“It takes a process to produce a product--and that applies to sanctified Christians as well as diamonds, automobiles, and houses. It’s certainly true of having a Mary heart in a Martha world. If we want to be like Jesus, we won’t be able to escape the refining process.” [Pg 195]
When you consider a romantic evening out with your husband what do you think of? (Well, besides the fact that it’s probably been a while? giggle)
Do you think about past special evenings together when all the RUSH went away? A time when the meal was special, and the candle-light and privacy gave you a sense of calm and a desire to connect? Well, now that we've finished our reading, let's ask a related question about another very necessary connection: How is your relationship with God?
Has the reading helped you find routine time for God? Time where you can sit in his presence and know once again that calm and intimacy? Time with God, like time with our spouse, keeps our heart healthy and full. It's a place we share your deepest heartaches, hopes, and dreams.
There is One who can fill our every space and heal the hurts. One who fills each insecurity with grace~grace~and more grace, and who blesses our deepest need with MORE THAN ENOUGH to conquer, and he is waiting. He waits where there is quiet and calm - peace, hope and love surrounding~swirling and filling every blessed touch, and he's waiting just for you...
Father, call my heart to come. You stand as the One - the only One - who can love me just as I am and give me more than enough to be all I can be for those you have given me. Amen, amen and amen
“Jesus was the most balanced individual the world has ever known. In fact, that is part of why he came--to show us how to manage the tricky balance between work and worship, between what we do and what we are.” [Pg 176]
This image is an example of rock-balancing. Personally, I have always wondered if such things are not so much a matter of balance as they are mechanism? Could it be that people glue, or drill poles into those odd-shaped rocks so they stay upright - appearing to balance? The truth is the art of rock balancing requires skill ~ and a whole lot of patience.
Our life can be like a shaky stack of rocks as we try to find that balance to manage so many irregular items. It can be really tough. Circumstances can feel fragile and wobbly and ready to fall at any minute. Loosing that balance can be just one sick child, one fender-bender, one job lay-off, or one broken ankle away. Any one of those obstacles is more than enough to send all the rocks flying.
Joanna has two helpful guides on pages 182 and 183 to help assess our balance. Give them a look. But in the meantime, you could begin by finding abiding balance in the simplest place ever. Your heart.
Our heart holds the key to hope and joy. Yet sometimes our heart fails when it falls victim to sickness, stress, pain, or even absence ~ yes, the absence of God. That Divine absence is the biggest cause of heart failure today.
We may not want to believe our heart (and it's struggles) are that important because we are a modern, imminently logical and intelligent people. After all, look at our technology. Whose to say we need to worry about our hearts' condition? Who has time? But ask anyone whose had a heart attack if heart health is important.
So, how necessary is it to have a heart that is healthy? Is finding joy and hope beyond you most days because your heart is simply worn out? Yet, a sick heart can instantly begin to rejuvenate, turning your world around in a only a moment when God is involved. That healing only takes one thing ~ time.
We all desperately need quality time with the Divine. But if that's not possible, check out those helps of Joanna’s -- sooner rather than later...
A Mary Heart ... Joanna Weaver Wk 11: Mary's Extravagant ... Blog 11: Like Family Gatherings Pages: 156 - 173
“So while the religious establishment plotted Jesus’ downfall, God’s plan to bring all humanity back to him was gathering speed. Heaven’s gates began to open, ready to receive all who would come in through Jesus Christ the Son.” [pg. 158]
Joanna's words trigger dynamic pictures in my mind. Images that leave you needing more words to describe how much they impact you, just like the passage below. Imagine John's surprise when you read his attempts to describe what he saw. John wrote,
"After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Revelation 4.1
‘Come up here?’ What would you say to that? ‘Come up where?’ ‘To see what?’ How could you imagine what was coming?
Heaven’s gates were prepared in all their splendor to open ~ and to remain open. The gates of Heaven welcome those who believe. More than a miracle. More than a wild dream. A profound, amazing reality.
