Monday, October 31, 2011

He Holds Our Tears

Kaia Donovan
I sat on the side of the church stage, looking out into the congregation. The sight of so many quiet tears and sober faces spread to my own heart, making me teary-eyed. I was thankful I was interpreting the service into a signed language, since it’s much easier to “talk” with my hands while crying than it is to speak.

Fresh in our minds was the recent death of the youth pastor’s beautiful baby girl, who was born with neurological problems and lived only twenty days. Another friend’s miscarriage, a teen’s accident, and other tragedies among the church members lay heavy on our hearts.

Yet I felt something else rippling through the church. Something even stronger than pain, stronger than the questions and the grief. It was faith, binding us together, holding us up to the very throne of God.

I felt the presence of God with us, not only giving freely the peace that passes understanding, but providing His support and His understanding. He was there not only as a Comforter, but also as a fellow mourner.

God cried too.

We often forget that, I think—that God is not just up in heaven allowing things to happen, but that He walks among us, grieving and crying with us. This world is not how it is suppose to be. It’s not how He meant it to be.
And when [Jesus] drew near and saw the city [of Jerusalem], He wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace~Luke 19:41
The time will come when He will turn our mourning into joy. Some of that happens here on the earth when God brings glory from pain; the rest will come when this world is done. But the time is not yet for the New Jerusalem and the ultimate fix that will right all the wrongs. There’s more work to be done on this unjust earth.

But in the mean time, know that He knows. In fact, the Bible tells us not only that He sees our tears, but that He holds them, keeps them, and someday will wipe them away forever.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in your book? For You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. ~Psalms 56:8 and 13

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Gospel According to Star Trek

I admit… I can be slow on the uptake. And worse than that, my mind can make random connections that leave people wondering if I shouldn’t be committed. I have to warn you…

This may be one of those times. But hold off on the white jackets for just a bit.

I’m a Trekkie, okay? No, I don’t have Spock ears that I wear in secret when I’m all alone, and I don’t do the Vulcan hand thing and intone “Live long and prosper.” I don’t have a Star Trek uniform in my closet, and I don’t go to conventions. However, every once in a while I have to settle down on the couch and get my fix of Star Trek, whether it’s a few episodes of the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or Voyager (blech on Enterprise… sorry!). I sometimes even indulge in a movie marathon and start with Star Trek: The Motion Picture and work my way through the latest release. 

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released in 1979. It’s 2011. I’ve watched it more times than I can count in the past 32 years, and I’m just now realizing how very much this picture speaks to man’s need to know his Creator. Okay, yes… it’s not rocket science. After all, the movie is about V’ger’s journey to speak face to face with “the creator.” But it’s the journey that’s fascinating, because in this movie produced by a man who was an avowed humanist and agnostic, who viewed religion as the cause of all human suffering, we have a portrayal of man’s rebellion against God, and the story of how God gives Himself so that the created can be reborn. 

V’ger, the entity at the heart of the story, was a former NASA space probe that was created with a purpose... to learn all there was to learn and to return with that information. However, it suffered damage as it journeyed to fulfill its mission. A race of machine beings, unable to ascertain or understand the original intent of V’ger’s creator, attempted to repair and rebuild the space probe. What eventually evolved was an entity capable of destroying all life. V’ger returned to Earth, seeking “the creator,” needing that which made it to give its life meaning. Only the creator had the code to satisfy its programming. However, because of damage, the creator could not just simply repair the connection. He had to become one with the unit. Decker, the temporary first officer of Enterprise (and former captain), gave his life so that V’ger could live (and thus saves all life on Earth and in the galaxy and throughout the universe).

Isn’t that the story of us? We are damaged. We need repair. Nothing in all our wanderings can fix us until we come back to our point of origin, back to the God who created us. And He has not simply devised a patch to repair our programming. He has become one with us, has given His life so that we can live, and now we are able to participate in the original purpose of our creation and even more. 

V’ger grew from a simple space probe into a malignant entity that measured over three hundred million kilometers in diameter. It destroyed everything in its path. Likewise, we grew from the innocent creation of God into a malignant people who have at the very core of us only the ability to destroy. It is only when we come face to face with our Creator, when we join with Him, that we discover our true calling. It is only when we are willing to abandon everything to know Him that we discover purpose and life.

