Ever have one of those moments where truth hits you in the heart so hard you have to cry out 'Ouch!"?
I hate those moments; but I also love them. At least when I have a chance to step back and recover from the 'Ouch' part.
Our deacon was talking about 'Ears open, Mouth Shut' moments- Times when we had a chance to share God's word, but didn't. I don't know about you, but just him mentioning that made me scrunch down in my seat a little bit.
He wasn't talking about us having open ears, but the uninformed masses that don't know God who are ready to hear about Him. They might be ready to hear, but fear freezes the words on our lips and we say nothing, losing a great opportunity to help them get to know God.
The deacon asked 'How many times have we had someone come up to us to teach us about Jesus? In a week? In a month? In a year?
Well, that was easy- no one. Not one person ever came up to me and asked me if I knew God or Jesus. Not for a few years, no less just one.
But his next few questions really hit home.
How many times have you talked to anyone about Jesus? In a week? In a month? In a year?
Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch.
Romans 10 talks all about it. Not only to hear and proclaim the Word of God, but to spread the Word to others who are willing to hear, like in verse 17- Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Can't really do that if my lips are frozen shut...can I? Yikes!
Many times I felt called to say something to someone and I kept my yap shut. Oh sure, talk about writing, fabric crafts, or movies and I'm a talkaholic, but talk about God? Pass the superglue please!
It also didn't help that the deacon speaking was my husband.
There was no way i could scrunch down further in my seat without hurting myself. And when I looked around, I noticed a lot of others scrunching down too. So it wasn't just me after all.
God created us to glorify Him- That's our one and only job on this planet. And as my eyes scanned the room, there was a whole churchfull of people who weren't doing their jobs- me included.
Don't get me wrong- I'm in a good church, with good, spiritually driven people. We work together getting the church fixed up (we're renovating when we can), and we also adopted a day care center and donate food to them and the surrounding neighborhood on a regular basis. I run the bread ministry, as a matter of fact!
But something important got lost in all of that giving. We're feeding people without teaching them how to feed themselves via the scriptures- and I think a lot of churches (and church people) are making the same mistakes.
If you feed them, they will come...but only until the food runs out. People need to develop a taste for learning more about God before they come back week after week. We need to feed their ears as well as their mouths.
God called me on the carpet that morning. I'm more aware now of His call to action, and less fearful of obeying it. With God beside me, who can be against me? And if He's giving me the words to say, they'll be the right ones- as long as I keep that superglue in my purse where it belongs!
Here You go again being good to me.
Here You go letting me wander off again.
How can You stand there and watch me leave?
How is it possible that You still love me?
Where can I go now without You following?
Where can this new found freedom teach me?
Who am I without You?
Who am I trying to be?
What else is there left to say?
What else is there left to do?
When can I leave?
When can I be with You?
I am a running wild type of girl.
I am a flyby night type of girl.
I am a sarcastic type of girl.
I am a realist type of girl.
I am a girl who knows who she is on the inside
I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I give You my life
Find me in the hidden places of this valley.
Find me and I am Yours for an eternity.
Find me and hold onto me.
Find me and love me.
