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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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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sabbath musings on Grace...

Thus says the Lord,
The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness

Israel, when it went to find its rest.

Jeremiah 31:2 (NASB)

Recently, I was reminded in one of my favorite random-shuffle-on-the-iPod kind of ways of the goodness of Love (God) and my gratitude for Grace. Jill Scott was singing in my ear, “I Can’t Even Begin to Explain (how good it is)” and while she was singing about romantic love and hurt and forgiveness, I also heard Grace. I am so grateful for Grace. I don't understand it, but I now understand that i don't need to.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Worship...returning to Five Minute Friday

Welcome to Five Minute Friday, or in my case, welcome back. Here are the rules of the game...

1. Write for 5 minutes flat - no editing, overthinking, no backtracking (it's NOT as easy as 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. OK, are you ready? Dive on in and join the fun!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17 (ESV)



I have a very good friend, who declares…It’s all worship. All of it. Whatever we do, at any time, in word or deed. It’s all worship. She makes an effort to do everything in a way that declares, “THIS is my worship.” Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s loving her beloved groom, sometimes the son they made together. So, today, in the midst of a good day, with some prayers answered and some burdens lifted…I declared my intent to adopt her approach. It’s all worship. 

On a sunny day, with a little more joy in my heart than has been the case, the man/boy and I bathed the dog. We poured adoration into him with every stroke of the bathing mitts on his fur, splashing water on him, on one another, just being in JOY. Fellowshipping with my son, THIS is my worship. Caring for the dog that brings us joy, THIS was our worship. Laughing with my son, talking about everyday faith and everyday blessings, THIS was our worship. Life, living, in joy and in times of struggle, THIS is my worship. Walking in the land of milk and honey; warndering wearily through an endless wilderness...THIS is my worship. Today's sunshine; tomorrow's rain. Fridays in the backyard; Sundays in the sanctuary. It’s all worship, and in wet shorts and a soaking t-shirt, with bare muddy toes on a sunny day, THIS is worship. It’s all worship. Thanks be to God.


It's Friday so I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and with Laura at Missional Women

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An excellent wife…(from the Construction Schools for Wives)

 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.
Proverbs 12:4 (ESV)

Although these birds earn a bad rep for symbolizing death,
I really applaud their conviction in staying monogamous.
When a vulture is caught dallying with another bird, there will be hell
to pay! Not only will his partner harass him, but the whole
enclave will attack. Philandering is definitely frowned upon among vultures.

Today I’m guest posting at the Construction School for Wives for Melissa Aldrich. Melissa and I met as sister-dreamers on the God-Sized Dream Team Holley Gerth created. We though we knew what we were doing. We thought we knew what would happen. God knew better, because although the team's season has come and gone, we are family. I've got ALL my sisters with me. So, when Melissa needed a writer to pinch-hit in her Construction series, I was obedient to the call and said "yes."   Who knew I could offer encouraging and Godly advice on being married? Bless God, two decades have taught me some things I’m happy to share. The series is intended to encourage wives to confront head-on the challenges we face, and sometimes create in our marriages. Our hope in writing this series is that God will transform our marriages through our transparency into doors and windows into the Gospel. Every answer you've ever sought is in The Book. Let me tell you about my experience as An excellent wife…

We’ve been married 20 years.  He truly is the love of my life, and Lord, You know, I do everything I can to be a good and loving Christian wife, all Proverbs 31 and such.  Friends and family have often heard me say, “absolutely, I’m an obedient wife.particularly when it suits my purposes.”  On this particular day, obedience was easy. Join me at Melissa's blog for the rest of the story...

Friday, August 23, 2013

A fools faith

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. 
Be strong. And do everything with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)

Every now and then you experience something that you can only makes sense of after the fact. Yesterday I visited the home described by one of its occupants as possessed of demons and filled with ghosts, so much so that she was no longer able to reside there and provide child care services, preferring to leave immediately. It is important to note that I did not visit this home in any spiritual capacity. On its face, it might sound a little nuts, but as my beloved reminded me, if we believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit, we must also believe in spirits that mean to bless and those meant to curse. It’s just that we don’t really talk much about that anymore.

