if I had a million dollars

I was challenged today by someone dear to me to dream–not just little dreams, to dream big.  “Haven’t you ever thought, if I had a million dollars– I’d do this, and this, and this?”

I stopped in my tracks. No, I never had.  Maybe as a little kid I did dream like that, but not as an adult.  It was impractical, it wouldn’t happen, so why bother?

As a little girl, I remember reading a book about minerals and mining, including mining diamonds.  There was a picture of diamonds and jewelry that was so beautiful.  I was just learning about God and how He answered prayers, so I prayed, asking Him to give me some of the diamonds from the book. I ended up falling asleep and when I woke up there were no diamonds.

I figured I didn’t deserve them or that God didn’t want me to have them.  Somehow though, the idea that I shouldn’t ask for things like that was planted in my spirit.  Flash forward nearly forty years and I am still like that little child, believing the lie that I cannot dream of or ask for crazy, wild, big things.

When I was challenged this morning that feeling struck me again. Don’t dream, why bother?

A still, quiet voice whispered a counter-thought in my ear, “for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). 

My God owns everything. Yet, I have been living my life like I have to create my own things and make something out of the scraps around me. Is that really how the Child of the One True King should live?

Now, I don’t have the power, the authority, or the ability to do these things. But God does.   And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

I don’t need diamonds, they have long passed in importance, but I do need to remember that I can dream– and dream big, because my God is big.  I do need to embrace the possibility of what could be.  And if it’s worth pursuing, see what steps need to be taken to make that happen.

If I had a million dollars, I would…

 

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resentment, kites, and Genesis 3

I woke up today needing an adjustment.  I wish it was something a chiropractor could adjust, but it’s a matter of my heart and spirit.  That kind of adjustment needs to be made by the Holy Spirit.

I found myself chafing about something (once again). I felt my resentment toward this thing growing, making me angry and frustrated at almost every moment.  I wanted to be free of the ties that were keeping me bound to what I didn’t want to do.  I bristled, I yelled, I came up with a million reasons why I should be allowed to do what I wanted and not what I had to do.

And then I remembered the story of a kite.  When a kite soars high into the sky, it tugs and pulls at the string that connects it to the person on the ground.  The kite doesn’t realize that the very string it wants to be free from is the very thing that allows it to soar high.

And then there is Eve.  We all know she ate the fruit and caused all sorts of problems that we are still facing today.  But the root of the issue is that she didn’t trust God. She allowed the serpent to challenge her thinking and recreate what she was told.  God had said, “Do not eat of the tree.”  Eve told the serpent that she wasn’t even allowed to touch the tree (Genesis 3:2).  God never said that, Eve created more boundaries than God did.  God allowed freedom within boundaries, but Eve saw chains.  Eve decided she knew more, she wanted more, she may have thought she even needed more.

What do we need, truly need, in our lives that God will not provide for us?  It is our fallen post-Genesis 3 situation that causes us to doubt.  We doubt if God has our best plans, our best situations- as we would see them, in mind as He cares for His children.  Doubt makes us forget all the good that God has done, all the good God will do, if we just trust Him for our needs.

So, this morning I asked God for grace. Grace for my wandering, resentful, un-thankful heart.  Grace to forgive myself and to remember that trusting Him is always the best choice.  I may have to begin all over again tomorrow, but now, I will focus only on today.

God is good, all the time, all the time, God is good (Psalm 73).

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Friday and 100

It’s been a long week for us, the heat is coming back and even with the air conditioning on at work it feels warm.  I started thinking about the end of the week and what it represents.

It’s time to be joyful, to celebrate the week that has finished, the tasks accomplished, and the relationships that have deepened.

It’s time to remember all the good that God has done in your life and mine.  It’s time to give thanks, be grateful, and live the life described in Psalm 100.

I learned the second half of this psalm as a chorus in church during the 1970’s and it is still the best way to remember to give thanks where it is due– to the God of the Universe!

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

   Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

So let’s make a joyful noise!

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tired

I woke up tired today.  Monday morning-after-a-long-weekend-of-hard-work-tired. It’s Thursday, I have two days of work left before I can wake up when I want to, sleep as long as I need to, and work on the house.

I don’t normally need a boost in the morning, but today, I do.  Not for my spirit, but for my body.  My spirit is willing, as the Scripture says, but my flesh is weak.

