Posted in Faith, Spirituality

Water-Walking in the Storm

 

image

WHOOSH.
The sound of the wind being sucked from our sails. The rug being pulled from under our feet. The breath knocked from our lungs.

It happens. This life has a way of sometimes catching us off guard. Sometimes it’s when we’re rocking along, with everything going our way, and then WHOOSH. Or maybe it’s when things have just started to look up, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and then WHOOSH. That new job has come along, or that tax refund just hit the mailbox, or that relationship has blossomed into promise. Then WHOOSH. Without warning we’re blindsided.

Blindsided by the whoosh. The bad news. The unexpected turn of events. The loss of something we inevitably were taking for granted.  No one is immune from the storms and trials our existence on planet Earth delivers. If you are a human being and breathing air, you are going to feel the whoosh of life. It certainly doesn’t take anyone long for that realization to sink in. Storms come. They come in all sizes. From the small drizzle to the devastation of a tsunami.

I am a glass half full girl. I believe in hope. I see the Promise land. Deliverance from the desert. Rest for the weary. Rainbows after storms. Resurrection after death. Promises fulfilled.  We don’t have to stay stuck in our storms. One thing I know, storms are temporary.

My desire is to be a water-walker. I want to be like Peter, who when in the midst, (IN THE MIDST, not when facing it or after it was over, but in the smackdab middle) of his storm, put his eyes on Jesus and walked on water. While the waves beat and the wind howled and while his robe and beard blew in the gust and the water splashed upward and crashed into his face, while the rain stung his eyes, while all that was happening—  he kept his gaze on Jesus Christ and walked on the water toward him.

Are you going through a storm? A trial? Has the wind been sucked from your sails? Has the rug been pulled out from under your feet? Are you gasping for breath?

There’s only one thing to do.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Do not focus on the problems. Focus on the provider. He will make a way when there seems to be no way.
What happened when Peter noticed the wind all around and put his focus on the storm? He began to sink. But immediately Jesus was there to save him. Our savior is here. Walking toward us in our storms. Take comfort in that.

Nothing catches him by surprise. Jesus doesn’t feel the Whoosh of life. Just as He knew the storm would come and he sent the disciples out  anyway, he also knew they would make it to the other side. He knows the storm that surrounds you. He sees you straining. He sees your toil. He is walking toward you, ready to assist you. He knows you will make it to the other side.

Look up. Lift your chin. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He who is the master of the storms. He who walks on water. He who braves all the storms and comes toward us when we are afraid.

He will rescue us when we cry out to him.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:19

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Faith, life, Spirituality

His Eyes Are on the Lilacs, And I Know He Cares For Me!

We left the arid, drought drenched plains of the Texas panhandle at the beginning of 2013 and moved to the majestic mountains of New Mexico.

It was nothing short of a complete leap of faith. There was not a job bringing us here. There was very little family here to support us. It was a dream of J-Dub’s to live here and so we shut our eyes and leapt knowing that “the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest”. Amen? Whithersoever. Doesn’t the old KJV just say it good sometimes?

Beauty surrounds us here. Snow capped mountain tops, fields of flowers, tall pines, rolling streams, abundant wild life. That first spring of 2013 arrived and I was awed by the sight of the lilac bushes that surrounded our property.  And I do mean surrounded. They are monstrous bushes, standing well over 10 feet tall and lined up in a row, bumping into each other.  I was so anticipating the arrival of all these purple bursts of flowers, that I blogged about it here.  Yet, I was left disappointed when a late freeze blasted the buds. The next spring, once again, those tiny purple buds appeared and I held my breath only to be disappointed once again when Old Man Winter blew his icy breath on them.

Earlier this year, JDub and I made a very difficult decision that it would be the best fit for our family if we returned home. Yes, to that arid drought drenched Texas Panhandle. We must wait until school is finished, so this will be our last Spring time here. Of course, I started a list of things I would miss about this place. Of course on that list is all the things that make is so beautiful.

Right before Easter, the many lilac bushes once again showed their promise, but I didn’t hold my breath. We drove back to Texas for the Easter break and my last thoughts as we pulled out of the driveway and I gazed upon the massive bushes were, “oh well. If they do bloom, they’ll be spent by the time we return.” No faith. No faith at all on my part. Sometimes prior disappointments squash it, don’t they? We don’t want to be disappointed again. In people. In circumstances. Instead we prepare ourselves for it not to happen instead of looking toward it. Where is our hope? We replace our hope with “realism”.