You are here
You are there
You are near
You are far
You are everywhere
You know, I firmly believe that God is God of miracles. I know that and I keep reminding myself of it. The song reminds me that yes, we may go through hard times, but God is still there holding us through it. I haven't given up. I am kind of tired of being sick. It's like the enemy is doing his best to make my situation way worse. Well, I not ever turn my back on the One I need most right now. He sees me. He hears me. I believe this is the very last time I will deal with ear infections. I believe that this is the very last time I will have to be sick from an ear infection. I believe that God is going to show Himself strong. I believe that these times are hard and I feel like I am going to drown, but God I will fight to stay afloat. You see, the enemy wants me to freak out. The enemy wants me to doubt God and His abilities. I know that God is my Healer. He has proven that time and time again. I will not go under. I called the dr (ent) this morning and found out that for this type of bacteria infection that I need to take another round of antibiotics. It kind of was like okay, I need it. I will do it. Later on today I will go pick up my stronger antibiotics and take them for the next week. God is still there. God hasn't left me. Regardless of what Satan wants me to believe, God hasn't left me. He holds me. He knows that this suffering will end. I know that in the end all this will be worth it. I will be able to hear better. I think the enemy knows the good things that God has in store for me and is doing his best to block them. You see, what he doesn't know is that he may come at me in one way, but he must flee in seven different directions. I will fight to see this through and when it's finally over I may just have a breakdown. I haven't decided ha! But I know that I'm going to be okay. These past few months have been a real stressor for me. I have gained unnecessary weight. I have doubted myself and my faith. I have struggled so hard with this and knowing that God promised me that I wouldn't ever have a major ear infection again after my last one about 8 years ago. This isn't anywhere near as bad as the last one and for that I know God has given me medicine to keep it from turning into something major. I know that if I didn't take the medicine right then , then yes, my ear would be way worse. Faith has taken me to a new and uncharted place. Hope has given me a sense of purpose. Trust has shown me that God can and will do it. I have been blessed that I do not have to work. I can take this time to rest and heal. The last time I didn't have this luxury. I went to work in severe pain. I was struggling so hard to focus past the pain. I am thankful that God has given me a safe haven to rest and get better. I am going to have surgery. It will restore my hearing. I will also have my hole covered up by a graft. It's a two for one sort of thing and honestly, I keep focusing on the end result. God didn't bring me this far to leave me. When I look back at only one set it was then I knew He carried me. My body is weak. My spirit is exhausted. My mind is restless. My faith hasn't diminished. My hope has been restored. My fight isn't over. I will see my victory in due time. I want you to know this, faith, hope, and trust are what kept and are keeping me going. Had I not had faith, hope, or trust. I do believe that I would have fallen apart. I know who my God is and He is my Healer. I may go through this just to prove to you that God is still faithful. God is still good. God is who He says He is and for that my soul rejoices in the fact that I am safe. Fire is there to strengthen the faith. Fire is there to build me up. Fire is there to show me that with God all things are possible. I may want to wave my white flag. I may want to be over it. I may want God to take it all away, but what is the point of that? I need the fire. I need to be molded. I needed to be stronger. I needed to be brought through this process. I needed to learn to trust. So, in the mess of this post I want you to know that yes, this hurts, but I am okay. Pain is inevitable so is growth. I couldn't see past the pain, but God has and He knows that my life will be completely different after this surgery. I may freak out at first, but that's okay. I will be okay. Through the pain, the darkness, suffering, the endless medicine, and the fire I will be better, faster, and stronger than ever before and for that let the enemy know that I am not giving up. I will see God's promises come to pass. God didn't forget me. God is not a lair. God is watching and waiting. He is good. He is faithful. His love endures forever. So, to you my friend, if you are struggling in anything I want you to know this, it ain't over. Your battle is has yet to begin. For those who are in the fight, don't give up! Your Victor will be there soon! When you have done all you can do, stand still and the Lord your God will raise a standard against your enemy. Have faith and know that the battle is not yours, but the Lord's and all you need to do is trust and believe that God can do it. Have a blessed and beautiful day. Thank you for reading this and I pray that you find encouragement in these words.
I may go through the fire
I may leave it all behind
I may never know my future
I may go alone
I may never surrender
I will share my hopes and desire
I will share my heart
I will share my secrets
I will hold onto You
Hope encourages me
Faith stirs my soul
Love becomes my banner
Warrior becomes my name
I feel the flames
I feel the heat
I feel not afraid
I feel no defeat
I feel stronger than ever
I may go through the fire
I may go through the flames
I may get burnt
I may feel the heat, but i will not bend.
For You are shaping snd molding me into something better, faster, and stronger.
I will not fear the darkness.
