On Monday my precious husband was taken home to be with the Lord and is now joyfully waiting for those of us who love and miss him so desperately.
Love fiercely. Forgive always. Embrace as if it was the last moment,
because one day, it is ...
We will return to our normal format in September.
What a beautiful summer morning today. I took the dogs out on the front porch with me for quiet time. It was warm with a breeze that gave the swallows room to glide. I could hardly wait to sit down and be with God. But, before I could begin, Murphy (our middle dog), saw something threatening in our neighbor's field. A large machine had appeared, and it was producing a big noise. To Murphy, this machine and its noise must have seemed like a prowling monster.
I could hear a growl rumbling in his throat. I tried comforting him, but he didn’t back down. He was sure this was a dire situation, and he must bark! So, I thought I’d try a different tact. I told him, “Go get it!” Which he did - bounding off the front porch and running all the way to the fence line with hackles up and tail spiked. He looked frantic. That’s when I realized he wasn’t defending, he was scared. That meant he needed my help.
I found a lead, and with him at my knee, we headed down the driveway. We crossed the road and walked along the neighbor's fence line approaching his monster in the field. He was growling quietly, but at least he wasn't barking. It seemed we had defused the anxiety. We walked back quietly and settled onto the front porch. ‘Ahhh,’ I thought. ‘Peace at last.’
Still, a minute later Murphy was again focused on the monster and barking like crazy. His fear was back. Down the driveway we went a second, and then a third time hoping more close-ups with his monster would help defuse his worry.
However, in a little while, I noticed Murphy was calm. I could tell he was still concerned, yet there seemed to be a new-found degree of peace in my little buddy. He was willing to trust me, and he was willing to grow.
This week Lysa’s words challenge us. She writes, “I am a woman who wants to make a difference for Christ in the world…” [Pg 38] Growing in our trust of God and our faith becomes what we need most to accomplish those God-given goals.
When we see monsters, we can remember that monsters are often more scary from a distance. When we walk with our Daddy right up to our monster -- we realize it has no power over us and that with Him we are always safe.
"Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger,
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me." Psalm 23.4
“… But hearing Him clearly? I think that might require my soul to acknowledge what all my rushing causes me to miss.” [Pg 37]
Last week we talked about hearing God ’s direction more clearly. We discovered God not only speaks directly to us, but He also guides us through the words of others, and can even use events to direct our path. Today we are talking about a different element of hearing God - the part that involves our ability to understand.
Do you remember the commercial slogan, “Can you hear me now?” We’ve all experienced the frustration of a poor internet connection that leaves us guessing what the other person has said. Likewise, when our connectivity with God goes in-and-out, we miss valuable information that might leave us guessing what God has said.
Life can be full of stuff that gobbles up our time and energy. That loss of connection can cause our understanding to become intermittent -- or even absent. Our devices are designed to work best when the connection is good. Our ability to hear God's leading is no different. When our connection is strong we can clearly hear the wisdom He has for all our questions and concerns.
How do we grow that connectivity - spend time connecting with our Father. Don't cause Him to ask: Can you hear me now?
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:5
"… this would be the year she would finally get intentional about pursuing the ministry to women God had placed on her heart. As I read those words, I felt Jesus’ invitation,“Follow Me,” and didn’t hesitate to say yes." [pg 32]
There are times in our hurried life when we vividly remember Who is at our right hand, times when we understand why we fell so deeply in love with Him. Today is such a day for me.
As I read Lysa’s words, I felt a sense of encouragement for the ministry dreams I have. It's difficult sometimes to continue to pray for something when you don't see any movement toward that goal, isn't it? But when God gives us such a personal affirmation it leaves us assured our heart is lined up with His, and it will come to pass if we persevere.
How does that affirmation look in our life? A friend once told me, ‘Pay attention to what is happening around you, is it lining up with the desire in your heart?’ When you see opportunities that point you - once again - toward a specific path, isn't that God endorsing that desire? Sometimes confirmation shows up in the words of others, some specifically given, others not.
Have you been given such confirmation? Do you feel ready to move? If you're like me, maybe the answer is 'Not.' You may be waiting for Him to give you a specific declaration. Something like, "Go now!" Isn’t that how it's supposed to work? We want to be sure, right? How does 'waiting to be sure' line up with God giving us a goal and affirmation at the same time?
Gideon comes to mind for me. He was a man who needed assurance. In the Old Testament book, Judges, Chapter 6, we read how uncertain Gideon was about what God wanted him to do.
"Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew."
Continuing into Chapter 7 Gideon finally gets it-and goes to work to complete his mission for God.
Our God is not discouraged with hesitation. He knows -HE KNOWS our heart is filled with desire, we just need that last little word of encouragement, just like Gideon.
Allow Him to reassure you. Whatever the form allow it to encourage you. Take the power He is giving and step up!
This weeks reading certainly affirmed a desire in my heart! Has it given you encouragement too?
