Friday, October 30, 2009

Caffeinated Randomness...The Tale of Maggie

I was saddened to see that Caffeinated Randomness is ending. Andrea is closing her meme, but since I just started my dog series and I have three to go, we are going to keep it rolling for a few more Fridays.

I am telling the story of three most attentive friends, Sam (her post was last week), Maggie, and Tess. I am also going to throw a surprise in next week, so hang in there. It is Maggie’s turn. She is my 11 year old black Labrador Retriever, born April 4, 1998. Six months after adopting Sam, I adopted Maggie.

I thought that Sam would kill her at first. Another dog, in her territory? She didn’t think so. Every single time Maggie walked in the door from the backyard, until two years ago, Sam would jump on her head and growl. Maggie has the patience of Job. She never responded to that. There were, however, three times (in her whole life) that I saw her tell Sam to stop it. Let’s just say Sam listened. I was so proud that she stood up for herself.

So far we have a Schnauzer who thinks she is a Rottweiler, and a Lab who thinks she is a Schnauzer. I think that Maggie got this misconception from Sam. Sam, a Miniature Schnauzer, was an easy lap dog and Maggie longed to be. She never understood the problematic size difference, so on everyone’s lap she went. Awkward, really.

Two of the funniest things about Maggie:

Maggie is a gooser, which is so embarrassing with new company. She came about it quite honestly. Maggie LOVES attention. I used to get on all fours and chase Sam around the living room table. It was hysterical. Maggie could hardly stand to see Sam get all the attention, so she would come up behind me and goose me. It gets your attention! That began a spree of goosing, whether playing or standing. I am so proud.

Next, every single time I change the sheets on our bed, Maggie observes. She sits completely straight, watching every smoothing gesture and tuck. There is nothing that she loves more than our bed. Last year’s back surgery was Maggie’s nirvana. Her human, in bed, all the time was her time to shine.

Observing sheet changes is not the goal, however. Maggie waits until I am completely done. Then I smack the bed with my hand, which is her cue to get up. She lives for clean sheets. So, basically, I have not had a clean bed in eleven years.

What to say about Maggie? I am enlisting the help of some personality test questions to introduce you to my friends. I will use the same questions of each of dog, for comparison sake.

1. What three words best describe your personality?

Sleepy, Hungry, and Belly Rubbable

2. What three words would others probably use to describe you?

I have heard my mom say words like, tired girl, big hearted, and stubborn.

3. Where do you live now, and with whom? Describe the place and the person/people.

Mom and Dad, Sam and Tess.

We live in a house with two beds, and lots of cool tile for my morning, afternoon and night naps.

Our backyard lets me sun. I have a great tan.

4. Do you have any ailments or physical weaknesses?

I get a hitch in my get-along every now and then. Mom feeds me “a treat” every morning for that.

Mom, also, chases me down twice a week to clean my ears. I play hard to get. The belly rubs and treats are kind of worth it. Everyone gets treats, actually. I wonder how I could get all the treats.

5. If you were any other creature what would you be?

I would be pillow, or a door. If I were a door everyone would have to touch me on their way somewhere. How about a fluffy door?

6. What are your pet peeves?

The yard guys. All yard guys, in fact. I don’t like all of that noise; it keeps me up, but very entertaining.

7. What is your greatest fear?

Missing mealtime.

8. Do you care what others think of you?

Only if they decide not to cuddle or give treats.

9. What is your favorite food?


10. How do you deal with stress?

Shed, profusely. It keeps me beautiful.

God, thank you for Maggie. Her soft heart has made me a better steward. She has taught me the unique communication of a gentle soul. Maggie has rounded some of my corners and shown me what “no worries” really looks like. I don’t know what my life would look like without her.

Pet lovers unite! Leave me a comment and let me know what your pet(s) is/are like.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Was At The End of My Rope, Too

But if you will not listen,

my soul will weep in secret for your pride;

my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears,

because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive. – Jeremiah 13:17, NRSV

Sometimes, Christians make mistakes. Often, I do.

A friend of mine has been struggling under a situation for several years. I have been hurt over it, I have been angry about it, I have done the brain roll, I have cautioned her, I have listened to her, and I have prayed over her. The situation has not changed.

What do we do when people that we love are walking away from truth?

