Saturday, April 30, 2011

31 Days Closer to Hearing God's Voice

Jen Final


God speaks to us.  He wants us to sit at His feet and let His Words wash over us.  But sometimes, a whole lotta junk gets in the way of us actually hearing what He has to say.  Over the next 31 days, we are going to practice getting our baggage out of the ways so that our heart is prepared to listen to what He has to say.  Do you want to come along for the journey?  

If so, be ready!  The new series kicks off tomorrow at 5 AM!

And do you know, I'm not the only crazy blogger that's trying to write a blog post a day for 31 days!  Here are the others in the party (make sure you read to the end for information about a GIVEAWAY):


31 Days Closer to Your Kids 
Maintaining a relationship with our kids is not always automatic, and just because they live under our roof doesn’t mean we’re always connecting with them. Over the next 31 days, I’ll share some practical tips to help you grow closer to your kids.

31 Days Closer to the Life You Always Wanted
Since cancer threatened to take the life I had, I decided that any days I lived beyond cancer would be dedicated to creating the life I want to live. If you've ever thought: One day I will ... scrapbook, organize my pantry, create cute looks on a lean budget, adopt a baby from Ethiopia, look toned on the beach or read my Bible all the way from Genesis to Revelation or any other big or little someday thought, this series is for you.

31 Days Closer to A Cuter You
Have you had that moment yet? You know the one where you unexpectedly catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror? Yeah…THAT one. If you grimaced instead of grinned, join me for the next 31 days for 31 tips and tricks to tweak your look and come closer to a cuter you!







31 Days Closer to Health, Wellness and Bathing Suit Season
It’s the little things.  All the little things you do in a day either contribute to your health …or not.  Whether your goal is to feel better, drop a few pounds or just strut more confidently in your bathing suit, we’ll cover all the little things you can do to get closer to your goal by June 1st!


31 Days Closer to a New Home
You don’t need to move to get a “new home.”  I am going to reorganize and redecorate the one I have.  In the next 31 days, I will stop the procrastination and tackle all those little projects I’ve been putting off.  So this summer, I can sit back and enjoy my family.  Join me.

______________________________
Okay, ready for the GIVEAWAY info?  Here it is:

To be eligible for the giveaway, you must tell someone about the “31 Day Closer to” series by telling friends about it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter OR e-mail.  Then leave a comment on the blog saying that you did.  One entry/comment per person, and comment must be on the blog, not on Facebook.  But you may enter once on each blog (for a total of 6 entries possible).  Entries must be submitted by Midnight on Monday, May 2nd.  Winners will be announced Wednesday, May 4th.


Prizes?  You want to know what you could win?  Well, fine.








$25 Ikea Gift Card,

$10 Starbucks Gift Card,

an original charcoal art piece, by Jen Ferguson,

an original picture frame designed by The Chubby Dove,

$25 Target Gift Card,

Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad, by Shari Braendel

Alright, go discover all tomorrow!  Everyone listed above will have their posts up on Sunday morning, May 1st!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Always: 5 Minute Friday

On Fridays around these parts we have a little tradition. We throw caution (editing, revising, and worrying) to the winds and just write. Without wondering if it’s just right or not.
For five minutes flat. You’re welcome to play along. The rules are easy.
  1. Write your heart out for five minutes and show us what you’ve got.
  2. Tell your readers you’re linking up here and invite them to play along.
  3. And most importantly, go visit, read, and encourage the fellow five-minuter who linked up right before you.{Pretty please turn off word verification for the day to make this easier!}

If I Knew I Could, I Would…


GO
Always say the right thing.  Always write the right words.  Always be in the right place at the right time.  I would be completely available to anyone who needed me and I would be able to serve them with an open heart, open arms, and no baggage, no resentment, no looking at my watch to see if I'm still going to have time to do all the things I had planned.

I would live my life by the heartbeat of His.  I would lay down my own ambition, my own plans, my own dreams and desires.  What I really want is what is best -- His plan.  Not what is the product of my own strivings, not what I strain to do because somehow I'm trying to find worth in this fallen world.   I would rise every morning, stand in praise, my arms lifted, joy in my heart, completely open to His voice, His call, His direction.  And each step would be His.  And we would walk together.  Every single day.


