Tag Archives: faith

Sorrow and Joy (Wisdom along the Way)

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The deep clenching painful chest emptiness that sneaks up and invites tears. A physical pain that feels like it could swallow me whole. I don’t know where this comes from or when it will appear. I just know it will.

Yet the freedom of allowing the pain surprisingly leads to release. As I embrace the ache and invite the sting of tears, I am lead out of the abyss.

This grief has been with me, maybe always. It is a deep and soulful cry for all that has been lost and all that is yet to be.

I don’t think this cavernous void will be filled in my lifetime.

My soul seeks heaven in the midst of this beautiful, messy, imperfect life.

By believing in the miraculous, wonder-full and joy-filled now and cradling the inexplicable heartache that seems to always linger beneath the surface, I am whole and present.

The peace, joy and knowing that there is more, a deeper truer story that I walk in, is my walk with Jesus.

I want MORE for Christmas!

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This year I have been thinking a lot about Christmas.

What it means. Why we do what we do (or don’t do). What traditions we follow. How we celebrate. Who we celebrate with.

Even the word: Christmas.

I was driving by a sign the other day and mentally broke the word ‘Christmas’ down.

“Christ” – as in Jesus.

“Mas” – the Spanish word for ‘but’ or with an accent mark above the ‘a’, meaning ‘more.’

 But, Jesus

 Jesus – More

I follow many traditions of man:

Family made.

Created by Western Christianity.

Commercially made.

Not necessarily in that order.

The irony of the truth, that God, in the form of a baby, came to us in a barn (not a church building, or a temple, or a mansion, or a government building or an inn or even a simple home) still boggles my mind.

I ask, “Why?”

Could it be so that one group could not lay claim to the Messiah?

As humans we like to think we know the right way. That our people group, sub culture, culture, religion, like-minded friends, etc… know The way. We can be so small minded.

This year as I give to the poor, share with the less fortunate, buy gifts for friends and family, bake cookies, wrap presents, read the original Christmas story, decorate a Christmas tree, sing carols, enjoy Christmas lights, visit churches  and wear red and green, I can’t help but think there is more. I don’t think these activities are wrong. But there is more.

Shouldn’t everyday be Christmas?

Truly in our hearts and lives, Jesus came that we might have LIFE and Abundant Life – everyday.

ALL the World – not just one sub culture. I am discovering, daily, what that might mean and look like.

Hope Filled, Grace Filled, Joy-Filled, Mercy Filled, Generous, Loving, Overflowing to the whole world… Not perfect, just Life Bringing…

My prayer this year: More Jesus. More of You. Everyday. For everyone.

I Want More!

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Today I have started my “More God” challenge. Last week I purchased an Invisible Clock (timer, stop watch, alarm gadget) that clips onto my clothes. I have set the timer to countdown fifteen minutes, vibrate and then repeat. My action? To praise, thank and be mindful of God each time the timer vibrates.

Why am I doing this? Because I want MORE!

More intimacy with Jesus.

More walking with Father God.

More Holy Spirit in my daily life.

Am I experiencing a particular challenge or obstacle in my daily life? No.

I am not sick, depressed or freaked out in any specific way.

I simply want MORE. OF. HIM.

I’ve heard the teaching that when things are going well we tend to forget about God. I personally don’t buy into that train of thought. Sure, it can happen. But let’s not teach people that it is normal to forget about God during any circumstance (good or bad). I live a life of thanking HIM. My biggest prayer is always, ‘Thank you…”

I wasn’t always that way. I think I would call myself a believer of God my whole life. But I definitely wasn’t a follower until I was 35. Becoming a follower or disciple of Jesus meant getting to know God, who HE is and what HE says. And surrendering the lordship of my life to Jesus and HIS ways. Wow! What a journey I’ve been on AND am on! It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been good.

As I’ve grown to know God more I realize how much I don’t know. Daily. And how much more of HIM I want and need. Daily.

I find myself going through my day thinking of HIM regularly – but always? Intentionally, mindfully seeking HIM in everything? Truthfully, no.

HE has more thoughts of me than there are grains of sand (Psalm 139:18). I could return the favor at least every 15 minutes – can’t I?

I desire to:

  • Seek HIM with ALL of my heart (Psalm 119:10).
  •  To soul seek after HIM like the deer pants for streams of water (Psalm 42:1).
  •  For my soul to cling to HIM (Psalm 63:8)

Jesus clearly stated what the greatest commandment is:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-39).

I desire to love God better and MORE.

What exactly does ALL my heart, ALL my soul and ALL my mind look like in this endeavor?

