Friday, December 31, 2010

Already...and Not Yet (part 2)

So it's the last day of 2010 Already! It's the trend to speak of the top things of the year passing away and then to look forward with a resolute heart (hence "resolutions") to the year to come.

So not to be left out... My 2010 Tops:
1) Road trips! I loved driving across country from Chicago to SLO and through Utah twice this past year!

2) Becoming a cyclist with my DH, who has always been a cyclist (hence great legs!) We rode almost 2,000 miles in 2010!

My Resolute Heart for 2011:
1) Cycle 3,000 miles

2) The dreams, desires and goals of this year would be guided by listening well to
the Holy Spirit Who lives in me.

I would really encourage you to write down your resolutions, your goals. Commit to them. Review them. Step toward them daily.

You can write them here!

Now seriously people, I want to know what your thoughts are!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Je t'adore

What does this mean? It's not all that mysterious-- "I adore you" in French. No offense please, but I don't mean I adore You, but I am exploring how I express my adoration for God to God. Daily. During various activities. In many ways.

I have found that when I am alone in the house (or the men are all still asleep--it is vacation for those still in school!) I speak out loud to God. I include Him in what I am doing, like vacuuming or washing dishes. When I have forgotten where I left something I will say out loud "I wonder where that is?" and when the picture of where it is sitting comes to mind then I say out loud, "Thank You Lord!" and go off to find the misplaced item. Sure enough, there it is!

Sometimes I stare out the window at the birds hopping from one plant to another seeking bugs. I am especially drawn to hummingbirds and have learned to listen for the whirring sound of their wings when I am gardening. Being still in the yard has given me many close encounters with hummingbirds and I am filled with both awe and joy then I whisper Thank You to Him Who sent them my way.

Other times the warmth of the sunlight streaming through the window draws our cat to lounge on the floor, basking in comfort. That picture reminds me of being "in the Light" and I am moved to thank God again.

I am trying to learn how to show God love. He has poured out His love for me in so many ways, the most significant is His Presence. I am learning to be present to His Presence.

What ways have you learned to show God you love Him?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Already...and Not Yet

(above photo is from Zion National Park, Utah. Taken August, 2010)

I have been offline intentionally; college son home for the holidays; AFS German son in town for two weeks; high school son home during break. Enough said.

I have found time for reading though and am musing a bit about what I've read and what the Biola student has shared from his courses this fall. This post's title sums it up: Already and Not Yet. This references the inaugurated Kingdom of God actually. I am already a part of God's Kingdom through the completed work of Christ at Calvary. But His Kingdom has also not yet been completed in our time frame and I am also not yet complete in my sanctification. I am no theology student but my take aways from my listening have been deepening me as I think more about what I have been reading.

Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas is a book written to encourage and help each one of us to discover the spiritual route we were individually made to travel, marked by growth and filled with the riches of a close walk with God. I don't know about you, but whether I am greedy or it's hungering and thirsting for righteousness, I want more of God! I don't want more head knowledge; I want Him.

In Thomas' book he shares 9 different pathways of connecting with God. Now lest you think this is merely a metaphysical book, his foundational premise is the Word of God. The full counsel from Genesis to Revelation showing the Trinity in action and His people relating to Him throughout time. In fact, one particular statement referencing Mark 12:30 has prompted me to share my musings and invite you into the conversation. (go read the link; it will make sense of what follows!)

Quoting from Sacred Pathways: "Complete Christians-which all of us are called to be- should exhibit adoration, belief, divine guidance and service."

Part of this mysterious journey called "Life" is discovering what it looks like for me to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I like Thomas' words: adoration, belief, divine guidance, and service. I want to explore each of these ideas to identify ways for me to acknowledge God throughout my day. For example, in what real, practical ways can I or do I show God that I adore Him?

How about you? Please let me know what ways you adore God in your days. Join me in this journey!

Friday, December 3, 2010

First Week of Advent: Your Preparations?

The first week of Advent is almost over. What have you been doing in the area of preparations?

If your life is like mine, you've spent time converting the seasonal colors from golds, oranges, browns and reds to your family's traditional holiday colors and decorations. Could be lots of busyness or it could be a sweet time of memories and reflections.

The season of Advent is intended to help us slow our rhythms down and focus our hearts toward Christmas. The first week's emphasis is on HOPE.

I am full of HOPE for a quiet season inside me. I want to go deep under the surface of activities and be at peace. Today has been a terrific start of that internal peace for me; walk on the beach, time of reflection and time of recognition of the One Who calls to me in the middle of the hustle and bustle quietly.

So what do you HOPE for at this time?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Opera Company of Philadelphia "Hallelujah!" Random Act of Culture

You may know I love learning! I also like to know answers to "Why...?" Lately on Facebook there have been posts to a food court impromptu singing of the Hallelujah Chorus. I got to thinking about why that piece of Handel's Messiah has become so famous and why we stand at its singing. So here is a little history for you...

And now a different treat courtesy of singers in Philadelphia:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent or Christmas Season?


What is the difference between Advent and the Christmas Season?


