It Rains. He Reigns.

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I sat in the service on Christmas Eve, smiling down into the pages of my journal while I quickly wrote down the words that the pastor was saying…

“Happiness comes from what happens.

True joy comes from Jesus.

What is happening is always changing.

Only Jesus is constant.”

It is a season of change for me. What is happening in all of our lives is constantly changing. I am finding great joy and peace in the truth that only Jesus is constant. As I grow older, there is more of Him and less of me. It is a gentle letting go and He is in all of it. We lit the candles and sang…

“All is calm.

All is bright.”

I woke up this morning, got a cup of coffee, my bible, and sat in the Chistmas tree lit room and waited. I waited for that feeling. You know the one, that sentimental, melancholy, day after Christmas letdown feeling. It never came. I decided I would go for a walk. It was a little cloudy, but it wasn’t supposed to rain until later in the afternoon so I headed out. Two miles into my walk, it started to rain. It started to come down hard.  Standing there in the pouring down rain I was faced with a decision. Do I keep walking? Do I turn around and head home? I would be soaked either way. As I stood there trying to decide, This song came on my ipod…

I will not take my love away

when praises cease and seasons change

While the whole world turns the other way

 I will not take my love away

I will not leave you all alone

When striving leads you far from home

And there’s no yield to what you’ve sown

I will not leave you all alone

I will give you what you need

In plenty and in poverty

Forever, always, look to me

And I will give you what you need.

Raindrops or perhaps they were tear drops were streaming down my face as I pulled my soaking wet hood tighter and just kept walking. It rains. He reigns. There is unspeakable and constant joy in Jesus. He never ceases to amaze me.

Something Blue

Happy Anniversay to two of my favorites :). Such a sweet day

Dry Bones and Promises

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice,  for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.”

Song of Solomon 2:14

I had read somewhere that we should not only be praying for our own young children, but for their future spouses as well, so I set about praying for a boy I had never met. I prayed that God would mold him and shape him into a young man who would be worthy of such a treasure. I prayed that he would grow and make mistakes, the kind of mistakes that would teach him to be the very best husband possible for my daughter. Even before he walked in the door, I already knew that he was the one. The boy that I had been praying about for most of my…

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Forgetful

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I keep forgetting to remember you were nailed upon that tree.

I keep forgetting to remember that your blood was spilled for me.

The sky grew dark, the veil was torn, forever I am free.

How can I be forgetful and so blind?

When will I see?

I keep forgetting to remember it was finished on that day.

I keep forgetting to remember that You are the only Way.

So I will go and I will walk ’til I can clearly see.

I’ll walk my way back to the girl you meant for me to be.

I keep forgetting to remember.

But still, you love me so.

How can I deny you?

You have called me.

I must go.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Wake up Call

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“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.’ ”  Matthew 26:40-41

I have often slept when I should have been watching. I know how badly the disciples must have felt after Jesus was crucified. They slept when they should have been praying. They rested when they should have been watching. I am sure that if they truly understood what was going to happen within those next few hours, none of them would have been able to sleep. It makes my heart sad to know that I would have been sleeping as well. I have “slept” through so much of this life…

I have “slept” in my busy-ness while my parents were still alive. There was so much to do with my own family and certainly there would be plenty of time to spend with them…later…on another weekend…at another dinner…at another get together.  I was mistaken…

I “slept” through my own children’s childhood. There were bills to be paid and chores to be done, facades to be built, and secrets to be kept. I never imagined that they would grow up so quickly…

I “slept” when my husband was drowning in a sea of depression and addiction..I wish I had prayed for him then as much as I do now…

I “slept” in my own fear and doubt when I had no idea how I would ever be able to maintain a business and a home long enough for my children to grow up and graduate from college and be able to move out and take care of themselves…

As I grow older, I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I thank my God and my Savior for that. I am beginning to wake up and see things more clearly now. I am able to see things as they truly are. I am awakening to the truth that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. I am awakening to the fact that although the world tells me lies, I don’t have to listen. So much wasted time… It is all so much clearer in the rearview mirror. God’s plan has always been better than my own frantic agenda. This has not been an easy truth for me. It’s hard. But I have also become awakened to the fact that it’s ok not to fully understand or know how exactly how this story ends…how my story ends…how our story ends…Because I can be beautiful, worthy, and forgiven for sleeping when I should have been watching…because He did that for me.

