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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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Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 31 of 31-Last (mostly random) thoughts before the adventure begins (and the last words I will write this year)…


I'm not saying this because I'm in any need. I've learned to be content in whatever situation I'm in.
Philippians 4:11 (GW)




I’ve spent the last month in prayer and contemplation about the year to come, my prayerful declaration that I will publish this year, my full acknowledgement that surrender is not easy but it is what I am called to do anyway.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned…. 

I’ve finally made my peace with James’ “contentment.” The last time I wrote about it, I was ranting in the basement after a Hurricane, babysitting the dog. This afternoon, running errands with my son, he asked if I was happy. Thoughtfully, I responded “ I am content. I am not un-happy, and I believe that contentment resides somewhere between happy and unhappy.” Hmmm…I reiterated that I was not unhappy, and as I considered, I suddenly realized that “happy” isn’t a very useful term to describe my circumstances. There are times when I feel great joy, other times satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, trepidation, excitement, etc. I don’t think happy is enough any longer. It’s too non-specific. Happy, I think we’re done.  Contentment, now that’s a kind of a soul deep thing, requiring prayer, some maturity, patience. All things I desire more of…

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 30 of 31-And miles to go before I sleep…


Listen to your father, who gave you life,
    and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Proverbs 22:23 (NIV)


Yesterday, as I rested, I had time to think about my grandmother’s 94th birthday, and considered the words of Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. At 94, my grandmother suffers dementia. While she is in relatively good physical health, she routinely disconnects mid-conversation. We’ve come to describe it as her “leaving the room.” In the midst of an otherwise lucid exchange, she quite suddenly becomes remote and disengaged. She remains pleasant and unfailing polite, but the conversation is as with a stranger. It reminds me that even at this stage of her long life, God uses her to teach us lessons. He is not done with her yet. She has miles to go before she sleeps. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Days 28 of 31-2013-Looking back and looking forward…

With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.
Psalms 91:16 (NIV)

18 years ago today, as I write this, my beautiful niece, then only a teen, took her own life. i know little about suicide, but have always envisioned that for her life simply became too hard, and she felt she wasn't strong enough. She was wrong, and I wish I could have told her so in time to save her life. As I think about my brother's middle child, gone too soon, and my granny, who turns 94 tomorrow, I realize how rich a blessing this reminder is to me, a welcome message from the Universe. “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many. Thank You, Lord. 

I  want to live my days to the fullest. If it be God’s Will,
they might be long.
Whatever may be, I affirm that
I will be active in practicing the presence of God
with all that I am,
treating my life and my actions with
reverence, to honor what was,
and what is to come.
TWEET THIS THOUGHT
According to Matthew Henry’s commentary on Psalms 91:16, “they shall live long enough: they shall be continued in this world till they have done the work they were sent into this world for and are ready for heaven, and that is long enough…” I guess that means my niece’s journey was at an end and my Granny still has work to do. Somehow, the thought comforts me, both in missing one and celebrating the other.

Lord, I am asking You to keep those whose desperation might drive them to believe they are not worthy of life. They are. I am also beseeching You to guide and guard those who have lived, but whom You are not ready to call home.

Here is the lesson I take away from today. Brokenness, such as I imagine my niece might have felt, draws me closer to the throne of Grace. When I am broken, I look to Him for healing, knowing that restoration is found in His embrace. When I think of my Granny, who will awaken to greet her 94th year, I know that the steps of a goodly woman are ordered by the Lord, and that she has never walked alone. I want to live my days to the fullest, and pray that, if it be God’s Will, they might be long. Whatever may be, I affirm that I will be active in practice the presence of God with all that I am, treating my life and my actions with reverence, to honor what was, and what is to come.

I am nothing without You, Lord, so I am thankful that You are in control.


I am linking up with Laura at Missional Women

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Days 26 and 27 of 31-2013-my list of 10

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

By nature, I am best at putting out fires. I have considerable professional experience as a strategic planner, but an equal part of my professional life was devoted to putting out fires-solving or at least responding to crises in real time. I have the unique capacity to see long-range and immediate contingencies simultaneously. As we prepare for 2013, I’ve decided to do a new thing. With age (and wisdom?) I have become more intentional. I decided to be intentional about doing a few things differently, and I’ve already begun to implement them in my life. Here’s my personal list of things I have, or will consistently be doing going forward…

1-Always a roast chicken in the fridge (in progress)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Old, but not out of date. Merry Christmas



I originally wrote this to encourage myself at a hard time. All the times are hard, but we are not now, nor have we ever been alone. No matter where you are in your life, or your current circumstances, God is still good, He still loves you desperately, and the Son always rises.

