Saturday, December 31, 2016

Seeing the Eternal While Stuck in Time

Here we are on the brink of 2017. I have spent some time reflecting on the whole of the past year. Looking at a glance it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. “Good, be gone!” is my mantra “Let’s get on to better things”. Then I realize that things don't just begin and end with a calendar date. My issues are still with me. Tomorrow is another day in time with a new number attached to it. So with that epiphany I again look back to see the specifics of my life's circumstances.

I see a hard year filled with loss, sorrow, confusion, disappointment and broken relationships.  Along side of these I have also seen healing, growth, joy, new friendships made and old friendships strengthened.  Looking at the whole I see the necessity, maybe not clear in the details, but in the whole of it all. Sometimes we have to look away from time to see an eternal perspective.

God has placed time inside eternity and us inside time. Eternity is a continuum, a nonspacial order in which beginning and end cannot be discovered in our human understanding.

 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Gen1:1
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8

These two scriptures together tell me that in Christ the heavens and earth were created. The only beginning is Christ. The only ending is Christ.

He is not bound by time Psa 93:2
He is not dictated to by time Psa 31:15
He is not competing with time Psa 75:2
Time is a gift for us Eccl 3:1 – 11

So, am I making resolutions? No, I see folly there, setting myself up to fail. Am I looking more at goals to advance toward? That sounds better and more doable.

My main goal is to slow down. This one is hard but I think now more will be accomplished at a slower rate. This means no more five minute writing. I realize my inexperience.

I have a goal of reading to completion 6 books. Anyone who knows me knows the struggle I have with completing a task.

Cutting down dramatically the social media, an addiction for me. Realizing I can be alone and content will be a task.

Okay, 3 goals that I am setting my sights on. I don't have to view the past year with any other perspective than an eternal one. That is my hope. He will work things out in His eternal plan while working in time through me.

Was it a hard year? Oh yes! But all these things have brought me to a different place. It is all His plan to bring me to a hopeful place, where time is not my only view.

Happy  New Year to all.


Friday, December 16, 2016

FMF Friday with Kate Motaung
The word is "Now"

It Is Always Now

Everyone's eyes are on Jesus, the Christ-child in the manger. And so they should be. He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. But I want to veer a little and look into the eyes of Mary, His mother. I would like to follow her to the stable and then to the cross. Jesus was divine and birthed through her, but she was fully human. Carrying the divine doesn't make you divine.

We don't know an awful lot before the Angel of the Lord approached her. We know she was promised to a man, Joseph, and and angel came and told her what the Lord was going to do. She wasn't really asked if she was up for this. She asked a few questions, and then said "May it be done according to your word." Do you know what she did next? She went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant. I would probably do something like that. Find the closest person you can trust with a secret, at least before you really have to deal with it. Her visit just confirmed what she had heard. She did the right thing and she did it at the right time. It was her "now".

And the Lord dealt with Joseph and provided a way to Bethlehem to a stable and eight days later He was circumcised and went to the temple to present Him to the Lord. It was there that Simeon, a righteous and devout man prophesied to Mary.

"Behold, the Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed--and a sword will pierce even your own soul- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.

And that's where I thought, 'what is she thinking about this'? She had already paid a price for carrying this child. Her life had been in danger of a stoning and the Lord delivered her. Herod had wanted to kill Him and they were warned and traveled another way. Now what? And would she ever have peace? Surely her soul had begun to feel a piercing. What thoughts did she have that needed to be revealed. She knew He was her Savior also, yet did she realize the depravity of her own heart? Can we humanize her for a moment?

Have you ever lost your child in a crowd? I have. My son was three and we were at a parade in Boston and there were thousands of people. I lost sight of him for a good 7 or 8 minutes. Do you know what ran through my mind? I was frantic! Thank God I found him and no harm was done.  Mary lost sight of Jesus when Jesus was twelve. It was crowded.  What went through her mind? And it wasn't a few minutes. It was three days! He was found in the temple teaching, and all He said was "Don't you know I must be about my Father's business"? I guess that was a "now" moment. 

What of the wedding at Cana when they ran out of wine and she told Jesus. "Woman, what does that have to do with us"?  It must have been conflicting. Who likes a reprimand from your child? What does one say, I'm your mother? She could've gotten "I'm your Lord"! She quickly told the servants to listen to what He said. And He did turn the water into wine.

I love this one. It was reported to Him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see you." But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it". Lk 8:20, 21. Really? Do you think any of her human emotions got in the way of that one? It doesn't record her response, but I'm sure it pierced her. A "now" moment.

The real piercing came at the cross as she watched in agony his executors pierce His side and water and blood spilled onto the ground. What were her thoughts? Could she forgive them as was His plea to her from on that cross?

I think about what God has birthed in me. I have salvation, that means Christ is in me. I have children, I have things I believe God has put on my heart to pursue, I have issues that need repenting of, areas to turn around and go in a different direction, what is my "now" moment. Yes, I will feel it and it is necessary.

Every moment is a "now" moment. There may not be another day, another time, another opportunity. All I have is now. 

Anything God births in you must come to the place where it pierces your very soul. Only then when every strength is gone and you let it die, can resurrection take place. And when there is resurrection, the invisible becomes visible.

Hope cannot be measured by our proclamation of its reality, nor by the depths of our human rationale when we no longer see it.  It is only measured by the love from which hope springs forth.

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Rom 8:38, 39.






Friday, December 9, 2016

FMF with Kate Motaung
//The word is Joy

Joy and grief

Joy…I don't always understand it. I get happy, elated, enjoying for a moment of time. These are feelings, emotions people have. But joy? Hmm, haven't noticed it on me lately and no one has told me they can see it either.

To skip the details and fast forward to last week, I didn't want to do Christmas this year. A whole lot of grief topped with a tragedy sealed it. Dread of epic proportions set in like mortar between brick as a fortress was being built around me. Scripture, Bible studies, counseling, friends, humor and prayers were keeping my head above the layers but I was quickly losing sight of any hope, even in the midst of confessing it.

Then one day I bought an ornament, and another day I bought a handmade wreath from a second-hand store. The next day I went to a garden nursery and purchased six tiny glass angels for my clients I care for. As I walked around looking at all the things I would like to buy but can't my grief just silently ran from my eyes as I approached the register. It really had nothing to do with the decorations. Everything the season represents just dissolved into despair. As much as I know and believe, I couldn't bring it to the surface of my thinking.

Later I went home and opened the Bible. “The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not understand it” Jn 1:5. Immediately I thought, doesn’t darkness disappear at the entrance of light? What is there to understand? I continued “…there was the true light which coming into the world enlightens every man. He was in the world and the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him. He came to His own and those who were his own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”, Jn 1:9-13.//

As I thought about light and dark I thought about joy and grief. I realized the antithesis of each. I saw that we live in a dark world and even though I have the light of Christ inside me I still have the choice to walk in that which I have received rather than let darkness consume me. Darkness will always try to oppose light just as grief will try to overshadow joy. “The joy of the Lord is your strength”, Neh 8:10.

Things haven't changed. The tragedy can't be reversed. There are unresolved issues and hurt feelings. There are losses, broken relationships and words that can’t be taken back. I cannot control the responses of others or circumstances. I can only relinquish that control over to Christ and receive His light.

I have turned a corner. I am in a different place than yesterday. I sense a new strength, I don't call it a  happy, elated feeling. I call it joy.

“Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart”. Psa 97:11

I think I will do Christmas and celebrate Christ, the light of the world.

Friday, December 2, 2016

FMF with Kate Motaung
Word is "crave"

//Crave vs Hope

I'm eating popcorn right now. Yeah, I was craving it. During my pregnancies I craved oranges. I would sometimes eat four at at a time. My understanding has always been that a craving signified a vitamin deficiency and a pregnancy warrants a good excuse. Who is going to argue with a hungry mommy-to-be?

Having long passed the "baby" era I wonder what vitamins I am lacking in the licorice and chocolate. And does this only happens to me (please tell me no), after I binge on the sweet I want the salt, or vice versa.

