Friday, October 28, 2011

Speak to Me

I was having a morning where I was curiously aware of the conversations I was having with God. There was the structured prayer, and the more informal comments about the leaves on a particular tree being especially beautiful, or the quick request for Him to speak through me (or at least shut "me" up). And the quiet reflection on His presence in my life, with a request for Him to speak to me.

And then, there was the question. "When I ask Him to "speak to me", is that what I really mean?" (and I mean REALLY mean...) OR, am I asking Him to tell me something I'd like to hear"?

I wish I could tell you, my immediate response was to consider the question for myself. No, my first thought was whether it was better expressed as a Facebook status or on Twitter. I did neither, actually. I simply repeated the question to myself.... again and again and again.

Honestly, I think I bounce back and forth on the continuum. Sometimes, I really truly would like to hear what He has to speak TO ME, FOR ME...(and I hope that I would respond appropriately), but there are other times, I just want Him to tell me something that supports what I think should happen in a situation.

As my journey continues, I find I ask Him to speak to me, more and more.

May my heart be open to hear and quick to obey.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Your Light Will Shine When All Else Fades

I've had song stuck in my head for the past few days - and one line in particular that keeps repeating itself.... over and over and over:  "Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades..."  I have learned that He will speak to me - through the words of such a song - in a moment that I desperately need to hear Him.  (Apparently, that would be today!)

We were having a difficult morning. The day was really only 20 minutes old for my kids, and I was already frustrated with them. "Get up." "Get dressed." "Let's go!"  

As I continued in our morning routine, I noticed the lighting outside the window.  There had appeared a mystical orange and pink tinge that called to me.  I stepped outside onto the front walk, and simply stared at the sunrise that was beginning to break forth in the eastern sky.  "Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades...."   I inhaled deeply before I turned toward the house to return to the task of motivating two dawdling tweens.

As we drove to their school, I continued to watch the sky, and became keenly aware of the way the morning sun accentuated the bright orange, yellow and red leaves on the trees that lined the roads and fields.  Absolute beauty!

I continued on to visit my first patient.  The leaves and their bright colors called my attention, but still I critiqued our morning routine.  "How can I make our mornings less of a struggle?"  It's wearying day after day.....especially being the sole morning motivator.  I remembered some words recently spoken to me by a friend:  "He will not let you fall..."  Another deep breath.  Thank God for that.

I glanced up at the horizon.  Through the line of trees in their full autumn splendor, a ray of orange sunlight shone directly at me.... Right. In. My. Eyes.  "Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades...."  repeated itself in my head.

Instantly, I was reminded:  This too shall pass.  Sooner than I care to believe, I will no longer be required to be the sole morning motivator.  We'll move on to different issues.  BUT...

No matter what.  When this fades....and so does the next thing.... and the next.  His light will still be shining brightly.

Thank God for that too!

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

There's No Place Like Home... There's No Place Like Home...

Let me preface this by saying that this post is a work in progress....I don't have a clear grasp of it except for an awareness of concepts, moments and experiences that feel linked together, somehow, without an obvious (to me) path or progression.  But, life is like that... and I muddle through and share when I feel led...

It started in church - sort of - as my pastor was talking about Jacob FINALLY getting to Bethel (Genesis 35).... or perhaps it started last night, as my daughter and I assembled her new bed.... or perhaps it was while I was "on retreat".... or headed that way...

Clearly, I don't have a definitive "starting point"... but it really doesn't matter.  It WOULD satisfy my logical, linear-thinking brain if we moved from point A to point B sequentially, and not follow the loopsy whimsical path that it seems we sometimes do.  But I know it will all "work together for good" one way or another.

So, there I stand - on the box - interpreting the sermon.  (Which means, I can relay to you the general concepts of the message and the long list of words for which I forgot the signs)  The concept that stuck with me was of these "Bethel experiences" the Jacob had experienced.  Those moments, when undeniably, God had been there with him.

We were asked to remember ours - and to consider those places where God is calling us to be. (and, surrender, obey and GO... without the delay modeled to us by Jacob)

All afternoon, as I shifted furniture around, washed clothes, and sorted through boxes of "stuff"my daughter had cleared out of her room, my mind shifted from my retreat to The Wizard of Oz.

I remember - VERY clearly - the evening God met me and called me to retreat with Him.... and yet, as I drove the miles into the woods, He reminded me that I didn't need to "go away" to do so.  I returned home with a new sense of purpose.... that quickly got lost in the shuffle of everyday life.

And, as I begin the six week stretch that is typically the busiest of the year for me, I had a moment to sit.  Quietly.  With Him and with my calendar, thinking...

"There's no place like home.  There's no place like home...."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Power of the (Spoken) Truth

It has been a hard couple of days - returning from a fun, but whirlwind trip, visiting family, smack-dab into the middle of a busy week.  I'd actually planned a day for transition... but it wasn't much of a transition day, as there was much weighing me down.

