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Chaos, Social Justice, and Facing Fear in order to Seek God's Face

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.  Isaiah 26:3 A warning in advance-in...

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

What God has for me it is for me…



Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” 
Luke 22:42 (NIV)

Many "enticing" opportunities are NOT from God. So chase the Lord's perfect will ... not your ego or self-led ambitions! 
Called Magazine

Thank God the salvation of the world will never rest on my shoulders.  Thank God that He allowed His Son to be sacrificed that we might be redeemed and restored to Grace. I cannot imagine carrying that burden. I can however appreciate the sincere plea, “not my will but Yours be done.” Today Lord, I’m asking for peace and stillness so I might be open to receive Your Will. This morning I prayed,
I do not want what I want (at least I'm trying not to want it).  I want to be joyfully ready to receive that which He has ordained for me. I need to be still. 

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who has been a distant part of my community of faith (distant only in that we’ve not much interacted) for several years. In her words, she put out a plea to the Universe for help (Oh, can I relate...).  Three separate versions of that plea came to me directly, including the last, which began,
My plea to the Universe
is clear, and so it His response
for now, 
Be Still.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When God wants to bless you (the refresher course)…


In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)




When God wants to bless you, He is not deterred by your desires, your plans, or your expectations. For the last few days, I’ve come to appreciate that sometimes the blessing you’re about to receive is waiting for you to get right. I do not know whether the season I’m in right now is nearing its end, but I have learned to praise Him through my circumstances. I have learned to share His message whether I’m happy or sad. I’ve learned that even though I think I know what I want, when God moves, you might actually see the joy and the possibilities in something you never could have imagined.
...no force on earth will stop Grace, no
more than man can halt the rising of the sun.
 
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Follow the map…



 
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6(KJV)


Choose mindfulness in acknowledging Him.  That means thinking before I act,
measuring my words and
my actions prospectively.

Oh, and praying before, during, and after.
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I always know where I want to go, even if it’s not where I’m headed.  I consistently visualize the optimal way to handle a situation, with calm, measured words, encouragement, to leave everyone feeling uplifted, better.  I always see it.  Though I’m sure this isn’t always the case, it often seems to come to me the moment I’m walking away, knowing I didn’t quite get it right.  Once in a while, there is a beautiful synchronicity… as I hang up the phone with my teenager, I realized something wonderful; in that moment, chatting with her, I did it!  I was present, listening, and encouraging.  I DID IT! Of course, since perfection is a moving target, she is sullen with me by the end of the day, and I am back on my quest.   Hitting the occasional moving target is not the achievement to which I aspire.  I desire to be right more often than remorseful.  After all I’ve been through lately, I’m doing another reset. I’m making a fresh commitment to follow the map. (yes, it’s about surrender again.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don’t cry for me…



And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes
; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)

Don't Cry For Me
Don
't Shed A Tear
The Time I Shared With You Will Always Be
And When I
'm Gone, Please Carry On
Don
't Cry For Me
No One Is The Blame,
My Death Was Meant To Be
Don
't Carry Guilt Nor Shame
The Reason Why I Came Soon You
'll See 
Lyrics by Be Be Winans,
Performed by Ce Ce Winans

Next month, a remarkable young women, one I’ve know all her life, will turn 40. She’s going to be a big girl. Recently I took the opportunity to tell her that I have been and continue to be incredibly proud of the woman, wife, and mother she’s become. Despite extraordinary challenges she has faced, she is wise, worshipful and wonderful. Even as my heart swells with pride, I think of the sister she lost, and I am sad.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Walk in heel…



For you know that the trial of faith imparts to you patience.
James 1:3
(Aramaic Bible in Plain English)


“It never ceases to amaze me how many people I see being pulled along by their dog while out “walking”. What amazes me more is that most of these people blame their dog for this behavior. If they only realized that the problem is on the other end of the leash.
If your dog pulls on the leash, you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re the “master”. Dogs are smart, and they will take advantage of a situation if you allow them to. The worst part of this situation is that it only takes a short period of time to teach your dog to heel. Since walking with your dog is something that you should be doing every day, from the very beginning, it only makes sense that the “heel” command is among the first that your dog learns.
When your dog obeys the “heel” command, not only does it make it easy on your arms while out on walks, it also helps ensure that your dog is safe and behaved while out in public.” Perfect Manners Dog Training
Don’t leave. It’s not the wrong blog, and I haven’t lost my mind.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shelter…



LORD, you are my God
   I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness
   you have done wonderful things,
   things planned long ago
You have been a refuge for the poor,
   a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. 
Isaiah 25:1 and 4 (NIV)


Storms come; we prepare as best we can, but ultimately, we are provided Shelter.  We put things away, we batten down hatches, but we are provided Shelter.   We pray for safety, God’s Grace, and that His Presence would abide with us.  We seek Shelter.