From the time of the garden God had one goal ~ to bring His children back home, much like the need for gathering that we feel around the holidays. At birthdays and holidays my goal is to bring all my children, and their children, home to our house ~ the place where they grew up, the place I loved, nurtured and held them. But now, at least for that one short day, we can have them all together again. To make new memories. To experience them as adults of such quality and beauty. To plant our memory with our future generations.
“...God’s plan [was] to bring all humanity back to him…” as those gates were then, they are now ~ open wide. Waiting for each loved one to finally walk through.
There is no time when our doors are shut to our children, and Scripture tells us there is no time when the doors of heaven are closed. And those doors, each one a single, giant pearl, exemplify the love and glory waiting just beyond. It all stands in regal display, as it did for John, trumpeting the life waiting ahead for us. For us! Open wide. Never, ever to close.
Will all your children join you there at that last, and forever, family gathering? Will each one walk through?
If not, you can join God in that work. Pray for them. Everyday.
A Mary Heart ... Joanna Weaver Wk 10: Martha's Teachable ... Blog 10: Did You Take the Quiz? Pages: 137 - 154
If you're like most of us you do not like taking tests. So, did you take the Quiz on Page 139? How did it go? Was it good, or did you come out of that experience feeling like this little one?
The entire purpose of the quiz was to give us more understanding about our Christian growth. You know, are we tying up the Holy Spirit, limiting his ability to help us because some areas are unpleasant to deal with? Or, does he have free rein to effect change?
Well, I will say my quiz result could have been better. There is obviously areas in my life where I have ignored, or ham-strung His work because I scored in the "Keep At It" zone. Yup. I have work to do, and freedom and cooperation to develop.
How was your result? Were you encouraged? I hope so because that's where we all should land when it comes to the Holy Spirit's enlightenment into our life. We know He never comes in anger. He never yells. He never condemns, so we can encourage that work, not restrict it.
He only lifts up.
Acts 7:55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
He only guides.
Acts 8:29The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
He only teaches.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
So when you think about this Quiz, don't see it as a measuring stick for deficits, but think of it as a way of seeing where you can more freely join in the work the Holy Spirit is doing in your life. (knowing that, maybe you want to take the Quiz again?) (:
“‘The hardest problem I have to handle as a Christian,’ pastor and author Ray C. Stedman once said, ‘is what to do when God does not do what I have been taught to expect him to do; when God gets out of line and does not act the way I think he ought. What do I do
about that?’” [pg. 121]
I love talking with little ones about God. Their view of him is so pure. For example, ‘the earth is beautiful because God made it that way for us…’
Or, ‘the sun shines after rain so we can see how the grass sparkles…’
Or, ‘the trees give us shade in the summer with their big leaves so we don’t get too hot. That’s why they don’t have leaves in winter ~ so the rain can reach all the stuff underneath….’
You know, the beautifully simple and understandable reasons why things are the way they are. Yet, it is harder to understand why things are the way they are when they are not sparkly, or they are too hot ~ or even when things wither and die because they did not receive the nourishment they need.
It’s easy to forget after living a long number of years that I am, in fact, only a child. God is my Father, I am a child.
"He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Christ is talking about the quality of dependence upon the Omnipotent One. When did I grow up so big that I could trust my understanding over God's?
When you ask a little one, ‘why do bad things happen?’ they will likely shrug and say, “I don’t know.” They don’t need to know because they’re the child, and He is God, and they understand that.
“Then it dawned on me--I saw her secret. ‘She found a
rhythm,’ I whispered to myself. ‘She established her
center, then let everything move around that.’” [Pg 100]
I remember the hula-hoop. How much fun was that? Eh…
It was frustrating for an awkward, skinny kid. Keeping that circle moving around my waist was tough. I didn’t have any waist OR hips ~ so the hoop was constantly sliding down until I was literally trying to keep it circling around my knees. Imagine that skinny little girl struggling with that unruly hoop that was constantly sliding down and just one rotation away from hitting the ground, proving to her once again, she could not do it!