I will not fear the flaming arrows.
I will not fear the snares set before me.
I will burn bigger and brighter than ever before!
I will be the light in the dark.
I will shine like the sun!
I will do what can't be done!
I am a willing vessel
I am a soul that is set on fire
I am a heart that has seen many battles
I am a body that has been healed
I am a champion of war.
This has been one heck of a chaotic year. If you don't know why, you might want to read the previous blog posts- but get some coffee first, you'll be a while!
Both my husband and I were burnt out. Completely. Like 'rampaging forest-fire inside a volcano' burnt out. We were coming to the last dregs of our energy, time, stamina, and sanity. His blood pressure was way up, as was my temper. We needed a respite.
We got one.
Thanks to a pastor friend of ours (Yes, you, Rob!), we were connected with a ministry in Maine for a stay at a pastoral retreat cabin in the boonies. As long as my husband qualified (he's a deacon so he could apply), we could stay for a long weekend. After the owner of the cabin read my husband's long list of ministries, he contacted him and said 'Buddy, a weekend isn't enough- if you can do it, I'd suggest an entire week!'
So that's what we did. The week of our twentieth anniversary, in fact.
Granted, at first I wasn't thrilled about being cooped up in a cabin with nowhere to go. Oh, and did I mention it was off-grid? That means there was no TV, internet or even phone service. No screens, no DVD players...nothing concerning visual entertainment or contact with the outside world.
But there were elk, coyotes, and bears around, so they said. That didn't help.
Egad. I was going to die. If not of boredom, by the mauling of some wild animal as I tried to limp my way to civilization.
But wait- was there another way? I could still use my laptop, because the cabin had solar power; I could plug and charge my Link to Sanity (at least during the day), and get some writing done...right? Both my husband and I had a plan. We were going to write, read, write some more, and brainstorm all kinds of things we could do in ministry. After all, that's what busy people do- even when they're supposed to be resting! I even brought a craft with me for my creative side- just in case.
We also had to eat, and there was no way I was going to cook all week. So we made meals we could bake or make on the propane stove/oven (as we couldn't use anything with heating elements like crock pots or microwaves- they take too much power). There was no freezer but there was a cube-like fridge, so we froze what we could for the trip, and packed a massive cooler full of food for single serving breakfasts, lunches, and dinners- and even more than a few veggies and fruits to snack on. We were set.
We visited and stayed overnight with my husband's uncle on the way up, but miscalculated the distance to the cabin (thinking it was on the way), and wound up making a twelve hour drive instead of an eight or nine hour drive to Maine the next day. We had to adjust our time to leave and left as soon as we woke up- about 4:00 am. Let's just say when we got to the cabin at 4:20 pm, we were ready for a meal and some rest.
The cabin wasn't the mud-and-stick hut I imagined it would be- it was a one thousand square-foot pine-scented piece of heaven! The kitchen bore a wood stove (for warmth, not food) that was giving off a pleasant heat that the owner stoked before we arrived. There were even bird feeders all over the place for us to enjoy the local feathered wildlife! We were greeted cheerfully, shown how to work the water pump and energy system, given the basic rules in a notebook, and left to ourselves for the night.
I don't think we ever unpacked so fast in our lives.
The kitchen was roomy, and as the oven was baking our dinner, we went upstairs to check out the bedroom. And it was a bedroom. The room was almost all bed! Not only did it take up most of the space on the floor, it was tall- almost up to my ribcage. We both noted the hand-made quilt on it and smiled appreciatively, but then I wondered....how was I going to get up on this thing with two gimpy knees?
I had to find out if I could get into this massive bed. I hoisted my trunk onto the mattress, and tried to swing my left leg over the top- and failed. I tried again, grasping the quilt and sheets on 'his' side and I tried pulling myself up. After a minute or two, I was on top- and out of breath.
