Monday, September 27, 2010

Separation Anxiety

I am privileged to be part of a team of bloggers on the women's page of my latest contribution, I shared insights about my relationship with God that I've learned from my infant son. Things like, I need Him for everything. He's my source of life. Why don't I get upset when He's not in the same room with me? When did I start "toddling" and decide that I could do life myself?

This is shaping up to be one of those weeks when I am slapped with the truth that I can do nothing in my own strength. With four deadlines, 3 intense workout sessions, preparing to leave for a family wedding, and laryngitis brought on by a sinus infection, I'm pretty stretched. So I'm going to punt this one, and lead you to the original blog through this link. Please click and read my earlier thoughts, knowing that I'm living them today. And I pray you'll find some encouragement for your own spiritual journey.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
       the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

 6 the sun will not harm you by day,
       nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
       he will watch over your life;

 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
       both now and forevermore.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Speak. Praise. Love.

"I've been watching you for months. Sort of testing you. You know, trying to figure out if you really are who you SAY you are," my new friend shared openly. "You really do live for Christ. And it has helped me to wake up from my spiritual slumber." she said smiling.

Her words hung boldly in the air as their truth hit me between the eyes. While I rejoiced in her candid honesty, the words of my friend filled me with quiet trepidation. For while she saw the best in me, I was now keenly aware of my many human frailties.

Some days, I am the best version of myself. Others, I am impatient and self-absorbed. In fact, the painful truth is, I fail more than I succeed. My friend's revelation served as a humbling reminder that I am "Christ's ambassador" and through me, He makes His appeal. (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV)

When I watch the news, or listen to the heated dialogue of the cultural climate today, I am overwhelmed by the task ahead of Christ's faithful. Everyday, someone is watching. Waiting. Wanting us to fail. Sometimes, it appears that believers are given very little margin for error.

But, when I take my eyes off myself, and place my focus on my Savior, my inhibitions fade. After all, my missteps are irrelevant compared to the power of Christ in me. For, "the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 NIV) Therefore, in word and deed, I strive to introduce the world to my Jesus.

I speak for "my lips have been anointed with grace". (Psalm 45:2 NIV)

I remember to "praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me". (Psalm 103:2 NLT)

And I strive to "do everything in love". (1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV)

It's quite simple, really. This life is not about me. It's about the one who lives in me. So, today, I speak. I praise. I love. And I remember...somewhere, somebody is watching.

Monday, September 13, 2010

iDare U2

As kids we would often say to our friends "I dare you to..." Well our awesome God following interim Pastor (Chris Stull) has been using this phrase for the last few weeks. Today's sentence was completed: "i Dare U 2 ...Move!" Seems simple enough
One of the things we did in service (we attend the theater at the 9:00 hour) this moring just before the sermon was to turn to someone next to you and share what God has been saying to you this week. This is can be a little intemidating for some but for me it was fairly simple.  One word - "Simplify!" I have had an overwhelming need to simplify my life. With 4 children & a business to run many days I am feeling overwhelmed. Last week I spent a day cooking so I could put meals in the freezer so that at the end of a long day all I had to do was pop a pan in the oven and add some fruits & Veggies. Then we made a big decision to found a new home for the puppy we had adopted just 4 months ago because he was not making life simplier but more stressful. So meals prepared, 1 less thing to take care of & next is to go thru the house and clean out "stuff" that gets int the way.  So I was already on the path that God had intended to share with me this morning.
As the sermon starts Pastor Chris challenges us. He asked if we had the "Courage" to 1-reorder our Priorities; 2-Maintain our Focus & 3-Create healthy Habits. Amazingly God had been stirring in my heart on all three of these things this week! So time for a week of change. Matthew25:21 says "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come share your master's happiness!'" That's what I want to hear God saying to me next. I want to prove my faithfulness with my priorities, my focus & my habits.

As a mom I pray I am leading a good example of a Christ follower, one that has her priorities straight. That shows my focus is on things that are good. And shows healthy habits for my kids. I know I won't always be the example I wish to be but I will be striving to be all that God has planned for me to be.

Thank you God for bringing just the right message at just the right time!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Least of These

Last month I wrote about something uncommon that my husband and I felt like God was calling us to, but we hadn't shared it with our family yet, so I had to keep things vague. This month I am happy to tell you that we have begun the long road of adoption. It is one of those things that is both breathtakingly exciting and tie-your-stomach-in-knots scary all at once.

