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Friday, August 31, 2012

(we) Change (He does not)




Happy day, it’s Five Minute Friday!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking (it’s way harder than it sounds)
2. Link back
here and invite others to join in.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
Can you do it, do you dare? Come on and join the fun!



For I am the Lord, I do not change.Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.

Malachi 3:6 (NKJV)

Change

GO:


I am a bibliophile. I love books, and I always have. At my parent’s home, there is a barrister’s bookcase filled with my dad’s bibles. As a biblical scholar and theologian, he had several; in different languages, with and without commentaries, everything you might imagine, but this is not that story. I inherited my love of books, and that will never change. Well…

I never carry my bible to church anymore. I remember buying it, a women’s bible, pink (so unlike me), but beautiful. Now I’m a technogeek. When it’s time to read scripture, or sometimes even when it’s not, I whip out my smartphone and head for YouVersion (don’t you love it??). Not only can I highlight, I compare versions (this is so not a review). I have never taken more notes, checked in more often, not reading, but diving deep into the Word, doing research, asking questions, etc. It has changed the way I study God’s Word.

Fortunately, He doesn’t mind that I’ve left the books behind. He knows I love Him, and daily seek His face. My method of bible study has changed, like almost everything about me has changed. It is the nature of being human, we grow, evolve or die. We change. He does not. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. I found a tool that helps me get closer to Him, takes me deeper, lets me hear the sound of His voice in many ways.

He will always be there, unchanged, no matter how I seek Him. Today’s evidence that God is good.

STOP:


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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Peace in the time of storms…


Humble yourselves, therefore, under Gods mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson


As I write this, Isaac has weakened from hurricane to tropical storm. The storm is passing over. It seems that I was the only one concerned. Both my husband and my mother already had their peace in the time of storm.

Last week, at the earliest projections, I called mommy to run through storm prep (like she needs my help). She had no concerns, even as I inquired about moving granny from the house to a hospital or respite care, just in case. Mom, as usual, tolerated my rambling, reminding me that it was all in God’s hands, and beyond that, she wasn’t worried.
To my growing anxiety over the weekend and through yesterday, my husband, he of few words declared, “your mother will be fine.” That was it.  I believed him, believed God, but acknowledged again that I am flawed, frail, and beautifully human. I am a woman of faith, but also very much a work in progress.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An elegy for Katrina, or more on choosing to rejoice…

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)


Seven years ago today, Hurricane Katrina assailed the Gulf of Mexico. Wikipedia records the event as follows,
Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States.  Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall.  At least 1,836 people died in the actual hurricane and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane; total property damage was estimated at $81 billion (2005 USD), nearly triple the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
No one could have accurately predicted the devastation left in its wake; not to people, not to property, not to the American psyche. Many in the public mainstream including the Associated Press (AP) called storm victims “refugees.”  According to an article produced by the AP in September of 2005,
the choice has stirred anger among some readers and other critics, particularly in the black community. They have argued that "refugee" implies that the displaced storm victims, many of whom have been black, are second-class citizens — or not even Americans.
It was almost too painful to watch, particularly as my widowed mother braved her first fierce hurricane alone. I was more than 1200 miles away, and couldn’t even tell her I loved her directly before her power went out, recovering as I was from oral surgery. I know she felt my prayers. But this is not that story.

In the midst of the worst storm imaginable, my mother, prayer warrior and superwoman, ministered to her community. As the rains abated and the winds died down, she strode out to her hurricane kitchen, the one my dad built for her but never lived to use, to prepare breakfast. She brewed coffee, and neighbors showed up with mugs. She made pancakes, bacon, and dispensed prayer and laughter, sharing what she had to make a difference. She was spared serious harm living away from the coast on high ground. She reasoned that with power out, she might as well cook and share what she had with those who might have not. That’s who she is. My mother chose joy. She chose to rejoice. She chose to share what she had, including the blessing of her company in the midst of the storm. Those who didn’t come by received a visit, and a plate (and probably a prayer). And no one was surprised, least of all me. That’s who she is.

Now, seven years to the day that Katrina landed, we brace for Isaac. I checked in with mom a few days ago, ensuring that she was properly provisioned for the worst. Mom said, “I’m not worried. God knows where I am.” That’s who she is. My mother chooses joy. She chooses to rejoice. And I am thankful that she is in my life. She will weather this storm with grace. She always does. So while I honor the memory of 1,836 dead and 706 declared missing attributed to Hurricane Katrina, I lift praises to God for my mother’s spirit and abundant joy. She is my example of a godly woman. She is my inspiration. She is both mother and friend. She is also a vibrant reminder that my cup is never empty, my reminder that God is so good. 