Years ago, I was engaged to a man, not my husband. I had walked away from the church and anything that I once believed hung by a thread. I had created a religious amalgam from all of my philosophical preferences. It could hardly be called spiritual, considering that it was all about me, although I would have claimed that I was spiritual.

The engagement was a mistake. It was blatantly disobedient to God’s word. In the middle of it, I rejected all wisdom. Apparently, I was so bold about it that friends and family did not question my behavior. No one said, “Hey, this isn’t the best for you”. No one.

I will be honest. In retrospect, I am most sad that no one acted on my behalf. I would like to think that people were weeping for my sin, desiring to intervene. I just don’t know that they were. How could anyone assume that I was actually happy in the middle of blatant sin? This has given me a heart for women in this position. God has sent many in my path. I find our stories similar.

The irony is that my sadness over my own situation has not changed my behavior toward my friend. I would like to say that I have wept for the sin of my friend frequently, but I have not. I would say that once or twice I have been that true of a friend.

For me, there was Paige, my Jeremiah. She actually worked for me. I still can weep from gratitude that she was sent into my life. In the midst of complete turmoil, she nudged me back. She never condemned me, but by watching her compassion and her own struggles, I was reintroduced to God’s character. She told me that she would pray for me. She was a drink of water in the barren desert.

I don’t know what she did in private, how she asked God to restore my life, but He did. Now, I am in this situation with my friend. I don’t want to hold the same assumptions that others held about me. I know, intimately, the sound of truth against a broken life. When I compared Paige’s words to my life, I could define my hopelessness. I know that heaven began preparations for my return in these moments.

For my friend I want peace, God’s love, happiness, a hope, and a future.

For Paige, I will give all the jewels in my crown and anything else she wants.

For myself, I want the heart of Jeremiah.

How do you react to a friend who is walking away from the truth?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Left In the Dark

Oh, I can barely contain myself. I have been with my mentor for a couple of hours this morning, and, as usual, God showed up.

I have been writing about transition. That explains what my life feels like right now; it is about “the next”, whatever that is. Often, transition in our Christian walk feels like the lights go out.

I am in a season of intense times with God. I have been in it since April. My days are planned around quiet times, often hours. I love it, but I feel that my season is changing.

My transition has been affirmed through the last few weeks. I have found that in my quiet times with God, He has moved just a little. I am humbled and grateful that it has made me want to reach further for Him. Let me tell you why…

In the past, instead of reaching further, I have stopped reaching. I have coveted that presence in the emotional space where it once resided. I have made the mistake of turning this movement of God against myself in mourning. If He does not stay fixed, then it must be my fault. Often, I have tried to analyze what I had done wrong. What did I do to make Him go away? Where should I be repenting?

This is a lie. God loves us more than we can imagine, more than I can imagine. If He moves, it is for me to follow. I have found myself simply desperate to follow Him. All that He had to do was move a little.

I do try to look to God in all things. I look to Him for my very life, but He is now calling me to watch for Him. There is a difference in looking to, and watching for. One lifts my head and the other makes me scan the horizon with anticipation. I have determined this, when God is on the move He wants my attention.

Let me give you an example that helped me. If you put a baby in front of a stimulus that repeats, eventually the baby’s heart rate will slow. It grows accustomed to the stimulus. If you introduce a new stimulus to the baby, the heart rate goes up. Yes, I am the baby in this scenario.

When God wants my attention, what better way than to take a step back? It makes me want Him more. Last month I reached for Him, assured of where my hand would land; and, now, I need to reach out to the unchartered, trusting that He will guide my hand right into the palm of His own.

So, I will raise my hands, cry out “Abba, Father” to find a resting place for my soul. I will worship Him and thank Him for this new season. God is on the move and that is a reason to rejoice, no matter what happens.

Do not remember the former things,

or consider the things of old.

19 I am about to do a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18 & 19, NRSV

I would love to hear what you think about times of transition. Have you ever stopped reaching, like me? Leave me a comment and let me know what is on your mind.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Making the Most of Circumstance

These are some things that I have been reading.

I think they tie together well.