When I have days like this, which aren’t very often, I seek God more.  I know on days like these I will not thrive without His Holy Spirit working within me.  The Holy Spirit is a lot like an energy bar that continues to power me through my day. I know I can rely on God in His Triune presence to fill me with what I need.

The more I lean into God, His promises, His Word, and His very presence, the more I feel myself filling up within.  I find myself feeling restored, refreshed, prepared, and revitalized to continue in my daily tasks– whether they are taking calls at work, or cleaning and restoring our home.

I often look to the words that God has given me about Himself and what He will do with my life when I trust Him with it.  One of my favorite words that He has given me is restore.  Restore is to bring back, build up, strengthen, revive, repair, rescue, and revitalize.  These are the very things God has done for me in my life-sometimes daily and all at once.

I don’t know how you are today, maybe you are tired I was, maybe not. Whatever your situation, this is my prayer for you today.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

May you be fully restored through His goodness and grace.

Blessings….

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walking wounded

My husband and I were working for a Boy Scout camp set in the Sangre de Christo Mountains when we met. I loved everything about being there.  Thousands of scouts came through the camp to experience the outdoors, history, and richness of the region during each summer.

Occasionally a scout would be injured while on his hike and he would have to come into base camp to get medical attention.  Most of the time, the scout would remain in base camp until the injury was healed or his troop came back from the hike.  These injured scouts were called the Walking Wounded.  Their injuries were evident by the bandages, crutches, or other outward signs that something was not as it should be with them.

Unfortunately, in the rest of the world, there are thousands of Walking Wounded, but their injuries are inside, not easily recognized and identified by the naked eye.  It can make situations much more difficult to navigate.

The world’s Walking Wounded can take many forms; people who have been abused are at the top of the list–the most critically wounded, those who have psychological disorders, then comes those who struggle with addictions in their various forms, and people who have experienced emotional and physical abandonment by loved ones.  There are more I am sure, who have not been able to show their brokenness on the outside with a cast, but are still in great need of a Physician.

One of the issues that often comes up with the Walking Wounded is their desire to wound others, to not feel alone in their pain.  This reactionary wounding can be subtle or volatile, it just depends on the person.

The key, actually, one of many keys to this kind of person, is to find the balance to acknowledge his or her pain without being drawn into their pain so that it becomes our pain as well.

It can be much easier in theory than in practice.

Some ways the Walking Wounded may be helped:

1. Love them where they are— they may be too broken to see a path out– don’t try to force them to do what they are not able to do at this time.

2. Pray for them— often. Pray for the Holy Spirit to reach them and draw them to the Great Physician for healing.

3. Acknowledge their pain, but don’t wallow with them in it.  A broken person can be very good at manipulation and can pull you into his or her drama before you realize it.

4. Keep strong, firm, loving boundaries.  It is imperative to your own emotional balance to not allow their brokenness become your own or overwhelm your life.

5. Seek help. Help for you through Al-anon or other support groups for people with addictions, a counselor for you to keep yourself whole in the midst of the broken person’s situation. Offer to get them help if they are willing, if they are not drop it.  Hounding and nagging never changed a person.

6. Be patient. It took time for the person to become broken, it will take time for them to heal.

7. Recognize that their wounds are not your job to heal. Yes, walk with them in the healing if possible, but you are not God, you cannot heal what only God can heal.

Finally, understand that some Walking Wounded have been hurt for so long they cannot see their lives without the hurt.  In other words, they may be unwilling to seek healing.  It is a sad situation to see, especially when we know that Jesus is the Ultimate Healer and Restorer of our Souls. (“for I am the Lord, who heals you.” Exodus 15:26 …he refreshes my soul. Psalm 23:3).

My recommendation is to continue to follow the steps above. Remember, each of us is made in His image and are precious in His sight.  We matter to God, we should matter to each other, too.

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doubly good

Living at our new home has filled me in places I didn’t know were empty.  Each morning I wake facing the east window in our room, opening my eyes just as God opens the day.  Each sunrise is different than the day before, little differences maybe, but each one is new- just like the day it celebrates.

The birds sing, chatter, and chirp as they greet the dawn and warn of the neighbor’s cats on the prowl for breakfast.  I have yet to use an alarm clock since we moved in, there hasn’t been a need.  Nature has been the best alarm clock for me.

Other little places that were empty and are now filling include how my soul sings again inside with the sound of the screen door slamming shut and stairs being clambered up and down as boys, now young men, seek a tool, a ball, or a game to play.

