Monday, December 19, 2016

My Watchtower

 I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Habakkuk 2:1
My journal is my watchtower. It is here that I wait to see what the Lord says. I start out writing my own words--sometimes words of faith--sometimes words of doubt and questioning--and yes, sometimes complaints. But if I stick with it long enough, the words I write begin to come from God.

But I don't come here often enough, and I don't usually stay long enough. It takes discipline. There are no flashy colors, no enticing advertisements, no clever marketing--just the still small voice of God, wooing my closer. It's easy to miss... to get distracted... to be enticed by the scents, sounds, and flavors of the world. But if I press in... if I stick with it. I can touch the fringe of His garment... get just a whiff of the anointing oil that drips off His feet. I may get a glimpse of His back as He passes by. And if I do, I am strengthened. I begin to reflect Him just a tad. I am changed.

I need so much more change because I don't come here often enough... I don't usually linger long enough. May 2017 be a year of lingering moments at my watchtower, hearing from God.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Allergies, Addiction, and John 8

This post showed up on my facebook feed several times last week. It breaks my heart.

I am as angry about the EpiPen scandal as everyone else. The cost they have put on it is just criminal. There is no justification for that.

So, what does the EpiPen have to do with NarCan? Absolutely nothing.

The amount that drug companies are charging for the EpiPen is wrong--and so is devaluing folks who have found themselves in bondage to addiction that is so strong they are unable to free themselves.

As long as America's addicts remain nameless, faceless "junkies," instead of being recognized as someone's child or parent, they have no hope of recovery. The person who tweeted this message and those who agree with her are part of the problem. Yes, we live in a screwed up world, and you are part of the reason. I am part of the reason. A decade ago, I would have agreed and shared this post. But life happened to me, and I am changed. Thank God I'm changed. Loving an addict changes your perspective.

Devaluing the life of someone struggling with addiction does not add value to to the life of a child who needs an EpiPen. Let's value all life, and have some compassion for those who already feel like the scum of the earth. Let's give them a reason to work toward recovery.

This tweet knocked me for a loop. I was so upset by it, I couldn't focus on much of anything else for a couple of days. As I tried to focus on my Bible reading, I couldn't get past John 8:1-11. Then I realized the connection.

The woman in John 8 reminds me a little of America's addicts, prostitutes and homeless. Everyone wants to condemn them, ignore them, let them die from their self-destructive choices. But not Jesus... he condemns no one.

The religious folks wanted to use this woman as an example... an opportunity to trick Jesus... a basis for accusing Him. They devalued her--caring nothing for her life. "Let her die from her own bad choices," they said. But Jesus didn't buy into it. He values everyone... He values every life. That's why I love Him so.

As religious folks today, how can we devalue the lives of those trapped in addiction in order to make a point about the criminal actions of a pharmaceutical company? Jesus gave his life for children who need EpiPens as well as drug addicts. They all need Jesus. We all need Jesus.

We are called to love God and to love others. How will you love someone today?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Leading From Behind

So, I hesitate to throw this out there, but I’m taking the leap! I’m not saying this applies to but me… The loud one who loves attention and the limelight, the affirmation, the credit, and sometimes, even the glory—God forgive me.

Some of what I’ve heard from the Lord this week… the exact words that came into my head were “Lead from Behind.” I googled it, and I guess it’s a phrase that’s been used a lot. I must have heard it before, but didn’t remember it. It’s kind of like shepherding. I also heard, "Empowering from the Shadows."  Then I read this scripture this morning, which spoke to me on a very personal level, and ended with the leading from behind note.

Psalm 77

For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of Asaph.

1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!

It feels like He’s not listening, so I shout. I yell. God, please listen to me! Hear me! See me!

2 When I was in deep trouble,

    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
    but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude

4 You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
    Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude

10 And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

 I’m overwhelmed! Can’t sleep, can’t pray, feeling rejected and alone. The door of compassion slammed shut! This is my fate: God hates me.

11 But then BUT THEN! I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

But then, I remember what you’ve done in the past, not just in my life, but also in the lives of others… and I praise You. And my pity party comes to an end. You pull me out of the endless swirling of negativity in my head.