Never think for one moment that your life, in all its mundane day-to-day activity, has no purpose. Our accomplishments will probably never save a galaxy. What we do for the Kingdom of God may not have any impact outside of our small sphere of friends and neighbors. We may not lead but one person to Christ, but it’s as the Talmud says, “He who saves a life, saves the world entire.” One soul, snatched from the gates of Hell, is cause for the heavens to rejoice. God takes what we do and expands it exponentially to fulfill His purpose.

And because He has not just repaired but replaced our programming, we are free to join with Him in this wonderful work of salvation and redemption.

And that, my friends, is the gospel according to Trek…

O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8 NIV)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Natural ability – is it really natural?

While pondering this question I was transported back to my childhood.

There I was, perched on a stool, watching my mother make a cake. She took the big mixing bowl and started adding one ingredient after another seldom measuring anything. When she added cocoa to the mixture, I inhaled that sweet intoxicating smell of chocolate. I could hardly wait as she began pouring the batter into the cake pans.

"You want to lick the bowl?" A knowing smile lit up her face.

I went right to work with the big wooden spoon and cleaned every smidgen of batter from that big mixing bowl.

After I was grown, my mother came to visit. She sat watching me prepare dinner. "Are you sure I can’t help?"

"I only wish I had your natural ability for cooking.”

She chuckled. "Natural ability? I hardly think so."

"Mom, I remember watching you cook. You rarely measured anything and never used a recipe."

"It was much more a case of practice, practice, and more practice. That’s where most natural ability comes from," she assured me.

In light of this thought process, I invited my neighbor over hoping to learn more about this thing called natural ability. Over a cup of tea I inquired, "Could I ask you a couple of questions?"

"I hope I know the answers." Shirley’s laughter rang through the room.

"You’re very accomplished at playing the piano. Do you feel you have a natural ability?"

"I believe I have a God-given talent, but years of lessons, with years of practice, combined with His divine guidance, have given me my so called natural ability."

"Your second CD was released a few months ago. Not everyone who takes lessons is necessarily successful." I leaned forward, eager to know her answer.

"I’m very blessed, but make no mistake about it, I also work very hard. I practiced for months before doing my CD last year. There were times I fought discouragement. Let me assure you, along with practicing, I spent time on my knees. Think of our great singers—they have glorious God-given gifts. Yet, many of them have vocal coaches to help them develop their voice to its highest potential."

We finished our tea and I walked my neighbor to the door. I could see her front yard across the street. “Your roses are magnificent this year. Fred sure has a green thumb when it comes to gardening.”

“Fred babies them. He’s constantly feeding and trimming his rose bushes.”

There it was again. It wasn’t his thumb, it was the care and effort he put into growing his roses.

Later that evening I sat on the patio, gazing at the stars, still mulling this idea of natural ability over in my mind.

For me, writing has taken a great deal of persistence. However, I recall when I thought if I was really and truly called to be a writer, shouldn’t it be easier? I was under the misconception that a successful writer sat down and simply started putting words to paper, and then submitted a manuscript to their publisher, and bam, a new book hit the best sellers’ list.

When I shared this concept with an author, she was quite amused, as she gave me some much-needed insight. "By the time I finish with the editing of a book, I am so tired of it, I don’t ever want to look at it again."

I listened to an artist talk about his success as a painter. His work is inspirational and it is obvious he possesses an awesome gift. He expressed how important his personal relationship with Christ is. He talked about how hard he worked to learn the art of placing on canvas the painting in his mind’s eye. Practice, practice, and more practice. There it was again, hard work.

Natural ability, is it so natural?

The recipe for natural ability—gleaned in light of my research.

  • Start with dreaming a beautiful God given dream.
  • Mix in, completely, a constant covering of prayer.
  • Fold in a heaping scoop of strong faith.
  • Combine with oodles of blood, sweat and tears.
  • Burn the midnight oil as needed.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"       (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Loaves, Fishes, and Seeds

Several weeks ago, I was sitting in the ladies’ Bible study listening to our pastor’s wife share some thoughts on a couple parables—“the mustard seed” and “the growing seed.” While discussion among the ladies progressed regarding these two parables, my mind took a trip to the hours scheduled for my job the following week. I would likely get 10 ½ hours, little more. Worry and fear came to visit.

I forced my focus back to the ladies and heard a friend say, “The mustard seed represents provision. It is the smallest seed, but becomes the largest of garden plants where birds settle. This is a place of shelter, safety, and nourishment. The birds are God’s people.”

I turned that over in my mind, considering the idea. It was then that I heard the Lord whisper, “It was after Jesus blessed the loaves and fish that there was more than enough. Ten and a half hours is your mustard seed.”

