Monday, December 27, 2010

The Art of the Response


Everybody personally knows at least one person in their life who fits the criteria of a "control freak". If a handful of you are truly honest, you would be willing to admit that you land in that category as well.
I used to think that I didn't fit in that category, but the more years I add to my life, the more I realize how many ways that this description applies to me. It is most definitely humbling, but I believe it is that which humbles us that causes us to experience personal growth.
I love the concept of friendships/relationships. There is no more beautiful of an experience than two people who take turns giving and taking, which in turn forms a tapestry of understanding, love and endless opportunities to learn and grow as an individual. A very large part of a relationship is the concept of the response. Without the personal verbal and/or physical response of one individual to another, there would be no relationship. Having the ability to respond to our environment is one of the many ways that God continues to show us that we are living, breathing human beings. Have you ever temporarily lost your voice? It is a terrible feeling to not be able to respond verbally in a way that accurately depicts how you feel and/or think about something.
There is great freedom in responding. How you choose to respond is entirely up to you; nobody else can do it for you. Along with the freedom of personal response comes the reality that we have absolutely no control over how someone chooses to respond to us. This is an area of relationships that I trust my God is refining in me. I pay great attention to how I respond to people. I usually take time to word and articulate things exactly the way I want them to come across, and for some odd reason, I think that if I respond to someone in a certain way and with a concerted amount of effort, that their response should be equal or above what I believe to be reproach. When they don't respond in the way that I expect, I take it personally in some way, even though there was most likely no reason to feel that way.
Our relationship with Jesus Christ is no different. We can come to Him with petitions of praise, requests, frustrations and concerns, but we have no control in how God is going to choose to answer those prayers or reveal Himself to us. Our relationship with God and the response we give Him takes a very serious amount of trust and faith. The central difference between the response of God to His children and human relationships is that we can be certain that God's response to us will never harm or hurt us. We can rest assured that God's response to His children will always be exactly what we need at exactly the right time. Even when we don't understand why He is responding in the way that He is; Whether that takes the form of a response that you didn't want or expect, or what appears to be no response at all, we can take hold of the promise that not having control over His response shouldn't create anxiety, but should create peace.

A prayer that is very near and dear to my heart is the "Serenity Prayer". I'm sure many of you are familiar with the simple, yet profound prayer.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Give me the courage to change the things that I can
And the wisdom to know the difference."

It is absolutely imperative that we have a basic, solid understanding of clearly knowing what we do and do not have control over. Once we can identify these things, the need for control over everything begins to pale in comparison to the peace that can be experienced when we are responsible for what is ours, leaving the rest up to God. So whether it be something as silly as a person who brought eleven items to the "10 items or less" lane, or something as detrimental to the heart as feeling hurt by the way a loved one has responded to us, we can have that peace. God is handing this special gift to us, we just need to take it.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Scrooged" without Jesus


It is the day after Christmas, and at least three months since I have last written on this blog. Enough has happened in the last three months to serve as material for many different posts, but it seems as if my life has been in full speed in so many different areas; so much so, that "writer's block" has set in, however I feel that block disappearing as all the processing of this highly analytical brain takes the form of actual concepts and words. Just a quick forewarning: You may need to read this post in a couple sittings, or you may just want to stop here. It's going to be a doozy.

I have always been a "pro-holiday" type of gal. I think I get that from my mom. My mom has a way of making nearly every major holiday a special and memorable experience, and I have found myself following in her footsteps. However, I am ashamed to admit that it took me nearly the entire month of December to get into the Christmas spirit. Maybe it was stress, maybe it was the fact that I've been preparing for the blessed Christmas season for over two months for my job and when December rolled around, I was already "Christmas-ed out". Or maybe it was all the transition of moving, the changes in my job, unforeseen events that through me "off kilter" for a time and shook me up a bit. The truth is, it was a combination of all of those things.

Something that God revealed to me during my break from "real life", was how incredibly selfish I have been. I have been so wrapped up in my own world that I have not adequately sought out the needs of others, invested in my relationship with my Savior, or taken the time to diligently pray. I have been very tired, which has in part been a result of trying to rely on my own strength, rather than realizing that unless I solicit God's strength, I have none at all.
I definitely had a "Scrooge" attitude this last month. I didn't really buy any gifts, had no appreciation for Christmas decorations, got sick of all my favorite Christmas music really quickly and envied the excitement that so many people had for that big day. I kept trying to force a smile and excitement for my residents, but deep down inside, I just wanted this month to be over with.

The day that I left to go home for Christmas, I got a phone call stating the news that a hopeful living situation was not going to happen. I was upset for a couple hours, allowing myself to have a pity party on my drive home. In my search for a stable, affordable place to live, I have often felt that there hasn't been any room for me. Whether it be there are no available apartments, or the people that I lived with, it just feels like there hasn't been any room. Ironically, I realize that I've been doing the exact same to God. I haven't had a whole lot of room for Him. I have not kept my eyes fixed on Him, and have in turn made very little room for anything but myself.

On Christmas Eve during the traditional candle light service at my mom's church, I was reminded in such a humble, gentle way that Jesus came to us. It wasn't a matter of seeking Him out and looking for Him, but that He came to us in the form of a tiny, helpless babe to save us from our sinful selves. Unlike our world or the inn keeper that Mary and Joseph encountered, He always has room for us, even when we shut Him out. It is only when we let Him in that we can experience the peace that we long for; the peace that He desires us to have. I think that in the midst of the chaos and secularism of Christmas, we forget why He came. He didn't come to give us a reason to have a day off, time with our family, gorge ourselves on baked goods and sing peppy, "feel good" Christmas songs; He came to redeem us, to save us, to give us life. It's about hope, healing and restoration in a broken and depraved world.


May you hold these truths in your heart, and may the peace of knowing Jesus leave room in your hearts for Him to do far more then you ever dreamed possible.

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

God Burnt my Blue Print



God has me in this place where I simply do not know the next step. Ever been there? Have you ever been in that place where you simply don't have a plan, a reliable inclination, or a flashing neon sign that says "This is it!"?



I have always been a woman with a plan. I take great comfort in writing a blue print of my life, content to let God build it as He sees fit. However, in this particular season of life, God has basically just taken away my blue print, which has left me to trust the construction of Jesus's work in my life.

With Jesus as our foundation, we can not be shaken; our lives cannot be broken to the ground. With this truth in mind, I'm aware of the fact that the heavy natural elements of life have a way of rattling our house, sometimes to the point where we wonder if our house will remain in tact. With the Lord as our cornerstone, we cannot be moved, despite the fact that everything else around us is spinning out of control, blowing, burning,and drowning in floods of humanity.
I have come to learn that it is when I am out of control that God builds something truly breath taking in my life; adding details and features that I could not have ever dreamt up on my own.

