Sunday, December 28, 2014

All is well, safely rest. God is nigh.

The year is about to close. I don't know about you, but my 2014 held exhilarating highs and devastating lows. 

When I was rejoicing in the highs I think I lost contact with the flow of regular life. When I was moaning in the lows I know I lost touch with the rich blessings of God's promises. 

I want the coming year to look more like the gentle rise and fall of the waves on Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach on a calm day. I am praying toward that goal and engaging my heart and mind and soul and strength to attain it.   Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27

I'm beginning the process with an honest look at Reality. 
  • I live in a world that has been groaning since the Fall, and Scripture teaches that those who have entrusted themselves to Christ also groan as we await His return. Even if I make the best, most God-pleasing choices, I cannot control the outcome nor will I find perfect peace until I am united with my Savior.  Romans 8:20-22, Job 38
  • There are all kinds of forces that seem to combine to keep me disoriented. Whether it's the imperfections of this world, the results of my poor choices, the strategies of the enemy, or the intervention of the Father I find myself struggling to maintain any sense of balance.  Psalm 51:1-2, 1 Peter 5:8, John 16:33, Exodus 9:12
  • God is God. His very Name expresses his SOVEREIGNTY. Ultimately every single detail of my life is under the control of the great I AM. He created me and chose me. He cherishes me and celebrates me. Absolutely no thing and no one can prevent my LORD from demonstrating every facet of His love for me into my life both now and throughout eternity.  John 10:28, Romans 8:38-39, Jeremiah 29:11-13,  Romans 8:28-30

These basics open the way for an Action Plan.
  • I will shun the superficial and dredge myself in Scripture in order to dwell in God's view of the world. And as I write that I remind myself that I will not be perfect in this effort so I must trust the LORD to welcome my heart-felt intentions.   1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Chronicle 28:9, Psalm 119: 97-112, John 16:33
  • I will step back from frustration and learn to accept afresh the circumstances of my life with grace. And as God enables, I will embrace with equal gratitude the highs and the lows as His intimate provision for my good and His glory.  Psalm 100, 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • I will seek El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One, above all else, including my own selfish agenda. And in the putting down of the one I expect to move further into the sweetness of fellowship with Him. Philippians 3:7-11.

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2:10

I rejoice that I will not walk alone through 2015. I'm sharing an easy Yoke next to a gentle and humble Heart so I anticipate finding rest for my soul.  Matthew 11:28-30

How about you? Could you use a little rest in the months ahead?
Why not take a look at the past year and consider what changes you'd like to see? 
The LORD longs to take His people further into balance, fulfillment, and joy. Let's pursue Him together.

Take three (3) minutes to dwell on the transition from one year to the next through this musical offering. You'll be thankful you did.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Christmas Gift to You

A couple of passages have stirred me recently.

1) God sent down fire on the camp because He heard the Israelites complaining.

"When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down."  Numbers 11:2

2) God struck Miriam with leprosy and Aaron went to Moses for help.

"So Moses cried out to the LORD, 'O God, please heal her!"  Numbers 12:13
At God's direction Miriam spent seven days outside the camp and she returned healed.

These are not the only occasions when Moses went to God for the sake of those He called him to lead. Exodus 32 records the golden calf fiasco when Moses had to take a giant step into the role of peacemaker between God and His people. 

We often see in the Old Testament a hint or likeness of things to come in the New Testament. The beauty of such coordination across the Scriptures is one of the aspects that feed my love for God's Word. 

In this instance the two Numbers passages prompt me to compare the work of Moses and that of Christ.     

Here's the World-Shifting Gift I want to share with you.

We see God respond swiftly with love and mercy when Moses intervenes on behalf of the Israelites. 
The people came to understand, appreciate, and rely on that intercessory relationship.

How much richer is the Father's response when His Son intervenes on behalf of those for whom He came to die. 
How abundant our lives will be as we come to understand, appreciate, and rely on THAT intercessory relationship. Hallelujah

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 
John 3:16

"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."  
Hebrews 7:25

Let us worship in light of this glorious truth on the Day we celebrate Christ's first appearing. Amen

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Too much to do, not enough time.

Too much to buy, not enough money.

Too much to wrap, not enough energy.

Too much to prepare, not enough motivation.

