Monday, October 29, 2012

Psalm 16:10

Be Still!

Last Sunday night, we had a Night of Worship at our church. A man who I'll call John, and who is a mighty prayer warrior at our church, stood up and shared a scripture: Psalm 46:10. He read, "Be still and know that I am God. That means stop striving! This is a message for someone here tonight." I thought to myself, "huh, wonder who that's for."

The very next day, I received a disturbing, disheartening phone call. I cried out to God, "What do you want us to do?!" As those words came out of my mouth, I heard John's words in my mind, "Be still and know that I am God."

Later that day, I got a call from a dear friend who asked about my situation. I shared with her the disheartening call I had received. She said that she really felt that God didn't want us to "do" anything about this situation but trust Him--not in an inactive way--trusting God takes discipline and effort. But she said she really didn't think we were to "do" anything but rest in His faithfulness. When she finished, I had to tell her about my experience with Psalm 46:10 just hours before her phone call.

That was one week ago today. Last night, I tossed and turned, thinking about this situation, wishing there was something I could do. It hurts so much to stand by and watch a loved one struggle.

Guess what my devotional was this morning? Yep, Psalm 46:1-11.

Lord, teach me to stop striving and rest in You, trust in Your faithfulness. Teach me to actively "know that You are God."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not My Story

I am the media arts coordinator for my church. It is my job to create, organize and prepare graphic images and videos for announcements, sermons and special events.

A few years ago, I was preparing a video of an interview of a young woman and her parents. The young woman had narrowly survived a horrific car accident. She had sustained a severe head injury and it had taken weeks before they even knew if she would survive.

As the video played, the parents talked about the long hours in the waiting room. They told about how friends and family had organized prayer vigils and the miracles that came as a result.

Completely alone in the dark sanctuary, I watched the beginning of that video. After a short time I had to stop it. I couldn't watch any more. I felt bitterness and jealousy rise up in me. I heard my own voice echo through the large, empty hall, "Why didn't I get that? I didn't even get a chance to pray for my daughter's healing!" My daughter had died instantly when the car in which she was a passenger turned in front of an oncoming vehicle. She was gone before I even knew the accident happened.

The minute I heard my words echo through the sanctuary, I heard another voice--one filled with love and compassion for me--coming from deep in my heart. It instantly squelched the resentment that wanted to take hold of me. He said, "That's not what I had for you." In other words, that's not your story. You are living your story and they are living theirs.

I believe in healing. I've seen God do it. And I've seen Him "not do it." We each have a story to live out. I can't compare my life to yours and question God on the differences. I am living my story and you are living yours. They are probably very different stories, but their purposes are the same: that we may come to know and experience, on a much deeper level, the love and compassion of the One who created each one of us. And that is my unswerving hope.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Welcome, Child

I've been really down the past few days... not feeling well physically, and worried over a situation. Yes, I know we should trust, not worry, and I was trying to trust, but feeling pretty beat down. So, Lord, forgive me, and thank You for lifting me back up.

Anyway, I was struggling to get out of this funk, but I felt like I was wading through peanut butter. I couldn't think clearly, couldn't get enough sleep, and I was having a hard time finding God.

Then last night, I was reading Prince Caspian (C.S. Lewis) to my 5-year-old. I'm so glad that even at this young age, she enjoys those stories. We got to the part where Lucy senses that, for the first time in a very long time, Aslan is near. As I read the words, I got so choked up, I could hardly read without crying. I want to hear Jesus and be drawn to him the way Lucy is drawn to Aslan. I could almost hear Him calling but the peanut butter was just too thick, kind of like Lucy's deep sleep:
Lucy woke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine, with the feeling that the voice she liked best in the world had been calling her name. She thought at first it was her father's voice, but that did not seem quite right. Then she thought it was Peter's voice, but that did not seem to fit either...
"Lucy," came the call again, neither her father's voice nor Peter's. She sat up trembling with excitement but not with fear...
 Oh, to have the faith of Lucy! She hears the call, navigates her way through the dancing dryads, and at last, she sees Aslan:
But for the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, but Lucy never thought of that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew was that she was kissing him and putting her arms as far round his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane...
"Welcome, child," he said.
I can hardly type. The overwhelming longing to hear those words from Jesus. The amazing thought that He would welcome me! There is something deep within every one of us that longs to hear that voice. Something that needs to hear the words, "Welcome, child." To, at last, be safe in His arms. That is my unswerving hope.

