Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Consider Breathing (my one word this week - Consider)

"...See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 1 pet 2:6

This week I am faced with some hard decisions. I find myself considering my options. I am spending much time just listening, praying and seeking. I am wondering what real love looks like. I am realizing what I believe and what I do does not always match.

Jesus spent a lot of time alone praying to His Father in heaven. Even though He was the Son of God, he was on earth in a human body and he knew that submission and obedience to His Father's will was not something He could do without fellowship with Him. If Jesus had to pray, then how much more do I?

I remember visiting my relatives on Sundays. I had three cousins and when they got too rambunctious my dad would tell them to sit in a corner and consider their actions, and they would go because nobody dared to disobey Uncle Tony. Upon leaving he would tell them that when he returned, they better be in that corner. Without fail, the next visit would find them there. Of course they didn't sit there all week, but as soon as they knew he was coming they scrambled to the corner. My father thought it humorous. I wonder if they were breathing.

I sense myself face first in the corner. I wish I could say I chose to come here, but I've been driven here by my need for space to breathe. We are so impressionable. Scripture says "Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." Is 64:8. Often we allow others to mold us and one day we look and see our disfigurement from so much handling and influence. I feel like I've been holding my breath for too long.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Rom 8:18

Jesus has had 3 years of teaching, healing, feeding and forgiving, as well as challenging, rebuking and exposing hearts. He has escaped being stoned, suffered persecution, tolerated being mocked, and endured being misunderstood. He is on His way to die for all of it.

One week He was on a colt riding through the streets being praised, and the next week having the same people pardoning a murderer in the decision to crucify Him. We know He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane right before His betrayal and the soldiers came to arrest Him. We read His prayer, ".. My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Mt 26:39.

What did he consider in His decision to go through with it? 

 Who He was loving. Me.

      Who He was serving. His Father

          Who He was defeating. Death and Satan

              Who He was Revealing. His Lordship

Do I see the cornerstone while I am in my corner of indecision?

The cornerstone is the first stone set in erecting a building. It determines the position of every other stone. Without it, the whole building is out of alignment. Scripture says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. Psa127:1

So What questions do I consider?

 Who does God say I am and do I believe it? 

Why am I here? Am I fulfilling my purpose or am I hiding behind my insecurities?

What is the cost and rewards if I obey God? What does that mean, obey God? 

Do I want a real hope? As I consider that question, I must answer truthfully. I must consider love through unfiltered eyes, obey love as Christ gives me strength, then breathe love so as to free others.

The one who took his last breath on the cross is free to reign and be Lord over all. He is asking me to breathe and dare to trust Him no matter what opinions lie in wait.

OneWordCoffee Linkup

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

As My Footprints Fade...

"...When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of his glory." Eph 1:13,14

As I listen to her the stories are the same. I have heard them many times before. She is old and her memory slips out of the present to long ago. Her father sat in the corner chair smoking his pipe. Her mother would sit opposite reading her books. The flat TV screen now in the corner can never replace the beautiful hardwood console she grew up with. Outside there were lush flower beds in three seasons and the snow would pile up in the winter over the bottom of the picture window and glisten in the sunlight. As she tells it, I can see it and I listen intently to show my respect. I learned some years ago that their stories keep them going. The memory has a tighter grip on the past as we get older.

We all have our memories. I grew up doing a lot of walking along the ocean's shoreline. I walked across the same strip of beach every summer with the same childhood friends. I loved everything about the ocean but spent far more time as a spectator than a participant. I loved to watch the tide aggressively rolling forward and more gently pulling back wiping out the imprints where my feet had been. I never went back over my tracks looking for them. I knew I could always make more. There would always be more sand, more ocean, more days spent in the sun. I didn't know anything of my future and what fading footprints would come to mean.

God journeyed and then He wrote a journal.

God's purpose was never to remain in heaven just watching from a distance. He left heaven, became a man, walked the earth and returned again. His journey had a purpose and He let no one stop Him. And then He had people journal about it. It needed to be remembered and reiterated.