Build your life on Jesus. Hand Him your blue print; surrender your plans. Trust that His construction is reliable, and that brick by brick, you will be able to see that His work is the most trusted of them all.






Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lack


As Christians, we have the promise and the hope that Jesus is all that we need. In the "I centered" world of pain, bitterness, materialism, disease and hardship, we seek refuge in the pages of His love letter to us; the Bible. We turn to fellow believers for encouragement and hope, and we fill the pews of churches all across the world in an effort to give and receive that which God has blessed us with.
As of late, I've had a very rude spiritual awakening. I've realized that God has allowed me to walk through a season in which I am facing my greatest fear: the fear of not having enough; the fear of "lack". I've been learning that the very thing we fear is the very thing that God will use to show us how infinitely greater He is. That if we take stock and comfort in having "enough" in this world, we are fooling ourselves and setting ourselves up for self distruction.

As with previous posts, I take the risk in divulging personal details in my life in an effort to bless, encourage and inspire my readers; this post is no different.

I grew up in a home where there was much "lack". There were many ways in which it didn't lack, so much so, that that which I did not lack wasn't made obvious to me until many, many years later, when I found myself trying to find fulfillment in things other than my relationship with Jesus Christ. It was this empty hole that I wasn't aware of, and as a result, I formed unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with things in life that were normal to me, but were in fact, not normal. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to reach that place of truly believing with everything in me, that Jesus is all that I need.


Have you been there?


If you have been there, then you know what a shock it is to the heart to see that what you thought was normal, "o.k." and even "healthy", was all a facade. It is an even greater shock to realize that there was absolutely nothing that you could do about it; that as a child, you were practically helpless, and unable to know what you know now. There used to be a time that I was bitter about this, and very angry. I asked God "why?!", and struggled to trust Him and His provision in my life. I said I trusted God with my whole heart, but the truth was, I trusted Him as my Father, my Shepherd, My Healer, My friend, my Lover and my Teacher, but I did not trust Him as my Provider. Wow. Just seeing those words typed in black and white humbles me, and is threatening to make me bawl in front of all the fellow customers in Caribou Coffee.


If you think about it, why would we trust God in the role of our lives that we didn't experience here on earth? The answer is, in our humanity, we can't. Apart from Him, we simply can't do it. In fact, apart from Him, we are drawn to the very thing that we are trying so hard to avoid; the very thing that we are trying to escape. We can only trust Him to be and do for us what He promises, through HIS strength and HIS power. When we see and accept these kinds of truths, we are humbly drawn into the only healthy co-dependent relationship that exists; our relationship with Jesus Christ. When we acknowledge that we are a bi-product of sin and without His blood, without His grace, without His Holy Spirit actively working in our hearts, we are bound for a life of sin and self distruction, with no hope....no hope at all.


My prayer for you is, that like me, God will clearly reveal to you the specific role that God is in your life that you are flat out rejecting, due to fear and ignorance that is preventing you from acknowledging that truth. Is it the role of Healer? Do you flat out choose to believe that He will not heal you of an emotional, physical, spiritual disease or wound? Or is it the role of Teacher? Do you struggle to believe that God will actually teach you everything you need to know to navigate the life that you have been given? Perhaps it is God's role of being the ultimate Lover in your life. Do you struggle to believe that you are worth loving, that God loves you with an intensity that you can't even begin to fathom? Whatever role it is, may you be humbled to the point where you are flat on your face in tears, that God DOES fulfill that role. May you repent of your sins that only cause guilt, greed, arrogance, pride and ultimately, pain.


May the "lack" that you have experienced in your life serve as a means to turn to the One who, in Him, you will lack absolutely nothing in this world or the next.


"Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Then the Lord will take care of me."-Psalm 27:10


"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. "-Matthew 6:33


"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withold from those whose walk is blameless."-Psalm 84:11


"...For your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."-Matthew 6:8


"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith!"-Luke 12:28



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dreaming with Jesus


As children, many of us have wished upon a shooting star or that single, solitary star that hangs in the sky, as if it's only purpose to be there is to have someone wish on it. And, if you are being honest, you will admit to the fact that at some point in your adulthood you have wished upon a star.

Being the strong dreamer that I am, I believe that dreaming is a neccesity to surviving the real world. Hopefully at some point we will find that difficult balance of dreaming with our whole hearts, and accepting life on life's terms; and what a balance that is.

As we draw closer to the heart of God, I believe that He plants dreams in our hearts; dreams that honor Him, dreams that may not come to fruition in the way that we envision them to arrive, but as we dream with our Jesus, we can trust that the excitement, beauty and joy of the fulfillment of His dreams for our lives will vastly outweigh anything that we could dream up on our own.

In the Bible there are accounts of God speaking to people in nocturnal dreams, and there are many accounts of people who believe that God has and does speak to them in this same manner. But, here's a thought: Not only does God speak to us through those dreams, but also through the "wish upon a star" dreams. We can rest in the fact that He has so carefully and uniquely crafted us in His image. What a joy to know that He has created us to be the men and women that we are, and that He hears our child-like wishes and desires and takes them into account.

In the brokeness of dreams that have not "come true" yet or ever, God calls us to give Him those broken stars, and to trust and believe that His dreams for our lives are all we ever need to wish for.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What's Your Walker?

One of the things that I love about life is that concepts and lessons that we are faced with are never actually mastered. We don't just learn something, and that's the end of it; we continue to get faced with the same concepts and lessons, but in the form of a different experience and in different times in our lives. I think a reoccurring concept in my life and the lives of so many others is trust. Trusting in God, trusting people and trusting ourselves. Trust is such a small word, but God tends to use the small things to teach us big lessons.

Last week I took a handful of my residents on an evening picnic adventure in Red Wing. The weather was fabulous, and the beauty of fall was evident as we drove down the windey road to our destination. After a truly joyful, meaningful meal, complimented with laughter, reminiscing and the enjoyment of one another's company, we loaded the bus to top our evening off with a slice of pie and a cup of coffee at Perkins.
As we were loading into the bus, one of my residents pushed her walker all the way to the entrance of the bus steps, completely blocking the entry. As I gently tried to move the walker out of the way, she clung to it, saying "I need this, or I'm going to fall." I softly told her that she needed to let go of her walker in order to get into the bus, and that she could grab my arm for stability as she made her way up the steps. Once she realized the reality of the situation, she let go of her walker, grabbed my arm, and made it safely up the steps.

