Monthly Archives: November 2012

I Have A Great Remembery

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“Mama, I’m thinking about things from a long time ago. I have a great remembery.”

Remembery.  I like this word.

My memory is biased, selective, and fading.  My memory is tainted by my perceptions and emotions.  My memory is triggered randomly by scents, sounds and visuals.  My memory is an incomplete archive that seems to be whispping away with the sands of time.

Some things I never want to forget.  Some memories are life-giving.  I never want to forget the memories of my first 24 years in Australia.  I never want to forget the memories of life with my amazing dad, my wonderful mum, and my beautiful sister.  I always want the memories of our mission trips and what God spoke to me there.

Some things I’m glad to forget.  Some memories are painful.  I’d love to leave behind the memories of being bullied in school, of the far-too-many stupid and hurtful things I’ve done.

There are things I should remember but don’t.  I should remember all that Yahweh has done in my life.  I should remember His faithfulness to the promises of His Word.  I should remember His forgiveness of my sins and not get bound up again.

Instead of relying on my biased, selective and fading memory, I want to have a great “remembery” of the work of God in my life.

He knew we would need help in this area.  Through the Bible, He directs us to remember things.  He establised festivals, celebrations and directed the creation of landmarks to help us remember. [Digging Ditches for Standing Stones]

You must celebrate this day as a religious festival to remind you of what I, the Lord, have done. Celebrate it for all time to come.  (Exodus 12:14 GNT)
Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,  (1 Chronicles 16:12 NASB)
These stones will remind the people of what the Lord has done. In the future, when your children ask what these stones mean to you, you will tell them…  (Joshua 4:6-7a GNT)

Father God, I need to think about things from a long time ago. Help me to have a great remembery.

1 A psalm of David. Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. 3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 4 He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. 5 He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! 6 The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly. 7 He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west. 13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. 14 For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust. 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. 16 The wind blows, and we are gone —  as though we had never been here. 17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children 18 of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments! 19 The LORD has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything. 20 Praise the LORD, you angels of his, you mighty creatures who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands. 21 Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will! 22 Praise the LORD, everything he has created, everywhere in his kingdom. As for me — I, too, will praise the LORD (Psalm 103 NLT)

Electric Blanket. I love you.

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Why didn’t we buy an electric blanket years ago?

For our 13 years of marriage, we’ve piled on blankets and comforters (Aussie: doonas) to combat not heating the room.  Some nights it took hours to warm up.  Toes icy. Literally shivering from the cold.  No exaggeration.

This year we thought to try an electric blanket.  It’s INCREDIBLE.  Every night we talk about how amazing it is and shake our heads about the years we spent without it.  So stupid.  So very stupid.

We inflicted ourselves with discomfort and, sometimes, sickness all because we didn’t take advantage of the amazing invention of the electric blanket.

So stupid. So juvenile. So pathetic.

That’s truly how I feel about it.  I want to scream at my past-self: “BUY A BLANKET! DON’T BE SUCH AN IDIOT!”

Yes. I’m passionate about this.  We suffered for no reason.  For so many years.

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I’m passionate about this too: I am not taking advantage of all the amazing things God has provided me.  I look back and see that I have suffered for no reason.  For so many years.

The electric blankets of Faith.

The Ways of God that provide warmth in the winters of life.  In the dark nights.  In the valley of the shadow of death.

If I tried to make a list of the electric blankets of Faith, it would never end.  The one that is coming to mind today is a two-sided blanket: Thankfulness and Trust.

Trusting God and having a heart of thankfulness is a warm blanket that guards against the frost of ungratefulness and discontent.

Oh, that frost bites at my heart.  And all too quickly I am numb.  And then I get upset with God that I am so cold.  And His blanket of choosing a thankful heart of Trust is sitting right with me.

Wrapping myself up in this today:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again — rejoice! Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and THANK HIM for all he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s PEACE, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His PEACE will GUARD your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
… I have LEARNED how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.(Philippians 4:4, 6-7, 11b-13)

One of my amazing mentors has been keeping a gratitude journal.  Last week she was studying this passage in Philippians and the word “LEARNED” stood out to her.  She shared her journey with me, “Thankfulness takes PRACTICE.  I have to LEARN to be content with much or little.”  Yes, oh yes.  (See why I call her my mentor?!  So humble and strong in her walk with Yahweh.)

Yes.  Living contently is a LEARNED attitude and behavior.  It must be practiced, studied, trained for, focused on.  I must be deliberate and intentional in LEARNING to be content with little or much.

Sigh.  This is a blanket of warmth I’ll have to choose to embrace… despite my fleshly desire to be sad and mad and have sour grapes.  Sigh.

Confession:  It’s always bugged me that people apply the “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” phrase for all kinds of situations… but not often about the actual situation described in Philippians.  Bigger Confession:  It bugs me that I rebel against the Word of God and choose to ignore this phrase in my own life.  So stupid, self.

