Tag Archives: Psalm

Merciful Days: Beautiful Words

Standard

Ps 119v103“Your test results are really good.” My doctor smiled.

Oh what words!

I am one year and five months into a medical treatment that is projected to last for three to five years.  It feels like each day of the past one year and five months has been giant.  It’s been a fight.  One step forward and two steps back.  Battling an illusive monster.  It’s been quite a year… and five months.

My doctor is the only human who really knows what my past one year and five months has been like.  She has become very precious to me.  I long to see her.  She is my coach.  My trainer in this long race.  My cheerleader.  My advocate.  She knows my enemy.  She knows my story.  She knows how far I’ve come.  She is in the valley with me.  I have come to love her.

Her smiling words were so full.  Full of understanding and celebration. I have been so desperate to hear words like this.

Her words mean so much because she knows so much about me.  Her words carry more weight than any others.  Her words give me strength, joy, energy, focus, hope.

I’m thinking about my true Coach. Trainer. Cheerleader. Advocate. Guide. Mentor. Savior. Father. Shepherd. Hope.

[Continue…]

_ _ _

Join me at http://www.MercifulDays.com

And check out how easy it is to subscribe or add to your WP Reader

 

I Hiding

Standard

Ps 94v22This morning he raced into the kitchen screaming.

“I hiding!” He announced as he collapsed on my feet and wrapped around my ankle.

This is his new favorite “hiding” place: me.

It makes me smile.

I love that he comes to me to hide. I hope this is always his default.  I hope he always feels good to hide with me, not from me.

_ _ _

Today I’m thinking about my hiding habits.

What pushes me into hiding?  And where do I run and hide?

To be honest, I think the biggest thing that makes me hide is shame.  Deserved shame when I’ve done something stupid.  Or undeserved shame from a false accusation.  Both set me running.  Away.  Far, far away.

shame [ shaym ]
  1. negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment
  2. capacity to feel unworthy
  3. state of disgrace or dishonor

At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves. (Gen 3:7 NLT)

Yes that would be me.  Using my own strength and resources to find a solution.  To fix.  To cover. To cover-up. To gloss over.

Toward evening they heard the LORD God walking about in the garden, so they hid themselves among the trees. (Gen 3:8 NLT)

Yes I’ve done that.  Even today.  Hid from Yahweh.  Even as He pursues me.  Even as He pours out mercy and forgiveness and restoration.

My response to hide away from God comes from some deep and sinful desires of my heart.  That I would be my own God and get to squirm away from any and all authority.  To be subject to no one and no thing.  Unyielding. Defiant.  Powerful.  That I could establish my own kingdom.  Where I am always right.  Where I am utterly unaffected by anyone or anything else.  Even as I type this, I feel that dark ego wanting to rise.  Oh how my self-righteousness wants that existence.

But today, as I look at the fullness of joy in my son’s simple life, I know that the pursuits of my ego are false and empty.

And I am inspired by him.  Inspired by the way he throws himself into my arms even as I’m speaking correction.  The way he absorbs love during discipline.  The way his failings send him to find me.

That is where joy is.  A life where “sorry” is spoken quickly.  Where confrontation purposes to build bridges not tear them down.  Where shame is quickly shed and forgiveness is abundant.  Where love is the highest goal.

That is the life found with Yahweh instead of hiding from Him.

I cried out, “I’m slipping!” and your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. The LORD is my fortress; my God is a mighty rock where I can hide. (Psalm 94:18-19, 22 NLT)

Inspired today by my son’s life-filled hiding behaviors.  O that I would never do anything else but run immediately to hide in the safety of Yahweh’s arms.  To listen to His recovery plan.  To walk the restorative path He establishes.  To receive His love as He lifts me out of the fog of shame.  Selah.

Strange Wonderful Reentry

Standard

Ps 103v5I went back to a place I knew 15 years ago and, five weeks later, I’ve come back to a place I knew five weeks ago.

The frozen sleeping branches I left are now covered with pink cherry blossoms.  The air has lost its bite.  Where empty dirt was, tall daffodils now stretch high. Everything and everyone has grown.  This is not the place I left.

Turns out, a lot can happen in five weeks.  And whether you’ve been gone years or mere weeks, reentry is strange.

After driving on the other side of the road, I’m now adjusting back to driving on the other, other side again.  After eating all my favorite home foods, I’m now adjusting back to the “foreign” ingredients I’ve spent most of my adult life using. And after reconnecting with my family and dear old friends, I’m now adjusting to reconnect and remember my place with my friendships and community here.

Our four-and-a-half-year-old explained it perfectly on Sunday at church as she twirled between all the people she has known and loved her whole life: “I can’t remember these people’s names. It might take me a while to remember this place.”