Friends, what is "your walker"? What is something that you are hanging onto so tightly, that it is that very thing that is preventing you from moving forward in your life? In my residents case, it was fear. She had such an intense grip on her walker, due to her fear of falling. I can safely say that though the "walker's" may take different forms, fear is the sole demon that keeps us hanging on for dear life.
As a result, I believe that intense fear can actually create illusions and self deception.When we are afraid, we often use somebody or something to clothe that fear in. In our humanity, we have the potential to subconsciously believe that if we use something good, pretty, attractive, practical and/or acceptable to hide the grotesque nature of fear, we create a reality that doesn't really exist. When we don't face our fears, we don't face ourselves; and for many, facing ourselves is our greatest fear.
As children of God, we have been delivered from the bondage of fear. When we "give Him our walkers", He stabilizes us with His strength, compassion and forgiveness. Fear is the absence of trust. Complete trust in God is impossible when we are afraid.
Just like the milky way and host of stars that were lit bright enough to lead the African American slaves to freedom, so does God shine His light on the deception and darkness in our lives.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"-Psalm 27:1

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I will trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal men do to me?"-Psalm 56:4

"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

"So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known."-Matthew 10:26

"because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship..."-Romans 8:14-15

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."-1st John 4:18

As my resident trusted me with her walker, may you in a more deeply and profound nature hand your "walkers" to the God of your heart who so desperately wants you to trust Him with the entire existence of your body, soul and spirit. May you find the freedom and the peace that is yours to claim as a dearly and beloved child of the King.




Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Praying For Light



Lately, I've been praying for light. Light to uncover darkness in deception and sin, and the light to see the next part of the path that I'm walking on. Last night as I was driving home, the full moon was so luminescent that it lit up the entire sky, mimicking that of 7:00 P.M. rather than 11 P.M. That beautiful moon lit up everything underneath him, casting a pearlized glow on the ordinary.



Tonight, Mother Nature exchanged the moon for an intense thunderstorm, torrential sheets of rain and wind invading the evening hours. As I drove up the hill to my home, the bright lights on my car revealed just enough of the road for me to see where I was going. As I slowly wound my way around the bend, I felt Jesus tugging at my heart, communicating to me that, just like the intensely lit moon and the bright lights on my car that allowed just enough light to see through the sheets of wind and rain, so does God provide just enough of His light for me to walk through life. Where we need to see, He'll be sure we do. It is in that darkness that we have to trust that soon enough there will be a candle in a window.


2nd Samuel 22:29 says "You are my lamp, oh Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light."


May the God of light and luminosity shine His hope into your soul. May you rest in the truth that that which needs to be revealed is already revealed, and His light will never burn out.






Saturday, September 18, 2010

The World Needs More Leahs




One of the greatest blessings that God has given to me since being in Cannon Falls is the Women's Bible study that I help lead at the church that I attend. It has served a purpose to me much like a secret tree house in some near by, woodsy area would for a little girl; a means of escape, inspiration, comfort, encouragement and hope in the middle of so many hectic and challenging weeks.

We just recently finished a Bible study series entitled " Bad Girls of the Bible", by Liz Curtis Higgs. We started with the first book, and after it was apparent that the Holy Spirit was working through that resource, we decided to do the next book in the series. As we learned in depth about many of the well known (and not so well known) women of the Bible; the mistakes that they made, and the God who redeemed them with His grace, it was like looking into a mirror and seeing the flaws of my own character, with the hope that those flaws were only an opportunity for God to show Himself flawless and capable to do great things in my life.

One of the women we studied was Leah, number one wife of Jacob in physical secession of his two wives, but second and last in his heart, as he was in love with Leah's sister, Rachel. I remember hearing this famous story from the book of Genesis multiple times throughout my life, but never before have I viewed Leah, the "understudy" wife with the "weak eyes", in such a way as I do today. (This story can be found in the Bible, in the book of Genesis in chapter 28-31). Please read these chapters to refresh your knowledge or gain new insight on this story before moving forward with this post.

While studying Leah, the heart of the matter was understanding if she really had much of a choice to be involved in the trickery of her uncle Laban: being handed to Jacob as his wife, as per their marital custom of that time. We wavered back and forth as a group, trying to decide in our hearts whether or not Leah had a choice in the matter. But as we dove deeper into the personal choices that she had to make, it became apparent that that wasn't what God was trying to communicate to His children.
It seems that anyone who has read this classic Bible story has always felt bad for Leah, because Leah was described as being "unpretty and unloved" by her husband Jacob. I cannot imagine how painful it would be to be married to a man who wasn't attracted to me, didn't demonstrate his love toward me, and used me only as a reproductive machine to push out babies to continue his name sake. All the while your beautiful, knock out of a sister has your husband's heart and affections. What a painful existence.

There are so many elements to this story that are worthy of discussing, but I'm going to stay focused on what the Lord taught me through the life of Leah. Leah loved Jacob, and that love was never returned. The Lord graciously blessed her with multiple children, with every birth wishing and hoping that "maybe this time he will love me". What Leah initially missed is that even though Jacob loved Rachel, God loved Leah. In the study, Liz Curtis Higgs shares the research that "...God loved her, and knew that child bearing was "the only way to achieve status in her own family and community." " The following is the paragraph that hit me like a ton of bricks:

"Leah looked at the children around her feet, gazed up at the heavens above, and realized how very much she was loved, how clearly blessed she as among women. With a heart full of joy, Leah lifted her voice to the One who mattered the most. "...this time, I will praise the Lord." Gen. 29:35.
What a woman! Instead of blaming God for what she didn't have, she began praising God for what she did have. "Now I will praise the Lord!"(AMP). "

Leah had to come to a place in her heart where the love of her Lord was truly enough. She had to go through the pain of being unloved in a marriage and hated by her own sister's jealousy of her fertility to see God's sovereignty in her life. God saw her, he heard her and he loved her deeply, evident in His provision. God didn't want Leah for anyone else, He set her apart for Himself and Himself alone.
How many women spend their precious time and energy wanting to be "seen and heard", and doing whatever they possibly can to have this? How many women have been tossed aside in families, relationships, friendships and churches, unseen and unheard? Too many my friends. Far too many. How many of us ( male and female) seek to be seen and heard by faulty humans, and turn our backs on the One who tenderly knitted together every facet of our beautiful being, paying great attention and detail to everything from eye color to the personality that was designed to communicate His beauty and His love?

The title and inspiration for this blog was inspired by a comment that was made by an individual that stated that "The world needs more Ruth's". While I don't disagree with this statement, it was impressed upon my heart to communicate to you that this world "needs more Leah's". This world is in sore need of women who love Jesus, and can come to a place in their hearts and lives where He is enough. A place where Christian women all over the world, can raise their hands to the heavens and boldly declare that "They surrender all" to their Jesus. All of the pain, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, bitterness, deception and questions of "why". Leah stopped asking "Why" and "When", and rested in the love of her Jesus, knowing that she had been seen and heard by the One who mattered the most.

As Christians, we need to be in prayer for the women in our lives. What freedom can be achieved and what joy can be received, if every woman and girl, in every church body, claimed these as her own?! How would this affect every facet of their lives, and lives of those they've invested in? Only God can do such a miracle, only the God of Leah can break such high walls and bitter hearts.