Then I heard my husband chuckle. I would have maimed him (because the Bible says Thou shall not kill, after all), but the bed was so soft and so comfy I almost put off dinner to get some sleep. But my belly complained, and I had to slip off of the mattress ever...so...slowly onto the carpet.
The next few days were spent sleeping, watching the birds, eating, and reading. It's really nice to be unplugged for a while! I'd forgotten what that was like. On the third day though, we became restless (and we ran out of milk), so we went on an adventure. Try finding a Wal-Mart in the middle of the Maine boonies with a GPS that didn't work until we were miles down the main road! As we left the dirt road and hit asphalt, I'd hoped we'd find the cabin again when we came back.
We found the Wal-Mart at least thirty minutes away, and decided to peruse the aisles a little. I found a few crafty items that I needed, but the best find was... coloring books! I loved to color, but what I didn't know is he loved to color too! All these years and I never knew this. We flipped through about twenty of them before he chose one and I chose two, making sure we also got a big box of crayons and colored pencils. And a sharpener- don't ever forget the sharpener.
That as our only trip out of the cabin that week. The laptops, lesson books, and projects we were going to read, write, and plan, all were replaced by three coloring books, crayons and colored pencils. We were happier than two kids in kindergarten.
Our TV was the bay window featuring blue-jays, wrens, finches, a woodpecker and one red squirrel; at night we were lulled to sleep by the 'peepers'- little frogs by the thousands that chirped like an orchestra of crickets.
The rest of the week was filled with naps, crafting, and coloring. We didn't do one 'productive' thing the entire week. Maybe that was the point.
Our only adventure with the large outdoor wildlife was a bear removed one of the window feeders with a loud 'Pop!' about 1:00 am mid-week, destroying the feeder. The little birds still flew to the window though, looking in at us as if to say "Dude- where's the birdseed?"
By the end of the week, his blood pressure went down twenty points. My temper dissipated. We visited his cousin overnight on the way home (and this time it wason the way back), and got home in time to spend a few hours with the kids on Sunday. We came home to a clean house- our two friends and the kids all worked to make the house sparkle- my Mother's day gift! The only sad part is we didn't have a 'buffer day' to rest before we had to jump back in the fray on Monday morning.
Sometimes you just have to stop, unplug, watch the birds, and color.
We learned a lot about ourselves this week. We need to rest more. Need. Not want. We have to remind ourselves that even God rested on the seventh day!
We must plan off time to rest, and not try to 'let it happen'. Busy people who don't schedule time off will never get it.
We also learned that being off grid is good, and not to pack so much stuff just in case we get bored. To take more fun reading than lesson reading. To take less food (we had a lot of leftovers). And to remember to bring coloring books and plenty of crayons and colored pencils. It leads to a lot of really good conversations.
Now that we're back, we're not jumping into the chaos with both feet. Yes, we have a lot to catch up on, and yes, there is a backlog of things to do, but our minds are rested and can sort thorough the muck a lot better now. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're rested! And I'm making a point to keep it that way as long as possible.
I'll no longer get mad at myself for falling asleep on the couch. I'll have a more flexible schedule, so when driving jobs come, I can maneuver things around. I will watch less TV, play less computer games, and time them when I do. Looking back, I was stunned by all of the time I wasted with a screen in front of me! Now if I'm in front of the TV, I'll be doing something productive- like cutting fruits and veggies or sorting through papers. The job is a lot less daunting that way, and I still get to watch my favorite shows.
If you need rest, please plan for it. Even if it's staying home and unplugging everything- do it. Rest your mind, body, and spirit for a day, a weekend, or a week to get yourself back on track with God and His purpose for you. It will be the best thing you've ever done for you and your family!
Recently, the Lord revealed to me the alphabet. It came about, while reading the three things, the Jewish people teaches their little children.
There are three things they are taught: Know from where you came, know where you are going and know before Whom you will stand one day to give an account of all things.
This is the thing, you come from a pure and holy place, from God Who encompasses everything that is good. And you are going back to Him, a place that is pure, holy and good.
