Tuesday, September 30, 2014

For All That He Is {GratiTuesday}

Ever read an article about a health issue and think wow that sounds like so-and-so, and then you visit your health care provider and they diagnose you with that thing that you thought applied to everyone but you?

I'll just assume yes for the moment. And say: Me too.

So was a pretty major happy point of last week. (Other than my husband having a marvelous and inspirational time at a conference and making it home safely.)

Because there is comfort in having someone look you in the eye and tell you that you aren't crazy for your blood pressure spiking when your all your children talk in the same house, in the same room, at the same time. And there is comfort in friends checking up on you because you finally admit out loud that you are stressed and need to say no because you are just tired of being a monster. And there is comfort in being held.

There is comfort in a professional writer telling me that I am a writer so act like it. And there is comfort in another professional mom writer telling me it's ok to cry because motherhood is like negotiating with tiny terrorists, only harder.

There is comfort in the surrender.When I tell God the honest truth that I am looking for the minimum. How much do I need to read, pray, write, sing to Him to just make everything ok? Twenty minutes before I start the day? A quick prayer before the I want's and I need's swallow my energy and patience?

Ok. That is all I am looking for. But that is not what God offers. He offers joy. Joy to the full. So a few mornings ago, I planned to climb the verses in the Psalms rung by rung out of my pit of exhaustion and I made it three verses before I saw Psalm 5:3.

O Lord, in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. 

About that time Pandora started playing one of my new most favoritest songs by Rend Collective:

All that I am for all that You Are, my Lord.
All that I have for all that You Are.
You're the pearl beyond price, greater than life.
All that I am for all that You Are.

Each morning is a surrender. Sacrifice it all. The fatigue. The plans. Give it all to the Lord- my Lord. Your Lord.

And then He does just the most amazing thing. He gives us Himself.

"Watch this," He says. And He takes the tired. He takes the schedules. Plans. Words. He infuses them with His Spirit, His love. He transforms it with His presence. He gives peacecomfortjoy without measure. He does what we would do for our own children whenever possible. What love. What treasure. Because He treasures us. He treasures you.

our ears to Your voice
our eyes to Your presence
our hands to Your work
our mouths to Your praise
our feet to Your will
our minds to Your wisdom
our hearts to Your love.

Happy, joy-full week to you all!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dethroning Your Fear {Three Word Wednesday}

It is often said that people and animals respond to a threat in one of two ways.

Fight or Flight.

Then there's fear.

Fight or Flight- that's all survival there. Survival instinct. It is something that works beyond fear. In spite of it.

Fear works a lot like stress. Its result- paralysis.

Months back, I chose a word for this year. I prayed, sought, studied. "Fearless" commanded all other words silence, and refused to relinquish its hold on my psyche. So I chose it, and was soon warned that choosing that word could mean God would mess with me in that area. The prophecy was true and I can tell you that I have suffered more at the hand of fear this year than I can ever remember before.

That being said, I can hardly remember what I ate for breakfast, so my memory is not the most reliable gauge of my overall emotional health.

Still, the tunnel seems to be coming to an end- the light approaching ever brighter.

I can move and breathe again.

Too long have I been locked in an upper room for fear of... whatever. Name it.

I put on a good show. Muddle through in spite of the crippling thoughts that threaten to undo me. There is a lot to fear in this world, and all sorts of them have been seeking the throne in my heart reserved for God.

Not gonna lie, they have budged themselves on there more than once.

I'm not using the "respect" definition of fear. I'm talking idolatrous fear.
Because having no other gods isn't always about loving something more than God. Oftentimes, it's about ascribing more power to things other than God. Like all those things we fear.

And don't think for a second that you have to wait until you are completely immobilized by fear before it is a problem. No phobia diagnosis necessary. The moment it robs you of peace in the Lord, the moment it plants the seed of doubt, that's when it is a problem.

If we think too quickly about it all, we may try to find some way to justify our fear. I'm a mom, I'm supposed to worry. (Lie.) We are tempted to give fear credit for the fact that we are mobilized to take the reins and act in our communities. Or read our Bibles. Like those fears are driving us to our knees before the Lord.

Only fear does not do that. Ever. Survival- that's different. Love. Mercy. Grace. Those gifts from God are alone what send us searching for His peace.

Fear locks us away. It is a cunning bully that gradually shoves us in with the crowd that believed in Jesus, but were too scared to confess it because of what others might do. It leaves us helpless, frozen on an ocean in a squall.

It deafens us to Jesus' words:

"It is I; do not be afraid." (John 6:20)

It robs us of the gifts that are rightfully ours as heirs to the kingdom of God:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives so I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

And God knows that. It is recorded in history as one of the first emotions felt by our first mother and father after the Fall. He knew way back when, before Creation, that we would need a Savior. And that we would need a Helper. And He delivered. Just like God always does.