Is that how you feel trying to keep your busy schedules circling around you in an orderly manner? Is that how it feels as your best efforts to stay in control still finds things slipping away, heading in directions that aren't good? Are your hoops just one orbit away from whorling out of control ~ proving once again ~ you've failed?
Here are some awesome verses to help you hold it together and sort it out as you keep those hoops flying around you in perfect symmetry knowing that you ARE WORTHY and that you don't have to worry about even one hoop falling because Someone loves you and He has got your back.
Psalm 3.3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.
"The fruit of our lips: ''Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name"'
"The fruit of our deeds: 'That you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God'"
"The fruit of our attitudes: 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"' [pg 85]
You might remember in December of last year I broke my ankle. It was an ugly mess. Two bones broken at the ankle, dislocation, and surgery leaving me spending the next 13 weeks in a wheel-chair. Ugh!
Now I am weaned onto one, YES, ONE, crutch. YAY ~ I have to tell you that even though my attitude is better now, it was, during some of that process, truly stinky!
Here's how some days went. I cried. I yelled. I wallowed. And blamed. I missed the ability to do almost any activity, and I wasn't shy about saying so. If you had been around me during one of those unfortunate displays you would certainly not have seen the following:
1. ... me confessing his name ...
2. ... or pleasing him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God ...
3. ... [or that I seemed filled with] 'love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control'
So, I know, you're saying anyone could have bad days in this situation. Right? And I agree. But I can't allow that to stand because as a Daughter of the King I am responsible for my actions. If someone behaves stinky to me, I am also responsible for how I respond. It's supposed to be part of our faith that we actually try to live a better life to honor our Lord.
Why is Joanna's passage important? Because she also writes that we 'may be the only Jesus some people see.' Think about that. During those occasions when I was quite NON-Jesus-like what did that example say about faith in general? What did it say about our God? And how is someone supposed to desire to know our Savior when a believer behaves like that?
Big questions, but bigger answers ... and it's up to each one of us to try harder on those 'stinky' days.
We are enjoying: Spring Breaking & Will RETURN March 30! (: Reading this week: Favorite Chapter of Fervent by Priscilla Shirer
This print hangs near my desk. It's the place where I read the Word ~ where I study ~ and dream.
Weeks ago a friend asked me about doing a personal study. I suggested studying ‘Who she was in Christ.’ Funny, because the next day the Lord suggested that study would be good for me too. That’s when I found this print. It hangs where I will routinely see it so I REMEMBER WHO I AM!
Priscilla starts this chapter with the customary look at the tactics of the enemy in his attempts to destroy your identity.
"If I were your enemy, I'd devalue your strength and magnify your insecurities until they dominate how you see yourself, disabling and disarming you from fighting back, from being free, from being who God has created you to be. I'd work hard to ensure that you never realize what God has given you so you'll doubt the power of God within you."
Some of the points I took to heart from Priscilla's thoughts in this chapter are:
Don't believe the lies the enemy tells you! Lies intended to make you doubt the fact that you are ROYALTY ~ and are endowed by POWER from your HOLY FATHER!
Call the enemy on all the stupid, cruel, child-like lies he is telling you! Write your prayers! Pray them often! Believe the power of God will respond to your prayers, and watch the enemy run for cover like the coward he is!!!
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
for good works, which God prepared beforehand
so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2.10
A Mary Heart ... Joanna Weaver Wk 5: Living Room Intimacy Blog 5: Have You Been Invited? Pages: 64 - 80
“Because I hadn’t developed the habit of a quiet time as a child, when the busyness of adulthood came, I found it difficult to find time alone with the Lord.
Some of you may be aghast at such a thought. Your devotional life runs like clockwork. You find it impossible to make it through the day without time alone with God.” [Pg. 71]
I wonder when someone invites you to spend time with them, do you think about the schedule for that day? Are you counting the time-cost of all you have to do? Is there no time left?
Many years ago I entered a unique relationship with the Lord. It came at a time when days were hectic beyond belief. They were spent in specific ways from sun up to sun down and it had been that way for years. Many times I cried myself to sleep asking the Lord how I would ever find time for Him. I would soon find out.