And the week-before-Christmas list goes on.

What are your prevailing thoughts these days? Are you telling the LORD about your need for more time, money, energy, motivation, and more? 


Demanding days can lead to a demanding heart.

God does call us to bring our burdens to Him. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ... I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:28-29

But we need to be careful not to allow cares to turn into complaining. 

"Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused."  Numbers 11:1

I don't know about you, but I do not want to be under God's wrath. 

In order to avoid complaining I need to know what it is and what it isn't.

Complaining is when we ...

*undervalue God's favor by adding a 'but' to His mercy.
     "Lord, the manna was nice, but now we want meat."

*set a criteria for happiness based on dissatisfaction.
     "Life would be wonderful if only we had what we want to eat." 

*question whether God can't or won't meet our needs.
     "Meat for a month? There aren't enough flocks or herds."

These responses spring from unhappy hearts. Such a basic attitude of discontent will find something to complain about no matter what. And though we may couch it in pleasant sounding ways, God knows and hears the condition of our hearts.

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."  Hebrews 4:13

I, for sure, want to be able to cry out to God without complaining.

Crying out is when we ...

*approach the Father with humility through Christ.
     "This is what the LORD says: ... 'This is the one I esteem; 
     he who is humble and contrite in spirit
     and trembles at my word.'"  Isaiah 66:1a,2b

     "In him [Christ Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."  Ephesians 3:12

     "Therefore he [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."  
Hebrews 7:25

*bring a just cause for attention with a grateful heart.
     "Your compassion is great, O LORD;
     preserve my life according to your laws. ...
     May my cry come before you, O LORD;
     give me understanding according to your word.
     May my supplication come before you;
     deliver me according to your promise."  Psalm 119:156,169-170

*seek mercy and assistance rather than what has not been allotted.
     "Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, 
      for they are from of old.
      Remember not the sins of my youth 
      and all my rebellious ways;
      according to your love remember me, 
      for you are good, O LORD."  Psalm 26:6-7

By walking in these ways I expect to avoid the shame of murmuring against God and, instead, bring honor to His glorious Name. Amen

Where are you relative to the continuum from crying out and complaining?
Could you, like me, need to re-fasten your attitude of gratitude in place?
Let's present ourselves to the great I AM for a systems check.

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."  
Matthew 6:13

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tunnel of Tragedy

I’m walking again.

Well, not like this lady.

I’m walking with a cane, but it still feels gooooood.

Walking hasn’t felt good for a very long time. The main goal of the arthroscopic surgery, hip replacement, was to change that dynamic.

The first time they got me out of bed I was hanging onto the walker for dear life. They teased me with, “Just a few steps to the end of the bed.” Then it was, “Let’s go around to the other side of the bed.” They managed to get me all the way into the hall before I went white. By the time they got me back to the bed, I lost my lunch. To say the experience was less than ‘good’ is an understatement.

Obviously things went up dramatically from there. How could they not?

36 hours after they took me to the OR I was ready to head home. I’d walked all the way down to the ‘gym’ and back, accomplishing all the tasks they set for me there. I walked up and down stairs enough to match what we have at home. I got in and out of a car without difficulty. We all decided I could make it without serious medical support nearby. And I did.

I was totally unprepared for what happened a few days later. One of the pre-procedure symptoms I was having returned. A sciatica type pain ran right down the inside of my repaired leg. I was surprised, upset, and scared. I did my best to change my position to make the pain stop. It took a few minutes, but I found relief. Thank you, Lord.

That scenario has repeated itself many times since my stay at Concord Hospital. Along the way I’ve learned that as my muscles begin to function again they return to the ways they needed to move to compensate for my deteriorated hip. For example, my entire lower back had been working so hard to stabilize my posture that I’ve had to take pain meds twice when it went into spasms.

By God’s glorious grace and the help of my Physical Therapist yesterday I figured out how to relax my lower back while walking with a cane. It felt so good. I was filled with an extravaganza of joy. Wooo HOOOO. I’m beginning to believe I really will be able to get around pain-free one day. I just need to exchange my muscles unhealthy habits for healthy ones.

As I pondered the information about muscle memory, my quirky brain made a left turn into the spiritual realm. Could there be a connection between physical muscle memory and spiritual muscle memory?

