Tuesday, May 10, 2016

One Thing Remains

It has been a long, hard year.

Two kids in three different schools means lots of change, collaboration, uncertainty and flexibility.

Yet, in the midst of the whirlwind - of schedule and geographic adaptation (or not) - one thing has remained constant.


In the midst of the uncertainty, You are sure.

In the midst of the chaos, You are calm.

In the midst of my weakness, You are strong.

In the midst of my fear, You are hope.

In the midst of my frustration, You are peace.

In the midst of my sorrow, You are joy.

In the midst of it all, You are more.

None of this is too hard for You.

None of this surprises You.

And nothing You have done today is any different than what You have previously done for me, and for mine.

You continue to provide.

You continue to lead and to guide.

You continue to comfort.

You continue to call us forth.

And grateful am I,

for Your timing,

for Your presence,

and, for the people you have placed in our path - before we have needed them.  Always before we have needed them!

You lead me forward, and I come again, to the verse of so many years ago.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.  He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far, the Lord has helped us"  
~ 1 Samuel 7:12

Everything is different, yet nothing has changed.

Thank You, God.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"I can't"

I had just finished reading my friend's blog, when I went out on the mower to cut the grass.  For some reason, God uses these opportunities to speak to me - perhaps it's  because I can't quickly escape, or the task is fairly routine, or the hum of the car and mower engine are there to soothe me.... probably the first, but who knows for sure.... it's on the list of questions to ask when I get there....

So, after reading my friend's blog (which I'd highly recommend), on letting God be God, (titled Let Me Be ) and taking a few passes around the yard with the music playing, I began to recall all the times I have said "I can't" recently.

"I can't possibly do what You have asked"

"I can't possibly ask that question!"

"I can't.....I'm afraid"

"I can't....I don't know how"

"I can't....I will cry"

"I can't...."

"I can't...."

"I can't...."

And, then, very quietly, above the sound of the mower and of the music in my ears, I hear:

"I'm not asking you to.  I'm asking you to stop saying "I can't",  and let me..."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

God Loves Me Soooooo Crazy-Much!

I can't even begin to describe it....but I want to preserve it, so here goes nothin'! 

It's my feeble attempt to capture the Love of God in the written word....<ha! Good luck with that!>


This morning, I headed to church. 

It wasn't my "home church"- but a friend's church.  On my calendar, I had planned to make the early evening service, but wasn't sure I'd be done at camp in time.  The service at my "home church" wouldn't get me TO camp in time, so up I got and headed further down the road to worship where time would allow...(at least in the morning...and perhaps again in the evening...)

That was MY plan...

So there I sat.  Singing, listening, and visualizing the ASL signs in my head (one day, they may fly off my hands there....but not today).

God met me there <of course He did!>. There, He spoke to me - through the words of scripture, and through the words of men.  Through the music itself, and through the words of a song. <naturally!>.

They even played the song that has been speaking to me, and "calling" to me. <of course they did!> The same song I sing as a prayer - that He will continue to "call me out upon the waters"... 

"Where feet may fail".  

In my head, the signs for that phrase come out "depend myself can't".  Yeah.  That.  

Where He calls these days, I can't go on my own.  MY feet WILL fail.

And then come the other songs that also speak to me....the lyric phrase that randomly came into my head last week...yeah, that song.  The phrase that I wrote just minutes before as I collected my thoughts.  And the one that reminds me, "it is well with my soul".  Yeah, that one, too.

And, so, the service ends, and I prepare to leave.   And I knew, "NO WAY" could I come back that night....  no. way. 

There's only so much "growing" and "stretching" a girl can do in a day.  Only so much insight and facing "that" that can happen (within my comfort zone).

As I start my car, my phone auto-connects to the car's bluetooth, and the music starts itself playing through the speakers:  "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You may call me".  <oh yeah, like back to the chair, where You will speak to me some more, challenge me some more, stretch me some more....LOVE me some more....> 

I'm <a little> afraid at the thought <of having to trust outside the borders of my (little) comfort zone>.

There, in my head, the signs fly, "depend myself can't". <bam. convicted>.

I recall the picture I recently "share"d on Facebook - "Don't ask Him to lead you, if you're not willing to move your feet". <bam. convicted>

The song continues, "take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will become stronger, in the presence of my Saviour". <bam. convicted>

Ok. Ok.  I'll move my feet!  

God willing (literally), I'll go....I'll go.  "To whichever evening service Your timing will allow."

And so, I ended up being at the later <prayer> gathering.

Somehow, <by the Grace of God>, I made it into the building without a full-blown panic attack.

I climbed the stairs to the upper room.  <One. Step. At. A. Time.>

I grabbed a chair, but ended up sitting on the floor <my preference>....

against a strong, tree-like post, in this beautiful upper room....

with brick walls.....

and (old) hardwood floors....

and big windows.....

with the sun setting through them.....

and candles lit in the sills.....

and candles in lanterns along the floor....

and a wrought iron chandelier.... <does God know me, or what?!>

And people -young people- praising, and worshipping, and reading scripture, and praying for the city just outside the windows. <Hope embodied!>

And I sang, and I prayed.  And I laughed at the lengths He will go to reach me - to get me <literally> "on my knees".  