I am awake now. I am sure I will fall sleep again. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is so very weak. There will come a day, probably sooner than later, that He will once again have to reawaken me. Until then I will keep my heart set on that glorious day when He no longer has to.

2 a.m.

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It’s 2 a.m. I’m on my knees, reeking of sin, forgive me please.  The more I try, the more I fall, away from grace. Please hear my call.

I want to know. I want to feel. Convince me God your love is real. I want to burn. Please quench my thirst. Please show me how to put You first.

It’s 3 a.m. my mind won’t stop. I focus on my ticking clock. I need to feel like others do. Please  help me put my faith in You.

I need to know. I need to feel. Convince me God your love is real. I need to burn. Please quench this thirst. Please show me how to put You first. Please show me how to put You first…because if You don’t my heart will burst…

July 2011

Because sometimes it is just good to look back through old prayers and ponderings and remember just how much He loves me.

Good Courage

 

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“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:6-7

When I was a little girl I loved a grand adventure. Days off from school were often spent outside riding bikes, playing in the creek, walking in the woods, building forts and running in the rain. Now that I am older, not that much has changed. I still love to wander, to drive, to hike and find a place in the woods, on a beach, on a mountain top, by a river or waterfall where I can just sit and feel God’s presence without any distractions. It is in these quiet moments that I come to know Him better. Where I can be still and listen until His spirit overwhelms me and fills my soul with His glorious presence.

I am a sojourner. A wanderer. A traveler. I go. I search. I look for something more…

As a teenager I longed for you, Lord, in all the empty spaces, in all the lonely places. Wishing on a million stars, “Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight…”, wishing for love that could be equal to my own distorted version of such an earthly affection. You had so much more for me than I was capable of comprehending. I wished for you in fields of dandelion, blowing wishes into a thousand clear blue skies. As I grew older those wishes became prayers but prayers aren’t always answered the way we want them to be.

 In my early twenties I wandered in my rebellion. I was a wayward daughter searching for her Father, even if I didn’t know it at the time.  In my thirties I searched within a marriage,  a husband, and a home, to fill the gaps within my soul. I thought that children would satisfy that longing. I was blessed with a beautiful girl and fun-loving boy. Being a mother came closest for me. But children soon grow up and are filled with longings of their own. It was never their duty to fill those spaces inside of my heart.

It never stops. This sentimental, happy, sad, looking for something feeling deep within our souls. But one day something changes and sadness becomes gladness. I realize what I have been searching for, who I have been waiting for all along. I long for home. I long for You. I may never become fully aware of who I am, but I know now whose I am. This world will never fulfill my deepest longings or my secret desires. I will never fully understand it on this side…so I long for home…

“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 4:8

I can’t explain it, but I do long to share it, the peaceful contentment that comes from knowing that there is more than this. You are more than this. To know you and to be known by you is more than enough. My soul was made for you Jesus.

“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient and the things that are unseen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Contemplating El Camino

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“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have their hearts set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5

I am too scared to go. My son Branden had agreed to go with me but he is already hedging. I do not think he will come with me. Can I be brave enough to go alone? I would walk for 5 weeks for 500 miles across The French Pyrennes and across Northern Spain on  pilgrimage. It is so far out of my comfort zone.

Will this ever happen?  Lord, only you know. My 53 year old legs already hurt so badly when I get up every morning from being on my feet all day coaching gymnastics. It does get bettter once I get moving but I can feel it. I can feel my body slowly aging and getting older. I can see it every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror. But there is a trade off for that reality. I fully believe that what Paul says is true…

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16  

So there is that truth. It is everything to me because He is everything to me. People keep asking me “Why do you want to walk? What is the point?” I want to walk with God and talk to God. I exercise my body for health. I want to condition my heart and my soul to be closer to Him, to walk with Him every single day of my life. I want to walk more and talk less. I want to learn to be a better listener. I want to walk because I am too scared to. I want to walk because there are a thousand excuses that I have come up with not to do it. I am tired of making excuses.  I want to walk because it has been 7 years. 7 years since the bottom fell out.  I have forgiven. I have had a hard time forgetting. 7 is a number of significance in the Bible. 7 years is long enough.