“Here is the secret of Divine all-sufficiency to come to the end of everything in ourselves and in our circumstances, When we reach this place, we will stop asking for sympathy because of our hard situation or bad treatment, for we will recognize these things as the very conditions of our blessing, and we will turn from them to God and find in them a claim upon Him.” -A.B. Simpson

“When you get to end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” -Theodore Roosevelt

“In this age, which believes that there is a shortcut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest”. –Henry Miller

“Life Under God’s Control”

Surrendering your life to God’s control requires relinquishing your control and entrusting yourself to the One who knows far better than you how to manage your life! He created you and placed you in circumstances that are deliberately designed to cast your dependency on Him and to bring your life into submission to His authority. All Him to manifest His life through you! God does not require your perfection, but rather that your life be characterized by the pursuit of holiness.

My prayer through this…

Isaiah 30: 20 & 21, NRSV,

Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who's Wild Now?

I changed things up a bit today. Interestingly, the same advice given to married couples applies to our relationship with God. Sometimes, you just need to shake it up. Some of you might doubt that I have a wild side, but today I had my quiet time in the kitchen. Yes, I did. Who’s wild now?

My conclusion is…I am very human, and sometimes I need to change the look of my quiet times to stay motivated. Since I am communicating one-on-one with the Lord of hosts, He too, is probably urging me to see Him from another room in my house. I listened to some Old Testament, I read some Jeremiah out loud, and I read some Matthew quietly…all from the kitchen.

Could I actually learn something from a new room? Let’s see…

If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you,

how will you compete with horses?

And if in a safe land you fall down,

how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan? – Jeremiah 12:5, NRSV

The truth is that I don’t know how I will fare. When I have failed in the little things, how do I expect to succeed in the big ones? I have grown weary in some small areas of my life. Money is one that I feel I am just starting to understand.

Caring what others think is another area where I fall. I know that other’s impressions are of no eternal consequence but, sometimes, my immediate response is one of wanting some woman in Bed, Bath & Beyond to think highly of me. Considering that I am often there in my grungy clothes, even post-exercise, impressions might be strong smelling but they are not always strong. I have ways of keeping myself humble, without even trying.

You see, I will see the horses coming. The horses are easy to spot and hard to beat. I need to work on the time in between. I need to practice running where it safe, because I desire to not only survive these upcoming races, but succeed against the horses and the thickets of the Jordan.

Perhaps, part of not being wearied is striving to know God in new ways, to change our routine a little, making room for His revelation in other parts of our lives, or rooms of our house.

Do you need to change up your quiet times to keep you motivated? How do you do it?

God let us see the foot races and learn these lessons without growing weary. Let us stand strong in the safe lands so that we will fare well in the thickets of the Jordan. Prepare us for these days to come and refresh our knowledge of you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Caffeinated Randomness...The Tale of Sam

I am doing my part for Caffeinated Randomness on a Friday. Thanks to Andrea, over at Under Grace and Over Coffee, who thought this whole thing up!

This is pretty random.

I thought that I would tell the story of my three most attentive friends. They are my fuzzy muses, Maggie, Sam and Tess. It will be a series, don’t worry. It is kind of a post of thankfulness because they are under my stewardship, whether they want me or not; but, I definitely want them. They have been my companions through many different days.

I will start from the beginning…Sam, Samantha, aka Pookie, was born November 20, 1997. I called her Pookie for a long time because I didn’t know what to name her. We had a Saint Bernard when I was young, named Samantha; but this Miniature Schnauzer was nothing like that giant. Well, at least on the outside.

Samantha seemed to fit her, but I had a hard time disciplining her with all of those syllables, so Sam it was. She could, literally, fit in my hand after she was born. I got her at 6 weeks, and by my side she has stayed. For the first couple of years, she wouldn’t let anyone else touch her. She has come a long way. I wouldn’t call her cuddly, but she is very friendly.

Sam is the only one who has ever sent the puppy police to my house (a barking warning), and she is the only one who lived with me alone. Sam was my first pet as an adult. I got her when I was 23, just a baby myself. We grew up together.

Two of the funniest things about Sam,

She has a ticklish spot on her back. She makes herself crazy by backing up to things and bumping up against them. This sets off the spot. She doesn’t move away, though. She just stays there and bumps into the furniture over and over, while talking (she talks a lot). It is hysterical.

Last night, Sam was having trouble getting on the bed, so I helped her. She didn’t mind that I helped her but when I set her on the bed, she just looked at me and started talking. It was as though I offended her when she realized that she had been helped. She is extremely independent.

What to say about Sam? I am enlisting the help of some personality test questions to introduce you to my friends. I will use the same questions of each of dog, for comparison sake.