"My soul alone finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken." -Psalm 62 1-2.


Male or female, girl or boy, young or old: May you find the hope and the freedom of resting in the fact that you are seen and heard by the Lord Jesus Christ. May you rest in this beautiful truth, and find the strength that you need fight on the battle ground of this earthly world. May you not be shaken, and if you are shaken, may you not be ripped off your feet by the enemy that seeks to kill and destroy this hope that God has imparted upon you. May you have the courage "be a Leah".


Amen.


















Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Free To Be Me", and The Fashion Blunder



I absolutely love it when things "tie together". Whether it be in a conversation where you are verbally "connecting the dots" with somebody, a research paper where all of the quotes and information take the form of an actual piece of organized work, rather then a slew of white index cards scattered on a table. Or, such as in this case, an evening where it was evident that the Lord was orchestrating a theme/life lesson through a series of conversations, comments, and shared experiences.


I'm going to start this story with a fashion blunder that was unknowingly made at the start of my day. It had to have been about 45 degrees most of the day, with winds that made it feel even colder. I haven't had the time yet to go down to storage and pull out warmer clothes, and it seems like a sin to wear tights in the middle of september. My wardrobe has not quite transitioned from summer to fall, and even if it did transition all by itself, the craziness of my life would not have been able to keep up with the change. So, with that being said, on went the brown leggings and boots, with not a thought put into it, other than "this will keep me warm today and it matches". Between a memory care luncheon outing that used nearly all of my alloted daily brain and body power, cleaning the craft room, cooresponding to emails, trying to plan the October activity calendar, filling out insurance forms and running to Bible study, I had been going strong all day long, with a million and one things on my mind.

After a whole day went by in my leggings and boots, I was reprimanded by one of the teen girl's at church that I was "never to wear those leggings with that dress again." At first I was a bit shocked, because for most of my life, I have paid careful attention to what I wear and the impression that I give people. But then I came to a great realization. "I simply don't care!". It was like this mini mile stone marker as an adult. I certainly will take her advice, that is for sure, as I have demonstrated the fact that I may need a little assistance in the fashion department from time to time. Also, I spent a good 10 minutes looking at my fashion blunder, kind of amazed I had gone a whole day without a thought to those leggings. But, the mini mile stone marker is that I don't define myself by my appearance; that I have spent a lot of personal time cultivating that which is inside and the talents, gifts and calling that the Lord has blessed me with. I think I'm finally beginning to experience that personal freedom that comes from feeling free to be who I am, without any apologies, wishing to be different or comparing myself to other individuals.


And what did the Bible study topic just happen to be that night? "Free to be Me". As a group we discussed our individual talents, gifts and passions, and how unique and beautiful that each one is to the body of Christ. That although God's will for us is about HIM and how He desires to use us to further His kingdom and glorify His existance, He has created each of His children as uniquely as a finger print; not one of them the same, but all of them contributing something beautiful to His divine plan. I think that women especially get so caught up in what is the "right" thing to wear, have, do, etc. and somehow we feel inadequate and/or incomplete if we don't do "the right thing". Praise the Lord that as Christians, we have a right to that peace of knowing that our self worth lies within what He thinks of us. "...For a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1st Samuel 16:5-7. We can also have confidence in the fact that if we invest in our relationship with Him, diligently study His love letters to us, and take time to listen to His voice, we are investing our time and energy into something far more important than the latest fashion trend. In my short 24 years of life, I have come to find that the most valuable fashion accessory lies within 1st Peter 3:3-4 . I love how the "New Living translation" words it.


"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."


What peace we can find in these verses. We won't ever be able to truly keep up with what is "right" in the world of fashion and appearance, for a variety of reasons. However, if we continually invest and cultivate the inner beauty that can only come from Jesus Christ, we can rest in that truth. For a woman at rest with herself is a beautiful thing indeed.



Monday, September 13, 2010

A Half Tank of Gas


A few weeks ago, I had plans to go visit my family over Labor Day weekend. I had carefully managed my finances to make sure that I would have enough money for gas there and back, especially because it was the week before pay day, which is always a tight week.

I thought I had covered all of my bases, when I failed to remember an automatic payment that literally took my gas money away. I wasn't sure how I was going to get home, and after a good cry, I realized that I might not make it home. As I cut and pasted my way through being upset at my current reality, (Making signs for the "Resident's of the Day") I realized that it was an opportunity to "accept life on life's terms".

After reaching that place of acceptance, my mom called. I explained to her what happened, and told her that even though I was sad at the reality, I was willing to accept it. Then my mom asked me how much gas I had left, to which I replied " A half tank". I could hear the smile in her voice when she said "Sarah, a half tank of gas will get you home. I'll pay for your trip back"

Isn't that just like God? He provides that half tank of gas; He provides just enough for us to make it home. And furthermore, He'll meet us half way. And to truly put the "cherry on the top", when we can't even make it half way, He'll come to us. In fact, He'll always come to us, we just have to be willing to let Him take residence in our lives.

I think one of our greatest challenges in life is to do just that; "Accept life on life's terms". Somehow we get conditioned to think that life has to be on our terms, and if it's not on "normal" terms ( normal would be defined as how the world views it) then there must be something not quite right. A classic example of not accepting life on life's terms is using credit cards when there are no actual funds to draw from at that moment. The reality is that there is no money to buy what you want or need, so instead of accepting that, we swipe the plastic which puts things on our terms.

Lately, I've come to learn that I don't want things on my terms. One of my all time favorite quotes is by Joshua Harris. "The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing." When it's not in God's timing, when it's not apart of His present plan, it is truly wrong for us at that time. I think it's absolutely essential to our peace to come to that place of accepting that we don't really know what we truly need and when that perfect timing is. We chase after it, we look for "signs", and we continually ask God "Is this it?" but the truth is, until it's on His terms, we won't really know; And, we have to trust Him that when it is time to know, He'll show us.


Oh friends, that is what it all boils down to... trust. Trusting Him in the midst of uncertainty, fear and longing. Trusting and believing that just like that half tank of gas that was left in my car, He'll bring us the rest of the way home, just in the nick of time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beauty in Wrinkles



























What is beauty? I would venture to say that there is at least one thousand definitions to describe the word "beauty", for as they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". The concept of beauty plays a monumental part in our existance. Without beauty, life would be dull and unappealing. Imagine life without the brilliant, artist color pallete, mixed into hues and shades that could only be created by God, the master artist Himself. Our world has created standards of beauty, but starting right now, I would like to challenge you to look beyond the standard and find beauty in things that are unnoticed; in things that may not be inititally as striking as a Hawaiian sunset.