At first, I wondered how the two parables connected. Then I saw it. The mustard seed and the 10 ½ hours seem insignificant. So did the five loaves and two fish to the disciples when looking out over the crowd of 5,000 men. Glancing at my church’s sanctuary, I realized we would have to sit five of those rooms side by side to get an idea of the number of men—women and children were extra. That’s a lot of men. If they’re anything like my 17-year old son, their appetite was not small. Five loaves and two fish was a mustard seed.

The interesting thing was, Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “Hey, go buy more food. This will never do.” He didn’t instruct anyone to get another job. In fact, one of the disciples felt the need to instruct Jesus:

“Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”(John 6: 7 NKJV)—or as the NIV says, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.”
Can you hear me? God, 10 ½ hours is not enough to pay the bills. His answer, “Have the people sit down.” (John 6: 10)

What? Don’t go get more provision? Jesus, what are You thinking?

I could imagine Peter shaking his head. I was shaking mine. Then I was given a glimpse into the scene.
Jesus blessed the food, broke the bread in two and gave half to each of 10 disciples. The fish, He handed to the other two and instructed them to begin passing it out. The men wove their way through the people, breaking off pieces for each family.

The loaves never came to an end. The fish—perhaps broken from the beginning—never ended. The disciples, perplexed, tried to understand how this happened but continued to pass out the food. The people ate, and ate “as much as they wanted” (v. 11). “When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples, “‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten,” (v. 12 – 13).

Even the people saw the bread and the fish begin with an insignificant amount and refuse to come to an end.

Thinking about this, I realized one thing. It is important that we see not only the miraculous provision of God in our lives, but that the bread and loaves don’t come to an end, meaning His provision does NOT end.

Somehow, His provision has been there. He has blessed our children with jobs. My 17 year old son is now stepping into man-sized shoes with two jobs, one he sought out, the other dropped into his lap—a surprise. Both are from God. This young man has taken the “back seat” to his older sister, seemingly losing out on benefits promised to him; but God has seen fit to show him, and his family, that every good and perfect gift (even provision) comes from above (James 1: 17 paraphrased).

(All images retrieved from Google images)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Becoming Aware

October is my favorite month of the year. I’ve never been a big fan of heat and Midwest humidity and this month typically signifies an end to that awful weather. I get to pull out my long-sleeved shirts, enjoy football games, and the gorgeous colors as the leaves turn.

Another thing I like about October is the color pink. I am the lone female in a house of males and pink is not a really popular color where we live! But I love that girly color. When October rolls around you can’t go anywhere without seeing it because pink is the color of breast cancer awareness. They’ve got pink everything it seems – sweatshirts urging you to “fight like a girl”, pink house wares, pink ink pens and pencils, special pink make-up, and even some of the food at the grocery store is packaged in pink wrappers.

I happily buy these things because the color pink makes me happy. But more importantly, it’s because I support the cause of breast cancer awareness. In 2009 and in 2010 I lost two friends to the disease. One of the saddest things I think I have ever witnessed was to watch my friend’s eleven-year old daughter stumble up the aisle in the church at the conclusion of her mother’s funeral, tears streaming down her face. With all my heart, I hope they find a cure for this dreaded disease.

But something occurred to me recently as I was fingering some pink merchandise at a local store. What if we not only had breast cancer awareness month, but we had a month designated as “Sin Awareness” month? Instead of wearing pink ribbons, we’d wear black ones. We’d buy shirts that urged us to “Repent” and instead of donating money to research, we would devote hours to searching our own hearts. I know it’s kind of a silly thought, in a way, because something like that would never happen in the world we live in.

But I think of King David who wrote in Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties,
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. (NKJV)

He pleaded with God to show him the sinful areas in his life. How often do I do that? Not nearly enough. It’s uncomfortable! The process itself demands change. Truthfully, there are areas in my life where I don’t want to turn from my sin because it’s enjoyable. We used to live in a culture where things were more “black and white” and sin was perhaps more identifiable. But now our culture is steeped in shades of gray and I’m definitely susceptible to that. At times I find it difficult to even recognize sinful areas in my life.

However, I know the remedy. The more time I spend in God’s Word, the more I will become like Him. And then sin will be obvious to me. But it takes time and it takes a humble spirit. Psalm 66:18 reminds us,

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. (KJV)

It’s pretty plain right there. If I want God to attend to my many needs and answer my requests, then I have got to clear up the sin first. It’s a sobering thought.