Are there times when my soul could use a set of exercises similar to those I’m following to retrain my leg and back muscles?

I considered the life-threatening circumstances and the do-or-die survival tactics they required over the last year or so AND the unspeakable toll they’ve taken, and they lead me to say YES.

When a situation only holds a short bus ride to approach the Father or a few moments to pray together with outsiders listening in, there’s a stiltedness that occurs in the God-ward relationship. When such interactions become the norm over a long period of time with one dire need followed by another and another and another, even times of private intercession and fellowship are strained. It’s like living in a theater where somebody is constantly yelling, “Fire!”

And this has been my life for longer than I care to report.

Look, I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been around the sun more than 65 times. I’ve been married for 46 years and a Christ-follower for 43. There have been countless seasons of joy as well as stretching in my spiritual life. 
I KNOW that God never leaves me nor forsakes me. Hebrews 13:5 
I KNOW that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 
I KNOW that God’s plan for me is for my good and not to harm me so that I will have hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I have more than one Bible that is heavily marked. There are notes with references filling the inside cover pages of all of them. I’ve raised children and cherish grandchildren. I served my husband and the Church for 30 years of his pastoral career. I am blessed to walk beside global women in the pilgrim journey. I’m drenching myself in Scripture as I write my third book that’s based on a biblical character. And yet I can tell the stress has taken its toll.

It’s time to assess the unhealthy spiritual habits I’ve developed and exchange them for healthy ones. 

Beginning steps:
  • Crawl up into my Abba Father's lap and search His face to find His love for me reflected in His eyes.  Psalm 23
  • Invite the Spirit to lay bare those places that require my confession and repentance that I might revel anew in His forgiveness and purification.  1 John 1:9
  • Drink of the Savior's life-renewing water and commit afresh to rest in Him where I live and move and have my being.  Acts 17:27

I have dreams and goals I want to reach, but setting any of them on my own according to my falleness-driven and thus-perverted will is more than foolhardy. That road only leads to frustration and destruction. I want to make my way yoked with the Good Shepherd.  John 11:11 and Matthew 11:29

Yep, it's time to retrain my spiritual muscles according to our marriage verse.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV 1984

I sure do hope God’s got it on His agenda for me to be able to put on my socks by myself real soon.

How about you?
Do you find yourself spinning in circles and not able to make headway?
Could it be that you too have been caught in a tunnel of tragedies of one type or another?

Perhaps now is the time for you too to turn off the carousel and nestle into the Father’s embrace. Come join me for His glory and our good.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hung Up in the Dark?

We're still reading through the book of Numbers. 

I'm still soaking up Truth and joy.

We were in chapter 10 today, but a cross reference took me back to Exodus 40:17.

"So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year."

This is a simple statement that signals how long it took, after escaping Pharoah, for the Israelites to build the tabernacle of the Testimony. They spent one full year gathering materials and following the specific directions God gave them. The primary assignment for the first year of freedom was to construct a central place to worship the great I AM.

Things got interesting less than two months later.

"On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the Testimony. Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. They set out, this first time, at the LORD's command through Moses." Numbers 10:11-13

This was not a helter-skelter, grab a bag and go departure. 

Verses 14-36 provide extensive information about the details of the journey: how the divisions proceeded, who their leaders were, what the tasks of the Levites were, how Moses addressed the LORD on rising to move and stopping to rest. 

One specific point stands out to me.

"The tabernacle was to be set up before they arrived." Numbers 10:21

The passage could be seen as simple information about a change in location. Since God chose to have the episode recorded and protected through the years, it speaks to me about a much larger dynamic.

1) When I find myself caught in a set of circumstances God has arranged I want to be alert that He's probably got more in mind than spinning my wheels. I want to make the most of every situation the Father orchestrates to nurture my growth and development. My recent surgery and recovery is an excellent case in point.

Please cause me to harken to Your voice, especially when I feel stuck, Dear Abba.

2) When it's time to move onward God will provide a signal that will be clear. It may not be as obvious to the eye as a visible cloud that drifts toward the horizon or a pillar of fire to light a path at night. I want to keep my heart and mind tuned to recognize the message when it's given. It could be as obvious as a return to full mobility.

Please keep me vigilant and responsive to Your call, Gracious LORD.

