Tag Archives: Growth

God watches my every move

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Beeeeep.

My heart monitor beeped and the communication module activated.

Why?  I have no idea!!!

The monitor is set to be activated by four specific heart activities.  Four concerning heart activities.

Apparently, my heart did something concerning and I was TOTALLY UNAWARE.

It’s like I don’t know myself at all.

I need monitoring.  I am unaware of my heart issues.  I need help.

Of course, there is a blatant spiritual metaphor that is chasing around in my mind today:  In all realms, I need monitoring.  I am unaware of my issues.  I need help.

That’s why I love my Abba Yahweh’s intervention in my life.  That’s why God’s offer is not offensive to me.  I am very happy to have Him as my coach, mentor and Father.  I am not at all tweaked by the fact that He is watching my every move.  I am beyond-words-happy about being subject to His scrutiny and guidance!

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.

I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too –  your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful –  I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute –  you’re already there waiting!  Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception  to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them –  any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong –  then guide me on the road to eternal life. Psalm 139 select verses (The Message)

Why would humans want to live life without His presence? I can’t understand it at all. God’s Love is incredible.  God’s intimate care for me is mind-blowing.  I am so grateful that He knows everything about me.  And I’m so grateful for His redemption, forgiveness, salvation, freedom, purposes and eternity.  Thinking about all this today has flooded me again with His peace.

The inconvenience of this heart monitor has given me a beautiful gift today.  I am grateful someone is watching my heart.  I am grateful God is watching my everything.

How are you today?  How do you view God’s monitoring of you?  Are you glad?  Are you afraid?  Maybe this is something to pray about today.

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are: Psalm 98; Acts 7:1-43

The words that stood out to be today are: ‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, you carried your pagan gods’ (Acts 7:42-43a) //  Father, I do not want to turn to or trust in anyone or anything but You.  Help me to let go of my own gods each day and give me the courage and strength to embrace and trust You more and more.

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Roadwork Frustrations

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We live near the intersection of two major roads.  This month they are re-paving both roads. ALL day and ALL night. It’s crazy. It’s loud. And we are living in a constant cloud of pavement dust.

Traffic is always backed up as they try to squeeze four lanes of traffic into a one-lane pass through.  Yesterday my friend and I were trying to get home but the Policeman wouldn’t let us turn into our street.  We tried from several directions but he kept sending us on.  “But we live RIGHT THERE!!” We were screaming out the window.  His answer: No left turns.  So we weaved our way around the area so we could approach our street with a right turn.  It was so frustrating!!!

Something major was happening last night.  I almost expect to walk out and find a fully finished road.  ALL NIGHT we could hear the grinding shout of old pavement being removed.  The sore-throat-sounding buzzer screamed out by dump trucks in reverse.  The hot angry grumble of the new pavement being laid inch by inch.

Loud.  So loud.  All night.

Ugh. How much longer do we have to put up with this inconvenience and life interruption?

This morning I hear God speaking to my heart.

Each of God’s children needs major road work throughout life.

When a person gets ground down, refined, cleaned, and rebuilt… there is an effect on the community of people around them.  Their journey can be an inconvenience to me.  It can be exhausting to be around them.  It can be frustrating trying to go about my business but being affected by them.

As a daughter of God am I willing to put up with the inconvenience and life interruption that comes when someone in my community is in a season of overhaul?

The end result is like a beautiful new road:  fresh, strong, solid, equipped and purposed.  The road work in our lives is by God’s Hand and for His Glory.  Who I am to get frustrated by it?!  Wow.  God is pointing out my selfishness today.  And I’m inspired by this correction.  Afterall, I sure want to receive loving support and understanding in my reconstruction times!!

So today I’m praying for God to fill me with new patience and wisdom as I live in my community.  My “part” of the Body is not just about my function.  I exist to support the rest of the Body.  In each season there will be parts of the Body being healed and transformed.  On this earth, in this age, I am EVERY DAY a part of a Body that is limping and needs support.

Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally.  If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 1 Corinthians 12:20-26

Being transformed by God is an essential part of our sanctification journey!  The church is (should be) the place where Grace flows in power and Mercy is our default.

Ok Holy Spirit I hear you speaking to me: Be patient. Be supportive. Be an advocate of the road works of lives.

Mmmm.  That is good.

What about you? Anyone in your life that is in a season of reconstruction? How do you extend Grace and Mercy and support to them?

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are: Psalm 86, 87; John 21:1-25

Deprivation and Freedom

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My doctor has slowly been removing things from my diet.  No more gluten, dairy, or sugar.  Last week my assessment showed I was still consuming something that is bad for me.  Nothing hides from her diagnosis system.

“What are you drinking?” she asked.

“Um, water. Coffee.” I was pretty sure I hadn’t had anything else.  I was desperately hoping she wouldn’t take my coffee away!

“What else? You had something else… four days ago.  Sunday.  What did you drink on Sunday?”

Sunday?  Um.  Water in the morning. Coffee at church. Water at the birthday party. “OH! I had an iced coffee with soymilk in the afternoon.”

“Yes, that’s it. Soy.  No more soy.”

– – –

I immediately felt bad.  I felt like I’d been caught misbehaving.  Called out. Reprimanded. Condemned.

But this is not what my doctor was doing.  She wasn’t searching for something “bad” I’d done.  She was looking for things that are making me sick.  She was scanning my body for things that are hindering my healing.

Why was my gut response to feel condemned? Shouldn’t I feel happy to identify harmful behaviours, attitudes, and consumptions?  Shouldn’t I be excited to have the problem areas revealed?

These diet restrictions are keys to freedom and life and health and energy.  They are not a punishment of deprivation.

And I find myself asking:  Is this how we humans view God?  When He points out a problem, do we feel bad?  Like we’ve been caught misbehaving?  Called out, reprimanded, condemned?  Shouldn’t we feel happy to identify harmful behaviours, attitudes, and consumptions?  Should we be excited to have our problems revealed?

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.  (John 3:17 & 16 The Message)

Why do we humans feel so condemned by God? The things He points out are things that are keeping us caged.  His Ways are keys to freedom and life and health and energy.

I’m thinking about a friend who doesn’t want to know God.  She says the Bible is judgemental.  She says she loves her life and doesn’t want a higher power or people who serve a higher power to condemn the way she lives.  I understand what she’s saying.  I hate being judged too.  But what she is feeling is not Truth.  And because she can’t get past feeling condemned, she has become totally resistant to the gentleness, goodness, and love of God.

And I’m thinking about me.  I react terribly to people who point out my problem areas.  I rebel against judgement and condemnation…. whether it exists or not.  I take it as a personal attack.

Somewhere alone the way I adopted a false belief… that love = warts and all.  There is a piece of Truth in that statement… because love does see past problems.  But real love doesn’t love the problems.  It doesn’t love the things that keep its loved-one bound up.

We humans are holding on to things that are hurting us.  And we get defensive and hurt whenever anyone points at those things.

It is no good for me to keep having soy products.  No soy milk and also no tofu, soy sauce, edamame, or any soy products.  Soy is affecting my health.  It’s time to let it go.

In the same way, there are some things in our spiritual and emotional lives that are affecting our health.  It’s time to let them go.

He has Freedom for us.

Father God open my ears to hear you point out the things that need to go.  Give me the courage and confidence to let go of those things and fully embrace the good things you have for me.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)

What is your reaction to criticism?  How do you allow God and people to speak into your life about things that are not good?  I’d love to hear your story.

Want to read through the Bible with me? Today’s readings are   Psalm 63, 64; John 7:32-53

Oh Garage

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Have you watched Hoarders? Oh my. 

One night I watched a bunch of episodes online.  I couldn’t stop.  One would end and I’d click on to the next one.  Some stories made me cry. I was moved by the lives of sweet ladies surrounded by piles of decaying things.  I was moved by the series of events that led them to build their fortresses of things.