Each night when I snuggle under the amazing warmth of our electric blanket… I’m reminded of the years we lived without warmth.  And I’m searching my heart for frost-bite and looking for the warm blankets of God’s Word.

Electric blanket: you have warmed my toes and challenged my heart.  I love you.

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Today another of my friends & mentors posted this clip of Joycie (aka Joyce Meyer) talking about trusting God when I don’t get what I want.  Yep.  So good.  https://player.vimeo.com/video/54290172

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The Two Sides

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One coin. Two sides.

The rain.

Constant cold drops. Falling from clouds that push down and suffocate.  A smothering blanket.  Depressing. Lonely. Oppressive. Crowding.

Soothing rhythmic drops.  Dancing from the clouds that hug evergreens and twirl lake water.  A peaceful blanket faithfully near.  Comforting. Solitude. Encouraging. Intimacy.

_ _ _

The rain here is a two-faced companion. Ever-present in this part of the world at this time of year.

Today I’m feeling the swing of moods that the rain brings.

On one hand, it’s so sad.  The rain makes me want to be isolated and cry.  Lures my heart to blue places.

At the same time, it’s so soothing.  Joy rises in my heart as I watch the rain drops trickle down the window.  As I let the rain sing to the grief in my heart.  As I share my pain and sadness with the Holy Spirit and let Him hold me.

I’m thinking about the two-sides of rain.  The choice to be lured into isolated sadness or be comforted in love.

And I’m thinking about the two-sides of the metaphorical rain of life.  The choice to be lured into sadness or be comforted in love.

I can see now, God, that your decisions are right; your testing has taught me what’s true and right. Oh, love me – and right now! – hold me tight! just the way you promised. Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I dance to. (Psalm 119:75-77 The Message)

Stuck (Here I am)

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On Tuesday night I watched a documentary clip about the lives of american families struggling with poverty. One family had enough money to live in a motel room but not enough to afford a motel room with a mini fridge. So the youngest child’s job was to go to the motel ice machine several times a day to refill their motel room bathroom sink with ice. That sink of ice was their makeshift fridge for milk and other perishables. The mother seemed emotionally absent as she was interviewed about their life. And then an ordinary, non-emotional point would cause her to cry. I cried too. I cried about her. About her dreams lost. About her children having to give up their beloved pet dog. About their daily struggle to have hope. And I cried with gratefulness. For everything.

The next day I went to our Bible study group. We are doing Francis Chan’s “Basics” study and this week’s topic was prayer. One of the questions asked us to consider what Jesus meant when He said to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The question said something like, “With our attentions focused on tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinners, we have no concern about what we will eat today…”

I don’t know what the rest of the question was. I got totally stuck on “…what we will eat today?”

I got stuck. I am stuck.

“I don’t know what we will eat today.” I blurted out. My heart was filled with stress of finances, our kids’ picky eating, my food restrictions, my daily medicines, my weekly treatments, our lack of vision for the future, my desperation to see my family and for them to meet our almost 2-year-old, our impending rent increase, our impending health insurance increase, blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all before. It’s been a really crazy four years.

A friend spoke up and questioned if we really were still struggling to pay for groceries. Her question is valid. I’m glad she spoke up. Truly, compared to the families in the documentary, we are not struggling. How could I so quickly forget what real poverty looks like? Problem is, although we are not in poverty, we are not thriving. We are not getting ahead. Our grocery budget doesn’t get us through the month. We are desperate to get off this hopeless hamster wheel.

I know, I’m harping on. Again. This is what I’m talking about. In this, I am emotionally stuck.

And lately it keeps popping up constantly. Over and over. It’s embarrassing. I can’t get past it. Stuck, stuck, stuck.

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As our group talked about trusting God for daily bread, I struggled. As I’ve shared before (oh so many times)… tor the past few years… and during my childhood… I experienced only having daily bread. One day at a time.

Some of the ladies shared that they felt it could be so peaceful to trust God for literal daily bread. That it could draw you closer to God. Having lived it recently and even living it still, I personally don’t find it peaceful. I shared that I don’t feel that it’s drawing me closer to God… I feel like it’s starting to build a wedge.

As the words came out of my mouth, I shocked myself. This is a big deal. This is not how I want to live. I trust Yahweh and I want every season of my life to draw me closer to Him.

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Last year I got to share my “journey in the wilderness” with our church family. Preparing that sermon was a very important process for me. Our Father worked deeply in my heart in the months and weeks before it.

Sermon prep always does that for me. It’s honestly one of my favorite things about our years as youth pastors. I had weekly inner-heart-surgery as I researched and prepared.

But last year’s sermon prep journey was more deep and painful than I’d experienced before. It involved humbling experiences with several groups of people. God used those around me to expose, speak-to, and eventually heal some issues I didn’t know were lurking in my heart. It was a time of pressure and testing and stretching.

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Did I mention that I’m prepping to preach twice in the next month?

One of those is for our church. We’re currently in a series on the book of Ruth. It’s not a book I’ve studied in-depth before so I’m starting from scratch in pursuing God’s heart for a message for our church family. Something keeps standing out to me about Naomi. There’s something about her that is intriguing to me. She has so many reasons to get stuck. And… (well, I can’t talk about it just yet.)