3) When God gives the specific direction and process for stepping out, it may not be about how to line up. The example given here is that the place of worship was the most significant item to transport. And it was to be erected before the camp as a whole settled into place. I want to maintain the precedents God set for the Israelites; trust, obedience, worship.

Please secure my thoughts and attitudes to Your priorities, Glorious Father.

How about you? 
Do you ever feel like you're stuck in a brown paper bag?
Do you try to fight your own way out or do you turn to God?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's a Long Way to Tipperary

Okay, it's time for true confessions.

The craziness that was me the morning of Friday, 21 November 2014.

Besides, it might be good to share some coping skills for the next time you're facing surgery or some other procedure that might not be your first choice.

"I hurt." 
This two-word sentence was repeated numerous times. 
I think I was trying to tell myself the reason I was there. 
It might have also been so that when I came out of the OR I would remember why I agreed to go into it.
Or maybe it was so the people around me would be extra gentle.

"I don't want to do this."
This six-word sentence was repeated numerous times as well.
I was working hard to express my feelings out loud since I couldn't give into them and run out the door.
I might have been hoping somebody would hear and rescue me.

"I don't want to put my clothes in a plastic bag."
This sentence was only said a few times at one particular point.
I was expressing my feelings since once again I couldn't do anything about them.
I didn't like it that my 'worldly goods' were being reduced to a few items in a plastic drawstring bag.
I might have been hoping a smiling somebody would pop up with a velour clutch and help me nestle my clothes neatly inside.

"I wonder how long they'll wait if I don't crack the door."
This sentence was a last ditch effort to avoid the whole thing.
I figured that if I just sat and waited maybe nobody would notice I hadn't signaled I was dressed in the dreaded johnny coat. 
I might have been hoping they would just move on to the next patient and I'd be free to go home - through no fault of my own, of course.

"This has to be the second biggest cultural lie."  
(right after the 'Agree' click on the computer)
That's when they offered me the Consent Form and held out a PEN.
They actually expected me to write my name in ink saying I understood what was going to happen and all the possibilities that might arise AND I gave them permission to do whatever needed to be done.
How sick is that?
WHO could ever read the entire document and comprehend what the words meant while the medical world is swirling around preparing you for the dastardly deed?

Thankfully the medical team realized my humor was part of my coping mechanism. 
Before she handed me the pen, Dr. Wiley's assistant Jenna looked me serious eyeball to serious eyeball and asked if I was prepared to go ahead with the procedure. 

In my most confident voice I said, "Yes." 
And the rest, as is said, is history.

You may wonder where the title of this post came from. I'm not exactly sure why the tune popped into my head when we went into that prep room, but it did. Perhaps it's because I felt as if I were heading off to war and I wasn't sure what would happen. That's the title God gave me that day so I posted the song below.

No confident walk through Bible verses this week.
No clever points about how to handle a conflict or confusion.
Just the real me in real life.

The only thing I can say about dealing with an upcoming STRESS is 

I can confirm that God was very close to me through my time at Concord Hospital. He's also with me at home where I'm getting ready to graduate to a cane. How cool is that?

Some of you may wonder how I retained all these details. It's because my Honey was my scribe. Thanks, Honey.

And as for that above photo? It was taken a couple of years ago as a spoof for a friend's birthday. Everyone was dressing up like old ladies to make her feel better. Since I couldn't be there, I sent along a photo of myself in similar costume. Now that I've posted it on the internet myself I trust I've cancelled all threats to blackmail. Right, Aunt Becky?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Keeping Christ in Christmas - Devotional

Maintaining a biblical framework in the midst of a massive onslaught of materialism is not an easy task.

Perhaps you, like many others, could use some support in finding your way through the seeming minefield of holiday opportunities. Families are being stretched more and more in time and energy and I want to encourage you.

I've written a booklet titled Celebrate the Newborn King: 25 Advent and Nativity Readings. It's geared toward children of varying ages and abilities, and includes a Bonus for parents, grandparents, guardians and caring adults.

I developed this resource as we raised our own children. We found it helped us sustain a biblical approach to the season from the early years right into their teens. We even learned a lot along the way. Many have asked us for their own copy and it's available to you as a gift for the next two days only.