Thinking about it now I see how I have mistakenly confused craving with hoping more times than I care to admit. How often has frustration, anger, boredom or stress led me to reach for something temporal.  When it doesn't satisfy it exhausts and weakens me and hope can become an elusive illusion.//

A craving is an appetite and repeatedly needs filling. Hope is an anchor, firm and secure, "Heb 6:19. As an anchor steadies the ship, hope holds me tight when life and trials want to consume me.

As I fill what I perceive to be deficiencies in my experience, Christ is my hope. The cravings will come as long as I live. New ones will always replace old ones. In my walk I am to "..work out my salvation with fear and trembling." The Amplified version says ". .using serious caution and critical self evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ." This is a continual process.

Do I have big issues? Oh yes! Do I have cravings? Oh yes! Do I have hope? You bet I do! And I thank God for his mercies and His holding power in the midst of all.



Friday, November 25, 2016

Writing with Kate Motaung five minute Friday
"Surrender"

//What Does Victory Look Like?

Surrender can look so much like defeat. I can surrender into the enemy’s hand or I can surrender into God’s hand. I see now the countless times I have felt pressured into giving in to the enemy. My saving grace is the hope of Jesus Christ who has rescued me every time I verged on madness or incapacitation. The hours I spent weeping, praying and pleading in hidden retreat only to emerge with a new sense of balance and faith I accredit to God. He has sent friends, provisions and supernatural strength in the times I have needed them most. All of this has brought me to a pivotal point in my life. It is time to surrender into the hands of God no matter what the outcome might be.

It seems like it happened overnight, but I know it has built up slowly over years. When God makes a transition in your life, it happens. Suddenly you look and you are in the middle of it. There is no time to think about changing your mind. I wonder about the Israelites walking through the parted sea. Did any of them look back? When the waves are standing still on both sides of you and the enemy is chasing behind you, you don't look back. You keep your eyes focused on who is leading  you.//

As Christ surrendered to the Father's will on the cross, all looked hopeless, like the enemy won. But He knew the Father’s  plan and ultimately that was the greatest victory over death and Satan.

Jer 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope”. The Lord said these words through the prophet Jeremiah when God led them into exile in Babylon. He told them in 70 years He would come for them and bring them back to their land. He did exactly what He said He would do.

I do not know what tomorrow will bring. I may not know how long it will take. I'm not sure what it may look like. I may be misunderstood. I may look foolish. I may be hated. What I do know is that in surrendering to Him I will be okay.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung
"Enjoy"

When Joy Comes In Waves

This is not a word I have been overusing lately, but in the last two weeks, God has called me to 'come away' and made me to lie down in green pastures (OK, sandy soil and scrub pine). Reflecting upon it these are the things I thoroughly enjoyed; rest, quiet, laughter, family, being loved, prayer, and conversation. All this enjoyment in and through sadness, confusion and unresolved issues.

This morning upon rising, knowing this was my word to write on, I prayed I could find words, not just from my head but from a place of experience. To me enjoy was a step above like or to just find pleasing. I needed something totally exhilarating or I wouldn't write anything.

We started the day driving through the Cape towns and when the wind blew it was decided we drive to the ocean. We stopped to pick up a quick lunch and drove to Nauset Beach. Last week we were there and the water was still and solemn. Now it was high tide, a magnificent display with overture and ovation.

A brisk wind billowing around us could not distract us from watching and videoing the waves crashing onto the shoreline. It was breathtaking to watch. Truly it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience before ending my time here.

Even as quiet enjoyment was found in my chaos I also sensed God's total control in the rampage of the ocean. His hand holds back the tide. It goes no further than He allows. Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Psa 89:9. How much more does He love His children? But even the very hairs of our head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Lk 12:7.

https://youtu.be/0Kjm5phjGOs

Saturday, November 12, 2016

It's Just Hot Air….God Has Got This!

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given unto us.” Rom 5:5

“We are a people who just can't let it go. Sometimes I feel I am the worst offender. So often between my thoughts and my mouth there is a slope and words just fall out without any restraint. Last night I lost sleep. Questions of how and why immediately spewed from my mouth as I lay in the dark. I spoke quietly, so as not to wake anyone, but still loud enough fl the atmosphere to hear. It was everyone's fault. No one could turn back the years nor take back the words. I spent the hours trying to grab hope, but none came to view. And then night was over.

I told someone, unconvinced that I should for I knew nothing had been processed. The information had not been researched. Out it came and all of a sudden it morphed into anger about tolerance and laws and the injustice of a broken world. The events of the past week, a divided country and an unstable future both global and personal encapsulated into a few sentences at 6:30 AM, steam proceeding out of a freshly pierced heart. The strange thing that happened is that I realized it is not bleeding enough to need a tourniquet. I found that letting out the steam relieved the combustion. I also discovered that God has a stronger hold on my heart than I believed.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psa 73:26.

Does anyone remember the account of Job? In his trial he expressed all that was in him.

“For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters, for the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.  I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.” Job 3:24-26

Job didn't hear the exchange of words between God and Satan, that he was hand-chosen by God, not because He thought Job was strong, but because He knew His strength would be revealed by Job's obedience. Some of his statements were steam. He was in safety. He was in the hands of God. Nothing was going to take his life. And nothing will take mine if that is what God has ordained. And if I be taken from this earth, my life is still secure, for my soul is my real self and my destiny is in Christ.

I am learning that the results of obedience show up where we least expect it. We can never experience what is possible for God to accomplish through us until we are willing to acknowledge and face the impossible with obedience. It is not easily learned, the steam escapes often, but peace that passes understanding in another area might be the confirmation you need in the place you are struggling.

And the night is over, and hope once again pours through.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fmf with Kate Motaung
"Common"
Short but real

When The Common Is All But Common

It is a common thing for many to take a break, to visit family, to rest and to play a while. Yet in the midst of this common activity,
nothing seems common right now. My feet are walking in a path that is foreign. I don't know where I am heading, whether it be a circle or a straight line. I am not in control. It is not in my hands. I have handed it over to another and am stepping aside. A strange place to be. Like footsteps in the sand I know I am not alone. Someone has walked this way before and also with me now. My hope is in the Lord.

Hope reaches to every common and uncommon place and makes it sacred.




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I am late with the FMF with Kate Motaung
The Word is journey

//What Is This Journey Teaching Me?

I am not a traveler. Growing up up my family took one trip together, of which I remember very little other than being stuffed in the back seat of a car with 3 of my siblings, eating cereal out of their own one-serving boxes at rest areas and miles of cornfields through the Midwest. Three days driving, a few days visiting my mother’s brother on a cattle ranch and three days returning home did nothing to wet my appetite for excursions. In my Christian life I have been on 3 short-term missionary trips. On them I experienced a much greater enthusiasm and purpose to take a journey.

I guess the real journey is not the physical, but the spiritual that matters most. Where is my walk with God taking me? Am I paying attention to the landmarks along the way? Am I walking aimlessly unaware of His purposes in my life? There are roads within this journey that can take us off the path. We can get lost, we can be blinded by the path others are following. We can feel alone as the only view for long stretches at a time is the valley we are in. Do we look behind at what God has done and see how far we have gone?

A journey is not the same as a vacation. A vacation is when you go away planning to return to the same place. A journey takes you to another place and though you may return physically, you don't always come back the same. Maybe it is a perpetual evacuation; a constant leaving behind of the things that hinder you. Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me for I am humble and gentle of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mt 11:29//

I think of people who need to evacuate their homes because of storms and floods. They are forced to make quick decisions about what to leave behind. In many cases they return to rubble and ash and have to deal with the loss. They may all be material things, but within many of those possessions were arduous years of investment and precious memories. Those losses have to be dealt with, especially when what lies ahead is unknown.

What about when you feel you are the one evacuated, you are left to be ravaged by the storm. When relationships take a sharp turn, people move or die, and you feel all of a sudden you need to evacuate from the damaging effects to a place of safety. You are now in the middle. You feel driven out, yet you are chasing what you can't see. Nothing is right. Could it be God is at work, stirring up the things that have been buried or settled for too long? Stark realities are not always easy to face.

We are all on a journey. The real destination is our eternal home. “Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?” And Jesus said to him, . “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me”. Jn 14:6. Yes, to find Christ gives me a security of going home, but to follow Christ in the journey and find Him in every place it takes me on the way is to reach home satisfied and complete.

