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Archive for the ‘Walking with God’ Category

She looked at me, really looked at me, as if wanting desperately to burn what she was communicating onto my mind, for the great and significant truth of her message …

… when the kids are grown (this is where her gaze was locked on me) … when it is just you and your husband again, it’s (she paused, staring off into the thoughts in her mind, her memory) … well it’s just fantastic.” Then she smiled and walked away, leaving me standing there, trying to absorb the deeper meaning, that I knew that must be there.

But, I didn’t stand there long, because this conversation happened about seventeen years ago. Our kids were ten, five and three. I had just returned to working outside of the home. Hubby had made a change from Youth ministry to lead pastor work. We had a house (mortgage included), boarders, family support on the other side of the continent … and we were not even in the busy years yet!

I had forgotten about that random moment, until recently … until I had slid, unannounced, into midlife, with a mostly empty nest, a different-than-planned lifestyle, inch-long hairs growing (overnight) on my chin and a body temperature gauge with a split personality.

Circumstances in life have been unpredictable … physical and emotional changes have been frustrating … relationships have been unpredictable.

Yet …

The circumstances, added to the emotional changes, the emptying nest and the experience of half a life of living, have forged a stronger, more confident and pleasant life together.

I think we reach this midlife stage and realize it’s time to poop or get off the pot! Crap or get off the can!

(Anyone else hearing that old song by the Clash? Should I Stay or Should I Go?)

Basically, we reach midlife and realize we are at a crossroads and we have to decide which of the two roads we will traverse.

Do we keep going, the same as always before?
– we may end up regretting a life of the same old thing

Do we take the other road, walking away from the path and the person on it?
– we may regret throwing those years away.

Or, do we recognize that we have someone beside us who we have been walking alongside of for so long, that we don’t know how much we don’t know about each other?
– this can be an opportunity for adventure.

To take that third option is to create a new path, a new road in the wilderness only to find out that … it’s fantastic.

Here’s the thing, taking a new path requires decision-making from both parties. One hauling the other along will not have the same effect as two individuals moving forward together. That said, whose to say that the unknown surprises along the path might birth excitement and anticipation in the one who gets hauled along by the other.

Though my memory for words when I am speaking forces me into an odd, verbal variation of charades … Though my partners in crime may forget what I just told him this morning … when the kids are grown … when it is just you and your husband again, it’s … well it’s just fantastic.

I we shall be telling this with a (contented) sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two three roads diverged in a wood, and I we —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost (and I 😉 )

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I have been pondering shame for a number of months. The word shame has become a derogatory word, whereas, in the past, it was a more widely acceptable one.

Truthfully, most words that evoke a negative feelings are more unacceptable within society today … for none of us wants to feel bad, feel guilt, or feel that we are being judged negatively.

I have been pondering whether shame is an intended part of the Bible’s larger narrative … after all we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Then I read Nehemiah 8. Here we read about Ezra, the religious leader, speaking to the community of men, women and children from dawn to noon at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews remember wandering in the desert after their exodus from Egypt.

Ezra was reading the Law to the people and it says that they understood what was being read. They were cognizant of the Laws that they had broken … their eyes were opened to their sins and they were sad, weeping and sorrow-filled.

As I read that I understood that what they might be feeling was shame. They knew that they had fallen short, they knew that they are been disobedient, and they hung their heads … in shame. Their reactions were pure, human reactions … the shame they felt was innate, natural.

But …

Their tears and mourning were the indicators that they knew their sin and they regretted it. This is the first step in receiving the promise of redemption.

Then Ezra, Nehemiah and the others who were instructing the people told them:

“This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” (8:9)

They were told to go and feast, to eat great foods and drink great drinks. To invite others, who had nothing, so that all could share in the celebration that is available to all. They were led to celebrate, because their shame could be erased.

And so they did. They celebrated “with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (v. 12)

This is the difference that acknowledging our sins can make. When our eyes and ears are opened to the sin in our hearts, that knowledge is not for the purpose of shaming us, but to open the door to the hope that can erase our sins.