Head over to Children in Church to discover the exciting offer we're making.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Not my Table?

A friend came by today [when the sky was clear of snow] and read to me from God's Word. We were sharing afterward and she said, "I just want to make sure that I don't have any unconfessed sin in my life." 

Our relationship is long and close so I'm well aware of how deep her commitment is to confess every sin before the Father to receive His promised forgiveness.  1 John 1:9

Her comment reminded me of a meaningful conversation I had online yesterday. I was messaging with a friend when he wrote, "I don't want to be the Peter who renounces Christ when things get hard." 

Even without reading the words he typed, I know this young man's heart. It is filled with ardor [go ahead and look it up] to be faithful to The Savior. 

These intense convictions shared in the midst of godly fellowship made me wonder. Do I carry such a singular devotion in my spiritual life?

Yes, it's there. Dear LORD, please make me "mature and complete"*

The more I think about my friends' statements, the more I find myself thanking and praising God. There are a lot of reasons to do that on Thanks-giving Eve, but here are three fresh ones from me.

1. God knows His own, conforming my long-time friend into the likeness of His Son, our Savior. There will be heartache, but it's impossible for any of us to ignore Him.

2. God is faithful, nurturing and discipling my young friend toward the calling He's placed on his life. There will be ups and downs, but it's impossible for the chosen to fall away.

3. God is sovereign, arranging every aspect of my life to develop maturity. There will be lively and lonely seasons, but it's impossible for the justified to avoid growth.

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."  Romans 8:30

I'm delighted as I grasp the Truth. It's not up to my lady friend to chase down every sin that might be hiding in a corner. It's not up to the young man to be hyper-vigilant about every breath he takes. It's not up to me to hold a measuring stick to every moment of my day. 

We do need to be diligent in our walk with Christ. It is not a casual way of life. But none of us need to be on a campaign to purify ourselves. That's God's job and He does it perfectly. 

I am totally thankFUL for God's Word. Whenever I need to find my way out of a confusing jumble or a simple wonder the Truth provides the stronghold and foundation I need to make sense of life. For that matter, the Truth causes peace and rest to engulf my heart and mind. 

How about you? 
Do you find yourself returning to a basic commitment that drives your spiritual life? 
If so, perhaps like my friends and me it's time to stop the striving and 
rest in God's provision to meet it. 
What would it feel like if we agreed to let the Father work to meet the exact goal and purpose of our lives?

*from James 1:4

My friend Lori Roeleveld told me I could hijack the song from her blog today, One Microscopic Zygote of Thanksgiving. Make a visit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lovelace Video #1

Delighted to offer you a peek at a first-ever video by my Honey and me.

Once you see it, let me know what you think in the comments.

Then rush on over to Children in Church and Subscribe.

You won't want to miss the upcoming Special Offer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to be a Big Girl

"Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." Omar N. Bradley (1893-1981)

I guess a guy who served in the US Army during both World Wars, from Infantryman to first-ever chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would know something about bravery. General Bradley's time with Eisenhower in North Africa and again at Normandy should be enough to prove that to anybody.

And so this week I look to General Bradley's definition as I face major surgery. I want and need to respond to all the activities and interactions of this event in ways that will please and honor God. I just need to figure out how to do that when I'm scared more than halfway to death. 

The final decision to undergo a hip replacement was mine; my conclusion that this is God's provision for me. It's been a long time coming and that's meant increasing discomfort and limitations over nearly three years. For a long time it was easier to cope with the pain and disruption to my life than consider a larger version of the same things via an operating room and rehabilitation. 

In the midst of the heart-wrenching reality of walking forward into a painFUL procedure with unknown results, I turn toward God, my only source of security and strength. It's as if He speaks directly to me through His Son.

I wonder when Christ might have faced something similar. His words from Gethsemane come to mind, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." "Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." Matthew 26: 38, 39, 42  

Jesus the Christ even fell on his face to the ground when He prayed in the Garden. He knew He wasn't heading off to a pizza party either. Yup, I'm pretty sure Jesus knows how I feel.

And yet, in spite of all that very real human emotion He carried, my Savior chose to move forward in the plan the Father laid out for Him. The same plan that's been in place before They even set the foundations of the world. The Christ of God actually walked forward into a horrifying death on a cross in spite of the all-too-human fear His must have felt. May His Name be exalted in all the earth.

