Waiting Is…

Waiting is not my strong suit. I don‘t like waiting for others to do their part. I don’t like waiting for something to happen. I don’t like waiting for doors to open. I don’t like waiting for circumstances to change. I don’t like waiting.

In the midst of my waiting, a dear friend sent me author John Ortberg“s thoughts on waiting. He states that Biblical waiting is nothing like what I stated above. Biblical waiting is not passive. Ortberg describes waiting as a confident disipline that is expectant, active and sometimes a painful clinging to God. He says that it is saying to God, I will trust you even though the circumstances around me are not turning out the way I want them to, and may never turn out the way I want them to. 

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.                                  5Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.                        7Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.                                     8Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:4-8 NIV).

Ortberg goes on to identify three requirments of a trusting hear. First, it requires that I will trust that God has good reasons or having me wait even if I don’t know what they are. I will trust that God knows what He is doing. Second, waiting requires a confident humility that recognizes that I am not in control. Third, it’s important for me know how to recognize God’s voice.

 My heart would like to think this is no problem. Biblical waitng is easy. Right? My head, on the other hand, says waiting painful and hard. My head fights it every step of the way. Truth is this is a work in progress for me. I waffle between my head and my heart. My head want to control and my heart wants to trust. So, my focus is the third step. I will focus on listening for the voice of God. Listening quietly for direction from Him always provides comfort, peace and renewed strength. 

How are you at waiting? Does your head or your heart win? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Defeated

God shows in Genesis that we need to rest. The Ten Commandments tell us to keep the Sabbath. Everything else around us tells us to do more, make more, go go go. It is easy to fall into the trap of doing more. I think I’m the master of it. But, what do you do when you feel called to what you are doing. Where is the balance and the rest? How does the soul leave a place of being defeated,calm itself and make space for the holy? 

I’ve been going full steam ahead for some months now. My soul is weary. I find small moments of rest, but the “to do” list dominates my days seven days a week. A few hours set aside for family means a pile up for the coming days. I made a plan to create some space to let go of what seemed like the obvious choice. This was to bring balance back to life. This was going to create space for my soul to rest with God fully. 

Needless to say, I was told no that my plan woudn’t work at this time. My spirit was crushed. I felt defeated. Now what do I do?

And me? I pray. God, it’s time for a break! God, answer in love! Answer with your sure salvation! (Psalm 69:13 MSG).

That has exactly been my prayer for months.  The problem is it’s not working. I still feel defeated, and my soul weary. I need patience. I need hope. I’m changing my prayer.

[ Developing Patience ] By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (Romans 5:1-2 MSG).

I will keep looking for a way to create space for my weary soul and pray with hope for that moment when I find myself in the place I hope for. Instead of begging God for relief, I’m choosing hope filled with gratitude. It will happen. This is not an easy or natural choice, but a choice non the less. I will not be defeated.

Where do you turn when your soul is weary. How do you find hope? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Let Them Grow

Change is exciting and scary. There is the excitement of new experiences, watching dreams come true, and challenging the self to be more than one thought possible. There is this strange tug of war that begins to happen in the heart. I want to encourage them to fly, to  let them grow, but in my heart there are pangs of not being needed anymore. Fear sets in that they will be hurt or bad decisions will be made. 

Just as there are times of excitement, there are bumps that cause pain, hurt. I work hard to prevent my loves from experiencing pain, and suffering. The problem is I am guaranteed to fail. With life comes joy and sorrow. They are going to get hurt and I can’t stop it, and if I pause to think about it, some of my greatest moments of growth have come through failure, pain and sorrow. As much as wouldn’t trade my moments of growth, I still don’t want to let them get hurt.  

How does God do it? How does he let us grow knowing there will be pain and sorrow? I know. He’s all knowing. So how does a human heart let them grow because so often mine can’t take it.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil! (Proverbs 3:5-8 MSG)

Trust. Trust is always the answer. Trusting God with my fears and my loves is the only way through the growing pains. I still want to fix everything and not have any conflict. I continually remind myself that God is in control. I need to listen carefully for His voice and He will keep me on track, my loves too. I know He can fix the hurts, and bad choices. He has fixed so many of mine. I have to trust that He will do that for those I love, as well. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’d rather be in control, but there is comfort in knowing the One is really in control. 

How are you at letting them grow? Are you able to trust them in God’s hands? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others. 

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Should I?

I am often asked and even wonder myself, “Am I doing what God wants me to do?” I really love it when God is crystal clear in what He wants me to do, but that doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I ask for signs that I am doing the right thing. I worry that the ripple effect of my choices will backfire and leave me in a worse place. This leaves me thinking, “God, should I?” 

