I have found myself in a sort of dry season. As followers of Christ, there are times when we find ourselves in such seasons. We allow the worries of this world, heartache, fear, and our own selfishness to consume our thoughts and to steal our joy. At first we don’t feel the drift, but then we begin to feel the distance and we look up to find that the current has carried us further than we want to be. That’s where I found myself and so I began to ask God to draw me back, to show me what caused the distance in the first place, and I’ve tried to wait patiently for Him to answer. Patience is not something I do well so it has been a challenge.
This morning He showed me what was lacking in such a way that it left no room for coincidence.
I am keeping my son and daughter-in-law's two labs and I have a lab of my own. Three labs, who don’t know they are dogs, in one house. Well, this morning they were wound a little too tight so I sent them outside so I that I could have a “quiet” quiet time. Because we live on a pond with alligators, I decided to have my quiet time on the back porch so I could keep an eye on them.
“Quiet” was not happening. They ran back and forth taking a ball from each other, tumbled around in the flower bed where flowers and new pine straw used to be, and barked at Buster the cat who could have taken all three of them out at one time if he chose to do so. He really is that mean. Anyway, after one of them ended up in the pond, I decided that I had had enough and they got banished to the kennel.
Yesterday, I was led to share something about my past that I didn’t want to share, especially because it was in front of someone whose approval is very important to me. For the rest of the day, my heart was heavy. I found myself struggling with why sharing this particular part of my story was causing so much hurt in my heart. I have shared parts of my story many times before, and though it has never been easy, I've never experienced emotions quite like this.
I found a quiet space to just sit still before my Father, and I asked for help. As I sat there, the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, gently shed light on what was happening.
A good bit of my story revolves around things that happened in my life before I came to a saving knowledge of my Lord and Savior. But, this particular part of my story happened after Jesus saved me from my wicked and sinful self.
Before Christ, I sinned against a God I didn’t know, but now, when I sin, I sin against a Father I do know, and that makes the sin all the more grievous to me. I thought about the disciple, Peter. What incredible heartbreak Peter felt when he looked into Jesus’s eyes as he realized in full whom he had sinned against. I was feeling that heartache.
I want to make sure you understand that my struggle was not with whether or not I had been forgiven. When we repent of our sins, God takes them and throws them as far as the east is from the west, and He remembers them no more. I believe that with all my heart, so I knew that there was no place for condemnation.
So why the broken heart?
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh. No one knows with certainty what that thorn was, but Paul explained that it had a purpose:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (verses 7-12)
I found myself agreeing with Paul. I will be glad for my thorns. The pain reminds me of who I am apart from Christ and let me tell you…that keeps me in a humble place. It reminds me that His grace is precious and all I need. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to be strong on my own; that when I am at my weakest, He does His most powerful and amazing work.
I found myself gladly embracing my broken heart. In fact, I always want my heart to be broken when I am called to revisit those dark places because on the heels of the heartache is the sweet reminder that I am a cherished child of the Most High God. I always want to be amazed that He would saved one as wretched as me because when that reality sinks deep into the inner most parts of my heart, I find myself loving Him more and more.
Who is like our God?
I know this is something that we have all shared about before but I have really been pondering this lately. Dickie Jones, our Sunday school teacher, has taught a few lessons on this topic for the last couple of weeks and it got me to thinking. I do think we should share our stories with each other, sometimes our failures are much easier to share because who wants to sound “braggy” with our successes? As a body of believers, we should be there to build up each other in failures and also celebrate our victories. How will we know what’s going on if we don’t “post it”, “pin it”, or “pass it on”? It’s all about making connections just as Jesus did when He shared His stories and parables. So, if we are to be like Jesus… it’s all about our relationships and making connections with other people. The Lord has blessed each of us with a story to tell; He gives us all different experiences to share. Then when we go out, like the disciples, we try to make our connections. We glean something from each story that is shared and then we pass that on to someone else. All of this to build our Christ community and to be His hands, feet, and voice to everyone we meet.
It’s been a quiet afternoon; something I’m not used to. Normally on Saturdays, especially during football season, the house is noisy. I like noise. I like a full house with a lot of activity. I guess it’s been that way for so long that I don’t know what to do with the quiet.