On Wednesdays, I pray and and play with friends here...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making a choice to rejoice…


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)


often write about making choices. If you accept the doctrine of Free Will, we always have it within us to choose (yes, God knows the choices we will make, but He allows us to make them). According to Theopedia (among my new online favorite resources),
God never coerces man's will, rather God gives the ability to believe through the work of the Holy Spirit.

God never coerces man's will,
rather God gives the ability to believe
through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Tweet This Now!
We choose. A Sunday sermon convicted me, as it reminded me that entering into worship is a choice. The preacher opened by sharing recent feedback from a parishioner to the question, “did you enjoy service?” Apparently, the response was one I’ve considered, though never had the nerve to share with a preacher, of all people. “I didn’t feel it. I haven’t felt anything in church for a while.”

There was a time in my life when I attended worship to get something. Like there was magic in the sanctuary that I had to tap into. I am thankful that life has allowed me to understand that worship
is an active response to the character, words and actions of God, initiated by His revelation and enabled by His redemption, whereby the mind is transformed (e.g. belief, repentance), the heart is renewed (e.g. love, trust), and actions are surrendered (e.g. obedience, service), all in accordance with His will and in order to declare His infinite worthiness.
In both Hebrew and Greek, there are two categories of words for worship. The first is about body language that demonstrates respect and submission; to bow down, to kneel, to prostrate oneself. The second is about doing something for God that demonstrates sacrifice and obedience; to offer, to serve. http://www.theopedia.com/Worship
Two things struck me about this definition….a)it doesn’t mention a location (church, synagogue, altar, Cleveland) and b)there is nothing passive about it. Worship, choosing to rejoice is an active response; a choice. We decide to enter into worship, to rejoice, no matter the circumstances.
Did you know (I didn’t) that Psalms 34 is the precise definition of “Praise Him, Anyhow? Here’s the story…David had a price on his head when he departed Isreal.  King Saul, pursuing him as he fled, intended to kill David. David ran straight to a Philistine city (you can imagine how that would work out), and schemed his way into the protection of the Gath King, Abimelech, not because Abimelech loved David, but because David pretended to be crazy. It’s bad luck to kill crazy people, so the King spared his life. (Compare that to your worst day…) David’s response? Praise. He chooses to rejoice, declaring that he will bless the Lord at ALL TIMES.
What’s your excuse? Is someone trying to kill you? I didn’t think so. Even if that were the case, if you’re not dead yet, you can find a reason to praise the Lord. You can choose. David did, and he was busy outrunning the biblical equivalent of a mafia hit (sorry, I’m feeling happily irreverent today, and that’s a reason to praise Him, too).  Choose to rejoice. Choose joy. Optimists live longer, survive bouts of illness and other tragedies more successfully and with less measurable stress that others, and can make anything better just by shifting not the circumstances, but their perspective. My BFF said something wise today (she does that at least once every day, btw), “gratitude is a practice. Like any muscle, it requires constant training.” I like that-rejoicing as exercise.
I’m going to work out now, I’m off to rejoice and praise the Lord. Spiritual fitness-a brand new concept to me, and this day’s reminder that God is good.

On Tuesdays, I pray and and play with friends here...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gratitude…


You are my portion, Lord;
    I have promised to obey your words. 
 I have sought your face with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.
 I have considered my ways
    and have turned my steps to your statutes.
 I will hasten and not delay
    to obey your commands. 
Psalms 119:57-60 (NIV)



Author Melody Beattie puts it’s simply…
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. 

“I just want to thank You, Lord.” So said my mommy days ago, pointing me squarely in the direction of grateful.  She wrote,
I just want to thank you Lord. Your grace and mercy brought me through… I'm moving slowly this morning. No real reason to rush... It's a beautiful morning, although the sun is not shinning. If God chooses it doesn't have to shine every morning. So let’s just thank him for what is. Have a great day. Peace and Goodwill upon you and yours. Love, Mom

Mommy has given her home, time and energy over to caring for her ailing mother. She could find other ways to manage this task, there are sufficient resources, sufficient insurance. However, she takes seriously the notion of honoring her mother. She is grateful to have a living parent at her age; grateful to have the capacity and the resources to provide extraordinary care to her in her home.  She has unlocked the fullness of life. She, despite her own health and other challenges, daily exhibits grace and gratitude. 
Matthew Henry’s commentary on the 119th Psalm tells us in part, “there is no situation on earth in which a believer has not cause to be thankful.” Simple. Gratitude is more than just a choice. It is an obligation. I’ve taken on surrender, and it’s working, but it’s not enough. I need to be immersed in gratitude.  It is the reason I began to write this blog. It is the journey upon which I embarked nearly 2 years ago.  

