Monday, July 23, 2012

Rest in the Waiting

We are all aware of the seasons. Besides the weather we all also experience different seasons of life. I am currently in a season of waiting. I would not have said that before. I thought I was in transition. That I was transitioning from one season to another and that in the mean time I was waiting. Well, I was only sort of waiting. More like I was struggling to get to the next season. I have wanted this period of waiting to end. I have wanted it only to be a short period of transition into a new and wonderful season, most likely of my own making. I have even suggested to the Lord many fine alternatives to this waiting. I have even said that I am willing to do anything else. But I realized today. I am in transition because I have not wanted to accept the season that I'm in. I am in a season of waiting, not waiting to transition to a new season. As this revelatory idea began to bloom in my mind the Lord asked me how long I wanted the transition to take. If I was going to keep fighting it or if I would rest in the waiting.

I thought of a doctor's office waiting room. When I was pregnant with my middle child, Alex my doctor had a beautiful waiting room. It was very peaceful and calm with large black and white pictures of pregnant bellies and babies. There was always peaceful music softly playing and big comfy sofas and pillows to sit on. The receptionist was always kind and helpful. I really didn't mind that waiting room so much. I would take a book or magazine and enjoy the quiet peacefulness of waiting. Despite being a fairly impatient person by nature I didn't mind the wait because I knew it was just part of having to go to the doctor. I didn't fight it. I planned my appointments knowing there would be a 20-30 minute waiting period. I planned ahead and brought my headphones and book. I actually began to look forward to those moments of quiet rest.

If I would have gotten up and complained to the receptionist it would not have made a difference. If I would have made a different appointment I still would have had to wait. If I would have screamed or shouted it would not have gotten me in to the doctor any sooner. If I would have begged and pleaded and cried it would not have changed the fact that I would still have to wait.

Rest in the waiting.

We sing this song at church called "Everlasting God." (Actually I realized while writing this blog that there are several different songs about the Everlasting God and they all have lyrics about waiting...interesting.)
The essence of the song is:
The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? Whom shall I be afraid?
I will wait for You, I will wait for You
I will remain confident in this, I will see the goodness of the Lord 

We set our hope on You, we set our hope on Your love, we set our hope on the One
Who is the everlasting God, You are the everlasting God, You are the everlasting

This song is taken, quite possibly unintentionally, right out of Psalm 27. That part about hope and the goodness of the Lord is from Psalm 27:13: I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. That word "despaired" means the opposite of hope. You could say, "I would have had the opposite of hope or no hope unless I had believed...." Immediately following in verse 14 it says: Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. What do these two verses have to do with each other? What does God's goodness and my hope in His goodness have to do with waiting? I think He knows waiting is hard. We have no concept of what everlasting or eternal means. We only know time. I think He knew this idea may be hard to grasp and that is why He reminds us of His goodness and His everlasting-ness. That's why David had to tell his soul to take courage. It was not his natural inclination.
I am loved by an everlasting, good God. Today I will set my hope on Him. I will tell my heart to take courage. I will draw near to Him with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith by letting my Spirit minister to my soul since my heart is sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and my body washed with pure water. I will hold fast the confession of that hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Heb 10:22-23). I will rest in the waiting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Filipino Mango

When I lived in the Philippines I used to eat these delicious, locally grown mangos. Mm! Making my mouth water even now! They were so good! I had at least one nearly every day. Sometimes they were really sweet but sometimes you would get one that was a little tangy too. They were my favorite. Not sure what made me think of those mangos today but that made me think of the pineapples I ate in Panama. OH MY GOODNESS they were good! You've never tasted a pineapple so good, unless of course you've had one in Panama. Imagine the best pineapple or mango you've ever eaten. Now think about the fact that the growers of these fruit, after harvesting, keep the best for themselves and ship everything else to the states. So, the very best pineapple or mango you've ever had was actually one of the worst ones grown. That's why they taste so different over seas, because they really are  nothing like what gets shipped over here. I remember, after coming home from the Philippines, I bought a huge bag full of mangos from Wal-Mart. I was so excited and couldn't wait to eat them. It was like bringing a bit of the Philippines home with me. That is, until I took a bite of one. BLEH! It was awful compared to what I had over there. This is the honest truth, I have not taken a bite of a mango since. Not one time, er well there was a bit of mango in a sangria I had a few weeks ago, but even then I noted the difference. It's been 7 years since I was in the Philippines (ah! 7 years?! *tear*). That's a long time to go without a mango. But what can I say? Filipino mangos ruined me.

