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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Burning My Plow

What is the plow that I need to burn?

God is calling me - calling each one of us - to something new.

But before we can find out what that wonderful new thing is, we have to burn the plows of the past  as Elisha did in the Old Testament.

I long for the joy and freedom of the new - the true call of God's desire for my life - but I find it so hard to burn the plow of approval and people-pleasing that has driven so much of my past.

I like to make people happy.

I like to be "nice".

I don't like to make waves.

I don't like conflict.

I don't like change.

I like easy and comfortable.

I just want to be a sweet and agreeable Southern girl.

Isn't that who the world wants/needs me to be?

That may be convenient and pleasant but somehow I don't think it lines up with the greater life that God is calling me to live.

I pray for the courage and the faith to push forward through the resistance, the fog, the darkness and the doubt,  trusting that my obedience will lead me into the glorious light of freedom and truth.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Freedom of Truth

"Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
                                                                  Philippians 4:8

I've spent a lot of my life in prison - not a prison made of metal bars but a prison of crippling lies.

Our world so often distorts the truth and makes us believe that lies are truth.

That our income determines our value.

That we must be young and impossibly thin to be beautiful.

That our life is a failure if we aren't honored or recognized for things we have done.

That possessions matter more than people.

With God's grace, I am learning slowly but surely that His truth often does not match up with the world's skewed version.

His truth calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

His truth calls us to make sacrifices for others instead of always putting our own needs first.

His truth tells us to move beyond the powerful pull of destructive thoughts and feelings.

God's truths are not always easy but they are always life-giving.

They show us the things that really matter in the end.

Love

Compassion

Kindness

Honesty

Faithfulness

Humility

Self-control

Peace

Patience

Joy

Fruits of the Spirit that transcend the passing fads and passions of this fallen world.

I pray that we may all come to know and live by God's unchanging truth and love and be set free from whatever imprisons us.

"You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence."
                                                                             Acts 2:28
                     

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Boundaries

"Barriers set relationships on a regressive course that leads to isolation.  Boundaries set relationships on a progressive course that leads to connection."
                                                        Lysa TerKeurst
                                                        Unglued (p. 85)

I can't remember a time in my life when I haven't struggled with boundaries.

I find it so hard to say the simple word "no" and to set limits on my behavior.

If I'm involved in a conversation, I don't want it to end.

If someone needs my help, I don't want to disappoint them.

If someone asks me for something, I don't want to to turn them away.

But painful lessons in reality have taught me that I can't be all things to all people - and I wasn't meant to be.  That's God's job.

When I try to give or be more than I am capable of I become depleted and defeated.  I shut myself off from others so I won't have to feel the disappointment of not meeting their expectations.  Walls of resentment become barriers and cut off healthy communication.

I am learning through God's grace that I cannot always be who others need me to be.  I will let others down and feel saddened by my weaknesses and limitations.  But ultimately these are only reminders that I am not God.  My job is to stay closely connected to Him through prayer and His Word so that I can discern the things I am truly called to do and leave the rest to Him through  faith.  My job begins with listening.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
                                                        Micah 6:8 (NIV)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Labels

Labels are such a quick and convenient way for us to safely put ourselves and others into a comfortable box.  Although the box may have the illusion of being comfortable and safe, it is really nothing more than a prison keeping our self or someone else from expressing the freedom of who they really are.

We are each on individual and unique expression of God's eternal and unfathomable creativity.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2:10

We all have parts of ourselves that need to grow into fullness and other parts of ourselves that need to be chiseled away by the painful experiences we endure.  But the truth of who we are - who we were created to be - is a unique and beautiful masterpiece never to be created again in all eternity.

May we have the grace to see ourselves and one another as the wondrous works of art that we are, casting aside the hurtful lies and limitations of labels and living instead in love.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Drawn Together by Love

"So many women whose daily circumstances differed but whose core issues were the same."  from Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

Those words jumped off the page of Lisa's  most recent book during our online Bible study as I struggled to understand some of the differences being expressed in our women's group.  This group  started over a decade ago when 5 of our current members all attended a small mission church together.

In the past 15 years we have all ended up going in different directions after our small church fell apart for a variety of reasons.  We have added several new members but our core group right now consists of 7 women.

We all come from different places but the one thing that draws and binds us together is the love of God.      We've had some difficulties as theologies and opinions have differed.  We each have been called to question what we truly believe.  That sounds so simple but turns out sometimes to be a very complicated thing with the potential to create divisions in our relationships.

I am encouraged by Lisa's words that remind me that we are really all there for the very same reason - to grow in our relationship with God and with one another.  I believe that God, through the power of His Holy Spirit,  the truth of His Holy Word and His Living Word, Jesus Christ, is drawing us, along with all creation, into perfect unity and harmony in Him.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Imperfect Father's Day

Celebrating Father's Day this past Sunday made me realize how much unexpected and unrecognized pain surrounds so many of our most familiar holidays.  We dream of a picture perfect day where everyone has smiling faces and happy hearts.  We often miss the suffering just beneath the surface.

Within my own small sphere of friends and family I thought of six separate circumstances that were far from the perfect image.

I thought of my dear father who has lost his only son and namesake at the age of 27.

I thought of my friend who had just lost his father to the devastating ravages of cancer.