Stop


Note to the readers:  I try desperately to visit everyone who visits me and leaves a comment, but this week I am snowed under with work.  Just wanted you to know that if I don't make it to your place, it's not for lack of trying.  Much love!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

inhaling truth

I sit here, waiting.

For inspiration.
For creativity.

And, while I wait, I feel a bit guilty.  There are other things to do.  Like work stuff for VBS.  Like making beds.  Cleaning bathrooms.  Lesson planning.

But the truth is, I feel the need for a moment of rest. Something freeing to do as I sip my tea and let the wind blow through the screen.  I need to listen to the wind rustle in the trees.  I desire to carve out precious moments and lay them down as an offering to my Maker.  Just me tuning into what He might want to say.

But first, I realize I must rid myself of filters.  Filters like to-do lists and previous conversations with others.  Past sins for which I have already sought forgiveness.  Filters like questioning my abilities and doubts about the right path.  Because, I want to sit at the feet of Jesus and be unhindered.  I want to hear clearly and not let His words be muddled.  I want them to wash over me like crystal clear, icy water.  I thirst for restoration.

I sit, my eyes close, the knots in my back begin to relax.  The wind blows across my skin.  I let my hands separate from the pose of prayer and end up laying them in my lap, my palms up.  I am ready to receive.

And after a few moments of blissful silence, these words float into my mind.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

And a smile plays upon my lips.  And I breathe in deeply the relief and the refreshment that He offers.  And I hear words:

Be flexible.
Bend.
Let go of perfectionism.
Do your best and let that be enough.
And when the overwhelm comes,
Lay it down again.
And again.
Because I want to do it with you.
Don't leave Me out.
For you can do all things
with Me.


Linking with emily at imperfect prose.


Monday, April 25, 2011

About that Battery & Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria, whether it's your first time here or your 25th.  Basically, we are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  It's a fun party and I love hosting you here each week.  If you would like more information about this community, please click here.  Just a note:  Please don't feel that you have to visit every single person that links up.  We are all on a time budget.  That being said, I do invite you to pray and ask God which blogs to visit simply because there may be words for you left in that place or words that God has given you to share to those specific people.  Blessings to everyone!


I just updated my facebook status to say this:


Have you ever looked at all you have to do and think that maybe if you're going to drown you might as well do it someplace like the Bahamas?


Can you tell I'm a little stressed?  Last Monday, I wrote about being aware of how much energy is left in the tank and when it starts to run low, I must take time to recharge.  That was last week when the amount of work that I needed to do hadn't fully registered.  As I napped and read on the couch on Palm Sunday, I was blissfully unaware of the storm a-brewing.  Guess what?  It made landfall last night as I laid in bed and started ticking off all the commitments that I had this week, all the VBS prepping that I needed to do (and at that point, I didn't know the half of it), the curriculum that needed developing, the running that probably wouldn't get scheduled in, and the articles and blog posts that needed writing.  I didn't sleep too well, needless to say.


Here is the challenge that I face:  When it looks like there is no downtime, how do I choose to make good choices about capacity, energy, busyness, and commitments?  Do I forgo that rare lunch with my husband because there are a lot of VBS prep projects to be put together?  Do I give up yoga for this week so that when my daughter is in preschool, I can devote that entire time to work?  Do I sacrifice my daily Bible reading to do some planning for Children's Church?  Do I cease writing in this space because it's not part of my paying job?


If my life was only going to be crazy for a week, then maybe I could do this.  But, let me be real here -- I don't see things slowing down until late June because of work, birthday parties, and other commitments. So, if I start forgoing rest and recovery now, what will I look like, sound like, feel like at the end of two months?