This is what the Lord brought to my understanding: He is the beginning and the end of all things. The Alpha and the Omega. This is the alphabet! Even in your writing, it comes from Him and it is going back to Him. It lit a fire within and I will never forget this teaching from His Hand. I hope it will encourage someone too. I just love the alphabet now!
King James Version
Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
21 Naphtali is a hind let loose which yields lovely fawns.
The Gift of Writing
Little fawn, with great wrestling you were born.
They strove against you, but you prevailed and came out strong.
The little fawn is your victory emblem.
a Blessing bestowed on you from on High.
a Reminder of your victory and freedom, the gift of eloquence and song.
Let loose, let loose, run freely...
Give words of beauty...
Give words of truth...
Give words of the Heavenly Father, already laid up inside your heart.
a Nation is set on high by being right with God...that is where the blessing lies.
The heights is where you belong, surefooted in faith, under the shadow of God's Wings.
There you will rejoice and sing your songs.
Drinking waters from the stream of life, you will go swiftly and grow strong.
Let loose, let loose...
For I know God will break the chains that bind you and fill you with fear, it is only to silence your voice singing to Me.
You are a deer living in the heights, living in the Spirit, not made for the hunters snare.
Those with their human ambitions of do's and don'ts.
You are tuned into the will of the Father and part of His symphony.
a Part of those who work according to the Spirit.
a Symphony conducted by the Holy Spirit producing beautiful notes and beautiful songs.
Songs of healing the Spirit said.
The Lord saw your birth, He fed you with milk, His heart is tender towards you.
God instructed: “Take it safely home”
To the heights in the Presence of the Lord, away from any danger and deceit.
Go and be strong, keep on singing your songs...
19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and
will make me to walk [not to stand in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering or responsibility]
Luke 1:74-75Amplified Bible (AMP)
To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness [being set apart] and righteousness [being upright] before Him all our days.
Open the Windows
At the dawn of day, light bursts forth...
O, what a glorious day!
To be able to fearlessly serve and worship You, my God.
You were with me in the valleys, in the cold of night.
For every tear I cried, you held my head up high.
For every valley, You gave a mountain of Glory.
Next to me in every storm. a Lighthouse showing the way. a Safe refuge.
I stood in awe, time and time again...
You made known the hidden things and brought it to light.
For every challenge, you gave me an outstretched Hand.
Before the enemy came, you have revealed their plan.
One step ahead, leading me, step by step...
O, let me worship You...You are the only God...
Richness and treasures can only be found in You.
Who can really know it all...
What you have prepared for those who love you.
For every temptation, you shown the opening of escape.
When I could not see the way, You shown me the Light.
When I did not make it, You showed me...You have made it for me...
You were always there to catch my fall....You let me standing and I just loved You more!
The fullness of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross is yet to be discovered
and be lived more and more....
You deliver and restore...and let me find what I have lost.
a Fountain of praise and worship and the enemy can not cast a shadow over it any more.
Your perfect plan:
To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our foes,
might serve You fearlessly
in holiness and righteousness within Your presence all the days of our lives.
a Covenant You have sealed with an oath,
a Saviour that was born unto us
in Him we have deliverance.
Without fear we can now serve God:
Delivered from the threatenings and curses of the law filled men,
free from that spirit of bondage.
Delivered from sin and Satan,
without fear of hell and damnation.
Without fear from the world,
without fear of men,
and from fear of death.
Delivered from those that rise up against us.
Blessed are we, when God is our God.
What a glorious day,
it bursts forth in light...
When I am delivered from those that oppress and harm me.
When I am delivered from myself and mine own enemies within.
What a glorious day the Saviour was born...
What a glorious day Jesus Christ died and rose for us.
What a deliverance!
What a promise!
This is what He gives us, rest of our enemies.
What a glorious day, it bursts forth in light...
