Thursday, June 30, 2011

Similar to the First Squeegee Post

For June, I was assigned the topic of forgiveness at Blissfully Domestic.  Since my first squeegee post was so popular (and I only know this because of the Blogger widget that lists the most popular posts), I used the same concept, but added a few tweaks and twists.  I'd be honored if you'd drop by Blissfully Domestic to check it out. You can find the entire article by clicking here, but scroll down to see a bit of a teaser.

I have come to equate Jesus to a squeegee.  No, I’m not trying to be blasphemous. Jesus and the squeegee have one very important thing in common: both are responsible for cleaning.  The difference is that one cleans our bathroom shower doors and the other, our souls.

Jesus as a Squeegee?
As a very fallible human being, I have to ask God for forgiveness all the time.  Because He is loving and gracious, He heeds my requests and wipes my heart clean when I bow before Him and confess.  He removes my sins as far “as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12, NLT). And yet, more often than not, these sins are still as plain as day to me.  God may see me as white as snow, completely purified, but when I see myself, I still see the long list of sins that I have committed.
Imagine the shower doors completely speckled with water droplets.  I squeegee one shower door, removing all trace of water and scum, making it completely transparent.  I then switch the doors and for a moment and the uncleaned door is directly behind the cleaned one.  No longer does my first door look immaculate at all – I can only see the water and scum on the second door.  It is as if I never cleaned anything.  All the dirt and scum and water are still there.

To continue reading, click here...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Afraid to Pray & Soli Deo Gloria

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.  Also, if you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know if the comments.  Blessings to everyone!
Confession:  I've not fully invested myself in my prayer life.


Oh, don't get me wrong.  I pray.  I intercede.  I've read the Bible.  I know it works.  And yet, I think I've come down on the side of, "Well, God's going to do what He's going to do.  Who am I to try to change His Mind?"  


But really, I think my doubt in the full power of prayer all stems from this selfish fear of rejection (and maybe even some laziness, since I'm already being honest).  If I don't get too invested in what I'm praying for, if I keep my desires close to my chest, if I claim some nonchalance about the whole endeavor, I protect myself from rejection, from being told "no."  


Last weekend, Craig and I went to San Antonio for our 11 year anniversary.  We stayed at the JW Marriott, just as we did last year.  Except this time, our balcony didn't come with the chairs that I absolutely sunk into last year.  A chair is a chair, you might think.  And yet, if you had sat in this chair before, you wouldn't be able to settle for anything less.  Normally, I would never, ever call down to the front desk and ask for another chair.  Why?  Because I wouldn't want to be told "no." I wouldn't want to risk the embarrassment, the rejection.  I wouldn't want people to think something like, "What a preposterous notion!"


So, I sat on the bed and weighed my options.  What would cause me the greater pain:  having my request turned down or not trying to get the chair I had been imagining myself in since the day I booked the reservation a month ago?  Before I could talk myself out of it, I punched "0" on the phone.  And I asked in my best cheery voice.  And what did the front desk man say?


"We'll send one right up."


Now, granted, God will not give me a "yes" on everything I ask because, frankly, I don't always ask for the best things.  And yet, if I never ask, or if I ask with only a half-invested heart, what fullness might I miss?  If I never ask, and in some cases, if I never ask repeatedly, I'm not letting God into my heart fully. I'm holding back simply because I'm afraid. And yes, God already knows me inside and out, but oh how He cherishes the act of laying it bare for Him.


My plan is to actively ask God, and ask Him frequently, for the desires of my heart so to get me over the fear of rejection while at the same time holding on to the knowledge that He does know best.  If He does say "no," I'll know it's for a good reason.  On the other hand, if He doesn't say anything, I'll keep praying.  I'll keep persevering in the Spirit, discerning the things to which He is calling me to my knees.


Alright, go link and encourage!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Always Almost


Always, almost.
Could have been just
Perfect.
Missed it by a hair,
a drop of rain,
a bad mood erupting out of nowhere.
Striving, always striving
for this perfection that is simply
Never achievable.

And I know this.