I've been there.  You don't want to know.  Or perhaps you've been there, too, and you know.  And, I realize, as I tap out these words that it's time to enter in one of those seasons where I offer up my calendar and my to-do lists, my priorities and my wants and my needs, on an hourly basis.  I scoop everything off my shoulders and I lay it down.  I sound the call for help and allow Him to organize my days.  When I fall short, I ask Him to help pick up the slack.  When I am overwhelmed and know in the core of my being that I must take a break, I ask Him to help me receive the grace to do it.  Maybe I even have the guts to tell others that I need help or that I can't do something I promised to do?


So here it is:  It's easy to rest when I feel like there is time.  It's much harder to rest when I am overwhelmed by the amount still to do.  But, perhaps that's when it becomes most crucial.  And perhaps, it is how God teaches me, yet again, how to relinquish control and let Him be in charge.


Now, go have some fun blog hopping!  Can't wait to see what's happening in your space!  The link is up until Wednesday, April 27th at 9PM. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It Was for Freedom


It feels like a new year.
He is risen.
He has broken the chains of death,
Assured victory,
Delivered salvation,
forgiveness,
grace,
to anyone,
yes, you,
anyone willing to accept His Hand,
His Love.
You are no longer bound,
not to the law,
not to your sin,
not to the perfect standards to which
you may hold yourself.
It was for FREEDOM
that Christ has set us free.
You are free.
Free.
Free.
Celebrate.
He has risen.
The freedom is offered from His pierced Hands.
Take it.
It is yours.
All for free.





"So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law."
Galatians 5:1, NLT

Linking with Michelle at Graceful for Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday.

And because time in art is always a playdate with God, linking with Laura at The Wellspring

and 

Jennifer at Studio JRU on Friday.

Don't forget!  Soli Deo Gloria link-up starts Monday night at 8:00 pm CDT.  Hope to see you there for friendship, encouragement, and love!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Hard Love

Wanna join in for Five Minute Fridays?  Here's the plan from The Gypsy Mama:


Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not. Here’s how we do it:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing or tweaking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my right side bar}
3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard. {And if you love us, consider turning off word verification for the day to make it easier for folks to leave you some encouragement}

The Hard Love …


GO.

Funny, I just wrote about a hard love for a post on Wednesday night.  A post about laying down my armor that I have used to protect my heart.  And while it might do a good job of protecting me from getting hurt again, it sure also does a good job of keeping love out, as well.  And what does a heart really long for?  

Love.

Sometimes, despite all that He says in His Word, despite the images that play in my head about what happened today -on Good Friday- Jesus dying on a cross to take away my sins, despite the very real ways that His provision and intervention play out in my life, sometimes, yes, I still doubt His love.  Do you ever doubt?

Which, is why, I think I must be a hard love at times.  Oh, yes, I'm getting better.  My resistance to an armor-free heart is getting stronger.  But, at least for today, I want to be fully soft.  Not a doubter or a wonderer.

I want to be fully faithful.

An easy love.

STOP.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Risk vs. Reward


I've lived a life of self-protection.

I've guarded my heart pretty fiercely.  I've kept a record of wrongs stored in this mind of mine simply because I needed to remember who is safe and who is not.  I've been slow to forgive, not always because of the heinousness of the strike, but because giving up the anger or the defensiveness would mean putting down the armor that I've plastered around my heart to keep out the pain.  I've had enough pain.  Who needs more?

Funny thing about this armor.  As much as it works to keep pain out (and really, how good of a job does it really do?), it also works to keep out love.  Because doesn't love involve taking risk?  Doesn't love require the weapons to be discarded?  Doesn't love require a safe, supple, permeable place to settle in?  Doesn't love ask for an open heart, one that can envelope, that can trust, that can rest in some semblance of peace and passion for another?

Such a quandary, sometimes.  Risk versus reward?

The past week, in my marriage, I've been consciously choosing love.  And all is great when love is returned.  But when a hurtful word comes, to what do I run?  Do I choose to pick up the discarded shields that I so willingly left behind just a few days ago?  Do I start to rebuild the walls around my heart with the rocks of anger?  Do I let the word that roll off my tongue sting like daggers, representations of the pain within?

Or.