Let me open the windows and take and live what You gave me!
Thank you, Lord
I know you're probably wondering what the heck I am talking about in my post from yesterday. I will tell you this because I am all about being honest with people and where I stand health wise and for that I went to my ENT specialist. I still have an infection in my right ear. It's now behind my the hole in my ear. That's not good. The good dr took a swab of it and yes, it hurt! I wanted to cry, but I kept my composure.
I don't know what will come back from the lab, but I have another round of antibiotics. This round is much stronger and is for bacterial infections. It's not foreign to me to take this type of medicine. I have had a much worse bacteria infection when I contracted mersa in my right ear. So, after that little history lesson here's the skinny. I know now that there is a surgery that can be performed on my ear to help me. I have mechanical issues inside of my ear. I have 25% hearing in my right ear. It can help me out a lot. It is FDA approved.
Now, knowing he can go in to fix the hole and help my hearing is kind of overwhelming at this point. He wants a clean and dry ear before we can do anything that means all this struggling with my ears and hearing will finally be done but at what cost? I've been done this road before and it was painful. The surgery didn't work. It made the hole move and bigger. It was baffling to the dr and the people helping me.
I am not sure when I want to do it. My desire runs deep to be a mother and it seems like everything is in the way. I am getting sick way more than I have ever been in these past few years since that major surgery. I've had time to think about it and I know it's not a one day discussion and a decision. I am still praying that God gives me wisdom for this and it's not that I can't wait and I can wait, but my heart wants to torn and my head is being stubborn and making me second guess it.
I know that God has given me this awesome opportunity and I know that God knows my deepest desires to be a mother. I've lived with this hearing issues. Now, I have this new technology and now, I have a choice to make and no one else can make it for me. I don't want to go through with it and it not work like before, but this is different and it's brand new thing can repair my issues.
I know for some it's a no brainer, but for me, it's a yield sign. I am extremely cautious. I trust my dr. I trust that God brought him into my life for a reason. I know that this dr has seen me struggle and I know that in some small part of his heart that he knows this will finally be the one to heal me from the inside out. Im scared that it will leave me worse than before and that's the only reason I am seeing this as a cautionary tale.
I am writing to sort out my emotions if you read anything from me you should know this by now and because I believe that God has kept His promises to me. I feel this valley of dry bones needs to have new life breathed into them. Things that I know that have yet to come to pass and I trust God with my whole heart.
I just want to feel better. I am emotionally drained and exhausted. I gain weight with these medicines. I feel fat and ugly. I feel awful. I hate the outlook I have on myself right now.
You may think I'm being vain with all those pictures of myself, but it's a completely different story. I am struggling to like what I see right now. To have this surgery means that he will have shave the small part of head and that stresses me out. I love my hair. It will look funny until it grows out. I've come a long, long way and I know that you probably think I'm being overly dramatic, but I promise you that I am not because this is sort of a big deal.
I am still praying and I am still waiting on the timing. I do this surgery then I can't go to San Antonio. I do this and I may have full hearing. I do this and I may not have full hearing.
God is my Healer. I believe that in due time I will see this promise come to pass. I need prayer for wisdom and understanding. His peace floods my heart. His love surrounds me like a blanket. His hope rises inside of me as I face the storms of life.
One day, unexpectedly you are given a gift. At first you are presented with a gift box, and you question it, what is in the box, and why today, it isn't your birthday, why? That's when you realise that, only the other day, you had asked God for a surprise. Life has been hard lately, and interestingly the gift has suddenly appeared on your doorstep, seemingly from nowhere. You had not seen anyone deliver it, and there is no address from a sender written on it. But there is a label with your name beautifully written on the gift, and you do not recognise the handwriting.
Immediately you wonder what is inside? That's when you build your hopes up. What is it? After a few seconds of anticipation, you whisk off the lid, only when you open it, you find it is an empty box. Surprise and a slight disappointment shivers over you. Even more mysterious. But you have not looked inside sufficiently to see what is there. So, just to check, you turn the box upside down, that's when a bit of paper falls out, and all it says is 'You!'
