Monday, January 31, 2011

I fall down. He lifts me up

(a repost from the archives)

It's inevitable, that we'll find ourselves face down on the ground, spitting dirt, from time to time. Such has been my week.

And it's also inevitable, that the enemy we face in the spiritual realms, being the opportunist he is, will kick you when you're down. And kick you hard.

These occurrences are as likely as Murphy's law.

I had messed up, harming a friendship and my self-confidence. And the enemy, being the said opportunist he is, began telling me all sorts of accusations to break me down, to cause me to give up on myself.

A myriad of emotions can hit us when we hit the ground. Depression. Doubt. Fear. Then skipping right along behind...anger.

That's where I finally got. I became angry at the unfairness of the situation. Sure, we make mistakes, but why does the punishment for it have to seem so severe at times? And maybe it's because I was an only child who rarely got in trouble while growing up, but I don't do well with discipline. Actually, I simply hate for people to be disappointed with me. Even when I was a child, I did my best to please everyone, and it's something I haven't grown out of much.

So my sadness over what I'd caused turned to anger. Not just irritation, but a real temper-tantrum fit. "This isn't fair. I'm done, Lord. I want no more to do with people. I'm not going to do this anymore. When I screw up, the consequences are too severe and I can't handle when I hurt someone. I can't. I wont! Don't ask me again!! Do you hear me, God? Don't ask me to befriend another of your lost children. You'll have to find someone else more qualified to do that."

And I meant it. Foot stomping included... when nobody was looking.
And yet... right in the midst of my fit throwing, He gave me a picture. A mental image of what he thought about my situation.

Sometimes, I can hear his quiet voice speaking, sometimes I feel a nudge. Many times, I see a picture that conveys what God wants to say to me.

He could have been angry right back. It's what I deserved. Instead, he showed me that he was holding me and loving on me despite all the emotions swirling tornadically and tearing up my heart and spirit. He showed me that I was cradled in his arms, and it was okay for tears to flow and dampen his shirt. It was okay to fall limp in his arms. He had me. He wouldn't let go. His love would keep me secure no matter what happened or how I felt about it.
And isn't that his way? To love when we are unlovable? To comfort when we rage? To be compassionate when we sully up and feel full of hate?
During this time, He showed me a verse from Psalm 103:8-12
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever,
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgression from us.

Father God, thank you for your forgiveness, for loving me when I'm unlovable. For pulling me into your arms when I'm hurting, when wounds have been banged and ache. Thank you for showing me how you feel about me, your compassion, your grace and mercy reign forever in my life. May it reign in the lives of others who read this story and understand that you love them even during their unlovable times as well. We thank you. Amen!
pictures: Fallen Warrior and Cry Out To Jesus created by myself.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - Psalms 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech:

night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where thier voice is not heard.
Thier voice goes out into all the earth,
thier words to the ends of the world...
Psalm 19:1-4

photos of Texas skies

Monday, January 24, 2011

Heart Songs

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls. . .
Habakuk 3:17

It starts to moment my feet hit the floor. The water pressure in the shower isn't working right. The shirt I decide to wear has a missing button, or needs ironed. The kids don't want to get out of bed and when they do, their unending demands and arguing cause me to want to send them to school in their pjs.

The day not only starts off like this, but continues along with one calamity after another until I'm ready to throw up my hands and take cover until the storm subsides.

I text a friend my woes and she responds with sympathy and a few of her own troubles as well. But then... then she says the words that always cause me to take a deep breath and find that inner drive to just keep going:

"God is good and He loves us."

In the midst of a particularly troubling storm, this song from Chris Tomlin came to me and it's done wonders for lifting my spirit when I simply wanted to give up.

There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling

How can I keep from singing Your praise?
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love?

. . .yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakuk 3:18
I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives
And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win

I can sing when I lose my step
And I fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

There's not much I can do to stop misfortune and trails from hitting me on every side. But I CAN sing. And I can sing praises to Him. Because like Peter in prison, when he sang praises, God's glory showed up and the shackles dropped off his arms so he could walk away free.

There's a power in praise.
It does something for our beaten down hearts.
It brings a sense of revival.
And it reminds us that no matter what's happening, how hard it gets, or how bad it looks He is good and He loves us.

How can I keep from shouting Your name?
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

No matter what, He loves us. He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.
And that's enough to make me want to sing!

And when I sing praises to my King, the enemy flees and my troubles don't seem so mountainous, because I am loved by Him who created and rules the universe.