Do I choose to throw my shoulders back, thrust my chest forward, and reveal a heart that is still soft?  Do I still choose to love with abandon, this man who I know loves me, too?  Do I offer him a heart that can be penetrated by offerings of apology?  Can I love beyond my own hurt, unconditionally?

I am grateful for the simple act of choosing which road I wish to take and this I choose:

To step away from the sword.  To leave my shields at the crossroad.

To ask for a different protector.  One with a name.

Father God.

And then, I choose love.

Unconditionally.

Linking tonight with Emily at Imperfect Prose.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reserve Battery Power & Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria whether it's your first time here or your 24th (can you believe it's been 24 weeks??).  Basically, we are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  It's a fun party and I love hosting you here each week.  If you would like more information about this community, please click here.  Just a note:  Please don't feel that you have to visit every single person that links up.  We are all on a time budget.  That being said, I do invite you to pray and ask God which blogs to visit simply because there may be words for you left in that place or words that God has given you to share to those specific people.  Blessings to everyone!
Photo source here

Yesterday, I grabbed my laptop, and upon it's waking, a warning popped up:

You are now running on reserve battery power.  Please plug your computer into an electrical outlet.  If you do not, your computer will shut down to preserve its memory.

Ha!  I need one of these same pop up batteries for my LIFE.  Perhaps it would read:

You have 3% battery power left in your tank.  Please lay down on the couch and stop working, cleaning, ministering, cooking, talking, writing, and yelling disciplining your children.  If you do not, your body will shut down to preserve whatever amount of sanity you have left.

So today, after a little pow-wow with my sweet husband, we figured out how to give me a few hours sans children to discipline so that I could actually engage in some sort of Sabbath.  I got to take a shower without any questions about the female anatomy.  I read the Sunday paper from start to finish without being asked to read every single funny on the comics page.  I caught up on my daily Bible readings without being asked for (yet another) glass of water.  I FELL ASLEEP!  (This almost never happens, for I am not a napper.)  And, upon arising from my short nap, I actually was in the mood to start dinner (cooking is so not my favorite thing -- I need some Big Fat Mama injections).  Amazing what a little recharging can do for a woman!

The deal is, though, I cannot let myself get to that 3% on a regular basis.  I have to be better about setting boundaries, about not trying to multi-task (parenting and working from home is decidedly difficult to do), and take time to breath.  I have no magical plan formed yet, but here are two things that I am going to try very hard to do in the coming weeks:

{1}  Spend time with my husband after the kids go to bed.  Normally, I try to squeeze in a few more hours of work, but you see, my husband is quite the funny guy.  When I'm with him, I stress less.  He's good for my soul.

{2}  Be intentional about the time I spend with my kids.  I lug around a lot of mommy-guilt trying to get all my work done, keep the house clean, clip coupons, etc. and always am afraid I'm leaving my kids hanging.  If I'm present when I'm with them, I think that will save me a lot of energy that currently goes down the guilt-drain.

Okay, enough of me.  Please go visit some other people that have some amazing things to say!  The linky is live until Wednesday at 9pm, CDT.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lovely


How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty.
I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Psalm 84: 1-2

This is the sketch of the image that came to mind when I started imagining what it would be like to play with God for a bit.

Freedom from all things that are obligatory.
         Being lost in a field of flowers, surrounded only by nature.

To be able to let go.
         Unafraid of how people perceive my actions, my words, 
         my song.

To give to the Lord fully, offering my entire being.
         How often am I able to give Him my full, undivided attention?  
         Not often enough, my friend.

Appreciating not only all that He has given me, but also
         Loving Him just because He is.

May my arms be outstretched in praise more often than not.

