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

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My rechargers…I am encouraging you


Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 
Luke 8:47 (NIV)

I have become known. I am seen. My song (as was so eloquently written by Ann Voskamp) has been heard, learned, and riffed back to me, calling me back from my sad, my weary and my sorrow by my sisters. I push too hard, for too long, too often. It has been a rough season.

I am grateful; Despite what I’ve been through, God has been good. Knowing that life would lead me down this hard road, late last year He sent sisters into my life that would pray over me, call like angels to me from the edges of my brokenness, and let me be broken, but never alone.

Grace must be paid forward.
For my rechargers, I am encouraging you.
TWEET SOME ENCOURAGEMENT
Let me tell you about my rechargers. Nasreen flung herself into my life, knowing my so intimately so quickly, reminding me to relearn things about myself that I’d written and forgotten, listening to the God in her who knew that I would need those things, and when. This encouragement is for you. Your insight, your spirit, is amazing. My empath, you reach into the very heart of me calling to do more, to see more, to love more, to share more. Your friendship is among the greatest gifts I never earned, and for God to pour you into my life I thank Him daily.  For all that you are to me, your humble spirit allows you to sees very little of herself. Here, now, and for as long as God allows, I pledge to pour back into you what you so freely give to me. Your kinship is precious to me, here and now I say “thank you, and Thank God for you.” You are remarkable, having reached through the screen and into my life to give me the gift of your voice, the music in your laughter, both your spirit and the silly, sassy, beautiful woman you are. Nasreen, I encourage you to fearlessly share your gift of encouragement. Give more of yourself to the world, and embrace the gratitude we pay you for your gifts. You recharge me, sing my song when my heart if broken, my voice is broken, and I am tired and afraid. You helped save my life, and for that I thank you. Girl, you are a wonder. Girl, you rock. Girl, I thank you. Please be my friend and my hero forevermore.

Writing draws me more deeply into The Word. That and deciding to partner with 99 former strangers to create first community and now family. We thought we were applying to a book launch team. We were, but God had bigger, broader, deeper plans for us, and Christine was among His Plans for me (Hallelujah and Thank You, Lord). I thought I was writing my way out of the wilderness (I am), but deciding it’s time to go and actually getting out are two different things. Clearly, God is not through with this time in my life yet. I thought I was lost. I thought it was a bad divine joke. Waiting to celebrate, planning to strut out in victory, I wasn’t ready for my year of the locusts; Christine was. God armed her, burnished her, anointed her to point and pray me in the direction of my life charge, Joel 2:26-27 because she’d lived through it and praised her way out. I didn’t know she’d matter so much. I didn’t know that she’d become a lifeline back to hope and back to joy. I couldn’t have known that she’d call in a tribe of prayer warriors just in the nick of time, but God knew all that the moment we started mouthing off together in the back of the virtual room. Christine, Bless God, you get me. Bless God, you got me in the moment of my great despair and refused to leave me alone. I encourage you to embrace your discernment, and your ability to see through someone else’s clouds and into their sunshine. You saw beyond my pain and my fear and prayed me through to stand (albeit) weakly on my feet awaiting His Strength. I’m not so afraid anymore. I know it will be okay. I encourage you to continue to live and love fiercely. Speak the truths that come through God to you (Gindi, can I get a witness?) Please never grow up, because I knew you and when I didn’t know, when I couldn’t know how much I’d need your prayers I’d already learned to trust you. Girl, you are a wonder. Girl, you rock. Girl, I thank you. Please oh please be my friend forevermore.

Holley said when you give it away you need to get it back, and now I know. Grace must be paid forward. So for the Grace my rechargers have given me, I give myself to them and I give myself again to You, Father. Take all my broken pieces and use them for Your Glory. I understand a little better why You put me here; why I broke, and why I’ll never be whole. Broken and blessed is beautiful when you are not alone.

I am no longer alone. I have become known. I am seen. My rechargers sing my song, making me better. Making me want to be like them, reflections of His Grace and His Glory in the world, wanting to share the God in them with all I meet. I am known. I am seen. The recharging of my sisters makes me beautiful, like Him. Like them. 