I had the opportunity to spend an evening at Disneyland during Veteran's Day weekend earlier in November. Although my phone photo is a little blurry you might be able to make out the Christmas tree on Main Street. Everywhere we looked there were Christmas decorations! White lights, colored ornaments, bows and Disney characters in their Christmas attire made the experience so festive! I look forward to the annual transformation from fall decor to Christmas decor at Disneyland. The little kid in me gets so excited about the coming season!










The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival."
For Christians who follow the liturgical church calendar Advent is the beginning of the year. As some protestant churches have left traditions behind, the meaning and emphasis on the seasons of the year have also been lost. Advent has traditionally been a time of preparation: hearts and homes making room for the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus.





I have a question for you: is it possible to enter into both the Christmas season and the season of Advent at the same time? How do you integrate Advent traditions with childlike fun and frivolity?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's Happening in Your Neck of the Woods?


Oh my! I just looked up and a month has passed since the last time I blogged!

Life has been a little like this photo from a hillside near our home. Somewhat shady and comfortable but full of distractions on every side! Some beautiful distractions, some messy but it's been hard to stay the path and keep moving forward. Yet here it is, a month later.

I have had the privilege of preparing to teach at our church's women's Bible study so a lot of this month has been full of reading, study, prayer and writing in addition to being my normal self (that's a relative statement!) Just today I have had sweet, intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit as I sat in the doctor's office having some multi-syllabic word for cancer carved out of my arm. Now I have a Frankenstein gash/stitch that will heal (Lord willing) and only leave a 3 inch line on my arm! But my time there was so sweet as I talked with the doctor of his time living in San Antonio and being a part of worship teams at his church; all the sweet distraction from the activity and centered on the work of the Lord in this world! What a gift! As my friend Sue reminded us this morning, "God is in the details". He knows us so well!

Where have you seen God at work in your life lately? How much has changed in your life in the last month?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Facing Fears--Again!

Don't have a photo for this post; you really need the authentic image of me in my lycra with my bike helmet to fully appreciate this adventure!

You may or may not know this about me, but I make a habit of feeling fear and facing it down. I am not talking about doing crazy antics but facing a fear that keeps me paralyzed from living life fully. Everyone around me gets to hear about how scared I am about whatever it is, but I have found dealing with fear face to face has helped me develop trust.

Two things I want to be clear on--
1.) I don't trust myself--I have grown in my trust of God.
2.) You can't be brave without being afraid

So how has facing fear helped me to trust God? I literally remind myself of several truths about Him:
* I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil 4:13)
* My times are in His hands (Ps. 31:15)
* Perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18)
...to name a few.

You can't be brave without being afraid. This statement has become a family truism over the years. When our eldest was 10 he would NOT go on roller coasters. A family friend took him aside at a theme park and asked him if he believed that God is all powerful and all knowing. Matt said yes... and the friend encouraged him with the fact that nothing is outside God's awareness so go ahead and take the risk; if it is your time to go, you'll go!

SO my big scary fear that I faced on Tuesday (and will face again I am sure) was riding my new road bike. This may sound really ridiculous to some but I am less afraid of riding the tandem with my husband than I am of riding my own bike! I have learned to trust him! Remember, I don't trust myself! The anticipation of traffic, mechanical issues, high speed wobbles on downhills, all gave me a sick stomach ache! But rather than allowing my fears to paralyze me and keep me from getting out there and riding, I confessed my fears to several people, asked them to pray for me and then I went out to ride.

I rode 20 miles without my husband anywhere around! (He was watching me via satellite though and he knew when I had arrived at Starbucks!)

Thankfully for my first venture there were no issues! A good friend was there to encourage my progress and be patient with me.

Will I do it again? Absolutely!

Will I be afraid? Probably until I get more comfortable with handling potential issues.

Did I get to know God more through this? Indeed! The peace that passes all understanding guarded my heart and my mind.

How about you? What fear is keeping you from participating in life fully?

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Understandings


I don't know about you, but for me every once in awhile something that I thought I understood suddenly takes on a whole new meaning. A light bulb moment goes off in my brain.

I had one of those experiences this weekend as we sat outdoors listening to the ancient words of King David in Psalm 63:

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water."

We were sitting in the shade on a well watered lawn, but the surrounding campground area was a dry desert. With that vista it wasn't hard to imagine the wilderness where David was hiding from his conspiring son Absalom. The entire psalm, or prayer, flows in a progression of praise to God, not because of David's circumstances but in spite of them.

It was pointed out that David was characterized by seeking God through the whole course of his lifetime, not just when things were tough. We were reminded of what Samuel said of David in 1 Samuel 13:14 " The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart,..."

That's when it occurred to me: David didn't follow God perfectly to be "a man after God's own heart" like I had previously thought. David was after God's heart. David wanted to know God. He wanted to have God's heart for His people, for his enemies. David was seeking God.

And that's what God wants! A heart that is sincerely seeking Him! Not a perfectly behaved, Norman Rockwell kind of a woman (or man in David's case) but a person who really wants to know God and to love Him and glorify His name through their days.

