Wednesday, April 03, 2013
The Cleansing Sound of the Ocean
I had been teasing Olivia for about a week before we left for vacation that “the waves come in, the problems go out”. We would laugh and breathe looking forward to a week at the beach. As I am sitting here in my favorite place on the balcony overlooking the ocean I see God doing just that…the waves come in, the problems go out.
Listening to the sound of the waves and seeing the vast blue ocean coming in and rolling out, you can’t deny there is something about the majesty of the water. Something about the endless life that exists in that water that no one can control but God. No one tells the sea how to act, no one can control the sea, no one can master it. In its own way it gives and takes away. Many men have taken on the challenge and lost.
There is only one man I know of that could. He stood up in that boat and calmed the Sea, He walked out on top of the water to the boat with His Disciplest….and if we get right down to it, it was created by Him and For Him. Why is that so amazing to me. Because this world has its own set of rules we live by whether it is socially, governing, or family. People are always hungry for power and control. Not only do they want to control their surroundings but also those around them. They even have the audacity to set rules that God has no part of and we have to follow them.
But, what if we decided to live by a new set of rules in life. This new life in our hearts that would allow us to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and give to God what is most precious, our heart. What if, by heart design we decided to live “walking on the water?” We allowed God, the only one who really has this world in the palm of his hand the opportunity to rule in reign in our hearts and in our actions. What perspectives would change? What part of our life would change?
I have started that challenge to do just that in my life recently. My husband started teaching on ‘hearing God” in our Sunday school class about a year ago. What I didn't realize is I knew the things he was teaching but I hadn't been walking it out in a very long time. I had to take the time to truly listen to God, inclining my ear to hear Him, in everything in my life. I will say that if you take that challenge, be ready to do battle because everything in the world will hit you to keep you from engaging with God in a deeper way. The freedom to walk with God when you are not only talking, but listening constantly changes your perspective.
One of those changes for me is writing. I have been giving up on it for some time but God has really been impressing me to write again. Now I know what to write. Learning how to “Listen to God”. Setting our hearts and ears to hear that “still small voice” and then acting upon it. Challenging my thinking to be “counter intuitive” to the obvious and yield to the Holy. It’s not easy, the journey is hard….but then again, the things you take away are immeasurable. Walking with God on the beach, you start to believe anything is possible with God. My new challenge...posting again every week!
Friday, October 19, 2012
“A Daddy’s Love”
It has been more than a while since I have posted anything to my blog. I would just stare at it and wonder what would I write? Things are good, for the most part, and we are getting past all the anxiety and learning to live life outside the hospital. But the other day God started stirring something in my heart that I should have known all along, His love.
His love is not a new concept. In fact, we talk about it all the time. Why, after thirty something years of walking with God does this seem a new concept to me? But it is a new concept. I realized after all these years I had been walking by Faith, yes! I had been walking in loving God, yes! I had been walking in as much obedience as I know, yes! But all those things do not cover how much God loves me, not anyone else, just me.
This journey for me started several months ago. My Pastor and I were talking and he commented about “what are you willing to give up for God”! He wasn’t talking to me because from outward appearances that does not seem to be a problem but when I really started asking myself that question God started me down this road of self evaluation. What would I give up? Could I give up Olivia and trust Him with her? Could I give up what I think He has called me to do? Could I give up my home and possessions? Where was the line where I said No to God?
Great questions, right! As I started trying to answer those questions and start walking down this road God kind of took a reverse position on me and asked me the question “what would I give up for you?” . Of course we all repeat, you gave up your son? I get an “A” for that answer….but it wasn’t the total right answer for me.
You see, with that question I did realize He gave up His son for me. His son! And He has given me a daughter, what would I give up for her? What were my expectations for her? What did I want her to learn more than just do because I asked her to? When I started seeing things through that looking glass I realized more things that I want to admit on this paper.