I don't want to just vacation and return unchanged and overburdened. I want to let go of what is paralyzing me from experiencing Him for the rest of the way. It will require nothing less than the truth.


Friday, October 28, 2016

The word is Eat. Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung

//Grazing on His Grace With Praise

Possibly the one thing I do most often during the day is eat. It is by far the one thing many people think I minimally do, unless you know me and follow me around. My weight fluctuates between 103 and 107 and I:m of average height. By medical standards, yes, I'm underweight. I have been here since I gave birth to my first son, 35 years ago. Before then I struggled with extra pounds, diets and dreaded exercise.

What happened? I guess I blame it on a combination of metabolism, stress and choices. And don't get me wrong here, I can binge just as easily as the next person and I have my food addictions. I also get it that everyone is different. I find for me, however, that grazing throughout the day seems to help keep things in balance.

There is a spiritual way to eat which includes grazing. One thing the Lord loves is balance. "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight." Psa 11:1. A life out of balance falls and can bring down everything it is holding on to.

"Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning for in thee do I trust. Cause me to know the way I should walk, for I lift up me soul unto thee." Psa 143:8.//

"And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long."Psa 35:28

"My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips when I remember thee upon my bed and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice." Psa 63:5-7.

Morning, all day long, and night, Jesus is available to me. Whether it's reading scripture, singing praise, meditating on His presence or praying for wisdom and guidance He never sleeps, He is never too busy. That is His balance and it will help keep my life in balance.


Monday, October 24, 2016

A Hopeful Reflection of Tears

The only thing that has more water than the seas are the tears of the brokenhearted. We dry them as  quickly as they come, but the Lord catches each one, keeps them in a bottle and records them in a book.

Our tears are never wasted. They cleanse as they release our wordless emotions.

Hope postponed grieves the heart but when a dream comes true life is full and sweet. Pr 13:12 (the voice)

Look to the hope that is already come in Christ Jesus.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Park

Let's park here for a while with  the engine running and the heat on. We can open the windows just enough to balance the temperature. We want to be comfortable, not too hot, not too cold. Let's  not move. Let's idle in complacency. We can talk about going and growing so much until we really believe it is happening. Oh, but then, suddenly, the engine stops.

I don't have to be moving for the tank to run dry.

Five minute Friday with Kate Montaug


Friday, October 14, 2016

The word is mail

//When All You Have Left is Mail

I sat across the table and we sipped coffee. Mine was laced with cinnamon. Of all the times I've been to that small café this is the first time I added cinnamon. I chose the small round table across the room near the window. I was always invited to choose.

As we sat and talked I found myself keenly aware of details such as the sound of his voice, the contour of his face and the intent of his words. The comfortability of being in his own skin made it easy for me to do the same. Often in the past a few would come in he knew and I would have to share the time. I found myself grateful to have exclusivity.

What has this to do with mail? I was preparing myself for his departure. I will be relying now solely on e-mail from this time forth. Now instead of interpreting his voice, his body language and his facial expressions, I will be left with the white space between the words keyed onto a computer screen. Our relationship, however, has been established. Some things I won't have to figure out. I will know, because I know him.//

It makes me think of the Bible, God's letter to us. He chose to give us mail before seeing his face. If I have a relationship with Him through His word when I see Him I will know Him so much more. His mail to me describes what I need to know now. I will already be His friend. Our relationship will be a continuing one, not one that is fearfully just beginning. Maybe my place in eternity will be by a window away from everyone else for a while. Perhaps I will have exclusivity with Him alone. He lets me choose it while I am here and I will know it when I arrive. He is a gentleman, just like my friend.

What will I remember about my last encounter? More than the cinnamon.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Writing with Kate Motaung, Five Minute Friday
The word is test.

//Who Is Being Tested?

“...Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty…” Mal 3:10

I keep forgetting my turns on “Words With Friends”. If you forget long enough the computer assumes your resignation and loss. Really, all players lose. All that's left is a bunch of random words with simulated value that say nothing and remain in limbo.

I feel now like the game is over. No winners here. We are just tired of playing and no one is saying it out loud. I guess each of us think we have spoken over time, but the words never connected and became relationship. //

Is it all a test of our performance? Relationship goes much deeper than that. My relationship with Christ is never based on my performance. He is not just waiting for me to take my turn. I am not being tested. It is His faithfulness to me that is being proven.

No matter what things look like He doesn't pack up the pieces and resign. He bids me to trust Him and walk with Him where He walks. It is not about passing or failing. It is knowing Him. When I am in relationship with Him, then will I be content.

Right now I feel empty, a vacuum for God to fill. That is my only hope.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

When I don't Feel All There



Fall is definitely here. The colors are changing but slower than last year. Peak season is next weekend and unless we get a killer frost before then, leaf peepers will be scarce and disappointed. Without the vibrant colors Fall is just the erasing of warm temperatures. It's the splendor in the dying that makes the cold approachable.

 Sunlight streams onto my side and around my shoulders. I lean into it as I write to draw all the warmth it can give me. The chill I feel is internal, so I still shiver.

There is beauty in dying when we realize it is the only way to life. No alternative route, no shortcut will do. Freedom cannot fully exist without dying to all that imprisons you. I can't fully enjoy the warmth if inside I'm still cold.

The surrender of me to God's will must be all, inside and out. Until it is, I will be displayed like a delayed season, here but not quite as beautiful as I can be; righteous in God's eyes, yet never quite revealing that righteousness. Life was given to be eternal. Sin brought death, but God in His redeeming love through Christ made death to be a beautiful thing.

I feel the sun shift and I lean in closer so it covers more of me. I feel the chill less now. As I draw closer to God I see His life more a desire and my dying a radiant thing. And the cold is more bearable.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The word is collect with Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung

//What Am I Collecting?

When one is seeking answers there is a process of collecting bits of information and gathering it all into one place. I am very conscious at this time in my life of things I have collected over the years. Whether it be accomplishments, assets, people, material things, or values I am wondering if they are enough to sustain me. As I ponder and pray I open to the book of Genesis.

The beginning of God's story to His creation suddenly incites an interest. If you have ever read it with any serious intent you will discover there is a wealth of themes and illustrations that describe God's plan for redemption and His character and attributes//.God gathered all the information about Himself and  mankind, put it in the first book of the Bible, and then spread it out across the pages of time right to revelation, where we see the edge of eternity before us.//

What has this got to do with my decisions? As I read the first chapter God sheds a tiny  beam of light on my understanding. To paraphrase, the earth was formless and void and dark and deep. And the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then light separated from the darkness. I imagine seeing the water now because of the light. Maybe it was all water because God separated it to create heaven, vs 7,8. Verse 9 “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”, and it was so.

Is there anything unstable as water? It flows everywhere if no container holds it. God gathered it up and when He did, there was dry land for planting, building and starting new. It was there, under all that water.

I am not without answers.  They are not in everything I've amassed in my lifetime. If they are I come up short and am in trouble. I cannot depend upon all I have done. What God does is shine the light and gathers up everything He knows about me until His plan is revealed in my life. Before He created any of it, He knew all of it. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. PS 23:5. What is on that table? Everything about Him. Those are the things I want to collect and spread over my life.

How do you make a decision? What kind of information do you collect?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Don't Let the Past Hold You Captive in Your Present.
Hope Moves Forward.



I like to walk, but I find myself running most of the time. Call it ADD. My mind is in a hundred different directions when I'm supposed to be focused on one. That is why it's hard to finish things.

My soul gravitates toward the ocean. My childhood was spent at sea level. The older I get, the more value my past has. I spent many years being told the past is gone and doesn't matter. I believed it. I wanted to believe it. I have spent so much energy trying to erase it. It won't go away. I now think it is not supposed to.

I stand on the beach, watching the tide rush over rocks, salt like sand paper smoothing out their rough edges. I'm careful not to walk on them as my feet might slip out from under me. How many years have they been there? It is obvious some are smoother than others. But they don't move. It will take as long as it takes. I see broken shells and dirt and wonder how many things have been washed upon them. I see evidence of crabs, barnacles, people, dogs, seaweed, all mixed with the salt.  Every stage of every rock makes the reef that goes out to the sea. As I ponder it all I remember what a friend has told me several times. Every time I read the Bible I am reviewing the past and their sin. And I think, I am seeing God's great work in all of it.