There’s a part of me that understands their illness.  When I moved to the US, I brought three suitcases of clothes, shoes, books, a down-comforter (Aus: doona), my pillow, and quite a few special items of sentiment.  I didn’t know if I would ever get to go back home.  Those suitcases were packed so carefully.  Each item had to compete for a spot in the case.  In fact, the airline’s scale said my bags were heavier than my home scale so I had to ditch some things into my parent’s arms.  It was quite traumatic to say goodbye to those things and to my family.

Those immigrant possessions are precious to me.  They symbolize a life I struggle to remember.  They remind me of my roots.  They keep my heart connected to my family.

I’ve been here for 14 years now.  Through that time those things that immigrated with me have dwindled.  Some things lost (and I cried over my carelessness).  Some things broken (and I cried over my clumsiness). Some things stolen (and I cried over my too-quick-to-trust ways). Some things released (and I smiled at my bravery).  Some I still have.  I think the most ridiculous thing is the sweater (Aus: jumper) I wore on the flight over.  It’s out of style and I’ll never wear it but I can’t give it up.  I hugged my family goodbye with that sweater.  I dried my tears on the sleeves.  I snuggled into it as I set off all alone.

The apartment we rent is on the market.  This weekend there is a walk through.  A reminder that we may be packing up our lives.  No longer just three suitcases worth of things.  Now an apartment full.  No that’s not true… an apartment full AND a garage full.

Oh garage.

I organize you and purge your things about four times a year.  Each time my husband is amazed at my skills.  Each time I’m amazed at all the stuff that accumulated since the last time.  Where does this stuff come from???

Oh stuff.

It’s hard to let you go. 

Baby clothes for my friends’ soon-to-arrive baby boy and twin baby girls.  SO VERY HARD to let you go, baby clothes.  I really thought we would be having another baby this year.  Saying goodbye to these clothes feels like I’m letting this disease take over my life.  But God is bigger.  And if we do get to have another kid or two… He will provide.  Bye-bye baby clothes.  And while we’re at it… bye-bye maternity clothes.  Ouch.

Bags and boxes of random things.  Mason jars. Decorative shelving. Vases. Clothes. Candle holders. Photo Frames.  Things. Things that are fun to have but not essential.  Things that seem precious and important but aren’t.  I hope the thrift store can sell them. And I hope they bring joy to someone’s life. 

One of my dear friends came and helped today.  I felt like someone on Hoarders.  She was pushing me to make quick decisions.  She was questioning my choices.  She was in my business.  She prayed for me and listened to me share story after story.  I’m so grateful. 

And she drove to the thrift store with the kids and I.  How quickly the bags and boxes disappeared into the warehouse.  My stuff is gone.  Each item holds so many memories.  They don’t know the value of what I just gave them.  Ha ha.  I can laugh at myself.  I know those items have very little to no value. That’s why I know I’m doing ok.  That’s how I know I don’t have a problem. But I’ve worked out who does…

Oh garage. I think you are a hoarder.

_ _ _ _

Want to read through the Bible with me? Today’s Readings: Psalm 22; Luke 11:37-54

You only know what you know

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People know what they know.  And they don’t know what they don’t know.  You only know what you know.

Even the most educated, wise, amazing people still only know what they know.  They look through their eyes only.  Their knowledge and experiences are filters through which all things pass through.

The great thing is… we are beings that are ever learning and we have amazing gifts like empathy that allow us to reach beyond our selves.  But even then, we are limited.  We cannot really walk in another man’s shoes.

And yet, we think we can.  We think we know things.  And we think that our knowledge is helpful to others.  We think we can assess their problems and give them answers.  Afterall, haven’t we all walked through a lot of the same things?  I mean, we’re all very similar right?  It’s so easy to see that those people can grow… if they do the things I did.

It’s a weird kind of narcissism, isn’t it? 

I’m thinking about a woman I met once.  Immediately I could sense that she was judgemental.  (Because I know things… and I could use my superpowers to see that in her.  Yes, this pot is about to talk about a kettle.)  This lady filters everything through her version of what is “appropriate” behavior.  She really thinks that who she is and how she lives is right in an absolute sense.  There is a judgemental tone to everything she says.  The sad thing is, she is actually quite wise but because of her self-valued superiority people don’t listen to her.  Immediately I knew I wanted to steer clear of her.  I don’t have a good track record with people like that.  But the damage was already done.  She had judged me and my heart was set against her.