1. What three words best describe your personality?

The Boss…The Chief…Head of Security

2. What three words would others probably use to describe you?

I have heard my mom say words like, Loud…Grumpy…and Very, Very Brave

3. Where do you live now, and with whom? Describe the place and the person/people.

Mother, Father, Maggie and Tess.

I live in my fortress and I watch over my people day and night. I spend most of my time under mother’s desk, right in front of the big window. I see everything from there.

The other two canines are inconsequential.

4. Do you have any ailments or physical weaknesses?

I have no weaknesses at all. There is no foe on the earth to smite me.

Mother makes me take horrible liquid for arthritis and I have warts.

5. If you were any other creature what would you be?

I would be a lion, wait…a T Rex…no, I would be a Police Officer…or, maybe my mother’s boss.

6. What are your pet peeves?

Birds, that was a mistake. They move around my fortress. I just never get a break with all of the birds and leaves blowing in the wind…the wind blowing. All these things make me bark.

7. What is your greatest fear?

Someone will do something without my approval. These humans are sneaky.

8. Do you care what others think of you?

Why would I?

9. What is your favorite food?

The other canine’s food is always a tasty treat for the taking. Mother hates it…hysterical.

10. How do you deal with stress?

Bark, of course.

God, thank you for Sam. Without her rigidness, and prickly-soft disposition I would not have learned what it is to be silently appreciated, chosen for sacred affections, and the extreme loyalty of a friend. She has trained me well.

Are there little gifts that God has given you, along the way, to help you out?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Multitasking and the Death of My Memory

Just by writing this, I feel that I am letting down women everywhere.

I am a horrible multitasker.

It can be done, but as I was standing at the refrigerator getting a glass of water while trying to empty the coffee pot of any unused portion, I realized that I was sliding into the splits on my kitchen floor. Ironically, I maintained that I had it under control as my glass of water ran over and I spilled the coffee trying to right myself in front of the coffee pot. It got me thinking.

Recently, I was at Women of Faith, where Marcus Buckingham spoke. In his book, Find Your Strongest Life, he asserts that multi-tasking is a myth. He says, “…the average worker’s functioning IQ drops ten points when multitasking, more than double the four-point drop that occurs when someone smoking marijuana. (The analogy the researchers used is that a ten-point drop in IQ is equivalent to missing one night of sleep).”


I was with a dear old friend of mine, yesterday morning. Yep. I visited, instead of blogging. We went to high school together and the stories flowed. I found that they were mostly one-sided. He would tell something and I would tell him that I vaguely recalled it, but I have a horrible memory for those kinds of things.

The truth is that I have a horrible memory for a lot of things. My husband comes home at night and asks me about my day. I freeze. I have to work to recall what happened to me.

A woman’s life, my life specifically, lends itself to this multitasking lifestyle. So many things happen around us that we find minutes and days passing which are marked by the memory of enduring simultaneous tasks, and not specific events. Memories of layered processes are being formed with nothing remarkable to hold on to. I guess that we need those 10 IQ points for the remarkable.

I also need those 10 IQ points to keep from breaking glasses, burning food in the toaster oven, forgetting about things on the stove, leaving the water running in the bathroom, accidentally cutting myself, and getting frustrated because everything needs me at once. It doesn’t. I just create an immediate environment, where I feel like I will buy myself five minutes through simultaneous tasking. It is never true.

One of the greatest aids in analyzing my tendency to multitask and lose valuable life moments is also something that I mentioned in an earlier post. I have started running (click here for the gory details), well, let’s call it light jogging. The comment that I hear from people who hate running is, “It is so boring”. The truth is that it is not boring, but it requires that you entertain yourself.

It has really challenged me, because when you are running you have to think about something, besides hating it, to get it done. Then there is a point that you reach where you no longer think about not thinking about it. You just go somewhere else where your brain can empty itself and think one thought at a time. Revolutionary, I know! It gives a point of reference for the rest of my day.

I think that I have been urged to singleness of thought by this exercise. I am alone, with no distractions but a little worship music. It is easier to accomplish a run if I submit to the action, rather than count the seconds left in my miles. I want to transfer this mentality to my daily life. I want to honor the task at hand and move quietly from one to the next. Living in this moment and moving to the next with the possibility of remembering something usually lost in the shuffle. Think of conversations that could benefit from those 10 IQ points.