Look, I know I'm not on a par with the Son of God. He was and is perfect. I am far from it. He was and is wholly divine. I am completely fallen flesh and blood. 

On the plus side though, this same Jesus the Christ is my Older Brother, a role model of sorts for me. I want to follow His example as fully as the Father will allow and equip me. He's also my Advocate so I expect He's already whispering in my Abba's ear on my behalf.

When I go to the pre-op class on the 18th I want to put my debilitating fear in a box so I can digest the information that's given and ask whatever questions I have in order to be properly prepared. 

On the 21st I will need to put my nearly-overwhelming fear in a box when I check into the hospital and begin the actual surgical process. 

For sure, I will need to add a chain and padlock to that box when they wheel me down the hallway and through the doors of the OR. 

I'm thinking the only way I'll be able to accomplish these monumental tasks is going to be the strategy my LORD displayed. I must ignore everything my senses will try to communicate to me. Instead I will fix my mind and heart, my entire being, on the All-sufficient One who made me in His image and watches over every detail of my life with His intimate, everlasting, and omnipotent love. 

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Isaiah 26:3

Are you facing something that means you have to be a Big Girl?
If so, let's pursue Jesus' strategy together.
You can pray for me and I will pray for you.

*unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from NIV1984

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dja Ever Notice?

I. Something wonderful appears in a believer's life; a surprise gift  or positive turn of events.

Common responses:
"It's God. It's all God."
"What an answer to prayer!" 
"Thank you, God. I praise Your Name."
"God is on His throne and all is right with the world."

II. Things don't go the way a believer hopes; plans fall apart or an opportunity disappears.

Common responses:
"What's going on? I don't get it."
"I prayed but it didn't do any good."
"God, where are You? Do you even care?"
"The enemy must be having his way with me."

Why do our responses change so dramatically based on circumstances?

I want to develop calm, consistent, Christ-honoring responses no matter the situation.

III. How to honor God when I can't figure out what's happening.

Backup & Breathe
Pause my emotional response and take in the new reality.

Remember & Rely
Turn my heart and mind toward the God that I know and trust Him.

Consider & Choose
Pray about the new set of options and pursue the one that will please my loving Father.

How would these steps help you when things don't go your way?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gut Stomped

Has it ever happened to you like this?

You have a friendship that makes you feel completely understood. The openness between you is about more than the fact that you're both in similar stages of life. 

There's something in the way you both see challenges and respond to them. You enjoy the mutual support you provide each other, sometimes giving and other times receiving. 

The time comes when you feel confident enough to share that one big event in your past that always makes you cringe. Or maybe it's the ongoing temptation that most causes you to stumble. Then again, it could simply be the reality behind the upbeat image others make of you. 

You head into that conversation with expectations you can't quite articulate, but they're all positive. You're fully convinced the strength of your relationship can bear the presentation of the topic, will actually flourish because of your deep investment.

But despite your heart's desire and careful efforts it's not to be.

The acceptance you desired doesn't materialize. The insights you craved are not voiced. The support you desperately needed is non-existent. 

You feel judged and found wanting. Your friend deserts you ... lock ... stock ... and barrel. And you feel abandoned because you have been.

What do YOU do?

My first reaction is to totally shut down. Somehow I take that massive and intimate rejection and paint all my relationships with the same color. I find myself drowning in self-pity as I question my worth. On my good days I avoid re-counting to others the unjustified damage I sustained. I get so wrapped up in the incident and the feelings it generates that my life in Christ fades into the background. 

"It should not be so," I tell myself. "LORDI want balance, and fulfillment, even joy in my life."

Thankfully, He hears me. EVERY TIME.

This weekend my Abba Father met me in this very valley through a novel. It's a compelling account of the life of Rahab, the harlot from Joshua 2 who was used and discarded over and over again. The biblical setting is historically sound. The characters and events are fictionalized. The interweaving somehow brings indescribable strength to the message the author offers. 