My problem is, I’m prone to being addicted to approval.  So, in relationships with people who are judgemental, I end up getting on a hamster wheel of trying to please them.

Today our read-thru-the-Bible-together readings are: Psalm 19; Luke 11:1-28

These bits jumped out at me:

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)
… and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:4)

This morning as I read those passages my heart was cracked open and I saw something very disturbing.  I have unforgiveness that has taken root.

I need you to know this about me: I have an awesome testimony about forgiveness.  I know the power of forgiveness first hand.  It’s a big deal in my life.  I consider it a hallmark of the work God has done to change me to be more like Him.

This is what happened:  There was someone in my life who had done repeated hurtful things to me over many years.  I was so hurt and bound up.  The most painful thing was they don’t even see what they did.  And they are so (here comes that word again) judgemental about me.  They point out my faults and give me lists of ways I can be a better person.  Just thinking of them made my teeth clench.  I had tried so many things to get free from my anger and pain. I talked to some wise mentors about it and they encouraged me to not give up but I was on the verge of cutting that hurtful person out of my life for good.

Then, on a sunny day in 2010, I felt drawn to read Matthew 6 during my devotional Bible reading time.

… pray like this: … forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors. … if you forgive people their trespasses (their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment) your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matt 6 Amp)

Here’s my journal entry about that day:  How beautiful these words were to me: “Their reckless and willful sins”. I felt God speak to me, “They do not see what they did to you… it was a reckless time in their life. They cannot see it. But I saw it. And I see it still.” God knew I needed someone to see and acknowledge what had happened. And in that moment, as He spoke as a witness and supporter of me, the resentment fell off my heart and I was able to “let go of the debts”. It was weird to be sitting in a public place and experience such a personal moment of healing. Like I was the woman who reached out to touch Jesus’ hem in the bustle of a crowd of people. Like His touch dried up my issue of bloody unforgiveness and resentment. After years of searching for a cure, He walked by and healed me. I don’t know why I wasn’t healed before that day. I don’t know why the woman with blood had the issue for so long. I do know that day was beautiful and I trust that the timing involved many elements I am not big enough to see. And I pray and have hope He will bring healing to those who have been hurt by my reckless ways too.

I still have full and total forgiveness of that person.  The thought of them is now pain-free.  I think I can even call them a friend now!!  It’s truly amazing.  And I don’t think they have any idea what happened.

I thought I’d learned how to forgive.  I thought this was a new strength in my life.

But today I see there is a little list of people, standing in a line, needing my forgiveness. I am, once again, being held captive by unforgiveness.  As I consider this list of people I see one thing they all have in common: judgement.  They are all people who, to me, seem critical of others and seem to consider themselves superior.

I want to say to them: “You only know what you know! You don’t know what you don’t know! STOP JUDGING PEOPLE!”

My teeth are clenched.

But, there’s a problem.  A system failure within myself.  I only know what I know.  I don’t know what I don’t know.  I am judging people.

So sad.  I guess I’ve known it all along. I just didn’t want to admit it. I am one of them.

Funnily, this is the topic I’ve been preparing to preach on next.  I had such a great testimony to share about forgiveness!  But of course our Father God has more for me to learn.  He is good. I should have expected another layer in the journey. And I should expect there to be even more.

So, today I’m praying about my list of people and how I’ve been judging them.  I’m feeling the ropes of unforgiveness coming loose.

Father, “how can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14) … and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:4).  Help me God.  Teach me Your Way. Free me from self-righteousness. I choose forgiveness. I choose humility. I clothe myself with Love. Thank you Spirit. Thank you Jesus.

How are you? Is forgiveness something that is easy or hard for you to give?  Do you have a testimony of forgiveness?