I can’t take credit for the ‘invisible clock – 15 minute – praise Jesus‘ idea. I actually heard it at a women’s conference as a help to someone fighting a disease or illness. The challenge was to do this for two weeks and see what happens. Knowing what I do know about Jesus, I would expect nothing short of miraculous!

That is where I am at today – expecting nothing short of miraculous!

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3).

I’m not sure what I always believed about this verse. But I have come to believe that I am poor in spirit. Let me explain. The word poor is used many ways, but my favorite definition is: never having enough. With this definition a person of great wealth can still be poor. Someone well below the financial poverty level can be rich. Poor and rich certainly can pertain to finances, but by no means stop there.

I am believing that my spirit is poor in that I simply don’t have enough Holy Trinity in my life. I don’t know that I ever will – in this lifetime.

I want MORE.

I am intentionally seeking MORE.

I have committed to a 12 day journey. Starting this morning. I will keep you updated.

PS. Already, even typing this, I have been brought out of myself to Praise the one who made me. Thank you Jesus!

Who Do You Say I Am?

Morning Glory

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God. And Jesus answered him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:15-18)

Who do you say I am?

What  a big and loaded question!

For many years I assumed that the whole point of these couple verses was that Peter proclaimed Jesus as The Christ, the Messiah, whom the people had been waiting for.

And that is a major point.

Who I think and say Jesus is, defines me. I grow daily in knowing, loving and following HIM.

What if there is more?

Way more?

One thing I am learning is that: I don’t know what I don’t know.

Another thing I am learning is that in Walking with Jesus, there is always MORE.

As I was reading the above verses from the book of Matthew a number of things jumped off the page at me.

First, Jesus said some amazing things. Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah.” Not because Peter had the right answer. Not because Peter knew that Jesus was the savior of the whole planet. But Jesus said that Peter was blessed ‘for flesh and blood(man) has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’ 

Peter was blessed because The Father in heaven revealed who Christ is? Or Peter was blessed because a person didn’t reveal Christ to him, but God did? Or Peter was blessed because he was in the presence of the living God and walking with HIM and realized it? Or Peter had a direct connection to the Father and acted from that?

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure I first confessed Christ because someone – a person – told me about HIM. Of course I also believe that the Spirit of God was at work in that choice.

How many times have I just listened to someone else’s interpretation of God’s Word? I AM NOT saying that it is wrong to listen to teaching. Instead I am suggesting that teaching should be my invitation to seek HIM out for myself.

What if I had known to listen to the voice of my Father in heaven and hear from HIM? I am not even sure I thought that was possible. I mean really? HE would talk to me? Really? The God of the universe would take time out of HIS mega-importance to talk to me?

Yes! HE did, HE does and HE will.

I am not saying that I hear an audible voice booming from the heavens. Even in the Bible, God doesn’t always speak that way. Sometimes HE used burning bushes, angels, prophets, wind,  a donkey. HIS voice whispers through creation to all of us. HE speaks in dreams. HE gave us Holy Spirit to constantly converse with us. HE is always speaking.

I have not always been listening.

Jesus says that Peter is blessed for hearing from God. Listening to God instead of man. Choosing to repeat what God said, instead of what man said.

A knowing that comes from hearing the voice of God, as Peter did, is foundational to walking with Jesus.

The verses only get better! Next Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”

I really like that Jesus will build His church. Not, ‘Peter now you will build my church.’ Do you think we hear it that way sometimes?

How often do we assume that we are to do God’s part instead of our part? In these verses our part is to hear from our Father in Heaven and His part is to build the church. A little backwards from how we sometimes attack executing our faith?

We also have to look at the word ‘church.’ This word in Greek is ekklesia AND IT IS NOT A BUILDING. It is a group of people, specifically ‘the called out ones.’ It was not a religious or spiritual term. The purpose of an ekklesia was to ‘call people out’ or ‘summon them’ to assemble or to congregate in a public place primarily to deal with civil, political or military matters – not religious matters!* Not how I used to think of the ‘church.’ (Maybe we really can change the world!)

This ekklesia, Jesus said, He will build. And the foundation – the rock – was Peter, a person that heard from heaven.

And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.This is the comfort and protection and peace that I walk in daily. These are Jesus’s words. The word.

The gates of hell cannot prevail against a people, called out by Jesus, that hear from the Father in heaven.

A Prayer to hear God’s Voice:

Father God, I long to hear your voice. Please speak to me. Teach me your ways. Reveal to me who YOU are.

Now, listen. God longs for you!