I realized that all this time I have been trying to “earn” God’s love from doing all that He asked. Yes, He honored that but I truly did not understand that “just because” I exist I am loved. That He treasures me. He holds me in high regard. I don’t earn those things, they just are because I am His child. If someone hurts me, He is there to take up my offense. If (or better yet when) I make a mistake He is the first one there to lend me His hand to stand up. When I can’t find my way, I just ask because He longs to teach me the right path. I have strived for so long thinking I didn’t even deserve His compassion let alone the “riches” of His love.
So, what does that headline have to do with anything? Well, when I finally started looking through those new lenses, God showed up to make sure I understood what He was trying to say to me. He would just lavishly bless me with things that I did not feel I deserve. A beautiful new car, a new roof for our house, a scholarship for Olivia to be able to attend school, Olivia well enough to attend school. Those things that were most important to me. I had no doubt they were from God. Don’t get me wrong, life is still crazy, everything is not all ironed out but that is okay because for the first time I really understand a Daddy’s love. That love that bears all things, endures all things and hopes for the best because I have a God that believes in ME that much. Guess what, He believes in you that much too! You probably already understand this most important lesson but for me it was life changing.
Monday, April 23, 2012
The kitchen, that place where we gather as a family. The place where talking begins and memories are made. My kitchen can tend to be a place of those beautiful arguments as well. What is the biggest argument…it is always a mess. No matter how many times I clean it in a day it is still a mess. Pots in the sink, dishes to be loaded and unloaded in the dishwasher and a floor that needs to be swept and truth be known mopped. As I am standing there in yet another end of an evening, my husband asks if he can load the dishwasher for me. If you could look back with me five years ago, steam would have been coming out of my ears and then when he finally left confused by my response, tears would flow down my face from the reality that I was not measuring up. It is all about perception.
The hardest part of life is walking in true perception. My husband and I have counseled for years and have seen this over and over, in our life and others. One spouse’s view of the circumstance or conversation is completely different from what is actually being said.Perception of words, actions, and heart intent is very important to our well being mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Even when it comes to physical exercise, what and why we eat the food we do, how we relate to others, and most importantly God.
So how do we know if our perceptions are clear, truthful, and balanced? I wish I had the full answer to this question because it would save me a lot of heartache but the reality is I don’t. However, I am learning a huge lesson in this area. Starting with the foundation that I have built my life on, the Bible and my relationship with God.In my marriage, I learned it a long time ago. That scene above was one of many I could have written. Dean and I had gotten to the place where we couldn’t really talk anymore. Why? Because everything that we communicated to each other was filtered through past hurts, past disappointments and past expectations. Our perceptions were severely skewed. Once we were able to clear the table and start from the beginning…the talking began. I am amazed to this day what was actually being said and how I distorted the truth because of the filters I had raised. Now, “do you want me to load the dishwasher?” doesn’t mean that I am a bad wife because I don’t keep house like I should…it just means can I help you out by doing this for you as an act of love. Truth: Can I help you by doing this for you. Perception: I can’t seem to get everything done so I am a bad wife.
See the mountain of perceptions that divided me and an act of love? Please understand, Dean had his own filters too, but, God wants me to start with my perceptions first. Look in my mirror, my heart, actions and see me. When there are problems in relationships, I have to look at my heart issue and build from there.I think trying to find the right perception in marriage is a lot easier than with friends and family. For some reason the expectation is higher but in a different way. A small word, a small neglect can change the way we see someone in our life. For some unexplained reason we neglect to realize what might be going on in someone else’s life may be affecting their actions. We shouldn’t always give someone that excuse but more often than not, we definitely need to consider it.
We are finally heading to church again as a family. Olivia has been to weak to go with us for a long time now. Plus, all the sickness that goes through the church has not helped her in many cases. In fact, she is quite wary of going to church. But, we have decided it is time for her to get started again. But it takes a lot out of her.As we walked in and found our seats, some of her friends recognized and realized she was there. The excitement was just evident by the big hugs and smiles that traveled all the way to their eyes. Olivia hugged them but didn’t stand up and really did not smile much back. Her friends were all so excited to see her in church but she seemed indifferent. The truth: she was too tired and did not have much to give. Perception: Wow, she really doesn’t care that I am excited to see her.
