Thursday, December 17, 2015

Struggle and Joy: two sides of the same coin



Christmas time is supposed to be joyous, fun, full of celebration and warm fuzzy feelings. But those expectations are rarely fulfilled throughout the season. There are times of struggle that don't seem to fit, and yet maybe they do......

Struggling and rejoicing are two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other. Struggle can deepen joy. The secret of joy is a matter of focus: focus on the Father, not on your fears. All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends. Behold Him and be held. Instead of explaining our struggling, Jesus shares in it, because He knows mere answers are cold, His arms are warm. He is the epitome of empathy. 

Thank You God for the grace to rejoice amidst the broken places.


Ann Voskamp The Greatest Gift

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Waiting in Advent



Waiting takes time. We wait for the sunrise very morning. We wait a whole year for Christmas to arrive. Some things happen only once in a lifetime that we wait for. God knows the perfect timing of our waiting and in the waiting He works on us so nothing of time is wasted. Advent weans coming, birthing, expectancy; We wait long for Your return just as Mary and all of Israel waited for Your first coming. May I be faithful to You in the waiting. believing in Your promises to me.

Patience:
the bearing of pain without complaint or irritation, loss of temper
the willingness to suppress restlessness when confronted with delay
quiet steady perseverance, even tempered care; diligence
Synonyms: submissiveness, persistent courage in trying circumstances; to bear affliction or hardship; fortitude: patience and strength of character in the midst of hardship, pain or adversity; hear, humility, self-control, restraint, serenity.


Patience
Persistent, Steady
Bearing, Persevering, Enduring
Willingness to Courageously Submit
Brave-hearted

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On the bench



As I sit in the dark
I invite Him into the dark spaces of my soul
To shine His light on my false self
So He can remake, remold me
Into who I really am
The one that got lost along the way
Comparing myself
Seeking approval
Desiring to be loved

I find when I’m willing to sit with Him
On the bench of my soul
And be still
That’s all I need
To have courage to
Be just me

That is all He is asking of me anyway
To just show up as me

His Kingdom needs me to be me
Not someone else
That’s why He chose me to be me
By His design He wants me in His world
To offer myself to others as me
As Him in me

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stressed???



What are the three most stressful things in your life right now? Whatever they are, they are probably what you need most to help you become spiritually transformed.

When one door closes, another opens.....but it's hell in the hallway.  Joyce Rupp

Change, struggle, pain opens the door. We need to choose to walk across the threshold. On the other side is rebirth which can look like new beginnings, accepting mystery, clarifies our life purpose, gives appreciation of community, puts ego into its place. We become more compassionate, lean more on God. It helps to focus us out of our safety that keeps us from growing and into the wild edges that move us beyond our bordered boxes that can, at times, stifle our growth.

In his book, God's Love Letters to You, Larry Crabb shares the following.

God says: The life I want you to live now is a life both to endure and to enjoy.

At times, such strong endurance will be required that joy will seem a far-off hope, a lost experience. But without endurance, you will know little of the very real joy I provide.

With endurance, a joy will develop that frees you to appreciate the pleasures of life's blessings without requiring from them a  satisfaction they cannot provide.

And that same joy, more deeply felt as a longing whose complete satisfaction is guaranteed, frees you to endure whatever hardships lie ahead.

Think of an internal struggle or perhaps a relationship that provokes ongoing tension. In either case, how have you given up and settled for less than what God might want? What would it look like to get back in the battle and persevere?

What pleasure in your life might you be requiring to do more for you than it can? Put words to the anger behind this demand for satisfying pleasure.

Stop and consider how you might typically define joy. After reading today's thoughts, how would you amend your understand of joy?

Take a moment to pray:
Down deep, Lord, I can sense a desire in me to persevere though I am easily derailed. Often I seek pleasure to find an easy way out. In my heart of hearts, I long to know the joy that Jesus knew as he endured the cross. Make sense for me of that kind of perseverance and joy. In His name, amen.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Limitations are boundaries, not barriers.


"Each period of lief has its own purpose. This later one gives me the time to assimilate all the others. The task of this period of life is to come alive in ways I have never been alive before. 'We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.' E.M.Forster
These are the capstone years, the time in which a whole new life is in the making again. The gift of these years is of becoming more fully alive than ever.

