Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Questioning God

During Advent I like to take time to think more deeply about the Christmas story. I'm sure when Mary thought more about what the angel told her about her son being on the throne of David and ruling Jacob's house, she envisioned a very different picture than what actually happened. God shared His true plans for Jesus and yet not the detailed picture of what that would be. I imagine she pictured a King ruling Israel, like King David... not her son tortured and hanging on a cross. 

How often do I picture God's plans for me differently than He does? Usually i think good plans involve good things: love, comfort, being "exalted", accepted, enough for all I need to be happy.  When things don't turn out that way, why do I question God instead of my picture of His plan?

Luke 26-28 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.
29-33 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
He will be great,
    be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
    the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
    no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What if . . .

If what you are thinking about yourself actually came true, always happened just because you thought that way, how would you change your thinking?
I found this question intriguing. Here are my answers....

1.  I live out of a God-economy, knowing as I obediently listen to where my Master wants me to use His resources, I respond with joy as I give to others, knowing His provision is always more than enough because He is generous and I cannot out give God! I desire to live giving.

2.  It is good to examine my sin, shadow side and shortcomings because God wants to meet me there, forgive me, show me His grace is sufficient for me and give me opportunities to grow through my confession and receive his gracious forgiveness.

3.  I am attached to God and God alone, not to my comfort, esteem, influence or security but desire to please God first and foremost over people or myself.

4.  I am letting God transform me by renewing my mind, setting new pathways, giving up the old, false self and living fully into my new true self.

5.  I live in the present moment focusing on His Presence, trusting that He'll be with me in the future, because He lives in me. Gods got it covered. When He reminds me "I've got this!" I relax. I desire to walk resting.

6. I live from a grateful heart, ware of the multitude of gifts He showers me with throughout my day and I thank Him along the way. This moment by moment awareness invites me to enjoy His Presence throughout my day. It also inspires me to live giving from a generous heart, sowing what I've reaped . . .

7.  I live past my fears of the unknown or new situations, believing it's an opportunity for growth. I like growth so I embrace the unknown with excitement  not fear. I allow myself to make mistakes without condemnation because that is to be expected as I am learning. I can learn from my mistakes as well.

8.  I let go of my expectations of others because they leave me with feelings of entitlement, where I expect my needs to be met by others (which is pride) and with feelings of disappointment when others do not meet my needs. I allow God to fulfill my desire and longings as He sees fit and in His perfect timing, knowing that His intentions for me are deeply good.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Dawn of Creation

Black and inky
Stilling, Surrounding, Waiting
Spirit hovering, then appearing

I wrote this at an art retreat I attended at Ignatius House in Atlanta called Contemplation and the Creative Process. August 9, 2011 I found the corresponding picture on google images

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Lectio Divina on Psalm 21: 1-7
How I rejoice in Your strength Papa, I shout with joy because You have given me victory over this life. You
have given me my heart’s true desire, oneness with You, the only One who satisfies, You have withheld nothing of Yourself from me. When I ran away all on my own from You, You welcomed me back into Your loving, fatherly arms and gave me success and prosperity. You placed Your own crown on my head and pronounced me Your own, Your Delight. You have preserved my very life forever by Your sacrifice for me on the Cross. The days of my life will stretch on forever because of your sacrifice for me. Your victory on the Cross brings me great honor . . . You put Your splendid, majestic robe of  Righteousness on me and offer me Your inheritance as a co-heir with Jesus. You have endowed me with blessings now AND into eternity and have given me the best blessing of all – the joy of Your Presence. For I trust in You Lord. Your unfailing love will keep me forever.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One Mother's Thoughts

As I look at my Son, beaten and bloodied, hanging on the cross, there are no words to describe the immense pain riveting through my body, mind and heart. It is almost as if I am experiencing what He is experiencing on that "tree" because He is so much a part of me. He's my Son, for goodness sake, and no mother should have to endure the death of her son, no less watch Him be tortured to death, pierced through like this. I want to die with Him, in His place if that would even be possible and yet I know that is just wishful thinking - no one can die in the place of another . . . or can they? Even though I do not understand what Yahweh is doing or how this could possibly be a part of His glorious plan for my Son that Yahweh first called me to so many years ago, somehow I know deep inside of me that because Yahweh is good, He has a good plan beyond this evil . . . for a future and a hope. And so just as I did so many years ago when He asked my permission to be the holy place where His Son would be conceived, to create a sacred space for Jesus to be born, I again say "as You wish" to what is happening before my eyes, what is crushing my soul . . . not in fatalistic resignation but in hope - hope of glory -  for Yahweh, for Jeshua. .And even though I do not understand, a glimmer of hope for mankind and myself is beginning to be kindled in my heart. . . a hope of something more than this end, something greater, something miraculous. Yes, something miraculous. As You wish, my God, as You wish . . .