I do realize perfection is not
Meant for this side of Heaven.
And yet,
I am disappointed.
In myself, mostly, 
for not pulling off the impossible.
Still waiting for the day when it all
Just comes together.
And yet,
I forget, often,
of the power of the Perfect One --
How He redeems.
Makes all things new.
Erases mistakes.
Creates new life out of things
seemingly arrayed as ashes.
Death into life.
Burdens lifted.
Knots undone.
Always
Perfectly made with Jesus.

And even in the melancholy mood,
As the slow music plays,
matching the beats of my heart,
and wistful thinking,
there is the hint
of looking up.
Of abandoning expectations
and putting one foot in front of the other,
moving on,
closer...
closer...
closer...
to the Author of Perfection.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stunted Growth & 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.  Also, if you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know if the comments.  Blessings to everyone!
_________________________________________________________________
I wandered outside this morning in search of fresh mint and juicy ripe tomatoes.  In my puttering, I was amazed to see this:
I've never seen a more perfect sunflower.  Everything about it is simply glorious.  It is flaw-free.  There is splendor arrayed here, a breathtaking form of nature.  Every detail adds to its glory, every petal stretched to the sun, offering all that it can to whomever stops to admire.


In my eyes, perfection.


I moved on to tend to the other sunflowers in my garden and was struck by this one:
Although there is plenty of beauty here, too, you can see for whatever reason, some of the petals are stunted.  They are not beautifully arrayed like the others.  Something kept them from fully developing, from reaching out far and wide, from reaching their full potential.


As someone who had been struggling with feelings of inadequacies, I relate to this far-from-perfect sunflower.  I can clearly see that I have some good qualities, but I am first to list all the ways in which I fall short.  But what God has been teaching me to believe is this:


Despite my flaws, I am still beautiful.
Despite my imperfections, I am still worthy to be chosen.
Despite that which keeps me from fully flowering, He is there to cover me with His grace.


And so, I say to you:


Despite your flaws, you are still beautiful.
Despite your imperfections, you are still worthy to be chosen.
Despite that which keeps you from fully flowering, He is there to cover you with His grace.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Failure to Disappoint

I don't know if I've been clear on this point before or not, so I'm just going to lay it out there:

I'm terrified of disappointing God.

And because of this, I do not let Him speak lovingly over me.  What I mean by this is that I will gladly take direction from Him.  I will walk the way He asks me to walk.  I will do the things that He has asked me to do.  I will confess and repent of the things I have done wrong.  I will make adjustments in my attitudes and behaviors (or at least try to, anyway).  But, if He opens His mouth to tell me anything other than what falls within the above parameters, I, as they say in preschool, turn off my listening ears.

In the sermon today for Trinity Sunday, my priest was discussing one of his favorite icons.  It is one that depicts the Holy Trinity, each part seated at a rectangular table, with one seat open -- for us.  It is the representation of the invitation God so graciously gives us to enter into relationship with Him.


In the midst of the sermon, I caught myself sitting at the table, surrounded by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  My mind continually bounced from being present with words coming forth from the mouth of my priest and being enraptured by the thought of sitting at a table with the Most High God.  The next thing I know, Father Parker begins talking about never being rejected in His presence.  He held up the offertory plate and asked, "Have you ever seen us hold up the plate after everyone has given, looked at what was brought forth, and said 'This is not good enough?'  No, of course not.  It is the same way with God.  God will not reject you."  (paraphrasing here)

And then, upon hearing these words, I was immediately back at the table.  God's mouth opened and He said,

"With you, I am well pleased."

And as much as I wanted to say that this couldn't be, and that I didn't deserve any type of praise, and that I must be hearing voices, I didn't.  As much as I wanted to get up from the table and flee, I stayed put.  For those moments, with the affirmation that God does not reject me, despite my shortcomings and my failures and my issues, I just accepted with a humble heart.

I had failed to disappoint.  Who knew failure could feel this good?


Linking with the LOVELY Michelle at Graceful.
Oh, and don't forget:  Soli Deo Gloria link goes live Monday night at 8pm.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When God's Plan is Not Your Plan

Hi Y'all!

I'm over at Blissfully Domestic and would so love it if you have a few moments to read my article (and comment if inclined)!