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




Monday, April 29, 2013

I go to my knees…


When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.
1 Kings 8:54 (NIV)

As I child, I was taught to pray on my knees. I remember the ritual; with mommy, daddy, my grandparents, when it was time for prayer, we kneeled. Even as a congregation, at altar call, we knelt. I remember being fascinated at the obedience of the aged mothers of the church, prayer warriors before I even knew the term, slowly, gingerly, sometimes with assistance, taking to their knees. It was powerful.

At some point, I stopped. Not praying, but kneeling to do so. I don’t remember when or why, but it was enough to open a dialogue, sometimes an on-going conversation. I didn’t mean any harm, and I don’t believe any was done. I prayed. My prayers were heard. I chased God and saw His Glory. 

I go to my knees. I needed a new 

means to confess my brokenness, 
to act through that brokenness to seek the Throne.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Surrender to Sabbath; I crave Sabbath rest-I am exhausted


Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God
Exodus 202:8-10 (NKJV)


I cannot wait for the morrow. I have pushed too hard for too long and it is starting to tell on me. Come Sabbath, come. My Sabbath practice, nearly four months in really has become a way of life, this resting place, this slowing down to savor, and this week I need it desperately. I crave Sabbath rest. I am exhausted.

Not just my body but my soul. I am weary. Remember the old spiritual, “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always”? How long is that, exactly? Lord, I am tired. I have taken on too much, not rested the temple, not worshipped in obedience to You. I humbly confess my sins and now I’m throwing up my hands. Come Holy Spirit. Come, Sabbath, come. I will rest, and worship, and rest.

The week is done. I have given my best. Now the rest I give to God.

Until next week,
On Sundays, I fellowship with Deidra at the Sunday Community 

I go to my knees…



As I child, I was taught to pray on my knees. I remember the ritual; with mommy, daddy, my grandparents, when it was time for prayer, we kneeled. Even as a congregation, at altar call, we knelt. I remember being fascinated at the obedience of the aged mothers of the church, prayer warriors before I even knew the term, slowly, gingerly, sometimes with assistance, taking to their knees. It was powerful.

 At some point, I stopped. Not praying, but kneeling to do so. I don’t remember when or why, but it was enough to open a dialogue, sometimes an on-going conversation. I didn’t mean any harm, and I don’t believe any was done. I prayed. My prayers were heard. I chased God and saw His Glory.

It was enough, until it wasn’t. It wasn’t about changing my prayers, it was about changing me. I needed a humbling, to confess my brokenness, to act through it to seek the throne.  

I've gone back to my knees...


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Please and 10Q


But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
James 1:6 (NIV)

Author Anne Lamott, whose words regularly bring me to tears, writes that the first two of the three essential prayers are “Help” and “Thanks.” Interesting. The hospital chapel again. We’ve spent more than our fair share of time there lately. We are no strangers to praying together, this family. When we walk, when we play, in the car, before we rest, we pray together.

We sought God simply,
confessed our powerlessness,
and plead for HELP.
We found ourselves in the chapel seated awkwardly, until my son suggested we fall to our knees. (I confess, it’s been a while. I confess, it felt good returning to the familiar. I confess that despite my mid-century knees, I’m going back to praying old school, the way I learned as a child.) We clasped hands, and I grew silent.  Sometimes the quiet is a prayer. Lately, my tears replace the words. My son began by asking “please.”  We sought God simply, confessed our powerlessness, and plead for HELP.  In explaining the essential prayers, Anne says this of the first,
People say 'help' without actually believing anything hears that. But it is the great prayer, and it is the hardest prayer, because you have to admit defeat — you have to surrender, which is the hardest thing any of us do, ever.
~Anne Lamott, interviewed on NPR

We’d reached the point where weeping before God was all we had, so we prayed without shame, knowing that if victory would come, if healing was to be, it would be a blessing from God. We prayed, and we cried and then we went to eat breakfast.

We sat side by side, distracting one another with games and jokes and banal TV, until the surgeon came to find us.