We recently sold our cabin. We would rent it out when we weren’t there, and it started to feel like a burden especially to my husband. He carried the burden of the work. As I asked God, “Should we

When we made the decision, I think many around us were surprised and thought we were in haste. There were ways for us to keep it, if that was our choice. This choice was about lifting a burden, so on the market it went. The sale went very quickly, and brought with it all the stress of selling. It has also brought us peace, and an unexpected assurance to make other tough decisions for our family to lift burdens. There was also the fun decision, at least for my husband, to build a pole barn. 

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. (Hebrews 4:3 NIV).

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

I spent years simply asking God, “What should I do?” I expected specific answers because I was His servant and to do His will. I didn’t want to disappoint Him or do something wrong. He has since shown me that there is more to our relationship. I am more than a servant. I am His daughter and there is joy is us creating together. There are a variety of choices we can make together that will build relationships, love and grace.

This is not to say that there are not times when God asks us to do something specific. This type of discernment only comes with spending time in prayer, reading scripture, listening for God’s guidance and even seeking the counsel of others. Discernment is tricky. Love and grace are good barometers.  Yes, it takes practice, and yes, it brings joy to the relationship. 

I’m learning to enjoy the process with Him and not be burdened with should I.

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Pure Joy

It feels a little strange around the house with the eldest off to college. He’s not far away, yet there is a strange emptiness around here. There is something to be said for less dishes and laundry, but mostly I miss him. I miss our conversations, and yes I miss the drumming. His absence has given me a glimpse of the pure joy God must feel when we return to Him.

Recently, he returned home for weekend. He ended up coming home earlier than expected. I heard the front door and new it was him. My heart leapt with joy, literally. I felt it in my chest. I was so excited to see him. I didn’t know joy could feel like that. It reminded me of the story of the prodigal son and the pure joy described in this story.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15: 11-21 NIV)

This parable is an example of how God delights in us returning to Him. Whether it has been a lifetime or a few months, He still runs to throw His arms around us. We are His pure joy

How have you experience joy? How do you feel when something lost is found? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.


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Show Me Who I Am

The gang was back together. It had been several months since the Best Life team was together for a conference. It was far enough away that it required traveling the day before. This meant an old lady pajama party. We shared, we laughed and we prayed. At some point in the conversation, Tiffany shared a simple prayer, “Show me who I am.” 

My favorite Psalm is 139. I love it. It starts with a beautiful reminder of how intimately God knows us. 

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:1-5 NIV)

But, there is more to the Psalm. The Psalm asks God to search within us. It asks God, “Show me who I am.” The final verses read like this:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV)
.

Know my anxious thoughts or any offensive way in me is a prayer for God to do a major work in my life, in your life. We are essentially asking God to show us who we are. The hard part is we might not like what he shows us. 

This is a prayer that challenges us to grow in the likeness of Christ. It challenges us to increase our capacity or compassion, grace and mercy. It challenges us to look deep into our woundedness and let God free us of deep pain. 

Addressing the deep pain is hard. It brings up fears, anxieties, and shame. It takes trust to allow God to bring those up within us. We have to trust that His care for us is as Psalm 139 describes. We have to trust that His promise to clean our inner house is true. 

From my experience, it is so worth it. I didn’t know my heart could be free of dirt and shame from the icky neighbor. I won’t pretend it was an easy process, but it was worth every moment. It was worth letting God into the deep pain and show me His love and care for my wellbeing. 

Are you willing to pray this prayer; God, show me who I am? Have you prayed this prayer. Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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The Road of Life

This week I want to share a poem that has been close to my heart for decades. It reminds me of my journey and to “shut up and pedal.” I pray it brings you the peace it brings me. Pedal.

At first, I saw God as my observer,
my judge,
keeping track of the things I did wrong,
so as to know whether I merited heaven
or hell when I die.
He was out there sort of like a president.
I recognized His picture when I saw it,
but I really didn’t know Him.

But later on
when I met Christ,
it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride,
but it was a tandem bike,
and I noticed that Christ
was in the back helping me pedal.

I don’t know just when it was
that He suggested we change places,
but life has not been the same since.

When I had control,
I knew the way.
It was rather boring,
but predictable . . .
It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead,
He knew delightful long cuts,
up mountains,
and through rocky places
at breakneck speeds,
it was all I could do to hang on!
Even though it looked like madness,
He said, “Pedal!”

I worried and was anxious
and asked,
“Where are you taking me?”
He laughed and didn’t answer,
and I started to learn to trust.

I forgot my boring life
and entered into the adventure.
And when I’d say, “I’m scared,”
He’d lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed,
gifts of healing,
acceptance
and joy.
They gave me gifts to take on my journey,
my Lord’s and mine.

And we were off again.
He said, “Give the gifts away;
they’re extra baggage, too much weight.”
So I did,
to the people we met,
and I found that in giving I received,
and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him,
at first,
in control of my life.
I thought He’d wreck it;
but He knows bike secrets,
knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners,
knows how to jump to clear high rocks,
knows how to fly to shorten scary passages.