Linking up this week with these lovely ladies:

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Marathon Distance

From the Gypsy Mama:
Got five minutes? Let’s write. Let’s finger paint with words
Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not. Here’s how to play along:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button in my right side bar}
3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you.
This week's prompt?  
On Distance
START.
I think about that day, a year ago last February.  It was the perfect weather for a long run.  It was perfect weather for my first marathon.  Mile 15 flew by and I was feeling so good.  My pace was quick.  I felt strong.  I could finish and finish easy.
Note to self:  Don't be so sure when you still have 11.2 miles left to go in a race.
By mile 20, I was craning my neck to see if I could see the mile marker sign in front of me.  My pace, no longer quick, was a least still trying to be classified as running.  I was tired.  Worn-down.  Depleted.
I started walking.  I knew I would finish, but could I finish strong?  Would I laze across that finish line, every last drop out, so that not even a smile could play across my lips?
And that is when I saw him.  My gift from God to keep me going.  My knight in shining armor.  My old youth director that I had not seen since high school and had only reconnected with upon the pages of Facebook.
And he rescued me, not literally carrying me across that finish line, but by speaking words over me that gave me empowerment, encouragement, and strength.  And he ran with me that last mile and a half, until I saw my family and the finish line beyond.  He ran with me until I had enough strength stored up to finish with a smile.
And, I think, that perhaps often, God rescues us every day in much the very same way.  He gives us strength to keep our own two feet pounding the pavement of life.
STOP.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Dream



My simple pleasure this week is a dream.

Not a while-you-sleep kind of dream.  It's a hope.  It's a vision.  It's who I want to be.

You see, I found this new link-up called Playdates with God and I've honestly not linked up yet because the thought of play is a bit foreign to me.  Playing with God?  Finding Him outside of deep revelations, scripture reading, prayer and intercession?  Even outside of God, do I ever really play, like with the heart and mind of a child?  Splashing in jest?  Starting a tickle-fight just because?  Sitting with my husband and telling a joke?

You see, I know serious.  I know deep conversation.  I know intense spiritual journey.  I know prayer.  I know how to steel myself for bad news and harden my heart in disappointment (not good things, mind you, those last two).   I know how to stick to a budget, how to plan a party, how to help a friend.  I know how to do my job.  I know how to discipline my kids (um, most of the time) and what activities are good for them.

And, I can even go through the motions of playing, of acting out Barbie dolls and calling cards in Go Fish.  I can play school and I can snuggle and read a good book with my daughters.  But I cannot get lost in it.  I can't find the freedom in it, but I do know that it is there.  It is there with my husband.  It is there with my children.  It is there with God.  I just need to let myself go a little bit and find it.

Maybe next week, my simple pleasure will be of playing and my playdate with God will be something fully fun and freeing.

Here's to the dream.

Linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures
Project Simple Pleasures2


and

Laura at The Wellspring.

My Strong One


She has always been a tough little girl,
one who falls, but rarely cries,
one who doesn't back away from
confrontation.
Who, even at seven,
knows how to defend her friends,
and her faith,
in ways that sometimes I do not.
Who, manages to be
strong and graceful all at the same time.

It is hard to watch
this strong little girl,
so fierce and feisty
on the outside,
Begin to crumble, after days without her daddy.
Who put on the brave face,
seemingly concerned only with forth-coming gifts
from the strange and foreign land
of California.
But the dam burst.
Ache released,
Upon seeing his face on the screen,
the tears came forth,
the gut-wrenching missing
spewing.
The longing for her Daddy's arms
too much to bear.

Who is this daddy,
whom his daughters adore?
He is their
Protector
Comforter
Soother
Peace-maker
empathizer
Love-lavisher
teacher
Adorer


And I for one, am thankful
that their earthly father
reflects so much of the
Heavenly Father.
That as they grow and know his love,
they also know
His.

Linking with Tiffini for Word Women Wednesday
and
Emily for Imperfect Prose.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Trust & Soli Deo Gloria

Photo source here
Last Tuesday night, I had this glaring thought:

I don't trust anybody.  Not fully and completely, at least.

This revelation just broke my heart.  I don't want to walk around assuming people will fail me.  I don't want to always envision this worst-case scenario.  I don't want to have a shadow of negativity and disbelief looming over me.

I want to be a glass half-full kinda gal.  I want to be optimistic and non-controlling and free.

And yet, I am a realist.  People will always fail.  That is their nature.  That is my nature.  As hard as I try to do my best, I will still fail.  Things will slip through the cracks, my anger will get the best of me, I will say the wrong thing at the wrong time.  So, if I know this about me and I know this about human nature in general, how can I choose to trust?