I suggested to Hunter, the dog, that we go for a walk. She lifted her head up, looked at me for a second, and put it right back down. “Yeah, I didn’t really want to walk either,” I told her. Listen, when I resort to exercise, things are getting bad…really bad.
Years ago, I remember my Dad calling to make sure the kids and I had arrived safely home after a visit. He commented about how quiet the house was after we drove off. I remember him saying that the silence was so very loud.
Well. I was going to go to bed early tonight but instead I am up praying for the safe arrival of a new little life. I am about to explode with excitement. My first grandchild…sort of. Actually, the soon to be father is not my flesh and blood, but he’s close. I have known him all his life. I’ve changed his diapers. In fact, he is the whole reason I wanted to have children.
His mom and dad lived across the street from us when he was born. When he could barely pull himself up and stand he would crawl to the front door of the house and wait for me to come outside in the mornings. Every morning when I would go to get in my car, there he would be - standing at the front door, grinning and waving. Morning after morning he would be there. He was so stinking cute that all I could think was, “I want one of those.”
I have been intentionally trying to learn the spiritual discipline of being still. It’s hard. Being still is just not something that comes easily to me. How about you? I’m a doer, a fixer. One of the worst feelings in the world to me is finding myself in a crisis and not being able to do anything to change it or fix it. I don’t like that feeling of helplessness.
So what does God mean when He says to be still and know that He is God? What does that look like? I think often times we confuse being still with doing nothing.
Now get this. I was watching the remake of The Karate Kid with one of my boys when Mr. Han, the maintenance man turned martial arts instructor, said this to his young trainee: “Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.”
It’s a Monday alright - no doubt in my mind. I would not have even needed a calendar to know what day it was.
First day of school today… I overslept. I set my alarm last night for 5:15 - PM. I ran downstairs, started breakfast, dropped an egg on the floor, and overcooked the toast - really overcooked the toast.
After I dropped my youngest off at school, I went to the grocery store. As I headed to the car with my groceries, the bottom dropped out of the sky. Guess where my raincoat was? Most definitely not on me.
When I got home, I realized that the main thing I went to the grocery store for in the first place was, well, still at the grocery store.
I decided to move forward without the much needed item because I really needed to get the blog post up for today. Carolyn had sent it earlier and it was ready to go. But because it was Monday, it wouldn’t post. We tried and tried. Nothing.
“What else can possibly go wrong?” I whined.
Recently, Philip and one of our children visited the Grand Canyon. The first morning there, Philip got up early to see the sunrise over the Canyon. Now, you need to know three things about Philip to fully get this. One, he is terrified of heights. Two, he is somewhat limited in his ability to use an iPhone…no, he is very limited. Three, the great outdoors is not something that normally stirs deep emotions in him – unless, that is, it’s an outdoor sports complex.
As he watched the sun begin its ascent over the canyon, however, all three of the above-mentioned issues were no longer issues. As he watched the sun slowly rise, he became overwhelmed with the glory and magnificence of his God. Philip became keenly aware that what he was experiencing was not the beauty of the creation. It was the glory of the Creator.
As he sat there in total awe, the song Glorious by Paul Baloche came to his mind so he played it (on his IPhone). For some time, he sat there in sweet communion with his Heavenly Father as he listened to the words of the song.
Look inside the mystery
See the empty cross
See the risen Savior
Victorious and strong
No one else above Him
None as strong to save
He alone has conquered
The power of the grave
Glorious my eyes have seen
The glory of the Lord
Glorious He stands above
The rulers of the earth
Look beyond the tombstone
See the living God
See the resurrected
Ruler of my heart
No one else above Him
None to match His worth
The hope of His returning
Fills the universe
Glorious my eyes have seen
The glory of the Lord
Glorious He stands above
The rulers of the earth
Lord You are Glorious
As I thought about Philip’s experience, it occurred to me that there were others watching the same rising of the sun. I wonder if anyone else encountered God in that canyon. Everyone there saw the sunrise, but did everyone see the glory of the Lord?
Interestingly, the song by Paul Baloche is not talking about God’s glory in His creation; it is talking about God’s glory as revealed through His Son. Hebrews 1:3 says that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s nature. Though He was cloaked
in human flesh, Christ was and is the true manifestation of God’s glory.