The perception is far from the truth, but what she walks through everyday is so hard for anyone to understand, even me as her Mom. So I quietly reminded her that they can’t understand all that she is going through and what her reaction could “say” to them. I waited for her reaction and was awarded with a “thanks Mom” and she proceeded to talk with them when there was a welcome time which a huge difference. You could see it.So how do we balance out our perception so we see more clearly? How do we keep perceptions in check so that they don’t become truth? I believe the first step is seeking His word on our heart. That step of truly developing that relationship with God every day. God is involved in every moment of our life, day in and day out. When we establish that relationship with Him on a daily basis then it becomes so much easier to hand it over to Him and allows Him to show you the truth in a situation. It may take some time to find out the truth in a perception, or your perception may be truth. But truly finding out if it’s God’s truth is something different for everyone. Because truth can be true…but the heart of the truth may be wrong. So is our perception of that truth based on what we see or how God sees it? Real truth is how God is sees it J And real truth brings our perceptions in line with Him and in line with our life.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The Things we forget to do
I walk in and it feels like home. I smell something delicious coming from the kitchen and the tables are set with centerpieces and fine china. As I walk in memories float through my mind of days gone by. I remember going to my Grandmother Dean’s house. It was always filled with those same smells from something she had cooking in the kitchen. As I surveyed the room, the memory of Grandmother’s table surfaced to the top. I could see the table set in the dining room but until I got married I was only allowed to look because only the “adults” sat at the table with the fine china and crystal. I guess the qualifications of an adult you had to be married because I know I was older than some of my other cousins that sat at that table. I was invited to sit at the “kids” table.
As I was invited in, I sat down and looked around. There was laughter and joy filling the room. These ladies were just so happy to be together. I listened and really looked at these precious women. Women comfortable with each other and with themselves. Women, who had lived, loved, lost, and knew the power of being strong by standing on your knees. Each line etched on their face came from the joy of knowing the Lord and living life well.
These precious ladies had invited me to come and speak to them at their monthly luncheon. What an honor. But what could I even begin to say to these ladies. They had more wisdom in their little finger than I did in my whole body. But I pressed on. I felt the one thing that maybe they didn’t hear all the time was exactly how important they were to me and so many others. Not because they showed up to cook all those delicious meals, or when someone needs a hospital visit or even to the nursing home but that their life left bits of wisdom in all of us. I wanted to let them know how much I appreciated the time they spent with the Lord calling my daughter’s name to the one and only one who holds her life in His Hands. How they have loved their families and friends the same way. If you picture the church, these ladies are the ones that bath it in prayer. The mortar that holds it in place.
When I left, I was left with more than I could have ever given to them. The love that you feel from these precious ladies is more than can be put into words. But most of all, more important than the love I felt, I realized we do forget to appreciate those ahead of us. That we forget to tell them how much we love who they are and how much we appreciate what they have done in their lives. Because they help us manage our lives and make better decisions because they have gone before us and know all the pitfalls, the anguish, the laughter and the tears. They see the picture of life so much bigger than we ever could.
Hug your Mom today. I miss mine terribly and wish I could. Call your grandmother today…she has so much to give….hug the older ladies in your church, wealth of wisdom is found in them and your kids, let them know how important it is to honor them. We have all learned lessons we will never forget from these precious ladies.
Friday, February 17, 2012
It never fails, put me in a hospital room and I can write. Put me in my regular routine at home and I am fighting time to get it done, LOL. When God wants you to stop and listen, He will do it and sitting in a 10x 10 room will do it every time.