And it was beautiful....

amazingly beautiful.   

The series of songs that ended the gathering, touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes....

He answers our prayers, in His time and in His way....of that I am very aware..... <even the "trivial" ones>

<Trust Him, Linda....Trust. "Without borders">

And where He calls us, He equips us, and He meets us.  Sweetly and tenderly.  

And He heals hearts <in His time and in His way>.... Hosannah!

And interwoven throughout the entire experience, <aka: my entire life!>

Is the undeniable fact that....

God loves me .... 

Sooo crazy-much!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An Invitation to Dance

I wonder how I can go through my life, day after day, without noticing.  And then, all of a sudden, something that I have seen before, and apparently overlooked, is so breathtaking, it captures my complete attention. I can't NOT look.

I wonder if sometimes it takes a little dreariness to see what's been there all along, inviting me to experience life to the fullest. Honestly, I think they wait for just the right moment to call to me. Those moments when my heart and my head are in perfect position to see and to hear and to feel...

If that is the case, then today's experience makes complete sense....

It was an overcast day. The rain had ceased, but the sun had yet to break through the cloud covering.  I was feeling a little "overcast" as well....or is it overwhelmed?  Either way, my schedule for the day had changed, so rather than being a little "caught up", I was feeling significantly "farther behind".

As I drove,  I considered timing, to do's and deadlines and the "urgencies" that crept ever closer.  My breath shallowed as a bit of dread crept in.

I began to think of the Joys in my life, and of love.  I remembered my status from the morning - "Love is about open arms..."  And then, how that sentence ends.  I shift to gratitude for those people and situations who have helped pry my arms free of myself.... but still, I can't shake the feeling that I'll never get caught up enough to really be still.

I click "play" on my phone, to hear the remainder of today's daily bible reading:  Mark 14.  One of my favorite scenes - the woman, anointing Jesus with her "alabaster flask of pure nard".  Something about her deep love and her intuitive knowing always touches my heart. "She has done a beautiful thing for me".  My heart longs to do the same....

And then, I notice the trees.  I have been watching them lately - the big, empty-leaved ones.  The ones that are JUST BEGINNING to show a tinge of red at the tips of their branches.  I've noticed that if I let my gaze be just out of focus as I am driving along, they are covered in a reddish hue.  They are preparing to bud.  Spring is coming.  SOON!

"Behold, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs forth; do you not perceive it?"  Yes, Lord, I DO perceive it....  I see what you are doing with the earth, I see what you are doing in the lives of my friends, and I feel what you are doing within me.

I have managed to slow down enough to catch the very beginning of this springtime!  YES!  (I love that!) I long to savor the moments and catch the subtleties of the changing seasons.

But, as I drive the familiar road through the rural countryside, it is not the leafless budding trees I notice.  It is the ones that DO have leaves - still holding tight to their autumn colors..  Leaves that appear golden yellow, or a shimmering white.  There they are, scattered amid the taller trees.  All throughout the forest, they stand with open arms inviting me to dance!

And oh how I wish I could!

Perhaps one day, I will remember my boots....

And one day - if you're driving that road, and you see a woman swirling and spinning among the trees - it's just me... 

accepting His invitation...

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Will Give You All of Me

I sit and think of the word “worship”, and the ways I have previously understood and used it in the past. I have considered and referred to “worship” as simply the musical part of our service. Although there is worship that occurs as we sing and play (and perhaps dance), it is not the entirety of the experience.

I have used it to describe a means to get to a certain feeling, or a path for feeling refreshed, and alive.

As I grow to love Jesus more and more, I realize worship is so much deeper than that….and so much more than a Sunday Morning experience. We worship whatever rules our time, energy, thoughts, longings and choices. I make time on Sunday mornings to come and gather, and to “worship”. But what about Monday? And Tuesday?

What about the times midweek when I experience His favor? Do I stop, even momentarily, to acknowledge His hand and His presence in the everyday experiences of my life? Do I yield to His direction on a Thursday afternoon when I am running behind? I’m learning to.
In collecting my thoughts to write on the topic of worship, I found myself searching the Word, the dictionary, and of course, the internet. There, I stumbled on a definition that I long to embrace. William Temple writes:

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God.
It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness,
Nourishment of mind by His truth,
Purifying of imagination by His beauty,
Opening of the heart to His love,
And submission of will to His purpose.
And all this gathered up in adoration
is the greatest of human expressions of which we are capable.”