Friday, March 30, 2012

Via Dolarosa

The streets have an energy about them this morning, more than usual. Ahh, now I see why. The Romans are at it again, leading some criminals to the hill of execution outside the city gates. Such a disgusting form of punishment and only for the lowliest of men. Here comes one of these perverts, I wonder what he has done, probably some horrific crime or why would they be killing him.... he looks disgusting.

I turn my eyes away from the black and blue and bloodied body . . . and yet something catches my eye - His eyes - and they hold mine for a mere moment.  What I see surprises me; I don't see hate and the depravity I expect; I see love and compassion . . . for ME! Odd, very odd - something like compassion for Him stirs in my heart and  immediately I feel guilty. Why would I feel that for a depraved criminal? But something about Him seems not criminal; something is very different about this man.

I am drawn to follow the crowd now that is followoing Him. I now notice he is flanked not only by the Roman soldiers but by the religious priests as well. Are they for Him, walking with Him to support Him in His torturous death? No, they seem gleeful that he is going to be cursed, bung on a tree. But why? Why would they involve themselves with this bloodied criminal?

I ask a woman next to me who seems distraught with sorrow. "Who is this cirminal? What evil has he done that he is being crucified?" "No evil," she replies, "only good. The priests are jealous because he has brought life to so many, healed the sick, given sight to the blind, even raised the dead to life!"

Now I recognize this disfigured man. He is the one who I heard speak truth on that mountain by the sea of Galilee! I can hardly believe what I am seeing! How can this be? Why? Why would anyone want to hurt this gentle man? How could anyone find anything cruel in him, especially anything deserving of such a death?  I continue to follow the procession of mostly women to the hill of execution, not sure what is drawing me on. Maybe I'm hoping for a possible last minute reprieve, but knowing that the impossible will never happen.

Why? Why God? Why do You allow such bad things to happen to such a good, holy man? I don't understand You! How could you allow such an evil thing to happen????

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I am Barabbas, sinner extraordinaire! Murderer, thief, all that is disgusting next to Jesus. And for me, FOR ME, He died . .  not only died but endured horrific torture, for one such as me, so I could be released from death, from the sentence of condemnation and blackness and hellfire forever. Unbelievable.

Why? Why would i make that same choice, to BE Barabbas when I could be like Jesus? Incomprehensible and inexplicable - truly!

What great sacrifice, what great love for me, the chief of sinners.

Oh what great love that produces in my heart for You, Jesus . . . .

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Psalm 19:14
Let all that I say and every thought in my heart be pure and holy, something I would think or say in front of You, Jesus.

You are my firm foundation on which I stand and the One who bought me out of slavery and freed me to live free. May I not wander back to the familiar chains of bondage. O Jesus, forgive me for the many times since I've been your disciple that I have walked away from You, abandoned You in search of my own well-being . . . not realizing what I was giving up to gain only chaff that blows away in the wind. Thank You that You loved me first and have never given up on me, no matter what! Enable me to never give up on those I love, no matter what their decisions because You never gave up on me. May I always hope and pray for the best, knowing that one day all will be made right.

Friday, March 02, 2012

I'm doing the "Retreat in Daily Life" where, among other things, we linger over a portion of scripture a day. This scripture was Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus asks Peter to go back out fishing with Him after a night of catching nothing. I've never really "gotten" this scripture before so I decided to do an Ignatian exercise with it where you put yourself in the story as one of the characters. I decided to be Peter. Here's what I wrote:
There's that man again, standing on the shore. Whenever he shows up, people flock to him - he's probably a religious fanatic who is scamming the people out of their money. I better steer clear of him! Don't want to get involved or I might just have to punch his lights out! Shysters like that make me furious . . .

So while I'm minding my own business, off cleaning my nets after a long, hard nights work which only produced an old boot and some other useless garbage but no fish, I come back and this guy is actually sitting in my boat! Then he asks me if I'll row him out for a little fishing expedition! The nerve . . .not sure why i'm going to humor him but why not? This could be my opportunity to put him in his place . . .

Next thing I know, the fish are actually jumping INTO my net! I can hardly believe my eyes. An hour ago, I would have sworn there was not a fish to be found in all of this lake and now my boat is sinking, it has so many. I even had to call my partners to row out because my boat couldn't contain all the fish we caught, er, that jumped in my boat. Clearly this is a supernatural act . . . Then it dawns on me, this "holy man" in my boat, he must really BE a true holy man.

I fall to my knees before him. . . I'm overwhelmed by how I judged him as a fake . . . I'm not even sure who he is,  but he is the real deal, that's for sure. Then I speak. " Teacher . . .Master, forgive me. I am not worthy to even be in this boat with You. Compared to You, I am the scum of the earth."