For a while you wonder 'what is this all about?' And after a time of reflection you realise that somehow, this box is a gift from God, and the gift you have been given is to find the real 'you,' because that's who you need to be happy with.
I started listening to NPR a few years ago because I had entered a season of needing to hear a different voice, of wanting to listen to viewpoints and encounter opinions that I did not share. In these days of challenging conversations around politics and race, it’s important for me to remember that I am called to love, to trade my litmus tests for conversations with real people. In navigating the deep divides within the church on everything from immigration and the role of women to worship style and the definition of family, more than ever the body of Christ must be the force that passes through our differences all the way to grace. Deidra Riggs reminds me in ONE that Unity in a Divided World must be an intentional thing, something that we pray for and work toward. Jesus modeled this focused attention in His prayer recorded in John’s Gospel:
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
This begs the question for this middle-aged, stodgy, and opinionated soul: Can I love my neighbor “without being concerned about whether [my] neighbor is right?” King Solomon and Parker J. Palmer invite me into a Third Way in which my soul hears well and is, therefore, enabled to choose the God-honoring, others-serving path that may go against the grain.
Ambassadors of Unity
Deidra traces the path of reconciliation that leads to oneness, urging readers:
- to ask challenging questions about our motives for living toward the homogeneous and the “safe”;
- to offer and to seek forgiveness;
- to continually remind one another that we are one.
The Two Chairs
Whenever people come together, there are two chairs in the room. One is the seat of justice, and the other is the seat of mercy. “Only God has the credentials to sit in both of those seats and perfectly administer both justice and mercy,” (64) and while we may crave justice, it is critical to recall that God “does not ignore our broken hearts” when He invites us to sit in the seat of mercy and to view life from the perspective of someone who has wronged us. (75)
When Jesus prayed for his followers (present and future), He would not have been blindsided by the fact that an outcome of His magnificent creativity would be uniqueness — manifested in differences of opinions. It would be alarming if we all walked in lockstep on every issue.
“Oneness is not about conforming.
Oneness is about transforming.” (97)
The oneness that Jesus prayed for us is bigger than our position on an issue or our political affiliation. The challenge is to love well — especially if disagreements make love an unlikely thing, for then the radical love of God is put on display.
Going to Ferguson
Because her heart was broken, and because she needed to see the fallout from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Deidra boarded a plane and spent three days in the sweltering heat, living in the midst of the tragedy and joining in the lament. Two years later, when Alton Sterling was killed, she used the internet as a virtual gathering place in which the “Prayers of the People” became an invitation to come together around shared grief. Looking squarely at tragedy, acknowledging together that we live in the space between what is and what will be can be the starting place for God-initiated transformation leading to oneness in heart and in mind.
Like Deidra, I am the bologna in a generational sandwich. Mine comprises an elderly mother on one side, and on the other, a range of adult and teen sons. Add to this a quest for a vibrant marriage, ministry, blogging, and the occasional cup of tea with a friend, and the tendency is to fragment, bringing only part of the self to each aspect of life. Unity in a divided world requires personal and internal oneness which brings a screeching halt to the sacred/secular dichotomy and nullifies the “requirement” that I be all things to all people. Only Jesus can do that, and it turns out that His prayer in John 17 is a prayer for integrity, a heart’s cry from the Son to the Father against the “massive fault line that runs through the center of my soul.” (156)
The unity that Jesus prayed for among those who believingly follow Him is a product of the “oneness within each follower.” (157) Spiritual integrity de-emphasizes lines of division, assuring our hearts that all of life is sacred. We care for and respect our one-and-only heart through radical practices of grace, going home to our roots for restoration, and recalibrating our perspective through regular observance of Sabbath (which Eugene Peterson defines this way: “Take nothing for granted. And do it every week.”)