Yet, I really love this awkward processes of reentry.  There is power in this time of tension.

Time in different culture creates a much-needed backdrop of reflection for my own life.  A chance to see things I want to add to my life.  And see things already in my life that I need appreciate more.

And reentry gives a chance for change.  A time to embrace a rekindled vision for life.

I’ve come back with wonderful ideas collected from being in my homeland with my family.  And these jet lagged days are giving me the chance to change our routine.

1. Laugh every day.  Be with people who love to laugh. [Thank you Dad, Mum, Jem, Belinda, & Tola]

2. Drink good coffee from inspiring cups, with inspiring people. [Thank you Jem, Steph & Guy]

3. Purpose to have regular time with good friends.  Share open hearts with them. [Thank you Louise, Peter, Jamie & Janine]

4. Schedule and protect daily time for Selah and weekly time for Sabbath. [Thank you Paul, Janine & Elaine]

5. Be courageous to let go of things, memories, and emotions in order to make room for new things, memories, emotions, and people.  Make space for what Yahweh is doing today. [Thank you Yahweh, my wonderful patient family & Steph]

_ _ _

Life can so easily get rote and bland.  Love what traveling does to wake me up.  Pondering how I can fabricate this life-giving power of reentry during seasons of no travel and no get-aways.

6. Find ways to infuse my life with the power of reentry without having to travel. [Thank you Holy Spirit]

On the hunt now for an inspiring coffee cup to be a standing stone reminder of this trip and reentry.

Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. He fills my life with good things. (Psalm 103:1 & 5a)

Anything in your life you want to appreciate more?  Anything you could add to inspire your heart for joy?  I’d love to hear what you do to love your life more!

Deep Dreams Lost

Standard

It was the day of her baby boy’s funeral.  Her son had gone to live with Jesus at birth.  I cannot fathom how she got out of bed that day.

That day, as my heart bowed down in grief for my friend, I heard news from another friend.  At 34 weeks, her baby girl had passed into eternity too.

Stillborn.  Sweet toes that never get to touch this earth.  Eyes that open to see the face of God instead of the face of their mummy.  A life that skips over the temporal.  Lungs left unfilled.  Mother’s milk left behind.

The depth of this grief cannot be known but by those who are forced to endure it.

I feel like an uninvited guest at a private event.  My heart hovers over the sacred ground of their journey.  I dare not pretend to understand.

And yet, I feel a tinge of knowing.  The devastation of deep dreams lost.

_ _ _

The expectation of a beautiful beginning.  The anticipation of a brand new season full of life and hope.  The investment of years of planning, dreaming, building and preparing.

Leaning toward the future.  A new era that will affect every facet of life as we know it.

But it doesn’t come.  A bend in the road.  A tragedy. Dreams lost. Potential unrealized.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
(Proverbs 13:12 NASB)

We were created to create.  Made by the Maker.  Designed by Elohim in His image and likeness.  Our minds, our hearts, our bodies bear fruit.  We are compelled to birth new things.  We are fulfilled as we create, design, craft and launch.

Despite the odds.  Even when the cost is great.  We dare to face the loss, because the possibility of success exists.  What else can we spend our earthly lives doing?  Is there anything else but this?

My heart is unable to imagine what these sweet mothers are going through.  But their journeys have changed me.  I am praying today with new depth.  Praying for them. Praying for me.

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.
(Psalm 56:8 The Message)

Escalators

Standard

She has loved them her whole 4-year-old life.  She smiles with pride as she confidently steps on and off.  She giggles as we travel up and down. Up and down and up and down.

Today her world changed.  At the top of the escalator she froze.  Her body gripped with panic and screams.

I don’t know where it came from.  Fear.

She pulled away from my hand.  She backed away with wild eyes.

The only way to get my sweet daughter on the escalator was to pick her up and take her onboard with me.  Then she was happy to be put down and ride to the bottom where she stepped off with no problem.  It seems it’s the beginning that is the problem.  The launch.  The start.  The first step.

_ _ _

Today’s escalator adventures has me thinking.

How does something loved become something feared?

How do I step onto the escalators of life?  The travelling into new seasons?  The journey to a new level?  The jump into the unknown?

I want to be full of excitement. Not fear.

When fears are born they rob your life. And the Body of Christ. And the world.

I have some praying and reflecting to do.

What areas of my life are being affected by fear?

For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn. (Ps 142:3)
O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. (Ps 62:8)
I command you — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.  (Josh 1:9)

Change Of Plans

Standard

Today I had a big decision to make.  It had many layers to consider.  It led me to question my own heart.