Christ is the antidote to shame … Hallelujah!

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

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Please and thank-you … the magic words of childhood learning. If I had a nickel for every time I instructed one of our three, over their growing up years, to use these words as offering, well my financial future would be secure. Repetition has a way of ensuring information and behavior stick like super glue!

The magic words of adulthood are a not-so-famous pair, but are equally rich in meaning, benefit and practice …

thankfulness and joy

These two words, practices, are essentials for the Christ-follower. The thing is that you cannot have joy without thankfulness and you cannot have thankfulness without joy. The two are synonymous.

Neither joy, nor thankfulness have anything to do with happiness, to do with everything in life going as we wish. Joy and thankfulness are independent of the ephemeral or short-lived condition of happiness. Instead they are result of something eternal, holy.

Blogger, Corella Roberts, has said,

the binding agent of joy is thankfulness

Thankfulness and joy are fruits of the Holy Spirit within us. It is not us, in our own power, but he who is within us. They are the outpouring of the peace that passes all human understanding.

When the Prince of Peace resides within us, thankfulness and joy emanate from us, naturally and grandly.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

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For the first time after months of late sprint to mid fall cooling by our ceiling fan, I had turned off our ceiling fan earlier in the day when I was reading and found the room chilly.

I looked up to it … still, silent and … oh my goodness! The dust caked on it like brown-grey fluffy edging.

Later I hauled out a cloth to clean the blades and fixture to see that this would be no quick dusting, but a major cleaning. After ten to fifteen minutes it was sparkling again, but I was mystified …

how did something that is in perpetual motion collect so much dust?

Apparently a moving fan is, quite literally, a dust magnet. The dust in the air (what we see as well as what is not visible to the eye) is charged, so is the ceiling fan, whose blades cut through the dust of the air, causing friction and the charged dust particles attract other dust particles, causing a build up of dust on the fan.

But, here’s what I was thinking …

There have been seasons in my life when I was living, day in and day out, like that ceiling fan. I was constantly in motion, never taking a break. I was working, volunteering, we had International students living with us, a big property to maintain, hubby was in a demanding job, all while our kids were in the midst of their busy teen years.

When I look back at those years, they are like a blur … it’s like my memory has been left in the dust.

Now that life is quieter, simpler, the demands are less and the activities I get involved with are ones that I first evaluate and even pray over before committing to. No doing out of guilt, only out of calling or responsibility. Our family is in a different season too, everyone more independent (at least they think so 😉 ).

I find myself, looking back, wanting to whisper to myself in those years of spinning circles …

slow down …
you’re gathering dust and it’s hindering your ability to see, it’s hindering your ability to function well, to appreciate what is truly important.

There will be seasons that demand that more of us … when the heat is on and we need to keep the fan spinning, but we need to choose to call a halt for a time, when the dust is building up and our beauty and function are hindered.

A story is told in the gospel of Luke (10:38-42), where Jesus and his disciples were invited into the home of two sisters. The one who invited them in went to work immediately to make a big dinner … but her sister sat at the feet of Jesus, listening as he spoke. After awhile the busy sister had a hissy fit and asked Jesus to tell her sister to help out with the meal.

But the Lord said to her, “My dear, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. She has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

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This little light of mine …
I’m gonna let it shine …

My faith in the future of followers of Christ (of all genders) has been recently bouyed from an unexpected situation that initially brought darkness like a sucker punch to the gut.

So, a situation occurred where one Christian leader (who happens to be male) made a comment about another Christian leader (who happens to be female), that she should “go home”.

It was a sad, unfortunate, unnecessary and head shaking comment that made the souls of many mourn for the darkness that fell with the words.