Remember the first part of the year I was talking about my “word” for this year. The word was to go deeper with God. Wow, have I ever really realized the depth of that. I have been digging in Jeremiah and John, Acts and Romans. Then Dean has been teaching on “hearing God” in our Sunday School class. It seems to be that God is directing my life so I can see things a little clearer. Hearing a little more of his heart beat these days. The things He has been directing my attention to is compassion for those around me. So much so, I have to fight the urge to solve everyone’s problems. I can’t solve them all and sometimes there is another person that needs that blessing. I pray each time and lay it at the Father’s feet . I force myself to stop and listen and allow Him to do what He wants to do but I really have to fight back that urge to help.
God is really talking to me about the importance of listening. Not just to words and not just for a second but pressing in to Hear His voice. Listening takes work. Stopping the list in your head, being ready to comment on a situation when your opinion may not be the important one, just allowing God to talk to your heart without interrupting Him, being quiet and still to listen, I am working on a sweat just trying to get my head to stop long enough to do all of those things. It is not in our nature. We really do have to work at it. But the difference it makes. I “hear” so much more. I don’t always get it right but when I do, God really does some cool things in my heart.
I don’t only listen in my prayer time but also when someone is talking. I start praying right then. This is my prayer: “Lord, what am I supposed to be learning from you?”…not just in Church as my pastor preaches his awesome services, or when Dean is teaching class…but also, when I am just chatting with someone. God wants to talk to me even when chatting about the weather. That sounds strange doesn’t it. But really it’s not! I have heard my own sin in my heart “pop” up before I open my mouth and it has saved me a few times. I didn’t respond to something negative with a negative. Wow, that changed the conversation. Instead of gossip, it turned into a life lesson for my friend and me. God showed up and allowed me to see the ickiness in my heart before I had that chance to step out on that sin.
Then, I also pray, “God, let me hear their heart”…wow, that has helped me so much. I tend to get into deep conversation when I pray this one. The Lord just gives me the right words that allow that person to share, unburden their heart, and even let me know their true need. Sometimes it has been spiritual, sometimes emotional and sometimes meeting a physical need that they have been hesitant to share. What a blessing for me. I so appreciate that God would allow me to hear and then work it out in a way to help. “Bearing one another’s burdens”, what a blessing.
You know why? Because I have been so blessed with friends that have stood by me, have listened to me and have loved me through so many spiritual, emotional and physical needs. A debt I will always be indebted to repay. When you are loved much, love is so easy to give.
So, really this is not much of a “Bible Study” today but hopefully it is a place you heard something God wanted you to hear. Maybe you just need to slow down that list in your head for a minute and just listen. But I know how hard that is because I have a continual list in my head that is always flowing…hence, sometimes the stop at Hotel Egleston…LOL.
Love to you all
In His Grip
Friday, January 27, 2012
On the Road to Damascus
It seems God has been very quiet in my time with Him lately. Have you had those tmes? I just went through a season where it seemed that every time I picked up the Bible to study words just leapt off the page and into my heart. But for the last month, it has been quiet. I have had to be still and listen for that still small voice. When it comes though, it starts like that driving rain and heavy winds…I see the tornado forming.
If you are a writer, you understand that. Moments, words, pictures are the things that start running through your head like a tornado trying to pull out all the “stuff” and find the point. It can be maddening sometimes watching all that “stuff” fly around in my mind waiting on the “point” to settle. If you ever wonder why I do not always blog at the same time, same channel…this is it. I am waiting on direction from God and that takes a minute or two with a tornado passing through. So finally, I saw the one thing that God wanted me to share and it is about Stephen.
There is much to be said from other more knowledgeable scholars and teachers than but this one statement stopped me as I was reading this chapter. When Stephen was being stoned for his bravery, courage and anointing by the Holy Spirit to speak truth to the Jews, as he was standing there knowing that God was welcoming him home….Saul (later Paul) was standing right in the midst of the people proud of his honor in killing Stephen, giving his approval. In fact, that moment incited Saul to go to greater depths of ugliness to persecute the Jews. That moment, looking purely into the Holy Spirit as it is displayed on Stephen’s face infuriated Him. Saul was ready to fight against that beautiful Spirit of God. We all know the rest of the story and the transformation of Saul’s ministry from there and how he really changed the life of the church we know today. God used him mightily. But that was not what leapt out of the page for me.