Here's a little teaser:

I planned to have very well behaved children.  I would never have to ask them twice to do something.  They would dutifully do their chores without complaining because they would understand their role in the family and graciously want to help out.  I would have the most obedient children in the world.  Everyone would admire me and know that I was a good mother.

You know that quote that goes something like this:  “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans?”  I think He’s been laughing for the past seven years now…

What would my life would be like if I had two very compliant, not-very-opinionated, laid-back girls that didn’t challenge me or my parenting ideals?  What if God had given me my made-to-order, perfect little children that I so desperately wanted?


Click here to continue reading...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Twisteez Wire & Soli Deo Gloria

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.  Also, if you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know if the comments.  Blessings to everyone!
If any of you have been involved in Vacation Bible School, you might know how much it takes to get ready.  This year, I'm the resources director, which means I'm responsible for buying, borrowing, and finding (can you say sheep's horns??) supplies for 100+ volunteers and 240 kids.  We'll just say that Excel is my friend (most of the time).  Anyway, about a month before VBS, we send out prep projects to be done so that I don't have to assemble all parts to everything.  Some of these projects are, let's say, mission critical.

Enter the Twisteez Wire.  I needed Twisteez cut in half and then this little white, round ring attached to it.  It is part of the craft on Tuesday and as of the Thursday before, the person who took it still hadn't brought it back.  We didn't know who had it because they hadn't signed the sheet.  Did I mention that I had ordered the wire VIA THE INTERNET and that this type of wire is not available at any store that I know of?  And there is this little thing called SHIPPING TIME?

Needless to say, we were all a bit worried.  So, I prayed and God whispered in my head, "It will be there."  These words held me over for a day but the next day, I started worrying again.  I asked God for a scripture to let me know that the wire would turn up and that we would have what we needed.  I felt led to read Psalm 36.  I turned to my Bible and found this:

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice like the ocean's depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter under Your wings.
You feed them from the abundance from your own house,
Letting them drink from the river of delights.
For You are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.
Psalm 36: 5-9
On Saturday, just before the director was about to order more, in walked the volunteer with the bag full of Twisteez wire, complete with little white rings attached.


The moral?  If God cares about Twisteez wire for VBS, how much does He care about whatever concerns you?  No matter the issues, He cares.  It doesn't matter if you think God would deem it insignificant.  What matters is that He doesn't view it that way.  Big or small, He's there.


Have fun at the linky party.  It's VBS, but I'll get to you as soon as I can!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shower Moment


The hot water rained down upon my face,
as my mind raced back and forth, back and forth,
over the schedule,
the to-do list,
over the tantrum just thrown at the store an hour before,
back and forth, back and forth
over the arguments had last night, late
and the fruit from the "school" lesson of this morning,
over the progress and the regressions,
over the failures and the forgiveness
(so much ground the mind can cover in such a short span).
And then...
STOP.
And He said,
Feel the warm water over your face.
Let your muscles relax as you stand in the shower
All by yourself.
Be aware of this moment.
This moment that you are given.
Are you here?
Or are you in the past?
In the future?
Are you lamenting or dreaming?
Or can you just be still...
Feeling.
Thanking.
Being.
And I realize...
Being present in the moment makes me so much more aware of the little gifts
He leaves me,
Day in and day out.
And no longer do I wish to miss them,
The simple pleasures that nourish the soul.

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose


and
Dayle for Simple Pleasures.

Project Simple Pleasures2

And Kay at Heart and Soul.

destined, devoted, daring

Monday, June 6, 2011

Interrupted Conversations & 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.  Also, if you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know if the comments.  Blessings to everyone!



God often uses my children to get a point across to me, so the other night, as I was lying in bed, I heard this conversation rolling through my head:

God:  What if your daughter did to you want you do to me?
Me:  What do you mean, God?
God:  Imagine Abby having this kind of conversation with you --
Me:  I love you, Abby!
Abby:  But what do you want me to do, Mom?
Me:  I just want you to know I love you.
Abby:  No, that's not enough.  I just need to know what you want me to do next.
Me:  Nothing.  I just want you to know that I lo....(interrupted)
Abby:  MOM!  No more of that...just tell me what to do!

I can't imagine (well, first that my daughter would ever be that concerned about getting all her work done, but I digress...) my daughter as a being unable to receive my love.