Becoming aware of sin and turning from it is not necessarily a fun experience. But nothing good comes from harboring sin in my heart. Like cancer, it will destroy me. True victory comes by repentance and embracing a life of daily growth as I strive to become more like my Savior.

May I become more and more aware.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Let's just worship Him today!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If A Smile Had a Sound

It was pretty late for a phone call.

I was sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a snack. The 10 o’clock news had just started. I was startled by the ring, but I answered it. “Hello?”

At first, there was no response. Then, “I… umm…”

“Hello?” I repeated.

The woman’s voice was soft and hesitant. “Yes, umm…hello. I’m looking for … is Carrie Morgan there?”

Oh, no. Not again. “Oh, sorry; no. Carrie doesn’t have this number anymore.”

There was another hesitation; then she asked, “Oh. She doesn’t?”

“No, sorry,” I responded. “But if it’s any comfort, I get these calls a lot. You’re not the only one who’s called to ask.”

“Oh. Well, I … ummm,” I could hear the disappointment in her voice as she mulled over my response. “Do you know Carrie? I mean: do you know where she is or know her new number?”

It wasn’t the first time I’d gotten that question, either. I told her, “I’m sorry. I have no idea. She must have been really popular, because I’ve been getting calls ever since I moved here. But I don’t know her – or where she is.”

“Oh. Oh. Okay. Well, Okay.” Her voice sounded immeasurably sad.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I felt like she needed someone to reach out to her. “Ma’am?”

“Yes?” she responded.

“Well, are you OK?” I asked. “You sound upset.” I couldn’t see her, but it sounded as though she was crying.

“Well, I guess I am, a bit.”

My heart went out to her. “Do you want to talk about it?”

She continued, “Oh… I …. I don’t know. You don’t know me, and ….”

“No – and I don’t know Carrie, either – but you sound like you need someone to talk to.

There was another brief silence before she said, “It’s just that … I don’t really know Carrie, either. But I want to.”

Now I was confused – and told her so.

“Sorry. I guess… I mean… look, I just… Carrie is my daughter.”

Her daughter? “Oh, wow.”

It sounded as though she was crying, again. “Well, you see… she doesn’t know me. I had her when I was a teenager and placed her with an adoption agency. I decided to find out about her and this is the last number they have; for where she lives. I don’t even know if she knows she’s adopted, but… I just want to find her.”

“Oh, wow, Ma’am. I’m sorry. I wish I could help.”

She replied, “Well, thanks. You’re really nice.”

“Thank you.” Well, I couldn’t leave her without hope – could I? “Look, I’m sorry I can’t help. You sound like a nice lady and I’m sorry you didn’t find her. Do you want to say a prayer together?”

This time, the hesitation was briefer. “Well, I don’t know… I guess.”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Me? I’m Nancy,” she said.

“Nancy, I’m Anne. Let’s pray.” I reached out with my heart as I prayed with her. “Lord, be with Nancy. Help her feel Your presence as she looks for her daughter. Please help her find another way to get information she needs. And be with Carrie; wherever she is. Amen.”

The crying had stopped, even though the sadness remained in her voice. “Thank you so much. That’s … very nice. Well… I won’t take up any more of your time. I don’t know what I should do next, but I appreciate you trying to help.”

“I hope you find her, Nancy,” I told her.

“Me too,” she replied.

“God bless you,” I said. “And … call back if you need to talk, anytime. And - for what it’s worth -I hope the next time I hear from you it’s because you’ve found her.”

If a smile had a sound, it would sound like this. “Oh, that would be wonderful. God bless you, too.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Her Sister's Hero

She is the most beautiful creature I have ever known. She sparkles from the inside out, lighting up an entire room with her joy. While I miss her terribly I understand that this time away is necessary. She is becoming a fully grown woman, exploring her independence and freedom. I could not be more proud or honored to share my DNA with her. In a fascinating irony, I look up to her as much as she looks up to me.

“…And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces but the Lord was not in the wind…”

For years I have listened to her begging and pleading. “Please write a book. You have a gift and the world needs to hear what you have to say.” Her confidence in my ability is both humbling and frightening. While the world may take little interest in what I have to offer, my baby sister is on the edge of her seat waiting for me to take the world by storm. Her latest request could not have come at a better time.