Today Lysa is talking about the confusion we can
have in prayer when we don't know if we're asking
Gods will for ourselves or another? Then she
adds, "Prayer opens my spiritual eyes to see things
I can’t see on my own." [Pg 30]
We often think of prayer as those petitions, the
humble requests, the cries of our heart to an able
God when we need something fixed. But prayer is
more, varied, simple and yet complex.
In a foundational book on prayer, Prayer, by
Richard J Foster, 21 types of prayer are defined.
All we experience in our prayer with God
(although doubtful that we categorize them into
various types) still fall into one, or more of these different categories. Yet, prayer is more.
In the book, Prayer, Foster writes, "None of us will keep up a life of prayer unless we are prepared to change. We will either give it up or turn it into a little system that maintains the form of godliness but denies the power of it-- ..."
Does that sound like petitionary prayer to you? It seems more like a relationship to me, a real one, the kind where you are confronted by a loving, holy, and all-knowing God who gives opportunity to do the right thing, say the right thing, admit a wrong or to be surprised with an uncomfortable chance to G-R-O-W. Can prayer be that too?
Lysa seems to understand completely that prayer is all of this. It's talking. It's crying out. It's asking, and even begging. It's relationship. And mostly, it's change. Because more than anything else God desires to lead your heart nearer and nearer to him, where he becomes that Source we already know. Amen?
This week Lysa talks about how critical that relationship- building time is that we give to
God each day. Our relationship with Him undergirds how our life goes. Not that it’s a magic ticket to bliss and experience, but that it helps us make sense and joy out of the little things in life. We all know that life is way more than waiting for the next big thing. Right? In large part, it's about the little things.
I have often wondered, ‘When I get to heaven will I find out there was one best thing I did here for Jesus?’ Will there be one something that was the most important? Will I be surprised by what it was? I’m guessing, “Yes!” That something may be less significant than I imagined.
Do you have moments in your life that stand out? Moments that even today, maybe decades later, bring a sound or thought or even a tear to memory? Why? Why would that one thing be special? Did it make a difference in who you would become? Does it tell you volumes about who you are now? Did something substantial change in your core being because of it? Or perhaps, even more curious, did something about you not change in that instant?
Wouldn’t it make sense that God is prominent in those moments? And if God is working in those times, it's important to stand back and look for what they have in common, and where they are different. Those clues can tell us why we have the passions we do, and what our purpose or purposes might be.
My moments are a collection of times spent in quiet - thinking about life and the world, with a spattering of comments that have been spoken to me by others (and God) and what they mean in my life. Some were painful, others not, but I think those clips tell me about my purpose. My wiring causes me to consider spiritual things often, and what comes from that? I share with other women because my passion is to help grow their relationship with God. That matters to me. It turns out that a lot of who I am is a result of moments and wiring.
What about how you’re wired? Does your spiritual/God-side of life center prominently because those moments with Him each morning, evening, or whatever help you see the purpose in those significant moments that stand out? When we are led by His counsel and Word in our time with Him, these clues can tell us a lot about who and why we are.
This week Lysa is talking about how she sees
God working in her life. Can you see God at
work in your life? Have you wondered when
something seemed to get fixed that was going
to go wrong, 'Did God do that?'
It's one of our spiritual wonders that we can see
God's fingerprints in our life if we know what to
look for. Infact, they are everywhere when we
learn how to dial in. So, h;l.'ow do we see his work?
The most significant component must be knowing God. That happens when we read his word. We experience another spiritual wonder by connecting with him through the Word. Learning about God's personality, what he wants for us and what being holy - being asked to live holy lives - means for us; for God writes:
"As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 Msg
If you have children you have inevitably caught them in a situation that you could tell was going to go south in a big way. What did you do? Likely you stepped in so they wouldn't get hurt, so they could learn skills or life lessons to help make their future easier and more fruitful. You made a decision to help. That's what our God does.
Do your children know when you have interceded on their behalf? I'm guessing, Yes. How do they know? Because our children know we love them and they can expect us to intervene for their benefit. That's just what God does.
Now will it be easier to see him in our life? I bet so. (:
I have a thought. (Funny how ideas are occasionally provoked.)
Today began our third camp out. We have a favorite site right on the lazy Row River. (Which I have just learned is pronounced Rou.) It’s appropriately named for it has no visible current which would carry a boat along, hence ... Haha…
The forecast has taken a turn and now resembles our typical coastal weather. Cold. Cloudy. Breezy, with a mist in the air that wants to be rain but has not gotten there quite yet. Still, it's beautiful.
With us are our doggies. We don't travel without them. Two Labs, one quite old, the other younger. Our senior Lab is Snuggles. She loved to cuddle with her humans as a puppy. But as she grew up we realized around strangers she was just scary - people would laugh when we tell them her name was Snuggles.
