Monday, March 29, 2010

When a Heart Falters

He came home from school with several marks on his behavior card. I sort through his binder- turned into garbage dump. Irritation retched up a notch with each crumpled paper I had to smooth out.

“You’ve gotten four numbers for not listening and not staying on task.” I know how boys can be, but seriously! He would definitely be disciplined for the numbers. As I sorted out papers, I began adding punishments for each added infraction. Behavior card wrinkled and out of its sleeve. Reading log not filled in. Also crumpled up and not in its sleeve. The consequences piled up like dirty laundry when the washer is broke.

“I hate my life,” he muttered, face, mouth, shoulders all downcast.

In that moment, as I'm trying to not yell, I hear an inner whisper tell me, "Send him to his room with his journal and tell him to write out all that he thinks is horrible about his life."

While he wrote, I sat down and prayed, "What's really going on with him? What we are doing really isn’t working. So…now what?"On my bookshelf, I have a scripture book that's an amazing guide to finding scriptures dealing with topics such as anger, depression, disrespect, ect. I found the topic, Diligence, (or lack of) and many of the scriptures were from Proverbs.

"Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth." 10:4

"Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor." 12:24

So I called him back in and asked him to read over what he had written and it was "I hate school. My life sucks. I hate my home. I hate my sister. I hate my parents and I hate my room and I hate doing work and I hate, I hate, I hate."

It was quite pathetic.

Instead of discussing what he wrote, I asked him if he knew the word "diligent." We looked it up, talked about what it meant.

"Constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student."

Then I read the scriptures, and asked him which scenario sounded better? Which would he rather have in his life? He said he'd rather have the wealth, which is good because I'm not sure how I would have responded if he'd said he would rather be poor and living on the streets. One never knows how a fifth grader might answer. Really.

I made him look me in the eye and said that he was smart enough to have whatever he wanted. He was smart enough to keep up at school. Yes, it gets harder, but that simply meant he would need to keep trying harder.

Something in his countenance changed when I told him he was smart and reminded him of the times he’d made good grades and had teachers bragging on him. His eyes widened, and his lips tugged up in a I-really-want-to-believe-that smile.

Isn't it tragic how the enemy does us? He gathers the lies from those who are supposed to love us, lies from our lives around us, and mixes them in with the lies from the pits of hell. Life gets hard, and we want to throw our hands up and just let the chaos rain down on us. What's the point of trying, right? It's too hard and we fall for the lie that we are too stupid or too helpless to make it change.

I fall into that too. Why try, I can't and it won't work.

I don't want to be less-than-I-really-can-be all my life. Been that most of my life. Don't want to be slave labor, working at nothing jobs that will go nowhere. I want to make a difference. I want to look back and say, “Wow! Did you see that?”

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord and not men.
Colossians 3:23

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Because God said so...

Learning to hear God...
Listening to that still small voice that comes from the deepest part of my spirit...
Trusting that what I hear in my spirit is true, and real...

And not something conjured up.

This is especially hard for a writer who lives most of her days engaged within her imagination.
Yet, Hannah Hurnard said in her book, The Winged Life that imagination is the gift God gives his children to help them connect to him.
I think back to those in the Bible who were able to connect with God Almighty. Moses whom God told to lead his people out of bondage. Abraham who was told to sacrifice his own son to show his love for God was greater than that of his only son. Or how about the many prophets, or Jesus himself who never did anything he didn't see the Father doing or instructing first.
Why is it so hard to believe God wants to speak to us in the same manner today? And when He does, why do we pepper ourselves with doubt and fears that we've gotten it wrong?
I know that in my spirit, I can hear God. Many times the things I've heard ended up coming true. Yet there are those few times. Like when it seems he wants you to reach out to a friend and that friend is unresponsive. Or you've been told to do something and it seems pointless. A waste of time.
And I'm left thinking, "Oops, I must have missed it."
But did I? Hard to say.
What I do know is that God is faithful. "I am God," he says in Isa. 43:13. "Yes and from ancient day I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"
So I suppose that if God decides something is going to be, who can change it? Maybe we don't always hear exactly right. Perhaps we misunderstand. But if he's made up his mind about how something will work, then I simply need to trust that he will work it out for the best. His way. As he sees fit.
And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Faith and Prayer #36

Dear Glorious Saints,

O the wonders of the loving kindness of the Lord! Taste and see that the Lord is good.