“…and after the wind an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake…”

Crippled by discouragement, the last several days have driven me to the edge of despair. Like Elijah in the desert, I have been curled up under my own broom tree. Despondence and self-pity have taken up residence for free in a place where the rent is not cheap. Out of sheer desperation I empty my soul onto paper, penning words that somehow confirm her beliefs. If I thought as much of myself as she does what great things might I be able to accomplish?

“…and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

Dear Self,

I’ve heard a lot of negative talk lately from the self-pity committee in your head. I understand that you are discouraged, dejected, and deranged. You feel under qualified, under appreciated, and under stress. You’ve got obligations, distractions, and responsibilities that keep your brain on overload. I get it. You feel like you’re not good enough, talented enough, or important enough to do the job. You feel insignificant, unworthy, and unprepared. I get it. I get it.

Here’s the thing about all these excuses. At the end of the day the plain truth is that it doesn’t matter how you feel. That’s right, I said it. Your feelings don’t matter and here’s why. God gave you a job to do and that’s the bottom line.

The truth is that you are good enough or else you wouldn’t have the ability to do this job in the first place. The truth is that people are responding to your efforts, even if they’re not saying a word. Speaking of which, when did you start caring so much about what other people thought? There are only two opinions that matter and yours is subjective.

The truth is that you have the power to be extraordinary. The truth is that with a little hard work, your voice could reach places you only dream about. The truth is that not only do you deserve to be heard, you are obligated. The truth is that you are more than capable of making your dreams come true. The only thing holding you back is you. What are you waiting for?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Longer in the Dark

I was just rocking along in my world, happy to have an electric typewriter and a color television with a remote, when along came computers. I resisted, at first. Why would I want to humiliate myself by trying to understand a machine that I knew nothing about, while my eighth grade students understood it far better than the mechanics of grammar—that which I was attempting to teach them.

But I succumbed to the lure of the technological world when my younger brother gave me an Apple 2e, one that his company was replacing with a more up-to-date computer. I nearly pulled my hair out as I tried to figure it out.

Then, several years later, our son took my husband and me shopping for a computer. The salesman told us this computer had so much memory, it would probably last us the rest of our lives. Right! (Maybe we looked really, really old to him!) I studied manuals, and by dint of mistake after mistake, I began to understand the computer just a little better.

The computer’s brain, even in the early days, was so advanced to mine, anyone observing my battles with understanding its works would think he was watching a comedy. The simplest tasks have been a challenge, but, thanks to perseverance and a modicum of intelligence, I have tackled four subsequent computers, and I survived.

With computer knowledge “sort of” under my belt, we got a Kindle for Christmas. That wasn’t quite so difficult. I really enjoyed the speed of getting books downloaded, but I must admit to missing turning the pages. Somehow, while using the Kindle, my thumb gets ahead of my brain, and I end up turning the page before I’m half finished with it . . . but I journey on.

Then, recently, we got an iPhone. Oy, technology! What hair I hadn’t long ago pulled out was ripe for plucking now. The salesman told us that this was so simple a kindergartner could use it with no problems. Last year I was afraid I wasn’t smarter than a fifth grader. Now it’s the kindergartner I have to worry about. I’ve read the tiny packet of instructions that came with it and watched tutorials. So far I’ve managed to get music on the ipod, take a couple of pictures (which I’m not sure how to get to my computer), and check the weather, e-mails, and the stock reports (no encouragement there). . .but don’t call me on it yet!

In contrast to the complexity of technology is the simplicity of the Gospel. Here I am no longer in the dark, but I am in the light as I study God’s Word.

What a wonderful thought it is that God planned for our salvation even before He created the sun, moon, and stars—the rivers and oceans—plants and animals—man and woman. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:20-21 / ESV).

God knew that we would sin, and He provided the solution through the death of His only Son because He loves us. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 / ESV).

Sin has a terrible penalty, but because Jesus died for our sins, we have the hope of living forever with God in heaven. There’s nothing we can do to earn this salvation because it was given freely. We have only to confess our sins and accept God’s wonderful gift to us. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23 / ESV).

We can be encouraged to know that not only did Jesus die for our sins, He ever invites us to come to Him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 6:28 / ESV).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

And How!

Some moments, days, weeks, ugh...some months are rough.  I'm not sure why.  I know quite a few friends who have it rough right now.  My heart cries out for them.  I'm sure many can relate to that vaporized guy over there.  I sure can.  And how!

A cold has gotten the best of me.  It's knocked me down pretty hard.  It even managed to steal my voice for a couple of days.  With a head cold comes a mighty fine headache, of course.  Just what I need.
With more pain comes discouragement.  When I'm discouraged, I tend to fall farther away from God instead of draw closer to Him.  Am I an anomaly or is that common?  I'd be interested to know if anyone's brave enough to answer.

