Thursday, February 26, 2015

When the world goes mad

...or perhaps it's just me.

Day after day the media portrays the world in utter chaos. If it isn't catastrophic weather turning lives up-side-down, it's people groups hurting, and often killing, others.

"Don't watch the news," voices shout. "It's depressing."

Yes, yes it is. But, we cannot live under a rock either. It's messy out there. And, in the messy bits of life we learn. We learn compassion, grace, mercy and what it looks like outside of our own messy life.

As much as I have fears (or as my mom would say, "concern" because 'fear' is not a word for a Christian...I may have rolled my eyes when she said that.) about loved ones and certain circumstances, I have to believe, HAVE to believe, God is still God. God is still holding us.

"Yeah, right. If there was a God then he must be pretty cruel. Children are starving. People doing his work are getting kidnapped or killed. How can you believe in someone so cruel?"

Hasn't every Christian heard that at some point in their lives? I don't know the answers. Only God knows. I believe He allows things to happen. I don't know why. Just that He does. God can see the bigger picture. I can't. And, ONLY God knows is all I need.

Have you ever gone through a tough time and wonder why? Then, months or even years later you realize if you hadn't gone through 'x' then 'y' would never have happened. And, 'y' is usually pretty awesome.

Am I freaked out that I have a child going overseas in the future? You bet. All I can do is trust she is in God's mighty, strong, and powerful hands. All one can do is pray. And, prayer is everything!

As I prayed for her (and the others) and their protection, God allowed me to see a huge 'army' of extremely tall Angels surrounding them in this foreign land. Yet, it wasn't just them in this fortress of protection. People of that land were in the circle with them. I saw smiles and heard laughter even with the dreaded language barriers. And, I saw an agape* love. As the group moved, so did the Angels. Some Angels were turned in watching, some were turned out, guarding.

I prayed for the group going to have a strong sense of the Holy Spirit. To move when the Spirit whispers, "Move." To stop (immediately) when the Spirit shouts, "Stop!" To be so in-tune with God that every whisper, every song of laughter, every ungraceful movement, every bit of eye contact with others will be a Holy Moment and God will shine through bright and beautiful as He smiles at their hearts.

May we all have a 'vision' of God's love for us and others in our moments of fear. Peace, to you.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  ~~  Philippians 4:6-7

 *Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. It perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus has for his Father and his followers. Jesus showed us agape love through the cross. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Step, Pause, Step, Step

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

For such a time as this. The story of Esther has always intrigued me. It quickly became one of my favorite books of the Bible. But, imagine my surprise when I learned from a Beth Moore Bible Study that this is the only book of the Bible that doesn't mention God. I know. I should have figured that out before but sometimes it's the little things that escape notice. Even though the book of Esther doesn't not mention God, He is there. He is here.

Esther was given a huge task. One that I'm sure had her shaking in her sandals. She was asked to go to the King (her husband) and plead for the lives of the Jews. Her people. Only the King didn't know the Jews were her people. Plus, the King didn't "call" for her in thirty days meaning there was already trouble in paradise. Can you just imagine Esther's nervousness and knowing if the King did not find favor in her just showing up unexpected he could have her killed? Talk about wanting to throw up!!

Not only in this section of the book of Esther, but in the whole book, notice how Esther was never alone. She had others around her. Supporting her. Encouraging her. Giving her the needed pep talk. Guiding her. She had community - one in which she could call upon to fast and pray. God puts other in our lives for 'such a time as this'.

Hubs alarm sounds-off at way-too-early-o'clock in the morning. Sometime God chooses this early morning time to have a talk with me instead of allowing me to snatch some more zzzz. I think God has chosen this time because He knows I get easily distracted. But, the only thing to distract me is hearing my husband get ready for work. So, this morning, He reminded me of Esther 4:14 (above) and began playing the song Anthem in my brain. (video at the end of post)

There is a section in this song that God showed me taking a step after each sentence..and sometimes pausing after a step. It was like a spiritual mantra in my head.

