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I am undertaking mastery of my lane…and announcing my OneWord for 2017…..

I am no Levite, although my desire is to live a life set aside for holiness . Almost any action can be sacred when done with a heart of...

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Surrounded by such a great cloud...

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews !2:1-3 (NIV)

A year ago we were teammates. Now we are heartfelt friends. They are the sisters of my soul and their steadfastness, their prayers and their unwavering love for me has encouraged my faith and freed me to dream. The love that they’ve poured into me and my dreams I now desire to share with the world.

I am so thankful that God forced me to my knees
and out of my comfort zone, 
or I'd never have made it here.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dream ON!

 Here comes that dreamer! they said to each other.  Come now, lets kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then well see what comes of his dreams.
Genesis 37:19 (NIV)


GodSizedDreams.com
In his book, Put Your Dream to the Test, Dr. John Maxwell writes “You will fulfill your dream and live the life for which God created you only after you figure it out.” I don’t entirely agree. A year ago I knew only that writing was therapeutic. I did not know that it would deepen my faith and change my life. I did not know that joining a book launch team would lead me down paths I didn’t know existed. I didn’t need to know the details, and my dreams aren’t entirely figured out yet, But God. So, a dream I didn’t entirely see and couldn’t execute alone is here. Dream ON!

Today my girls and I launch a dream-GodSizedDreams.com.  Led in prayer and adventure by founder Christine Wright, we’re off to inspire each other and you too in shaping, pursuing, and achieving your dreams, even if you don’t know what they are.

God speaks to me in so many ways, including through the words of a Buddhist proverb to which I return regularly,

If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep walking.

One of the many things I find so remarkable about knowing God is that His lessons are, like Him, Omnipresent… right in front of you. You simply have to be ready to receive them. Dream ON!


An act of faith allowed me to come out of hiding, and that choice, and the ones that followed make me who I now am. The Writer. The Faithwalker.   I like her.  Actually, I love her, my own special gift from God. And that simple act of faith, that embrace of Grace, is certain evidence that God loves me, whether I’m great, whether I’m good, or still very much a work in progress. With dreams I haven’t even framed, haven’t even fully conceived yet, but I’m not afraid to have. You can dream like that too; we are here to cheer you forward, help you out, show you that failure is never final. Be an Optimist…do you know who they are? Those who figure that taking backward steps after moving forward DOES NOT mean disaster…it means you’re dancing!

Click here to read, subscibe, to join us on the journey.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Making peace with my wilderness

God' covenant of Grace is a covenant
of Peace and of safety
...wherever we find ourselves.  
I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.  I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
Ezekiel 34:25-26 (NIV)

On more than 20 separate occasions I have lamented my tarrying in the wilderness. I have reminded myself that this journey  was one I was bound to take, and while the length of my wandering was known only to God, I always knew I’d make my way out. Paraphrasing Matthew Henry in his commentary on Ezekiel 34, my numerous “iniquities and calamities…have been largely and pathetically lamented before…” in this blog. I had it wrong.

God is teaching me a new thing, and before today it wasn’t even something I’d dare wrap my head around. I may never end my wilderness wandering, and this I now embrace with joy. 

I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they my live in the wilder and sleep in the forests in safety.

Matthew Henry explains that “The covenant of grace is a covenant of peace. In it God is at peace with us, speaks peace to us, and assures us of peace, of all good, all the good we need to make us happy.” Wherever we find ourselves. 

My peace rests forever in Him. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Not going to run (more on still)

Happy are those who trust in the Lord,
who rely on the Lord.
They will be like trees planted by the streams,
whose roots reach down to the water.
They wont fear drought when it comes;
their leaves will remain green.
They wont be stressed in the time of drought
or fail to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (CEB)

Kwanzaa. For me, it’s time for three things, a) resting in the joyous glow of Christmas, b) considering the year as it ends and the year to come and finally, c) THE New Year’s Day Karamu (more about that later, trust me).

Lord, let me be fixed in inward
peace, fully satisfied with You.
TWEET THIS PRAYER
Right now, I am considering the place where God has carried me,  and what happens next. I have learned the value of being still. I have a new and profound appreciation of resting in Him because all I’ve done well on my own is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Like a tree planted by the waters, I will be still. I shall NOT be moved. Pledging to be still, remaining in Him is an easy enough thing to stay, even when the intent is heartfelt. There is, however a critical difference. A tree CANNOT move from the place where it is rooted. It’s not that trees don’t run-by their very nature, THEY SIMPLY CANNOT.