And yet...

This is what I do to God every single day.

I cannot be silent and let God just tell me He loves me.  I feel His love for me in the ways that He provides me, protects me, blesses me, but when He tries to speak those words, I run.  For whatever reason (and feel free to help me process this), my heart can't handle it.  I am comfortable with Him giving me directions.  I'm even pretty comfortable with His discipline.  But receiving love through words, I just can't take.

I am determined not to stay in this place.  I see this as part of a refining process -- I have to be able to listen to everything He says or I will fall prey to the lies of world, the lies of the enemy, the lies I tell myself.  So, I'm praying for an uncovering and for freedom and for a heart that is open to all of His gifts.

Blessings to all of you, sweet friends!  His love for me is evident through every one of you.  Thank you for being that for me.

Spread your love!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Disastrous Walls

"Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin;
anyone who trusts in high walls invites disaster."
Proverbs 17:19
I don't want critters to eat away at my hard work, sweat, and time.  I don't want birds to come down and swoop away my fruit.  I don't want them getting at what is mine.  And so...

I've made my garden into a fortress.

And yet, no matter how tight I string the netting, or how many twisties I use to hold the mesh closed, or how many aluminum tins hang from the wires, this still happens:
And it (kinda) makes me laugh, when I see a proverb like the one above and I can relate it to tangible life and my own heart.

Holding something too close, or building high walls to protect that which we love dearly, only invites disaster.

True, without the walls, I'd probably lose a lot more tomatoes.  It's not that (in this case) the walls are inherently bad.  However, it's my attitude formed while I was building the walls that invites the disaster.

I don't want anyone else gettin' what's mine.

It can be good to guard our hearts, but at some point, it can just bleed into a self-protective disaster, where the heart is so guarded that it makes it hard for anyone, including ourselves, to access the fruit.  And, what's the point of a garden if you can't eat from it?

I've been hurt.  I've been burned.  I've wanted to hole up in the safety and security of my bed and let no one in again.  Ever.  I've wanted to cradle my children and not let them leave the house because they are mine and I don't want to lose them and it's a big, bad, scary world out there.

And yet...

If I lay claim to myself and my family as mine, I invite disaster.  Because, I'm distracted from what I'm really supposed to be doing.  And I'm taking control versus letting God have control.  Let's face it:  He's much better at the helm than I am.  And I'm so focused on what's mine that I'm not laying anything down and I'm not giving much and well, I'm being a bit selfish, too.

I can't trust in high walls.

I just have to trust Him.

Walls will crumble, but He is an everlasting Rock.

"No one is holy like the LORD!
     There is no one besides You;
There is no Rock, like our God."
1 Samuel 2: 2
Linking with the LOVELY Michelle at Graceful.
Oh, and don't forget:  Soli Deo Gloria link goes live Monday night at 8pm.  Hope to see you there!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Everyday

From the Gypsy Mama:

Wanna just write? Without wondering if it’s just right?
  1. Indulge in five rich, delicious minutes of pure writing.
  2. Tell your readers you’re linking up here and invite them to dig in too.
  3. And most importantly, go visit, read, and compliment the five minute chef who served something up right before you.
Go.

Every day there is a choice.  I can be who God created me to be or...I cannot.  How many choices I have through this daily day, to turn right or to turn left, to go straight or back.  I can choose to undo progress and sit in my stink, to make sure my pity-party as just the right room aroma.  Or, I can walk toward the sun, even if it's a bit too hot sometimes, face-forward, reveling, hopeful, refined.

Everyday there are choices and they affect far more than just me.  My children can feel the brunt of my anger and my busyness or they can feel...chosen, sought-out, a part of me.  Oh, the grace required to make theses choices sometimes.  Seeking perfection in my worldly performance verses finding pleasure in dancing for Him alone.

Everyday choices to lay down or pick up.  To throw away or to cherish.  To cultivate or to prune.  To live fully or to hide.

Everyday, to do this, to choose goodness, to choose Jesus, to lean on someone other than myself.

Linking with the Gypsy Mama.
And
Caffeinated Randomness (because these thoughts sure seemed random today!)
And

STOP.