Faith reminds us
that fear is unnecessary;
out of step with faith.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

A day awash in Grace...


But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.
Ezra 9:8 (NASB)

A wise woman would say each reprieve makes the lessons less painful; a thoroughly human, though fierce and fragile girl says I could do with less painful lessons Lord, but with You, I will abide.

Today was a day full of Grace. Still recovering from the soul-battering I’ve been taking lately (it might not be that bad, but I am weary), today I gave myself over to the doing of things for someones I love. Today I learned there is a goodness in giving (a lesson I well know). Every time I extended myself, I was shown a brief moment of Grace. 

I am encouraged. I am declaring that this battle is a tempering for something good to come. Today I called the friend who inscribed the book I’ve been rereading…and while I am certain she knew it was prophecy she was speaking when she wrote it, I know I didn’t…
“God truly placed you in my life for a purpose. I know that God’s favor is upon you. Be blessed.”
I wrote this before, but I’m understanding it now…sometimes the blessing you’re about to receive has been waiting for you to be ready. I’m not ready, but I’m on my way.

There is wisdom in appreciating the journey as much as the destination. I get it, Lord. Walking in Your Will, being immersed in Your Ways, being fixed in the Faith. Here is a lesson, one learned before today, “Pack Faith, and no matter where you’re going, wherever you go, you’re ready for the journey.” I’m on my way, and going with God is my reminder that He is Good.  

On Fridays, I pray and play with Laura and the Christian Mommy Bloggers

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A lesson in prayer…


No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)


Today I learned a lesson in prayer and praise. Yesterday, I started re-reading Tommy Tenney’s Finding Favor with the King, a retelling of the story of Esther. I’m needing to give context to all the upheaval I’m living through lately. Not to understand it-that’s not my job, but to be prepared for it (studied, prayed up, fixed in faith).

Another person living in my skin about 8:45 this morning would’ve cashed it in and gone back to bed. I am not that girl. I am the girl who will tell you in the midst of crisis, “I should be crying, but I won’t. But I could, and would be completely justified.” Quoting Precious Ramotswe in “The #1 Ladies Detective Agency” series, “I am made of strong stuff.”

Let me give you the reader’s digest version of my day. I had a plan. God had a bigger plan. I started early. I arrived late. I kept cool, taking my time, praising God. I needed to get something done, make that several things. I had a plan (God had a bigger plan). I had 4 minutes to travel 4 miles across town in traffic. I couldn’t make it without Grace but I tried anyway. Someone who didn’t have to wait for me (and let me know so) was still there 15 or so minutes later when I arrived. What was I praying?
I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:1-4 (KJV)
I never pleaded for Grace. I never pled for a break. I offered only Praise, and I honestly didn’t concern myself with the outcome (though a part of me was rehearsing my thank you, if one was necessary). When I made it across town in traffic, what I needed was there, comfortably. I was bathed in Grace, but also fully fixed in faith. That was today’s lesson.

Today I got through what for me at another time would have been a thoroughly crappy day. Only one thing was different-me. No uncommon temptation overtook me. God is indeed faithful, and on this day, I did my part. Yesterday I was fierce and fragile, and today I can add to that fully fixed in faith (at least this time, Praise God). I am preparing to walk in the favor for which You made me. Every test makes me stronger. Every test suggests that my latter will be greater than my past (so says Martha Munizzi). Today’s evidence that God is good.
On Thursdays, I pray and and play with friends here...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fierce and fragile…


For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father's house will perish: and who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14 (ASV)



Yesterday, I switched up my jewelry. I collect dragonflies (jewelry) and it didn’t occur to me to consider why I find them so appealing until someone asked…my answer was that they are like me, “fierce and fragile.” (Sometimes I’m wiser than I realize.) Lately, I’ve been wondering why I’ve been really hitting it hard lately. Kierkegaard wrote,
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. 
I no longer need to know it all (why things happen, what they mean…that’s God’s job), but I do value the review of my experiences (and my lessons) to discern what God might be teaching me, or what I need to learn. I’ve been hitting it hard lately to have my mettle tested…to confirm what I’m made of. I am fierce and fragile, but also sheltered and treasured. I was drawn to Esther because life’s throttling lately reminded me, despite what’s happening in my life, I have favor before the King. 