Wholehearted pursuit. Not "well maybe I will try this out and see if this Christianity thing works for me" but really being ALL IN. Following Him is an adventure of epic proportions. And it's okay to make mistakes along the Way! God expects us to actually. That's why He sent His Spirit to guide us on the Way.

So really, it's all about God. He desires a wholehearted relationship with us, He provides the means through His Son and He provides the strength and guidance for us to actually follow! And He gives us a heart of flesh and not of stone that we are able to love Him even a little. What a fabulous God we can serve!

I want to be a woman after God's heart. How about you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sayings

Do you ever find yourself using a phrase again and again? I've been told I have "signature" phrases I use repeatedly:

"There is that" (in agreement with someone in a conversation)

"Be that as it may" (acknowledging a point in discussion that I probably don't agree with)

"Nevertheless" or "Regardless" (listening to our sons but then laying down the law)

I turned my daily prayer themed calendar today and the saying is pithy (good economic word--look it up)

"Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt at night" quoted of Philip Henry (1631-1696; British Nonconformist clergyman and father to Matthew Henry renowned Bible commentator)

His simple words give such a clear picture of the importance of prayer: unlock your day with and to God and close the door to the day locking it into God as well.

Now I would much rather be known for reminders to pray or to look to God in faith through life's challenges.


How about you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Loss

I just learned of the passing of a young man from eternity present to eternity future. He had turned 21 a month ago.

The details of his death are not as important as the loss of his life here. I cannot fully comprehend the depth of grief a mother feels at the death of a child; that path has not been mine to walk as yet. I have learned several truths about grief that I've experienced:

"We do not grieve as those without hope..." (1 Thess. 4:13)

Those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord will be with Him in Paradise

"For to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8)

So we are with Him face to face!

God will not waste our grief no matter how deep and how long we grieve.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

And that the mystery of this following passage will make sense in a way that it may not yet have:

"Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." (James 1:2-3)

I am still learning the depth of the truths the Apostle Paul conveyed in his letter to the Philippians (for us it's referred to as Phil. 3:8-14)

But for now, I have tears. Momma tears, imagining never getting a hug and kiss from this son again. Imagining the empty chair at the holidays. Grieving as only One can fully comprehend.

"Jesus wept." Shortest verse with greatest depth.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wistful

It's that time of year... Back to School.

Conflicting emotions abound for mothers. Some are rejoicing that they will have time to themselves without being the Great Entertainer.

Some will be shedding tears as their too soon grown to Kindergarten age child goes off to school for the first time.

Some are panicking over the realization that they have taken on the daunting task of home schooling their child(ren).

And some, like me, are wistful for the little hands that are now able to hold mine rather than the other way around. For the times when walking to the mailbox together was a big adventure. When seeing a butterfly caused a moment of silent wonder that would be followed by a conversation of foundation laying faith.

Now our conversations include doctrine and theology or statistics for Giants baseball. Bigger ideas and passions. Man sized concerns. This is how it should be.

I would not trade who they are now for the little boys they were then. But I do miss them.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eat, Drive, Laugh ~ A Real Life Experience part 1

Just returned from a 5 day road trip from Chicago back to the Central Coast of California. My sweet friend had driven her one and only son to Moody Bible Institute to begin his collegiate career and I had the privilege of flying in and joining her on her journey back. Truly my post title says it all!
I arrived at her hotel at 11:45 p.m. after a day of 6:45 a.m. train trip to LA and a short car trip (truck actually!) from the train station to the airport (thanks to my son who is in his senior year at Biola) and a flight to O'Hare. One would think I would opt for sleep but NO! We decided to take a walk on the streets of Chicago at almost midnight! What did we do you might ask? We walked to Portillo's, a famous Chicago eatery and had a Chocolate Cake shake. Not just the flavor of a chocolate cake mind you; blended slice of chocolate cake! Oh my we were off to a good (or bad) start for our trip home!
When we had planned our road trip we decided to look up some of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives locations between Chicago and SLO Town. We decided to make three of them destinations for our road trip experience. Portillo's wasn't on the list so our shake was just an added extravagance! Our first destination for dining was in Kenosha WI. A historic train car converted to a diner two blocks from the shore of Lake Michigan, Frank's Diner serves some crazy breakfast and lunch dishes. We shared a signature "Garbage Plate" made that day with chorizo. We only ordered the half size because not wanting to miss out on a gastronomic experience we also ordered "Banana Bread French Toast". A.Ma.Zing! This is the view back toward Kenosha from the breakwater on Lake Michigan.


Driving across country is a long arduous trip; we have a big, beautiful country to traverse! In order to get home by a certain time we knew we would have to have long days of driving with minimal breaks so we tried to plan our final day's destination around some type of noteworthy stop. Our first day began with the fun destination however. We ended our day's travels near the western border of Minnesota! Three states in one day. Almost as much driving as San Diego to Eureka CA.

Some of you might be more adept at the self-portrait shots that my sons' generation can do so well but here for your enjoyment is one of our attempts at the same: hence the Laugh part of my post title!


What we were really trying to capture was our arrival at this world famous destination!