We found ourselves in the chapel again, but this time the prayer was Thanks. There were tears, but these were tears of relief that washed over us, that we could laugh through, that we could tease about. (No, the boy did not cry, but neither did he make fun of mine. He was tender, so concerned, so grown up.) “Thanks,” we whispered, or as he and I would say in our own silly inside joke, 10Q.  
                Thanks is the prayer of relief that help was on the way.
~Anne Lamott, interviewed on NPR

“10Q Lord.” You know, 1Q, 2Q, 3Q, 4Q, 5Q, 6Q, 7Q, 8Q, 9Q, 10Q, you’re welcome. Thank You, Lord, not that it is done, but that You were always with us, and joy will come again. 10Q. We will be restored. 10Q. We have a joke and a private praise to share, that even at such a difficult time we could find comfort in one another’s company, and healing in one another’s prayers.

We’ve left the chapel, but the chapel has not left us. Please Lord, accept our surrender, our powerlessness, our love. 10Q, that You are Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and a Father who delights in His children’s joy. We will laugh again. We will see this trial pass, but we will never forget Please and 10Q. Help. Thanks. And finally, the third of the essential prayers, which we prayed first, which we pray last, which we pray without ceasing. We offer praise, in the words of Anne Lamott, saying "Wow."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pressed in, but not close enough yet…(a repost, because I desperately need the reminder)


Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
John 15:4 (NIV)



I have come to a startling realization. It happened as I was as discouraged and completely broken as I've ever been. Broken is not a good place. I've been doing my best, folding God into every area of my life. I have earnestly made every effort to ensure that He was part of every area of my life. I've been working on my identity, to ensure the life I live reflects who I am, all the time. I'm proud of my evolution. look back at my footprints in the sand, sometimes seeing two sets, often seeing only one. I've done a lot.  It just isn't enough. I folded God into every area of my life. What hubris. You don't make room in your life for God. You've got to give it over. I pressed in, but not close enough yet. I've got to learn to let it all go.
I
John's retelling of Jesus' parable of the True Vine helps me understand where here is. God the Father, as Master Gardener, prunes branches to length. Uncultivated, they might grow too long to properly bear the weight of fruit. Without the Gardner, the branches might produce leaves instead of fruit. Branches grow, but occasionally in the wrong direction, shading other branches, thereby inhibiting their growth. An uncultivated vine will produce fruit, but not necessarily reliably, and certainly not optimally. Branches separated from even the most well tended vines will certainly not produce fruit. Branches separated from the vines die.


I don't feel disconnected, and it is not as though I've been uncultivated. I am acknowledging that I need more tending, and my capacity conundrum has gotten in the way. It's time to kick it loose. I confessed to my mother and a couple very close friends that I have completely shed the notion of control. Shedding the notion wasn't the critical component. Acknowledging that I never really had any was….

Tonight our nation re-elected a President. I've had friends worrying about this election for weeks. I reminded several people today that the Word says "be anxious for nothing…" (Certainly not an election. Whomever wins the election, God is in control) That's the lesson. Why are we worrying? Our worry serves no purpose and furthermore, we are not in control. We must give it over. I'm pressing in and letting go.

I came to a startling realization…maybe not so startling after all; the clarity is comforting. All that I've worried about, all at which I feel I've failed, was never my responsibility.  Yes, I am called to be a goodly steward over that for which I am responsible, but it was never my job to carry it all. I've been folding God into every area of my life, instead of folding every area of my life into Him-see the difference? He was in the mix, but He wasn't the mix.

The clouds just lifted. It was so simple, and yet I missed it. Lord, I humbly ask Your forgiveness. I seek your correction; I'm looking for the yoke; I'm dancing for joy. I've always been able to assert that God is good, but I have evolved. That's always been so. Here is what I know. Here is what I can share…God is in control, and with that, I'm pressing in, and letting go.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Surrendering to Sabbath...


Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
Leviticus 23:3 (ESV)






On Sundays, I fellowship with Deidra at the Sunday Community 

Lord, I hide myself in you (Still Saturday)


Rescue me from my enemies, Lord   for I hide myself in you.Teach me to do your will    for you are my God; may your good Spirit   lead me on level ground.
Psalms 143:9-10 (NIV)

Join me at Still Saturday and at Barbie's Freshly Brewed Life

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jump? I could barely hold up my head…


Once upon a time Lisa Jo Baker started thinking about writing and how perfectionism gets in the way of our words (preach, sister!) So, she figured why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out, not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minites of focused writing.  