The blessing of sitting together again at a table, a real table, not a card table, as a family to share a meal.

Seeing my sons work together to accomplish tasks, each filling his own role, yet in unison.  The blessing of fresh berry pie for dessert, made by my eldest after being assisted by his brother in the picking, cleaning, and preparing of the berries.

Yes, our house is still in progress, wallpaper is still being peeled off the walls, carpeting still is being taken up, walls prepared for painting.  Yet, in the chaos, we are finding the one thing we have been craving– the one thing we have been seeking– a place to call home.

After a year of wandering in the wilderness, and in some ways even longer than one year, we have found the place where we will sink our roots deep, fill our hearts and souls with laughter, love, and tears and finally exhale.

Our empty hands and cracked spots in our spirits and souls are being filled and restored.  We are finding new friends, new experiences, and new blessings at every turn.

The Lord has truly been good to us.

I found this song as I thought of God’s goodness and the lyrics describe so well the experiences we have had and continue to have in our new land.  May they bless you as well.

“If you see the moon rising gently on your fields
If the wind blows softly on your face
If the sunset lingers while cathedral bells peal
And the moon has risen to her place

You can thank the Father for the things that He has done
And thank Him for the things He’s yet to do
And if you find a love that’s tender, if you find someone who’s true
Thank the Lord, He’s been doubly good to you

And if you look in the mirror at the end of a hard day
And you know in your heart you have not lied
And if you gave love freely, if you earned an honest wage
And if you’ve got Jesus by your side

You can thank the Father for the things that He has done
And thank Him for the things He’s yet to do
And if you find a love that’s tender, if you find someone who’s true
Thank the Lord, He’s been doubly good to you

You can thank the Father for the things that He has done
And thank Him for the things He’s yet to do
And if you find a love that’s tender, if you find someone who’s true
Thank the Lord, He’s been doubly good to you
Thank the Lord, He’s been doubly good to you”

~~Rich Mullins, lyrics, Doubly Good to You

 

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the content

Today I spoke with Abigail*, a woman from South Carolina, a sweet spirited woman, whose voice was full of richness and wisdom.  Our conversation ranged from her current needs to other things and I found myself feeling knit closer to her by the time our conversation ended.

I have only seen South Carolina from a car window, so I asked about her home state.  She said she lived in Charleston County and that it had a lot of history there, some painful, some beautiful.  Her voice was saddened, almost weighed down, when she shared that the slave market was still there.  She also mentioned how the Confederate Flag had been taken down, and that it was a relief and it was needed.  She spoke from a perspective I hadn’t heard or read in any news feed.  It was the voice of someone who had experienced the history, the connection, and the relationship to the symbolism found in the bars and stars.  For her, the flag represented a sad history and it was best to let go and allow the pain to finally heal.

Abigail then mentioned another event from headlines, the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. It was not just a headline to her, it was personal, her family lost two close friends in this event.  One of them, was Abigail’s college roommate. Abigail then posed the question, “When will we stop hating each other and hurting each other?  We should be passed all of the this by now.  When will it stop?”

There was a deep, resonating passionate plea in her voice.  I agreed with her plea and stated how it mattered for future generations as well. We were united that grace and mercy were needed, not hate.

I shared how I was taught to never look at skin color, but as Dr. King shared in his I Have a Dream speech, I was taught to look at the “content of a person’s character” and it was the way I was bringing up my sons.

As Abigail and I closed our conversation, she shared that she knew in her spirit when we started speaking that I would be able to help her and she was so glad she spoke with me.  I was touched.  We were hundreds of miles away and yet, we were kindred spirits. We were each blessed by the connection.

Thinking back to the speech by Dr. King I felt this was one of those moments he described.  It wasn’t a northerner talking with a southerner or a white person talking with a black person– the conversation was between two different people, yes, but we were still the same.  What was within each of us was what mattered most.  If I were to describe the content of Abigail’s character it would be rich, deep, and meaningful indeed. May we all learn to see beyond the cover of the person to the content within.

*not her real name

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When trust is broken

Growing up I was taught to never lie, lying was in a sense, a form of murder.  When I lied I was “killing” the trust that was built between myself and the other person. Even when it was difficult and the outcome of my truth-telling may get me in trouble, I learned it was better to tell the truth than to lie. 

Fast forward thirty plus years and now as an adult, I find myself living in a culture where it’s ok to tell white lies, to omit information, and to reframe situations to make them seem better or different than they are in reality. 