Sometimes that happens

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Col 3v13This morning my almost-four-year-old and I went to Freddies. It was a typical Saturday morning at Fred Meyer’s: busy busy busy. The parking lot was pretty full.

I saw a spot to my left, put my indicator on and paused to wait for an oncoming car.

And that guy took my spot. Hello sir, I had my blinker on! Rude.

Me: “That guy just took the parking spot we have been waiting for!”

Almost-four-year-old: “Sometimes that happens. You just need to forgive.”

Oh sweet pea. You are so right.

I wish forgiveness was as easy as she thinks it is. My heart seems so complicated. My daughter is my mentor.

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

How are you today?

The birds made me mad today

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I’m composing this on my iPod as I sit at my mother-in-law’s kitchen bench. We needed to have time here because Great Grandma’s health is declining. Life keeps speeding by and we haven’t been able to visit at all this year. My hubby looked for a weekend where his work and church schedule allowed him to be gone. The plan was to leave Friday morning.

Cut to Friday afternoon. Hubby still at work and packing not started. It was a rare sunny day and we were outside carpe-ing the diem.

Cut to 10.40pm last night. Our toddler had been awake and crying most of the 3.5 hour drive.

Cut to 3am this morning. Our toddler was still awake and screaming.

Cut to 6.30am this morning. The birds were chirping a sweet song. Their joy was offensive to me.

Cut to 11am.  He’s finally napping. The screaming has stopped. I’m on the couch looking at some oh-so-cheery flowers and writing to you. The flowers are a little too cheery.

When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. (Romans 12:15)

Here’s my next thought about the devaluing of / cultural restrictions on the “Mother’s heart“: Since when is my sadness more important another person’s (or chirpy bird’s) happiness?

I’m feeling aware that I give room and support to people who are in sorrow above giving room and support to those who are in joy.

Example: I’m having a great day but you’re having a crappy one. It seems it is socially expected that I dull down my joy out of respect to your bad mood.  But not vice versa?

More important example: One of my dearest friends had a miscarriage when my daughter was a new-born.  We had dreamed of our kids playing together. But her sweet baby had gone to live with Jesus.  Clearly, in that moment, her grief was more important than my joy.  I put aside my joy and brought my heart to support her.

But I went a step further: I felt tinges of guilt about the aliveness of my baby.  Why did my baby live? It wasn’t fair. I didn’t know how to share her sorrow and still love my joy.

Thank God for my amazing friend. She was the one who showed me how to live out Romans 12:15. When I asked her what I could do to support her, she asked if she could hold my baby.  It’s the opposite of what I thought she would want.

She held my little daughter and cried.  She touched her toes and smiled.  She smelled her sweet baby skin and loved every moment.  In her deepest grief, she celebrated the wonderful joy in my life.

This was so healing for me.  Funny, right? I didn’t realize I needed healing. It turns out that each of us needed the emotions of the other’s journey.  Oh. Do you feel the power of that?

Simultaneously… When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. (Romans 12:15)

I think this is a very important function of a “Mother’s heart”: The power of the interchange of our emotions.  Protecting sad people from happiness is not a gift. Suppressing happiness ends up robbing the lives of those around us.

Being mad at the chirpy birds this morning did not help me.  Misery loves company… but healing comes when we allow each others’ journeys to touch our hearts.

This “Mother’s heart” is going to try to do this better. I’m a bit edgy today from no sleep. Father God, open my eyes and heart to share life today.

I’m very aware that I’ve approached this from one side of the issue.  We could have talked about all the times when grieving people are told to “buck up” and get on with life because happy people don’t want to be pulled down by the sadness anymore.  This issue totally goes both ways. Sometimes being positive is way more socially acceptable and supported.  There are a lot of grieving people who are having to suppress their grief.  Right?! All because we think it’s the right and mature thing to do.  Yikes.

I have more thoughts about this… like what is the reason why we “like” to dwell in our emotions and not get support by others?  But that’s for another day’s bloggings… 😉

What do you think? Have you seen this in your own life? Are you better at sharing sorrow than sharing joy?  Are you suppressing joy?  Are you suppressing grief?