Limitations are boundaries, not barriers. They limit us but do not stop us. In fact, limitation in one area simply making us develop in another. Limitations call out something in us that we never considered before. They also alert us to the needs of others...to teach us to be sensitive to the needs of others. Being limited gives us an opportunity to learn both humility and patience. We stop expecting instant results. We can wait. We can try again. Limitations invite others to get involved. We create community out of the needs of others and the gifts we can bring to them, while they, in turn, enrich us. The truth is we are only as limited as we want to be. Age give us the opportunity to be icons of truth and courage, vision and possibility as never before."

wisdom that spoke personally to me from The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

His Voice

Here is my lectio divina on Psalm 29.

Father God, Papa, I love the sound of Your voice so strong and fierce and powerful and mighty and yet so soft and tender and loving and compassionate. Your voice is what makes me love You, feel connected to You, feel special and delighted in. I thank You and praise You for the sound of Your voice in my heart. Glory resides in Your voice. Your voice makes the wilderness in my heart flee and opens up a place there for us to commune as ONE. How I adore the sweet sound of Your voice. Thank You for speaking with me so personally whenever I pause to listen. I praise Your glorious name!!!

Psalm 29 The Voice Translation

Give all credit to the Eternal, O heavenly creatures;
    give praise to Him for His glory and power.
Give to the Eternal the glory due His name;
    worship Him with lavish displays of sacred splendor.
The voice of the Eternal echoes over the great waters;
    God’s magnificence roars like thunder.
    The Eternal’s presence hovers over all the waters.
His voice explodes in great power over the earth.
    His voice is both regal and grand.
The Eternal’s voice shatters the cedars;
    His power splinters the great cedars of Lebanon.
He speaks, and Lebanon leaps like a young calf;
    Sirion jumps like a wild, youthful ox.
The voice of the Eternal cuts through with flames of fire.
The voice of the Eternal rumbles through the wilderness
    with great quakes;
    He causes Kadesh to tremble.
The Eternal’s voice brings life from the doe’s womb;
    His voice strips the forest bare,
    and all the people in the temple declare, “Glory!”
10 The Eternal is enthroned over the great flood;
    His reign is unending.
11 We ask You, Eternal One, to give strength to Your people;
    Eternal One, bless them with the gift of peace.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Purge



I love how Larry Crabb looks at self-examination and confession in his book PAPA Prayer. He calls it "Purge." Here's his definition: Acknowledge without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Stand naked before holiness: the more you see your sin, the more you'll be amazed by grace. Humility is an eager willingness to see where you are wrong in order to experience the power of God that has already made you fit for His presence. Own your sin.

Psalm 51 The Message
What You are after is truth from the inside out. Enter me then: conceive a new true life! God make a fresh start in me...shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life... I learned God worship when my pride was shattered.

My response:
Help me see and admit without explanation or excuse how pride shows up in me, so I can present it on Your altar as a sacrifice. Burn it out of me with Your refiner's fire, so You can see Your reflection in me and so those I encounter will see Your reflection in me, see You, be drawn to You, for You alone deserve all our praises.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Serenity Prayer





God, grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Serenity is peacefulness, the opposite of panic. It involves resting in the goodness of God and that He knows best how to work in other peoples stubborn wills. It means waiting for the right time to do things, led by the Spirit, not reacting to "drama". Accent people as they are, don't try to change them or live in despair that they'll never change. The ability to do this comes from God, it is supernatural.

Courage: When dwelling in serenity and motivate by love (engaging our will for what is best for the other person), we can say very difficult things in love in a kind, unpretentious way.

Wisdom: Living one's life in union with God, the good parts, the painful parts; knowing what to do when because you've been companioning with God and He will empower you to do His will if that is your desire. 

These words by Jan Johnson expanded in my heart and mind how to live out this powerful prayer in a time of being discouraged, disheartened, sad and sick of heart. I love the rest of the prayer as well, which many people are not familiar with.


Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 
Amen.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Are you brave?



This prayer by Ted Loder from Guerrillas of Grace is disturbing to pray ....are we brave enough to pray it?

O persistent God,
Deliver me from assuming your mercy is gentle.
Pressure me that I may grow more human
not through the lessening of my struggles
but through the expansion of them...
Deepen my hurt
until I learn to share it and myself openly,
and my needs honestly.
Sharpen my fears until I name them
and release the power I have locked in them
and they in me.
Accentuate my confusion
until I shed those grandiose expectations
that divert me from the small, glad gifts
of the now and the here and the me.
Expose my shame where i shivers,
crouched behind the curtains of propriety,
until I can laugh at last
through my common frailties and failures,
laugh my way toward becoming whole.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Questions for Jesus



I am loving the workbook/devotional Questions for Jesus: Conversational Prayer Around Your Deepest Desires by Tony Stoltzfus, coach extraordinaire. Each week he looks at one of our core desires through the eyes of Jesus in the gospels and then gives 5 questions for us to ask Jesus which connects us to Him on a relational level.