But lo and behold, when we pulled back in several days later,  I was met with an awesome welcoming! Those purple (and one bush of white) lilacs were in bloom and greeting me. They were happy, I could tell it. Every blossom oozed happiness. I was overjoyed! I began laughing and whooping and clapping before I ever got out of the car.

The past several weeks the bushes have bloomed and bloomed. Their aromas have washed over me filling me with memories and pleasure. We have brought some inside and placed them in Mason jars.  Now, I’m sad to say they are at the end of their blooming season.

But I’m so glad I got to experience them, this last spring I have to live here.

It’s God you know. Of  course it is. He has a way of caring about what we care about, even little things like lilacs, which I dare to argue aren’t little things.

Now that I’m a parent, I kind of, sort of, in my very limited human capacity understand the graciousness of God a teeny tiny bit more. My little girl is the apple of my eye and I long to lavish things upon her. Just for her enjoyment. Just for the sheer reason that it will make her happy. And of course I’m reminded of Matthew 7:11 that tell us,

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

Isn’t that an awesome thing? All we have to do is ask and then believe. He knows what we need even before we ask. He wants to give to us. He is not one that holds back, in fact he GAVE his one and only son that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting Life. John 3:16

He GAVE the ultimate gift. Our God is a gracious giver. He will give us what we need.

Phillipians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

Why do we worry about our needs when we can call upon the God of the World, the Creator of all, the one who tells the lilacs when and where to bloom to help us?

Is there something you are consumed with? Are you worrying about a detail of this life?

Read again Matthew 25-32 and be reassured.  “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Friends, I am preaching to myself! Since deciding to move back to our hometown, J-Dub and I have experienced quite a few roadblocks. We have worried. We have fretted. We have doubted. I have wondered if God is going to come through. But I can tell you, when I think about my past and I think about the things He has done, and I read the promises from His word, I can affirmatively answer that Yes, he will come through. He has yet to let me down.

It’s the original work of Satan, to lie to us and to make us doubt God’s word. Recognize it as such. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, wasn’t that the words of the Serpent? He began with “Did God really say………” He planted enough doubt in Eve’s heart that she sinned.

Yet we are told that the promises of God are Yes and Amen. We are told that those who believe in Him will not be made ashamed. Look and see that the Lord is good. He will come through for you. He will come through for me.

So open your arms and receive my friends.

Be blessed!
IMG_0160

IMG_0139

Posted in Faith, Love, Spirituality

You Dance Over Me

I’m not sure what it was that woke me in the middle of the night.  The dream.  The fact that my left leg was asleep from stem to stern.  Or my big barking dog in the backyard.  Whatever it was, I was awake.

I wiggled my leg, feeling the pins and needles begin to subside; laid there deciding whether I should get up and shut up the dog and face a possible ax murderer staring back at me ( I always imagine the worst); all while I picked the pieces of my dream and put them in their place, making it all come together.  It was a Dad dream, my favorite kind, and so I savored the memory of him for just a while longer before I ventured outside to yell at the dog.

It turned out, there was no ax wielding maniac, probably just a skunk.  I returned to bed, but now I had a new problem.  I was awake at four in the morning.  Alone in my head.  My thoughts crowding and bumping into each other.

As a mom-in-the-trenches, there are two things I currently cherish in my life.
1)  My sleep
2) My alone time when I’m awake.

I debated them.  Should I try to go back to sleep?  Should I get up and write? (something I don’t have time for unless I’m awake and everyone else is asleep).  I want to sleep. I want to write.  I can’t do both at the same time.  Instead I did neither. I played Words with Friends, then I thought of my dream some more, which carried me to a real-life conversation I had with my sister a few hours previous.

She had mentioned a scripture that she was focusing on.  Zephaniah 3:17?  Or was it Zechariah 3:17?  Four in the morning memory isn’t so hot.  She said she had highlighted it for her Bible Study and had left her Bible opened on the table.  Later, she noticed that her daughter, who’s battling her own adolescent wars, had drawn a heart beside the highlighted scripture and had written her initials inside.  That image touched me.  The fact that an adolescent girl would pause to read that scripture, and that it was meaningful enough to her that she would make her own notations with her heart and initials.

I am unfamiliar with Zephaniah 3:17.