At a few minutes before 4:00 AM on a morning shortly after ~ I woke up. I was wide awake. It was weird I would be so awake at this oh-my-gosh time of morning, but there I was. It only took a second for me to realize Someone was calling me. I was receiving an invitation. I’m ashamed to admit that I stopped to think about it ~ really? 4:00 AM? Still, I got up.
That began a regimen of 4 AM devotions that were so amazing. Those morning meetings held my world together through the days that were coming. They lasted for months. Sounds crazy right? But every morning when I woke up and saw that clock, right on 4:00 AM, I knew it was God because there’s no way it was me.
My point is that He invites you to come meet Him. You’re busy? Sure. Maybe you don’t know Him all that well, and maybe it’s even uncomfortable to think about beginning that true spiritual relationship with your Heavenly Father at an oh-my-gosh time of day. Maybe you’d rather not go? But you know what? You can walk away ~ but you'll never know what you've missed?
Next time He invites you to meet Him: GO. It just might be what you need to hold your world together in the days that come.
, “… intimacy can be threatening. Getting close to Jesus means we can no longer hide our inadequacies. His light illuminates everything that is wrong and ugly about our lives. Unconsciously, therefore, we may flee God’s presence rather than pursue it.” [pg. 60]
In this reading Joanna talked about the Mishnah, that book of some 600-plus extra rules and regulations that the religious leaders thought they needed to add to the mere 10 Commandments the Lord gave them. (I guess they figured that just 10 laws couldn't possibly be enough to be holy?)
When we read in Matthew 15 we find this:
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Vs. 7-9)
Christ was pointing out the fact that their manufactured laws, which only satisfied man's idea of holiness, did nothing to make them MORE holy. In fact, those additional laws did nothing to make them more aware of God's heart! If those additional 600-plus laws had made a difference, they would have recognized instantly that it was their Lord who stood before them.
For all their efforts to be holy and set apart for God, all they added gave them no clue into who God was. Why? Because God is all about RELATIONSHIP, and they had NO Divine relationship.
When we spend time being busy, doing our good stuff for God or others, yet ignoring our time for our own spiritual health, our Divine relationship, whether it is intentional or just a result of misplaced priorities, it’s a loss of that spiritual power and spiritual stamina that is poured into our heart. There's a reason there was only 10 Commandments. If your heart is NEAR God's heart then you instinctively know what is wrong or right, and those other 600+ laws, well, they become irrelevant! Just like us using up time doing all the stuff that God never asked us to do while missing the one thing that's essential.
“As we trade the 'many things' that make
us anxious, he gives us the 'one thing' that calms our hearts. Himself.” [pg. 46]
So here's my battle plan against worry: Living in the moment. And I do have to continually relearn that ability, but I do it. Perhaps living in the moment sounds frivolous, selfish, or maybe even indulgent? But it works for me, and it goes like this:
Wherever or whenever you are ~ are you focused in that moment?
Are you focused on that person?
Are you focused on that event?
Are you focused on that hobby?
Are you focused on that joy?
I know that was redundant, but you really want to think about that question. Because life is too stinkin' short to become just the bowl that holds all your worries. To be those days that exhaust you so desperately that you don't even remember that day's events (even the good ones) when your weary head hits that pillow.
Our life is filled with challenges, we all get that, but it's also full of people we love, and places that shout out the glory of God, and events that leave us inspired and full of awe, and so much other great stuff. Here's an example of living in that moment:
Recently, I spent time with our smallest grandchildren doing a birdhouse project. Our granddaughter was so full of joy as she painted her birdhouse that her swipes of paint, huge glops of vibrant sunset colors, nearly flew off her brush. Each daring stroke added another warm moment from her memory of beach sunsets. As the birdhouse became more and more sunset-ty her joy overtook her and she added a song to accompany each enthusiastic swipe.
I asked her, "Did you learn that song school?" "No," she replied, smiling at me. "I'm just happy."