I thought of a delightful new young friend whose father had abandoned her as a child.

I thought of my stalwart lifelong friend whose husband had ripped apart their young family to pursue an affair with another woman.

I thought of another faithful friend who lost her beloved father within one day of losing her mother.

I thought of my friend who lost her father to suicide several years ago.

I feel such a weight of sadness as I think of the pain each of these people has to endure in the depths of their hearts and souls.  I wish I had done more to honor and be sensitive to that pain.  I pray that in the future I will see more clearly the wounds that surround me that I might in some small way be able to lessen the load of sadness or bring a glimpse of hope and healing to ease the pain.  I pray for the grace to be kind and remember that each person I meet carries their own heavy burden.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

For a Broken Heart

The greatest love
can sear the soul
with agony
and pain untold
taking life
before our eyes
while we stand by
with silent cries
begging
for some sense
of peace
the raging pain
to finally cease
for those we love
while our hearts break
feeling
life's too much to take.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Don't Know . . .

I don't know how
the sun slips silently
behind the trees
or how the leaves unfurl so quietly
that I miss their arrival.

I don't know how
the Dogwood blooms white
and the Bluets suddenly appear
in a tender burst of burgeoning hope.

I don't know how
the years pass so swiftly -
one moment a child
and too soon a man.

The years float swiftly past
like clouds on a summer afternoon -
how I long to tie them down
like buoyant balloons.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Love

Love

     is always

          there

never-changing:

     it silently

          shines forth

               in the darkness

and holds

     a lifetime

          of memories -

the good

and the bad

     are all absorbed

          in love's

never-ending embrace.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Love Alone

There is a love
that binds all things
with hearts and hands
and breath and wings -
a love that ties
us each to all
and brushes back
despair's dark pall.
I hear it in
the Mourning Dove
cooing softly
from above.
I heard it in
the Cardinal's "cheer"
first morning sound
to greet my ear.
I see it in
my dog's soft eyes
while at my feet
she sweetly lies.
I saw it in
the Northern Lights
bright green against
the darkest night -
bringing peace
to mind and soul
filling the relentless hole -
a hole that never
can be filled
with things of earth
or manmade thrills -
a space that longs
for love alone -
God's answer to
the great unknown.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Heart Set Free

The well was deep
where I was bound
despairing that
I would be found-
the darkness thick
with muffled sound-
the lies dead tight
that wound around
my beaten heart
which could not see
the love that You
had meant for me.
But step by step
You led me out
beyond
the stranglehold
of doubt
up to a place
of life and light
of hope and peace-
the love of Christ.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mystery

I look into your eyes and see
that life is robed in mystery.
Why are we here-
both you and I
to live until
our time to die?
A glimpse of beauty
sets us free
to feel the Love
we cannot see.
Then come the valleys
filled with grief
where hope seems lost
with no relief.
To trust is hard
beneath such pain;
our faith and trust
begin to wane.
We pray for courage
now to live
when we have nothing
left to give,
to know that we
are not alone
when hearts feel hardened
into stone,
to feel the gentle
breath of peace
that promises
our soul's release.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Be Who You Are

You don't have to lower
your lids in fear
ashamed about
your presence here.

Don't be afraid
to live your part
to speak the truth
that's in your heart.

We each hold pieces
of the truth;
there is no other
one like you.

The world's approval
soon is past,
just for the moment,
fading fast.

Work instead
for fruit that lasts.
Make the most
of what you have.

Share the gift
that's yours alone.
Give it freely
for all to own.

Don't worry
that it has no worth.
Who knows
how it might heal the earth?

Let us all
be unafraid
to be the wonders
God has made.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Joy

This day is sacred to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

                     
                                                                   Nehemiah 8:10

 I have battled depression for as long as I can remember.

 Losing my precious baby brother (he was 27 at the time, but still precious) the same year I lost a dear friend to breast cancer only deepened what felt at times to be an unbearable burden of darkness.

That was 12 years ago and the darkness still comes and goes with uncomfortable regularity.

But so does the joy of the Lord and I know that no matter how many times the darkness assaults me, He has promised I will not be defeated.

There are days I have to cling to that promise with every shred of faith that I've been given but I have never been completely forsaken, even when I felt like for sure that I had.

God is faithful and true to His Word.  If there is anything I have learned in these last 12 years, it is that fact.

God's Word has given me hope in the darkest of nights.

God's Word has given me joy in the simplest of pleasures.

God's Word has given me peace in the most improbable of times.

I know without a doubt that God's Word is living and active and that it may even have saved my very life.

Whatever your problem, there is a timely and perfect solution waiting for you in God's Word.

Blessings to you in your search!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Praise Him

The seabirds sing
their praise to Him
as joyfully
they dart and skim.
They trust
He always will provide
spring, summer, fall
or stormy tide.
Persistently they live
each day
as patiently they seek
their way,
their fill alone,
no more, no less,
just what they need
to be at rest.
They live to be
and not to kill
to seek, to find
and to be still.
Meanwhile in places
far and near
our murderous greed
kills someone dear
as men determine
to control
without considering
the whole -
but only what
they choose to own,
forget this world
is not their own.

Dear Lord, please heal
our broken hearts.
Remind us whose
we truly are.