I tend to love really big and when I'm not loved big back, I don't understand it.  It throws me for a tailspin.  It hurts my heart.  Since I know that, I wonder why I would do that to God because He loves bigger than anyone could ever love.  After all, He's the One that invented love.  Sad.  So very sad.

I'm so sorry, Lord.  So sorry.  Honestly.  

"We love because He first loved us."
1 John 4:19 (NIV)

One friend was very Mary Poppinsy-ish about my attitude - especially when I told her I had to write this post.  "Think happy thoughts."  It reminded me of a "spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...."

Another friend said, "Dwell where the fruit flourishes."  

She was right.  Absolutely.  There are no happy thoughts if I'm not where the fruit is.  I've let the evil of this world win because I haven't been abiding with Christ through it all.  I've been nursing my hurts instead of picking the apples off the tree.  I know this.  I knew it all along so why don't I do what I know will be healthy for me?  Why do I stay deflated and vaporized instead?  

I'm writing this.  I came to this realization so why do I still feel like this?  I know a big part is physical but I want to walk in victory all of my days and quit letting situations bring me down so much.  And since I do deal with physical infirmities, I need a way for it not to bring me down spiritually.  You know what I mean?  Maybe this is a post asking for help in this area.  

I am being real, so very real right now.  I am very very down and I know what to do and I will do it.  I will reach out to God and He will pull me up and He will love on me and I will ask myself why it took me so long to do it and I'll feel so very stupid, but in the meantime...I guess I felt it was time to be real because others deal with physical and emotional pain too.  

Through buckets and barrels of tears I've lived this week, and I've shared with friends my turmoil, and I've written this post, and I've cried out to God so many times and I ask: 

"Why, my soul, are you downcast? 
Why so disturbed within me? 
Put your hope in God, 
for I will yet praise him, 
my Savior and my God."
Psalm 43:5 (NIV)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Listening & Learning

I used to have two mini-poodles. It’s supposed to be an intelligent breed, and they did have their smart days.

I had learned American Sign Language in the past and taught it to high school students for a missions trip.

Having two “willing” four legged students at home, I decided to teach the dogs a few signs. While speaking the word “out”, I formed the sign for it at the same time. It didn’t take too long until I didn’t need to say the word. I could just make the sign and they understood with a rousing round of excited barking. Of course, every time I made the sign, I had to let them out.

I figured after they were used to the one sign, it was time to teach them another one. I chose the sign for “eat.” Well, the second sign wasn’t as easy for them to learn. Every time I’d say the word and make the sign, they assumed I meant the word “out.” They saw my hands moving and jumped to the wrong conclusion. They didn’t wait to see if it was a new sign, they just started barking. My dogs ended up only learning the one sign.

This gets me thinking of waiting for the Lord’s leading. Don’t jump ahead, assuming we know what to do. We need to pay close attention to Him, because He may have something new to teach us. If we’re too sure of ourselves, we may miss a blessing.

“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning;
and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”
Proverbs 1:5


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crying Out

To state the obvious, life is hard. Murphy and his law run amok on this earth, ensuring that anything that can go wrong has a good shot at doing just that. Flat tires, flu bugs, financial frustrations—it's all out there. So what's to keep us from swallowing a daily dose of despair?

In Psalm 142:2-3 (NLT) it says, “I pour my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn...” God doesn't expect us to carry our burdens on our own. He wants us to pour out our troubles before Him—no matter how big and ugly they may be—so that He can guide us to the answers we need.

It's a good thing, too. Sometimes it feels like we're Gilligan, stuck on a virtual island of mounting worries. Somehow the three-hour tour we signed up for turned out to be a shipwreck. A dear friend of mine is going through this now. Just as economic realities are threatening her family's home and livelihood, she has received the news that she is battling Graves disease. Is she overwhelmed? Yes. Is she exhausted? Yes. But she is not a castaway from God's mercy and love.

In Psalm 22:24 (NLT), David says, “For he has not ignored the suffering of the needy. He has not turned and walked away. He has listened to their cries for help.”

We are not alone in our moments of crisis, be they mountain or molehill in the grand scheme of things. You and I may not have struggles of the same magnitude, but we can rest assured that if we cry out to God, He will listen and respond. My friend has called out to God in her time of need. I am convinced, as David was, that those cries will be heard. 



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