In my mind, I kept hearing these Jesus words:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  • life as we know it is not fair … to expect anything else is to be living in a false reality
  • Jesus has already won the battle of good vs. evil, of love vs. hate, of joy vs. sadness, of light vs. darkness

We cannot forget …
life is not fair and
Jesus has won the battle

… then the responses began … responses of support for the woman (for all women), responses of a call to action, but also responses of a theme of victimization and hate.

My stomach lurched, my head shook, the darkness grew.

Christians were posting, and blogging, and preaching …
anger, and frustration, and defeatism, and victimization.

But …

Christ was not one to cry out poor me for the injustice he was experiencing, he was not a whiner, he was not a hater. When he was arrested and his follower Simon Peter retaliated and sliced the ear of a high priest … and how did Jesus respond?

“Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

Jesus went to the cross, because that is what he had to do to save the souls of his people … that was his calling, handed down by his own father.

And our calling is to follow in his footsteps … and guess what it’s gonna be messy, it’s going to hurt, we are going to be victimized, we are going to have trouble … that we are guaranteed in his word and in his practise.

BUT, we are also
more than conquers.

While other Christians have now spoken about the pointless words and of her gender-related victimization, she (the one who the comment was directed toward) has responded in confidence of her calling and in grace, remembering that our calling is to “honor God, (and) let’s move on.”

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” John 1:9

She just kept doing what she does, focusing on the goal, focusing on the calling, focusing on the prize … as is our example in Christ as women and men who follow his leadership.

“The enemy taunts us with whispers like, ‘You’ll never be free. You’ve tried a hundred times. You go back every time. You’re hopeless. You’re weak. You’re a failure. You don’t have what it takes.’ Every one of these statements about you is a lie if you are a believer in Christ. You do have what it takes. You have Jesus – the Way, the truth, and the Life. But you can’t just believe in Him to be free from your stronghold. You must believe Him. Believe He can do what He says He can do. Believe you can do what He says you can do. Believe He is who He says He is. And believe you are who He says you are.” (from Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Prayer).

Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine

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I awoke with a song in my heart …

and it played within me, drawing me into it’s persistent, whispered message until I couldn’t help but sing along.

When this happens, I ponder how it got there. What dream world had I emerged from that morning? What parts of life were being sifted in my mind overnight?

Was the song planted, with purpose, by my Father-God?

I cannot think it to have originated from any other.

As I allowed that song to continue to play, I absorbed it’s message to me. It is a message of praise to the king, but also of confirmation of the love that is available to us from the king of kings. When I ponder (or have it play in my mind and soul, on repeat) how amazing it is to be loved by the Creator of absolutely everything … how can I keep from singing?

How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

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A mum cannot separate her adult son, travelling halfway across the world, from the little boy who stole her heart a million years ago (okay, so maybe more like twenty, but … you get my point).

Though I wrote this post days before his departure, I know that on Friday, as he walked through the departure gate, ticket boarding pass in hand, my heart was struggling to not leap from my chest. I know that, because, as I write, I am already feeling the lump form in my throat and the tears … they slide down my cheeks.

And today (Saturday) you will touch down … Down Under.

“I am so excited for you” (I am already missing you).

“How exciting that you get to go to New Zealand” (could you choose a location farther away?).

“This will be a life-changing trip” (you will come back changed).

“You will have so many great experiences” (you won’t be with us this Christmas).

“I am going to miss you” (I am going to miss you).

Through all of my selfish thoughts and feelings, though, I cannot look at my adult son and do anything but encourage him to go and have this experience. I prayed for opportunities like this one … opportunities to stretch him, to take him to far off places, opportunities …

to know God
and to make Him known.

That is what we hoped and prayed, for him, when he still was that little boy, manipulating my heart.

So, we stay here at home, while he does what we dreamed for that little boy … that he go his way. And in his going, he will come back again to share his discoveries and joys with us. Our role now, as parents to the adult son, is to support and encourage him.

Go with God, my boy-man son.

“So now go with the wind at your back
And the sun on your face
With a song in your heart
And the promise of grace
Go in peace and in truth
And let love lead your way
Go with God”

Carolyn Arends 1999

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