Imagine with me, if you will. God can do "stuff" without us. But, He chooses us to walk along side of Him. It's like when our children are learning to walk or ride a bike with out training wheels for the first time. We hold the baby's hands and help him/her walk. We run beside the bike holding on until the right moment and let go - but we still run along side of them and the bike just in case they wobble.

Whatever your destiny, wherever He calls you, He is there. He is calling you to obedience. We just only need to be brave and move. And, honestly, the moving part is the scariest. 

I am royalty. [step, pause]
I have destiny. [step, pause]
I have been set free [step]
I'm gonna shape history. [step]
[And, repeat!!!]

Monday, February 16, 2015

In Which I Wait

Last Friday was another exciting day in the waiting room. My dad had an appointment and I knew the doctor was running behind. How did I know such things? Ummm, the amount of people in the waiting room in an office with only one doctor. And you just thought I was super smart.

The room was a bit noisy as we walked in. People talking plus the noise of a TV does tend to lend itself to noise. My dad went up to the check-in window and was met by a very nice, albeit a little too chipper, woman. She asked him how he was to which he replied he could be better. He was having a procedure he dreads so...yeah.

Side note: isn't it against some doctor office procedure to ask someone how they are doing? I mean, nine times out of ten you would not even enter doctor's office if you were feeling 100% healthy. Now you're wondering the same thing, aren't you? Unless you're a pharmaceutical rep, I think there is probably an issue going on.

Well, that launched a festive round of discussing how much we all like this doctor. And, as much as I agreed, wholeheartedly, I just wanted to read. Instead, I just smiled and nodded at the appropriate times. I may or may not have thrown in a "yeah" for good measure. My sound sensitivity (un-diagnosed) was kicking into high gear since it is a state law that doctor offices must have a TV in the corner with volume set to LOUD. (sarcasm) Soon, waiting people were slowly called into the doctor's chamber of doom. You know what I'm saying...the scales = doom. Need I say more?

My dad fell asleep waiting so I took the time to move to another chair to see the TV clearly. Hey, my dad abandoned me for sleep, there was no way to concentrate on my book with all that noise and I was learning how to make some sort of drink for Valentine's Day. I don't drink but I was trying to figure ways to make it with soda pop. There isn't a way. 

After my dad was called back for the procedure I started to smell popcorn. By this time, there was only one other person in the waiting room. So, I innocently asked, "Do you smell popcorn or is it just me?" That started a titillating round of conversation about different ways to make popcorn and the varying varieties. I was even given directions to where to buy a nutty-tasting popcorn. Don't ask me for directions. I got "lost" after "turn right before the pond". 

Now, here is the fun part. In walked a nicely dressed, young man. Not too tall, not too short...just right. He had an appointment so apparently he isn't as healthy as he looked but we can overlook that in a future son-in-law, right? Yes, I had our oldest in mind for this nice man. He was very mannerly and had a nice deep voice. Very clean cut. No ring or tan line with a ring missing. I checked. Here was the dilemma, to give him our daughter's business card or not give him her business card. That is the question.

I did what any good, bored-in-the-waiting-room mom would do. I sent her a text (at work) asking if I should give him her business card. Moms of unmarried children, unite!

While I held my breath waiting for her reply, I heard my dad. Talking to the receptionist. Setting up the date of the next appointment and procedure. I heard him say, "Any Friday" to which I sprinted leisurely walked toward the voices. I tried to open the door going into the 'chamber of doom'. It's locked. Thaaat's right. Locked. The door has a little window so I tap on it to get my dad's attention. Did I mention he is almost deaf even with two hearing aids? I finally get his attention and he clearly didn't understand the universal sign for, "open this door!"

I mean, really, I didn't want to yell at the poor man because my FUTURE son-in-law just may be watching me! The door was finally opened and I was able to re-arrange the Friday appointment in which I had plans. But, FUTURE son-in-law is in the waiting room and I haven't heard from my daughter.