She was swept away in her little birdhouse painting. She was remembering her time at the beach the summer before. She was thinking about how her sunset birdhouse would look when she hung it in a tree at mommy and daddy's house. She was happy. Truly happy and lost in that moment.
This chapter is SO filled with wisdom about conquering worry. Maybe my solution won't work for you, but Joanna has many points that can help guide you into a place of victory over worry. God has designed us for joy. Live in the moment. Ask him for it. Allow it to happen. And smile. (:
“I need to know,” we tell ourselves.
“No,” God answers softly, “you need to
trust.” [pg. 26]
Has there been a time when your life didn't
make sense? A time when your love for God
still could not explain the injustice going on
around you? You desperately needed to know.
That time came for me during my moms last months of her battle with Alzheimer’s. My mom was the kind of woman we talked about last week. The over-achiever. Doing for church. Doing for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Doing for friends and neighbors. Doing for her parents. Her life was all about giving to others. Why had this happened to her? For me, the pain of not knowing why was relentless.
Months after mom's death, during one of my therapeutic scrubbings of the kitchen floor, I heard a man on the radio say, God knows everything about you, everything about how you feel. It was like a light went on.
Well, I thought, why not just say it? If he knew anyway, wouldn't it be better just to get it out? Without thinking I looked up from that filthy floor and glared into heaven. My words so loud it hurt my throat. The pain and anger so great. I yelled at him, "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
Immediately, I was frozen with fear. What had I done? My anger was serious! Now, had I lost my salvation?’
I was barely breathing, waiting to be struck down. Or maybe I would just drop dead? But nothing. The longest second ever finally passed, then, a voice. I heard him talk to me, not just in love, but direction. Gently he said, “Now we can move forward.”
Are you kidding? No lightning strike? No damnation to hell? Had he waited all these months for me to yell at him? To let the anger and hate go?
And from that moment on I was moving forward.
Joanna writes, “… God isn’t threatened by our doubts and questions, or fears or even our frustration. He wants us to trust his love enough to tell him what we are thinking and feeling.” [pg. 27]
I never did understand why mom had to die that way. I don't understand even now. But I do know that he was there for her. She is with him now. And all my other little 'wonderings' will be gone someday.
“You've known the Lord your whole life, and yet you haven't found the peace and fulfillment you've always longed for. So you've stepped up the pace, hoping that in offering more service, somehow you will merit more love. You volunteer for everything: you sing in the choir, you teach Sunday school, you host Backyard Bible Club, you visit the nursing home weekly. And yet you find yourself staring into the night and wondering
if this is all there is.” [Pg 10-11]
Welcome to Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.
This book isn't new, yet Joanna's message is for us today as much as it was for the women of 2001. Why? Because the pace of life has not slowed down. In fact, today the hours go by now at a meteoric pace. Do you wonder: How can I slow down and get a breath? How can I find time for God, and what happened to balance in my life? These questions are at the core of our reading. So let’s begin.
I have occasionally resembled this sad little sunflower above... wanting to shine, but just miserable inside. It happens when I'm over achieving (because I have given myself tons to do) but yet feeling under-satisfied - sad and exhausted. I'm without God.
This happens when I forget about the impact he has in my life, something that can be called apathy. It’s a lack of interest or concern in something, and for me, sometimes that's how I treat my devotional life. I forget how good it feels when I set aside time for God. I want to feel that way all the time, to have peace and calm ~ to be happy again; but, I plow on anyway, ignoring that call to come. When I'm that busy and overwhelmed (a time when I need him the most) how does that make any sense?
There’s only one thing that can release us from discouragement and fatigue. There is a way to become a happy sunflower again. And it’s called: time. A small gift out of our day, just 10 minutes can reap such healing, freedom, and relief that you will be encouraged to give more remembering how wonderful it feels to be in his healing presence again.
As we move into Joanna’s book the little truths about busyness, responsibility, and balance will start to add up. These lessons can change our life. If you are stuck in the darkness of needing God ~ Go now! Sit down for those minutes in a quiet place and talk to him in your heart. Cry out. Yell. Beg. Don't settle for being sad! You’re better than that.