God may give us more than our feeble selves can handle, but His promise of salvation and a Helper are guarantees that offer real hope. Because there is nothing He cannot handle. Nothing.

Drop-kick our fear and deliver us every day, Lord.

Linking up today with simply wonderful Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Your Outside Voice! {Three Word Wednesday}

It could have annoyed me. The squealing, the dawdling, the giggling. I could have let it get to me. Had my children been the culprits and my attitude gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, it most certainly would have.

But it was me. Me! Squealing. Dawdling. Giggling. With one of my very dearest friends. And then we added another friend to the mix and it escalated.

Time to myself is a rarity and a gift. Literally. A birthday gift. A night away. Without the "office." I love my job, but everyone needs a moment to give your brain a break from responsibilities. Even homemakers.

So there we were doing all those things that girls a fraction of our age do, and loving it. And after our stay, right after the magnetic plastic keys were placed at the front desk, I turned around and saw her.

My aunt. From Chicago (which was hours and hours away from the hotel, by the way.) I called her name. She turned, did a double take. 

Then came the shriek. The scream. The unavoidable utterance that disregarded the dozen or so other people in the room. We used our outside voices.

Hugsscreamsquestions! "What are you doing here?! This is SO WEIRD!"

My uncle and cousins joined in. It just so happened we were in the same city (2+ hours from my home), same hotel, on the same night. And had our schedules been off even 10 minutes we wouldn't have ever known it had happened. Thanks, God. Still thanks. You're the best. 

Introductions were made with my friend. More hugs. Goodbyes. And I climbed in the truck high on love.

Driving home I thought that's gotta be what heaven is like. Enjoying our friendship and freedom, and then screaming. Uninhibited shouts of joy! Imagine joining our brothers and sisters in eternity and all the shouting. What a party!

The thing I tend to forget is that the party starts here. Shouting for joy happens here. Happens now. No amount of junk the devil throws at us will quiet the joy and freedom we have received in Jesus. That's where satan trips us up. If he can quiet the true joy of believers, he can drown it out in the tears and murderous threats of hatred. When thanksgiving remains at a dull roar the lies of hopelessness flood our ears.

The reality is there is necessary grief at times. But there is necessary thanksgiving at all times.

I am too often silent. I feel it in my bones. The guilt of rejoicing in the small while others are in pain. The lies crowding my senses until thankfulness is not even a memory. 

But the Bible repeatedly tells us to use our outside voices. All the time. Sometimes we need permission. Whether you need it or not- here it is. Boast in who your God is. Boast in His love. His power. His resurrection. His goodness. It is your privilege. Your gift.

Let's get noisy, people! Praying your joy is raucous today. Raucous!

Linking up with the beautiful and busy Simply Beth again today!

If you are looking for a soundtrack for your joy, either to inspire it or reflect it, may I suggest the newest album from Rend Collective? It is raucous in the best possible way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

At All Times {Three Word Wednesday}

Do you find it odd that at the most scary part of a 24 hour period, that is the time when we are supposed to find rest?

The world has been getting to me lately. Quite honestly, it has kept me up at night. God's fearless wild woman trembles in the face of imaginary bullies. The ones that would rob her children of their innocence, and her heart of its peace.

And when the preschooler comes in our bedroom in the black of night and says she's scared of the dark, I say "me too." Because moms and dads have nightmares too.

Because in the light we could see for miles. In the darkness, only a few feet.

Because I often feel like I'm driving our family west at dusk. Chasing the sun. Reaching to catch it before it sinks, and I drown in darkness.

The darkness deepens. Indeed it does.

And I pray, "Lord, with me abide."

And He says, "I do."

I confess. I search frantically for headlights and reflectors to light the way. Because I don't trust God. He taunts me over the horizon. Drive further, faster. Come get me.

That's my emotions. My weak faith takes over.

That's not God.

He does not taunt. His "I do" promises I am.

His I am is eternal. Inescapable.

No high-speed chase of fleeting fancy.

He pursues. I wait.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from Him comes my salvation.
Psalm 62:1

Rest does not depend on our circumstances. The great illusion is that it will come when our situation changes. When we move. When our kids grow older. But the truth is there will always be a new fear or struggle to replace the old one. 

Rest can only be found in the unchanging I am. Ever present. Ever powerful. Always Mercy. Always Love. 

And He will remind us of that in the dark places. When He speak
s peace and rest into our sin-weary souls. It is no accident that our physical rest is to be found when the darkness is deepest. It is a reminder to rest in Him. In Him alone.

Praying your hearts are refreshed in Him.

Simply serving love with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday. For more refreshment, visit her over there and read some amazing writers. Love you all!