I finally heard from our daughter when we were in the elevator...leaving my NOT future son-in-law in the dust. Her answer to my should-I-give-him-your-business-card question? "Take a picture and send it to me." Well, all I can say is I tried. ;)

Moral of the story: never put a bored-out-of-her-mind mom in the same room as a prospective FUTURE son-in-law! :)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

With Kindness, Love, and Listening

Photo found online
It was a simpler time. A time when bare feet pounded the grass at high speed. The sun shone down on our sunscreen-free skin. Climbing the roof of the house and chicken coop, hanging upside-down from the clothesline post, and climbing trees to read a book were considered normal childhood. Playing in the woods with neighbors. Adventure was out there for us to find.

School-age became a more complicated time. Along with the fun classes like recess and lunch, a young child learned more than the mandatory subject lessons taught. The perfect world seemed to grow dim and cold between everyone's competitive spirit of gossip and one-upping. Whispers behind others backs were taught on their own. Judgement over clothing started way too early. Name-calling was at an all time high. Insecurity rang out like the lunch bell. Bullying ran rampant without a name. Not to mention the long bus ride.

Now enter the age of technology where one can sit behind a computer, hit send and the whole world can see ones thoughts. Instead of meanness showing up on the playground, it shows up in comments where one can be anonymous or just a name.

Words do hurt contrary to the nursery lie rhyme. It's so easy to read a tweet, text, status or the millions of other ways social media pops up and misread the person's intentions. For some reason, just because we can type characters to form words, it gives us a "right" to tell everyone what we think. Sometimes in the most harsh words.

Take the hot topic of immunizations, for example. What ever happened to talking to a person who decided against immunizations and find out his/her reasoning? But, we feel as though we have the 'right' to spout off about how irresponsible it is among a whole host of other negative, judging words. What ever happened to two sides of the story? What ever happened to communication and active listening?

The problem with emails, texts and all social forms is the unknown "tone" of the words. Tone of voice can be heard with phone calls and eye-to-eye conversations. Typed or written words...not so much.

Do Christians need to speak up on certain topics when the only form of communication seems to be through social media or blogs? You bet. But, do it with kindness, love and in the 'tone' of wanting to hear that person's view so we can all understand where we are all coming from.

Am I opinionated? Ummmm....yes. If someone asks me my opinion, I don't usually hold back. Is that a problem? It can be. I try to say things in love and understanding but I have a long way to go. Sometimes I find myself writing a comment only to erase it and move on. Sometimes I have to delete an email so I don't respond. It's a battle against the 'mean-girl'.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.                                          Proverbs 16:24

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

It's Okay...

This is part of a note I sent someone who is battling cancer. However, it can apply to any struggle we have in our lives from a child who is ill to caring for a parent.

It's okay. It's okay to break down, pound your fist on the steering wheel and wonder how this has happened to you. It's okay to cry. it's okay to be angry. It's okay to put yourself first even though it is an unnatural thing for a mom, wife and woman to do. It's okay to feel torn between caring for yourself and caring for your family. It's okay to feel overwhelmed and want to scream. It's okay. God is still God. You love Him and He is madly in love with you. You are never alone. He hurts with you in this broken world. You cling to His Word and find strength from it and through it. And, just because you have feelings and emotions other than the "good church girl" kind, does not make that love you and God have for each other any less powerful. He knows you. He put those emotions in you and He knows why. He is there hold you as you cry and wonder. It does not make your faith any less...He's hold on to you even more than we all realize. He is working wonders in your life, your family and friends’ lives.

We, woman, have so many masks. If we show the slightest crack in our masks, we feel others may judge us as one of little faith. If our Joy mask isn't on tight enough and we get cranky then the joy of the Lord isn't our strength; what lies we believe. What lies we tell others. We are taught to be "good girls" but it also tells us to put on our mask. I've learned the hard ways "it's okay..."

Blessing to you as you watch God do wonders and experience His presence and miracles first hand.