*ReOrient, Kevin Weaver, pp187

Beneath the Questions


Have you ever tried to force something? Because you thought it was the right or best way? Even though the circumstances were telling you different? Even though everything pointed in the opposite direction? Even when it was hard? Did you give up? Give in? Surrender? Change your mind? Compromise? Or did you hold fast, rigid and determined to stay course? Your way or the highway? Is your way the ‘highest’ way?

What is your motive? How do you make your decisions? What about when there is no clear right or wrong?

Here is my dilemma. We have chose to homeschool our thirteen year old. Very specifically, at his tearful request to do so. Now six weeks later we are at his tearful request to NOT do so. What should we do?

It would be so easy for me to admit defeat and send him back to public school. You see, I have not ever felt called to home school.

I have felt homeschooling a better option for our son, Max, than public school (when HE was the driving force behind the the decision).

Why? Because he can’t sit still! He was labeled a ‘problem’ by many teachers. He has ADHD (although maybe it’s just ADH – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and the other D – Disorder is wrong, maybe it’s not a disorder at all, just how he rolls). When Max begged to homeschool, I thought maybe we stood a chance. Now when he is begging not to, our chances for success seem dwindling.

It would also be an easy decision to force homeschool, persevere and see what happens. The decision would be easy, but the day to day reality would be a completely different story. Arguments, head butting, not at all what I signed up for! I just don’t know if I have the fortitude for the trial. Not that we didn’t have arguments and head butting with public school – we simply had some other parties involved in the skirmish!

I am also not sure this is really all about homeschool. I think homeschool might be the surface topic, but what is underneath may be more important. So what is underneath? Because I really don’t want this to be about me. Yet I am half the equation in the homeschool dilemma.

And there lies the first ‘what lies beneath’: I believe my husband Jeff, Max’s father, should play a more active role if we are to homeschool.

Here are the other ‘underneaths’

  •  I love learning and school. Max doesn’t.
  • Max is becoming resentful toward me.
  • Max is more like Jeff than myself in personality, learning style, communication and love language.
  • Jeff quit school in the ninth grade (Yes you may read between the lines concerning Jeff’s view toward school…).
  • I have perfectionist tendencies – not a good teacher quality!
  • I love teaching and training – willing and eager students…
  • Jeff and I both have Attention Deficit traits ourselves (we are not the best ‘set and stick to a schedule’ people).
  • Structure is a great concept. We lack a team effort to maintain a daily structure.
  • I am losing all confidence in my ability to lovingly mother Max.
  • I am becoming resentful of my husband’s lack of interest in and support of: homeschooling, parenting and solution based action. I don’t want all these decisions to be mine alone!
  • Jeff feels attacked when I try to discuss my feelings on this situation with him.
  • Homeschooling was not on my radar, but I was willing to take it on if (and only if) Max was the driving force for his own success in the endeavor. And this has changed…

My other considerations:

  • Max has a tendency to relentlessly pursue something until he attains it. Then he quickly loses interest.
  • I am not a quitter.
  • I don’t want to raise a quitter.
  • I honor my commitments.
  • I want our child to honor his commitments.
  • I want what is best for Max!
  • I don’t want Max to see himself as a problem at home, at homeschool, at other school or anywhere else!

Okay, and very honestly, Underneath EVERYthing:

  • This situation has exposed some personal dissatisfactions with my own life.
  • Jeff and I have some conflict resolution work to do.
  • Our marriage needs some strengthening in the communication skills department.
  • Our parenting skills need brushing up and tweaking to adapt to parenting Max.

Where is God in all this?

Everywhere!

 What does He say?

 He says it’s all about love. Seeking Him first.

 For me this means each nanosecond requires a Jesus connection.

 Next, it’s all about loving each other (aren’t Jeff and Max my neighbors?) as our selves. Making sure there are healthy ways I am loving myself, so that Jesus’ love flows out from me to my family (and others).

Matthew 22: 36-40

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

I am prayerfully seeking the answer to homeschool or not. (To be continued…)

Selfish or Gifted?

 

Recently my husband, Jeff, and I had to answer the question:

If God was to grant you a special endowment or supernatural grace to influence a specific sphere of society for the Kingdom of God, which one or more of the primary spheres of society would it be?

Family, Business, Government, Education, Media, Art and Entertainment, Religion

My husband immediately answered, “I know it’s selfish of me, but I would have to say, business.”

Really, I thought, that is selfish? How? So, of course, I asked him!

“Well, you know,” he said,  “I love business, it’s what I enjoy doing. And I’m good at it.”