We had so much fun looking at the state and territory flags, eating (yes again!) and staying for the lighting ceremony which I highly recommend.

It was a surprise when the ranger leading the evening's events asked all current and former service men and women to come forward to participate in the retiring of the colors. There were over 100 veterans and current military in the audience on a Sunday evening in late August. It was a privilege to clap for all of them as they made their way forward to the stage area. It was a memorable evening recognizing and remembering that the freedoms we have in this country were hard fought and definitely not free.


The next morning the weather had changed; the temperature was much cooler and the cloud cover made a beautiful sunrise:

Doesn't God do amazing work for us? Have you ever stopped to think about how He creates beauty for us to enjoy on a regular basis? Really awe inspiring vistas, colors, sounds, wildlife... truly amazing!

What recent experience caused you to stop and marvel at the goodness of God?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

reservations

Ever make plans to do something and as the time approaches have "reservations"?

It's funny that word~reservations. It can mean several different things as a noun but as a plural noun mean only one thing~hesitation.

Imagine yourself at summer camp. Your friends want to spend free time going on the High Adventure course. (Hume Lake anyone?) You may not be a big fan but you want to hang out with your friends so you go along. When you get there and see what it really looks like you have "reservations".

Or your child is taking swimming lessons and doesn't want to go off the diving board. They may not really be afraid; it may be a childlike expression of "reservations".

You may not realize this but having that hesitation is actually a good thing; a gift that God has given us. Solomon expressed it in this way: "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." (Prov. 21:5)

This is not to say that all spontaneity is foolishness. But the real issue is what do we do when we have "reservations" about a decision, a plan, a commitment?

Personally, like most of life, I think there is a process to walk through. At the risk of over simplifying the mystery of a personal walk with the Living God, I think there are some steps laid out for us in God's Word. Again Solomon: "Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed." (Prov. 15:22)

Step 1: Pray "If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God..."(James 1: 5)
Step 2: Ask for the wisdom of others in decision making
Step 3: Pray "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." (Prov 3:5-6)
Step 4: Make your decision based on what you have learned from the first three steps
Step 5: When you have a sense of reservation again, remember: "Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught." (Prov. 3:25-26)

A sense of restraint is a gift to slow us down, to consider our way, to examine our heart before God through the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, and then step out in faith that our life and times are in God's very capable hands.

SO after all those steps perhaps you can Do the ropes course!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I used to do that...

I have been reflecting lately on how often I say, "I used to do that..."

It may be because I am in the second half of life so I have a long list of activities that I have participated in or it may be that I have given up things that really ought to be a part of my life still.

See that beautiful guitar? That is my college graduation present from my parents, "in case teaching doesn't pan out". I used to play that daily. Now I dust it weekly.

Some things that I used to do belong in the past as Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 13:11 " when I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became (an adult) I did away with childish things."

But playing the guitar doesn't have to be one of those things. Life gets full: relationships, parenting, career pursuits, etc. Sometimes we set aside an activity that is really a sacrifice to give up at the time. Mine was guitar playing. Lately I have been looking at this with such a melancholy glance that I am considering making time for it again.

What is something you used to do that you want to make time for again?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Getting Ready

It's August and for me it's travel month! I wish I had a cute suitcase like this one in the photo!~

I am not going away for the whole month but I do have the privilege of three road trips, two flights and lots of visiting with significant people in my life!

Before my big trips I get to play taxi for my husband and younger son for their big trip to Kennedy Space Center for Astronaut Training Camp! Doesn't that sound like fun? After their week in Florida I fly to Utah to catch up with our eldest son who has been interning with a group of Evangelical churches for the summer. I have the distinct privilege of a 13 hour road trip with him! So looking forward to seeing the beauty of that part of God's creation and of hearing all that God has taught him this summer. Sweet!

Then a week later I fly to Chicago to meet up with a dear friend who will be leaving her precious son at Moody Bible Institute to begin his college education. She and I will then road trip it back to SLO Town, again taking in some of the incredible locations that our great, glorious and creative God has blessed us with for our enjoyment!

So in my getting ready I have pondered again the words of the psalmist: "O Lord how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of your possessions."
Ps. 104:24

In fact the entirety of Psalm 104 can help all of us "get ready" to go outdoors!

I'm excited! Can you tell? What does August bring to your life?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Commitments

No news to my followers, but recently I have been responding to the ever so gentle, yet persistent beyond ignoring. poking of the Holy Spirit in the area of self-discipline. At first all I could do was whine (ineffectively I might add) "Do you want a little cheese with that whine my dear?" Then I agreed with Him (always a good plan) that I had let things get out of control and needed some revamping. Finally I simply gave up and said "What do You suggest?" fully expecting a long to do list that would be unbearable.

But No! Instead with mercy and grace that He alone possesses, I have a list of four things. That's it! Four things! I can count them on one hand and can seriously commit to accomplishing them daily! Only God would be so dear to give me challenge AND encouragement at the same time!

SO here are my commitments to Daily Discipline:

1. Bible Reading (which I referenced in my last post)

2. Do something strenuous

3. Do something creative

4. Write something

Obviously there are other things in my life that need to be done as well, but these four things are my divine to do list that absolutely feels so life giving and freeing to me!