Most of life is walking with and walking through. We don't erase it. Every step adds to the last and brings us closer to our destination. If it hurts, we walk through it. I would rather walk through it and be able to look back and see what God did in spite of it than to say it has no further purpose. I miss things when I run. This life is more a marathon than a sprint. I have been racing and not walking. I have been trying to erase my past but it doesn't let me. Without my past, I have no memories. I don't learn for the future.

It is true that God sees me through the eyes of redemption. Christ's blood washed away my sins. It is also true however, that working out my salvation means seeing how the past effects my present and future. How I relate now to what has been before will show what will be later on. Too much ignoring and excusing and waiting for things to get better just makes for stagnant waters. There must be some intentional action; some walking on the water, some believing God when you are too scarred and too scared and your life is simply too hard.

Rocks don’t move, but they become smooth over years with salt water; a constant pouring over emanating beauty just by being. People are not rocks. They need to grow. Trials, sufferings, circumstances are all salt. They too are constant and faithful. We are not meant to do nothing and be swallowed by them. God wants us to learn and be strengthened in our relationship with Him and with others as a result of them. In allowing the salt of the trial to move us, we become salt for others.

 A pioneer can clear a path. He doesn't know if any will follow. He doesn't know what he will find. I have a sure hope and a destination already in place. My sins are forgiven. I have to start walking.


Friday, September 23, 2016

//Five

I'm learning about this Five Minute Friday with no edits and no overthinking. To be honest, I do the thinking before I write so I just don't have two lines to submit (is that cheating)? How many things can really be said in five?

Let's see, I have five fingers on each hand to hold things tightly and five toes on each foot to balance my whole body. Satan used his senses to determine five wills to go against God. I have five senses to use my will to honor God.

I can miss opportunities in five minutes or create opportunities in five minutes. When you are stressed during the day, take five and change your perspective//

Five minutenFriday with Kate Montaigne.

Friday, September 16, 2016

//Listen

Let the wise listen and add to their understanding and let the discerning get guidance." Pr 1:5

It's so much about our senses. What we see, what we feel, what we hear gives us our perspective in life. Hope, to me, is having our perspective enlarged. That means going outside the normal realm of my senses and learning what Jesus thinks about all of it.  I so often fall into literal thinking. It's my default when I'm overwhelmed or tired. I give in to my natural senses. But the world is every shade of color, not just the primary ones.

I had to meet a man and received information about him from another. As I listened I heard some things I had dealt with previously. My heart sank. Tired of mentally battling through the differences between people and me, I sat and prayed and tried to listen beyond my complaining attitude. Anger and anguish are loud when words don't communicate. We really want our hearts to be heard more than the words we say. God bids me to draw near to Him, not so much so He can hear us , but so we can hear Him.//

So I went. As I looked around, what he told me about himself was reflected all around  him; his art, his photography, his books, a synopsis of his 82 years in less than 10 minutes. In the remaining time I listened deeper and heard loneliness and pain mingled with anticipation and hope for continued and increasing strength. We connected in ways I never expected. I had presumed according to yesterday's  experiences.

Everyone really just wants the same thing, to be loved and heard. Our manifestations only serve to unveil how much we really listen to how much love we receive. Jesus loves us. Period. It's based on who He is, not who we are. Drawing near to God and listening will clear out all the presumptions and prejudices, putting us in a place to give others hope.

When I finished my visit I left as a friend. No assumptions I had when I came lived. I didn’t have to be concerned about our differences. I listened and love was the result. The rest is up to God.

Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung




Friday, September 2, 2016

Paths

//Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. PS 16:11

She released her yellow lab from the leash as we started down the Appalachian Trail. A familiar stretch of ground, Lily, unburdened, stayed close but walked free. Myself, being the first time on the path was grateful to see a clear path with identifying markers on the trees, not for myself, per se, but because I was thinking of the many thousands of people who take this stretch of land very seriously. From Maine to Georgia, 2,200 miles through woods and over mountains, hiking, tenting, through all manner of weather, finding shelter and food along the way, it seems to be a great source of accomplishment, comfort, and soul settler for some time after, even when done in sections.//

I remember telling my daughter I was on the trail that day for the first time in my life. Even though it was only a short walk with a couple of friends, it felt good to me. Hearing about it all these years but never stepping foot on it, somehow in my psyche had left an emptiness, like I was missing something. Being a New Englander all my life without trace of it, well, just wasn’t right. To my surprise she said I was wrong and mentioned two or three other places I had been. When I researched them I found she was wrong. Even Tuckerman's Ravine that I had scaled, fearfully, is not the trail. It is close to it but veers to a different direction.

Makes me think of the ways I walk. I can think I am on the right path in life and be totally off the mark. On the right path there are no shackles. I know there is freedom to move within its margins. There are identifying markers. There is light, shelter, and nourishment provided along the way. Sure, they may be distractions. It may be dark and lonely at times. I may want to find another way that looks easier.

What about you? Is it time to consider the path you walk? What is the end of the road you’re now on?

I just want to stay on the right path so I reach the right destination.

5 minute writing
// marks beginning and end


Saturday, August 27, 2016

//Where are the Loyal?

Are people really any different now as they were in David's time? Psa 12:1,2 “Help Lord, for no one is faithful anymore. Those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. Everyone lies to their neighbor, they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their heart”.

Sounds like today. We tend to remember loyal people and think they have disappeared. We tend to believe we, ourselves, are loyal. Where do I find loyalty?

I see it in the sun as it rises every morning. I see it in the seasons. Their sequence never changes. I see it in the ocean's tide as it ebbs and flows. The earth rotates, bees pollinate, bears hibernate and birds migrate.

Loyalty only fails in the human heart where free will resides.
Promises spoken end up broken. I look at myself and I am one. I am not without blame.//


Redemption made a way for every human heart to receive the unmitigated promise of eternal life. The loyalty of God surpasses our every effort and intention to be consistent and loyal to even ourselves, much less others.

Only receive that which can redeem the human heart. Jesus comes in with His life and forgiveness to all who recognize it is a heart issue and nothing else.

5 minute free write
//Is where the 5 min began and stopped.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Team

Simon and Garfunkel, 1972. This song resonated through my bones. I related so much with its lyrics….”Safe within my womb…I touch no one and no one touches me…I am a rock, I am an Island.”

Fast forward to the present. I have, sometimes painstakingly, learned that I am dangerously vulnerable when I do things alone, when I don't hold myself accountable to another.  I need a team, even if it is just me and one other.

Even God, who is one God, functions as a Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit working in perfect accordance to perform and complete a work here on earth.

We are meant to feel, cry and rejoice. We are meant to do it all together.

5 minute writing. Just writing what comes.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Let Him Lift you And You Can Lift Others

I just stood in front of the mirror and wanted to cry. I actually shed a few silent tears Osteoporosis is beginning to show, to me anyway. My skeletal frame is beginning to cave and looks frumpy. I knew there was a reason why I didn't want to age. In the privacy of my mirror I am the only one who sees it. There are things I can do to strengthen but can I lift all my bones?

Occasionally my job requires lifting clients. Strength is needed, but more body mechanics. Positioning is crucial. All the strength without the right stance  can hurt both of us. A small thing as where your feet are planted and how you bend can make all the difference.

How do I lift someone in their spirit? I may not even see that they are fallen, but if I am always positioned right, I can lift even the gladdest soul. " Many there be which say of my soul, there is no help for him in God. selah. But thou,O Lord, art the lifter of my head", Psa 3:2,3. Lift my head and everything else will come into alignment. When He lifts me, I can then be in a firm position to lift others.  

Five minute writing

Friday, July 29, 2016

"He makes darkness His Hiding place…" Psa 18:11

 Those who seek and praise you in darkness will find you there. Psalm 18 gives an exciting picture of  God's immediate response to the Psalmist's cry. You will come to the cry of help, bowing the heavens and riding swiftly on dark clouds. You ride upon a cherub and speed with the wind. You will shake the earth with anger at my enemies. Thunder will be your voice and lighting will be your arrows hurled across the sky .