The Word is full of examples of people and groups of people gathering to worship God. He is continually seeking “true worshipers” (John 4:23-24). I am grateful for our “worship team” and our corporate gatherings – they are essential! I am grateful that worship moves me, but…
Ultimately, worship is not about me. It is about being in the presence of the One True Living God, acknowledging that He is so much greater than I will ever be, allowing myself to be overcome by His love, and surrendering all-of-me to All-of Him.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

God at the Gas Pump

 I have begun reading through the Bible-in-a-year....again.  I completed it for the first time just before Christmas and
So I have begun again, with a little different reading plan.

Now, truth be told, "reading" would be, perhaps, stretching it a little bit.  I'm having it read to me.  Which I REALLY love.  It had been my morning routine:  drop the kids at school, and press 'play' on the bible reader on my phone, and hear the Word of God read over me.  But, the routine got a little off with the holidays, so I got a little off.... thus, I've been a little behind.
Today, though, I had an opportunity to catch up. An hour drive to (and from) a meeting seemed like the perfect opportunity to blast through a couple of days.  I was in Exodus, hearing about the daily manna that God provided to the Israelites in the wilderness.... and the warning that storing up more than a day's worth just led to worms and stink.
It reminded me of how God has continually provided for me and my family.... even - and especially - when I didn't know how it could possibly work out. I paid special attention to the fact that, in each day, there is enough, without needing to fear for lack in the days to come.  Trying to depend on myself by "stocking up" on His blessings and provisions, only leaves me with a big stinky, wormy mess.  Despite His faithfulness, I still struggle with that from time to time.
I pulled into the gas station to get enough gas to get to the meeting. Gas prices there are SIGNIFICANTLY lower, so my plan was to fill up on my way home. I just needed enough to GET there.  As I began to pump my $10 worth of gas into my tank, I was reminded of the days - not that long ago - when I would put $10 of gas into my tank, and hope I could squeeze out enough miles to last until my next pay check.  I always managed to... or "somehow" another $10 came my way.
 As I stood there in the cold, on the other side of the pump, a car pulled forward.  Then, I looked more closely, and noticed it was being PUSHED forward.  
"Do you think $5 will get you where you need to go?" the man asked the woman as she stepped out of the car. 
"Yes!  Thank you!"  she replied.  
I realized then that they did not know each other. What I was witnessing was a blessing.  One stranger extending God's grace to another.
She began to share the circumstances she was facing - the primary one being "a nasty divorce".  
As I waited for the dial on my pump to hit $10.00, I considered my options.... do I contribute?  Do I speak?
No.... this one was their opportunity.  "You will have your opportunity soon...," I heard deep down within me.  (I'm on the watch! yes!)
So I thanked Him for letting me witness this gift, and whispered my prayers for the people on the other side of the pump: The woman in need, and those ministering to her.
As I drove away, I smiled.
Once again, humbled by the goodness of God and the way He uses everyday people to demonstrate His mercy and grace...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Paradox of Strength

I am continually awed by how interwoven the moments of my life can be.... and how such seemingly different events bring such a seamless lesson plan for my life.

Apparently, the current general topic is "strength" (ha, ha) ....

 I first began to notice this lesson being woven into the days of my life as I was watching TV.  In one scene, a dying woman was asked, "Where to you find the strength?"  Her reply comes, "We're women, honey. Strength finds us." 

 I smiled. 

That has been my experience, too. Strength has found me - over and over again - most often when I least expected it, and when I was sure I had none of my own.

And yet, in one area, I still hold tightly to every ounce of my own strength.  I stand with fists clenched, knowing full well that, ultimately,  this does not serve me well. 

And ever so gently, I am being reminded...

One of my New Favorite Songs is "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz.  My daughter introduced it to me (I love that!)

It is an "us" song, which is a new genre for me to dare to listen. It's a bit funny (to me anyway) that I'm so taken by it.  There are lots of people in my life, but there is no "us", as it is sung out in this song.  Yet, I listen and I sing.... again and again...

From time to time, different lyrics call out to me.  Driving home, the other day, it was the verse, "God knows I'm tough enough...". 

I laughed.

 Oh yeah, He does.  And He knows how strongly I fight this... this... WEAKNESS.


My "soft side".

Daring to dream and daring to trust.

And, yet, as the song replays I am reminded of His power being perfected in my weakness.  His power.  Love's power.

Unfailing Love and All-Sufficient Grace. The Power to move mountains and harden the hearts of Pharaohs....The Power to change the world ... and soften my heart.

The paradox hits me then.  I am not being "tough" or "strong" defending my heart. I'm being stubborn... and I am walking in fear, in disbelief, and not in His grace, and not in His love.

I've heard it said - again and again lately - "it is in the doing that we are changed".

May I remember the last of that verse: "For when I am weak, then I am strong."  May I walk on faith, let my 'thorn' be a reminder, and experience the sufficiency of His grace.

And in the 'doing' may I be changed.

"God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)"

Oh, and P.S.  I love a good sense of humor....

Album title:  "Love is a four-letter word".... hahahahaha

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

English Standard Version (ESV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.