This afternoon at work, I took pictures of my residents and their family members for no charge to them. Earlier that morning I had two wonderful volunteers come in and do makeovers for my residents. Through the mist of hair spray, the heat of the curling iron and the laughter in the fellowship, it was evident to me that my female residents were not only feeling "good", but were actually beginning to feel "pretty".

Think about it. How difficult would it be to feel pretty at 85? Your hair isn't as full as full as it used to be, and this includes your eyebrows and eyelashes. your makeup doesn't go on as smoothly because it lands in all the creases of your wrinkles, and you hide your true smile because your teeth are a bit cracked and some may be missing. You struggle to be fashionable in your shoe choices, as they only make supportive tenny shoes in a limited amount of colors. Not to mention that if your eye sight is poor, you can't clearly see any of those factors anyways, so you are always at the mercy of those around you.

Just look at those pictures. There is no other word then "beautiful" to describe them. In every "old" person is a young girl or boy; they still have youth to spare. We can only hope to radiate the beauty that these people do. It is at this age that true beauty is more evident. When everything seems to be "falling apart" physically, it is then that the inner beauty of these individuals shines through. Beautiful is a woman at rest with her life with a radiant smile, or a man who is still deeply in love with his bride of over 60 years. That, my friend, is beauty. As Christians, we are called to step beyond the standards of the world. When we do this, we physically and spiritually break the walls of this world, raising the bar, and reaching the lost.


May you have the courage to not only cultivate your inner beauty, but to also encourage that same cultivation in the lives of those around you. May you be reminded that unlike our bodies, God's precious, deep and beautiful love does not fall apart or fade, but remains intact in this life and the life to come.

























































































































Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Art of Pursuit






Ooh, I can feel the controversy of this topic running through my fingers as I type this post, and I'm only in the first sentence! Be forewarned: This post may become a tinsy bit more passionate then the other ones usually are. It may or may not have to do with the fact that for supper I had a non-fat mocha with an extra shot of expresso.There. You can't say I didn't warn you.




In my meager 24 years of life, I have gradually figured out what I do and do not want in a man. However, I'm going to go a step beyond that ( I know, a big shocker) and I'm going to boldly generalize one of the things that many women deeply desire in life. To be pursued and desired by an honorable man.
Anybody who really knows me knows that I have very "old fashioned", conservative views on dating, the roles of men and women in a relationship and marriage. I have some friends that think I'm crazy, and some that don't understand it, but I also have a handful of friends who share the same or similar views. We support one another on the road to understanding ourselves, so that we in turn can have a hope to try to understand that man or woman that we will end up spending the rest of our lives with.

I don't expect everyone to agree with everything I've posted, but remember; this blog is my little corner of the world, so I can write whatever I want. And, as always, I hope that what I write inspires and encourages, as well as encourages you to look at things in a different perspective. No "box inhabiting" in my world.
We live in a culture that has blurred, if not completely erased the dividing line between what it means to be a "man" and what it means to be a "woman". Thanks to that rediculous "Sexual Revolution", women tend to think that the concept and art of the pursuit of a woman is either:

A) Slow -" I can do this so much faster and quicker! I want what I want, and I want it now!"


B) Offensive-" Why does HE have to pay for my meal? I'm a self suffiecient, hard working single woman. Is he insinuating that I'm not capable? "

C) Non-equalizing: "Men and Women are on the same plane. Neither should be considered higher than the other. Women can do what a man can do. Women can do a man's job."

While the reality of these truths is that they've been largely accepted in our society, the truth of the matter is that they have ruined the beauty and the art of a man pursuing a woman, and a woman responding to the pursuit and her pursuer.
As women, we tend to think that our timing ( Which usually is when we want something) is the right timing. We give men the excuses that they are "dumb", "blind", "don't get it", "shy", "not experienced", etc. while there are certainly times that these things are legitimate, as women we tend to view them as things that just "slow up" what is "supposed to happen". That is when we call first, we initiate all the communication, we share our feelings, and we go out of our way to show them "how much we care".

Truth: If a man wants to be with a woman; if he has the slightest bit of interest in getting to know her beyond a platonic level, he will do something about it. and, if he desires to and doesn't, he's not the man that God desires him to be. That's a harsh statement, I know, and I feel a little bit like a rotten person for believing it, but I think it's true. God designed men to "conquer and divide" to be excited about "the hunt", and to desire a challenge to win something that is truly a prize. Likewise, God designed women with beautiful gifts of being able to respond, affirm and encourage the pursuit and the pursuer. My heart goes out to those men who want to and can't, with the reasons being many, none of which I am down playing in the least. Fears of rejection, not "being enough". failure, anxiety and arrogance are some of the reasons that come to mind, all of which are strongholds in a person's life that prevents them from moving forward. Only Jesus Christ can work miracles on the heart of a person in a strong hold, and I choose to believe that it happens.

I also have compassion for the women who think that if they "hunt down" the man they are interested in, that they will receive the attention, affirmation and affection that their hearts desire. My heart breaks when I see so many women searching for their significance and answers in a man who really wasn't "on board" in the first place. Fear, anxiety and arrogance also plays a role with women. Instead of having the grace and the courage to wait to be pursued and desired, we give into the fears such as being alone and fears of "not being enough or too much", just to name a few. And often times, these things can be a direct result as to how we view ourselves; the worth and emphasis that we place on who we are as individuals. Both men and women must initially find their significance and attractive qualities in the romancer of their hearts, Jesus Christ.
Passivity is an evil thing. I think that satan lurks in passitivity, totally ready to give men a reason to be so, and women reasons enough to accept it in a man. As women, when we "take over" and don't wait to be pursued, we encourage passivity in a man. We take away that mission, because we've claimed that mission as our own. Passitivity is the absence of passion. And with women, when we don't respond to the pursuit of a man, we are also demonstrating passivity. When we don't share how we really feel, or fail to respond directly with a "yes" or "no", we hinder the pursuer. We as women need to respect and encourage the men who put aside all of their fear of rejection, anxiety and pride, to show and tell you that they think you are worth getting to know. Even if one of the people isn't attracted to the other, this act absolutely demands respect. period. Pursuit is an honorable act in a very dishonorable society.

Jesus is the perfect gentleman. His chivelary is un-ending, His pursuit is relentless. His love is intoxicating, and He doesn't worry about "coming on too strong". As we grow in our relationship with Him, we can learn to respond with the faith and the courage that our youth demands of us. As we get to know the lover of our souls, we can learn on a more intimate level what God desires of His children in matters of the heart. Let Him pursue you, and may you have the courage to respond to His pursuit, unafraid of the future and more deeply in love then ever before. Furthermore, may you have the courage and desire to pursue His love for you, never fearing what may come of such a bold act of the heart.