You will draw me out and deliver me from my enemies into a large place. You are my champion. I am your prize. I am hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:3

I cannot run from darkness. I find you there. I stay until I find you and then I will have light. And when I find the light, then I will know my way. Life is birthed in the dark. The plant in the seed, the baby in the womb. God does His greatest work in our darkest places. If it seems long, it does not mean hope is gone. Keep looking for His light.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Thorn

May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
       even as we put our hope in you. Psa 33:22

How fragile a flower! Emanating fragrance and exhibiting beauty, roses cut from her garden were a shade of pink all my senses were drawn towards. As she spoke of them, she used the word aggressive to describe their thorns. I watched, cringing inside as she took the flower in her hand to arrange it in the vase, thinking "oh, don't crush it”. She didn't. Her hands are strong but she knows just how much force to use to not change its shape. I was so happy to bring them home to sit on my own table.

For the next few days as I recounted the events and conversations of my time with her, I thought about the thorns. I outlined them with my fingers. They were sharp. The petals will fall soon enough on their own without any intruders, but they all come equipped with a fortress.

Plants neither move nor speak. Thorns serve them well. They are a defense system meant to ward off predators. Do I have thorns? Do I have predators? I love peace, but I honestly admit I spend much of my time searching for it. My opinions and choices do not always line up with others, thus sometimes causing irritation.

The Psalmist’s plea for God’s unfailing love is my plea also, for my thorns I fear have been aggressive, and I sense I have turned my anger on those sharp points and tried to match them far too often, and I am the one who so often bleeds.

I read of a thorn that the Apostle Paul was sent, a messenger of Satan. The word buffet, as used in the King James version, means to beat in contention; a blow with the fist. When he prayed for God to remove it the answer was “My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is perfected in weakness”. We are not told what the thorn was, perhaps a person, maybe something physical or emotional, but whatever it was, God said no. If you read further he goes on to say he boasts about his weaknesses.

When was the last time I boasted about my weaknesses? Rather than boasting I am more likely to curse. I notice there seems to be a distinction between thorns and weaknesses. Paul had weaknesses in his body, maybe from aging, or maybe from birth. The thorn he was given was from Satan. Whatever he had wasn't being removed.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”. Psa 139:14. 

How should I respond to what God allows? I am to be focused on Christ and who I am in His eyes. I may have thorns, but I am a beautiful creation. The purpose of the thorn is to keep my attention and reliance on my creator. Instead of using them as swords for battle, rather I should use S-words, God's word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword,. Heb 4:12. It is one that can both cut and heal. It is a discerner of the intents of the heart. It is both sharp words and soft words…S-words.

In today's world we are fighting for our rights...racial, religious, moral, cultural, gender, children and elderly. Our resistance to peace only sharpens our thorns and turns them to swords. Everyone is left bleeding.

We are all seeking peace. We get further away with every conversation. “Christ said “Think not that I am come to bring peace; I came not to send peace, but a sword”. Mat 10:34. That tells me that the fight is important, but there is a way to fight. I don’t take my own sword in hand, but I let His sword bring about victory while I stand in truth of who I am.

I don't stand blind to my adversary and I don’t taunt in retaliation. I don't spend my time looking at the thorns on the roses. I know enough not to touch them and when I do then I am fiercely aware of the pain they can cause. My attention is drawn to the beauty of the flower.

My beauty and worth as a whole being, fashioned by the creator as one who can find glory and grace, is where my focus needs to be. God deals with me in gentleness, yet His gentleness may look different than what I expect. He knows what He allows me are opportunities to be strengthened. I have a free will and can move away or draw near, unlike the rose.

Scripture tells us Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, thrown in prison, and now was being misunderstood in the church he built. Because he allowed his weaknesses to humble rather than humiliate, he was able to find a supernatural strength. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body”. 2 Cor. 4:8-10.

They put a crown of thorns on Jesus’s head. The weakness of a man displayed on the Son of God was just another way of Him relying on the grace of His Father. Surely He took our sins and weaknesses, but He looked and saw beyond them and glorified God.

 Three days after I received my roses, the petals fell. We live a short time and fade as the grass, James 1:9-11. Oh, may I not look down on the thorn that I have been given, but always bring praise to God in spite of it and gather strength from it.


o

Saturday, July 9, 2016

When Life Sucks You Dry (revised)

When life Sucks You Dry

June. The long awaited summer appears as cool, windy days imminently give way to scorching temperatures and still, stagnant air.  A month for love. Weddings, anniversaries, Father's Day. For me, A month of loss. I find myself counting; 1,2,3,4...people who recently have, or are in the process of, leaving my life, at least my sphere of physical accessibility. Then, those who I realize have left, not in body, but in heart. A loss of connection and communication, which leaves me wondering was there ever any to begin with? It is all too much.

As I think of it I feel the anxiety swell inside me. My breath is short. My lungs aren't wide enough, my eyes aren't big enough, my ears aren't tuned enough to breathe it, see it, or hear it all. The thought of  it sucks the life right out of me. The expression, 'life sucks', may sound as unrefined speech to some, but It certainly is so often accurate. Life on this earth can suck the very life out of you. Sheer madness on so many levels shroud sanity, veil reality, and make us as impersonal as technology.

We are striving to be noticed and heard, but in the process of doing so, we are squelched by the tone of our own voice. My volume, the way I stress my syllables, my physical stance, are used against me, interpreted as some persona depicted in a play. It is easier to press the delete button rather than face emotions and real life issues. As we advance in technology to exceed, we are giving ourselves emotional lobotomies. Let the emoticons describe you. They are silent and offend no one.

So, what do I do when I am trapped in this vacuum where my words, tears and feelings have been sucked out and left me listless while the onslaught of life's personal losses and universal tragedy are violently forced in, thus causing a mental and emotional asphyxiation.  My natural default is to withdraw, succumb to unconsciousness, be apathetic, and appease whatever appetite arises. After all... I'm impulsively grasping to breathe!

But really what I need is an even exchange. We breathe in oxygen and some carbon dioxide. When we exhale, we breathe out less oxygen but more carbon dioxide than we inhale. The carbon we breathe out as carbon dioxide comes from the carbon in the food we eat.

 Christ made the exchange for us. Man's life fell when he chose to disobey. Christ's life arose when He chose to obey. A great exchange. My sin for His life. My distress for His rest. My despair for His hope. It doesn't seem like an even exchange, does it? In His unfathomable love, He gives the opportunity for me to live a balanced life, breathing in and breathing out hope.

Just as the body needs a balance, so do our souls. Proverbs 11:1 tells us "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight".  Life won't stop happening. People won't stop leaving. It will insist on sucking energy from me.

It hurts...all this leaving. I think of how I just took for granted one's presence. We 've known each other for some 30 years, yet the times we actually spent together in the past 10 were too few. Or my new found friend who was here only a short time and now has returned to his home state. To find someone new and your heart connects so quickly, it seems so unfair that it lasts such a short time. Then there:s the one who may leave, not even a definite yet, but inside already the emptiness is growing, like my heart is preparing me for what I know to be inevitable. I am fighting against it with my will, even as I know I won't win.

So as I exhale all this hurt what can I take in as an exchange that will put hope in its place? Maybe the benefits of knowing them. All of them are different, each with unique gifts they brought to my life. They all showed me hope. Instead of grieving their departure, can I rejoice with them? For they have hope yet to be realized in their future. Why should I selfishly bemoan that? There are others in my life who are still here. Those who need more time, more  attention, more conversation perhaps, now that I am reminded firsthand again how suddenly life can change.

And Jesus, didn't He die to His own self willingly so that we could have hope? He took the hardest road, the cross. It was not cheap. Salvation is free to those who ask, but without the trials that are meant to strengthen me I will never know the full power of this precious hope. It is process and we are growing in it.


So here is my opportunity to breathe in and out a hope that will keep me balanced and nourished while feeding others.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Lessons From the Fox

We have new boarders on our property. No, they are not paying to stay here. My daughter discovered them and showed me a video she made of the 4 fox kittens. They are living under the shed in our back yard. As beautiful as they are my awareness of their untamed nature elevated the walls of defense within me. Immediately I thought of the stray animals that wander freely in and out of my yard; cats, dogs, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks, not to mention, the many birds. I also thought, of course, rabies.