Time to get out of this peanut butter and put it on toast!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Hi Mama!"

I don't remember the last time I heard my daughter say, "Hi Mama!" But I do remember that every time I heard it, my heart smiled. I remember hearing the young women I worked with say those words to their moms on the phone and I always hoped my daughter would do the same when she was grown. But it was not to be. She will be forever 15--that's when her earthly life ended and her heavenly life began.

I thought I would never hear those words again in this life. But God has such an amazing plan of redemption that filters down through every area of our lives according to His providence.

These days I get to hear the words, "Hi Mama!" all the time. Oh there's something about those words that does a mother's heart good. Each time I hear them, I'm reminded what an amazing privilege I have in raising a second little girl. I am reminded that I do not deserve this privilege. But God gives it anyway. That's how He works. He gives us what we don't deserve--that's grace--and it is my unswerving hope!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

For Glory and For Beauty

For over twenty years, I was a church secretary, an administrative assistant, or an office manager. Over the course of the past ten years, God has pulled me away from administrative duties and pushed me into more creative types of responsibilities. I have struggled with that shift.

I was raised on a farm in the Midwest, where work ethics were strong. Nothing was valued more that hard work and sweat equity. The arts were great for a hobby, but other than that, they were not of much value. It's been hard for me to see the value of my work.

I have seen what I do as "fluff," not "real" ministry. Real ministry happens in the trenches on the front lines--missionaries, pastors, teachers, counselors, prayer warriors, powerful worship lead by dynamic musicians. But putting pretty pictures on the screen has felt like "fluff" with little real value in ministry.

But in the past year or so, as God has pulled me more and more away from the administrative side of my job and pushed me further into the media arts (that's my new title, Media Arts Coordinator), He has also put in front of me articles, websites and devotionals that proclaim God's love for the arts!

Today's devotional from Chuck Colson, who's opinion I deeply respect, seals that message. He uses Exodus 28 where God tells Moses to have the priests wear garments "for glory and for beauty." God cares about beauty!

I have noticed that this Fall as the leaves are changing. I realized that God could have just had the leaves die and fall off the trees. But no, He chose to splash the forests with color--sort of a last hurrah before the leaves fall from the trees, leaving them naked and dead. Yes, for glory and for beauty!

Chuck moves on to Exodus 31:1-5 where God chooses Bezalel, an artist. God even says that He has "filled him with the Spirit of God... to make artistic designs." Wow, God would actually choose someone and then fill him with His Spirit for the purpose of making artistic designs?! You mean God doesn't just call ministers and missionaries? He calls artists too?

So, God has definitely gotten the message across that art is important, that He can use it, that He loves it, and that the church should be leading the way in art. I got that.

Now if I could just feel like an artist.

I can't draw. I can't paint. I'm untrained.

But I am called... for His glory and for beauty!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Voting Values

I recently came across this video. Please join me and fasting and praying for the upcoming election. There is much at stake.

Monday, October 1, 2012

St. Benedict's Prayer

This morning I passed by my mantle on my way to the basement to work on my altered book journal, and this card caught my eye. It came in a packet of cards I had bought on a whim a few weeks ago. I read it and realized it needed to be my prayer this morning--and every morning--really. I just want to read it over and over until it truly becomes my heart's prayer...
"Gracious and holy Father, give me the wisdom to perceive You;"
Yes, I need wisdom just to perceive You--to be aware of Your presence, Your omnipotence, Your providence.
"Intelligence to fathom You;"
Can we ever gain enough intelligence to truly fathom You? Only by Your grace.
"Patience to wait for You;"
Ok, now you're getting really personal, St. Benedict. There are so many things I want to do, experience and know. I feel so many responsibilities weighing on my shoulders. It's hard, Lord, to be patient and sit quietly still in Your presence. Yes, grant me the patience to wait for You.
"Eyes to behold You;"
I have so many filters on my mind--so many preconceived ideas about who You are and how You relate to me. Give me eyes free from those filters to see You, Lord.