Turn off the music in the side bar and enjoy Chris Tomlin's "How Can I Keep From Singing" video.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
Hab. 3:19

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday- Isaiah 58

"'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?'

Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fist. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

When you see the naked, to clothes them and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your read guard. Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say, Here I am.
Isa 58:3-8

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why Can't We Just Love?

Early one morning, Jesus met a crowd so large he retreated to the water, to sit in a boat and speak with them.
In my quiet place, I can close my eyes and see him looking over the people, hear the water lapping against crusted wood, hear the whispered shifting as the crowd waits in anticipation of what the Teacher might say.

Finally, in a loud, clear voice, Jesus begins:

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. . . ." (Matthew 13)

Light or Rocks?
We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.
Madeleine L'Engle

While in my quiet place, my wandering imagination takes me to another Bible scene. The same Teacher, surrounded by a group of angry accusers. Their reproving fist clutching large, death-stones. 

Treacherous woman, face on the ground, fear pouring out with her sweat and blood.

Jesus looks at none of them. "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her," he replied as he pick up a small stick and began to draw in the dirt. (John 8) That same dirt his father created us from. That same dirt we fight against daily, washing it from our hands, our clothes, our homes. Yet, that same dirt each and everyone of us began as.

When I close my eyes, I can hear the staggered silence, mingled with the woman's fearful breathing, and the scraping of wood on earth. Then a thunk. Followed by another thunk. And another. Thunk. Thunk.... Thunk.

In Luke 6, this very same Teacher implored his followers to "love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."

Doesn't make sense, does it?

But the fact is, the farmer didn't go tear up the rocks before sowing his seed. He knew eventually it would find good ground, hungry ground. He never stopped to shoo away the birds, or watch where he tossed. He cast his seed with loving abandon.

Jesus, the son of God, never condemned the prostitute. Matter of fact, when he asked if any were left to condemn her, she said "No one, sir."  He didn't either. He simply told her to stop it. Which, most often, when we are face to face with God and our sin, isn't that usually his response? "Stop it, my child. Stop hurting yourself. I love you."

I don't know. I think it is. It's what I usually hear when I'm on the ground with my sins. "Just stop it. Get up, daughter, dust yourself off and let's go. There's something much better."

And my hunger for him overtakes my gluttony for the junk food I've been feeding on.

Where does that leave us? 
L'Engle said, "Show them a light that is so lovely, that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it."

We have that light within us. As God's own children, it's there. No, it doesn't make sense why He would have such a love for the "ungrateful and wicked."  But He does. He does.

Who are we to grasp stones? Not when we are made of the same substance. The same dirt. Truth is, we are all the same. So why not try to get along and love each other no matter what?

"But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
My mom used to say, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Maybe she had something there.

Love and Blessings,

Friday, January 14, 2011


Picture this: Jacob, described as the kind of person who liked to stay home, was brewing up a pot of stew for himself. Along comes his ruddy brother, Esau, a skilled hunter, who is "famished" an demands some of Jacob's soup.

Jacob, being not just a homebody, but a homebody who has time on his hands to think up schemes, says the bowl will only cost Esau his birthright.

I don't know how many times I've heard this story, but the levels of stupidity a person can have never ceases to amaze me. I mean, couldn't Esau have gone to Mommy and asked for some food? Wasn't he a skilled hunter? Even John the Baptist could make a meal out of crunchy bugs...

But a birthright?

Genesis 25:31-34:
"Jacob replied, 'All right, but trade me your birthright for it.'
'Look, I'm dying of starvation!' said Esau. 'What good is my birthright to me now?'
So Jacob insisted, 'Well then, swear to me right now that it is mine.' So Esau swore an oath, threrby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his younger brothers. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and drank and went on about his business, indifferent to the fact that he had given up his birthright."

Peanut Butter Jelly Time
Have you ever come in starving and think to yourself, I just need a little something until I can make dinner? So you slap together a PB&J and scarf it down. A few minutes later, you find out that you've just been invited to dinner at Red Lobster, or somewhere great and now you are too full to enjoy that fine meal.

OK, maybe that's really never happened before, literally, but metaphorically...?

How many times have we settled for the immediate solution, instead of completely working out the best possible answer? How many times have we settled for the job that seems safe and secure. Or what about when you're out shopping and buy a decent pair of shoes, only later to find the perfect pair of shoes for even cheaper? Raising my hand here. I was too lazy to keep looking, too impatient to wait for what I really wanted, and figured good enough is good enough.

See? When I read the story of Jacob and Esau, I want to say Esau was a moron.