One of the things I find interesting about this experience is that I had no concern, no fear about entering this home, covered as I was by a fool’s faith.  I liken it to being in generally good physical condition. It's not like I could run a marathon tomorrow, but I'm healthy, even spiritually. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

There is always something in your hand...#whbloggers

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?
1 John 3:17(ESV)

A child of the 60s, I was raised on community. I grew up with extended family, being accountable on some level to all the adults in my neighborhood, knowing that who I was and what I did cast a shadow larger than me.

Growing up connected is a powerful experience. In living a life of faith, it’s not just about you. Growing up connected has far reaching implications, challenging you as a citizen of the world; a steward of the planet, a keeper of the Universe. We are connected. This reminds me that I walk with a purpose, though not one of my own making.  I am more than just one. I am my sister's keeper.  So when an opportunity to blog for WorldHelp presented itself, I humbly accepted. My words alone cannot change the world. But, as Mother Teresa once said, “I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” You may think you have little or nothing to give, be it money, words or time, but I counsel you to think again. There is always something in your hand.

WorldHelp is a faith-based humanitarian organization serving both the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities throughout the world. In my corner of the Universe with your help, we will bring change. We must bring change. Matthew Henry, in explaining the Apostle John’s admonishment in 1 John 3:17 warns us against not being our sisters (and our brothers) keepers.  
Surely we should love those whom God has loved, and so loved. The Holy Spirit, grieved at selfishness, will leave the selfish heart without comfort…By what can it be known that a man has a true sense of the love of Christ for perishing sinners, or that the love of God has been planted in his heart by the Holy Spirit, if the love of the world and its good overcomes the feelings of compassion to a perishing brother?...If conscience condemn us in known sin, or the neglect of known duty, God does so too.

Deciding to change the world can seem overwhelming, like eating an elephant. How does one accomplish eating an elephant? One bite at a time. Take a step, just one step in faith. How?

When WorldHelp put out the call, they freely admitted that it wouldn’t be easy. According to their website, “there are so many heartbreaking needs in our world today, and if we’re honest, it’s easier to stay overwhelmed rather than act. With your help, we can change that.”

I dare you to stop hiding, to risk coming out from behind your “baggage” and consider opening yourself up to community. Here are the things you can do:
Go to www.worldhelp.net to read more. Do the research. Ask the questions. I did.
Consider joining the WorldHelp blog community. More information is available at https://worldhelp.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/World-Help-Bloggers-Guidelines-2013.pdf
Apply to join the blogging team here.

There is always something in your hand. An single act of faith, saying yes to WorldHelp challenged me to be brave, to take a bite of the elephant one nibble at a time, to give from the hand that I thought held nothing. Accepting the role of my sister’s keeper I am made new. I am the writer. I am the faithwalker.  I am the world changer, one bite and one step at a time. That simple act of faith, that embrace of Grace, one that you can join me in taking, is certain evidence that God is with me, loves me, and rather than Him calling the equipped, makes it clear that He is equipping the called.

God opened my heart, in stages, erasing my fears just long enough for me to rush into His waiting arms. Where it’s not scary. I will not change the world alone, but I’m no longer afraid of trying, even if I fail. And if you’re scared or intimidated, here’s another confession, I’m not THAT brave, because I’m still hiding, but in a good place. I am hiding where my friends are; my sisters are, safe beneath the shadow of His Wing, where there is always something in my hand.

What's in yours?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Another lens…

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity;
Philippians 4

Every now and then, one of my friends writes my blog for me. Today it was my BFF who, despite her continual assurances to the contrary, really does get Grace and finesse under pressure. This woman knows gratitude, and somehow getting it done. She gets “this place is beautiful,” no matter where “this place” is, no matter how she got there, and I want to shout her out when it happens. My BFF just earned her PhD in Feasting in the Wilderness.

When you master seeing your broken pieces
through another lens, you can feast anywhere. Even in the Wilderness.

thank you Mother Julie for the image...
Sometimes, it’s about seeing the same things through a different lens. In the three years I’ve been writing, this is what I’ve learned…

I have learned to be content in whatever state I am.  I am a little beaten up…but not beaten down.  I am a little bruised, but still conscious and able to fight.  I am staggering, but I haven’t fallen down. 

I’ll be fine.  And I can cry if I want to, because tears are prayers too.   I am allowed to be content and a little sad at the same time, all while glorifying God.  Because between tears and contentment, I am abundantly blessed. 