I got my phone and looked it up.
Zephaniah 3:17
NLT:  “For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will rejoice over you with great gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will exult over you by singing a happy song.”

Then I read it in the NIV:
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

I read them again and again, mulling over these words and considered the relevance to my niece and her struggles.

God is with you.
Lives among you.
Mighty Savior.
Rejoices.
Great delight.
With gladness.
Calm all your fears.
Rejoice over you with singing.
Happy song.

It paints a happy picture, doesn’t it?  It paints a loving picture.  It paints a picture of a God who is crazy about us.  One who cares.

Just then my little bed partner, Emma Kate, rolled into me.  Her skin was warm and toasty and her breathing was full of slumber.  I kissed the side of her head, and felt my heart bursting with love for her.

Those words echoed in my head:
Great delight
With gladness.
Calm all your fears.
Rejoice over you with singing.
Happy song.

We love because he first loved us.  He is our example of love.  We should strive to love like him.  Those words are of a Loving God.  And, just for an extra bonus, the words of an Old Testament God.  The mean one, you know?

You see, I have a problem with God.  Rather, I have a problem with my idea of God.   I try to fit him into a mold and relate to him in ways that I relate to others. I’m told God is loving.  I’m told He desires a relationship with us more than anything.  I’m told that he cares for us. But, sometimes I can’t help but see God as aloof, off in Heaven doing his own thing, his back turned to me, his ears barely hearing my pleas.  He’s busy.  He’s working.  He wants to be left alone.  Maybe he says, ‘In a minute.’  ‘Later.’  ‘I need to finish this first, then I’ll get to you’.  Or maybe he says, ‘Can I just have a few minutes to myself?  Geez, all I’m asking for is a little quiet time here.  To regroup.  Recharge. Is that too much to ask?’

Or wait.  No, that’s me.

You see, I think God relates to me the way I relate to my child. And others.

But he doesn’t.

My ways are not your ways.  My thoughts are not your thoughts.

We’re told here in Zeph. 3:17, that he delights in us.  Sings over us.  Rejoices.  Yagil.  That literally means he dances, skips, leaps.  He shouts over us with shouts of joy.

Whoa.

When was the last time you danced and sang over somebody?  Not with somebody.  Not for somebody’s entertainment.  But OVER somebody.  As much as we think we love, it’s no comparison to how he loves is it?

God does not have his back turned.  He’s not saying, “not now, later.”  He cares.  We are his children, and He is not weary with us.  He has shown up to live with us.  He has arrived.
Annnnnnd……He is full on dancing, singing, rejoicing, and loving us.

How awesome is our God?

I think that knowledge is worth getting up at 4 a.m. for.

In my book, anyway.

Posted in Faith

A spirit of self-discipline

Last night I attended a womens’ Bible study.  My emotions were all over the place.  I wasn’t sure if I  should go since I don’t attend the same church as the ladies in the Bible study, or ANY church currently, for that matter.  Also, it wasn’t like I was actually invited.  They asked Ash to babysit for the women who had young children, and that’s how I got the invitation.  So it felt kind of like a second hand invitation,  you know.  An afterthought.

I was torn.  But I know that if I’m going to build relationship with people in this new town, I need to leave my house.  I need to put myself out there.  I need to be bold and confident.   Plus, I do love a good Bible study as much as the next gal, so I went.    I am so glad that I did.  The study was on fear and worry.  I don’t consider myself a fearful person or a worry wort.  So naturally I didn’t think I would gain much from it.  However I did.  I gained more than I could have imagined.  It was so weird because being the introverted person that I am, especially around people I don’t know, I usually clam up, smile sweetly, answer if spoken to and retreat as fast as possible.   Not last night.  It was like I had diarrhea of the mouth.  I answered every question, at the same time constantly worrying that I was dominating the conversation and not making any sense at all.  I added to other’s comments, and then later worried that I offended them, that I didn’t express myself good enough and they took it the wrong way.   I tell you, I’m one of those people who can’t even talk half the time, and if I do, then afterwards I play the conversation over and over and realize how utterly stupid I must have sounded.  Making first impressions is so hard.  For me.