I am scheduled to preach at our church next week.  A couple of months ago I was give my assigned passages: Psalm 109-115 and Acts 13-16.  When I read through, there were lots of little things that stood out but nothing major I felt to focus on.  So I’ve been reading them almost daily every day the past couple of months and praying for God to show me what He wants for our church family.  It wasn’t easy or fun.  But the journey has been deep and good.  And I feel God has spoken and I am excited!

I landed on Acts 15 with a little side journey through Psalm 111.  I felt drawn to talk about the “things we do” as Christians and why, in a Faith that clearly says we are not saved my our own efforts, God asks us to do things.  It’s a fine balance that humans really struggle with.  Different people lean towards different ends of the spectrum in accordance to their personalities, histories and journeys.  But both ends do exist:  In our Faith we do nothing, and we also do a lot.  God breathed vision in my heart about the why of what we do.  I am excited to share.

My personal circumstances have been beautiful metaphors for the topic.  It seems so timely.  I am actually happy to be currently wearing a heart monitor.  It’s a great metaphor that I’m excited to share.  I’m actually okay with being suddenly without work… even though that work was crucial for paying for my medical treatments.  It’s a perfect illustration for the main sermon point I feel God led me to.  I’m okay with the many other weird things going on in my life these days because I’m seeing the point of the sermon being worked out in my own life.  And that’s the only way I like to preach… from the depth of the journey God has led me through.  If I haven’t lived it, I don’t like to teach it!

I am genuinely excited to share next week.

Our Pastor called this morning to say that an incredible mentor pastor from our local area has offered to come and share with our church family.  This mentor pastor has been pivotal in my personal journey.  I LOVE his wisdom and insight and passion for Jesus.  The date he is available for our church?  Next Sunday.  Our awesome pastor gave me full power of choice.  He asked me to pray and hear from God who should preach next week.

I prayed.  I heard “rest.”  I asked, “Rest and not preach?  Or rest in the process of preaching?”

My heart went through the pros and cons.  Then I called my amazing husband.

My husband is incredible. Honestly, he is the most amazing human I’ve ever met.  Strong, influential, powerful, wise, intelligent, sincere, deep, stable, gentle, kind, patient and loving.  Oh so loving.

In his Bible reading and prayer today he felt God talking to him about being refreshed.  One of the passages he read this morning was Psalm 107.

He also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. Psalm 107: 35

He said his heart resonates with the word, “rest.”  We have been feeling so stretched lately.  And he knows how intense I need to be the week before teaching.  It just so happens that he has a few days off in the week ahead.  The first time off he’s had in a long time.  We could actually have some quality time together.  That sounds like pools of water in our desert season!

But, he said, Psalm 107 also says: “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!”  He is a huge fan of me using my gifts.  He loves when I preach.  He supports me either way.

And so I share my fear with him:  I don’t want to cop-out.  I don’t want to be unfaithful.  I don’t want to walk away from an opportunity God has invited me to be part of.  I want to be faithful.

His response is still hovering in my heart: “You are not in any way unfaithful.”

God spoke through my husband today.  (Again.)  A word of love and identity.  I message of truth and life.  And peace has become my clothes today.

I desire to be good.  I desire to be lovely.  I crave to be a true daughter of God.  I just want to give all that I am for His use.  Today I feel God answer and affirm these desires of my heart.  He sees me.  He knows me.  I am loved by Yahweh.

_ _ _ _ _ _

I am not preaching next week.  My pastor graciously accepted my answer.  He really had given me full opportunity to choose either way.

I’m looking back now at the journey of the past couple of months and it is not for naught.

I’m not sure I’ll ever share this sermon that’s grown in my heart.  I’m a firm believer in hearing from God for each message.  In my 10+ years of preaching I’ve only repeated a handful of messages.

I always go through deep personal transformation through the sermon preparation process.  It used to be non-stop when I was preaching weekly at a youth pastor.  Now the journey seems to be longer and deeper as I only preach every now and again.

There is a feeling of joy in the intimacy of this message that may stay unspoken.

Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. (Luke 2:19)

Today I am grateful for the journey of preparation.  I’m grateful for the trust of our Pastor.  I’m grateful for the affirmation from my husband.  And I’m grateful for the days of rest and refreshment ahead.

Looking forward to today and every day.  May I ever be available and faithful to be used or not used by God as He sees fit.

In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing. (2 Tim 2:20-21)

Selah.

How is your journey?  What is God speaking to you these days?
Want to read though the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are: Psalm 107; Acts 11:19-30
The passage that stood out to me was: He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! (Psalm 107: 29-30)  // What a blessing is the stillness God brings to me life.