 So the question remains…Will these bones walk?  O Lord, only you know. I just know that I am tired of being too scared.

Undertow

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“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139: 9-10

Some people call it a riptide or the under current. My mom called it the undertow. There were no warning flags on beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast back in the sixties. We swam at our own risk, playing in the crystal clear water in our white t-shirts and Coppertone slathered cheeks. We weren’t worried about sun burn or skin cancer. We were more than happy to to stay out in the sun all day and get a “little color” on our pale Georgia skin. After a long day at the beach we would walk back to the little beach cottage and shower off in the rusty old shower head out in the back yard. We would come inside with our stinging skin and sun burnt noses and my mom would rub our red hot shoulders with Solarcaine. She and Gammy would shake their heads and wonder why our soaking wet white t-shirts had not protected our skin from the hot Florida sun while we played and floated in the salty blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. No, Mom wasn’t concerned about sunburn. She was always much more worried about the undertow. She would walk to the edge of the  water on a perfectly sunny day, stand there knee deep in the waves and shake her head and say “No swimming today girls. I can feel it. The undertow is too bad.”  My sister and I  would whine and protest but soon we would quiet down and reluctantly set about making sand castles for the afternoon. We would try again the next day and see if it had disappeared. It was a mystery to us, but we knew it was bad. Even though we couldn’t see it with our own eyes we knew it was dangerous. Mom told us stories about how the undertow could pull us straight out to to sea and how even good swimmers could get caught up in the current, be swept away, and drown.

Now that I am older, I am well aware of the danger of the undertow. The little sins, the unseen currents that exist in my day to day life. Even though I don’t always see them, I can often feel them pulling me away, deeper, far away from the safety of my Savior. It could be a casual conversation that suddenly takes a wrong turn, or a simple observation that turns into criticism or judgement…

I worry when I should be worshiping.

I talk when I should be listening.

I hurry on ahead when I should be waiting…

 When a swimmer gets caught in the undertow, the experts will tell you that you have to stop struggling or you will drown. Fighting against the current, you will become too exhausted to swim. They say that if you wait until the water stops pulling you, you will become free of the current and then you will be able to swim parallel to the beach and safely back to shore.

It sounds so simple. I know that it should be, but it’s not. I want to stay on the shore, building sand castles, blissfully unaware of the undertow. I struggle to be “good”. I fight to be “better”.  I am well aware of my sinful nature; I am drowning in it. I know I can’t do it myself. I have tried to save myself for far too long.

“It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are truth and life.” John 6:63

I can hear Jesus asking his disciples…

“…”Do you want to go away as well?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?…” John 6: 66-68

No, Lord. I don’t want to go away…to whom would I go?

My mom is no longer here to warn me about the dangerous undercurrent, but there are flags on the beach to warn me of the danger out in the water. The yellow flag tells me to be cautious. The red flag tells me to stay out of the water. The blue flag tells me it is safe for swimming…but I know better. I don’t put my faith in those flags. I know that it is always there, the undertow, the little sins, that will always pull me away when I least expect it. But I also know there is a Savior who believes that I am worth saving.  I am learning not to struggle against the current.  I am still drowning but it is different this time…

 

Mountain Top

 

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“Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, thou hast brought me to the valley of vision;  Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; Hemmed in by mountains of sin, I behold thy glory.”    

   The Valley of Vision  A Puritan Prayer

  

Several weeks ago my son and I decided to hike up Blood Mountain. I have been hiking many times before, but nothing had quite prepared me for the difficulty of this particular hike. We had just finished up the first mile and in our haste to get to our destination, we made a wrong turn. We took the wrong path. We walked for about two miles before we realized our error. Having walked four miles in the wrong direction, we almost gave up. After some discussion we decided to back track to where we needed to be and headed straight up Blood Mountain. The hard way. There were two paths to choose from to get up to the summit. One path went around the backside of the mountain. We were told that it was a bit further but would be a much easier and gentler hike. The other path was shorter but would be much more difficult.It went straight up the front of the mountain. Of course we choose the harder way. It just made sense because we had lost so much time by going so far in the wrong direction. It was rocky, the terrain was rough and unstable. What seemed like a good choice was rapidly becoming a very difficult and rugged climb…

“Let me learn by paradox, that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.”