His reply surprises me.  "No worries! You think we caught a lot of fish just now? I have bigger fish for you to fry than this! Stick with me and soon you'll be catching souls, not fish!"

This man is more than I expected, and consequently, I did the unexpected . . .I left my boats, my nets, even the fish right there on the beach and followed Him. I had to find out more about this man. . . .His name is Jesus.

Okay, now I see. Seeing through Peter's eyes helps me see through new eyes how You impacted people and especially this one rash macho man. I want to be impacted by You in such a rash way - to leave all that I think brings me life and follow You Jesus, to put You absolutely first in my life. Thank You for the invitation to do so. You've chosen me as one of Your own, just like You chose Peter.... so I can impact others for You, what a privilege!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life is simple.

Seek  God first above all else.
Imagine God/Jesus/Holy Spirit in a personal relationship with you. Converse as if they are seated                                  in the chair next to you. Listen as they speak to you.
Meditate on God's Word: written and personal
Practice His Presence: Ask yourself: Where do I see God in my day?
Live in the Moment: Savor each minute; it's the only one you really have.
Eucharisteo: meaning thankfulness. Eucharisteo always preceded the miracle.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Confession and Petition

The times I have sinned and been prideful or not truly lived into Your truth are so numerous, I am ashamed. I try to find You more and more throughout my day and yet forget time and time again as I turn to my own doings.

My sins and short-comings present me with a list of debts that I cannot pay for their number is astronomical. But thank You Jesus for canceling out my certificate of debt, nailing it to the cross; Your blood stamping in red, “paid in full; now and forever.”

Please continue to blot out in my life my corruptions and teach me to choose Your way over my own. I do not want the lustings of my mind to rule me. I want Your rule in my heart, mind, soul because that is where true freedom lies.

Thank You for not answering all of the prayers I pray, in the way I want or in my timing because I have asked from wrong motives or without wisdom. Continue to say “no” to any wrongful requests I ask You for but don’t let that keep me from praying. I want my prayers to align with Your desires, not just my own.

Purge me from every false desire, everything that in any way goes against You and Your rule.

I thank You for all Your wisdom and love toward me, even in Your acts of discipline, for Your refiner’s fire that purifies the gold by removing the dross, so You can see Your reflection in me.

The hardest trials are not the one’s You bring to me, for those are for my good and Your Glory but the ones that come from within when I seek my own way.

If You would give me the choice between living in pleasure and keeping my sins or have them burnt away with trial, I choose sanctified affliction. I trust You not only know best but that Your intentions toward me are deeply good.

Deliver me from every evil habit that seems okay to me, everything that dims the brightness of Your grace in me, anything that keeps me from delighting in Your Presence with me and making You my “first thing.”

I bless you, Abba, for having an intense desire to help me achieve the end for which You lovingly created me, for me to live into the person You originally intended me to be.
I adore You . . . as You wish.

This is my personal paraphrase of Confession and Petition found in The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions.  Even though the original words are from the 1600’s, they speak anew to me with life for this age.

Monday, January 30, 2012


As I was reading about Jesus cooking fish for the disciples after His resurrection, I asked Him, "What is Your invitation to me?"

  • Come have breakfast with Me, everyday. Receive what I have prepared for you, sustainanace, meat and bread, manna for your soul. I've gone ahead of you and prepared it - it is waiting for your arrival.
  • Look for me in surprising places, places you do'nt expect to see me, (yes, go on a God Hunt) and you'll be blessed.
  • Leave your "work" to companion with Me throughout your day. You'll go back to your owkr but take little moments to be with me. I desire your presence with Me, your awareness of Me. That creates intimacy with me. Walking with Me is one of those times
  • Lunch with Me too - it 's a good time to read "other" books that I can speak to you through that you might not have time for during your morning time with Me
  • I want you to delight in Me, in My company with you. I will prepare moments and call you away to Me. Remember those are priority moments that will keep me as the first ting in your life.
  • Eat small . . . let Me fill you to fullness.

Jesus, how I love You, love the way You always speak to me whenever I come to You and ask "what's up?" I pray I will come to You more throughout my day.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