This requires me to make what the smart people refer to as a paradigm shift. It’s one thing to say that you won’t move. It’s entirely another to acknowledge that to move is to die.  Matthew Henry commentary on Jeremiah 17:7-8 closes with this…
Those that make God their hope, … shall be fixed in an inward peace and satisfaction:

I no longer pray for stillness, though a state of rest is highly desirable (and I benefit from mastering the art of stillness). This year, this season of my life is about so much more. I am Your servant, Lord, and now, in a different way, I am listening. This then, is the earnest prayer I carry forward.

Lord, let me be fixed in inward peace, fully satisfied with You.

Finally, take the advice I found online as you prepare for what has been, and more importantly, what is to come…

"Spend the next few days preparing for the year ahead: Forgive everyone, let go of everything, let God take charge.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sufficient (enough to meet the needs)

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NIV)


So many of us are feeling defeated, overwhelmed, underprepared for Christmas. Until this morning, I wasn’t certain whether I’d be hosting Christmas dinner or merely carrying some dishes out to eat with family. (I AM ENTERTAINING. I AM HOSTING. I JUST RETURNED FROM THE MARKET.) There are many things that will need to be done to ensure that our home is ready; that we are ready. It will not be a Martha Stewart, Williams-Sonoma, Better Homes and Garden set-up and I couldn’t care less. I am neither defeated, nor overwhelmed, nor will I declare myself underprepared. I am brimming with joy at tomorrow’s celebration of the Savior’s birth. Tonight we open our home to my bestie and enjoy Christmas Eve as we have since I could remember…the same menu, the same beverages, music, trimming the tree and preparing to end the year. All we have, all we’ve done is sufficient, like His Grace. 

So many of my writer friend and people I read are busy telling each other that it’s okay for Christmas to be ugly, unfinished, broken. I pray for more. I want ugly, unfinished and broken to be sufficient, if my ugly, unfinished, and broken can be offered up with a sincere heart. I want to offer ugly, unfinished, and broken as a prayer.

Let’s find our Grace, and
embrace that we have been given rest.
TWEET A BLESSING
I want to offer that which I have, that which is sufficient, like that manger that that baby. The barn in which He was born, the manger in which He Lay were ugly, unfinished, broken, yet perfect…made so by Grace. The Grace that rains down over us, seemingly unlimited, particularly in places and under circumstances we could not imagine. Abundantly. Sufficient to meet our needs.

This is a lesson I refresh for myself often. 18 months ago (nowhere NEAR Christmas), I wrote this….
now that we've survived the wilderness, let’s start relying upon Grace. Let’s stop setting expectations which, more often than not, go unmet. Let’s just stop.  With age and hopefully the acquisition of some Godly wisdom, let us happily let it all go.  Let’s find our Grace, and embrace that we have been given rest.


So, I’m off to the kitchen to make some magic happen. Then I’ll buzz around the house and do what can be done. I will rest, languishing in the Love of God, because His Grace is sufficient, and so, by God, relying upon Grace, is everything I earnestly do.



Merry Christmas, and let the Love of Christ be enough.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

But…

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)


Of late I’ve been forced to take a different approach to my relationship with The One. I realized that it had a very human (read wrong) orientation. While humbling, it has been illuminating in a way I know is Divine. Honestly, the realization actually shattered me beyond my confessed brokenness and I’m back to finding True North...again.

One day recently, without much fanfare or warning, I hit the wall. THAT WALL that God brings down on the end of one leg of your journey when it’s time to go somewhere new. The moment I recognized that things would NEVER be the same. What did I discover? In a new way, I discovered the But.
breaking was only the beginning.
It'stime to get Radical.
 TWEET A CHALLENGE

“hard pressed on every side, but not crushed…”

Faith is not a deal you make. Faith is not a savings account where you accrue Grace based upon good works and clean living. We never earn Grace and we cannot work for it. Faith in God, according to TD Jakes, teaches that

There are some fires you can't get out of--you've got to go through the fire--you've got to go through the flood--you've got to go through the test--you've got to go through the struggle that you might decrease and He might increase.

That's when you discover the But. I've observed my friends experiencing it recently, and thank God for it that their journeys helped prepare me for my own.

This weekend could've gone very diferently. First, our son worked hard to prepare for a presentation outside his comfort zone, and was locked and loaded to deliver. God and the weather had a different plan. We could have lamented the circumstances; we enjoyed unplanned time together instead. 