This morning I was thinking about Jeremiah 17: 7-8.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

I have prayed many times to be that tree, to be green and fruitful and without fear no matter what the circumstances. This morning as I thought about it I told the Lord I was sorry I had failed, that in the past months I really had withered. (The scarcity of these letters in recent months is evidence of that.)

Do you know what He said? He said that He had extended the drought to give me time to recover because I am that tree! Yes, the leaves have shriveled up and gotten brown around the edges but they have not fallen off and He has given me time and grace to green up again. The bears are no longer coming in the door (letter # 34) and I am not in the place I was a month ago even though the circumstances have not changed. He would not let the enemy have victory over me. Even in my weakness He has upheld me and strengthened me. Do you see how loving and kind He is?!

I am sitting here weeping over His goodness to me. I rejoice in Him and am so thankful even in the midst of the unchanged circumstances.

I wanted you to know because that same love and kindness extends to you. He wants you to have victory no matter what your circumstances.

With love and joy,


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quiet God Moments

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you, my soul thirst for you,
my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

I stared out the bay window overlooking a stream, hills and beauty. Oh, how I'd thirst for a glimpse of nature. Outside, on the patio the sound of rushing water came to me, washing away some of the stress and weariness I'd carried on my back to this place of refuge.

"Come away," was the cry I heard in my heart. "Come with me and let's explore."

Leaving my bags in a corner heap, I raced out like when I was a kid, ready to play, and search out interesting objects and just BE for the moment before the demands of classes and meetings and gatherings lassoed me once again. Excitement bubbled up as I walked along the water edge gathering interesting rocks, and examining animal prints. It had been so long since I simply allowed myself to be quiet and listen.

I'd become so dry, and wilted. This retreat, I knew, would be a time of tapping back into my source.

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods:
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
I didn't attend all the meetings. I spent a lot of time walking, gathering interesting bits of what remained of winter's beauty. I walked with my Abba God in the cool of the evening, reconnecting, hearing, discussing realigning. The much needed rest refreshed me, revived me and helped me to refocus my sights on what is really important.
It's so easy to get disoriented in daily life. So easy to let fears cloud your sights and pressure to lead you down shortcuts that take you off the path you are meant to travel. It's easy to let loose of his fingers and run ahead, or dig in your heels in disobedience. It's easy to get distracted by shiny objects.
I found his fingers and wrapped mine tightly around his. Can't say I'll never let go again, as I probably will. But it's refreshing to know he finds a way to bring us back to his side, time and again.
In my bed I remember you:
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Small Things

Not sure if it was more of a desperate plea or just wishful thinking, but I really, really wanted to get away from the chaos of the moment. I might have posted on a status update on Facebook: Where's a good retreat when you really need one? Or something like that. I had simply wanted to escape.

God hears those prayers. He doesn't always answer at the time you say them, but he hears all the same. And he sees your heart. And he works things out.

Life has calmed down a bit now. It's more manageable. Today, I'm leaving on a weekend retreat. I didn't arrange it, nor plan it. Matter of fact, I had pretty adamantly planned NOT to go. But the door was flung wide open and without me having to lift a finger on my part, I'm going. I only needed to pack!

That's the way of God. In spite of ourselves He will have His way.

I'm looking forward to it now. At first, I was reluctant, worrying over how things would work out, how could I leave right now, and all those things we use to ball-and-chain us. It's all worked out, and I'm free to leave right now with peace in my heart.