52 Books

Books I Read in 2011

Spiritual Mentoring                      Anderson and Reese
Her Daughter’s Dream                Francine Rivers
Preparing for Jesus                      Walter Wangerin
Dream, Visions, Prophecy           John Paul Jackson                on tape
Sarah’s Key                                Titiana de Rosnay
Epic                                             John Eldredge
Swan House                                Elizabeth Musser
Seeking God Together                 Alice Fryling
Romancing Miss Bonte’               Julie Gael                             on CD
Small As An Elephant                  J P Jacobson
Safe Haven                                  Nicolas Sparks
Snowflower and the Secret Fan  Lisa See                               on CD
The Time of My Life                    Patrick Swazey                   on CD
Reliving the Passion                     Walter Wangerin
Contemplating the Cross             Tricia Rhodes McCary
Jesus Calling                                Sarah Young                       6th time
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand      Barbara Simonson
School of Essential Ingredients     Erica Bauermeister             on CD
Quiet in His Presence                   Jan Harris
The Mountain Between Us          Charles Martin
Hunger Games                             Suzanne Collins
Coming Home to Your True Self  Albert Haas
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society  Shafer/Barrows
A Good Life                                 Robert Benson
The Beach Trees                           Karen White
Bel Canto                                     Ann Patchett                       on CD
Joy for Beginners                          Erica Bauermeister            
The Hawk and the Dove              Penelope Wilcock
One Summer                               David Baldacci
In Constant Prayer                       Robert Benson
Catching Fire                               Suzanne Collins                  on CD
Cloud of Unknowing                   Anonymous
A Tale of Three Kings                 Gene Edwards
The Touch                                   Randall Wallace
Mockingjay                                Suzanne Collins                  on CD
Searching for Eternity                  Elizabeth Musser
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality    Peter Scazzero
A Thousand Splendid Suns          K Hosseini
Life In Spite of Me                      Kristin Anderson
A Million Miles in 1000 Years     Donald Miller
One Thousand Gifts                    Ann Voskamp
Beautiful Boy                              David Sheff                          on CD
Still Alice                                    Lisa Genova                         on CD
Words Unspoken                       Elizabeth Musser
Lost December                          Richard Paul Evans
Promise Me                               Richard Paul Evans               on CD
Spiritual Disciplines Devotional Valerie Hess
Surprised by Oxford                  Carolyn Weber
Christ the Lord: Road to Cana   Anne Rice                            on CD
Home for Christmas                   Andrew Greenley
Preparing for Christmas              Richard Rohr
Language of Letting Go              Melody Beattie

Guest Post

This is a guest post by my friend Angela. She is sharing about her experience at my Advent Retreat. Deitra


Each year when Christmas is over I think about how much I wish I had been more focused on preparing my heart throughout the Advent season instead of getting caught up in all the crazy hustle and bustle that Christmas has become. The parties are great, the gift giving is nice and thoughtful, being with family is the best but through it all I feel like every year my thoughts are anything but centered around Christ and how the significance of his birth and entrance into this world can truly, continually change my life. So this year, instead of simply wishing my heart were more focused on Jesus, I decided to actually do something about it. This sweet lady, Deitra, has become a dear friend of mine throughout the last year and a half since I met her and have had the privilege to be mentored and receive some much needed spiritual direction from her.

Almost every month she holds day-long retreats at her house, each centered around a different theme. In July I signed up for her Advent retreat scheduled for the first week of December and eagerly anticipated this day, knowing that it would be just the springboard my heart would need to cultivate the deeper focus I long for. The day came and went and I was NOT disappointed. Every time I go to her house, whether for one of her retreats or for one of her study groups I used to be a part of, I ALWAYS come away refreshed and feeling closer to the Lord. I knew that God would have something special in store for me during this Advent retreat. He did! At the beginning she passed around a basket of rocks, each with a word written on it. We were instructed to pick a rock without looking at the word. My word was Anticipation. How i was attempting to focus more on anticipating the coming of Christ while also anticipating the arrival of our second child. She gave us a folder of materials, showed us a stash of Advent related books, and set us free to go into any room in her home for some solitude. The first chapter of the book I chose to look at "just happened" to be titled Anticipation. Hmmmm....must be a concept I really need to unpack and contemplate. So i did just that for the next 3 hours. It was a beautiful, peaceful time that set the tone for the weeks remaining leading up to Jesus' birth. One of the pieces of material she gave us in our folder encouraged us to write a Cinquain: a simple structured form of poetry which encourages you to get to the heart of what you are experiencing in just a few words. I am no literary genius and certainly not anything close to a poet so I wondered what I might possibly come up with but decided to give this cinquain thing a try. It was to be 5 lines and there were instructions about how many words or how to structure the phrase for each specific line. I sat with my word (Anticipation) for quite a while, contemplating it and its special significance in my life write now as I prayed and read through my Bible and some other materials. I came up with a long list of words or phrases that came to me when I thought of Anticipation, and then I narrowed it all down into my Cinquain:

Peaceful Unhurried
Savoring, Beholding, Waiting
Eagerly Expect, Prayerfully Rejoice

To you it may just be a mumble jumble of words, and that's ok. To me its a picture, a reminder of what I wanted these weeks leading up to Christmas to be like, as well as the weeks leading up to the arrival of the little one growing inside me.