Sunday, August 12, 2012

Convicted to Write

Confession time -- I have abandoned writing because of a sad addiction to facebook.  That's like abandoning a steak at Perini's for a Big Mac, just because you don't want to drive the extra distance.  Yuck.

But today I realized how essential writing is to my health and my relationship with God. 

Last night, I came across my journal from 5 years ago - written in the months before and after we lost Lia to stillbirth.  I cherish that journal - it helps me remember God.  Then today in church the theme of the sermon was Remember God.  We were challenged to remember his faithfulness in all circumstances and then to rely on that proven faithfulness when moving forward in obedience.  Toward the end, our pastor spoke of how he wished he was a natural journal writer.  He instead has developed other means to help him remember the works of God in his life.  I am a journal writer - a journal writer who has written only 2 pages in 5 months -- I guess that would explain why life lately has felt like a long bike haul up a mountain with two flat tires.

Every person has a means of responding to and remembering God.  Some paint, some write poetry, some sit quietly, some sing or compose.  I was designed to write.  If I am not writing, I am not responding to God.




Friday, March 30, 2012

Anxious

Tomorrow, Friday, is a big day for me.  I have been struggling with an abdominal injury for nearly 3 years, and tomorrow we travel to Dallas to meet with a surgeon who may be able to correct the problem.

But today I am anxious.  I have my mind all wrapped around what the consultation will be like, wondering if they truly will have my best interest in mind, wondering if they will understand my descriptions of symptoms.  I am anxious because the last 3 years medically have felt like a brick wall.  I thought I was heading down a good and promising path only to smack my face, bruise my ego, and expose my weak and doubting spirit.

But the past month has felt remarkably different.  New hospital, new surgeons, new city, new insurance, and suddenly the path feels smooth.  Each step of the way this month, from new CT scans, changing insurance, and ordering medical records has been a complete breeze with people along the way giving helpful counsel and pointing me in directions I would never have considered. 

Yet I keep bracing myself for the brick wall.

And today was the worst of all.  The entire day felt like a vain search for some kind of reassurance.  I wanted so badly to know that Friday would go well, that I completely forgot to take care of Thursday's own things.  But this evening an unusual request from my daughter brought me back into focus.

At bedtime, Jordan asked me to read outloud from her "Jesus Calling" devotional book.  I have only read from the book once before, and the directness of her request made it clear this was an important thing for me to do.  One look at the title of today's entry and I knew why I was to read it.

March 29th:  Everything In Its Own Time

"Stop trying to work things out before their time has come."

I had tried for 10 months back in 2010 to work things out in regards to my abdominal injury.  It lead me to 2 severe medical poisonings, muscle degeneration, digestive disorders, and much sadness.  I wanted to be healed so I tried to knock down closed doors, I tried to work things out, on my own, before its time had come.

"You can't take Friday's math test on Thursday.  You can't celebrate your August birthday in June.  And you can't make My will happen before the right time."

Well let's see - I have a big thing happening on Friday, but I am sweating it on Thursday.  And my birthday really does happen to be in August.  But seriously, I think the danger in trying to make something happen before its time is that God is forced to say No to something He may actually be planning to say Yes to! I have heard so many No's concerning my health, that I have come to believe that No is the final answer.  Perhaps the final answer is Yes - but only by His time.

"Your life will be much less complicated and confusing if you chose to live life one day at a time.  There is a time for everything - and I will help you do everything I want you to do, in its own time."

It does seem that God is helping this time.  Brick walls are gone and a pathway lies before us.

Today my mind was all wrapped up around Friday, and as a result I wasted my Thursday.  But God has Friday, and every day through eternity wrapped in His hand.  Which is where I need to rest tonight.

****************

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Perfect Love

Bedtime was almost a disaster tonight.  Lots of tears, lots of questions, and finally we got down to the root of the issue - nightmares.  My oldest had a big nightmare last night -- thunderstorms, dangerous utility poles, neglectful parents, panic, chaos.  And she went to bed tonight convinced that the dream would return again.

A part of me just wanted her to realize it was only a dream and go back to bed.  But the more I listened, I realized it wasn't just a dream.  It was a window into the depths of her heart.  And I needed to listen.  I needed to hear how she feared the storm, I needed to hear how she feared that I might not care if danger was coming.  I needed to hear that many other stresses of the past month have become deep fears within her heart and all played roles in her nightmare.  Listening gave me a view into her soul that wouldn't have come if I had simply said don't worry, it's just a dream.

But listening wasn't enough.  Listening to her dream didn't make her fear go away, praying for her didn't make her fear go away.  So next I tried what every natural teacher tries - education! 