There are so many reasons to be grateful, and not enough time to thank God for it all, but I can try. Thank you, Lord, for all of it. Let my actions show my gratitude. Let my movements be an act of thanks. Let all that I am, all that I know, all that I do be an offering of thanks for it all.  “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” I want that. I am willing to work for it. It will become who I am. Along with new mercies, each day brings new revelations. Just another reminder that God is good.

On Mondays, I pray and play with friends here...
http://www.lauraboggess.com http://www.carissagraham.com/search/label/miscellany%20monday
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com   http://www.michellederusha.com
http://www.bitsofsplendor.com/
http://www.gracelaced.com/  http://seedlingsinstone.blogspot.com




Sunday, August 26, 2012

Go for God, obediently…


Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4 (NLT)

I say a prayer every night
Whatever I do, I'll get it right
With no regret, no guilt or shame
This time, no not this time 
Move ahead in faith, and patiently await
Your answer, what will it be
Im gonna be ready
music and lyrics by
 Terry Lewis, Yolanda Adams, 
James Wright and James Harris

Just because you haven't walked into your freedom yet
doesn't mean the bonds weren't already broken.
Be kind and loving to you, child of God.
You deserve the very best Heaven has to offer.
In the midst of a very busy today, I was called upon to speak to the heart of a girlfriend. While we are connected, she is someone I’ve never met. Even the mere fact that I felt obligated (to her) was God’s call to me to open my heart, share my faith, believing that my honest profession might light a fellow sister’s path. The experience stayed with me all day, encouraging me not to fear a chance to evangelize. I am no evangelist, and I would steadfastly resist the label. All I did was go for God, obediently (that the title of a sermon I heard recently…)

My sisterfriend wrote,
I doubt myself, my relationship with Jesus and everything that entails - all of the time. I wash about, all the time, like a wave in the sea. I am trying to grow in faith, so as to not be that person…all I could hear in my head was, "You may as well give up. God will never use you. You can't even hear His spirit. You are worthless. Stupid." And I wanted to crawl back into bed and stay there.  I write this to you with tear streaming down my face.

I read this and I panicked.  Not only did I hurt for her, I felt obligated, as she had been so open, to respond in a way that would bless her. I have friends whose effortless, natural, eloquent, comforting assurances for others leave me stunned. I was panicked, but not paralyzed. I was frightened, but undeterred. In Deuteronomy 13:4, Moses reminded the children of Isreal-
Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.

Simple, right? Sounded a lot like “go big or go home.” Prayerfully, I went in, knowing that the right words would come out of me if (and only if) He put them there.  I pressed in, and wrote the following…
Dear sister, it is clear that you have a heart for God. Bless you, and bless even your tears as you shed them. You wrote that you struggle with doubt..at least you're honest. We all do. B’s words were so true; we are made strong through Him despite our weakness, despite our humanity.

You wrote, "I want so much to be a ministering, healing woman of God. Full of His grace. That's what I want." If so, all you need to do, to begin, is hide yourself in Him. Surrender. I know the struggle of surrender...I work at it daily. But here is what I do know. Hear this in the loving voice in which it's being offered....you're not doing any of it on your own anyway. Even as you struggle.  Jeremiah wrote, "I know that a man doesn't control his own life. He doesn't direct his own steps." Jeremiah 10:23 (NIRV) You're not alone, you never have been. And, if God led you to this place where we, all cracked in unique ways, can lean upon, learn from, pray for and pray with one another, we already are ministering, healing women of God. You cannot know the impact you have on others lives, even as you struggle with your daily walk. Just don't give up. Keep walking. Keep searching. Keep seeking His Face and clothing yourself in His Word. You've never been worthless. You were created by, and are loved by the King of Kings. If we are made in the image of God, would you say to Him the things you say to yourself? Would you treat Him the way to treat yourself?

We love you, we of the…sisterhood, and you are already free. Just because you haven't walked into your freedom yet doesn't mean the bonds weren't already broken. Be kind and loving to you, child of God. You deserve the very best Heaven has to offer.