What do you do that is life giving?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Inspiration for Balance



Isn't this a great photo?

I enjoy hunting for photos to go along with my topic; it's even more fun to be the photographer. This one is not mine though.

Anyway...

the other day I asked for your ideas and input regarding time use and staying organized.

Didn't hear back from any of you 50 plus people who read my post Tuesday but I digress...

I started to think through the issues for me in being consistent in the area of self-discipline. There are quite a few to be honest but one of the biggest issues is me not pushing back against anything that comes along to sway me from what I had started to do. In other words I have a hard time saying No.

No to being lazy and not exercising.
No to eating what I know isn't the best for me.
No to staying up too late (that keeps me from getting up on time)

So I said Yes to several things that encouraged me:
• A Bible reading plan found here
• An exercise plan (with a trainer in my face 2x a week)
• writing something daily
• doing something creative daily

Most of all I want to share with you the real inspiration for balance in my days: My Relationship with Christ. His grace to me when I don't follow through with my commitments to myself helps me so much to begin again from whatever point I stumbled.

No shame.

No guilt.

Just a precious undeserved LOVE that allows me to be me and inspires me to move forward.

Enjoy this quote of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, become easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of men but only in the sight of God. He wants to give us today the power which we need for our work."

I pray that you are inspired to balance in your life today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Live What You Believe

So today's post title is a challenge to each of us. I am being poked by the Holy Spirit in one big area right now: self-discipline. Ouch!

But it's summer! I whine (ineffectively)

My use of time is the biggest culprit but there are more subtle ones too like my eating and exercise habits, (non existent), taming my tongue (yikes I thought I had that one down...), what my thoughts are of people (sometimes critical and judgmental...sad face)

I have wanted to blog more since I have more time, but I have come to this point of getting poked to realize I need to make some serious course corrections right now. Hence this point of confession.

I would love your help. What are your tried and true techniques for managing life? Exercise? Eating habits?

Suggestions are more than welcome. In fact, greatly desired!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why?

Have you ever asked the question "Why?" If you are like me you ask it way too much! Sometimes the answer is available and sometimes it's not. The thing I am asking "Why?" about right now is "Why is life so full?"

Do you ever wonder how to have more time to do the things you want and need to do? Do you ask yourself "why did I say yes to this activity?" or "why don't I have more help around the house?"

For me right now I am seeing the answers to these questions through a different lens; discernment. I am seeing the places I have lacked discernment in saying yes to activities that take me away from things I want and need to do. The pamphlet Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel gives outstanding wisdom regarding discernment. The author uses a phrase that was spoken to me long before I read it and I will share it with you here:

"The need does not constitute the call"

What have you gotten yourself into because you felt you could respond to the need?

Discernment cautions us to wait, pray, and seek the peace that passes all understanding BEFORE we decide to be involved with an activity.

Does anyone else jump in without discernment?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Facing Fears


Do you ever stop and recognize you have a fear of something? As a human we all have had fears of one kind or another at different points. When we were little people we may have had a fear of the dark. Or we may have had fear of strangers. Maybe even a fear of trying new things, like food or activities. What are you afraid of?

This is on my mind today as my husband and I are packing our car to travel to Lake Tahoe. Fear is on my mind? Why? Well, we are participating in a challenging event for me: 100 mile cycling around Lake Tahoe this Sunday.

Fear is a funny thing really. It is simply thinking about something that could be a dangerous experience that hasn't happened yet but we imagine it to be reality. This description is an oversimplification of our emotions but truly it boils down to us giving emotional attention to something that hasn't happened.

How do we face fear and call it for what it is? We speak the Truth to ourselves. Over and over again. Truth? What truth? God's Word to us. He is mindful of our frame. He has given us all that we need to face fear. Good news is: He has overcome the world. So if God is for us, who can be against us?

He promises us so many wonderful truths to hide in our heart so the Holy Spirit can bring them to mind when we are facing fear. Here are two that I am clinging to as I go into this weekend:

"Do NOT FEAR, for I AM with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I AM your GOD. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Is. 41:10)

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected (mature) in love." (1 Jn. 4:18)

So I would love to know you are praying for me as I face these two fears of pain, (like a crash) and of failure, (like we can't complete the ride). They are silly to express because in the light of Who God is these fears pale in comparison, but like so many things, if we don't bring them out into that Light, then they have the power of darkness to overwhelm and hinder us.

There they are. I am facing my current fears. How about you? What are you afraid of? Bring it out into the Light; share it with a friend and ask them to be praying for you. Face that fear and in the Power of Christ, overcome!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Childlike




"Pray a little each day in a childlike way for the Spirit of prayer. If you feel that you know, as yet, very little concerning the deep things of prayer and what prayer really is, then pray for the Spirit of prayer. There is nothing He would reather do than unveil to you the grace of prayer." O. Hallesby

Monday, May 10, 2010

Breathing


"Avoid every tendency away from the simplicity of relationship to God in Christ Jesus, and then prayer will be as the breath of the lungs in a healthy body." Oswald Chambers

Why is it that we do not experience prayer as simply the same as breathing? Is it that we don't believe in the power of prayer? Is it that we hold a view of prayer that it is serious work? Is it that we adults make things too complicated?