On Fridays, I join a group of people who throw caution to the wind and write without worrying...As she says, "Your words. This shared feast." Do you dare??

1. Write for 5 minutes flat--no editing, overthinking, no backtracking (ach!)
2. Link back here  and invite others to join in.
3. VISIT THE PERSON WHO LINKED UP BEFORE YOU AND ENCOURAGE THEM IN THEIR COMMENTS.

Ready, steady, Write!


Walk together children
Don
't you get weary
Walk together 
children 
Don
't you get weary
Oh, talk together children
Don
't you get weary 
There
's a great camp meeting in the promised land
Traditional hymn

Share with the Lords people who are in need. 
Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:13 (NIV)

Jump? I could barely hold up my head…

GO:

This was supposed to be one of the worst weeks of my life, But God (and my sisters). Jump? I could barely hold up my head, But God (and my sisters). I would love for this to be about jumping in faith, diving into my dreams, leaping fully and joyfully into the center of Grace, but this was supposed to be one of the worst weeks of my life. It wasn’t. Why? But God (and my sisters).

This was the week when Moses needed Aaron to hold up his hands (yes, in prayer, a sister actually said that to me. I cried.) This was the week when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were walking into the furnace, and realizing it was hot. This was the week when I could not open my mouth to ask for prayer, I could barely open my lungs to breathe and while I’ve always had faith, this was the week when faith was ALL THERE WAS, But God (and my sisters)…

They showed up. They showed out. They prayed. They stood in the gap. They carried me to the throne, leaving me gently on the altar, asking no questions, seeking no answers. This was the week I understood community as I never had before.

This was supposed to be one of the worst weeks of my life, But God (and my sisters) wouldn’t let that be the way the story would end. Jump? I could barely hold up my head, But God (and my sisters). But God AND MY SISTERS held me in their arms and in their hearts and refused to let me go.

My sisters would NOT let it be the worst week of my life. They would NOT let me fall. They refused to leave me feeling beyond the reach of Grace AND they steadfastly refused to let me weep alone. I’m not ready to jump (just yet), but I know I can. I’m not ready to jump (just yet), but I can hold up my head. I will dance. I will jump soon, but I will not jump alone. I’m jumping with God, AND MY SISTERS.

I love you all. Thank you.

STOP:

I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and with Laura at Missional Women

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Peace in the midst of storms....


Quit being worried, stressed out, wondering if it will happen. God has you in the palm of His hand. Declare peace in your life. 
~Joel Osteen

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Follow the map…(a repost, because I get lost a lot...)



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.
Him,Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV

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.  Sometimes, it comes to me the moment I’m walking away, knowing I didn’t quite get it right.  Yesterday, as I hung up the phone with my teenager, I realized something wonderful; in that moment, chatting with her, I’d won.  I was present, listening, and encouraging.  I DID IT! Of course, since perfection is a moving target, she was sullen with me by the end of the day, and I was back on my quest.  Occasionally hitting a moving target is not the description to which I aspire.  I want to be right more often than remorseful.  I’m making a fresh commitment to follow the map.


with the right map, I’m  never
shooting entirely in the wrong direction 
Those who know me well know I channel Claire Huxtable in my best mothering moments.  There are other, real people in my life that set the example for the kind of Christian woman and friend I seek to be. Each of us, I am sure, has people we emulate, for any one of a number of reasons.  While that’s generally a good thing within reason, we’ve always had a reliable map.  The Book of Proverbs teaches us many things, not the least of which is, while we think we may be very smart, and we thank God for his Providence, we should not rely upon our own grey matter. 


“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Yeah, you’re (we’re) smart and all, but it’s so much better if we’re not driving the bus.  Here’s the best part, with only an acknowledgement of God and His Divine Grace, He’ll drive!   