Then add an adopted, geriatric, Dachshund. Chibe (pronounced chib-ee, meaning little in Japanese). She's 16. Old for any dog. She was my father-in-laws dog. My husband brought her home after his death to become part of our family. Now she’s deaf. Blind. Cantankerous and seems to have 9 lives. Just months ago my husband sideswiped her with the truck's back tire - she couldn't see or hear the truck coming, and she’s so short he didn’t see her. Both her hips were broken. But eight weeks later, she was back to her old self. Amazing.
Oh yeah, my thought. After we set up camp today I was enjoying my lounge chair and the view of the river - talking to my dogs - and pondering how long it’s been since I was 'quiet.' My husband sat his chair down beside me and relaxed - briefly. Soon his activity began to remind me of a bee in a rose garden. He would sit down, then recognize something needed adjusting, get up and fix it, then reclaim his chair. A few minutes later something else needed attention and the process continued. That went on for quite a while.
The thought I had was this: It’s hard for us to slow down. Why do we have such difficulty doing nothing? Doesn't God give us creation to also enjoy - quietly - relaxed?
I hope you appreciated the reading this week. I did. But as I sit here in this beautiful place, along this gorgeous river (hoping I can find an internet connection to post this in time), I’m wanting to focus on how it would feel to spend more than two or three minutes watching the Row River roll by?
Surely with all the beauty God has created, in full display, set here in this quiet place, should it be so tricky to just be still and take it in? When God has given us the time and the opportunity and we still struggle, what else must we be missing?
We all know the term 'taking someone for granted.' Simply, it means we assume someone is always going to be there. Someone who would wait for us again even though last time they waited we forget to show up.
Well, do we rely on the convenience of God, taking him for granted? After all, he's always there when we call on him right? I never get put on hold for 20 or 30 minutes when I call on him, waiting until he finds time to talk with me. I never have to take a number when I need him, to stand in line like I do at DMV, or worse - the fabric store on sale day. Still, I forget that he is more to me than just a Divine voice waiting to speak into my heart.
For instance, he is our Comforter. When all the stuff in life hits the fan, he is the only one who can fully appreciate how hurt we are and say just the right thing to soothe those wounds.
He is our Protector. When the tempter comes to mess with our head or our heart, we remember that in the Name of Jesus we have the power to send that persecutor back where he belongs.
He is our Lover. When life is tiring, things aren't going well, and we just need someone to help us carry that load and lessen our aches and pains, he is there. He knows just how to help, and just what to say to make all the sorrows and exhaustion go away.
I find that when I am doing well I don't think too often about all the things Christ is to me. Now maybe you don't do this, but I think there are times when I take him for granted. Just because Someone is eternal, and all knowing, and all present, and all the other 'all's' that he is, well, it shouldn't mean that I forget that everyday he is looking forward to sitting with me. Nothing more than me giving time listening to, and loving him and becoming more and more aware of all he is.
This week our reading explores how to discern God’s leading. The ability to recognize His voice is uniquely important. We want to know what He’s saying to us, all of what He’s saying. We don’t want to be forced to guess, or be stuck weeding out bad options in hopes of coming
up with one that He surely could bless. Making choices or following a certain path using
methods like that don't end well.
It may sound strange but this reminds me of strawberry shortcake. I know, right? The strawberry season is on us. My husband and I have visited a local field two days in a row. It seems there’s never enough strawberries in the freezer. When I think about going through the winter without my strawberry smoothie I get queasy. And although I try to stay away from desserts, you can’t miss strawberry shortcake! Especially when it’s stacked high with sweet, picked-fresh-today strawberries and whipped cream.
But each year when strawberry season rolls around, I realize I don’t have a good recipe for shortcake. So, on the hunt I go pulling a recipe off the internet in hopes it will create that buttery shortcake delight. Wouldn’t you think I’d save the good recipe once I find it?
I still have images of my grandmother in her kitchen making shortcake, biscuits, and pie crusts. She was at home with flour and a rolling pin and showed extra flare with edging and flaky-ness! She used to tell me there’s nothing easier than working with dough. In fact, she couldn’t imagine how anyone couldn’t make such delights.
When I read Lysa’s devotion I thought of how often I hear women talk about hearing God in their life. Some are sure of his words. Some are evaluating his words within the context of their life. Others use a specific scripture as the reason why God would say what they think they heard when often that scripture is far from supporting such a word. Where we fall on this spectrum of 'hearing' is not hard to define and definitely easy to improve.
See the difference between my grandmother’s ability with dough and mine is that she made it day-in and day-out. She was always baking. I bake only when I’m inspired to do so, like when strawberry season starts. What if I only read the Bible, connecting with God and allowing Him to pour into my life only occasionally?
Discerning God’s voice is just like working with dough. When you are used to handling the Word, you are familiar with diving into His book with both hands and a heart that has abandoned it's own interpretations - waiting for His word to touch your life, how awesome is that delight? The more we connect with God the more He can speak to us. It becomes second nature ~ like my grandmother working with dough, turning out to be pure delicious.
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