I think it helped; I pray that it did. It helped me not to be afraid. I looked back over the sermon notes that inspired me, and read the following…
  • Evangelism is Universal.
  • Evangelism is both horizontal and vertical.
  • Evangelism is for people.
  • Evangelism requires you to study the Word of God.
  • Evangelism requires preparation.
  • Evangelism requires Faith.
  • All believers are called.

I answered, going for God, obediently. I moved ahead in faith, patiently awaiting His answer, not the clever one I thought I might craft (thank You Lord, for showing up just when I needed you. I have another sisterfriend who writes that You are a God of Alreadies. She is right). I surrendered my fear and my resistance, and He showed up. Moving ahead in faith; going for God, obediently…powerful assurances that God is good.
On Sundays I pray and play at Spiritual Sundays.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

You need Jesus, I’m just sayin’…


You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)



In my quest to be like Him,
I want to be Love,
you know,
the thing that God is.
Tweet this quote
This is a true story. One of my closest friends called today to share that a friend reached out with a request for prayer. (This is nothing new; we pray frequently, for family and friends, friends of friends, neighbors, acquaintances, etc.  It is what we do.) The request was specific; it included mention, by name, of a person identified as an obstacle to the blessing, asking that the obstacle be removed. In faith, my friend offered an earnest plea that God’s Will would be done. The response was not what she anticipated. The person making the request chided her for not following the specific instructions in the request, and remarked that if the prayer could not be offered as requested, she would have done better to not pray at all.  This is a true story. She needs Jesus, I’m just sayin’…

I was deeply troubled. In my quest to achieve surrender, I daily acknowledge that I know not the Will of God. In my quest to be obedient, I daily acknowledge that He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). I was deeply troubled, because I completely understood my friend’s prayer, but I did not understand the way it was received.

I struggled. I sought counsel from people I trust. I called a friend with whom I’ve prayed and studied for several years; needing to understand why I felt so uneasy, why my spirit found no peace with what I’d heard. Now I know why…neither the request nor the response to the prayer sounded at all like love.  You know love, the thing that God is?

In my quest to be like Him, I want to be Love, you know, the thing that God is. I aspire to a love “stronger than pride;” love that just is.  Not love as a noun, but love as an action verb.  Love done quietly, a whisper rather than a shout.  Love done quietly, consistently, a daily obligation.

I was deeply troubled, but thank God, I’ve learned the lesson. Because we are nothing more than forgiven, because we are nothing more than sinners saved by Grace, benefitting from a God who saw beyond our faults to meet our needs, we should love (we should be love) in the face of confusion. We should love in the midst of craziness.  We should love when it makes no sense, because while we may not understand it, we are commanded to love.  We are commanded to trust that He knows more, and all of it, even the insanity, is part of His plan.

So, I’m not troubled anymore…I was reminded of a t-shirt I saw recently, which read “You need Jesus, I’m just sayin’.” That is my final word on the matter. Beyond that, I am convicted to show love and be love and act and speak of love, come what may. Because He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” I’m staying in my lane, in order to let Him do the driving. Knowing your calling…just another reminder that God is good.
Today I am praying and playing with Sandra Heska King in Still Saturday at    http://www.sandraheshaking.com


Friday, August 24, 2012

Joined (Called?)




Thank God it’s Five Minute Friday!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking (seriously)
2. Link back
here and invite others to join in.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Come on and join the fun!




Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)


GO:
How did I become a part of the community to which I belong? Did I join? Was I called? Does it matter?

As a child, I worshipped in the church of my family. I was a PK. Nobody asked me whether I wanted to…nobody cared. I joined the family in worship, I participated in praise. It is what we did.

As an adult, I relied upon the faith I’d been taught. I did what I knew. It felt natural. At some point, as an adult, I joined a church, committed to a fellowship, participated in community. Did I join? Was I called? Does it matter?

For the last two years, I have blogged, and at some point I joined the fellowship known as Five Minute Fridays. It is a point of reference for many writers I have met, people who have poured into my soul and spoken over my life and my words. Did I join? Was I called? Does it matter?

What matters is now, that I am, that we are here. Before any of us knew our names, He called us to Him. Were we drawn by His voice? Led by family or friends? Tugged by obligation or compelled by our souls and our hearts?

How we arrived matters not. What matters now is that we are here. What will we do in this place?
STOP:

We are Here, and God is good.
On Fridays, I pray and play with LisaJo and Laura 

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