I see a very practical application for me as I seek to follow the map.  Have you ever noticed that acknowledging someone or something requires energy and focus? Merriam.com defines “acknowledge” as “taking notice of.”  If you paused to take notice before speaking and acting, regularly, would you likely be more or less proud of the things you said and did? I’m going to be mindful of acknowledging Him.  For me, that means thinking before I act, considering before I speak, measuring my words and my actions prospectively.


Prospectively.  You see, I am a remarkable Monday morning quarterback. I sometimes get it right on time in real time, but I need better stats.  I’m no longer accepting close, but not close enough.  I’m following the map.


Yolanda Adams, in writing “Open My heart” gives me the self-talk I’m intending to master. 

“So show me how to do things Your way…Don't let me make the same mistakes over and over again.  Your will be done and I'll be the one to make sure that it's carried out…and in me I don’t want any doubt, that’s why I want to talk to You, and ask you for Your guidance.”

I’ve got the map.  I’ve even got a soundtrack for the road.  I’m going to do better.  Hit the target more regularly, because by pausing to measure, acknowledging the proper model, perfection may still be a moving target but with a map I’m always going to be moving in the right direction.


So, I’ll still miss.  I’m human.  But with the right map, I’m never shooting entirely in the wrong direction, and that’s an abundant blessing. So, for all those who were wondering, having a map is a good thing.  It is certainly more evidence that the map maker, God, is good.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Not your own doing… “I got this” says God…


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

According to Holley Gerth, “the most important part of any God-sized dream is the Giver of it.” We were challenged to set aside a particular time this week to be with Him–to pray, journal, take a walk or simply sit quietly and listen. What did my heart hear?

Not your own doing… “I got this” says God…

I’m back in the fight, engaging in warfare; I’ve spent too much time there lately. I could be battle weary and ready to give in, But God. Just in time apparently, I recently acquired the habit, thanks to Shelly Miller and my sisters at the Surrendering to Sabbath Society of decelerating on Saturday night in preparation for Sabbath practice. By midday Saturday, I find myself slowing, becoming quiet and still, embracing repose. Because I know I will not write on the Sabbath, I look forward to Sundays as time for worship, study, and hearing. There is less noise, less of me, more room made for Him. We spend Sabbath together. 
Even if I could stop, You've broken my heart open, 
crushed it such that without You
not only could I not dream, I would not exist.

I am grateful, because lately I need to hear from Him. I am frightened. So much is coming at us and we only have faith on which we can rely. It is one thing to have faith; quite another to feel like it is the ONLY thing you’ve got. Lord, if it weren’t for You right now, surely, I would be lost. So, when I believe I need to lay aside my dreams to engage in another battle for our lives, I am grateful for that Voice in the silence reminding me that the Grace that saved me I did not earn. The Grace that carries us we did not create, cannot sustain. You whisper in my ear, “this is not your own doing. I Got This.

In my fear, I determine to focus on survival to the exclusion of my dreams. But God…You remind me that You planted those dreams within me. You remind me that even during the biggest battles, You send Your Word to me in dreams. You send visions of my victories over my torments. But God. You never let me stop dreaming, even while I am afraid. You tell me that those dreams are Your way of making me “go further, dig deeper,  and draw closer…” to You. The dreams You planted within me are Your “invitation for more intimacy…” Even if I wanted to stop dreaming, You’ve broken my heart open, crushed it even, such that without You, not only could I not dream, I simply would not exist. But God…

All we have right now is faith. There is nothing else. And this is the faith that sustains us…it is faith on the battlefield. It is faith in the midst of storms. It is faith, Your Voice saying “this is not your own doing. I Got This.” Saying “yes, it may very well hurt. A LOT. It may very well scare you like nothing ever has, but this, this overcoming is NOT YOUR OWN DOING. I Got This. So dream, my child. Never stop dreaming. Your dreams are My Voice in your ears. And I GOT THIS.”




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

Monday, April 15, 2013

(We) I Cannot Do This Alone-a prayer for Boston



I Cannot Do This Alone 

O God, early in the morning I cry to You.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on You:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with You there is light;
I am lonely, but You do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;
I am restless, but with You there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;
I do not understand Your ways,
But You know the way for me…
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before You and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.

--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer



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