12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

I meditate on Your character, God. I think about who You are and I praise You. I am grateful. I count your gifts.

13 O God, your ways are holy.
    Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
    You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude

16 When the Red Sea saw you, O God,
    its waters looked and trembled!
    The sea quaked to its very depths.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
    the thunder rumbled in the sky.
    Your arrows of lightning flashed.
18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind;
    the lightning lit up the world!
    The earth trembled and shook.
I picture what it must have been like to have been in Your presence that day. Thunder rumbling; lightning flashing; earthquakes shaking; waters trembling; rain pouring; wind whirling… 
19 Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there!

And then… AND THEN… The roaring… the chaos... the raging waters… were brought to order, tamed… split in two… and the pathway opened up… Split wide open! It suddenly became clear. No one had known it was there, and yet, there it was, wide and dry. No question about which way to go. YOU led the way, and your servants led from behind. Your shepherds… your leaders led from behind.

20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,

    with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Queen of Denial

Jesus was very clear in Matthew 26:32 that he would die, be raised and see the disciples again on earth... specifically, Galilee.

In their shock and grief, did the disciples forget that He said that? There had to be so much swirling in their heads that weekend. PTSD was not yet a thing, but I'm certain they had it after Christ's crucifixion.

When He said those words, they didn't want to believe Him. They remained in their denial even as He was trying to prepare them for the days ahead. They chose not to believe Him. They chose not to hear Him. Maybe "chose" is not the right word. Their brains didn't want to believe Him. Did they subconsciously block His words?

I think I totally did that when my mom was dying. She tried to prepare me. And it wasn't just words. She was so sick--she was dying right before my eyes and my selfish brain could not deal. So I blocked it. I even told someone it was "all in her head." I can't imagine what they must have thought. What a selfish, spoiled little brat.

I'm so grateful that God allowed me to see my sin, confess it and be forgiven. From that point on, though my default is still denial, I work really hard to see things for what they are, to work through them and obey the Lord in them. I still fail... often... but I am better. And I am more thankful for His grace than ever. That's my unswerving hope.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Gift of Grief Revisited

I wrote most of the following entry about five years ago. As I pray for another mom who has a milestone to get through today, I am reminded of it. I made a few edits, but this, for me, is probably my most memorable post.

As I woke up this morning, I had a picture in my head of grief being like a gift. (The image above doesn't even come close, but it's the best I could do.) I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. It’s a gift that no one really wants, but we all receive at some point. Some of us receive it earlier in life. Some receive it more often. But if you ever love anyone, chances are, you will receive the gift of grief somewhere along the way.

My grief is wrapped up in a beautiful box. Early in my grief journey, I carried it with me everywhere I went. It was heavy and it consumed every moment of every day. It invaded every decision, every action, every move I made. I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t go into Wal Mart without carrying this giant gift with me. It was heavy and cumbersome. I felt like everyone was looking at me and my conspicuous package. I felt like I had “Grieving Mom” tattooed across my forehead. I would think, “Yes, I’m the one… the mom of the one you read about in the newspaper last weekend. She was my sunshine and my delight and now she’s gone. I am her grieving mother.”

As time went by, I was able to leave my gift at home more often. It was still there. It was still mine, but I didn’t have to carry it with me everywhere I went. Now, almost seven years after my daughter’s death, (it's almost 12 now.) it’s like I keep my gift on a shelf. Every now and then, especially on holidays, birthdays, and what would have been milestones in her life, I take my gift down off the shelf. I open it up and take out my grief. I hold it in my hands, turning it over and over. I feel the weight of it, the hardness of it. The coldness of it. I know this sounds crazy, but I also admire its beauty. I cry a little—sometimes a lot. I blog about it some, but not as often as I used to. But then, I put my grief back in that box. I tie the beautiful bow around it, and I gently place it back on the shelf.

Then I go on with life. Seven years ago, I never would have believed that I could go on with life without my daughter. But here I am, functioning, parenting again, serving, living. And my gift of grief remains… until the next time I take it down off the shelf. My grief has changed my life, but it no longer consumes my life. Because of this gift, I have found a Hope that I otherwise would never have known… a true Unswerving Hope.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

True Worship

The aroma of true worship… it fills the room.