This week is Contentment. 
Matthew 5:5 You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. The Message
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

"Jesus, what does it give you to take the ones who got the least in this life and give them the best in heaven? What makes you take so much joy in turning the world on its head?"

Here is what I sensed Him saying to me.

My Kingdom is so opposite of this earth’s kingdom which is run by the enemy, is his domain, here the person who strives to achieve to look out for #1 gets the reward. In My Kingdom its those who recognize they have nothing to offer that hasn’t been given them by Me that find fulfillment. That gives Me great joy because I can give much to those who look to Me for their life, to those dependent on Me and not on themselves and their abilities. There is much reward as a result of coming to Me, but it is not those who come to Me for the reward that receive it but those who come to me for Me that receive the greatest reward, which IS me. Come to Me and I will make you in to who I originally in tended you to be and it is there that you will truly find your “reward” by bringing me the glory you were designed for, reflecting Me in Your world.


Thank You Jesus…I want to reflect You to my world. I yield to You so You can be more and more in me and more of You can come forth from me, for Your glory, God.

Click here for a free sample of two devotionals.  http://www.questionsforjesus.net/content/meditations.pdf

Friday, August 28, 2015



In answering the question from Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice , Chapter 17 by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson,  of “tell God who you want to be on the inside, reflecting the character of Christ”, here was my response from August 25, 2014…

I want to be like Jesus in that I can see past people’s outward behaviors to their hearts and see God’s image in them and call that forth or challenge it when necessary (like Jesus did the Pharisees or those judging the woman caught in adultery).

I want to be able to let people “go”, not force their decisions (like Jesus di with the rich young ruler, or the Father with the prodigal son) but wait with intention knowing God is working where I cannot see.

I want to live lightly and freely, trusting God in difficulties, hoping in Him, accessing His sufficient grace that is always available.

I want to accept my limitations, be willing to not have to be seen, heard, or valued by others because I know I am valued by God.

I want to be able to be corrected with grace and see it as a gift.

I want to be persistent, persevering in prayer when I don’t see any change.

I want to love others as God has loved me, accepting the person without accepting unhealthy behaviors.

I want to give up judging others and knowing only God can do that because only He knows their heart.

I want to return good for evil.

I want to love God as my first thing always.

I want to help people in a healthy way and lose my co-dependency.

I want to pray for people who annoy me instead of getting annoyed and see that they need a touch from Jesus in that place in them that annoys me. I want to ask myself, “How can I love this person in the next 10 seconds or 10 minutes?”

I want to learn how to listen like Jesus did and ask insightful questions that move people toward intention and change. I want to be lectio divina to people…reading them, reflecting on them, responding to them and then resting from trying to change them but realize God is the only One who can do that in them.


I want to be real, authentic, vulnerable and live from my true self. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Are you fasting from God or feasting on Him?



Lectio Divina on Psalm 23

No matter how dark the day, no matter what evil besets me, I don't have to cower in fear because You are right here with me, protecting my soul, comforting me if I will but turn to You in the moment. You fill me to overflowing with Yourself when I do turn to You. You allow me to feast on You when I am in a situation of "fasting"...nothing around me to eat or drink, nothing life-giving.

You honor me, treat me with honor always. Your Holy Spirit oil covers me head to toe. There are always a multitude of blessings from Your hand all around me in every situation, even the hard eucharisteos, if I will just look for them. For You are goodness personified and Your intentions toward me are deeply good always, no matter what comes my way.

Your love will not fail to pursue me all the days of my life! You have made a home in Your heart and in Heaven for me so I will always and forever experience You, now and for eternity. What joy to be with my Love constantly, for You are always available to fill my love tank with Your Perfect Self.

I love how You come alongside me when it's time to confront my own enemy, my shadow side. You show me that trying to meet my own need through pride, approval, acceptance by others is like fasting...it is like eating empty calories that taste good in the moment but do not nourish and so I'm hungry again for real food in minutes. Instead You invite me to feast on You - the One who fills to overflowing.

You desire me to die to my false self and awaken to my true self, the one who knows that only You hold true life for me. Doing things Your way and knowing You more and more is the real feast and walks me out of the shadowy valley of my shadow self.