Kaiden listened as I told her about fear - how fear is like a small seed that starts in our souls and seeks to grow and grow.  As it grows, it makes us believe things that aren't true and it makes us fear things that aren't even a part of the original fear.  I talked with her about how even though fear is real, fear is not good.  Fear happens when we choose to look at the bad instead of at God himself.  When Peter walked on the water, he was looking at Jesus.  But then he looked at the waves, fear rushed in, and he began to sink.  Fear keeps us from doing the amazing. 

I agreed with Kaiden that nightmares are horrible but that God can take the horrible and make it good.  He does not want us to fear, He does not want us to have nightmares, but He can use those nightmares to help us see the hidden things in our hearts.

Still the fear remained.  Now what... I had listend to the dream, I had talk with her about where dreams come from, I had helped her see what was hiding in her dream, and we had talked about how God and I really do love her...  what still was needed was faith.

When Peter looked at the waves and began to sink, he had to cry out - Lord save me.  Tonight in her heart Kaiden had to cry out in that same way.  She had to, by faith, trust that God could conquer her fear.  She had to believe that His Perfect Love would cast out her fear. 

It was beautiful to watch her fall asleep tonight, trusting in faith that God would push out her fears with His love.

Its funny, every time I put my girls to bed, I always hope for a quick night with no issues.  But my times of greatest joys are after a wonderful night of quiet whispers as we work together through the issues.

Father, thank you for letting me see into Kaiden's heart tonight.  Thank you for allowing us all to have dreams, and nightmares, and for being able to see the hidden places of the heart.  Most of all, thank you for a sweet time with my daughter.  Thank you for giving me wisdom to answer her questions.  Thank you for your Truth and your Perfect Love that is stronger than all our fears.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Right or Redeemed?

Tonight I realized that many major decisions in my life that I thought were completely right might not have been right after all.

Lost in thought today, I contemplated a major decision I made last August involving the sale our minivan and the purchase of a new one.  At the time, I looked at the many positive events surrounding the purchase - the location, description, and price of the new vehicle, and the interest of a friend in purchasing our old one - and used those events as justification that my decision was "right". 

But tonight, while driving in my new van and lamenting that I didn't wait an extra few months to purchase a van that may have better met our needs, I began to question the rightness of my decision.

I realized that I used the seemingly positive circumstances surrounding the purchase to convince myself that I was on the right path.  What if, instead of signs of MY right decision, those circumstances were actually GOD working my poor decision into something good.  What if the decision wasn't right, but instead redeemed?

God is in the business of redeeming - receiving the wrong and making it right.

Take Israel for example.  They wanted a king to rule them so they could be strong like all the other nations.  He warned them of all the negative consequences of having a king and yet they persisted in demanding one.  So God led Samuel the Prophet to select Saul as the first king of Israel.  The circumstances looked good - a strong, tall, capable man, in just the right place at the right time.  Requesting a king had not suddenly become right, instead, God was being gracious to Israel.  He was working the circumstances for their good, despite their wrong pursuit.  When Saul disqualified himself, God didn't back up and remove the monarchy, but instead provided a new king, David, a man after God's own heart.  And when David died, God chose Solomon to reign as the wisest man ever.

But God didn't just take the choice of demanding a king and turn it to good by providing quality kings.  God used the office of king to foreshadow and prepare the nation for the coming true King in Jesus Christ.  God redeemed the wrong choice of wanting a king by using that path to bring about the true King.  And that King, Jesus Christ, redeemed us all, bringing us from spiritual and eternal death to life through his death on the cross.

It seems I behaved a bit like Israel last August.  I wanted a van, and I wanted it right away.  I did care about what God wanted to provide, but the urgency I felt outweighed the counsel of God.  In hindsight, our purchase was probably a foolish choice.  But yet, thanks to God, our situation ended up good.  In my urgency I could have ended up in a big mess, but God, knowing I am but dust, provided a good vehicle, at a good price, in the right place.  My choice wasn't right, but God's redeeming it made it work.

What is humbling for me is realizing that the seemingly positive circumstances and outcome are not guaranteed proof of the rightness of my choice.  Instead, I am now convinced that the good things that did happen occurred through the redeeming power of God.

I am overwhelmed tonight thinking about a multitude of times in my life when I was sure I was making the right choice when in fact God was simply redeeming my foolish choice.  That is amazing grace.

I am humbled.  I am thankful.  It gives my heart peace to be reminded that acts of faith and acts of foolishness can both be worked for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Lord as I end my day, forgive me for the foolish choices I have made, both choices made knowingly and choices made in simple human ignorance.  Lord thank you for your redeeming power.  I pray that you take each step of mine, steps of faith and steps of foolishness, and redeem them to your glory.  And Lord, keep me humble.  Continue to gentle remind me that apart from you I can do nothing. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Current Contemplation... Keeping Covenants

During deployments, when I don't have my husband to keep up half the night with my rambling thoughts and random contemplations, I have some pretty hefty things that sit on my mind.