I’ve learned since the Bible study, that yes, I am a worry wort.  Not in the aspect that I worry the house will catch on fire or the world will end, but I worry what people think of me.  I worry if I’m good enough for them, if I’m likable, if I’ll measure up as friend-worthy.  I find myself worrying about this a lot more now that I’m in a new place, trying to make new connections. In my hometown where I lived all my life, those relationships and connections were well established before I had to worry about it.  I mean, I made it out of junior high and then high school.  I’m nearly 40 years old, so figuring out who I am and worrying if people will like the person that I am, should be long gone and over with.  Well, it’s not.

As we sat in a semi-circle in a lady’s home, our Bibles opened on our laps, sharing our deepest fears and worry and getting all down and personal, I began to feel so refreshed and renewed.  It has been a very long time since I participated in a small group and I left there feeling filled up to the measure with God and fellowship.  It was a good feeling.  I just love how GOD knows exactly what we need and meets that need in ways we don’t expect.

The leader touched on many scriptures, but the one that spoke to me in so many ways was 2 Timothy 1:7.

I heard Beth Moore teach on this scripture before and so I know a  different version.  The version I’ve always recited is from the KJV that reads:  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (emphasis mine)

But the scripture read aloud at the Bible study was a different version than I know.  The NIV reads:  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (emphasis mine)

EUREKA!!

Self-discipline is something I struggle with on a daily basis.  I can get lazy.  I can procrastinate.  There are so many things I want to accomplish and yet I lack the self-discipline.  I beat myself up each night for not doing what I need to because of the self-discipline it requires.    After hearing this version of the verse, it was an epiphany.  GOD gives me self-discipline.  It is from Him.  Which means I can accomplish all that I desire with self-discipline.  If He gives self-discipline, then it makes sense to me that the lazy, procrastinating spirit is from Satan.  Of course it is.  He doesn’t want me to succeed, he wants to steal my joy.  He came in fact, to steal, kill and destroy.  Destroy my dreams, destroy my hope, destroy my family, my health, and ultimately my life.  Satan wants me to live in defeat and to go to bed every night disappointed in myself.

On a second note, that scripture also speaks to my timidity around new people and new situations.  My lack of self confidence, my worry of first impressions and if people will like me.  Timidity does not come from God.  I know who I am in Him and I need to hold my head up and walk proudly knowing that if He is for me, who can be against me, right?

I’m refreshed by this.  Which is exactly what the Word of God will do, refresh.  I am uplifted.  I am hopeful.  I am smiling.  My joy is abundant.

Now when I’m faced with my lazy, procrastinating spirit, or my weaknesses want to override my strengths, or I want to give in and not work toward goals I have set for myself, then I recite 2 Timothy 1:7.

God has given me self-discipline.

 

 

Posted in Faith, Family, Uncategorized

You’d better listen.

This morning I sent this 14 year old off to school.

ash homecoming

It’s Homecoming here.  Last night there was a bonfire, today a pep rally, tonight a football game, tomorrow a dance.

We be busy.

So later, I was replying to some comments here on my blog and I ended up clicking on something that took me way back to some of my first posts.  I saw comments from my dad, which made me smile and brought a touch of sadness as well.  Clicking here led to clicking there until  I came across this post from a few years back that is entitled “Listen.”

I think it’s my favorite blog post of all time.

It’s a voicemail from that sweet 14 year old above when she was a bit younger.   A bit more innocent.  But still as fun.  And crazy.  And tender.

You have to listen to this message.  It shows her heart.

A beautiful heart.

Here’s the original post from 2010:

My niece called me.  She left the sweetest, most precious voicemail.

Before you hear more, I must tell you this.

“Mama” in the message, works in bail bonds.  They were at the jail to bail someone out. Thankfully, not a member of the family…….this time.

My niece had been prostrate weeping and wailing for hours because her friend Perla couldn’t come over after she had been planning it for a whole entire week.  She was devastated.

And lastly, Jesus is her homeboy.

Click on the link below.  You must.  It’ll make you smile, I hope.

http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=10255644-023

Authors Note:  It took me 17 hours, 904 online tutorials, and ten of my own dollars to learn how to post this to my blog.  I have yanked every hair from my head and am now forever changed, not to mention bald.  So it had better make you smile.

Thanks for listening 🙂

Posted in Faith, Family

Change

It seems my life stays in a constant state of adjustment.

Change happens.  There’s no stopping it.

Some changes we create, and some changes just happen and we have no choice but to  hold on with a white knuckle grip.

Although I’d like to be in charge of the change in my life, sometimes I prefer the latter.  That way I can call it God or Fate or Providence or Destiny and in turn I can take no responsibility for the failures or disappointments that may come from it.