"That evening, after they had finished supper, Rahab disclosed some of these thoughts to Miriam. The kind of vulnerable openness required for such a conversation represented a new territory for Rahab. The openness and vulnerability in her relationship with Salmone had begun to influence her other relationships as well. Rather than holding her secrets close to her chest for fear of being rebuffed, she shared them candidly. Feeling secure in Miriam's love, she was able to be honest about her shortcomings. This vulnerability was rewarded with an experience of intimate belonging. She felt truly connected to Miriam. And the more she shared, the less lonely she felt."  Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar, page 307

#1. Trust God.

#2. Pursue God.

#3. Honor God.

"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you."   
2 Chronicles 20:12

"Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."                     Hebrews 11:6

When people fail us and the world makes no sense let's choose to focus on God with confidence, commitment, and courage. Will you join me?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Heavenly Rearguard

I had a marvelous time last weekend at the New England Christian Writers Retreat. The accomplished faculty as well as the talented attendees poured into my life in amazing ways. Early morning prayer gatherings and worship song sessions along with quiet work and devotional opportunities contributed to the richness of my experience. I came away with a treasure trove of insights and excitement, dreams and goals. 

Can you guess what happened after that?

Oh yes, it was a blessing to come home and share with my Honey. I detailed my personal highlights Sunday evening and have been going through my notes with him ever since. As we discussed the information and ideas we created categories and lists. The first blush of all of that was mutual excitement and inspiration.

Until . . . Wednesday.

That's the day my Honey was stuck in bed with a sore back. Our first serious ministry powwow that morning didn't happen. I had to let him to rest while I tried to figure out what I could do on my own. The progress balloon lost its helium and my face hit the dust. 

What now, Lord? Did You bring me way up high just to let me crash?

Some of you may be thinking I'm pretty dense. After all, it often happens that when a child of God enjoys an especially meaningful or productive season in His presence the unseen world reacts. There's a sort of backlash from the enemy to engulf the newly acquired energy and enthusiasm in flames. It didn't take me long to realize that scenario was likely what was going on, but the smoke-filled funk continued. 

It was as if there were a firestorm going on inside my mind and body. I couldn't think straight and caught myself simply wasting valuable time. My heart kept trying to convince me to give up and go back to bed. I slumped around in my bathrobe for hours making superficial attempts to get something ... anything ... done. 

I was feeling sorry for myself and getting nowhere fast. 

By mid-afternoon I finally gave up and did what I needed to do. I called out to the One who understands my confusing plight. He knows what it's like to press forward in the Father's call amidst the realities of this fallen world. I pleaded for help from the One whose compassion and power are endless and ever-available.

And He heard me.

"The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them."  Psalms 145:17-19

I told the Shepherd I was lost and couldn't find my way. A common sense strategy came back to me. When you're lost, go back to the last place you knew where you were. I took my heart and mind back to the retreat where I'd enjoyed a special closeness with my Abba Father.

Gradually my spirit revived. I sat at the keyboard and developed the first draft of my personal agenda, coming out of the responses to the survey many of you provided.

I am a writer, speaker, Naomi.
I inspire women to take on the realities of life with confidence, conviction, and courage as we move forward toward balance, fulfillment, and joy.

That might not seem like much for a full day's work, but those statements represent a huge step forward in the vision God is building into my Honey and me. I am grateful beyond the moon.

I continue to ponder God's intervention that day. I know it came to me not because I was experiencing victory, not even because I was fighting with vigor. God reached out and rescued me because He is the Rescuer. He chose me before He even spoke the words, "Let there be light." He knows all about me and my life and has stationed a rearguard to help me when the spiritual battle rages. 

A rearguard is the soldiers positioned at the back of a body of troops to protect their comrades from attack either as they advance or retreat. The rearguard provides whatever support is necessary. Wikipedia says rearguard tactics include "blocking, defending, delaying, or interfering with advancing enemy forces in order to gain time for the remainder to regroup and reorganize." 

That's exactly what happened. My heavenly rearguard stepped in and gave me time to remember what I know is True. They blocked the enemy's messages so I could re-tune my ears and heart to the Father's words. Then they interfered with the feelings of discouragement and brought clarity to my mind. I revel in the faithfulness His promises.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you.
and the glory of the LORD will be your rearguard.  Isaiah 58:8  NIV1984

I'm beginning to think a rearguard is a standard provision to those who love God. Have you ever met yours? When was the last time they revived you?