probably thinking "what in the world does this picture have to do with a song by Sanctus Real?" Well you would be on the right track because I wondered the same thing and I have to say that it only has to do with the fact that it speaks to me. Horses have a leader in every herd, a dominant horse that takes on the position of leader, the one who is always first in every situation, one who - no matter what- they go ahead...they lead. I have wrote on horses many times and probably this song too but I was to lazy to go back and find it. This particular picture shows ponies being lead by their 'alpha' to some destination; ears pricked forward, not hesitating in the blizzard, he leads. 

I looked up those words "lead me", trying to find them together in the Bible and I did not find them. So I broke the words apart and searched first for "lead" and found Rev 7:17 "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eye." Odd that I should find this scripture; odd that it is one of few came up with the word 'lead' in it and in the context that I was looking for. I wasn't planning on this scripture; I wasn't looking for this type of scripture, whatever that is. But there it is...and it jumped off the screen at me, it stood out at the moment I was looking. And so I was drawn to the place in my heart that still sheds tears and started looking for other places where 'lead' could take a hold of this emotion and help me bury it once again. That didn't happen! But I was lead to this John 16:22 "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." Just to caveat here, I am aware that this is Jesus talking to the disciples of His death and return. But I find it odd needless to say, that this scripture was brought to my attention after Revelation 7:17, don't you?  I see that there is a link between these two scriptures; one tells of being lead and one tells of seeing my loved one again. I know in context that these scriptures do not go hand in hand and probably never will to those scholars who commentate. But they ever so do for me, do you see it. These two scriptures read to me in this way 'Now you are grieving, now is that time for your grieving. But I, who sits at the center of the throne will lead you one day, lead you to the love that you miss, lead you to the well of living water that you can not see right now, and I will wipe your tears away, and your joy will return.'

I don't know what it means to lead, I really never have, but I do know what it means to grieve and have those who you do not know ask for my help in their time of grief. Asking me to lead them. I have more than faltered at this task presented me, but I did not intend to lead in any way. I feel that leading is a measure that no one person should take on lightly and yet I find myself in those positions of leading that I neither desire nor need. And continually I ask what does it mean to lead? I am far from the strong pony in the blizzard leading his herd to a designated point. I am far from that one who looks forward with pointed ear and fixed eyes leading ever forward no matter what the condition. I am far from a leader and I ever look for someone to lead me through this time that I am in. I look for someone who is a leader to step forward and lead the way but I really don't have to look far. He will lead me to the living water, when I am ready to follow and when it is time. He will wipe my tears away and fill me with the joy of seeing those I love again. When it is time, He will lead me out of this place; with pointed ear and fixed eye, not unlike that little strong pony, He will lead me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Kill Me If You Can"

I know, I know....what in the world? First, no this is not a book review of one of James Patterson's new books. Second, no this title has little to do with the what is coming in this blog.  But I do love a good "take me away" book and this book did just that last night. Almost so that I didn't want to put it down and could have read all night. It is, of course, a classic murder for hire story - filled with unexpected information and the usual "I hired you to do this but now I need you to do this too" plot. There is the usual, as you might expect, unsuspecting schmuck who, I hope, will be the hero of this story, and the obvious "somewhere in the middle of all this chaos" love story.  And I love to read James Patterson, he has a certain way of getting you drawn into a story line without you even knowing it happened, a writer whom I could read just about anything he writes, and someone I am never disappointed in! But this particular book started with, literally, a bang. A story that really is starting to shape up into backstabbing, angry men who are holding grudges for long ago and having someone else do the dirty work that has simmered in their minds. You wouldn't think this type of plot to be the center of a blog, especially not one reviewing this book, and yet here it is, right at the beginning.