The  next day we discovered not only were there four, there were 7 kits in the den and we began watching as Mother fox would return from her hunt every day to feed herself and nurse her young. To strengthen the threat, as I was in the yard planting my garden, I took a step too close, as I hadn't noticed Mother fox guarding her babies behind her, playing. This mother took a lunge toward me and I quickly retreated. No one was going to get between her and her kits! She sat back down as I cajoled her with my voice and immediate distance. Looking forward, all senses turned to any oncoming threat, she sat at attention for a good part of the afternoon and I was very limited to how far I could go in my  own back yard.

Contrary to other's desires, I called the Animal Control Officer to arrange a safe transfer, only to be told it is illegal to move them from their dwelling place. I guess they have Squatter's Rights. After a time of brooding and venting about my rights verses animal rights, I began to slowly settle inside. I thought of fear verses trust. I thought of my broken down shed now being a shelter for God's creatures. I thought of children, mothers, protection, diligence, and yes, I thought of hope.

Franklin D. Roosevelt made this statement in his inaugural address. "There is nothing to fear but fear itself". Fearing fear, hmmm. What does that mean? If I fear the fear, isn't that just as paralyzing? If I fear it in the sense of terrorizing me, yes, I am defeated. However, if I fear it in the sense of respecting it's presence but knowing it no longer has power over me because Jesus Christ already put an end to it's authority, I can destroy its effects on me.

We live in a society where threat is flagrant in our faces every time we pick up a newspaper, turn on the television, face a disease, a tragedy, a conflict of interest or a belief system that challenges our own. How do I handle the threats in a practical, realistic way and prevent the impending fear that swallows up all my hope?

I made a decision to remove the threat, only to get a flat out "No". Somehow that "no" began to settle me. I did all I could do, I took the action I believed in and now the threat is looking more like opportunity. As my eyes turn to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of my faith. (Heb 12:1,2), so does my perspective turn to hope. I found scripture that says "For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. (Pr 5:21) It is my part to always look at Jesus Christ. It is His part to always have me before Him as He sees all I am doing. He knows the threats, but when I look at Him, having done all I can do, I see the hope.

Will I bother the fox? No. Will I feed the fox? No. I won't tempt the threat to generate fear. I will enjoy their presence, keep myself at a safe distance and leave the rest to God.

Ever learning, slowly learning, one situation at a time.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My Offering in His Hand

A little girl in bronze is holding a basket of firstfruits. Her head is slightly tipped looking so proudly at her offering. How can she be refused? Her willingness to give of her hard work, she arranged everything that it would tempt the senses and win her favor.

She is A statuette on a table in the corner of a restroom. Seems an odd place to display this precious piece of artwork. I wonder if the sculptor knows where it ended up. Maybe in his mind it would be in a large hall where crowds would gather, such as an art gallery, or in some wealthy home where it would be admired and discussed. Surely people would want to know of the creator's name and learn of his other work. Would you want your artwork that so obviously took hours upon hours to finish and perfect to  end up in a restroom?

What about my writing? Am I setting my sights on best seller lists?  Am I impatient, waiting to see hundreds of followers on social media? What if the only place it arrives is in a few hands, not even bound, but pages hole punched and tied together? Would I deem it valuable or would my mindset be of a lesser opinion? Is what I receive from God worthy of just one spectator or one reader? Am I to dictate where my offering goes?

There's a story of a widow who gave two mites in the Treasury in Mk 12:42-44. They equaled a farthing, which is 1/4 of one penny. Jesus observed her and said she had given more than all the others for it came from her poverty rather than her abundance. She took what the Lord had given her and gave it away. She knew she would be taken care of. How much could that one farthing feed? She wasn't concerned about how God would use what she placed in His hands. She just gave. Perhaps she had heard of how 5,000 had been fed with two fishes and 5 loaves of bread in Mk 6.

What the Lord gives us is for others, and we don't know how many will be blessed. I think our aim should be "do all  to bless all, but don't underestimate the value of one".  I don't frequently attend art galleries or enter homes of the wealthy. I entered the common restroom and found an uncommon, exquisitely sculptured piece of hope.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

True Hope is True Rest

The stars in the sky shine. Since time began that is all they do. On a clear night I can see them without any effort. My eyes trace the constellations. I can locate the North Star. They are always in the same place. In a cloud covered sky I can't see them, but I know they are there. During the day I can't see them, but I know they are there. They just "are". I don't judge them for just being. I don't get angry when they're not visible.

How simple to just simply "be"; really? This is not what I have experienced. I have spent my life trying to produce, to work, to be mother, wife, friend, confidante, and team player. I have set my sights on the proverbs 31 woman and at times wanted her story ripped from the Bible. I have identified more with the demon possessed man who Jesus healed and left him standing clothed and in his right mind. Well... I am clothed. Or Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son. who was dropped by his nurse as a baby and left lame. I wonder sometimes if someone dropped me on my head, but never told me. I have identified with the heart of Rahab the prostitute, the wine bibber, the poor widow who could give only out of her poverty. I have sat with scholars amazed at their knowledge only to become Pharisaical. I have tried to say nothing of this life matters, only to find myself begging for the crumbs fallen from the table. I have stood tall and put my best foot forward, only to discover I have no balance. 

Comparison and emulation always result in a false view of identity. 

I remember being small and riding the seesaw, my friend on one end, I on the other. Often when I was at the top my friend would suddenly decide she was done and just get off, leaving me to come down with a bang. I became paranoid. I could no longer rely on her to lower me safely to the ground. When I attempted to do the same to her, she threatened the state of our friendship. Afraid of being left alone, I became almost subservient to her demands and conditions. 
Many years later I see where there were rooted some serious patterns of pleasing people. I started letting other people shape my identity. Learning to be "me" has been an ongoing battle.

A lifetime of being at the top of something and then slammed to the ground has caused a lot of trust issues. Is there anyone I can trust completely? I have decided no, not even myself. How can I trust me when I don't even know who I am? The only one trustworthy is the one who proves himself to be trustworthy. I have yet to find a person who is qualified. So I have to turn my eyes and my faith to Jesus. He came to earth knowing exactly who He was and did exactly what He said He was going to do. He inspired it to be written down and provided His Spirit to teach those who are seeking truth.

How do I find out who I am? I look to His definition of me. He has told me. I am beautiful, I am accepted, I am loved, I am a more than a conquereor and I am forgiven. I am so much more than I see with my eyes or hear with my ears. He literally took the punishment that I deserved for my sin. When I can believe His opinion of me then hope will have substance. I will know and be known for who I truly am. I will be me and being me will be enough. When you are enough, there is rest. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Buried Hope

A child buried beneath the rubble of an earthquake screams, hoping someone can hear from above. He can hear the cries of people, but they cannot detect his voice in the midst of their own cacophony. He feels the weight of wood, metal, glass, dirt coming down upon him. He hears the roaring sound of the earth opening, loosening foundations that once were secure and taken for granted. As the weight increases the sounds become fainter. The light slowly recedes, darkness filling every space. His own voice echos until even that is sucked up into a vacuum. He is alone...alone and afraid.

I remember watching the news of the earthquake that took place in Chile on Feb. 27, 2010. I was working in an environment where I had to hear CNN bringing the stories, repeatedly, day after day, until I was begging for something else in another part of our world to be reported. When I think back on it the most disturbing stories came out later of those thought to be buried alive. A few were eventually found, but many others remained unaccounted for.

Why do these stories resonate more than anything else? We heard of relief efforts, heroic rescues, tireless hours of volunteering, and millions of dollars donated from around the world. We saw pictures of the devastation, hospital victims, and the homeless. What we didn't see were the buried ones. It is the unseen reality that is embedded in my memory. Perhaps something about feeling alone,, neglected, forgotten and invisible is nearer to my own experience of life bringing with it an identification. No, I have never been literally buried alive, but inside I have felt all of those feelings. I believe we all have to some degree.