The neon sign that was blinking in front of me was this…God designed it so that Paul would be there to witness Stephen’s death. From that moment on, Paul would have no question when he was in the presence of the Almighty God. Paul saw firsthand what it looked like to know God fully. He had a living, breathing example of God’s love in front of him in Stephen.
If you read through the old testament to the new testament you know that it had been hundreds of years since God had spoken through the prophets. The culture of the Jewish people had strayed so far from God. They had integrated so many idols into their beliefs by this time. The Pharisee’s had become the “God” of God so to speak. They controlled everything the people believed and knew about God. So the healings that Jesus did, when Jesus rose from the grave, when He ascended back to Heaven, when the Holy Spirit came down like fire to the disciples were moments where only the believers could understand what God was doing.
The Pharisee’s stood back in astonishment at the futility of accepting these miracles as truth. Why? God had never spoken to His nation like this, through His Son. He had never started with the common people. He spoke to the prophets (which by this time were very, very few because God had stopped talking to his people) in the old days but that had really been hundreds of years prior. They could not believe that God would speak out to those less trained in the scripture, less knowledgeable about the scrolls and scribes, those who had not studied and knew the law as they did.
Hearing God’s voice would have been hard for Paul under those circumstances. He was the elite of the Pharisees. However, the day that incited him became the day he actually started listening past the scrolls to the Holy of Holies and the One True God.
Paul doesn’t talk about that day much. I imagine when God gave him a new heart it was hard to even think about that day. But to me, Stephen’s death changed one man’s life that would change so many. It is not obvious that is what happened but the Bible makes it clear that Paul was there giving his approval. That day become even more defiant to kill those that teach the message of Jesus.Nice story Barb but how does that translate to us? When you look through your mirror of your life there are moments that your head lowers just a bit. There are moments where you know the decision you made hurt the heart of God. Please don’t be ashamed because we all have those memories. If we didn’t we would not know the grace and love of a wonderful heavenly Father. Those days that we never want to go back to are where we were in the wrong place in our lives and the guilt overwhelms us.
In those moments, to me the mirror seems so clear. I see a Father,a loving God standing right in the middle of that moment expressing His unimaginable love to reach us. To help us see that love and bring us back to him. That Stephen’s death, though horrific and sad was an opportunity to change lives even today. Those moments in your life, changes lives too. It changed yours forever. Yes, we always talk about the day we met Jesus on the road to Damascus (like Paul) but really there were moments before then that you saw God and desired His love. Otherwise, you would never have seen Him on that road…you would have passed Him by.
Stephen talking unto his death:
Act 7:52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you have now been the betrayers and murderers;
Act 7:53 who received the Law through disposition of angels, and did not keep it.
Act 7:54 And hearing these things, they were cut to their hearts. And they gnashed on him with their teeth.
Act 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, looking up intently into Heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Act 7:56 And he said, Behold, I see Heaven opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.
Act 7:57 And crying out with a loud voice, they stopped their ears and ran on him with one accord.
Act 7:58 And throwing him outside the city, they stoned him. And the witnesses laid their clothes down at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Act 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, who was calling on God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Act 7:60 And kneeling down, he cried with a loud voice, Lord, do not lay this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Act 8:1 And Saul was consenting to his death. And in that day there was a great persecution on the church at Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Act 8:2 And devout men buried Stephen and made a great mourning over him.
Act 8:3 But Saul ravaged the church, entering into every house. And dragging men and women, he delivered them up to prison.