Actually it's probably any or all of those reasons and more. More important is the question: How can we get to the place of praying like breathing?

Simplify.

Don't lose sight of the need for reverence; we are talking with the infinite, Holy God.

Do picture yourself with a dear friend who cares deeply about every word and thought you have.

We have that free access because of what Jesus Christ accomplished at the Cross of Calvary.

Do speak to Him in the simplicity of a child; no guile, lots of trust and dependence.

Sit in silence with Him; give the Holy Spirit access to your thoughts. That usually comes without Him saying, "It's My turn to talk now!" It comes in silence.

Make time. Push away the distractions of your day by writing them down as they pop in to distract you. Writing it down then frees you to focus again on waiting in silence.

Practice. Simplify. Be still and know that He is God.

Breathe. Regularly. Not only once a day. You really can't exist on one breath a day. Neither can we get through the day in peace without including the Lord in our doings.

Breathe.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Memories of Mom


Tomorrow will mark the 3rd Mother's Day since my Mom passed away. In her honor, I have decided to share some memories of my Mom.

She was a working mom almost all my life; until she retired from education after 38 years. She was a supermom in spite of full time teaching; she taught Sunday School, was my Girl Scout leader, my brother's Cub Scout den leader, earned a Master's Degree, became bilingual in Spanish, took care of her aging parents in her home, became a junior high administrator and then retired as a high school principal. Whew! Doesn't that make you tired just reading that list?


But in spite of all the work, she made lots of time for FUN! She loved to play bridge with her friends, travel, and in later years, spend time with her grandsons! Here she is showing her 2 yr. old grandson Matt how to ride a tricycle!




One Christmas she made a paper chain for her other grandson, Mark. She was an amazing Nana to my boys. She took each of them on a special trip when they reached the age of 11. Matt got to go to London for a few days and then France for 2 weeks. Mark chose Greece! They took a cruise from Athens to several islands and even to Turkey to visit Ephesus and Patmos.

My mother had high expectations for me and I did my best to meet them. Sometimes they felt unrealistic (aren't all moms full of dreams for their children?) and sometimes I resented the fact that I felt not good enough. But if my mom had not challenged me to achieve, I am not sure if I would have. I am who I am not only because God has fearfully and wonderfully made me, but also because of the shaping of my mom's influence.

So my Mom is missed. It is still hard to say she is gone. I still don't always speak of her in past tense terms. Mark was listening to Patsy Cline on Pandora recently, because Nana liked her music. Matt is a history major in part because of Nana's love of history. I am a resilient, strong overcomer because of my Mom's influence. I am thankful.

And I miss her....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moving From "Why?" to "I Accept"


Do you stop to think about maturing? I don't mean getting an invitation to join AARP (which came in the mail the week before my 50th birthday, harumph!). I am talking about the growing up part of maturing.

We spend the better part of our childhood and adolescence asking "Why?" of those adults in our lives. Sometimes we receive thoughtful responses and sometimes just the "Because I said so" kinds of responses. At some mystical point of maturity we stop asking "Why?" Maybe it comes when we are living away from our family of origin and out on our own, but often we assume we have all the answers or the questions we have don't have answers. Either way, we seem to stop asking "Why?" out loud, that is until something in our world gets rocked. Then the question "Why?" takes on a different tone and it's directed at God.

Sometimes we receive a plausible answer to a "Why?" question that we ask God. Sometimes we receive silence. In a needy time, silence seems so cold and distant. But really, the silence may not mean uncaring, but rather, come closer. God's silence may in fact be His invitation to sit with Him in our frustration of not knowing "Why?" God's silence is not God's absence. He is a very present help in time of trouble (see Ps. 46) Sometimes sitting alone with God slows us down enough to let go of needing to know the answer to "Why?" and we end up comforted with the knowledge that God knows and that is enough.

Do you know and trust God enough to move from "Why?" to "I accept"? Would you like to?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Legacy


A noteworthy quote on the importance of prayer:

"See to it, night and day, that you pray for your children. Then you will leave them a great legacy of prayer, which will follow them all the days of their life. Then you may calmly and with good conscience depart from them, even though you may not leave them a great deal of material wealth." O. Hallesby

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Henri Nouwen wrote my prayer!

Today I read the prayer of another and it could not have expressed my heart's cry any better.

Be blessed!

The following is from A Cry for Mercy by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

O Lord, who else or what else can I desire but you? You are my Lord, Lord of my heart, mind, and soul. You know me through and through. In and through you everything that is finds its origin and goal. You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion. Why, then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of you? Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one? Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thought can become a hymn of praise to you.

I need your loving grace to travel on the hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.

Lord, dispel my mistrust and help be become a trusting friend.

Amen

Monday, April 12, 2010

Notes about who I am...

I have spent time on our Spring Break reflecting. I am not the same person. I am definitely different. What's changed?