There are women, with whom I have spoken, who express real concerns about prayer time. To many women, quieting the mind for prayer is another task to endure. Does anyone else have trouble unwinding?

I am convinced that this lifestyle affects our quiet times. Part of saying no to multitasking is devoting all attention to one task. When we sit before God we twitch, make the grocery list, make mental trails, and work ourselves into a tizzy because we feel that we are dishonoring God by our brain in motion.

Prayer requires one line of thought. Reading the word becomes a conversation with the Spirit when there is one line of thought. When my life goes haywire, this is where I see the difference. If I can sit down and rest in the word and rest in prayer, it is a good day.

These are just some thoughts shared with the knowledge that there are other multi-taskers out there. I would love to know how you combat this tendency to spread yourself over the tasks of the day.

Or, I guess that I should start by asking the question, are you combating it? Leave me a note in the comment section, and let me know how you deal with multitasking.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Opening Wells Where The Waters Are Deep

I am in the middle of a lesson. I do not know the outcome, but let’s just say that God has my ear.

I am in Jeremiah because I had this series of weird dreams and Jeremiah kept coming up. So, to Jeremiah I went. I won’t lie; I feel a bit like Indiana Jones seeking out answers. It is pretty thrilling.

This morning, I found this.

As a well keeps its water fresh,

so she keeps fresh her wickedness;

violence and destruction are heard within her;

sickness and wounds are ever before me. (Jeremiah 6:7, NRSV)

Getting past the obvious…this was intended for Israel, not me. I get that. The relevancy of the prophets always amazes me, though. So, I am honored to learn from the relationship of God and Israel.

The well keeps its water fresh. Innermost is the water of our well. It has its own sound, its own rhythm. It is the undercurrent of the words and actions of a people, or a person. Everyone has this audible quality. It is the sound of our hearts. This is what can be heard by our friends, neighbors, those around us. The sound within our heart comes from the water of our well.

I fear failure more than anything else in the world. The water of my well is kept fresh by staying one step away from ridicule, shame, rejection and trust. I actively bubble in the effort to maintain my safety.

If I wanted to sound pious, I would say that I keep my water fresh with the word of God. Well, that is true. The word is my lifeline from this well in my chest. I must hold tight because my well is fresh with my defenses and cautiousness. It is in need of a formidable foe.

My well tells me that I couldn’t bear to be vulnerable to this world.

So, what is heard within me? What is the audible quality that penetrates through my words and expressions? What does my heart sound like?

No, I am not emotionally available.

No, I cannot open my life to that right now.

I am not willing to serve you in that capacity.

I don’t want people too close to my well. No one wants to hear the fear of another. Isn’t there enough fear in the world, already? The further that you get from the well where the word of God and my most secret thoughts reside, the safer I am.

The most sophisticated manipulation of our undercurrent is what we are willing to lay bare to our Creator. What does all of this fear and bubbling look like in front of God? Israel brought sickness and wounds; the exterior manifestation of an inward problem.

I can go for a long time without acknowledging the undercurrents of my life, even to myself. Occasionally, they will rise to the surface looking like momentary depression or a desire to hide away. Sometimes they will look like envy of those who seem to have no duplicitous waters running deep in their wells. At these times, I ask God to forgive me for my emotional state. We don’t talk about my fear. We don’t talk about my exhaustion from staying one step ahead of failure.

This is an old human pattern, to an old human problem.

Everyone has sin from the inside out. Everyone hates their sin from the inside out. This verse has challenged me to open up the well in my chest and lay it bare before the Lord of hosts, my Father.

I am sure that there are some of you who desperately want to be refreshed, but the task is daunting. Take heart. This is a God who did not forsake His people, but claimed them once and for all with the death of His son. His heart is so gentle and desires to beat with ours. He wants to be the voice heard within us, and the source of our fresh water.

Anyone want to go on this well-opening journey with me?

What is keeping your water fresh?

Father, thank you for calling us to genuine relationship. Lead us to freedom from all of the undercurrents of our lives. Bring us to know you as the sound of our hearts.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thinking About Eve

I cannot blame Eve because I understand her in my own way.

When I was younger, I would have watched that tree in the garden, waiting for its fruit to drop. Not one for waiting on anything, it would serve only to ripen the fruit, to guarantee the sweetness of my decision. Instinctively, I would have caught the first offering in mid-flight, to enjoy the taste of consequence without any damage to the experience.