I considered the choices of others - the same choices I had made when I was their age - and hoped that their outcomes would be better than mine had been.  I know (now) what the Word says... yet, we had all chosen against it... so while I hoped for the best, I wasn't very optimistic.

I considered my life and the choices I am making these days.  They are more in line with the teachings of the gospel, but undoubtedly, I fall short on a regular basis... I think about how hard it can be on any given day, with any given choice.... especially those that are counter-cultural.  And, I wonder - briefly - if it's worth the effort.  I know it is.... deep in my heart and soul, I know it is.  It is in those moments, I can almost feel Him holding me.... almost.

It's in the car, driving from patient to patient to patient, that these thoughts occupy my mind.... and I pray.  Back and forth - topic and person, concern and choice and situation - I consider, and I talk with God.

Periodically, there is a moment that deeply blesses me - the way the sun hits the newly-changing leaves, or the curmudgen old woman who smiles, whole-heartedly, and thanks me for visiting. 

Yet, there is the nagging doubt that I will choose wisely, make a difference, or get done what needs to get done.  There is concern for the state of the world - and my place in it.

As I drive, I think of a man I know, weighed down with similar concerns.  I am also reminded of a passage in Matthew 6: " not be anxious..."  When I finally get a (non-driving) moment, I send him a text to let him know he has come to my mind, with a verse, and share the scripture reference.  It's in the moments after hitting "send", that I say aloud - "Yeah, the devil is trying his best to get me, too...."

Suddenly, I can breathe more deeply.  A weight is lifted, and my perspective has shifted back into alignment.  Funny. (not).  The whole day - maybe two - as I struggled to be comfortable in my place in the world, was not a fight against flesh and blood. I simply needed to speak it.

Sitting here now, as I reflect, I am moved to tears of gratitude - for today, the thing I have wanted most in the whole wide (crazy) world, was to feel Him holding me.  (And I wasn't willing to settle for anything less.)

Perhaps I am learning.

Perhaps there is hope for me yet....


Do Not Be Anxious

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his ispan of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and our heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Country Roads, Take Me Home....

I laughed to myself as I posted the words of the old John Denver song as my Facebook status. Our travels would mostly be by interstate, it had never been my "home", and we weren't going to West Virginia, but regular Virginia. Still, it was the song playing in my head as we started out.

That song, my sister and I used to sing in the back of my grandparents station wagon, on our roadtrips from their home in Virginia to their mountain property in West Virginia...but somehow, it still fit.

As we headed north, through the Shenendoah valley, the beauty of the mountains - speckled with the beginnings of autumn foliage - spoke to me.... I was reminded how much I love the mountains... how I miss them.

I laughed again, as I found myself driving for miles up and down a winding gravel country road - guided by my gps rather than written instructions from my uncle.

The farm where we are staying is beautiful, and I am thoroughly enjoying my visit with family....many of whom I have not seen in years.

Thank You, God for the beauty of these mountains, and the sweetness of family...

May our time together be blessed, and may You be in our midst.
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Breaking Bread

While I was "on retreat", I really didn't want to cook.  I wanted something simple, that didn't take a lot of time or preparation.  I also wanted to include communion each day.  Which, sounded a little weird to me on one hand - "breaking bread" by myself?  On the other hand, it is a remembrance, and one that I wanted to include in my quiet time with God.

So, I brought bread and "wine" (Welches finest!), and sat by the fire my first night there, with exactly this plate of food.

I opened my bible and found the chapters and verses - first in Matthew and the next night in Luke - and read aloud.  Now, I have heard these passages read many times, and I have had communion many times - wafers, loaves of bread, pieces of pita bread, every week, quarterly - but I have never read these verses aloud.  To only myself.

And, I have never changed the pronouns.  And, wow, what a powerful statement to change the pronouns:

"This is Your body, broken for me"

It's hard for me to speak them aloud without tears welling up in my eyes..... even now.  Even with no bread and no "wine" sitting before me.  "... Your body, broken for me."  It's humbling, and very, very powerful!

(and I packed no Kleenex - what WAS I thinking?)

And, so I thanked Him for my simple meal - for the bread and the "wine" - and for the greatest gift of all....

While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. 

"but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  ~ Romans 5:8

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Bring Paint"

I am "on retreat", having escaped into the woods - to the peace and quiet of a small log cabin.

I have had mixed success in being electronically 'disconnected', but am not feeling 'tied down' to my phone. :) ahhhhhhh....

I have used it to share some joy and capture a picture or two.

One thing that He seemed to ask me to do, in planning for this retreat, is "bring paint". Ok....but, I don't paint.

Yet, as I finished my bible study this morning, I became more and more excited to pull out a canvas.... I have been seeing the concept of a painting, over and over as I fall asleep, and last night was no exception.

So, as I pulled out the acrylics and set up the canvas, I pictured it again. Colors, brushes and a little Revelation Song in the background...

This, my friends, is what it feels like to worship...
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