We all experience it, and change is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s perceived as such most of the time, but we must ask ourselves:  really do we want to always remain the same person– in the same situations –working the same job –living in the same house– doing the same old things?

Yes!! Yes this girl screams!  We do!  I do!  It’s much safer there and it doesn’t hurt.

But life just doesn’t work that way.

Over the past two years I’ve come face to face and heart to heart with

  • the death of my dad (grief, tears, sadness, longing)
  • a move to the little trailer house on the prairie (snakes, wind, dust, mice, trains, and yes even Jehovah Witnesses still visit)
  • pregnancy and the birth of my child (joy, tears, pain, guilt, fear)
  • job change for my husband (worry)
  • quitting my job of 12 years to stay home with my baby (dependence, budget, purpose, freedom, happiness)
  • learning how to be a mother ( sleeplessness, selflessness, worry, guilt, time management, joy, exhaustion)

And now, now, another biggie is heading my way.  Another move.  But this time to another town.  In another state.  I haven’t really talked about it because when I talk about it, that makes it real.  I don’t talk about it, not because I’m not excited or I don’t want it to happen, but because I’m afraid.  I don’t talk about it because doing my ostrich impersonation is much easier than recognizing that it really is happening.

But change–it is a comin’.

Soon and very soon, we will be packing up our cares and woe, tossed in with a little happiness and excitement and heading to a new destination.

My husband’s dream is to live in the mountains.  And I guess we aren’t getting any younger.   We’ve sold our little place here in the country, chickens too, and as soon as the buyers little ducklings are in a row, we will know when our last night here will be.

So on this eve of Thanksgiving, with my heart and my head filled with so much worry, trepidation, and fear, that it’s hard to find the excitement, I give thanks to God my Father, the Almighty, Who knows every breath I’ll ever take, Who numbers every hair on my head, Who knows my thoughts before I think them, and my blog posts before I type them, Who did not give me a spirit of fear, but of strength and power; I thank Him for his sovereignty and grace, for His love and providence, for His son and my salvation.  I thank Him for my daughter and my husband, my family and my friends, my health and my freedom to just pick up and move whenever and wherever we choose.  I thank Him for my past and my future, for my hurts and my sorrows, for my joy and my elation, for opportunities granted and doors closed.  For all He has done and for all He is going to do.

Dear friends, please hold me and my family in your prayers as we begin again.

 

 

Posted in Animals, Children, Family

Feeding the Big Chickens

We recently had a family picnic at the park.  It was a beautiful September day and we were in the big city, so we decided to grab a couple burgers and enjoy them under the treetops.

The park has a big lake with walkers and joggers circling it.  A few fisherman had cast their poles into the water and were waiting patiently in their lawn chairs.  A sweet elderly couple sat at a picnic table, his arm draped around her shoulders, enjoying the day.

 

We sat right at that other picnic table fighting off the flies.  I watched  that little old couple and my thoughts turned romantic.  I smiled at the idea of  how sweet and long-lasting their love is.  Like something Nicholas Sparks would write.  And then as I eavesdropped a little more, I discovered that they weren’t an old married couple after all, but new companions.  He was telling her about the time when he was twelve and they visited Wisconsin.  He talked about the war.  She asked questions about his former marriage.  As we got up to leave, I snapped their picture, glad to know that new love exists.  That little white-haired couple lifted my spirits and reminded me that no matter how old you are, there is still time to make new friends.

We saved a little bit of our hamburger buns for the ducks.  Is it just me, or do you get a little wigged out when all the ducks start surrounding you, crowding into your space, honking and quacking?  I was attacked by a duck once, I guess you could call it that, and ever since that experience, I’ve been a little gun-shy.  Or duck-shy.

EK has a way of expressing her delight.  She OH’s.  When she sees that little black baby boy on the Pamper’s box, she says Oh, Oh, Oh, but drags it out.  She Oh’ed at the ducks and the swans.  I wonder what her little mind was thinking of those gigantic birds.  Maybe something along the lines of “Whoa man, that is one big chicken.”

She was just as curious as they were and when it mistook her bare toes for bread crumbs, she didn’t cry, she just Oh’ed at it.

When all our hamburger buns were either eaten or growing soggy in the water, we took a little stroll around the lake and enjoyed the moment with dreams of many more to come.