The wall of Trust between myself and some others in my life has cracks in it. Some have been created by others, some by me.  They could be small enough in the beginning, “Yes, you look good in that outfit” or “No, I don’t mind that you forgot that important date again.” Little lies, meant to make the other person not feel bad.  But little by little the bricks that build the bridge of trust between myself and someone else are replaced by bricks that build a wall of resentment.

I start to resent the hurt the person causes me and I stop reaching out to them, I find some other way, some other person, to meet my needs or wants.  

The other person also may seek other ways to feed his or her needs instead of facing the broken places that need to be healed, the broken heart, the pieces of broken dreams and desires.  The broken relationships that were originally  sought to fill the hurt places caused by someone else. 

The reality is, no one, no thing, no action, can replace, can heal those pains and injuries but Jesus.  No spouse, no child, no affair, or anything else is going to bring the healing and wholeness that is deeply craved and desired.  

Only Jesus can make you whole.  Only Jesus can set you free.  

Only Jesus. 

Proverbs 3:5-6, 8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. 

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on kittens and being found

Yesterday marked the twenty-fifth “birthday” of my walk with Christ.  It was a wonderful day spent with my husband and sons working on the house, visiting with a new friend at her home, and dreaming of ideas for our new home.  We traveled to a nearby town to see some sights and ended the day with dinner at a restaurant.  It was a great day.

Two nights ago a strong thunderstorm came through the area and tossed small branches around the yard, as well as bringing large puddles in low areas around the property.  When my younger son went to feed the neighbor’s cats in the morning, he found that the mother cat and kittens were nowhere to be seen in the barn.

This mother is skittish after being picked on by another mother cat on the property, so she has sought shelter in the barn.  Her two kittens, a charcoal gray and a calico are usually visiting.  After a while the mother appeared in the barn window with her gray kitten, mewing for the calico.

I recognized the sound and went looking for the calico, too.  I looked in the rafters of the barn, in the fields behind, as well as in the machinery stored in the bays.  No luck.  All during the day’s excursions my mind would begin to wander to where the kitten may be found.

As the twilight fell last night, I held the gray kitten while his mother went hunting for dinner and hope and prayed that the calico would be found.  I knew it was part of farm life, life is found and lost all the time, but I hoped that she would be found alive.

I asked our son to text me and let me know if the calico was found, dead or alive, today and shortly after I arrived at work I received a text, “I found the calico.” I asked her condition and found myself smiling and relieved that she was alive.

And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost [cat].’ (Luke 15:5)

This kitten was like me, twenty-five years ago, lost, alone, struggling to find my way, wanting safety, a place to rest, and a place to call home.  I knew there was somewhere I could go and experience these things, but I never knew the joy I felt would be experienced by my Heavenly Father as well.

I had been lost and now, I was found.

 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

(Luke 15:6)

 

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overflowing

I spoke with a woman today who needed some help with something. When I finished helping her, she told me she was going to add my name to her church’s blessing box.  I was touched and told her thank you and that I already felt blessed.

She went on to say she was going to pray I received a double portion, pressed down and running over.  I told her I would pray the same for her.

Such a blessing.  A simple conversation with a simple request for assistance, and in the end we both walked away with hearts fully and spirits lighter.

In a world of “me-me-me” and “what do I get out of this deal?” It was refreshing to share a part of me with another person.  It didn’t hurt me to share it, I am not poorer for giving her what I had.  I am actually richer for the experience.

On the way to work today I heard a message by Chuck Swindoll who challenged us to be an intercessor, a mentor, and an encourager for someone every day.  He went on to say that those traits are in the Trinity and as believers should be part of us as well.

Praying-interceding for others— specifically praying for needs and then writing down their name, the need, and the date when God answered the prayer would draw us closer in our own relationship and also impact others in the process.

Mentoring someone — Chuck said, “We are all older than someone.” And I thought of a wonderful young woman named Sarah, who is growing in her faith at church and how could God use me to help her on her journey.

Encouraging others— Chuck laughed and said, “Don’t do more than one encouraging thing for a person a day– they might faint.” But the idea of doing something for someone, no ulterior motive, no expectation of returns, just appreciating them for the being there, for being faithful in their tasks.  I strive to do that every day for someone, whether it’s my sons, or a friend, and especially my husband.  It matters that each person knows he or she matters.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38).

Overflowing with blessings…

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