 Let this be my last word, brothers; be glad; be complete; be comforted; be of the same mind; be at peace with one another; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11 (BBE)
 

With all we’ve been through as a family, I felt certain that Christmas was a wrap; I just wasn’t buying in to all the hype. I generally don’t; we have always celebrated Christmas with Christ first, making gifts for family and friends, spending modestly and thoughtfully, setting an example for our children that the world’s commercialism will not taint our observation of the mystery and the miracle of the season. I had to admit, though, something was missing. I just hadn’t caught fire.

I was listening to Christmas music today while cooking dinner, and the words of one of my favorite Christmas melodies stopped be cold; I’ve loved it for years, but the lyric ministered to me in an entirely new way.

a cry arising out of brokenness,
"
Hold me together, Be forever near me…
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For You are holy."
TWEET THIS
I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what I've done.
Holy father you have come,

And chosen me now to carry your son.

My burden was certainly not the Savior of the World, but I have often wondered silently ,and sometimes not so, why my family had to endure the trial of My Beloved’s illness. I did wonder what we’d done. My comfort came, however, in appreciating that the brokenness I experiences during this trial brought me closer to God and while it is not a path to His Throne I would have selected for myself, I am grateful to be here.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load i bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.

Be with me now.

Nights in the hospital watching him sleep, finally. Nights away from our children and our home, often at their request, so I could “take care of daddy.” I was never alone, but in the stillness of the midnight, it felt that way.

It was always only the Breath of heaven, holding me together.  

Breath of heaven
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But i offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.

Breath of heaven.

I now begin to understand why we had to endure this trial; why I needed to be brought to this place; why this was my path. Why I had to be broken, again. Why I will break over, and over, and over again, and be glad in the breaking, as it is in that moment that this is my story, this is the lesson I will work on for now: Brokenness is that very point at which I meet God. AGAIN. DIFFERENTLY. God breaks something new in me, and I'm thankful. Because though I am broken, He did not build me to break beyond His restoring Grace. And He never meant for us to go it alone.

That is when I understood the Breath of Heaven. It is a desperate plea for connection. It is a cry arising out of brokenness-Hold me together, Be forever near me…Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness, For you are holy.

That was my Christmas miracle-the arrival of the spirit that humbles me and gives me joy, a hope and the understanding that during the times of my greatest fear, He breathed on me, lighting my darkness, drawing high, healing.

I am ready to welcome Immanuel. I am ready to face a New Year. I am prepared to tackle my biggest fears and accomplish my God-sized dream, knowing that what I think it might be is probably too small a concept for God and that as long as He breathes on my brokenness, I will succeed.
 
Merry Christmas



Breath of Heaven by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant






Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 23 of 31-Dance (dream) anyway…


Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power
;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
Psalms 150 (NIV)

Having rehearsed for several weeks on a cleared altar, we entered the sanctuary tonight to see chairs and poinsettias everywhere. What to do, what to do? Clear the space, make the adjustments, prepare to dance the offering.  Pray, breathe, and dance anyway.

Felt a chill warming up on the chancel; keep moving, keep the muscles warm. The pastor says the boiler malfunctioned and it’s 32̊ and windy outside. What to do, what to do. Pray, breathe, and dance anyway (grateful I wore two pairs of tights).

You, Lord are in control, and
I know how to do my part.
Pray, breathe, and dance anyway.
TWEET THIS REMINDER
We have prayed; we are ready. We have stretched; we are ready. It is time; we are ready. The piece begins in silence, danced with instruments of praise (drums, shekere, tambourine). I looked up, and the soloist was NOWHERE to be found. Uh, what to do, what to do? Pray, breathe, and dance anyway. The choreographer and artistic director liked the pause and recovery so much she wants to weave it into the choreography. 

We were ready, or at least we thought we were. The Holy Spirit stepped in to remind us that is wasn’t time until He sanctified the pause, forcing us to wait upon Him until it was time. I just love the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. We were all filled by the end of the work, and God was glorified.

Life is scary. Pray, breathe, and dance anyway. Things will not always go the way you planned them. Pray, breathe, and dance anyway. Dreams that you know God planted within you can sometimes scare you with their scope, the work it will take to bring them to fruition, how far the outcomes seem from where you currently are. Do your part. Pray, breathe, and dance (dream) anyway. Tonight was my reminder that Emmanuel comes.  Tonight was my reminder that we are never alone. You, Lord are in control, and I know how to do my part. Pray, breathe, and dance anyway.