True worship has no regard for onlookers. It has no worries about being misunderstood. It has no fear of judgment. It is unmistakable, but not always understandable.

True worship has no desire to promote the worshiper. Its only desire is for the Object of worship… to promote Him, not self.

True worship is not practical. It is not sensible. It is not socially or politically correct.

True worship comes only from broken vessels. Broken vessels give freely… they cannot hold it in. The oil spills out… runs down… the fragrance rises up.

Unbroken vessels cannot give up their contents. The do not give freely. They hold it in for safe keeping… keep it for self or for those who can repay.

But true worship gives all. Pours all out… Holds nothing back. No offering is too valuable or costly. Nothing could be put to better use.

And it cannot be kept secret—its fragrance fills the room.

John 12:1-11

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wrestling with God
"May it be to me as You have said." --Luke 1:38
...the words of Mary when the angel told her that she would become the mother of the Messiah.

I don't pretend to have the faith that Mary had. I never want to compare myself to her. She was instantly ready to face a life that she never imagined--one that she never had planned--one with lots of false accusations and questions. Yet she didn't even hesitate.

When my daughter was killed instantly in a car accident, I wrestled with how I could ever get through it and how God could possibly have allowed it.

Until one day, faith rose up in me and said those words of Mary in my spirit. I was finally able to accept it... that my most precious gift was dead... and the God had allowed it.

I am in no way tooting my own horn. There is nothing good or strong or faithful in me except what Jesus brings. It is a total gift from God to be able to say those words... to accept the things in life that I never would have chosen... the things that I never ever thought I could survive.

Have you faced something that you just cannot accept? Has life dealt you blows that are so far out of your realm of all that is right? Have you lived through--or are you facing--something that is just wrong? Death? Abuse? Abandonment? Addiction? Loss? Illness? Pain? Divorce? Loneliness? Fill in the blank...

 If you don't have the faith to accept your circumstances, I invite you to wrestle with the Lord like Jacob did in Genesis 32. He came out of that fight a little broken, yet filled with faith to face his greatest fear.

I came out of my struggle with the Lord, heart still broken, still grieving, yet filled with faith to face the rest of my life without my daughter--A life I never imagined I would face--but face it I have... all because of the gift of faith from God. And my faith is on a whole new level--deeper and stronger that it ever would have been had I not wrestled with the Lord.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Faith in God's Idea of Good or Mine?

"Some people hold tenaciously to a faith that their child will not die, that their cancer will disappear, that their spouse will recover from a stroke. Do they have faith in God, or is their faith in what they desperately want God to do?" --Randy Alcorn, Ninety Days of God's Goodness
I desperately want my loved one to be healed and freed from his addiction and self-loathing. I desperately want him to realize his worth to God. But that cannot be where my faith stays. I want to have a deeper faith--one that can believe God has a plan, whether it looks like what I envisioned or not. And I trust Him that it is good.

The problem is, my idea of good and God's idea of good can be very different. I vote for God's because mine is very shallow and self-absorbed.

So Lord, I trust you--with my children, my husband, and my own life. I trust you--with my country--our future and our next president. I trust you--with our church and our denomination. I will be still and know that You are God.

Friday, January 8, 2016

More than Enough

Lord, You offer me so much--You offer me everything! The richest of fare! And I snub my nose and turn away.

I turn away from endless abundance because I done believe it's good enough. It's not what I think I want. I'd rather gratify my flesh right now than look to You and be grateful for all You offer:
All of heaven
Your very presence
Water for my parched soul
Fullness of joy
Pleasures forever
Complete satisfaction
Peace that passes all understanding
The riches of Your love

You show up in a pillar of cloud and of fire. You provide manna from heaven. And I snub my nose and turn away.

I run instead to things that will never satisfy. No matter how much I eat, I'll always want more. No matter how much weight I gain, I will never have enough. At my complaint, you send me meat--'til it's coming out my ears, you grant my requests. But I am still not satisfied. I continue to complain... Snub my nose and turn away.

I don't want to live this way. I want the riches of your love to always be enough. I want to find complete peace and satisfaction in You. You are enough, Lord... More than enough.