His ways are so good. He's a Master Planner, despite how much we get in the way.

I'm eager to see what He has for me this weekend. I'm expecting something amazing. If nothing else, at least a much needed rest in a pretty place that resounds with His spirit. It's gonna be great!

I'm reposting this video because I love how she talks about the importance of little things. Even the small things done in the secret quiet may not always have a great impact, but God sees our effort. And the Bible encourages us in whatever we set ourselves to do, that we do it as if unto the Lord and not men for the Lord always sees our heart and that's what matters most.

You may want to turn off the music on the sidebar while you enjoy this video.
God Bless,

Monday, March 1, 2010

Facebook, Integrity and Grace

I decided to participate in Lent this year. Never having done it before, I read up on it. I like the idea that it wasn't just about giving up something. It's meant as a cleaning out time. A time to repent for those things that have cluttered life up and time to reflect on making God center again. For me, certain things had become big time wasters, the biggest of all . . . Facebook.

Yet, still interested in my cyber friend’s lives, I set some ground rules.

#1 No posting or making comments. My postings had become a place for me to vent my frustrations and instead of venting, I seriously need to learn to deal with those frustrations. (And just for the record, my blog post automatically to Facebook, I have kept my goal to not interact until after Easter.)

#2 No having Facebook on in the background anymore when I’m working on the computer. Funny how projects that used to take me an hour have now been reduced to half that time since I no longer have that crutch of a distraction for when I get stuck. Now when stuck, I'm forced to resort to Dori the fish's wisdom of "just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." and it works.

#3 I can log onto Facebook on Sunday afternoon to deal with notifications and all that garbage stuff people like to send me. I’ve been able to do that. I log on, clean out a few things, then get back off. Yet, there are times when I just want to check... you know?

#4 I can only check status updates of my friends twice a day from my phone.
This had been the kicker, and the one I’ve struggled with most. My little phone provides endless entertainment when I’m stuck waiting somewhere. And only checking updates only twice has been hard. This seems like such a little thing, but it seems to be the norm for my life.

Thing is, I seem to fail more than I succeed. Even when I tried a simple one day fast. Then I'm left feeling pathetic about my ability to stay strong.

I came across a friends blog that talked about failing and how His grace is there for us when we aren’t strong enough to do it on our own. This is something important I think fasting and Lent does for us; it shows us that we can’t do it on our own, that we need His help, His grace, His forgiveness.

I’m so grateful for His grace, but…

The other day I was talking to another friend about how I wanted my words to mean something. That I wanted to be able to say what I mean and mean what I say and not be so wishy-washy. I’m tired of being tossed about on stormy waters and feeling helpless against it. I realized that what it boils down to is having integrity. Something I feel I’m lacking in at times.

This friend said that it starts with little victories beginning with me. I tell myself I want to do something, then I do it. Still, there will be some things I simply can’t do on my own. That’s where I need to invite God in. Lord, I know I need to do this and I’m struggling. Please come beside me and help me along. I need your grace, and your strength to see this through.

Yes His grace covers me. But that’s no excuse for continually allowing myself to fail time and again. Because then I end up making agreements with the enemy that I’m not good enough. That I’m weak. That I’m a failure. And it’s simply not true.

I’m a child of the King. I’ve been bought by the blood of Christ. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I’ve failed, but I’m not beaten. I’ll try harder and mean what I say and say what I mean. As I learn to do it for myself and my God, it’ll permeate all parts of my life and eventually, others will see that I am a person of integrity. That is what I want more than anything else in my life.

Father, help my words mean something. Help my heart beat strong with determination to walk out the hard things in my life. You promise to make my paths straight. You promise that in You, there is nothing that's impossible for me. Thank you for Your grace, Your understanding and forgiveness. But I want to learn how to stand firm. Help me to follow through with the challenges and choices I face in my daily life. Amen.
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