When I come up against those who don't like me or for whatever reason make me feel insecure or just don't respond as I had hoped, You comfort my heart with Your love for me and speak truth to who I am - Yours - and that one truth alone gives me untold value and worth. You also remind me that my "enemy" has love deficit issues also, just like me, and is reacting out of those, and so You invite me to be kind and understanding toward them, praying for them to receive what they need from You in their moment of distress.

August 22, 2014

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Rich Wine

Son of God, sweeten the colorless common of our days into the deep sweet rich of You, like you sweetened the water into wine at Cana and turned this sinner into saint by Your blood...sweet as rich wine from plain and cheap into worthy and rich.

from my last years journal on this date from my sister's art journal...not sure who wrote this

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Receiving the Day



What are days for? They are where we live. Large enough to absorb many activities but small enough that we can see them whole. We need to learn to live them one at a time...When we take time to notice each day, we embrace it as one in which God is present and then we receive the day as His gift.

In Genesis the day begins at dusk, "evening and morning, the first day." We go to sleep and God begins His work. It's His rhythm of grace. The practice of receiving the day is the cluster of activities that enable us to offer attention, daily, to the gracious presence and activity of God..

Offering attention to this day requires freedom from bondage to yesterday and from fear for tomorrow which releases energy for bold and creative living. The past does not hold the final word, the future is unwritten and now the task is to get through this one day.


Excerpt from Receiving the Day by Dorothy C Bass

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Funky Prayer




I had never thought about praying a "texture" prayer....contemplating a texture of some sort and asking God what He wanted to reveal to me through that. I chose a piece of rough sawn cedar to ponder. Here is what I sensed God showing me in this texture prayer.

As it is cut initially, the cedar plank is very rough, almost splintery. To make it smooth, it needs to be sanded which reminds me of my life and how it sort of feels rough right now due to some grief over an unresolved relationship. Grief has raised the "grain" to expose some roughness in my emotions.  But with time and time with God, He will sandpaper me smooth. Is the grief also the sandpaper I wonder? Is being willing to sit in the uncomfortable place also part of the sanding process? Or is God's comfort part of the sandpaper that smooths and soothes? I think it's a "bofum" which means both/and (not either/or).

Rough sawn cedar has a unique beauty to it, natural, almost bark-like. There is beauty for ashes in moving through grief. And there is beauty in the starkness of grief that shows authenticity in my emotions. even though painful.

During this season sometimes I feel flat and God feels absent. And yet I know God is present with me because He promised He would never leave me. When I turn to Him, He's there, comforting those who mourn as He promised, comforting ME. I am experiencing Him in different ways than when I'm content and happy. Without grief, I would never know Him as Comforter.

                                                    ...from rough to smooth......


Thursday, April 02, 2015

God can recycle me




Refresh me


Remind meReuse me




When we are stuck, God can re-imagine our circumstances. 
When we are tired, God can refresh us.
When we are wandering aimlessly, God can refocus us.
Thank You for the miracle of daily resurrections.


Hosea 6:1-3
1  Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
    now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
    now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
    so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
    Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
    or the coming of rains in early spring.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Holy desire

Salvation is sin turned on its head and used in our formation. That is how transformative divine love is. God seems to be about "turning" our "loves" around and using them toward the Great Love that is their true object. You should not get rid of your sin until you have learned what it has to teach you. Otherwise it will only return in new forms and your last state will be worse than the first. Luke 11:24-26. Your sin and your gift are two sides of the same coin and you cannot fully face one without fully facing the other.  from Richard Rohr's Falling Upward

You learn what your sin has to teach you by looking at what root it has, what longing or desire are you trying to meet somewhere other than in God.  Then you ask Jesus how He wants to meet that desire in you. "Jesus, how have you meet my desire for _______ in the last 24 hours?"

There is no limit to My Love; it fills all of space, time and eternity. Jesus Calling

Friday, March 20, 2015

Praises

I praise You God for...

  • the beauty of Your creation and what You create every single day.   
  • the frosty dew on  grass tops in spring that bring refreshment to the earth and reminds my heart You refresh me with rest in the night and sunrise every morning.
  • the green shoots of new life poking from the ground and the first blooms of spring on the yellow forsythia which tell me resurrection is possible.
  • the many colored flowers which grace my garden in summer and remind me of Your infinite love and care for me.
  • the laughter of grandchildren playing in the heat of a summers day showing me how You delight in my innocence and invite me to play and enjoy the moments because that's all You've given us.
  • the sun and sand and sea and shells which bring warmth and cool and soft and fun and family... all gifts to me from You and invite me into community with Your family: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • the cool refreshing breezes of fall and shorter days that turn the green into the rich hues of autumn with leaves crunching under foot releasing Your woodland potpourri.
  • the white blanket of pure white snow of winter that reminds me all must rest and die to be reborn again. Thank you for my rebirth in You.
  • the bright red cardinal against the pure white snow signaling Your blood has washed me clean. I am so, so grateful.
  • and once again, for the sweet song of spring on an early morning as the dawn arises and Your feathered friends sing a hallelujah to their Creator.