I can’t blame her.

She had Adam telling her, no, don’t look there, We don’t do things like that”. A phrase I found empty and worthless to explain anything when I was young. Didn’t everyone understand that I did not want to be like them anyway?

When Adam stood beside her, He bit. I guess that we do, in fact, do things like that. I found that to be true from most of those who dared speak that phrase.

Eve, also, had God telling her to look at everything else that He had made for her. Look at Him, walking through the garden. Wasn’t that enough? Why wasn’t that enough?

I bear that rebellious nature. The majority of my life, I saw my actions without consequence, my rights guaranteed by my birth, and my belief that my choices were for my good. How could I harm myself? I understand Eve in my own way.

I did hurt myself. I did hurt others.

Your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies will convict you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, says the Lord God of hosts (Jeremiah 2:19, NRSV).

I am reading Jeremiah this week. The prophets always make me grateful that I have returned to God, and stopped watching the trees, day and night.

I returned when God overtook me, maybe while I was tree watching one day.

When He tells me, “No, this is not the best for you”, I find that, now, finally, my gaze can avert and I can realize that He is enough.

Are you, or have you been, a fellow tree watcher?

Thank you, My Father, for never letting me out of your hand. Put gratitude in my heart today as you gather those who love you. Give me the ability to divert my attention from the places that are not the best for me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Simple Words on a Friday

I write this short, little word to you today,

a) because it has been a spiritually crazy week, with lots of things for me to sort out before I throw them at you

b) because I have done more this week physically than any other week since my back surgery, and I am tired but feeling good (woohoo!)

c) because I am a little fussy about the fact that we will have temperatures almost reaching 100 degrees this weekend…again (isn't it fall somewhere?)

d) because my air conditioning broke again and it is going to be almost 100 degrees this weekend (I will not lose it like I did over the dishwasher, promise)

e) because, don’t we all want a break going into the weekend?

So, I was reading this verse this morning.

This has happened to me three times in the last two days, so I want to share…

Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22, NRSV)

Asking things that are in line with God’s will and commands, should be like asking a bird to fly. It is a given. The tipping point is my faith. Do I believe that God is who He says He is? Do I believe that He is capable of all things, including changing my feelings about my circumstance?

It is a wonderful comfort to me when I see God reciprocate in this way. He cares about all of my little things, as well as the big, reassuring me of His nearness.

So, this weekend, if you have a request, ask knowing that the Lord desires to give you His best.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sitting By The Roadside, In My Living Room

Building on our discussion, yesterday…

This morning I ran across this,

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him. – Matthew 20:29-34, NRSV

Old Road From Jericho to Jerusalem, Israel

I was so inspired by these verses.

Cry out

Call Him by name

Ask Him for mercy

Listen to Him asking what I need

Ask Him to open my eyes

See His compassion

Wait for His touch

Know that He can do for me what he did in Jericho 2000 years ago

I sat in my living room, calling out for His attention as if He was passing on a road in front of me and I could not miss this opportunity. My life depended on it. I called to Him for mercy, my Father, my Savior.

I need to be free from the lies of the enemy that mentally shackle me. Lord, open my eyes to see the truth. He heard me because of who He is. He knows the urgency of my request. I sat and waited.

I know that He is working in me to free me from untruth, and opposition from the enemy. This is what Jesus does. He frees His people.

Thank you, Father.

Does pride keep us from crying out like our life depended on it?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Food, Wheat and Pumpkins, Or Not

I had the best of intentions for today. I have the high school girls on Tuesday nights and so my house got cleaned before they showed up. That made it perfect for tonight when the women’s committee will meet here. I have some snacks but I planned to hunt for more. We can’t have people going hungry, right?

Also, one of my main interests for the day was pumpkins and wheat. I, apparently, found it vital to acquire wheat for some of my fall florals. It was a must for today. The pumpkins are down at the youth’s pumpkin patch. If you go during the day, there are no children. I can shop and chat with someone from my church, uninterrupted. It sounded like a splendid plan.

Food, wheat, pumpkins…and then I sat down for my quiet time.

I am not so sold on food, wheat and pumpkins, now. In fact, I had a really challenging time with Him this morning. He was not interested in pumpkins, food or wheat. He was not interested in my take on His word. He was not interested in what I wanted to talk about.