I realized at that moment that my husband does the same thing I do!

I assume that the things (activities, talents) that I love doing couldn’t possibly be the areas of my life God would use. That would simply be too easy, too good, too good to be true – right?

WRONG! Believe it or not, I actually coach people to do the things in their life that they love – because God made them that way! He made each and every one of us with a plan to prosper us, and not to harm us. He made each of us in HIS image. He gifted us.

Why is it, often when we love and enjoy something*, we feel it is not the way we should go?  Is it possible those talents, likes, loves and desires were actually gifts in our lives from the One who knows us and loves us best? Could God have made us with these desires? Even if they aren’t church related? Could He be glorified through common, everyday  joyful actions of people outside a church building doing the things they loved? Hmmm…let me think…yes, Yes and YES!!!

As I discussed this with my husband I was reminded of several stories and passages from the Bible. Here are a few that came to mind: Jesus left the 99 sheep for the one. I’m pretty sure the one wasn’t waiting for him in the local church…the ‘one’ was lost (maybe even hanging out at some business…). God made Isaac to be a real estate developer, Jacob to be a rancher, David to be a shepherd – then in the military and then a king, Deborah to be a judge and a warrior, Mary to be a mother, Paul to be a tent-maker…Of course all these people served God.

They all did so much more than their vocational title. And so do we.

They were so much more than their vocational title. And so are we.

They all glorified God by doing their best in the vocations of their heart and seeking God, always, as their compass in life. And so can we.

I believe Jeff was being deceived into thinking that “business” was a selfish choice. We do have an enemy that longs for us to fear, to doubt and ultimately become powerless for the Kingdom of God.  We are warned that there is a thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. We are warned that in life, there will be trouble.

And we are reminded that: He (Jesus) who is in you is greater than the one (evil) who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)!

I ended up being so encouraged by my conversation with Jeff. I was able to validate my husband’s gift in the world of business. And his heart for God and people.

I choose, daily to embrace my love of words, art and beauty as strengths, not weaknesses. I choose to believe that I serve the God of love, the God of the Bible, God who is good all the time! I choose to believe that God’s plan for my life would utilize the gifts He has granted me. I choose to use my gifts and talents to please my heavenly Father. I choose to glorify God in all I do. Even laundry (that will be a whole other blog entry)!


*Disclaimer – if the something you love and enjoy happens to be an addiction, this author is in no way telling you that God made you that way. I believe God is heartbroken over what you are giving yourself over to, if it isn’t Him.

Too Many Toppings!

This is a struggle for me! When is enough, enough? Or too much!!!

I love toppings on a sundae. My favorite is vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup and real whipped cream. For me, a sundae is perfect just like that. Notice that the above sundae does have my favorite toppings, but you can hardly see them buried under all those other good things. That can be my life in about a nanosecond! I see all these other ‘good’ things and add them to my day/life and the best things get lost.

  • Too much decor on a piece of art
  • Too many activities after school
  • Too many ‘to do’ list items in a day
  • Too many good things scheduled into a busy week
  • Too much stuff to steward
  • Too many helpful technologies to master
  • Too many self help books to read
  • Too many ingredients in the soup
  • Too many, too much, too often!!!

You get the idea! So why do I do this to myself? Is it all my fault? I believe we now live in a society that left busy behind a decade ago. We are now ‘busy on steroids.’ Our lives are consumed with activities,entertainment, work and the accumulation of stuff! Again, none of these things are bad, in and of themselves. But what do I leave out in pursuit of this current age?

Usually the first thing that suffers is my relationships. Not the 300 friends on Facebook, but my family, my faith, my handful of true-deep-no matter what I’m there for you – friendships. Next my health begins to totter. You know, that hyper tension head-ache, fatigue, emotional eating, the sniffles and allergies that just wont go away?  My peace of mind starts slipping, my cup isn’t half full anymore. It becomes half empty. My walk with God feels more distant.

I think these are all safeguards and reminders to me! I always have a CHOICE! I serve God. He made me with free will, on purpose, so that I could choose HIM.

1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV) states: “Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”- but I will not be mastered by anything.

Daily, I pray for wisdom.

What are my motives behind an activity? Who am I trying to please – Jesus or society? Do I have a centered relationship with God – have I spent adequate time with him in prayer, praise, communion? Am I seeking God? How are my closest relationships on a 1 to 10 scale (10 being great)?  If I am at a 5 or lower, what can I do? Are there good things I am doing that are keeping me from the best things I am made to do? Are there too many toppings on my sundae today?