Wednesday, November 30, 2016

At the Brook

As the Christmas season kicks into full gear, I usually find myself reviewing photos for the year. The above photo speaks volumes to me today.

Sitting still, empty-handed, waiting in trust.

"Do not depend on your own understanding." 

This one line from Proverbs 3 followed me through November days.

What did I learn in November? 

I learned I have a lot to learn. 

1. Obedience is hearing from God, listening toward him.

     I heard someone teach on this (I don't recall who) and it stuck with me. Listening toward Him. Sometimes simply listening toward Him is my call to obedience. In these noisy days when everyone has a loud opinion, listening towards God is a large obedience.

2. Discouragement and adoration can walk side by side.

     In my discouragement over health issues and other unanswered prayers dear to my heart, I discovered a new way to adore the Lord with His word. Simple, no frills adoration. Listen to Sara Hagerty over on God-Centered Mom's podcast for more. I find I can lift a simple prayer of praise with a heavy heart as I lean into one verse resonating with my soul.

3. God is my Father and He loves me.

    My head knows this but experientially I am lacking. I keep tripping over Father scriptures leading me this past week to pray an honest prayer.

 "God, I don't understand the depths of your Father-Love. Teach me Holy Spirit."

4. Heaven has a viewpoint different from ours here on earth.

     This comes back to listening and waiting. Instead of rushing into what I think is the right thing to do, I desperately need to wait a minute, lean back and breathe. Our pastor preached a message Sunday on Elijah at the brook Cherith. Elijah hadn't done anything wrong. Actually he was there in the lonely, desolate place because of his obedience to God. God provided for six months. Then the brook dried up.

He could have said, "That's that. The brook is dried up. I need to move on. No, the scripture says he waited for the word of the Lord." 

Circumstances may not indicate God's will. I need to walk with restraint. How difficult this is when I want to run to the side of a loved one and be a help! How hard to live out peace when chronic allergies attack my weary body.

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." Psalm 103:13 NIV

 I lift my voice to adore you compassionate Father. I do so by bare faith in your word to me. I don't understand all your ways and timing. You know me. You see my weaknesses and my struggles. Let your compassion flow into my life and then through me to others. Amen.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hands Open to Joy

The past several days looked like my table, cluttered and a bit overwhelming. 

I had big plans a week ago to shop for Christmas while my car was serviced. After driving the three hours to Bangor where all this would happen, I turned around and came home at the end of the day, sick and discouraged. 

Hopeful, a few days later,  I wrote a long page of intentions for this week. Then life happened as it often does. I ended up in Physical Therapy three times a week for the shoulder pain that had been plaguing me and my mom-in-law went in the hospital after a fall. On top of everything else, I struggled with symptoms from the week previous.

Sitting at my desk one morning, trying to hear from the Lord (trying is never a good sign), a text message popped up on my phone. Nancy has been a dear friend of mine for decades. We can go weeks or months without talking or seeing each other as she lives a busy life, three hours away. She texted to say she was thinking of me and praying. I told her I needed it and thanked her. 

She responded, "Call me and we'll pray."

I have learned that prayer spoken aloud over me often clears the path for  heaven to come on the scene. 

I watched God work the rest of the week surrounded by her prayer.

All but two of the intentions on my list were accomplished plus I had time to rest and watch a bit of television and start a new book.

Our beautiful weather held this week but the forecast calls for snow on Thanksgiving day. My thoughts are turning towards Christmas and family. Last night I put fresh batteries in all my candles around the house, nesting in their glow. 

I read a passage in my beloved "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.

"Joy is a flame that glimmers only in the palm of the open and humble hand. In the open and humble palm, released and surrendered to receive, light dances, flickers happy. The moment the hand is clenched tight, fingers all pointing toward self and rights and demands, joy is snuffed out... The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy - nothing else."