On Sundays, I fellowship with Jann, Salina, the crew at Spiritual Sundays and Deirdra at the Sunday Community 


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 22 of 31-Not the usual message from the Universe


kindly accept this reminder to be encouraged
and to offer it along the way
 Take the fire. You don't have to give it back...
TWEET A SMILE
Remember Jeremiah 29:11? From the NIV, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “  Very often, this scripture is offered as encouragement and a reminder of the promise that God intends to do good in your life.  I don’t disagree, but I’ve always been interested in context, and I am disinclined to believe that anything is ever as simple as it first appears (except sometimes, it is.). When you look a little bit deeper, the letter from Jeremiah is more like fuel for the journey, and a reminder that there is work for us to do, in order to arrive at the land of “milk and honey.” If you read before and after verse 11, you get that the people of God are subject to judgment at the moment for the purposes of refining, so that they may conform to the plans He has. 

According to a study guide published by “Walk with the Word Church,” when we suffer setbacks, though we have blessings ahead of us, God “is not simply “erasing” everything and pretending nothing happened. Becoming what God intends involves a personal commitment of faithfulness and obedience to His Word and ways on our part.”

So, before you succumb to Christmas madness (for obvious reasons, I’m taking a pass on it this year) kindly accept this reminder to be encouraged and to offer encouragement along the way, I’m sharing the message that came to me from my iPod while walking the dog earlier this week. I’ve had this CD forever, but I was never even aware of this song until I needed to receive this message from the Universe (thank You, Lord, for the many ways You speak to my heart). Life can be hard. You never know who might be struggling just to breathe, too weary and worn to even consider going on. I’m so thankful I for my Unlimited Source, and that He is in control.

… Stop hiding your eyes 
Take the fire from me 
And be warm, life is hard 
And sometimes the night is long 
Take the fire 
You don´t have to give it back to me 

Don´t worry about me 
I´ll stand here in the darkness 
With the joy that HEAVEN promised 
To those who live 
With open hearts 


from FIRE on the album SALT,
 by
 Lizz Wright
Today I am praying and playing with Sandra Heska King in Still Saturday... 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 21 of 31-Rest


so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Genesis 2:2[b] (NIV)

Seventh days will always be for resting…

Beginning in January, I’m only publishing when He gives me something to say. I realized I’d been putting pressure on myself to produce (stupid ego, I guess). Just a couple weeks ago, I offered a sincere prayer of apology for my hubris, and made an affirmative declaration.

I am “practicing the presence of God…”
thanking Him that he is in control,
that I am so abundantly blessed, and that even in the midst of my
most pressing struggles,
my cup overflows.

SHARE THIS THOUGHT
A few months ago, I decided that I should write and publish daily. My intention was to establish good writing habits. I can establish good writing habits by writing every day. A writer writes all the time. Production should be secondary. The flower doesn't dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes...However, I take seriously the notion of putting my best efforts on the blog, and sometimes the pressure to create something good is more pressure than I want. It may compromise what I’m supposed to put here. It’s not the way I started, and it’s not the way I desire to move forward. I started writing because I believe there are things the Lord pours into me that I’m supposed to share, and truthfully, that may not happen daily. I apologize, Lord, for attempting to put You on my schedule. I haven’t yet fully surrendered, but I am on that path. Learning, I no long need to fall so hard before I am able to get up, and with greater discernment, take the next step. My intentions were good, but Isaiah 55:8-9 helped put me back in check…

Seventh days will always be for resting. That means slowing down before I get stopped. Here’s some advice I gave myself courtesy of the 23rd psalms….
“…He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” STOP! It’s not about you.  It never was (about you, or me, or anyone else.)   We are led for His Name’s sake. So stop being cranky.  Rest if you’re tired.  Would you rather be cared for by someone who delights in what they’re doing (please take the time to re-read the 23rd Psalm), or be hustled around by a burnt-out, overworked, overwrought, under-appreciated, resentful, guilty version of yourself? 

Seventh days will always be for resting. I first considered this notion when reading Michele-Lyn Ault who blogs at A Life Surrendered. Rest is a good thing; a way to preserve the temple, arguably an act of worshipful reverence (as we are made in His image). If the way you treat yourself is not a way you’d honor God, don’t do it. Michele-Lyn references Margin as a way of explaining the sacred act of being at rest…
  
Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating… Margin grants freedom and permits rest. It nourishes both relationship and service. Spiritually, it allows availability for the purpose of God.
–Richard A. Swenson MD, Author of Margin

So, it’s my seventh day, and I rest. I am going prayerfully quiet, making myself available for the purpose of God. As Anne Lamott would write it, I am “practicing the presence of God…” thanking Him that he is in control, that I am so abundantly blessed, and that even in the midst of my most pressing struggles, my cup overflows, and He Treats Me to a Feast.



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