There is an account recorded in Joshua 6, of the sin of Achan. When Israel defeated Jericho he stole the spoil  which  the Lord had forbidden and he buried it. Therefore the next city they battled, the city of Ai, in turn defeated Israel. Achan was then found out, the spoil recovered and he, all his house and all he owned were completely destroyed. When the sin was dealt with, then God gave Israel Ai and also all the riches of the city.
There are things you bury for nourishment later on. A dog buries a bone to save for later. Squirrels bury acorns in summer to have in winter.  Seeds are buried in the ground in Spring to reap a harvest in Autumn. Our dead are buried as a sign of honoring a life and returning it to the earth when the soul is departed.

What about the intangible weight that we bury? The more I look into the Word of God and give myself over to Him, the more I see the burdens that I am encumbered with. What is happening is not that we are burying them, but we are being buried by them. Whatever freedoms we have are being trodden on until we no longer are recognizeable. I wonder why I am depleted of energy and default to "besetting sins" of Heb 12:1. I believe the baggage we carry is one of the reasons we don't experience the fullness of the hope of the gospel. It is often the burdens that block out the light and deafen our ears to hear the truth of who we really are. Thus we feel only defeat and isolation, so much that we even become mute.

Everything brings a harvest. Unresolved matters can eventually produce stress, guilt, blame, anger, and sometimes bitterness, and yes, fear. The longer these issues are not confronted, the wider the gaps become in relationships. Then one day you look and see a berth you cannot cross. What began in hope ends in despair.

How did we get here? Maybe we can retrace our steps. When did trust turn to wariness, or compliments turn to cynisism? When did sight override faith? Paul asked the Christian Church in Galatians 3:1 "Oh foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth...." Paul knew that another gospel was being preached through peop!e by supernatural means.  A supernatural God has a supernatural enemy. Eph 6:12,13 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

God has provided us with weapons of warfare. Each one is meant for the destruction of our spiritual strongholds. When used correctly, the real enemy will fall and the person will be left standing free. Christ battles to defeat His enemies, only His enemies, all as a means to release the hope within.

The Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness forty years. Why did it take so long? Ravi Zacharias, a known apologist states that the enemies they would have faced if taking the straight route would have overtaken them. They did not have the wisdom that forty years afforded them. They needed the trials. Sometimes I look back and ask " why Lord"? One thing I do know is that the wisdom I have and the relationship I have now with the Lord is because of my trials, not because of a life paved with ease. I am beginning to recognize it's worth.

I don't have answers for the earthquakes of this world, or the people that are buried under them. But I do believe that God never left them alone. In all my aloneness, He is there. Hope is with me hiding under the all the rubble.

Poison ivy and Jewel Weed grow side by side. One is the antidote for the other. Horsetail and dock plant are antidotes for stinging nettles. They too are often growing in the same vicinity. Many don't know these facts. Man has manufactured antidotes.There are a lot of man-made antidotes to diseases and conditions, thank God, but there is only one true antidote to sin and to the burdens we carry, and we hold the antidote very close, but what is buried is the light that reveals it. The effects of sin are sometimes gradual. A quote I heard recently rings true, "What we tolerate now, the next generation will embrace".  We have seen it over and over again. Some continue to call it growth. I see it as a continual breaking down of God's intent and design for mankind.

It is not too late. Rom 8:28 delivers a promise to all who belong to Christ. Every detail of  my life He will work for good. We are all at different places spiritually. There is not one who is finished learning. Some of us are just beginning. Some of us take longer to learn. Some of us have been on this Christian road a long time. For me, 41 years and my wilderness is just beginning to make sense. I still need, however, to allow light to penetrate and reveal the hope inside.

With planting season upon us I always find new analogies of truth. Rototilling is a one-time task. We turn over the ground to reveal what has been underneath since the previous year. We have to break the ground and airate the soil to receive the seeds.

Spiritual digging is much the same and it requires discipline. Sometimes you dig and dig and find nothing that makes sense. Sometimes what you find are those issues you thought were so deep not even you would ever have to deal with them. That can make you stop digging. You think, this is too hard, there is a root here I cannot move. Why do I bother? I can't understand. Everyone is further than me. It's useless.

That's what happens to me. I get far enough down to see the obstacle and I am not strong enough to move it. I put my shovel down. But think about it, the reason it is unearthed is not to hurt you, but to show you it must be rooted out so the light can shine further. So you dig more, and as the light exposes it more and more it begins to satisfy an appetite and create a hunger all at the same time. A hunger for truth, and you find that you can't stay the same because what truth does is expose the lie, and when you know a lie, you can't stay comfortable for long.

As with any living thing light is a necessary ingredient to thrive. We turn our plants toward the light. People need the sunlight for mood boosters and vitamin D for strength and sustainability.

 Why do our enemies defeat us? What so-called treasures are buried that the Lord wants to unearth and give to Him? All of the unresolved issues? Why do we bury them? Are we holding them to use later on? Are they a secret weapon? Are they a defense? Are they a substitute? They are certainly a stronghold. How long? How many years will I do this? What am I afraid of?

Salvation comes to us when Jesus takes His own life, that which once was tainted with all of our sin, yet now put away, buried and resurrected, and indwells ours, making His forgiveness effective and complete in us. And thus, everything being forgiven, past, present and future does not mean that effects of continued sins and burdens cannot affect our daily walk. We can quench the Spirit (1 Thes 5:19), and grieve the Spirit (Eph 4:30), therefore not experiencing the full blessing of our freely given inheritance.

Hope is waiting. Hope is light; Christ's light. Satan knows he can't put it out, but he certainly has many tactics to keep covering it. This is my prayer, that wherever there is darkness in my life Lord, there will light go. Let me not be afraid of true light!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

What I learned in April

I always thought April was my favorite month. I finally realized it is not. I've been delusional all these years. It is cold, messy and unpredictable. A time of both letting go and going forward all at once; clinging to the past, reaching for the future. I glad it's over. It was only the fantasy that drew me.

I can write poetry. This is my fourth year of linking up with NaPoWiMo. net 30 poems/30 days. Every year I say I can't do it. Every year I follow their prompts. Once or twice I use my own, and I only missed one day this year. Maybe some think it's novice, but it's mine.

Poetry stirs you. It's way more than just writing words that rhyme or writing a lot in a little. It's digging deep into subjects that matter to you. It's vulnerability exposed. It's all your lunacy and sanity thrown out there for all to see.

You can't measure one pain with another. I went through a weekend with a really bad abscessed tooth combined with a freaky off balance equilibrium issue. Lasted 4 days. My son had a kidney stone. Yes, each one of us would have had said the other would be better. The pain you are in is the worst pain for you at the time. There is no "worst pain' you can have. You can always have worse. Nice thought, huh?

Sometimes hope is hidden in the things we don't want to deal with. This thought is being realized and it makes me want to deal with things that I have been afraid of for such a long time. If I am going to write about hope, I want to see it in all it's reality.

I watch too many mysteries. I gravitate to them. I'm obsessed. I am beginning to wean some this month (and whine), just to find some much needed balance.





Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Surrender to Hope



Words of a song inside my head all night
Was I sleeping or not I cannot tell
Morning came and stole them from my mind's view
But the tune kept on swirling round my head

And I'm drinking my coffee from a wine glass
Cause the strong just makes me weak
And the crashing waves are calm now
I can see the horizon
And it's the same every day
It doesn't change

We can do anything we want in life
Somehow we're sleeping' and we can't see
We look in the mirror and believe what's there
Break the glass and there's more to me

And I'm drinking my coffee from a wine glass
Cause the strong just makes me weak
And the crashing waves are calm now
I can see the horizon
And it's the same every day
It doesn't change

Fighting my battles and claiming my spoil
Not what I expected them to be
No silver or gold, no accolades
But peace and contentment in His love for me

And I'm drinking my coffee from a wine glass
Cause the strong just makes me weak
And the crashing waves are calm now
I can see the horizon
And it's the same every day
It doesn't change

And hope is a constant just like the horizon
Just like sunshine the darkness it fills
I cannot control it nor try to maintain it
Like water and air it goes where it wills

And I'm drinking my coffee from a wine glass
Cause the strong just makes me weak
And the crashing waves are calm now
I can see the horizon
And it's the same every day
It doesn't change

Just like hope
The words were there all the time

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Isaiah 41:10
 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I know He is with me. Sometimes I do fear. I have failed and fallen before.
I know He is my God. Still, I have been dismayed
He has strengthened me and helped me. Sometimes it is long after that I recognize it.
He does uphold me. Yes, I keep getting up.