During the past 25 years I have written in journals. I would like to say I have "kept" a journal but more truth states I have started and stopped. It has not been a consistent practice. In the past few years however, the trend has taken a turn. Maybe I'm taking my footsteps and solidifying them. Perhaps as I sense slips in my own memory, I feel the need to have concrete proof of some details. Isn't that one of the reasons why anything is written? To preserve?

Because of Christ's journey, I can continue mine.

How haunting to feel you are lost and look behind you and not be able to retrace your steps. Can I dare to see God's handprint on me when I have no footprints? Can I look at the steps He took to secure my destination? Lent is set aside for that remembrance; a time to reflect on why we can keep going.

He never makes us go anywhere He hasn't gone. Though my journey may be hard and confusing at times and seem demanding and futile I need to keep focused on what He has written for my encouragement and determination. I need to see His handprint and not worry about my footprints.

When God has something in His hand, it is never lost.

You may look behind and see empty spaces but God's fingerprints will never fade or be washed away; just hidden from view for a while. So keep going. And when He does bring something to mind, maybe, like me, you should write it down, cause you may not ever pass that way again.

As we think on this journey of ours, think on Christ's. He never stopped walking from house to city to synagogues, to wherever people were to convey His love and point them in the direction of heaven. There is hope in the waiting and hope in the testing and hope in all the twists and turns because He has been there before us and walks with us. His whole journey was about us. I pray my whole journey will continue to be all about Him.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

To all the women in and out of my life..

Oh my strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness. PSA 5:17

 I know the world is shouting it, almost demanding we pay attention. I want to whisper “Happy Valentine’s Day”, because I don’t want it to hurt. I know many feel a twinge of pain just thinking about it. There you are, broken, tired, hurting, alone, some recovering from ended relationships, some holding on to broken ones - wondering when and if it will ever be different. Here it is, in your face.

Love thrown at you wounds. It's not cupid's arrow, but a spear. And it’s not just you it strikes. It’s all of us, maybe not every day, in every way, but yeah, it’s there, underneath the surface. It’s always been a fight for us women, just to be heard, just to be noticed, just to be...loved. Part of that curse, the fight.

But wait,

WE Are Loved! ...YOU Are Loved!

Maybe we're so familiar with hearing the lies, we don't hear the soft spoken truth,

   "I have loved you with an everlasting love."

 Spoken by someone who is greater and stronger and more capable than anyone on this earth because His love is not of this earth.

What things we do when we don’t recognize it!

We start acting like the unloved.

No one sees me, so I’ll….

No one hears me, so I’ll….

No one cares about me, so I’ll….

Fill in the blanks. For each of us it’s different, but we are all the same. And then we feel worse, because we never wanted to do those things in the first place. It was the hurt screaming out against all the demands we put ourselves and others under. Some end up more damaged than others. Life becomes altered and you feel more unloved than ever before.

But you are loved the same no matter what state you are in.

There is no road you can travel where Christ will not go.

He sees, he hears and He cares. You may not get flowers, but He is the Rose of Sharon. You may not get hearts, but He will transform your heart.  You may not even hear words of love but His Word is all about love.

Love is born from above. Love goes beyond all of the standards that earth puts on it.

It doesn't shout and flaunt itself in front of you. It whispers, "It is finished".

The cross was the great production of love!

His blood given was where He showed His heart!

His resurrection was the final victory over all the curse of sin and death.

Now it can whisper.
Surrender and listen.
And celebrate a life of love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Heb 10:23

I'm rearranging my quiet room for one reason. It is not quiet. Having been a bedroom for both my children at different times, a craft room, a guest room and partial storage room, there are memories everywhere I look. And the disheveled person I struggle with inside is fighting the memories and wondering what to do with them.

I want to hold the good as well as the bad cause that's called life. So some go in the attic, and I need bookshelves and hooks and trash bags to sort out the rest. And yes, what a time for the word remember. Why does hope disappear so fast with some of my memories?

Have you ever been caught in a wind tunnel? Have you ever been hit and thrown to the ground by a moving trolley? Have you ever been a hundred feet above tree level and and had to cross over a very narrow strip of ice, and if you slipped, that would be the end? Have you ever been over your head in water and felt yourself drowning? I have experienced all of these. Sometimes remembering the past paralyzes me. They can make good stories where everyone gets a laugh, me included, but initially they were no laughing matter.