It is strange to me how I remember certain titles and ideas for writing here come about. Most of the time, they are related directly with a devotional that I read or a scripture that sticks out; other times it has to do with something that has happened, a course of action for the day or even something that I wish had happened.  So the thought that this book, a murderess story, would find its way here, is strange to me. I think it more strange that place I am going (the end of this blog) and the plot of this story are very similar, almost exactly the same. This particular title, although I have stole it from James Patterson and his co-writer, was one that I wasn't going to use. I wasn't even going to mention the book title at all-just allude to a new book and writer that I am indulging in to make my point. I just couldn't come up with a title to fit-this one does seem to stand alone, catch an eye, and maybe intrigue someone enough to read on. How does this fit me? Well, among other things, this plot drew up some unresolved issues in my head; okay, that's not entirely true, I was already on the anger part of the issues in my head, this book kind of unearthed some that I have been trying to forget. It hasn't worked out so well for me! So strange it is that a book drew me to something I am so familiar with, so comfortable with, that I was drawn to write about it. At the same time, while I was reminiscing about those things and people that made me angry or hurt me, I was given a solution. Like I said, it is strange sometimes how things make their way onto this page. There is a man, in the book, who, in just 2 short lines, let the cat out of the bag and became the focus of my morning blog. He is a bitter, probably middle aged man, angry that he is not the boss in this story. He holds a grudge from his teen years against his life long friend and cousin, whom, by the way, is the boss! Holding this grudge, he begins his path to being the bad guy, the true bad guy. I am much like this character, well minus the fact that I'm not hiring anyone to commit murder, stealing, or smuggling illegal things from the black market. But in reality, deep down, I am much like him. I am holding grudges, ones that I thought I had forgiven and forgot. Ones that if I had had the energy I would have spat out the words fuming in my head at the time. Ones that if I had been there at the time of the offense I would have been put in jail for my actions. And over the past 2 days, all of those long forgotten and thought forgiven things have been emerging slowly. Coming to my mind with unbelievable clarity it is as though the offense had just happened. All from friends, people whom I have known and would have never thought to act in the way they did, people whom I would and have defended, not unlike the character of this book.

I wonder sometimes what was going on in the minds of these friends/acquaintances when the offense occurred? What were they thinking? How could they say or begin to think that saying what they were saying was appropriate? Thus begins the dredging of angers that I have not let go. Last night, that was affirmed that I am still holding these grudges, the title that I didn't want to use poured out of me to the point of not being able to sleep. The whole time I thought of these things that linger in my head on occasion and out of nowhere came an answer, one that I didn't want to know, although one I have heard and have known for some time.  Rom 12:19 "..."It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord." This is not an unfamiliar passage to me; not one that I had to search out, it is one that I have highlighted and underlined in my Bible. "It is mine to avenge". I kept those words tucked away somewhere and last night when I was putting my book down and thinking of all the people whom I'd like to confront, these words came to me. Call it what you will, I call it strange. And even tho the memories of the hurts and angers that I still hold kept coming, there was no desire left for me to go get 'em, so to speak. They were just what they are hurts and memories of anger. I do so wish I had the courage to spout back at a friend when she accosted me in the front yard shortly after the loss of Kaleb and Thad. And I have spent many nights reliving that day - yelling at her the things in my head. I have longed to say. To be the person sitting with my friend when she was told how to handle her grief and her friend did nothing but sit there; I can see myself being the young girl I once was, not thinking about consequences and ending up with assault charges hard on my head.  And yet they are just thoughts and memories that I allow myself to hold onto, "it is mine to avenge". I know that, I have known that for some time, so why did this come up now? Where did it come from? "I believe that God does not play dice" (a quote by Albert Einstein) but He does take a record of those things that are not for our good. I believe that even when I am angry, generally at Him, those things that I can so do something about come flooding back, giving me the gumption to go make my own amends. That is what was happening yesterday and last night. I am still holding those grudges, among lots of others, but I have been angry at God and when I stir that emotion, the door is opened for those old grudges to be relived. "It is mine to avenge" that is His promise to me for those wrongs that I live through. How does that work when it is Him that I hold a grudge against? It doesn't. Plain and simple, it doesn't. The grudge against Him is one that I must work through, one that on faith I can get to a 'non-avenging' mind, one that with time and I will know that He does avenge all those things done against me and He does heal all wounds - even those wounds and grudges that I hold against Him.