We've known for years that this is something God might call us to, but He hadn't--until recently. And once He called us, He didn't let up until we heard exactly what He was had for us.

We know that God's Word says, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27), but we didn't know that for us part of that meant actually adopting an orphan into our family. We sponsor children already through different organizations, and that is certainly taking care of orphans, but God had more for our family. He desires (and we desire) for one of them to take our name, to become our family.

Why do I tell you this? Well, I tell you for a number of reasons. I tell you because there are well over a hundred million orphans. I tell you because God wants us to take care of orphans--whether through adoption, child sponsorship (Compassion and World Vision are two amazing organizations to do this through), foster care, or mentoring children at a local elementary school. I tell you because our hearts should be broken over the things that break God's heart, and the cry of the orphan certainly breaks God's heart. I also tell you because our church has an adoption/foster/orphan care ministry that is in the early stages called The Journey, and I am excited to see how God is going to use it to awaken Believers to orphan care.

But most of all I tell you so that you might consider: What does God have for me in this? Not everyone is led to adopt, but everyone is called to obey God's Word. How are you taking care of the orphans? What more might God have for you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hold Fast

"I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do." -- Corrie ten Boom

Over this past week, any time I've had a spare moment, I have been reading, "The Hiding Place" by Resistance heroine and Nazi concentration camp survivor, Corrie ten Boom. I had always heard various quotes and excerpts from this book, but am sorry to say I'd never read the whole book through. I am still not finished, but along the way in the reading, I have been stunned and amazed at Corrie's insights.. into human nature.. into faith itself.

One of the things about the book that has really struck me so far, is Corrie's memories of her childhood experiences, and how, looking back, the insights and knowledge she gained from her father were preparing her for what was to come in the dark days ahead.

Corrie's father, Casper ten Boom, always seemed to find that perfect balance between wanting to impart knowledge and insight to his young daughter, and also wanting to protect her innocence as long as possible, and never pass on more than she is ready for at that moment.

For example, when young Corrie asks her father a question about "sex sins" (which she'd read in a poem), his reply was just beautiful. They were traveling on a train, and he picks up his (very heavy) suitcase and asks her if she could carry it off the train for him. When she replies that it is too heavy for her, this is what he says:

"Yes.. and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you."

I loved his answer...truthful, yet never giving his young daughter more than she could handle.

Later on, Corrie sees a baby that has died, and is quietly upset for the rest of the day. That evening as her father comes up to tuck her in and say goodnight, she bursts into tears and tells him that he can't ever die because she needs him so much. She is terrified that all those she loves-- her father, mother, sister, are going to die and she can't stop thinking about it.

So gently, once again, her father asks her a question:

"Corrie... when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?"
"Why, just before we get on the train."
"Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need--just in time."

I was thinking of Corrie and her father today, as I was driving. For a long holiday weekend, my mind was especially weighed down with some family issues that my extended family is facing. Above and beyond extremely challenging health and healthcare issues, there are deep-seated emotional hurts and much frustration on all sides. It was just one of those situations that seems never-ending.. seems hopelessly beyond repair. And I was driving with my daughters to visit some of the parties involved. Though I was praying, I could not seem to shake the cold feeling of dread this afternoon. I just kept praying that God would see us through.

About this time, I heard the first strains of a familiar song that I hadn't heard in a while.. so I turned up the radio. God spoke so clearly to me through this song today, that I wanted to share it below, in the hopes that it could encourage at least one other person out there.

I know, just as Corrie faced with the Nazis.. some dark days are ahead. I can feel it in my bones, as a Christian. I know that many of you out there are probably sensing the same. I just wanted to remind all of us, myself included, that "there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still" (a quote from Corrie's sister in the concentration camp). We know the ending of this Story. Evil does not triumph in the end. And God never gives us more than we can handle in any given moment.

If you are feeling hopeless about a situation in your life... hold fast. More help than any of us can ever imagine..... is on the way.

"Hold Fast"- MercyMe

To everyone who's hurting
To those who've had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

Will this season ever pass?
Can we stop this ride?
Will we see the sun at last?
Or could this be our lot in life?
Please do not let go
I promise you there's hope

You may think you're all alone
And there's no way that anyone could know
What you're going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth
The truth of what we're soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone?
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity, Lord
Here He comes