You are magnificent God....how I love You!!!

Psalm 147:11 The Lord delights in those who are enraptured by Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yahweh


He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. Isaiah 40:11

Almighty,
Powerful, Strong
Infinite, Everlasting, Glorious
Who is like You?
Yahweh

I am so glad I serve an awesome, mighty God.
You do the impossible . . .open a sea for people to walk through . . .
Rip the curtain of the Holy of Holies from top to bottom for us to walk through to You.
Do the impossible in my life . . . for Your Glory!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Desires

Dry bones need refreshing. Someone to breath life into them again, Moving from Winter toward Spring, I see the plants in my garden in this place - leaves dry and brown sit limp on a stalk...but new life lies underneath the surface, ready to come forth.

Come forth Lazarus, Jesus commands...even so He calls to me...come forth My Delight...it is Spring, the time of green grass, blue skies, fresh wind, sweet fragrance.... in you! As you allow Me to awaken the sleeping desires within your soul, you will experience more of Me in intimate ways - just as is your deepest longing.

Yes, I hear you . . . I know your desires. Keep asking Me, don't be shy and watch what I do. . .  in you, for you, for others. Ask and keep asking . . . seek and keep seeking . . .knock and keep knocking and you will receive My best for you.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Who You Are to Me



Jesus as my Shepherd, You went and found me and brought me home. You make me lie down in green pastures and restore my soul.

As my Papa, You waited for me to return to You, repentant and begging to be part of Your household again, taking me in Your arms and rejoicing; putting a ring on my finger and a robe of righteousness on me.

As my Friend, You've stuck closer to me than a brother, never leaving my side: You laid Your life down for me and appointed me, called me to produce lasting fruit for Your sake which has been my pleasure.

As my Lord, You let me experience You, not just know about You, and You invite me time and time again to surrender my control to Yours, all knowing, all wise , all deeply good intentioned because You love me deeply.

Your sheltering wings have hovered over me, protecting me more than than I know, and as a hen longs to gather her chicks, You understand how I feel when my chicks are scattered and running from under Your sheltering wings.

Your everlasting arms hold me, especially when my heart is breaking with sorrow. You comfort me with Your tears mingled with my own on my face. You hold me as Your little child and bless me...and I am blessed. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of my life and happily, joyfully, I look forward to dwelling, abiding, residing with You here and forever, my Beloved, my Liege, my Lord.

I adore You.

lectio divina on Ps 23, Luke 15: 3-7, Matt 6:9, Luke 15: 11-32, Prov 18:24, John 15: 13-15, John 20:26-28, Romans 14:7-9. Ruth 2:12, Matthew 23:37, Deut. 33: 27, Mark 10: 14-16 from Soul at Rest by Tricia McCary Rhodes. pgae 19.   from last years journal 1/30/14






Monday, January 26, 2015

Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?


VS


Be a thermostat not a thermometer in your relationship with God.
A thermometer gauges the temperature but goes not further. It is aware but it stays there without change.

A thermostat is aware of the temperature but does something about it. It makes it hotter or colder depending on the setting (goal).

Don't just be aware.... but respond.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

BHAP list



As I was reading through my last years journal, I came across my BHAP. That stands for big, hairy, audacious prayers. I reread my list for 2014 and was excited to see that God answered 13 of my 21 requests this past year. I think that is pretty amazing! The words of Mark Batterson from his book The CircleMaker inspired me to make my BHAP list. I challenge you to pray your big bold prayers for 2015 and see what God will do!



Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don't require divine intervention. 

Prayers are your prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life. 

When you feel under-qualified and overwhelmed, that is when God has you right where He wants you. That is how you learn to live in raw dependence, and raw dependence is the raw material of which God performs His greatest miracles.

The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked. If you do pray, you can live in holy anticipation because you never know how or when or where God is going to answer but I promise you this: He will answer. And His answers are not limited by your requests. We pray out of our ignorance, but God answers out of His omniscience. We pray out of our impotence, but God answers out of His omnipotence. God has the ability to answer the prayers we should have prayed but lacked the knowledge or ability to ask.
italics are quotes from Mark Batterson from The CircleMaker