Saturday, August 28, 2010

Again




Ever since I was a little girl, I've had this crazy notion that I'm supposed to get something right the first time. In addition to that, I've thought that if I learned something the first time, I should be able to get it right every time. Well, you can imagine how many times I've hit the floor, only to have gotten back up again, my stubborness and strong will proving to be a positive asset.

I distinctly remember being 12 years old, sitting at the kitchen table at 9:30 at night, sobbing over my math text book, pencil in hand, so extremely angry and upset that I just simply couldn't figure out those problems! My mom would either cry with me, or throw her hands up in frustration, not sure what to do with her dramatic, over analytical daughter who was so intelligent and mature for her age, and yet could not figure out how many minutes verses miles it took for charles to get to Texas going 65 miles an hour, or how in the world x didn't indeed equal 1o, even though I did the problem step by step, at least eight times.

As an adult, that same struggle has translated to so many different areas in my life. My mother reminded me the other day how many times she has failed and failed again in different areas of her life, and that sometimes she didn't learn the first time. That sometimes,it took four or five times before she actually got it and made the change, or figured out how to solve her problem.
Where in our human capabilities do we think that we are supposed to get it right the first time? Why do I expect this of myself, and why do I fall apart when I fall flat on my face the first time, thinking that it's "over" or "I'll never get this"?
One of my all time favorite movies is "Wild Hearts Can't be Broken". If you haven't had the privilege of experiencing this movie, it is a true story about a young girl whose stubborness and will was her greatest weakness and strength. She became a successful "diving girl", diving horses off of a high point into a swimming pool. I won't share the whole thing in an effort not to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but there is a scene in that movie that I want to share with you.

Sonora and Al ( This incredibly hot, gorgeous son of her boss) train this wild stallion in an effort to show Al's father ( the owner of the diving show business) that Sonora could dive horses, and be promoted from being a stable hand. Al told her if she could make a "moving mount" ( mounting the wild horse while the horse was running), she could become a diving girl.
Sonora fell again, and again and again. But each time that she did, she kept saying "Again." She absolutely refused to give up. She was going to make that moving mount. And you know what? She did. (
I've posted the link to the movie clip from youtube, go to minutes 3:45 for this scene. It's powerful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wp6TapXIK0&feature=related )

I think that sometimes, we need to accept and know ahead of time that we won't get it right the first time, and that maybe, just maybe, God uses that time to teach us that not only is it ok, but it's neccesary. It teaches us perseverence, trust, but most of all, I think it teaches us acceptance. When we accept life on life's terms, we gain peace. When we accept the fact that we aren't going to get it right the first time, we have peace. When we fall down and hit the ground so hard that we aren't sure if we can make it up again, all we have to say is "again". There is a lot of power in the word "again". It is a word that could be viewed as repetitive and boring, but I choose to view it as a word that God uses to keep us going. When we are absolutely positive that we simply can't do it, we can do it, with the strength and the help of our Heavenly Father. If we got it right every time, what would we learn, and how would God prove to be so much greater, so much more capable than we are?
I found the biography of the real Sonora Webster, to which I came across this quote from her sister.
"The movie made a big deal about having the courage to go on riding after she lost her sight. But, the truth was, riding the horse was the most fun you could have and we just loved it so. We didn't want to give it up. Once you were on the horse, there really wasn't much to do but hold on. The horse was in charge." Wow. Can you see the paralellism of the horse and Jesus?

Friends, the truth is that life is like making a moving mount on a horse. Everything is going in fast motion, and it's not going to all stop to give you time to "get it right" and "get things in order". You just have to jump on that horse, fall flat on your face, and try again. And if you choose not to even take that risk, you aren't participating in life. You stand on the side lines, worried that you are going to fail, when in all actuality, you are failing by not trusting God that He'll pick you back up again when you do fall. Maybe that's what it's all about. Maybe it's about being in pain and being uncomfortable, because it is right in that place that He can show us how great His capabilities are in taking care of His children.


May every fall you take bring you closer to your Father. May your bloody and scratched elbows and knees be an offering to your King. Let Him pick you up, and keep trying again, again and again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It Can Only Come As a Gift




God bless my "happy place".
I retreated there this evening with so much on my heart, and a need for space to breathe and think. I know that God meets us wherever we are at in every sense of that phrase, but for some reason I feel like He really meets with me in my "happy place". Do you have such a place? I certainly hope so. Everyone should have a place like that.
For the past couple months, I've been reading "Quest For Love" by Elizabeth Elliot. Tonight I dove into it again, and God certainly taught me something tonight that I hope is beneficial to you as well. My aim for this blog is to not merely write, but to write about things that will benefit and penetrate the hearts of my readers. I hope that this post is no exception.
In one of the chapters of Elizabeth's book she shares a story that took place in the 1800's about a missionary by the name of Hudson Taylor. Hudson was in love with girl #1. Girl #1 was also in love with Hudson, but didn't share his calling and passion for the mission field. Both Hudson and girl #1 thought that they could change each others minds, but to no avail. Hudson left for the mission field, and came upon girl #2. He liked girl #2 and pursued her, but she did not return his love for her. Hudson was living in China at the time, and the likelihood of finding a suitable mate in that part of the world seemed slim to none, until he came arcross Maria. He didn't spend much time with Maria, but grew to love her and proposed marriage to her. To make a long story short, they lived happily ever after.
However, here is the excerpt that hit me like a ton of bricks:

"Hudson's career had shown his compulsion for love. His muddled attempts to end loneliness had led him to make offers which, if accepted, would have snuffed out the flame of his pioneering zeal. His existance cried aloud to be organized, to be understood: his natural impatience made him flounder about trying to construct a partnership which could only come as a gift."
-John C. Polluck, Hudson Taylor and Maria


Nearly my whole life, I have heard the following phrase "Sarah, God witholds nothing good from His children." and this is a promise from God, as it is written in His word.(Psalm 34:10). In fact, I pray that in my daily prayers every morning. "Dear God, remind me that you withold nothing good from your children, and that which you withold that is good, is of greater good at that time." But tonight when I read the excerpt written above, the highlighted portion allowed me to go a step beyond that concept; that step being that when we are disobedient, when we insist on our way or what appears to be exactly what God wants for us, we actually take away the opportunity for God to give us His precious gifts. Don't get me wrong. Our God is a God of mercy and grace, and He works and moves in our lives despite our lack of obedience. However, I desire to receive gifts from God. Gifts that I cannot compose with my own resources and sheer, stubborn will, but gifts that can only be designed, formed and crafted by the ultimate gift giver. I want to be like the surprised little girl on her birthday that was only expecting the Barbie Doll that was on sale, and instead given a beautiful porcelin masterpiece that far outshined the plastic bimbo that she wanted in the first place.
Make room in your heart to accept the fact that God truly does not withold anything good for His children. Take comfort in the fact that that which is good and God honoring and is not happening, is not happening because that is of greater good for you at this time. Rest in the peace that when you let go of shopping for your own presents, He will surprise you with a beautiful package with the prettiest of papers and ribbons, only to find that on the inside is something you could never have dreamed up. Only God can dream up the ultimate blessings of our lives. Trust that He knows your taste, your favorite color, and exactly what makes your heart sing.