I once read a story about a girl who "died" for a few minutes before she was resuscitated. She said while she was in heaven she had strawberries with the angels. Can you imagine what a heavenly strawberry must taste like? I doubt she'd ever be able to eat a strawberry again no matter what country she was in.

Have you ever experienced anything like that? Where you were just absolutely ruined by someone or something? The standard was just raised so high that nothing can compare? 

Of course this reminds me of something about my relationship with Father God. This is me we're talking about after all. There are some things God has just ruined me for, in a good way. I'm completely uninterested in living life without Him. I've tasted of Him. He's too good to want to taste anything else. Now that's not saying occasionally I haven't experimented in areas I should not have in the past. But, BLEH!, was my same reaction. Jut like I'm not even tempted at the grocery store to buy a mango, I walk right on pass without giving them a second glance, I'm not even a little tempted to find another source for life.

You know what I am learning though? There are many different areas I haven't let Him "ruin" yet. Before I had a Filipino mango I had no idea what I was missing. It can be like that now with Him. It's like He's saying, "Oh you think that mango is good? You haven't tried my kiwi. You don't know what you're missing!"

So today let's take a bite out of Him. Let Him fill you with something new. Let Him ruin you for all other fruits.

Daily bread, Father. Ruin us. We want to taste You and know Your goodness. Spoil every other thing that would try to compare.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Gardening. It's a beautiful thing. Would never have thought so before I actually started gardening. It seems I learn a lesson every time I step foot in the dirt. With every weed pulled, I am reminded of the constant care the Father takes in His garden, my heart. The constant watering reminds me of the life that must be constantly poured over my soul from the well of life that is His Word. I am aware of and must take precautionary measures against the constant, ongoing invasion from every bug, disease, and sprig of grass that assults my garden, just as it is with my heart.

In my garden this year are three cherry tomato plants. So far this year, I've harvested only about fifteen cherry tomatoes. I also have cucumber plants from which I've harvested about thirty cucumbers. I planted both plants at the same time. I water them the same amount. I've given them both fertilizer. I've weeded both areas the same. Overall, I've cared for them exactly the same. Why have my cucumbers produced so much more volume then that of my tomatoes? By nature, cucumbers are much larger so that for every cucumber produced it would take maybe fifteen or more cherry tomatoes to equal the same volume. Theoretically, my tomatoes should be producing roughly fifteen tomatoes per cucumber. I have a friend who has tomato plants that have been this productive, as her plants are twice the size of mine.

Why is it that in my garden one plant has been much more fruitful then another?

Why does it seem like whatever plant in the garden of my heart that produces patience is withered and dead? If the fruits of the Spirit must be grown what do we do while they are still ripening?

Recently, at church I've been learning about the fruits of the Spirit Paul talked about in Galations 5. Last Sunday the message was about patience. There have been plenty opportunities to exercise patience this week. I've been a struggle. I asked the Lord last night why I was having such a hard time.

I felt that whisper in my heart, What do you do when there is not enough fruit in your garden to feed your family?

Well I would go buy some. Then I remembered that my friend with an abundance of tomatoes gave me some of her excess. She gave me a lot actually. More then enough to get me through.

I really believe that God is my source and that He knows when I'm running low on a resouce. He has more then enough. He always gives freely of Himself. In fact, all that He is, is inside of me. Even though I'm growing and maturing and may even be lacking in some areas, all that He is, is within my reach. When I'm out of patience or gentleness, He gives it to me. He gives me the gift of patience because He gave me the gift of His Spirit. When I lack peace or joy, He gifts me with them. He gets me through until those fruits have ripened in my Spirit. Some areas of my heart are more fruitful then others. Like my cucumbers and kale, I have had more then enough and have been delighted to give away much of my harvest.

As He sees a need, He also blesses me with opportunites of growth. He knows exactly how much we can handle and is a never-ending source of good gifts. He loves giving them and is happy to do so.

Isn't it interesting how some people are more fruitful in areas that you may be completely lacking in? I have a friend that seems to be extra-fruitful in the area of love. She really represents so acurately how the Father loves. I have another friend who is so faithful. It seems, no matter what the circumstance, I can alway count on her to come through. I'm not really sure what my strength is. I seem to be lacking in every area HA! Perhaps it's because I've only recently been tilled, fertilized, and planted. Many seeds have taken root and are sprouting but are not yet producing fruit. All the gifts of the Spirt were planted at the same time. Some have come up sooner then other's depending on the fertilizer, or opportunites of growth they were given.

It's beautiful to be in a communitte of excess. So many times, when I've lacked peace or joy someone has called and encouraged me. Out of the excess of their love, gentleness, and kindness they have carried me along until those fruits have ripened. I see this as blessing from Him.