So here I am.

Preparing a sermon and having humbling experiences.

Yahweh is graciously showing me that I am stuck.

And here I am.

Getting unstuck, it seems.

I’m digging in Ruth and God is digging in my heart.

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?” (Song of Solomon 8:5)

Thank You My Loves

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It’s Thanksgiving Eve.  As an immigrant, I think Thanksgiving is such a great holiday for a country to have.  A day to be grateful and thankful.

I’ve been thinking about all the things to be thankful for.  There are so many.

I am thankful for simple things.  I’m thankful for big things.  I love this annual pause to consider blessings.

But there is one thing that stands out above and beyond everything.  I am so thankful for Love.

– Thank you Yahweh – Father, Son & Spirit – for being Love.  And for creating us to be part of Your Love.  And for Loving me.  And for letting me love You.

– Thank you my dear Husband for loving our family so deeply.  Your love is clearly sourced in Him.  You love us even when we are unlovely.

– Thank you sweet children for loving so fully.  I love the way you love.  No strings attached.  No baggage.  Just simple, pure, good love.  I love better because of your examples.

– Thank you my family – Dad, Mum & my sweet Sister – your love has always given me vision for life.  I miss you.  If I could change one thing about my life, it would be to have you physically in it.

– Thank you my dear sisters for loving with a love that covers a multitude of sins.  Your grace and mercy is a deep treasure in my life.  I wish we all lived closer.  Your love shapes me.

– Thank you my amazing brothers for your faithful love and care. I am so grateful for your influence of brotherhood in our family.

– Thank you church family.  I especially am thankful for those who love my children.  You are showing my little ones how beautiful the love of God is.

– Thank you to those mentors who have loved and invested in me throughout my life.  I’m thinking about dinners, chats, projects, classes, trips, ministries, seasons… full of your wisdom and investment and love.

My life feels like a diamond with facets carved and polished by so many.  By you.  Created, grown and continually transformed by your love.  Inspired and energized by your encouragement.  Lifted up and resuscitated by your faithful care.

My perfect Thanksgiving day would be to spend the day with all of you!  Love you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. (1 Peter 2:17 The Message)

Life-giving Words

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Today a special woman spoke encouragement and care into my heart.

Her words spoke something I needed to hear:  I am valued.

It was simple but it was transforming.

She paused in her busy day.  She saw me and considered me.  She chose to find something good in me to call out and build up.

She didn’t know how desperately I needed it.

Her words of life gave me wings today.

Made me realize, once again, how much I miss the love and encouragement of my parents.  How I miss them!

We all need people who believe in us.  Today this wonderful woman was my family in a land where I so often feel alone and lonely.

Thank you Jenny.  Thank you for speaking with God’s heart and reminding me of my worth.

I need to remember to pause and speak words of Life to those around me too.

So encourage each other and build each other up.  (1 Thess 5:11 NLT)

Bathtime: What’s the point?

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Her tears were real.  Her confusion totally understandable.

Last night’s bath-time was short.  A quick bath to get clean.  Different from the normal.  As the water drained away, she cried.

“I didn’t have time to play!” She cried out the sad words with sobs.

“A bath is for getting clean.  That’s why we have baths.” Explained her patient Daddy.

“No, baths are for PLAYING!” She was so sure she was right.

“Well, yes, baths are a time when we can play.  But the reason we have baths is to get clean.” He spoke revelation and vision for our sweet daughter.

God’s voice flooded my heart:  A child thinks a bath is for playing but maturity knows baths are for getting clean.  Sometimes you cry out like your child is crying now: “Things aren’t happening the way I expected!  I’m confused.  I am sad.”  But I have a deeper plan.

Today I have been texting with one of my best friends about my current emotional state.  I’m confused. I’m sad.  Bills have increased but income has decreased.

I message her: “I am trying hard to chase after peace but today I am failing.”

Her replies reminded me of last night’s bath-time.
She said, “Remember this is probably about [your husband].”
She said, “And you just did a retreat so a little warfare too.”

Hmmmm.  Yes.  Perspective.  God is working in my husband’s life.  Everything I walk through isn’t going to be ALL about me.  Duh.  And, I led worship for a women’s retreat last weekend.  I saw God do beautiful things in the hearts of the women there.  And in my own heart too.  I need to be aware of the battle.  The enemy comes to steal, kill & destroy. (John 10:10)

Thinking about my childish bath-time expectations.  Remembering that when confusion and sadness sweep over my heart, I need to choose to chase after peace and hold on with both hands.  Our Father God is working His kingdom plan in my life.  Even if the bath water drains out before I am ready,  I need to recognize His presence and listen for His voice.

I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize Me…  the sheep listen to his voice and heed it; and he calls his own sheep by name and brings (leads) them out. (John 10:14 & 3 Amplified)

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts… You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.  (Isaiah 55:8-9, 12-13 NLT)