Enough of my words. Times for somebody elses…

Yesterday was likely one of the longest days of my life. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

An unanticipated primer in Grace (you’re not ready for this)

Thus says the Lord,
The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness

Israel, when it went to find its rest.

Jeremiah 31
:2 (NASB)

Love and Grace have been heavy on my mind (in a good rather than a bad way) lately. Recently, I participated in a online conversation where my wise friend wrote, “ I wonder if we're not trying to mix the two: damnation + love, and finding they just don't add up. They can't add up.” Specifically, we were talking about OT rules and NT forgiveness, and whether they might peacefully co-exist. Sometimes I just don’t know.
I thank God minute by minute for
His Forgiving Nature or my
goose would be fully cooked!
image found at achristianmom.com

The conversation was a conviction for me. I struggle with what I imagine to be the difference between our intentions and our outcomes. For example,  I've spent more than my fair share of time convincing people that I was Christian (while being frail, flawed, sarcastic, silly and human) when the only Christians most people ever come across spend their time eschewing this, condemning that, and rebuking the other, you know, the finger-waggers. Some Christians are downright mean and make it hard for the rest of us, in my opinion.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

“Writing is my shower...”

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 
Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

My husband cannot say enough good things about the restorative power of a shower. No matter what ails you, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, his first response to nearly any complaint is “take a shower.” When we first wed, I’d wander past the bathroom overhearing random snippets of  one-sided conversation. I may have walked in thinking he was speaking to me. 20 years later I know better. Just yesterday, I had an epiphany (that happens a lot, lately), and shared it with him…writing is my shower.

Writing has become the way I work things through, in like manner to the way My Beloved works stuff out under a stiff spray. Sometimes my writing is not actually accomplished at the keyboard. Sometimes it is a walk with the dog, a run, yoga, the act of preparing a meal, often when my hands and my body are occupied by my mind has been released that I get clarity. It is my practice of active stillness.

In active stillness, I “steal away” to my secret place to meet God. It is not the formal drawing away, and I know I could do better, but there are multiple times in any day where I find sufficient quiet in my head to shower. And what it my reward? Clarity. Peace. A settled notion that while my answers may not have come yet, I have been in communion. We’ve caught up. I feel connected. Refreshed. New. Just like coming out of a shower…

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/winterofdiscontent/3539751347/">winterofdiscontent</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Monday, August 5, 2013

I am one of them. (so are you.)

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Isaiah 58:12 (NIV)

Your testimony may not leave YOUR walls and
 YOUR heart shattered like glass.

None of that matters. Tell your story anyway.

I am one of them. (so are you.) She who has been broken. You see, it’s not just the wall, it’s the lives; our lives. We are the broken walls, and we, through Him, will be called those who repair them.

There are so many psalms that speak to me, but something about 51 resonates. Despite that David’s circumstances (adultery) and mine are not the same, the notion of brokenness fits.  Matthew Henry, whom I love, describes 51 as one where the “psalmist prays for mercy, humbly confessing and lamenting his sins. He pleads for pardon, that he may promote the glory of God.” I get that. Why you’ve been broken, your particular sins are unimportant to God when He Redeems you and sets you aside for His Purposes. Despite my brokenness, I desire to be used. What I’ve learned, what I explore in my walk, in my writing, in my life, is that I must be broken to be useful. While you may not have named it before, you are one of them. You are me. We are the sisterhood of the brokenhearted.

10 times in one year I wrote about being broken, and now I can appreciate it as an evolution of my faith (our faith continually evolves as we live.  While we change continually (change or die, the choice life presents us), He Changes Not. God and His Presence are Constant. Omnipresent. Everlasting. Eternal.) In the beginning of my brokenness, I resisted. I was only “broke down, but NOT broken.” I wasn’t ready. Later in that year, having suffered the battering of life and its challenges, I began to understand that God breaks new things in us in order to reign victorious. As you know, it is not easy to embrace being broken. It is not generally something of which we are proud, something about which we brag incessantly, often something we are loathe to confess except to those we most trust as being broken  can only mean that something is horribly wrong. I needed to understand, soul deep, that it wasn’t me. He used me and my circumstances, to minister to me.  Who also used my life as a witness to those who watched. (we often can’t see God in the midst of our trials; it is because we are covered, consumed even, in His Presence; hidden in the Shadow of His Wing.) There, in the depths of this breaking, I had time to reread , pray over, and reflect on what I'd written down and lived through, and got it. Breaking is a process…Brokenness is the point at which you meet God. (Over, and over, and over again.) It’s the end of the line you’re on, the very last stop before your first (and successive) immersion in His Redeeming Love; the first time you acknowledge out that whatever you’ve been doing isn’t working and the only way out is through your pain and into His Arms. We don't sacrifice to God once, we live a life of sacrifice. We live broken. WE LIVE BROKEN. Sometimes it takes us a while to call it by its name.