Let Him give those gifts to you, let Him lavish you, let Him love you. Let Him be the gift giver, and you be the receiver. For in this case, it is truly better to receive, then it is to give.

Wake Up, Show Up and Just Do It.


As I type the title of this blog post, I can hear my mother's voice ringing in my head. This phrase is loosely adapted from something my mother has said time and time again whenever it seemed unbearable to do something that God had clearly laid out for you to do.
That is how I can describe this last month of my life. Nothing really makes any sense, and what I thought made total sense no longer makes any sense at all. Make sense? :)
Very little "feels" good right now. I find myself fighting back tears as I go through my days at work, trying to "be grateful for my assigned portion"(Psalm 16:5) and "trusting Him in the least thing shown." Friends, I'm here to tell you that God answers our prayers, especially the ones that our human flesh doesn't really want answered. You know what prayers I'm talking about "God, please give me patience", and then He gives you a whole plateful of opportunities to practice patience.
Here is what I've learned: Trusting God means just doing life, even if you don't know how in the world it's going to come together. Trusting God doesn't "feel" good. It's not a "mountain top experience", and when you trust God, satan is going to come right in there and do everything he possibly can to break that trust apart. There is a contemporary Christian song that goes " I don't want to go through the motions". Although I appreciate the song and I understand what the author is communicating to his audience, sometimes you have to go through the motions when you trust God. Sometimes going through the motions is trusting God.

I choose to believe that our God is a God who understands that sometimes we have to go through the motions and sometimes we have to wrestle between trusting Him and thinking we are crazy for doing so, in order to fully understand His capability of moving mountains in our lives.

It's perfectly acceptable to "go through the motions". When we "wake up, show up and just do it", it allows God to truly do the same in our life. When we move out of the way and throw away our ideals of how we are to "feel, do and be", God steps in and shows us what that really means.

Trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him.

Trust Him in the least thing shown.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stumble




I've come to understand that life isn't a smooth, pathed path. Instead, it is full of underground roots, pebbles that get into your shoe, trees that have fallen to the ground due to lightening and strong winds, potholes and un-even gravel. I've learned that much of walking on the path of life involves stumbling over obstacles, falling, and then eventually getting back up again and continuing on to wherever it is you are going.


Have you ever stopped to realize the blessings that have resulted out of stumbling on to something? Even though the path itself is full of obstacles, it's what surrounds us on that path that is beautiful. It may be pitch black as you walk your path, but there hanging in the sky is a beautiful full moon, glowing just brightly enough to illuminate your journey, accompanied by a host of twinkling stars. How many times in your life have you just been "going about your business", when you happen to stumble into someone who may now be your best friend, or when you've taken what appears to be a "detour" in life, and through that detour God reveals to you an occupation choice that you hadn't ever considered in the past, but it turns out to be a life long calling; it just so happens that your unique talents, gifts and personality fit in like a puzzle piece that had been lost for goodness knows how long under that couch cushion.


I've written this statement before in one of my blog posts, but I'm going to say it again. He has been where we are going. What appears to be obstacles in our path are just God's way of getting us to depend on Him. He is our compass and our guide. I say that as much for my sake as I do for yours. My knees are pretty skinned up from constantly tripping on the obstacles of life.... but if I can learn to find joy in my suffering and to be content in whatever my circumstances, I know He'll lead me home.


Psalm 119:102-105 "The Message" Translation


"I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil so I can spend all my time keeping in your word. I never make detours from the route you've laid out; you gave me such good directions....By your words I see where I am going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sittin' In the Corner



I simply love word pictures. Word pictures help me make sense of things, giving me a tangible means to make sense of the world. Last night on my drive home from a weekend of family and refreshment, my dear friend Gary gave me a really great one.

"It's kind of like God is putting me in a corner and saying "Stay here until I'm done!" ".

I can totally relate to that word picture. God knows us through and through. He knows our passions, our dreams and our goals. He gets excited when we get excited about making a difference, pressing on and doing "the next right thing", as my mom puts it so clearly. But, there are times where God says "hoooold your horses child. Your ways aren't my ways, my thoughts aren't your thoughts. Let me do what I do best. Stay here until I'm finished, and DON'T MOVE." It's at that point where we can choose to be obedient, or try to sneak out of our "time out", thinking we can outsmart the omnipresent nature of our heavenly Father.
Here is a portion of Romans 12:3, in the translation of "The Message".
"...Living then, as everyone does, in pure grace, it's important that you do not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing the goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and what He does for us,not by what we are and what we do for Him."


Sometimes, I think it's neccesary that we give ourselves a "time out". I believe firmly that as Christians, we at times can fall into more of the "I do for God" rather then the "God do for me". God doesn't need us, but He chooses to use us to fulfill His plan on this earth. It's almost as if we can at times view ourselves as the main act, and God is merely the opening entertainment. The sad truth is that so many Christians miss out on seeing God move in their lives, because they are so concerned with moving and doing in their own lives. Sometimes I yearn to sit in that corner for awhile. What does a parent usually say to a child who is put in "time out"? Well, I know from personal experience that the typical instructions given to me by my mother was "I want you to use this time to think about what you did." Likewise, God calls us to our own personal corners to think about what He is doing in our lives and the lives of so many others, drawing us away from ourselves and closer to Him. And, when the timer dings to tell us our "time out" is done, we can be confident that our time spent in our own little corner was time truly well spent.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yes



When we allow God to enable us to quiet our souls, I believe that He shows us things that we can't see when we are restless and "busy" inside and out. I was reminded of this truth two days ago, when a resident of mine shared something with me. "Sarah, " she said. " I have a sign on my door that says "Yes". Just say yes to whatever God puts in front of you."

It was in that moment that I realized God was speaking directly to me. As I processed and prayed about that statement, I realized what God was telling me in that moment.


Things are tough right now. Very tough. Nothing in my life right now "feels good". I feel like God has been breaking me, making me uncomfortable, and literally "emptying me of me", which is a direct result of my prayer and submission to Him, asking Him to do those things. Sometimes it amazes me how I can struggle with believing that God answers prayer. Sometimes that answered prayer isn't what we want it to look like.Often that answered prayer is experiencing just what I am at this very moment. Sometimes God answering our prayers is painful, full of tears and maybe some deep rooted sadness. However, we can take hold of the promise that those answered prayers are blessed, are beautiful, are meant to happen in order for God to continue His good work in us.