"perplexed, but not in despair..."

We'd labored diligently on a compressed timeline to learn and perfect liturgical choreograpy for a Christmas Cantata. We nailed an entirely new work in one rehearsal and polished it in the next. 24 hours before the event, we practiced one last time; we were ready. God and the weather had a different plan. Thank God we'd worked out less than 12 hours earlier; when I fell and twisted my knee I knew that the injury was mitigated by warmed and stretched muscles, and with the Cantata rescheduled due to inclement weather, God granted time to rest and heal.  I could've lamented the circumstances. Instead, I am grateful to God that at 49 I can still dance.

“struck down, but not destroyed…”

For the very first time in my life, I made an impassioned appeal to a group of friends, in true desperation, for prayer. It was THE WALL. It was the moment I acknowledged that my way just wasn’t going to work any longer AND that any way out was going to need to be different. Recovering, I have discovered a name for what lived beyond my wall. It is called Radical Faith, and that is what appears on the other side of But.

According to Rosemary Bardsley, this call to Radical Faith is

… a relationship in which we trust Him absolutely and trust in ourselves not at all; it is a relationship in which He is our God – not us; it is a relationship in which we depend entirely upon Him, and do not seek to be independent from Him.


And so there it is. Beyond the wall. After the end of the road. A new beginning. Once upon a time I thought being broken was the worst thing that could happen.  But even in my brokenness, I had God guiding me, in the form of sister-warriors like my buddy who wrote me words to light my way...


Even when you are quieter than usual.
Even when you are more plagued that usual.
Even when you are weak.
Even when you are reflecting and rising
…Your ability to put one foot in
front of the other has inspired many…

I look back at the guideposts He planted for me knowing I'd come to this end and yet go on, and I cannot give up, even as I know I can never go back AND that the way forward is a path I've never trod before. 

So, as I end this year and embark upon the next I know now that breaking was only the beginning. It's time to get radical. And, finally, having falling onto my knees and then onto my face, breathing out the last breathe I'll ever draw believing I've done so on my own, I will remember the words He gave me to carry as a mantle on this journey even before I knew it was time to do...I will never entirely forget to trust in the One That Always Knows. Who Has Always Known. Who knew me before I knew to know; Who Was At the Beginning and Has Written the End.

Today I am feasting in fellowship with friends here...


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prayer for an icy morning dog walk

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalms 118:1(KJV)



It’s 32 degrees and rainy. What was once downy snow is now treacherous ice. Husband made it safely to the train and the office; cleared my car, delivered my keys with a kiss and a prayer before he left. Children tucked warmly into classrooms, it’s just me, the dog, the park, and you Lord.

it’s just me, the dog, the park, and you Lord.
TWEET SOME WARMTH
Dear Lord,
Thank You for discernment, guiding me to walk on grass and not along the sidewalks. It’s early, and I could complain of homeowners too careless to clear their paths, or I can appreciate the “crunch crunch” of thin ice cracking beneath my booted feet. My own walkway is not yet clear. Keep us all warm and safe, Lord, and inside as schedules permit. The temperature will rise and the ice will melt. All shall be well.

Thank You for a canine confidante sufficiently well trained to not drag me to my knees (or worse). Thank You for companionable worship, him sniffing and chasing as I recite Psalms of praise and thanks. Thank You that I can appreciate his need for exercise and relief without resentment AND enjoy my time in the icy landscape. Thank You for chilly cheeks that will warm in a cozy home. Thank You for gloves, scarves, and hats,  high boots and long coats. Snowflakes on dreadlocs; there is  really never a bad hair day.


Thank You that I can, and I did, and that You walked beside me. Thank You for experiences that brought me to my knees so that I might confess that I wasn’t regularly there long enough. Thank You for guiding me to praise You on an icy morning in the park, with my dog, finding beauty within and without. I have so much warmth that I almost didn’t notice the weather. Well, I didn't mind it. 

Thank You that You love me, just where I am. May I learn to be in continual praise because you are so good.

Amen

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Easier said than done, but I’m not giving up…

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.   But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:3-4 (NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)

God, in His Infinite Wisdom, with exquisite timing and His Divine Sense of Humor, is teaching me to wait upon Him. It is the encouragement we believing folk offer one another when things are hard. It is the kind of advice you feel confident to give, coming as it does directly from the Word. That doesn’t make it easy to hear. It certainly doesn’t make it easy to do. Truly, in this season, I am experiencing a testing of my faith.