He had me write. He had me talk. He had me listen. I found something in Matthew 18 that had been waiting for this day. You know those moments when God reveals something and examples from your life flash before your eyes? It was that.

Matthew 18:3 & 4, NRSV, “…and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”

Most of the time that I hear about this, it is centered on becoming like a child. Most people envision carefree playing or being infantile, simple. There is a focusing statement that follows in verse 4. Become humble like a child.

Some words come to my mind when I think of the humility of a child.

I think of malleability. Children are not fully formed, so they defer authority to an adult. God assures us that we will be disciplined (I am familiar with this). He assures us that He is our Father and can be trusted in this role. Humility is conceding to God because we are the created. Do I defer, thankfully, to His authority?

Children are learners. They do not assume that they know everything until they turn 13, so having humility allows us to rest in the process of sanctification. We understand that we are a process and we will get spiritually bigger and better. Children expect change, from their minds to their bodies. They relish this change. Do I?

Adults are prideful. We have a whole life to defend, and defend it I have. It has been less than flattering on many occasions. Taking authority back and celebrating my arrival to sanctification have occupied, now laughable and irretrievable, moments of my life. It is too bad that I had to have an audience for some of my finer diatribes. That just means that I have a witness, or many.

Oh my stars, what a mess I have made of some things.

Although, I have been searched out and made uncomfortable in confessions that have been spoken this morning, I feel closer to the heart of God. I trust my Father to discipline me, and I have learned and been changed by it.

At the end of all of the muck that has been waded through, I know that I belong to Him. I am His child.

May you rest in being God’s child, today.

Have you ever had an audience for your prideful moments? Let me know if there is an area that I can pray with you. We all have them!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Relationship Summit Meeting

When my husband and I were dating, he was always one step ahead of me in the falling in love department. I was cautious. Before we started dating, I had not been on a date in two years. So, when this guy started wooing me, I wanted to make sure every “t” was crossed and every “i” doted. Sounds romantic, right? It was a miracle he married me.

We had THE talks. They are like the summit meetings of the dating world. Only necessary once a quarter, or so, they identify the couple. Are you my boyfriend? Is it time to meet the family? Do we spend holidays together? These are springboards to the next step.

There is something intimate and looming about these. Just the words, “I think that we should talk about us”, can break a sweat on one’s brow. I am not sure that ever goes away.

Sometimes these definitions help us. They encourage us to ground ourselves in relationship and recreate boundaries of trust, and even roles. It pays to know that you are loved and not just liked.

Now we have marriage summit meetings which are different from dating summit meetings. If my husband asks me who he is today, some of my responses would be caregiver, provider, spoiler, invested, loving. He was not a caregiver before we were married. It was a process and a comfort to find this out about my husband.

Speaking these qualities out loud is like a relationship marker in time. It shows how far we have come, and it instills courage for progress and “the next thing”, whatever that is.

Now my point…I have been wondering what my “next thing” is with God, lately. But, what questions do you ask? Where will we be in five years? It just doesn’t work that way, in my experience.

This morning when I was reading, He showed me a place where God entrusted a relationship summit with responsibility.

Matthew 16:13-18, NRSV,

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

The interesting thing about this passage is its beginning. Jesus asks Peter to tell Him who He is. Who is Jesus?

When Peter finished the combined laundry list of scripture and here say, Jesus asked Him again. I have a picture in my mind of His expression when asking this. Peter knew exactly what the question was. Who is Jesus to me? They were having a relationship summit.

Peter’s answer girded this relationship with new understanding. This summit had resulted in the confirmation that Jesus was seeking as Peter unknowingly confessed the revelation of God.

On this day, the life of Simon Peter was never the same. That is the power of marking relationships in time.

This has become a part of my prayer life. I sit and think about who God is to me. I name God according to what He has done in my life. I acknowledge the ways that our relationship has grown and the ways that He has revealed Himself to me. It can look different every morning.

At the summit between Peter and Jesus, Peter was given the keys to the kingdom. There is power in answering this question, “Who is Jesus to you?”

If you haven’t done it lately, I encourage you to make a little time over a snack, a piece of paper and a pencil. Hold your own relationship summit and speak the roles of God in your life. Then, see where He takes you.

What is a name that you give Jesus in your prayer life? Share some with me in the comments section.

Father, thank you for your willingness to reveal yourself to your people. Show us who you are in our lives. Let us be bold and come to these summits with you to move us into your kingdom work.

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