What I am learning is how to continually say "yes" to God, even when I don't understand why He is calling me to do so. A part of a prayer that I've been praying goes something like this" Obey God in the least thing shown". When we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us, to help lead us, that doesn't mean we get to know "why", we just have to "do". That's a hard one for me to swallow. We would all like to know the "why" before we actually "do", but then where would God fit in? In our humaness we would allow Him to kind of sink to the bottom of our resources, to slowly fade in the distance. I am learning that the Lord uses things that are important to us to get our attention, to draw us closer to Him.


Here is a word picture I'm going to leave you with. I picture God, in all of His majesty and beauty, tall and broad shouldered, standing over me. I am about knee level to Him, thrusting punches at Him in frustration, much like a small child would do to her father. The punches are certainly wimpy, but they have so much power behind them for that small child. Then I picture my Father just smiling, with a softness in His expression. Then, after I tire, He scoops me up in His arms, and I lay my head on His shoulder, His strong arm holding me tight.

God doesn't want us to throw wimpy, childish punches at His knees. However, He lets us, appreciating our honesty and being a gentleman, giving us the choice to fight or not. He wants us to bow down at His feet, to surrender, to allow Him to scoop us up in His arms. He's just waiting for us to give up the fight, and let Him to do it for us.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On My Knees



Being on one's knees is probably the most ultimate of a vulnerable physical position. Being in that position makes it difficult to rise up quickly, verses elevating quickly from a sitting position. To obtain eye contact with a small child or a wheel chair bound person, we must make an effort to bend down from our comfortable standing position. Being on one's knees communicates at least four things: 1) surrender 2) vulnerability 3) willingness and 4) respect.

Last spring at a women's faith conference, I was challenged by one of the speakers to pray on my knees as much as possible. Prior to hearing that, I had done it a few times, but had not made a habit of it. On several occasions within this year, I have found myself on my knees as kind of a "last resort", but quickly learned that powerful things happened when I prayed in this manner.

I don't think that God really cares in what form we pray. We can do it in our heads as we drift off to sleep at night, in writing within the pages of a journal, outloud alone or in a group, or through music. But I have learned that there are specific deliverance methods of prayer that make a greater personal connection for myself. I cannot assume that this is true for all people, but because this is my little corner of the world, I will share my personal thoughts and I hope to get feedback from those who will be reading this.

I have found that when making the personal effort to physically get on my hands and knees before my Savior, I am brought down to the lowest physical point. This in turn connects to my emotions, and the understanding in my heart that I cannot be effective, function or truly experience the peace and joy found through my Savior, without Him enabling me to do so. I have also found that by conquering my weird little hang up about praying out loud by myself, there are words and requests that flow from my lips that are not of myself.

I also experience that same phenomenon when I sing. When God gives me a song title to sing for ministry, there is that direct connection between my gift to that person, and the giver of that gift. Often the lyrics of songs allow me to not stand in the way of what God is wants to communicate to those who are listening.


There is an old song by Christian Contemporary Artist Jaci Valesquez entitled "On My Knees". The words to this song beautifully express what I'm trying to communicate through this post.

On My Knees

There are days
when I feel
The best of me
is ready to begin
Then there's days
when I feel
I'm letting go
and soaring on the wind
'Cause I've learned in laughter or in pain
How to survive!

I get on my knees!
There I am before the Love
That changes me
See I don't know how
But there's power
When I'm on my knees

I can be
in a crowd
Or by myself
and almost anywhere
When I feel
there's a need
To talk with God
He is Emmanuel
When I close my eyes,
no darkness there
There's only light!

See I don't know how, but there's power
When I'm on my, oh, when I'm on my
When I'm on my knees


The highlighted portion of the song "cause I've learned in laughter or in pain, how to survive!" friends, prayer is a method of survival. Just like food is a method for our bodies to survive, and relationships are a method for our hearts to survive, prayer is a means to survive this world. We need that communion with God even more then anything else in this world! Just now the little quote "God answers knee-mail" ran through my head. As "cute" as that phrase is, it's so true! Every single one of our knees should be bruised and sore from kneeling on the ground and leaning on our Savior, confident that He hears us and takes us at our word.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sowing in Tears



Recently I've been diving into some classics by author and speaker Elizabeth Elliot. So much of what she writes and the way she writes it is effective, scripturally sound and truly insightful. I felt the need to post the following in an effort to encourage my readers. I hope that it will succeed in doing so!


"It is good that we should have to submit to what we do not understand. It teaches us the laws of faith and hope.It is good that we should have to do what we should rather not, in circumstances not of our choice. It is good that there should always be something to prick us on, something to remind us that we are in enemy's country, belong to a marching column. It is good that we should meet with checks and failures in what we undertake, to keep us humble and prayerful. All these things belong to sowing in tears. God seems to laid out the order of things in His Church, not for general and brilliant triumph but for the hidden santification of the individual souls which compose it."


Janice Erskine Stuart-"Prayer in Faith"

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lessons From the Cow Girls of the Dusty Trails





One the favorite aspects of my job is being able to research different topics for different programs. One of the programs that I put together recently was "Cowgirls of the Dusty Trail". This program idea was sparked by this absolutely awesome totally chick flick board game that I found BRAND NEW at the Good Will for about $3.00. It's called "The Cowgirl's Ride to Truth". I don't think explaining it in this blog post will do the game justice, but it's a game designed to encourage honesty and intimacy in female friendships, with these awesome little "western charms" like little boots, spurs, horses for game pieces, and hats for an added bonus. Seriously, ever since buying that game I've wanted to make some trail mix, whip up some margaritas and gather together all of my dearest girlfriends who are currently scattered across the entirety of the US of A, and laugh and cry until the cows came home.
So off to google I went, researching quotes and stories of the very first cow girls of the West. Not surprisingly, I walked away inspired and enlightened by the courageous lives of these women, who didn't allow society norms and limitations of the understanding of their sex to prevent them from following their passions and dreams. I think that we can all learn a thing or two from them, so I decided to post the widely unknown list of "Cow Girl Smarts".



Cow Girl Smarts



1. Sometimes you have to buck the norms to pursue your dreams

2. adventure and Excitement Beat Housework

3. Be tough, but revel in your femininity

4. When life throws you to the ground, get back on the horse
5. Don’t let others belittle your achievements

6. Accept the nature of things

7. Work hard and look after other cowpokes

8. Never steal another cowgirl’s horse or thunder

9. Attack life like it’s a 1000 pound steer

10. Act on your beliefs rather than protesting for them

11. Use common sense, if you don’t, the cattle will knock it into you

12. Let the land rejuvenate your soul

13. Walk beside your pardner, not in front

14. When cow poking doesn’t pay, be resourceful

15. Embrace urban cowgirls


Yeehaw! Lasso those rules, and you'll be ready to face anything on the trail of life!