I have learned about the love of God in the hard and rocky places. I have gone the wrong way so many times and my good shepherd has never failed to lead me back and show me the way…

“Lord, in the daytime the stars can be seen from the deepest well and the deeper the well, the brighter thy stars shine. Let me find thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.”

People coming down the mountain were encouraging. They would say “Keep climbing! It is rough, but it’ll be worth it. The views are amazing!” These were well seasoned hikers, with well worn boots and backpacks, walking with trekking poles and full camping gear. It was obvious that we were not prepared as well as they were struggling up the mountainside with our brand new hiking boots and back packs but their encouraging words spurred us onward, up towards the summit. They were right. The views were amazing. My son and I just stood there sweaty, tired and utterly overwhelmed with the view from the top of Blood Mountain. I wanted to stay there. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to forget the beauty of that moment standing there with my son looking out over that glorious view from on top of that mountain. I didn’t want that moment to end.

One of the biggest distractions for me is the mountain top.  I want to stand there with the sun on my face, smiling into all of the wonder and grace of His creation forever and ever. But we were not created to stay there…

I knew I had to climb down off of that mountain. I knew it is going to be hard. As we started to climb downhill I turned back for one last glimpse and I had to smile. He is here on the mountain top. He is there in the valley. I love to spend time with him on the mountain tops,but I learn more in the valleys…not about who I am but more about who He is…He makes me promises and I am learning to trust again…

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…Because I live, you will also live.”

John 14: 18-19

Fake Fruit

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love,  joy,  peace,  patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those things belong to Christ Jesus and have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:22-25

Yesterday I was out shopping and I found these artificial lemons. I was excited because I thought they would look cute  in a little white bowl in my kitchen. When I went to place them in the bowl I was disappointed. Something wasn’t quite right. I just didn’t like the way they looked. No matter how much I arranged them and turned them around in the bowl, they just looked unreal, artificial, and fake.  Each piece looked exactly the same. They were exactly the same shape, color and size and their perfection annoyed me. They could fill up my bowl and “act” like real lemons, but they would never make lemonade, season a meal, or flavor a glass of sweet tea because they just weren’t created to do that. And it occurred to me that the precise thing that annoyed me about them,  often frustrates me about myself.

I get so caught up in this performance trap trying to be “good” for God. I wake up in the morning with the very best intentions. I set off for work determined to be loving, patient, kind and gentle. Some days I am pretty good at it. Even when things are a little rough I can put on a smile and “fake it til I make it” and it is good. I am tired of good. I really want His best. I want to stop handing out fake fruit. I want to share the fruit of the Spirit. His love, his kindness, and his goodness, not mine.  I want to be the unique person that God created to me. He made all of us different for a reason…

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

When God gives you lemons, share the lemons.

God never said our lives would be easy. We have all had our own battles to fight and our own paths to travel. We have all had different experiences in this life for a purpose, for God’s purpose. He never meant for us to hide our imperfections and our broken pieces. He wants us to share our struggles with others. His light shines brightest from within his broken people. God wants us to be the beautiful souls that he created us to be, not some fake imitation of who we think we should be. We must pray to his Spirit inside of us and let him have his way with us; for his glory not for ours.We have to be honest and realize that we don’t have to be perfect for him. We don’t need to perform for him. He knows us and he loves us as his own sons and daughters. He loves us all the way. God only wants us to be who he created us to be and share His goodness with others in an authentic and real way. When we are able to do that his fruit is abundant, ripe, sweet and delicious. When we sit at his table and receive His grace,only then can He use us to share His fruit with others. So come, sit down and rest.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good” and know that the work has already been done, all we have to do is share the fruit.