What a lesson this has been for me. No longer do I see my lack as something to be embarrassed about. He's all that I need and He simply reminds me that the pain I feel is just growing pains. It's a process and I'm ripening. In the mean time He doesn't leave me all alone to provide myself. He's there. He sees. He gives me good gifts.

Eph 2:7 MSG
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lessons For Living

Today while talking with a couple of other mom's about our kids we realized how often the Lord uses them to teach us things about ourselves. My dear friend was sharing how her daughter's behavior was causing something inside of her to become angry and feel out of control. She was beginning to see that the Lord was using that experience to do something inside of her.

I recently discovered something similar for myself. You may have read about it here. The whole idea is that the "something" I want to change in my child (or anyone else for that matter) is actually the "something" He wants me to surrender to Him or has something to do with the "something". Does that make sense? This has got me thinking. What if the Lord is always using "something" to teach us and grow us? How many times have I overlooked opportunities for Him to use those "somethings" to bring freedom in my own heart? It doesn't have to be just through raising children, although I can see how the Father loves using them in this way. My children have the ability to bring out the best and the worst in me, making them excellent tools to strip away the outer "perfect Christian, wife, and mother " persona I try and wear. Nothing can crack that surface like one of my children throwing a massive temper tantrum in public.

Maybe you are thinking you are off the hook because you don't have kids. Let me remind you that He is very resourceful. If you don't have kids, your kids are grown, or even if you do have kids, He has many, many ways of growing us. 

This isn't really a new thought. "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger," right? What I discovered is most of the time I don't realize this is happening. By "this" I mean the opportunity Papa is taking to teach me something. I'm too busy asking the Lord to work on someone else or work on whatever the situation is. I become way more occupied with fixing them then with allowing Him to fix me. After all, I don't need fixing. I'm  not the one who is acting poorly. It's not that I'm bad intentioned. I can spend a lengthly amount of time "praying" for them by informing God how He should fix them.

Am I the only one like this?

Well since I'm being real I might as well tell you that there are also times when I'm feeling pretty good about myself and where I am with the Lord. I get in little ruts of self-satisfaction, pride in my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Everything seems to be going my way. I feel I've finally arrived.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say we should walk around feeling unworthy, or completely inadequate. I'm only saying it's a beautiful thing that the Lord uses these things to do something beautiful and wonderful in us. The truth is though, I think He has more opportunities then we realize.

So right now. At this very moment. What's bugging you about someone or some situation? As I walk this all out with the Lord, I'm finding that often when I surrender my own issue about the problem, for example: forgiving that person for their behavior, repenting for my own actions in response to their behavior, or just offering up a blanket prayer of humility expressing my desire for Him to make me more like Him in every way; I'm finding that the problem goes away. Somehow there is a heavenly exchange that takes place that frees the other person and allows them to experience healing as well.

I'll admit sometimes this is hard, especially when we feel justified in our feelings. Perhaps you haven't acted out any of those ugly feelings you may have felt on the inside. You could say you've done nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for. Even if that's true, is that the point of this new life we have in Christ? To just be "right" all the time, to be "good" Christians? Or is the point to grow into mature sons and daughters in this family? Sometimes that means facing hard truths that only you and Him know about. Sometimes the work He does in you doesn't change the other person at all even if they really need to change. Surrendering to Him doesn't make what others do or a horrible situation any less wrong. We trust that He does have our best interests at heart. If there is something He wants us to surrender it's something that's holding us back not something that He's keeping back from us. 

I think we can establish that the fact is He wants to use these things to grow us up in our walk with Him. We can trust that it is for our own good because of His immeasurable love and desire for good for us.

Having established that, let me repeat a question I asked earlier. What if the Lord is always using "something" to teach us and grow us? 



Even when we're feeling good about ourselves? Even if it's actually the other person who has the problem? 

Just like my sons and my daughter never stop growing, (they eat all the time!) I don't stop growing. Or at least I shouldn't stop growing. I don't want to stop growing. He always wants me to grow. This leads to questions that I think we can ask daily that are answered in the form of our daily bread. 

"What do You want to do in me through this situation? Is there something in me that should be surrendered to You? Is there something You want to change in me even when I feel like everyone else is the problem?" 

You can't change people, but you can allow the Lord to use those relationship and situations to bring healing, freedom, and maturity in your heart. The amazing thing though, and I'm learning this more and more, is that this does often result in healing, freedom, and growth for everyone. That is nothing short of miraculous!