Looking back, I thought I had it right. It was a faith of sorts, just one without much testing. You know, it’s another one of those things we tell one another, “no testimony without a test.” I don’t think I didn’t have faith, but lately good friends who are praying and counseling me through this take me back to Word, reminding me that “the refiner's fire is hot, I know, but the end result is beautiful. Hang in there.” I am thankful that my Christian friends are not the drive-by variety.

Have you experienced drive-by Christianity? I’m describing those interactions with people who, upon hearing of your circumstances, drop something on you and keep it moving. I think I was one of those at one time. I remember hearing a sermon saying that when someone reaching out to you, humbling themselves, confessing their pain or their fears and seeks comfort, maybe asking for your prayers, you should get all like Nike and JUST DO IT. Take their hands if they’re in front of you, and go before the Lord. If you’re talking to them, stop the conversation and start praying. I know people like that, and I’m trying to become more like them. They are the hands, the voices, sometimes the arms and the tissue bearing God in my life. Not empty scriptures.  Not passing words. Real connection. Real intimacy. Real caring.

While we are learning patience, while we are being perfected, while we are subject to the refining fire, we Christians ought to bear one another up. You see, what I’m talking about is really being Christian.

So, if this is my time, I am admitting that growing in faith is not easy, and truthfully it is easier said than done, but besides an omnipotent and ever-present God, I have my friends. They’re not the drive-by type either. They have pledged to stand beside me, standing in the gap (you know, another one of those things we say, and genuinely mean) praying with me and even for me when my heart is weary and I am afraid.

Faith through the hard times is easier said than done, but I have blessed assurances. In explaining James guidance to the faithful, Matthew Henry teaches us that
troubles and afflictions may be the lot of the best Christians, even of those who have the most reason to think and hope well of themselves. Such as have a title to the greatest joy may yet endure very grievous afflictions…These outward afflictions and troubles are temptations to them. The devil endeavours by sufferings and crosses to draw men to sin and to deter them from duty, or unfit them for it; but, as our afflictions are in God’s hand, they are intended for the trial and improvement of our graces.

That helps me understand the why. As to the how? Paul teaches us through his writings to the Philippians. We are told to be anxious for nothing, letting our requests be made known to God. Reading that scripture again, it doesn’t say that we should necessarily carry them to Him alone, and that’s where I think I have to grow. I AM NOT AN ISLAND.

So, during my hard season, I will be still. I will cultivate patience (for real, this time). I have made my requests known to God, and since I completely appreciate through my will I accomplish nothing, I will fellowship, I will worship with the community I cultivated AND the community God sent me to while I wait.


I know…easier said than done, but I’m not giving up.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A quiet answer to a whispered prayer…

my quiet answer to a whispered prayer.
God moved for me, because, for a moment,
I was still; practicing peaceful anticipation.
TWEET THIS
This was my first Advent gift, unexpected, undeserved, like Grace. What is God revealing to you? What gift did He set aside for you to find? Would you  tell me in the comments?

The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
Exodus 14:14 (KJV)

Sunday morning in song, I whispered a Sabbath prayer. Quietly I hummed, “Praise Him …Jesus, blessed Savior, He's worthy to be praised.” I am certain that at least part of the reason that song came to me was that I expected it to be the hymn opening the annual community celebration of Handel’s Messiah. I hoped to hear it this afternoon. I waited expectantly.

I am practicing “peaceful anticipation” according to one of my sisterfriends. Got to church this morning, and just felt full, like maybe there might be a moment when the tears would fall, could fall, freely. (They did.) At some point during worship, God moved just for me, and there it was…



Praise Him, Praise Him,
Praise Him , Praise Him
Jesus, blessed Savior,
He's worthy to be praised. 

From the rising of the sun,
 
Until the going down of the same;
 
He's worthy, Jesus is worthy,
 
He's worthy to be praised.
 

Glory, Glory
 
In all things give Him glory;
 
Jesus, blessed Savior,
 
He's worthy to be praised.
 

God is our rock,
 
hope of salvation,
 
a strong deliverer,
 
in Him will I always trust.

Lyrics by Donnie Harper

Sung softly, it was my quiet answer to a whispered prayer. God moved for me, because, for a moment, I was still. I was practicing peaceful anticipation. And, as is the way of God, the Chorale didn’t open the Messiah service with Praise Him. They sang something else and it was quite alright. In fact, it was quite beautiful.


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