Focus. Priorities. Commitments. Mindset. Time allocation. Motivation.

How did all these changes happen? Brokenness--lost my mom to illness; my dad to suicide; my mentally ill brother disowned me and the rest of my family and all within 9 months. A little Job like actually.

Was it painful? Devastatingly painful. Fetal position sobbing and wailing hours at a time painful. Life as I knew it had changed. Forever. The apple cart of my life was turned upside down and all the apples were dumped out.

How have I moved forward? One step at a time as Light was revealing my path.

How have you navigated big changes in your life?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Good Morning!


"Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul."

David, Psalm 143:8

What a terrific way to say Good Morning!
So packed with love! So full of energy when I am often not in the morning! David lays out for us five actions: four that belong to us and one that belongs to God. Hear, Trust, Walk and Lift are our actions. Teach belongs to God in this passage.

How do we "hear" God? There are many ways. Here are three:
Reading His Word.
Being outdoors in creation. Paul writes to the Roman believers "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made,..."
Inviting His Spirit to speak to your spirit as you sit in contemplative silence. (What you will hear will NEVER contradict Scripture)

How do we "trust"? That's an action that is like faith: it gets stronger the more we use it. It means we are willing to take God at His word. Trust is so intertwined with faith that it is difficult to isolate. But it is our action item.

How do we "walk"? To walk here means our way of life; how we move through our day making decisions, taking actions, resting, whatever. If this action is dependent on God "teaching" us then it sounds like we need to spend time with God in order to know how to "walk". Hmmm

How do we "lift" up our soul? This action is referring to another action: prayer. Through prayer we can give ourselves to God; to surrender our day, our family, our plans to Him. Our surrender of being in control of how things go or turn out is also linked back to the action of trust....

What is "lovingkindness" anyway? That isn't a word we speak to one another in this compound form any more. Lovingkindness is a synonym for mercy or compassion. So God's mercy is new to us every morning (See Lamentations 3:22-23). He desires us to know Him, trust Him, walk with Him, and give ourselves to Him.


One verse of poetry.
Five actions.
One compound word that is outside our cultural vernacular: lovingkindness

It all equals a lot of comfort and encouragement if you allow it in!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Way of Life

I have been reading a terrific but challenging little book titled Simplicity by Mindy Caliguire. One of her points is that we need to be in community; a community where people are living AWOL. A Way of Life that follows Christ.

That's really what walking with Christ is: A Way of Life

Our path is full of
Choices
Obstacles
Dark woods
Open spaces
Smooth sections where life is easy
Rocky sections when things are tough
Storms that can overwhelm us
Sunny Days so pleasant that a storm is unimaginable

All of these varying circumstances we encounter on the Way. Not just times of rest, but times of struggle. Beautiful vistas and rotten refuse.

All mixed in. All with Christ constantly defending and encouraging us

Along the Way

Where are you along the Way? Curious? Just starting out? Years of journeying? Discouraged? Sidetracked? Overwhelmed?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why is Good Friday good?

When I was growing up the church we attended followed the Liturgical Calendar. This meant that annually we would reflect on the Last Supper on the Thursday before Easter and take communion. That made sense to me. But I wondered why Good Friday was called "good" when Jesus died?

Now decades later I come to Good Friday humbled by the knowledge of all that transpired. Please take time to watch the following video. It will be hard to watch, but not as hard as it was to endure.



Why is Good Friday good? You and I are now FREE! Tell me what that means to you....

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where Do You Go....?

Isn't this a striking image? Right now the hills are SO green; but this photo was taken in August. The important element in this image is the fog. I live below the fog. Sometimes I feel like I am in a fog mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Where do you go when you are "in a fog"? Do you turn to food? To friends? To TV to distract you from the fog?

This picture reminds me of beautiful words that help me get above the fog: "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever."

Reading these words and seeing this picture remind me that even when there is an evident fog: struggles, illness, weariness, loss, grief; God is still here with us and wants us to look to Him for the sustenance we need in our "fog". It is SO GOOD to be reminded of truth daily and throughout our days.

So where do you go....?

Monday, March 29, 2010

How do you handle...

I have been allowing too many distractions to sidetrack me from using my time "wisely". (A purely subjective term!) I like routine but I'm not married to it as my husband says. But lately I have had more challenges from distractions and I need help!

I want to set aside time to write more. In this season of life I have the margin to actually do this. Yet I find more and more "opportunities" to do things for others, or the need to connect with friends, or even clean the bathrooms instead of sitting down to the keyboard and writing!

How do you handle distractions? What strategies do you have for saying "No" to things that come your way that sidetrack you from your routine? What do you do to get back on track?

I would seriously love your input!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We Need Reminding

"We are also praying that we will be able to live well this life of uncertainty that we have been asked to walk."
This is a quote from Aaron and Holly McCrae whose daughter Kate is battling a rare form of brain cancer. Their journey has been both heart wrenching and heart warming as they have shared with others all that Kate and their family are going through.

I have been a behind the scenes pray-er during this season God has them in; I have not met them. Good news is, in God's economy knowing someone personally is not a prerequisite for ministering to them through prayer.