I purposely open my hands, surrendering each day to my Creator Father, trusting and basking in the light of joy, knowing I can trust Him.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Simple Treasures

I was on my way to the funeral of a 95 -yr - old lady from the church we used to attend.  Snow had been spitting from the sky and temps were cold, so I donned my black boots and warmer clothing. The last thing I expected to greet me as I exited the car was a colorful pile of leaves under my feet. I quickly snatched my iPhone from my pocket and snapped a photo, with a smile on my face.

Leaves conjure up good memories. I remember as a little girl coloring around leaves in school. As an adult, I loved leaf projects with my own children, including jumping in the piles.

This day was full of memories as I visited with old friends at calling hours. Young adults I once taught in Sunday School shared about their families and their lives. 

Treasures can be found in the most unexpected places if we but slow down and listen. 

Sunday is a busy day for many who still have to work or serve in some capacity. For me, the Sabbath has become a place of rest and recharging. Today my rest will include church. Some Sundays, we choose to remain at home if I see Hubby is in need of extra sleep. 

We all need a day to reflect and recharge. 

I read a quote recently from Eugene Peterson. 

"Busyness is an illness of the spirit."

Now I know we are all wired differently, but I believe the statement leans toward the side of truth.
At least for me. I need quietness and solitude to stay connected with myself, the real me. When I live in the noise of other peoples opinions or the frenzy of media and world events, I tend to flow with the stream around me. I want to walk before the Lord in step with his kingdom principles. 

Quiet time grounds me.

I talked to a lady at the funeral who recently had emergency surgery. She said looking back she realized her body was trying to tell her something but she wouldn't listen.

How often over the years I did the same thing!

When I hear young women learning to take care of themselves and their families, using wisdom in answering the constant demands upon their lives, I give thanks. 

I wish I could go back and do the same. Maybe you do, too. The important thing is to start where we are now.

On this Sabbath, make a block of time to return to rest, doing something you delight in, enjoying family, reading a good book, or taking a walk. Whisper a prayer of gratitude as you do so.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Room to Breathe : Lessons Learned in October

Each month I write in my journal the name of the month, a scripture and a theme phrase. My word for October was "Breathing Room." September held many challenges and rough roads, therefore I stepped gently into October with a sigh of relief. Somehow I knew this month would be different.

First things first:

I needed to return to some semblance of routine and getting back to the gym was at the top of my list. I walked all summer outdoors with a friend. Now I donned my headset and entered time set apart for me, alone except for other walkers. A full hour where I was unreachable. 

I thrive in quietness. 

Distractions come in bundles, one after another. I must choose what is best over good. The desire for human interaction overwhelms me at times. I pray for wisdom. I am always going to have people in my life but praying for balance is important. God has pruned this area of my daily routine for months. I didn't understand why until this past week, but that's another blog post.

I move with rhythms of the seasons.

I spent many years fighting each transition but this year I am moving in a grace I hadn't known before. My windows are closed in the morning now and I switch my little heater on as I enter my office where I meet with the Lord each day. Cloudy skies and nearly bare branches have replaced bright yellow flowers outside my window. I'm okay with the change. Perhaps the fact that we had a full beautiful summer and glorious autumn helps with the shifting, but I think my inner woman is ready to draw inside, to connect with heaven's rhythms for this season in my life.

God really does give us our hearts desires - in His timing.

Lily loves animals and recently began horse riding lessons, fulfilling her heart's desire. What a joy to watch her ride!

I've been experiencing an odd mix of desires thwarted and desires granted. One door I was sure would open recently closed. My heart longed for this particular change for years.  Hubby and I were certain this was the time. Yet the answer was NO.
Right on the heels of my NO, another door opened I least expected, fulfilling a desire I'd thought might never occur.

Proverbs 3:5-6 was my guide throughout October. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

I'm learning to live beyond what I see and feel, looking beyond the immediate with eyes of faith. 
Learning is the key word here, a lifelong process.

What did you learn in October?