In writing about the 51st Psalm, Matthew Henry reminds us of the many differences between the Sacred and the profane…
Men despise that which is broken, but God will not. He will not overlook it, he will not refuse or reject it; The good work wrought in every true penitent, is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, and sorrow for sin. It is a heart that is tender, and pliable to God's word. 
it’s not just the wall, it’s the lives. Though born profane, we are made Sacred by His Redemption. Though we begin as broken walls, it is we through Him, who repair them.

You are me. I am you. We are fierce, fragile, and beautifully human, made so in the Perfect Image of God. We live BROKEN. Christian author and speaker Elizabeth Elliot makes plain the utility of our shattered state…
If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it may be because pieces will feed a multitude when a loaf would satisfy only a little boy.

So, dear sister, that is our story, and for the experience of coming to understand it, Lord, I am deeply grateful. Thank you, Lord for brokenness. Embracing our vulnerability reminders to lean and depend upon The One.

I leave you one final encouragement…your testimony may not be the story that convicts you. It is not yours. It is too close. You lived it, maybe barely surviving it, and there were so many times when God was so close that you couldn’t even see Him. (if you’ve ever wondered what Hide me Lord meant, now you know.) You testimony may not be the story that leaves you washed up on the Throne of Grace like so much sand and sea matter after the storm. You testimony may not be the story that leaves your walls and your heart shattered like glass, striking down strongholds and breaking apart chains. None of that matters. Tell your story anyway.

Linking up with my sister Christine at Rebuilding the Walls, the series

Saturday, August 3, 2013

When you really must talk yourself off the ledge…

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

At some point this morning I awakened from one of the scariest stress dreams I can ever remember having (yeah, that’s where I’m living right now). I am not one of those who believes that fear is incompatible with faith. Fear is a healthy emotion, but not one by which we should be paralyzed. I choose, prayerfully, not to become subject to and victimized by my fears. It is not an easy feat.

This morning walking the dog, I needed to choose joy. I needed to calm my emotions and celebrate the incredible gift of a child celebrating another birthday, my Gayle adding another year to her measure, life, love, family, friendship, Grace. I needed to choose joy.
Be encouraged, God has NOT forgotten you.
Keep the faith, even when you really
must talk yourself off the ledge...

As acutely as I can remember the menacing voice in my dream, I also clearly remember hearing Proverbs 3:5-6 in my spirit (yes, God, I remembered that is my Gayle’s favorite scripture. I also knew it was her birthday and that there are NO accidents in the Universe…all things, ALL things work together…). It calmed me, and I determined that this scripture would be my mantra for the day. When fear encroached, I offered praise. I was reminded that My Father in Heaven is wiser than me, and what might have been meant to destroy me, even thoughts of my own making, would be used to glorify the God I serve. I had nothing save faith upon which to base my optimism, except maybe some stubbornness (some days that has to be enough).

My stubbornness (my faith) was rewarded. Before nightfall I had two modest answers to one desperate prayer (Lord, Help) and the blessed assurance (again) that all I have ever needed, all that I might desire or imagine has already been provided by a Master Plan that predates me and the creation of the world.

So, while I will never be free of my fears, they will not paralyze me. I am not long their victim. Thought I may not always know what lies ahead, know this…He is my point of orientation. Facing the Throne of Grace, I always move in the right direction. And when my dreams frighten me, when I really must talk myself off the ledge, I concentrate on Him Whose Presence is Constant; Who Is From Everlasting to Everlasting; The Great I AM.

Stress will kill you if you let it. The terror of last night’s dream even now brings me to tears. My heart was heavy but I refused to cede my joy. Just hours later, I am weeping at the goodness of God, and the prayers I offered in weary fear He is answering even now. Weeping and hardship endure in their season, but joy comes. 

Be encouraged, God has NOT forgotten you.

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