We need reminding though. We get so caught up in our lives and circle of influence that we lose sight of how vast God's perspective is. We need reminding that the needs of others far out weigh our own. We need to lift our eyes to the hills to see where our hope comes from.

So this is your reminder today. Check out the link, pray for Kate and the McCrae family and others who you may be aware of who have needs greater than your own. Join in with God's perspective on the world. It is an eyes wide open journey for sure!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"I Dwell in Possibilities"

Fascinating quote, "I dwell in possibilities". I think a road from somewhere to I don't know where gives a visual expression to Dickinson's quote. What is happening in your life right now that a picture like this is appealing? Or is it discouraging because you want to go somewhere but don't sense possibilities? Where are you heading?

These and questions like them are the undercurrent that may bubble up for you every once in awhile. They are worth your time to consider. What if the season that you are in right now is nearing an end? What is next for you? Or perhaps the season you are in is very difficult and you want it to end! What are the possibilities around the bend?

Engage with me... let's get in the conversation!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Emerson Inspiration

Cleaning out files and organizing clutter are two things I avoid regularly. Tonight I am alone and decided to tackle my desk files. One file titled "Summer Fun" had a collection of ideas for activities to do with my sons when they were 10 and 3 (they are now 21 and 15 to give you an idea of how much I avoid cleaning out files!). Included in the file was a quote that I had typed and printed. It was worth it then and it's worth sharing now. Plus this gives me a distraction from the pile of files on my desk!

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success." Ralph Waldo Emerson

So by these standards, how is your success rating?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Surprised By God

Monday I met a friend for coffee at the local Peet’s coffee shop. The seating was typically busy but we were able to snag a table just as another couple of gals were leaving. She and I sat there enjoying the ambiance and talking a mile a minute about kids, the recent high school dance that our freshmen sons attended, her birthday, you name it.

One of the other patrons seated nearby got up and packed up his things. As he started to pass our table he tapped me on the shoulder and told me he felt he was supposed to give me this piece of paper. He handed me a folded sheet of notebook paper. He looked rather tentative as he handed it to me. I opened it glancing to the last two sentences of the handwritten page. In a lovely manuscript were the words: “You are blessed AND a wonderful blessing. You reflect the Beauty of the Lord. I looked up at him and smiled. I thanked him for taking the time to write these words of encouragement and to risk giving them to me a stranger. He smiled broadly and said “I knew I was to give you this letter!” I told him that it is an encouragement to me just to see someone obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Now I don’t recall a spiritual statement in the 45 minutes that we had been sitting there (which is a sad testimony in and of itself!) and I had never seen that man before. I was stunned into silence as he walked away. I handed my friend the letter and she read the following aloud:

“You are a woman of stability yet there are times you think your stability has made you rigid and unfeeling. This is not true. You are a woman of great compassion, generosity and sensitivity. There is much fruitfulness in your life- you are surrounded by it don’t lose sight of it.

Your children- you feel you’ve done your best and that is true but there is more. Your prayers are powerful and will be continually used to shape, mold and protect their lives.

There are some hidden things you would like to do- to accomplish deep down- don’t count them out- pursue those dreams- brush aside the thoughts that you are egotistical, prideful- they are dreams that are heavenly given.

There is much more ahead of you- continued and expanding fruitfulness.

There is a gift of wisdom- it is the lifelong emulation of other women you’ve known and others you’ve read about.

Through your graciousness it will have lifelong & life changing effects on others.

You are blessed AND a wonderful blessing. You reflect the Beauty of the Lord.”

You might think that this is a pretty neutral letter and could apply to anyone, except for the facts that the three issues addressed, stability, children and dreams have been issues that I have been agonizing over in my times with the Lord. Knowing those details made me all the more aware that these were words specifically for me.

Why do I share them with you? So many reasons bubble up in my mind but one for sure is that you would know that God is personally interested in your life! He desires your time and cares about you! He really does know and have plans for you!

You may be the vessel to encourage a stranger. Don’t neglect the prompting of the still small voice.

You may be the one who needs the encouragement. Keep your eyes and ears tuned into God; He is at work! That encouragement may come in the most out of the box way.

Be fervent in your prayers. God’s timing is not ours, but it is perfect! Never early, never late but right on time!

I would love to hear your thoughts about this experience, or even better to hear how God has surprised you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, New Decade, Not so New Goals

The new year is three days old and I have heard and read countless references to resolutions, inspirations to lose weight and the challenges for both the coming year and the new decade. All of them can be a little daunting that's certain, but I have decided on a way around being overwhelmed! Rather than making a long list of new resolves to tax my brain to remember, I am going to focus on one overarching goal.

Be my best self possible.

You've heard "be yourself, you're the only one qualified" or the Army's slogan "be all that you can be" so my goal is not so new. But it feels a little less like a to do list that I may mess up on right away! Instead it feels like a good "to be" which I have learned is exactly what I am supposed "to do" is to simply BE.

So as this year gets going and you are thinking about things you want to add or subtract, share them please! I would love to be inspired by what you are up to and I'd love to know what you are learning to add or subtract!
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