Friday, January 13, 2012
The song goes “if a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?” We naturally know the answer to the question the artist is posing but I love the part that it takes a thousand words to describe a painting. Because that is exactly what words, do! Words create, they incite, they challenge, and they can wrap themselves around our hearts to move us. If I say the word “Beautiful,” you immediately create a picture in your mind of what that word represents to you. My picture will be different from yours because our experiences are different but that one word stirs feelings and emotions. The beauty of words is the effect they have on us. How they collect our thoughts together to create this picture in our mind. Writers are constantly challenged, whether a songwriter or a novelist, to write those words that help you “see” what they are talking about and not just hear.
The beauty of seeing words is that in using those senses we are able to make changes in our lives when necessary. The wonderment of the Bible is that those words come alive each time we pick it up. The bible is full of words and the words spring to life from the page. The scriptures can become life changing if we allow it.With that thought in mind, I took the challenge from a friend at the end of the year to see what “word” God might be giving me for the year 2012. I am ready for a challenge. I have lived in constant change for so long that the time we have been at home has truly been an unfolding adventure for me. However, it has also been quiet at times. It is a bit hard to go from constant crisis to routine. I never thought I would say that. I craved the routine and mundane but I have learned it is harder to live in the ordinary than it is in the extraordinary.
My friend’s word was “surrender.” What a great word. Surrendering all your decisions, your worries and hopes with your dreams to the Lord. Challenging yes, but the treasures are infinite. I know my friend Julie is doing her best to experience surrendering in her life. She is blogging her journey and you might want to check out her blog at http://juliegarmon.com, she writes so beautifully about her experiences.
When I prayed and really sought the Lord, I was definitely curious to see the answer. I was not sure how I would know what “that” word would be but when it came to me it was obvious. It made so much sense to where I was in life. That “aha” moment happened and I knew He wanted me to have the full experience of that word in my life. Are you curious? I am so excited about it for this year. The word I hear for myself seems to be deepening my love for the Lord. That I might see life through His eyes just a little deeper. That I would take a moment and listen to the Holy Spirit just a bit closer. Relying on that love to help me keep my eyes on Him.Deeper can be intimidating, even scary at times. It might require more of me than I think I can give. However, it fits right in the core of my life right now. Yes, I have walked down so many paths in my life that you would think I had this part down pat. The lessons I have learned, those moments, those mountaintops, and valleys have helped me see life in a different way. I learned those lessons in my journey in life and now is the time to apply them.
So this year I feel that my word is “Deeper”. A deeper walk with the Lord, a deeper love for Him and others and most of all a deeper understanding of who God really is in my life.In my life, I am starting to see that life can be intrinsic. Our families, our jobs, our bills, and of course our “stuff” we need to live that life surround us. At times, they even engulf us. I think for me this year, God is asking me to look outside of my box.
My comfort zone is to stay in my house and deal with the life that is living inside it. For the first time in years though, I have the opportunity to get to know other people that are not trapped in a critical crisis. But let me just say, so many are out there caught in crisis without having to be in a hospital room. I have been in prayer and pain in my heart for some of the people I have gotten to know over the past few months that are in a crisis. When I heard going deeper in my love for God those faces were the ones that were “painted” for me in my mind. He wanted me to take that moment and see past the words and phrases in their lives and see them theway He would see them.That sounds so pretty but really, it is hard. We have our own expectations. We have our own lives we are living. Looking beyond those walls we have built around our life takes energy. Stopping and asking the Holy Spirit what I should do in a circumstance will require more of me. When I listen though, I will hear the heartbeat of God and it will naturally take me deeper. I will be walking in a new place that has new vision for my life. New hope springs up. My eyes see a kaleidoscope of colors and not just black and white. Because when you start seeing past your life and seeing others in God’s eyes, your view changes.
We laugh and enjoy “How the Grinch stole Christmas.” The wonderment of the story is that one little girl changed the heart of the Grinch. That is just a story with a moral. But in reality a father sent His only son to show us love. That love not only changed one life but the lives of so many we can’t even begin to count them. When I see that love not only working in my life but the lives of others, well you can’t help but want to change and go deeper. So, this year I am diving in….I know it is going to be an adventure! I can’t wait to see what happens.