Gathered under God’s loving wings, may we look around us at all those within His vast circumference and find, to our great surprise, that this is what it means to be One; that this shared protection and provision is proof that God loves the whole world and delights in each one of us — no exceptions.
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Where is God in our dry season?
Where is our help when we are hurting?
Where is God when the night closes in?
Where is God when fear has its hold on me?
You will experience many different seasons in life.
You will question your faith.
You will find it hard to keep your mind steady.
You will feel lost.
You will feel confused.
You were not made to understand it.
In our weaknesses ;He is made strong.
In our helplessness; He is our strength.
In our hopelessness ;He is our hope.
In our wandering;He is our help.
In our mess ;He is our Messiah.
In our dry seasons
In our rainy seasons
In our harvest seasons
In our many seasons, He is there to hold us.
We were not made to understand the seasons.
We were made to trust and have faith.
We were not made to carry these burdens alone.
We are told to lay them down at His feet.
Where is God in the dry seasons?
He hasn't ignored you.
He hasn't left you.
He hasn't abandoned you.
He is watching and waiting.
This desert may be dry and lonely, but I am not alone for the Lord my God guides my every step.
He shields me from the sun.
He wraps me up at night for He is my light.
I don't fear for He is always near!
I may walk this path alone.
I may not always understand it.
I may not feel like obeying.
I may not feel like trusting.
I may not feel like staying put.
I may not like it, but I do it.
So, if you are in the dry and lonely places right now, I want you to know that God sees you. It may feel like it's becoming overwhelming for your soul. I know it's hard. I know it's uncomfortable. I know you hate it, but nothing lasts forever!
Your season will be over.
Your pain is not done in vain.
Your sighs are not falling on deaf ears.
Be at peace and know that the God of miracles is watching you. He loves you. He cares for you.
We all start out with a pilot light- that little spark that inspires us to do bigger and better things. Sometimes we wait for others to feed our flames to take us to the next level instead of finding our own fuel. It might work for a time, but when the fuel from others runs out, we often find ourselves back where we started- that tiny flicker of flame.
We can’t let ourselves wait for someone else to build up our fires. Don't get me wrong- It's great having support to keep the flames going, but the bulk of the fuel has to come from within us.
Cakes bake from the applied heat, but cakes wouldn’t be the yummy, fluffy things they are without their ingredients!
This not only applies to our lives at home and the workplace, but also applies to our spiritual lives. God gave us the Holy Spirit in our hearts, but it’s up to us to apply the heat and fuel the fire. Use that passion you have deep down inside! Get inspiration from others, but remember if that's what you're depending on, the flames won’t last long without our feeding and fanning them by praying, reading the Bible, going to church and really listening to the sermons.
Don't wait for an epiphany- look within yourself and your environment (who and what you surround yourself) and seek an epiphany through God. Believe me- I’ve done the sitting and waiting thing- it just doesn’t work.
What would make more sense- a writer that waited for a publisher to come and discover her book, or for the writer to contact publishers? No one will hand us our dreams on a platter- not even God will just hand us everything we want- we have to be spiritually ready and pray for it. Babies aren't ready for solid food, and even toddlers with teeth don't get fed T-bone steaks! God will feed us what we need when we can handle it. He's a really brilliant Dude.
Pray. Read. Attend church. Fellowship. Feed that flame within you. Dance around like your spirit is already on fire and the flames will grow. I’m wearing bunny slippers when I dance- just in case someone is making a YouTube video!
Beth Brubaker, Assistant Editor is a humorist poet and songwriter, and her day jobs include homemaking, writing, and paper and fabric arts. Beth's passion is the written word, and is developing ways of sharing her brand of humor with the world through poems, songs and stories. Don't miss Beth's columns and puzzles in every issue of Ruby for Women! You can read Beth's posts on her blog Footprints in the Mud at http://footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com or email her at email@example.com.
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