I pulled Finding Favor with the King by Tommy Tenney off the shelf today. Clearly, it’s time to read it again. I was as drawn by the book itself as I was the inscription from the friend who gave it to me,
God truly placed you in my life for a purpose. I know that God’s favor is upon you. Be blessed.
Sometimes the blessing you’re about to receive has been waiting for you to be ready. Esther was fierce and fragile. I can only imagine that this season in my life is about being ready. So, it looks like I’m back in training, for God’s next big thing. As I get started, I’m re-reading a message I wrote myself as an encouraging reminder.  
 …this is a lot to live up to.  I am reminded, over, and over, how very full my life is.  I am again reminded that even when life gets particularly rough, there is comfort in that in an imperfect world, a perfect God loves us, and abides with us, through all things.  And despite all the toughest things I have to face and all the answers to all the questions I never have in time, I clearly have been granted an abundant life. 

Fierce and fragile, but ready to walk in the favor for which I was created. It’s almost time, and all of what has gone before suggests that the after is going to be extraordinary. Further evidence that God is good.
On Wednesdays, I pray and and play with friends here...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Get Connected.


If you are one of those people who has it all together, this may not be for you. Feel free to stop reading. 

I’ll wait.

Still here? Maybe it’s because you’re not quite sure. I’m certain you’re wonderful, but perhaps you’re seeking something more. Something deeper. Something connecting you to something bigger than yourself.

M
You can’t make a call if your service is disconnected.
Your clothes will always be wrinkled if the
electric cord can’t reach the socket.
  Your iPod might be playing your favorite music,
but without headphones, you’ll never hear it.
You’ve got to get connected.
aybe you are already a believer, but lately, you’ve been feeling a little cold. Empty? Not quite there? I know something, and I’m happy to tell you.  I may know your problem. You may be disconnected from the Vine. You know, this one…

"I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can't produce anything without me.” John 15:5 (GW)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Breaking through to get my blessing…


Remain alert. Keep standing firm in your faith. Keep on being courageous and strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13 (ISV)



It turns out; standing fast in the face of a storm is just as challenging as trying to outrun it. Alas, I have already learned this lesson…
Thank God for faith which reminds me that nothing can harm me. This does not mean that storms will not come. This means that I am sheltered.
The great thing about a learned lesson is muscle memory. It’s not so hard to do it the second time around. Let me tell you about my day…

Man appoints, God disappoints. Cervantes said it, I live it. I awakened this morning full of the best laid plans. I rose at six to shower, do my hair (locs that energy and some time), prep Sunday dinner, finish some papers for an afternoon meeting, make more coconut scones (the last batch was divine) and then walk the dog and get the family ready for Sunday worship. The best laid plans….no more than 5 minutes into my shower (fortunately before I began washing my hair), we had a plumbing emergency. Needless to say, my plans were dashed for an impromptu trip to the closest big box home improvement store (all before 8 am). At any point, tears would have been understood. After all, I had such good plans and so much to do. At the very least a tiny tantrum or perhaps an imagined expletive might be expected(nah, never that). Riding to the rescue Batman and Robin style alongside My Beloved (MB), I heard him say the nicest thing. He told me he loved me, particularly at times like these, when the unexpected happens. He encouraged me. I needed encouraging, and God met me (through loving words) just at the point of my need. Thank God I’ve learned to stand fast. Thank God I’ve learned to hold on and break through to get to my blessings.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

First stripped. Now released


 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 
John 8:36 (NIV)


Now I get it. I am my own 2.0; a new release. Free. I couldn’t have known it would feel like this, but I’m grateful to have come through it to recognize wonderful. Free feels good.