It is over and over again I must read these words.
My fear is toward myself and what I can and cannot do.

Am I good enough?
Am I brave enough?
Am I smart enough?

The list goes on and the answer is the same for all. No, I am not,. No, we are not. It seems the more I try to wean myself from failure, the more pronounced it becomes.

Mixing religion with Christianity defiles my very hope.

Ritual for the purpose of good standing is not what God intended. The mercy and grace of God cannot be earned. Failure was never meant to condemn, but to bring to light and lead to repentance, a change of mind and direction. Sometimes God must watch as I make decisions that lead to my own folly. He knows every time I sit or stand, as well as every word I speak or thought I think. PSA 139:1,2. My understanding of His Word is not complete. As I ponder and listen I see a different perspective. His view is not mine.

God does not promise that we will not fail. He knows we surely will. His promise is that He will not fail.

So I now can read these words without fearing that I will let Him down. I cannot let Him down and He will never let me down.

He is with me in all my failures. So He tells me do not fear.
He is my God, so do not be dismayed when others fail
He will strengthen and help me. There is always hope in the failures.
He will uphold me with His righteous right hand. A righteous hand no man can loose.

There was not one in the Bible that did not fail, yet God kept His promises and sent His Son, Jesus, so we would not have to be condemned by our failures.

What hope we have in Christ! What rest we have when we enlarge our perspective to His!


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Seasons Changes

Where I live colors come slowly
All I see are green and brown
Growth springing up from the earth
Chartreuse colored buds on weather beaten trees
They have survived winter
A small cluster of daffodils shed some light
High above the sky is still blue
A color of hope and staying true
It beckons to me
Keep looking up
Keep looking up

I wrote this poem in 2013. There was snow and ice that winter.
There are some things I never want to change. Other things I can't wait to change. Seems maybe I get my priorities mixed up ofttimes. Now it is Spring. I am so happy the winter is gone. It was fairly mild, but just the word itself denotes cold, bitter, dank and grey. With no snow to speak of and those milder temperatures winter was worse in some way because it didn't fit the right description. Looking back on previous years, winter was, well...winter, in all its authenticity! Easy to see it in splendor now that they are behind us. 

Transition still is taking place. Even though Spring is here there has been a 40 degree temperature change in 3 days and today 5" of snow blankets the ground.

I fluctuate. I just finished a project and don't know what is next. I am in between the pages. I am afraid I am out of words, out of ideas, and with that...out of hope. All of a sudden I am without definition.

I look around and see so many things in transient. The climate is mirroring our society. With so much variance in the weather patterns, anomalies in nature are becoming more and more frequent. In our infrastructure definitions are changing at an escalated rate even in the past 20 years. Gender and family are fractured, as well as our boundaries and traditions. 

Ecclesiastes 1:9 notes "...There is nothing new under the sun", but the rise and spread of the infrequent exceptions of "normal" lifestyle is becoming monumental and commonplace. Shock is now being replaced by confusion, despair and hopelessness. 

As I retrace the past couple of months and talk it out with a friend my conversation follows a course that lands upon a present situation, and as I speak of it we both realize it is certainly a large issue of my heart, but not one that is easily solved. It is one that has its roots embedded into years past. It always seems to find its way into the present no matter how many times I have tried to address it, ignore it, or bury it. 

As unresolved issues of the heart repeatedly reveal themselves, it seems they are yearning to be set free. Instead, I protect them and in doing so, I am a slave to them. One issue adds to another and soon the effects and repercussions define my path. Excuses become the easy way to avoid confrontation and truth. Freedom becomes just a word with no evidence.

But...there is hope! Just because it is not seen or felt or even experienced does not dismiss it's truth. Just like it is Spring whether the snow falls or the temperatures plummet, so is hope a truth. Christ defeated death and all that surrounds it. His death dealt with the issues, but His resurrection brought hope into view. Sooner or later the issues must break ground and be exposed to reveal hope. Yes, transition takes time. Ground thaws, trees bud, growth is slow. Faith is needed to believe.

Sometimes many words are necessary to unlock the silent places of the heart. In my undefined times I can look back and determine my ambiguity then or my ambiguity now. Both will define me. I need to appreciate the slow and and seemingly unfruitful places in my life. I need to look up. Keep looking up.
(I apologize for the font sizes. I tried to fix it 3 times...I lost)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Because of Hope I Am Alive

She walks with the gait of her own familiar walk
Sees what her eyes wish to see
Blinded to reality by her own vision,
She knows not she is living

From birth to death, we live and learn how to live, how to be who we think we are and who we are told we are...this living of life.

When did I decide that because life is hard living should be?

 It is day 4 of living the only possible way I am able...in pain, sleeping a lot, pacing some, with my head spinning and my jaw throbbing. Today as I write this I feel the effects continuing. For all sense and purposes I cancelled my normal life for this life. This living. I am not often sick so I whined a little, okay, a lot, which I hate in other people as well as myself. I wrote texts in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, expecting no answers. Just words going out into the night somehow helped me know I was still okay. If I have words, I am alive. I prayed for relief, which couldn't come soon enough, and I thought about this word, 'living'.

Every year in churches we are asked to revisit this week, this Holy week. We are taken back to when Jesus rode through the streets of Jerusalem on an untamed Colt. The crowd has laid palms before His feet, crying hosanna, which in Aramaic literally means 'please deliver us, I beg you to save'. I cried hosanna all weekend. And billions of people are crying 'hosanna' every day.

But salvation doesn't happen the way we want or expect. Jesus was not the Savior they were looking for. They wanted someone to take down the Roman government, bring justice and protect their rights and their land. They didn't understand He was not the Savior of their situations, but of their souls.

His life on earth was hard but He lived it well.

Jesus knew it was the last week on earth for Him. I can imagine what was going on inside His head. I'm sure His communion with His Father was constant and assuring, but He still had to endure the greatest suffering of all time as a mortal man.

He answered questions to those trying to deceive him about giving to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. He spoke in parables and revealed the blindness of their heart only to teach a lesson. He cleared the temple and reprimanded the Pharisees. He took time to honor a widow and her meager, yet sacrificial offering. He shared a last meal with His disciples and then prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. And then the betrayal came as He was handed over to the authorities, which led Him to Calvary. His purpose was to exchange our soul's death for His life.

Though life was hard He kept serving, kept loving, kept teaching, kept living.

The words I've written about this season of Lent - rest, joy, quiet, happy, remember, consider, wound and broken are all living words. Hard at times to understand, they each represent our life. We live through them and in them. Each touches us, some for a moment, some for a lifetime, but what gives them their eternal value?

Sometimes we are just surviving.

We all know people who are in dire situations; the homeless, the outcast, the abandoned, the addict, the abused, and yes, the ones like me, who can't deal with 3 or 4 days of discomfort. It takes all we have just to process it all. And when we can make no sense of it, we survive on auto pilot. And we plug our prayers in and go about our day.

I am alive when everything tells me otherwise.

I am blinded by what I see. All around me there are things I can't fix, people I can't please, hearts I can't reach with or without my words or actions. So I translate it all to impossibilities and living becomes hard. But I have forgotten that life is in me. I am a living soul and I can live and walk through all of it. My soul will live even if things never get better.

I can't stop the hard things. I can turn my eyes to the living and walk through them, even in the times I feel useless, forgotten and cast aside. Christ has made me alive.

Because we breathe, we live, but Jesus offers the abundant life. The rich, extensive and plenteous life. That is a soul that is redeemed. That is what Easter is about.

Can I look with Christ's eyes and not my own? Can I pray for souls of people that they will see a risen Savior? Though broken by situations, can I realize the situations have an end, but a soul is eternal? Can I put away my familiar paths and walk a different walk? Can I remind myself daily that I am living because Christ is living in me?

So maybe living is trusting in a hope that lives within no matter what the situation is. The hope that is a secure anchor in Heb 6:19, and a promise of eternal life in Tit 1:2.

I hope that Easter means more to you this year than last year. I know it means more to me. I am grateful for the thoughts and understanding He allowed me to write down and share with you.

Happy Easter! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

OneWordCoffee Linkup