I loved watching my husband’s face as he recanted his experience to me. God had so delighted his heart and it left an indelible mark. Why? Because Philip did not see God’s glory with his eyes. He saw it as revealed by the Spirit within his heart.
You know, we don’t have to go to the Grand Canyon to be awed by God’s glory. It’s
all around us. All we have to do is be still long enough for Him to show us and
rely on our hearts to see it – not our eyes.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Have a great week!
Wow, it has been one of those days where I feel totally inadequate as a mom. I find
myself thinking, “What in the world, God, could You have been thinking when You gave me 4 kids? Did You have any idea that I would be this bad at parenting?”
I can still remember when I brought my first born home. I had absolutely no idea what to do with him. Mothering just didn’t come naturally for me like it did for some of my other friends. They were so good at it. They just instinctively knew what to do. I guess I figured that the same thing would happen for me. When it didn’t, I panicked.
My first hint that things were going to be rough came when I was still in the hospital. Friends told me that they always knew when the nurse was bringing their baby to be fed because they recognized the cry…not me. In fact, when I heard a crying baby coming down the hall, I would start praying, “Oh please, don’t let that be mine.”
When I brought Drew home, my mom stayed with me for a week. When she left, I sat on the sofa and cried. I knew that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. Why didn’t he come with a manual? I needed instructions. As I explained all this to God, He remained silent.
I went back to work and things just got harder. I kept begging God for help or for Drew to just miraculously turn into a teenager…how stupid was that?
Now when I look back over those first few months of motherhood, I realize that God wasn’t silent, He was just waiting for me to become teachable; to surrender my ideas on parenting and allow Him to show me how to parent. It took a while, but oh my word how I love being a mother…even on days like today!
I ran across this in the book, When the Handwriting on the Wall is in Brown Crayon by Susan Lenzkes. What a great reminder for us!
but there definitely was not
a packet of instructions
attached to my children
when they arrived.
And none has since
Come through my mailbox.
Lord, show me how
to be a good parent.
Teach me to
correct without crushing,
help without hanging on,
listen without laughing,
surround without smothering,
and love without limit-
the way You love me.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
I was recently walking my dogs. Never mind the heart-felt promises of a daughter who said, “Oh I promise I will take care of her she will be my responsibility.” Sound familiar? And to make it worse, we fell for this two times! Which is why I found myself walking dogs (plural).
Anyway, I always walk Ellie first. She is a little 6-pound Yorkie who adores me. When we walk, she does whatever I say and goes wherever I go. Ellie is obedient to a fault. Plus, whenever we take a break on our walks she just sits and looks lovingly at me awaiting my next command with great anticipation. I love walking Ellie.
When we get home then it’s time for me to walk Maybell. They cannot be walked together; Ellie doesn’t like it. Maybell is a rescue, of the mixed variety. Walking Maybell is much more difficult. She is very sweet and loving, but she does not obey. I go one way - she goes another. I slow down, she speeds up, and she is constantly trying to take the lead. Needless to say there are no adoring looks waiting for further commands, just her big goofy “I love you smile”.
I guess you see where this is going. I started thinking about my walk with Christ. Oh, how ideally I would be more like Ellie, constantly waiting and searching for the Lord’s direction for
this day, always being obedient, attentive, excited, and ready to carry out His plan for me. I’m sure if I were more like this His “walk” with me would be much more pleasing to Him. But regrettably, the truth is I’m more like Maybell. I’m usually trying to get my way, ahead of
His plan or instructions, sometimes missing what I’m supposed to do altogether. The Lord, I’m sure, is tired of my big, goofy, clueless smile.
My “walk” with the Lord is some days more like a round- up. So every day I thank God for His gifts of grace and mercy and start my “walk” all over. Some days the leash needs to be hung up and a full-blown harness needs to be put around my unyielding head. Other days, just need to be grace-filled! I’m working on more of these!
So, take your dog for a walk, he/she will love it and it will also give you an opportunity to spend time with Jesus and find out what your directions are for the day.
“But if anyone obeys His Word, God’s love is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him.”(1John 2:5)
Obedience…something to strive for!
Welcome to our blog page! We hope you will find stories here to encourage you.
We would love for you to share your story with us. Click the button above to send us a story about what God is doing in your life.