Psalm 119: 33-41 MSG
   God, teach me lessons for living
      so I can stay the course.
   Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
      my whole life one long, obedient response.
   Guide me down the road of your commandments;
      I love traveling this freeway!
   Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
      and not for piling up loot.
   Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
      invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
   Affirm your promises to me—
      promises made to all who fear you.
   Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
      but what you say is always so good.
   See how hungry I am for your counsel;
      preserve my life through your righteous ways!
 Let your love, God, shape my life
      with salvation, exactly as you promised;

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's So Good Being Free.

The 4th of July. A time to celebrate our country's birth and all the wonderful freedom's we have. A time to honor the men and women who helped us get here. But what I'm really celebrating today is, being free. I'm free. Free from hurts, free from fear, free from constantly being concerned about what other people think about me. Free. (I'm totally jamming down to Francesca Battistelli's Free to Be Me in my head right now, by the way). It's a wonderful feeling, this freedom thing. I'm full of joy, full of peace and I'm just basking in the glow of His glory.

"Our heart is like a house." I quote one of our pastors who spoke yesterday at my church, Believers Church. I love, love, LOVE, this imagery. Our heart is like a house. There are rooms we decide to give over to God and let Him be in control of. But it seems like there is always one or two rooms we keep for ourselves. They are a mess. Totally trashed out, horrible wall paper covering the walls. Why do we hold back these rooms? He wants to come in and remodel, to transform our lives. Why hold back? If Ty Pennington came up to you and offered to build you a beautiful, state-of-the-art mansion would you say, "Hmm actually I like my messy house just the way it is, thanks anyway though." NO! Of course you wouldn't. God is offering us something so amazing, so wonderful. Such an amazing opportunity to be His child, for FREE. There are no strings attached. He wants to take all those things that make you feel hurt, that make you worry, that make you feel depressed and down and He wants to make them new. Mourning into dancing, that kind of thing, you get the idea.

Thank you Father for making me free. Even though it takes a daily effort on my part, to surrender to Your will, to continually hand over those "closets" I cling on to in the back corners of my heart, thank you for making it all worth it. Thank you that even though it feels so hard at the time, I never, ever regret it.
Thank you for the freedoms I have in this country, and in my life. In the physical and spiritual.

Hope everyone has a wonderfully beautiful 4th of July.

Romans 6:17-23 MSG
You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!
 19I'm using this freedom language because it's easy to picture. You can readily recall, can't you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God's freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?
 20-21As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.
 22-23But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Decisions Decisions

I have had to make so many decisions lately, or at least I thought so. So many life altering things have been happening all around me lately, and I've had to come to a complete stand still and ask, "Is this really Your will?"

Truthfully, my relationship with the Lord has never been better. I've never felt this close to Him in my life. Never have I been so willing to do His will. The problem is I've been doubting my ability to hear from Him.

"Is that really You God?"

"What should I do?"

"Is that just my own crazy voice in my head?"

I've felt frustrated.

"Lord I'll do anything, anything, I just want to do what You want me to do."

But it hasn't been clear.

And I've been confused.

Anyone else been there? You just want to do the right thing. Even when you don't know what that is you at least don't want to do the wrong thing. And when there is no clear path, which way do you go?

Today I was reminded though, that it is His job to make it clear. He's responsible for making Himself heard.

Let that blow up in your mind for a second.

He wants you to hear from Him and He will get louder, and louder until you do. He will always make Himself known and heard. He always has. He always will. It's my job to do what He says. And if I'm willing then I don't have to worry.

The Bible is full of plenty of examples of Him sending warning after warning and direction after direction and plenty of times where He made Himself completely and utterly clear. He even went so far as to send His Son, Who fulfilled like a gazillion prophesies, to get His point across. The Word is also full of examples of times when His people did not listen. They weren't willing to hear. They weren't willing to bend to His Word. They listened to others and followed them instead. They didn't silence every other voice and follow after Him. But He never failed them.

He was faithful.

Can I trust that?

Can I trust that if He wants me to do something or to tell me something that He will make Himself heard?

The answer for me is undoubtedly "YES!" I do trust Him.

Do I trust myself? *sigh*

Let's cut ourselves a break shall we? Can we just drop the weight of worry and self doubt? Can we allow Him to carry our burdens, even when it means trusting Him with our own ability to hear Him when He speaks? He loves us. He really, really, REALLY loves us. He doesn't want us to go the wrong way any more then we want to.

Today I chose to not worry about the decisions. Today I choose to trust Him with the answer. Today I choose to trust Him to tell me the answer. And to keep telling me the answer if I don't hear it the first time...or the second time. Today I trust Him to be there if I fail. To catch me if I fall. To love me when I'm unlovable. I trust Him to be faithful.