And I am learning to shut up
and pedal
in the strangest places,
and I’m beginning to enjoy the view
and the cool breeze on my face
with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore,
He just smiles and says . . . “Pedal.”
— author unknown   (Hansel, T (1987). Holy Sweat. Dallas: Word Publishing. )

How has God taught you to shut up and pedal? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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My Beloved

My favorite Bible is home again. It has been at our cabin for a number of years. I left it there to for my own reading, but I also kept it on the nightstand in case a renter needed comfort. We recently sold the cabin and it’s now home with me to enjoy anytime.

I decided to just open it up and read where it landed. I do this from time to time. I often read something very poignant to my current situation. The scripture was Isaiah 26 which was a worthy read, but it was the page next to it that caught my attention. It was titled My Beloved.

It’s the NIV Worship Bible (2000). It ties in worship music and writings to the scripture. I love it. Periodically, it has pages called My Beloved. The are writings written as if God were talking to me directly. This spoke directly to my current state of mind and heart. 

My Beloved, I know that you fave become eary and fell the wight of the world on your shoulders. Come to Me and I will give you rest. Bring a your anxiety and fear to Me and leave them with me. I will keep  you in perfect peace when you keep your mind on Me and trust Me. I care about you.

It went on to tell me not to dwell on my confusion and anxiety. It encouraged me to go to God in prayer and be thankful for all things. It finished with this.

My peace you will not be able to explain to others. No one can understand it, but you can have it. Live your life according to My instructions, and  iwill be with you; because I am the God of peace, My peace will stand guard over your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. 

It related beautifully to the opening of Isaiah 26 and was another way God reminds me of his intentional, personal care of my wellbeing. The key is there is nothing special about me. God cares just as deeply about you and your circumstances. He created you to receive the same love and grace. 

How are you reminded that you are beloved? How has God reached into your everyday to remind you that you are not alone? Share your story here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Signs and Wonders

I find it easy to get caught up in my day to day life and forget about the awesomeness of God. Routine takes over. Prayer and scripture keep me in touch with Him. It’s my sense of awe and wonder that wanes. My brain knows, but my heart could use a reminder that God still performs signs and wonders.

My schedule has been extraordinarily full. Spare time for my family has been hard to find let alone time for ministry work. It’s the time of year when I begin preparing my teaching for a women’s ministry I work with (Best Life Ministries). However, I have no time. In fact, my workload and finding time for the things I feel called to has been a constant prayer discussion between God and I. Mostly, I tell Him to show me what to let go of to find needed time, but nothing is apparent. I genuinely feel like I’m in a holding pattern waiting for the next move. 

I got to my desk on a Monday morning and there was a letter waiting for me. We have an adjunct faculty who is a great encourager. He often sends cards with excerpts from a book or reading that encourages me to continue on. This time it was a list of scriptures related to change. My teaching next year is on growing through change. My heart leapt. This was exactly what I needed to begin forming the teaching. 

how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:3-4 NIV).

This was exactly the sign and wonder I needed. It was a delightful little gift from God. It reminded me He knows my heart and my needs. It sparked a sense of awe again. 

God is at work reminding us of His care for us through little signs and wonders. He uses us to speak truth and love into the lives of others that remind them of Him. He takes joy in delighting His children. That was exactly what I needed, and it’s a great reminder of his love and care for me. Me, a grain of sand in the cosmos. 

How does God remind you He is caring for you? What signs and wonders have you seen? Share your story here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Grief and Hope

It was a simple faculty retreat. A morning of encouragement and new ideas on how to improve instruction. Then she started talking about work and faith integration. She shared about the loss of her niece. She shared the the helpless feeling when unable to bring healing as a doctor. She shared the depth of the grief her brother and sister in law as this mother cradled the ashes of her child and sobbed. She shared how the cross became a symbol of immense grief and profound hope. She shared her story in great moving detail. I felt kicked in the chest.

My heart flooded with grief. It was overwhelming and surprising. I was surprised at the depth of sorrow I felt. I was reminded how grief comes in unexpected ways. I was not only feeling the grief of my own recent losses, but I was feeling the grief of the parents of those gone. I was seeing my brother and his wife cradleing the ashes of their daughter. A grief no one should ever have to carry. 

The cross represents grief and hope. Jesus’ death on the cross encompasses all the grief and sorrow one can bare. But, it doesn’t end their. Death, grief, sorrow don’t have the last word. It doesn’t end on the cross. It ends with life. It ends with resurrection. It ends with hope.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c] (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV).

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

As hard as the road of grief is, I am not dismayed. I trust the One who knows my grief. I trust strength will come again. I trust that I am being held in His right hand. And, it is my continual prayer for my brother, his wife, daughter, and dear friends that they know the hope of Christ and trust His strength to carry them through. 

How do you find hope in grief? How has Christ strengthened you? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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