Getting real and raw...
What would you give you up to get to another level? 
Philippians 3:12-14
https://www.facebook.com/strippedandfree

This morning walking the dog, I felt lighter. Free. Released. No longer bound by holding on to things bigger than me, things I know I should let go, wasting time fiddling with knots I cannot untie. I let it all go; stripped it away, let it fall. 

This morning I heard joy in mournful music; hope in complicated melodies and rhythms I sometimes cannot hear-they require too much of me. Today it was all easy.

According to Matt Skinner, Associate Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary, the message of John 8 is simple--if you continue in the Word of God, you can expect three things:

·         you are truly His disciples
·         you will know the truth
·         the truth will make you free.
For me, the difference between knowing the truth and stepping out on it was what freed me. Now I’ll need to stay there.

It’s taken me about a week to enter the battle, lose, admit my weariness and powerlessness, and finally, to feel the sweet freedom of release. I’d surrendered, but I hadn’t let go. There’s a difference. My surrender meant I’d acknowledged that His Way was better and I would follow. Release meant leaving all my baggage behind, instead of dragging it along, or hiding among it. Release means admitting every day isn’t fabulous; that it’s not all okay; that you don’t (at the moment) have it all together and it’s never been as easy as you try to make it look. It means runs in your stockings (if you’re even wearing any) and loose strands of hair. Release means raggedy, but faith means it’s okay, or at least it’s going to be.

Now I get it. I am my own 2.0. I didn’t enjoy the fall, but the landing wasn’t so bad, and it isn’t so very far from here back to the path. It might have been scary, but it made me press in closer to You. It really was about getting out of my own way, to make room for you. To make room for blessings unseen but just over the hill I’m climbing. Making room for the praises I can dance, because now I can hear the music. Beautiful music; a joyful reminder that God is good.



On Sundays I pray and play at Spiritual Sundays and with Heart Reflected .

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hiding among the baggage…


So they asked the LORD, "Where is he?" And the LORD replied, "He is hiding among the baggage."
1 Samuel 10:22 (NLT)
(in)courage asked, “how do we stop hiding from and open ourselves up to community?” My answer might surprise you. I am more open, more transparent, more out there in cyberspace, than I was in the offline world. I’m catching up to myself, but it’s been a journey.

An act of faith allowed
me to come out of hiding,
and that choice makes me who I now am. 
My close friends know me, the me unadorned. I trust them implicitly; even if they judge or criticize (we are all flawed and human). Online, I am brave, and shockingly honest. Online, I made the leap of faith to become a writer. Putting my words out there, mostly unmeasured, frank, seeking fellowship and community. I was unafraid.

I am not afraid in my regular life, I am measured. I have joked in my professional persona, you know, one of the facets of my personality, that even my impulses are planned. I’m not that controlled, but I am careful. In my professional persona, careful and diligent were my stock in trade.

With age, faith, and wisdom, I became brave. It wasn’t that I traded in all my facets, more like they synthesized (maybe by the refining fires of my life?) into a whole me. The work professional. The mommy. The wife. The neighbor. The sister, the friend, the mentor, dancer, athlete, rebel, sinner saved by grace.
Saul was afraid. Despite Samuel’s full assurances that he was anointed to be king, he was afraid. Fear is natural, but not of God; that’s not the spirit He placed within us. Saul had no capacity to change himself, and neither do we…that was, that is, up to God.

So, to the original question, how do we stop hiding, come out from behind our baggage and open ourselves up to community? It’s probably an accident. I won’t pretend to have been brave, and in looking back, I’m only glad that I did move my baggage and peek out, not caring how or why. God changed me, erasing my fear just long enough for me to rush into His waiting arms. Where it’s not scary. Where I’m still hiding, but in a good place. Hiding where my loved ones are; where my sisters are; safe beneath the shadow of His Wing.

An act of faith allowed me to come out of hiding, and that choice makes me who I now am. The writer. The faithwalker.  And I like her.  Actually, I love her.  She is my own special gift from God. And that simple act of faith, that embrace of Grace, is certain evidence that God loves me, whether I’m great, whether I’m good, or still very much a work in progress. That Grace is my reminder that God is good.  

Today I am praying and playing with Sandra Heska King in Still Saturday and especially (in)courage

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