As I offered this question up to God, He simply said:

Trust Me.

I noticed that if people gave me a verbal commitment to support me financially for this conference, I wouldn't truly believe them until the money was in hand or called in.  Because really, what if they forgot?  What if they changed their mind?  What if their house fell down or they lost their job or their cat needed emergency surgery?  The bottom line, in my twisted way of thinking, was this:  What if they make a promise, don't follow through, and then I don't get to go?

Eeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrkkkkkkkkk.  Wait, what?  Because who runs this show?  Is it me?  Is it them?  Or is it God?

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.  

Psalm 146:3


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  

Proverbs 3:5

People can come up short, but God delivers.
When people fail me, God picks up the slack.
When they hurt me, God heals.
When I mess up, God forgives.
When they forget, God remembers.
When we get off track, God redirects.

Through this revelation and process, waves of peace and restoration have washed over me.  I can walk in so much more freedom now and have much more emotional energy left to concentrate on things that God has entrusted me to do -- like praying for you as your sweet faces appear on my blog for Soli Deo Gloria.  Let's get the party started!

oh, and FYI...She Speaks is almost sold out, so if you are wanting to go, you probably need to register  now.

**Photobucket is having some issues, so if you visit a blog that looks seriously messed up, please check back again later.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

No Condemnation


Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman,

“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
______________________________________
Today, for once, I have nothing really to add.  Jesus says it all -- there is no condemnation in Him.  You are free.


Linking up with Jennifer for Sneak Peek Fridays, this week at (in)courage
and with
Michelle at Graceful for Hear It on Sunday, Use it on Monday.

Friday, April 8, 2011

If you met me...

Interested in 5 Minute Fridays?  Here's The Gypsy Mama:
Got five minutes? Let’s write. Let’s write in shades of real and true and unscripted.
Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not.
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Go leave some comment props for the five minuter who linked up before you.

Start.

If you met me, it'd probably be all about you.

I've gotten sneaky like that.  I am so good at asking questions and probing (but in a nice way, I hope) that you probably will all of the sudden realize that you've been talking for thirty minutes and you didn't know how or why.

But I love to know people.  I mean really know them.  You see, I don't necessarily know my best friend's favorite color, but I could pretty much tell you the story of her life and what happened to her yesterday.  I know the important stuff.  I love to know because I love to listen to His promptings about what to say that might enrich your life or help you with a struggle, or just lift you off your feet and shine with encouragement.

On the flip-side, though, I've used this practice to hide myself.  To protect my heart.  So, if you really want to know me, you'd probably have to read this blog or ask me a lot of questions.  Because I also hate to disappoint, so I'd never not answer you.

Stop.


Linking also with these fabulous ladies on Fridays:

Rachel Ann at Home Sanctuary
Michelle at Lost in the Prairies

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Pleasure of the Blessing


The youngest reminds me,
a few bites into the meal.
Mama, we didn't say the blessing.
And you know, I'm one who prays at dinner,
but not at breakfast or lunch.
Silly me.
And so, my youngest,
her eyes squeezed tight shut,
her hands clasped together fervently,
she bows her head and lifts her voice,
to the Father in Heaven that she knows hears her.
And after the amen, she asks so sweetly,
some food still in her mouth,
Mama, doesn't your food taste better now?
And I say, in reply,
Doesn't everything taste better when we give thanks for what we have?
If only I could live this out every day,
being thankful in every circumstance.
But often I grumble, looking at what I don't have.
At times like these, I'm thankful
for the words that come forth from the mouth of my babe,
bringing life,
new perspective,
clarity,
blessings.

Linking up with these wonderful ladies at:


(You can find their buttons in my sidebar or click on the links to share your words.)

The Sweetness at the Bottom

Today, both the kids had playdates after school.  Normally, I would take the opportunity to work, but I felt God press upon me the need for rest today, to do things that I would enjoy, to be out from under the pressure of the always crowded to-do list.