My current contemplation is how to best "keep covenant" with my husband when he is on the other side of the planet.  We, by being married under God, are in a covenant relationship with one another.  Keeping covenant means much more than just being faithful, it refers to the daily actions of the heart, body, and mind that maintain and nurture the covenant relationship.  Unfortunately, during a 6 month deployment, it is tempting to disregard the covenant.  Now, I don't mean I want to run off and have an affair.  I mean that it is challenging to figure out how to maintain and nurture the relationship.  I want to just say... "Hey, go have a nice 6 months and we'll catch up when you get back."  While that choice may be convenient for the moment, it is obviously unwise.

As I've contemplated my marriage covenant, it has forced me to consider my holy covenant with God as well.  He brought me into covenant with Himself, adopting me as His child, through the death and resurrection of Christ.  This covenant relationship, while permanent, requires covenant keeping on my part in order to experience the fullest blessings.  It requires daily activities of my heart, body, and mind to maintain and nurture the relationship.  But, like my husband, God is not exactly here right now.  So, until Christ returns it is tempting to say... "Hey, go have a nice time building the house in heaven and we'll catch up when you get back."

My relationship with God, and my relationship with Mark are both covenants, covenants that need constant maintenance to be kept strong.  I could ignore God and Mark for the next 6 months -- I would still be a Christian, and I would still be married, but I would lose all the blessings that come with "keeping covenant".

So how do I keep covenant with a husband on the other side of the planet and God on the other side of reality?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Update

It has been a long dry fall and winter in West Central Texas.  Dry outside, and dry inside my heart.

But God is gracious, and when we ask for wisdom, He comes alongside like a kind father and gives us guidance.  And the wisdom has been pouring down now for several days like a good steady tropical rain.

An update on us... Mark, after being mostly home for the past 18 months is officially deployed again.  He left in January and will return in July.  Emma will turn 2 tomorrow and speaks new words every day.  Jordan is 4 and is a bundle of energy.  Kaiden is 6 and amazes me daily with her intellect.  And I am busy playing Super Mom, and not always doing it very well.

Which brings me to an encouraging thought for the day.  What brings glory to God?  Is it a clean home, obedient children, participation in every possible religious activity, recycling all our boxes and cans, and evangelizing our neighborhoods?  No.  What brings glory to God is when we accomplish the work He gives us to do.  Nothing more. 

Jesus only had 3 years of activity ministry.  His life ended with only 11 disciples, and a couple dozen other followers, most of whom hid away in his final hours.  Yet, in his last prayer, he said ""I glorified You (God the Father) on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do."  He never did eradicate leprosy, He never did free all held captive in demonization, He never did convince Judas to have faith.  Yet He glorified God having accomplished the work which was given Him to do.

It is freeing to know that we are not measured by our own to do lists - which are often far longer than the day allows.  We only need to do what we have been given to do.  And graciously, with God's strength, we will always be able to complete it.

That is encouraging, like fresh rain on a dry earth.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Where is Daddy?

When Absence Doesn't Make a Heart Grow Fonder

Emma recently took on the habit of shouting out "Dada, dada, dada, dada..." as soon as we drove into our neighborhood.  We would pull up to the house and her hands would shoot up like a ref calling a touchdown.  With a big "yeah!" Emma would toddle into the house in pursuit of her beloved, and often hiding, Daddy. 

That habit has now disappeared.

Daddy has been away for 5 days.  Less than a week to me, an eternity to little Emma.  For the first few days, she would wander the house, looking.  When someone said the name Daddy, her face would brighten and she'd be off on the hunt.  And up until Sunday, she would still cheer when we pulled into the driveway.

We have tried the life size cardboard cutout affectionately known as Flat Daddy.  She gives it a suspicious look, she's not fooled.  To her, Daddy is gone.

As I held her close tonight, rocking her again to sleep from an 11pm teething pain, I thought a lot about her and her Daddy.  She loves him with all her heart, but just 5 days away from him and her affection is waining.

Then I thought about my Heavenly Daddy.

I go through seasons when I long to see Him, seasons when with excitement I start my morning ready to witness His presence in my life.  But there are other times when my affections simmer, times when I will go days without a thought of looking for Him.  Emma loves her Daddy and she would look for him constantly because He was constantly there.  My Heavenly Daddy is constantly present as well, but it is I who am unfaithful. 

Emma has gone 5 days without her Daddy, and now she has forgotten to look for him.  When I go 5 days without looking for my Heavenly Father, I begin to forget where He can be found.

What a humbling reminder that I need to keep seeking God daily!

Please take time today to pray for my girls -Emma, Jordan, and Kaiden.  It is a short trip for Daddy this time, but the impact on their hearts, and on mine, has still been great.  And please pray for the families whose Daddys are gone for far longer.  May they know the Heavenly Daddy who is always present.

And Lord, Heavenly Father, thank You for always being present.  I cannot imagine surviving this life without You.