I think it's easier to settle for that bowl of soup, than we think. Especially, when things become uncertain and the security blanket is hard to release. Especially when your tummy is rumbling and the bread and peanut butter is right there. Especially when one road looks pretty darn easy to travel while the other is full of brambles and rocks.

"Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau. He traded his birthright as the oldest son for a single meal. And afterward, when he wanted his father's blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he wept bitter tears." Hebrews 12:16-17 NLT

God has promised good for us. God doesn't lie.
"If God is for us, who can be against?" Rom. 8:31

"And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!" Matt. 6:30

"Now, glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to to ask or hope." Eph. 3:20

"Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time." Gal. 6:9

Is that enough? There's more where this came from. Seriously.
So what are you settling for? Is God calling you to something higher, yet more risky? Are you afraid to be uncomfortable for awhile as you race down that rocky, twisted path after Him?

It's hard. I won't lie. It's even scary. Real scary sometimes.

Yet, I leave you with one more Bible truth and then you'll have to figure it out for yourself.

"God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speaks as though God himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ. All glory and power belong to him forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT

Be Blessed,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - Isaiah 58

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble.

Then your light will shine out from the darkness 
and the darkness around you will be bright as day. 

The Lord will guide you continually
watering your life when you are dry
 and keeping you healthy, too. 
Isaiah 58:11-12

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills-
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.

He will not let your foot slip -
He who watches over you will not slumber, indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you-
The Lord is your shade at your right hand and the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm-
He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.
Psalm 121:1-8

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Life of Excellence...

World English Dictionary defines excellence as the state or quality of excelling or being exceptionally good. Possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good. Also: An action or characteristic in which a person excels.

Over the past year, I’ve found many of my endeavors have been mediocre, at best. Not all. But most tasks are simply done good enough to get by. I put off unpleasant jobs as long as possible, until they become a minor crisis. I rush through other duties deemed unimportant or mundane, to hurry up and get them done. Before I know it, I’m even skimping on things that really do matter. Laziness and complacency and lame excuses have tacked themselves on to me like too many over-indulged holiday treats.  

Then one night, right before Christmas, I saw something that really challenged me. A picture on Facebook that a friend had posted of his presents. But these weren't just any wrapped gifts, either. They were works of art. Art that he’d probably spent all day working on. They made my packages look like a kindergartner has hastily wrapped them. And I’d thought I was being fancy by sticking a bow on top.

After picking my bottom lip off the floor, I stared at the picture of my friend’s gifts for the longest time, thinking… 

The Bible says that whatever we do, we should work at it with all our heart (or heartily as the KJV reads), as working for the Lord and not men. (Colossians 3:23)

Heartily means such words as: sincerely, thoroughly, without restraint, exuberantly, and so forth. We could also say, “Work at it with excellence…” It means putting that extra effort into those tasks we set our hands to.

As I looked at that picture, I was thinking of the effort my friend had put into them. I also thought of the effort he puts into a lot of things he does, thoroughly paying attention to details, not restraining himself to do things the easy way, but sincerely puts his best forward when it’s something he really loves to do.

But who and what do we really love? 

What does a life of Excellence look like?
Perhaps not taking so many shortcuts.
Could be focusing on and taking time for the details. Don’t despise the small things.
Maybe adding a bit of flair. Putting yourself into all you do.
Most definitely….Not settling for good-enough. 

Excellence does not equal Perfection.

Perfection is unattainable. No matter how hard one tries, there will always be some imperfection. Somewhere. Somehow.

However, if you walk one mile, you can certainly go one more. Excellence is the giving your shirt along with your coat. Excellence is turning the other cheek when you’ve been wounded. Excellence is praying for those who don’t deserve your prayers. Excellence is putting all the love you have for the Lord into everything you do. Not because of what you hope to get out of it, but because God has given a gift, whatever talent you possess, and some gifts aren’t meant to be kept, but shared. 

So I've made it a goal this new year, to try a little harder. To not rush. To slow down and put my very best into whatever I set my hands to. Doesn't matter if it's cooking a dinner for my family, or spending time with a friend, or writing one of my stories. I want to do this because of my love for my Lord who set the standard when he created an excellent world and lived an excellent a life.

Hebrews 12:12 says, Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees, "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy: without holiness no one will see the Lord. 

Striving for excellence not only helps me, but it let's God's light shine through everything I do. 

That's what really matters, right? 

Be blessed,

Pictures are from my very talented friend, Greg. 
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