When remembering anything you are reconnecting a present thought to a former thought, and when you do you associate yourself with it all again. So what do I do with these memories? Some are surely to be cherished and kept, but, funny thing, the harder, hurtful ones I seem to have very mixed feelings about. Erasing them would leave wide, empty spaces. It was in these hard, hurtful places I was clinging to hope and faith that I couldn't see. I could only believe in the face of unbelief.

 Christ  gives purpose to the pain. Without hope, all we see is the ugliness.

Hope carries me from my past memories through my present experiences and towards my future. I have to let it take me beyond all my own personal evaluations of my situations and bring me into the realm of being transformed into who Christ has made me to be.

I don' t want to re-member myself to something  that God has re-deemed me from. 

I was deemed unworthy, held there by a conviction and a sentence of death. But now Christ has spoken and the pardon been executed on my behalf. I am detached from all that associates me from sin. It cannot identify me ever again.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Rom 5:1,2

Somehow in the middle of the bad, the good, the wrong, the right, the messes and the order, there He is in all of it. Christianity is not about never having pain and tragedy and loss. It is about having Christ with you when it all happens. The messes mean there was life going on and maybe that's why things didn't get put away or dishes didn't get washed till morning, or mid-morning. The misunderstandings and arguments meant people were thinkers and not just like me. And didn't I want them to be?

Let's remember what God remembers.

He remembers that we are dust (PSA 103:14)
He remembers His covenant (1 Chron 16:15)
He remembers the price He paid (1 Cor 6:20)
He remembers His promises (2 Pet 1:4)
He remembers that He will come again to gather us to Himself (Jn 14:3)

He remembers, He connects with His people.

As I begin this season of Lent and prepare to celebrate Christ's resurrection, I want to re-member myself with His sufferings, His pain and the joy that was before Him, the hope that was man's redemption from a fallen world. When I do that, maybe I will find the quietness I long for.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If You're Happy And You Know It

"...The joy of the Lord is your strength" Neh 8:10

The one word I add to my hope today is happy. I can't tell you the amount of emotions that have entertained my thoughts this week every time the word came up. Memories of happy people, events, seasons and thoughts moved within me. Many of them, however, caused me sadness as I thought of how they were long past.

Happiness, as I recognize it, is so temporary and fleeting. It seems to require maintenance. So often I question if I really ever have been?

I watched on television the National Figure Skating Competitions in St. Paul, Minnesota. I thought how happy they must be to have reached this point in their careers. There is such grace and poise in their form. I carefully took attention to their recovery to a fall or to a slight turning or landing at the wrong angle. The recovery often was as graceful as the moves of the dance as they completed their performance. To the untrained eye (such as mine) sometimes ony the call of the judge would reveal the error.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Eph 5:15

So, first I looked up circumspect, definition being:

 "heedful of potential consequences". 

How often do I let my guard down in the area of my emotions? Yes, they are real. No, we shouldn't bury them and deny them, but shouldn't we treat them with some respect? We have all seen too often the results of emotions without restraint. If I am a child of God, what is robbing me of the happiness that I have been given? And do I see it as a gift?

I looked up the definition of happy in the 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary, the first standardized dictionary of the English language. One of the definitions is:

Being in the enjoyment of agreeable sensations from the possession of good; enjoying pleasure from the gratification of appetites or desires. The pleasurable sensations derived from the gratification of sensual appetites render a person temporarily happy; but he only can be esteemed really and permanently happy who enjoys peace of mind in the favor of God. To be in any degree happy we must be free from pain both of body and of mind; to be very happy we must be in the enjoyment of lively sensations of pleasure, either of body or mind.

So yes, our definitions are right about happy, but according to this, only temporary. If I know I am in the favor of God and have peace with Him, that is permanent. When emotions are robbed, can I make a quick recovery back to my standing position with Christ, where only the righteous judge can make the call? He is the only one who knows the state of my relationship with Him and yes, He will call me out on it.

My prayer is:

As I take on Christ's perspective as my own, I can dance the dance with rest, in the quiet, all today, and when I fall, not stay down in defeat, but recover quickly because He has made me happy.