"A heart to meditate upon You;"
Oh Lord, my heart is so selfish. It would rather meditate on what's for lunch, how can I make others think I'm smart, how can I lose weight without really trying, how can I promote myself above my peers, and how can I write a blogpost that will make people want to follow me? Oh Father, give me a heart--peaceful, selfless, submitted, to meditate on You.
 "And a life to proclaim You."
A life to proclaim You, not me! You will not share your glory!
"Through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord."
St. Benedict was, I'm sure, far holier than I, and he realized that the only way to attain the wisdom, intelligence, patience, sight, heart and life to know God was by the power and spirit of Jesus Christ. How much more do I need to realize that truth and pray diligently for all those things. I am unable to attain them on my own.
 So be it!

More on 24

In my devotional last week I read about time--I also wrote the previous post from that devotional. Another point Chuck Colson makes in that reading is one by Eugene Peterson that, "in the Bible a day doesn't begin at sunrise--it begins at sunset. The day begins when we go to sleep. We wake up and join God in the work of the day He began while we were sleeping. We don't begin the day; rather, we wake up and step into God's rhythm of grace, a day already in progress."

What a great concept! It's not about me me! I can rest, knowing God is at work, preparing my day for me. I don't have to make things happen, I need to observe what God is doing and join him--not the other way around. There is so much more going on than what we see around us and we must stay in tune with God and what he is doing. I love this vision that Daniel had. It gives me chills every time I read it. It makes me want to be on the same page as God and never give up. There is a conflict going on and I don't want to waste my time worrying about things I can't control. Daniel 10

24 Hours

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

How many times have I said, "There just aren't enough hours in a day!" I have so many things I want to do and know--so many books I want to read, so many responsibilities I need to fulfill--there just aren't enough hours in a day! There, I said it again.

But it's not true. There are enough hours in each day to do what God has called me to do. He wouldn't ask me to do something and create a day too short to do it! God has given me 24 precious hours every day of my life. Haw many of them have I squandered? Ouch! How many have I squandered on TV, Facebook, sleeping, eating, shopping and a thousand other ways.

Lord, help me to see each day, each hour, each moment as a precious gift from You, to be used for You. Help me to stay focused on my calling, "remembering that you have given me all the time I need to carry out your plans and purposes for my life." --Chuck Colson in How Now Shall We Live Devotional

Wisdom From Yogi

I love Yogi Tea--especially the Blueberry Slimlife flavor. I was hoping it would make me instantly skinny, but I think there may be more to it than drinking tea. :(

Anyway, each Yogi tea bag has a little saying--a word of "wisdom." You certainly have to consider the source, like a fortune cookie. Some are really good, and some are just silly.

This teabag caught my eye last Friday evening. I know my blog content lately has been severely lacking. There has been no depth. It's because I have had no depth. Depth takes time, focus, concentration, prayer and meditation. It takes reading, both of the Bible and of authors I deeply respect. I've just been doing enough to get by--just enough to get me through the day, but not enough to gain any depth. Is there a pattern here? I think so. I do well for a while, then my routine changes--school starts, holidays hit, vacation, summer, whatever. When my routine changes, I lose my discipline and I lose my depth.

That's why this teabag caught my eye...

"To learn, read" Yes, I love to read. I love to read my friends' latest status updates on Facebook, I love to read the sale ads from Kohls, I love to read the drive through menu, and sometimes even the laminated kind at the real sit-down restaurants! Those things are easy. It's a little harder to read the kinds of things that bring learning. It's time I do a little more of that!

"To master, teach" (Yes, I know I skipped one--I'll get to it in a minute.) How true. Usually when we teach something, it's a lesson that we need more ourselves than those we teach. (at least that's what all the teachers I know say!)

"To know, write" Oh boy, this one is getting personal. To know what? Myself, my selfishness, my sin, my desires, my strengths, my hopes and dreams, and yes, my God. I am a "writer." I don't mean writer as in author. I just mean that I need to write. I have so many thoughts whirling around in my head, unless I write, I never really think. I just whirl! That's why this blog helps me. Whether anyone else ever reads it or not is not the point. Sometimes, I just need to stop the whirling and the accountability I feel toward this entity helps me with my lack of self discipline.

So thank you,! And thanks to anyone who takes time to read!