I was a bit at a loss of what to do with myself.  I would try to sneak in a bit of work here or there, not really sure of how just to play.  At one point, I decided to treat myself to some Starbucks.  I was hungry and not in the mood for my normal grande non-fat chai latte, so I bought a Naked smoothie drink and a Greek yogurt parfait.  On the top, jumbled together, was a mix of sunflower seeds, granola, and dried cranberries.  I mixed it all together and begun to indulge.  I was almost to the bottom when I realized that there was a hidden treat underneath it all.

Honey.  Golden sweetness.

Even though I had very little yogurt to mix it with, I still ate up every little drop of that sugary goodness. As it permeated my taste buds, I thought about life in terms of this plain white Greek yogurt.  If I had only realized that there was this honey at the bottom and had mixed it in, every bite would have been sweeter.

How often do I fail to observe the sweetness that God puts in my life because I am so fixated on obtaining my goals, or drowning in sorrows, or overwhelmed with fear and worries?  Perhaps if I choose to see the goodness, the sweet stuff of life, everything might taste a little sweeter.

Or at least the bitter, a little less difficult to swallow.

Linking up with Tiffini for Word Women Wednesday.

Photo source here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Faith Offering & Soli Deo Gloria

Welcome, Soli Deo Gloria Sisters!  I'm so glad to see your faces and meet some new ones as well.  This is a place of encouragement and blessing, and it is my prayer that you always feel welcome here.  If you are new (anyone is welcome), please read here for the heart behind this meme and some general guidelines (the button is to your right).  I hope you are blessed on your page and leave blessings for others, as well.  Also, if you would like to be put on the Soli Deo Gloria email list, please leave your contact information below in the comments.
Photo source here
"Daughter', he said to her, 'your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.'"
Luke 8: 48

As much as I hate to admit it, I pretty much stink when it comes to faith, specifically having faith that God is going to do what He says He will do.  I continually question whether or not He is really leading me.  I ask, "Are You setting me up for failure?  Can You really equip me?  Can You really provide for me? Are You?  Can You? Are You?  Can You?"

I'm a broken record and it's time to get off the turntable.

I have no excuse.  Not one.  I cannot point to one instance where He has left me uncared for, a complete laughing-stock, or left me without a glimmer of hope.  That's not to say that I haven't been disappointed. It's not to say that I haven't lost.  It's not to say that I haven't felt foolish from time to time.  But the overarching theme of my life has been this:

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you."  
Matthew 7: 7

And yet, I find that whenever I am knee-deep in a struggle, when I am faced with choices, when I am asking for something that seems beyond my wildest dreams, I doubt.  My faith vacates the premises.  I pace, wringing my hands, forehead creased with worry, and I ask, over and over and over again:

"Are you sure?  Really?  Can I count on You?"

It's a good thing I'm not God or I would have thrown up my hands in exasperation a long time ago.  Annoying, yes?

The last few days, peace has seemed impossible.  With too much unknown, too much in the air, I just stew in my own worry, in my questioning.  And, when I think about it these terms, well, of course there is no peace.

Because there is no faith.  Let me rephrase that:  I choose to not act in my faith.  Jesus has initiated faith in me and He is in the process of perfecting it (Hebrews 12: 2).

Obviously, I'm in need of a lot of perfecting.

The woman who had been bleeding for twelve years (twelve!), acted in her faith -- if she could just touch the hem of His cloak, she would find healing.  Jesus could have said, "I have made you well.  Go in peace." He wouldn't be lying -- it was His healing power that flowed out of Him and into her.  But no, instead He says, "Your faith has made you well.  Go in peace."

Jesus puts an emphasis on faith, and thus, on the relationship we have with the Father.  I think that He wants to highlight the fact that we are called to use the gifts that God has given us.  We are called to act in our faith in order to deepen our relationship with Him and to live into our calling.
"And it is impossible to please God without faith.  Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him."
 Hebrews 11: 6

And so, with that, in front of all of you, I am deliberately walking in faith that He will provide for the She Speaks conference, that He will do what He says He will do.  When worry starts to creep up, I will remember the bleeding woman.  I will act in my faith.

I will reach out and touch His hem.