Monday, October 24, 2011

Above the Fog

From my window, I saw a clear, blue sky with a layer of fog covering the city below.

It reminded me of how difficult being in the valley can be. The fog engulfs you, and you try to understand. You try to see, but you're limited. There might be moments of beauty, but for the most part, it's confusing and uncertain not being able to see what's ahead.

Standing on the hillside where we live, the air was clear and bright. The blanket of fog that stretched over the city was beautiful.

My heart knows that this picture is what it's like to be with God. When I'm on my own, trying to make things happen or doing what I think is best, it's like being in a valley of fog and hoping it all works out. But when I come before my Lord and spend time with Him, He takes me up on the hillside and shows me the big picture.

That's when my heart sings with joy, love, and peace.

That's when what seemed confusing and hard, becomes glorious and wonderful. But the fog is still fog. It didn't change. Jesus Christ changed my perspective and showed me the beauty.

I pray this picture will encourage us when we are in the fog to turn to the One who can give us a higher perspective and show us the beauty that only He reveals. Amen.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've Fallen in Love

My friends might be shouting, "Finally!" but before you get too carried away....

I met him in Mexico over the weekend, and he is eleven years old. I know--I warned you not to get too excited. We worked together at the orphanage, drying dishes, setting the table, and he taught me a little Spanish. Jonathan has dark hair, dark eyes, a darling face, and a helpful heart! I couldn't speak Spanish, and he knew only a little English. But when I finished drying a dish, I would hold it up, and he'd point to a cupboard, or shelf, with a cute grin that said, I like helping this blonde gringo, who knows nothing about my world. He and (beautiful, ten-year old) Maria teased me about being so old, and as he helped me set the table, he made sure he put every cup in perfect alignment with mine. After lunch, I played volleyball with a few of the others, but I couldn't help remembering my first trip to an orphanage as a college student. I wrote this short monologue after the visit:

I met him in a Romanian orphanage. We were there to be with the children, and most of the people I came with, immediately started playing with the outgoing kids. They were laughing and having fun, but I looked for something else. And I found him in the corner. He had the most beautiful, bright-blue eyes, but he barely looked at me. He just sat there. No smile. No friendly greeting. A scared heart. Scared to open up, or get involved. Scared to care...
That was the moment I knew, I wanted to take him home. 

I remember leaving the orphanage, and the same boy I wrote about was running after our van, waving wildly with a bright smile on his face. It was such a small thing--to notice and care. In a world that seems to favor the motto, whatever...I don't care. I never want to forget that the greatest gift you can give a child is to care.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing Update

As many of you know, I've written the entire novel I've been working on...and edited it, and reedited it many times. Then I got stuck, again, and I knew that either God would tell me it's done, or He'd give me new inspiration. A while passed before I got the new inspiration I was waiting for, and it was a little overwhelming. I am pretty sure I needed that break (when I didn't know what to do with it) so that I'd have enough energy not to be discouraged when the new idea came. It is going to be a lot of work ahead of me.

The last week I haven't had the ability to write. I sat down, but nothing would come out. All I could do was ponder the new story changes and talk to God about them. But I'm not discouraged by that. I know that when I'm done discussing the storyline with Him, He will give me the creativity again to sit down and write. But I ask for your prayers. I'm really excited about the new direction the story is taking, but I need strength, perseverance, and creativity to accomplish this. Meanwhile, I plan on working on my second project--which is writing my parents/family's story--until it is time to go back to my first project. Thank you so much for any prayers and for your support!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

For the Discouraged Heart

As I sat considering what to write for my next post, I kept thinking about a number of friends who've talked to me recently about how discouraged they are. Now I'm not a poet, and I don't claim to be. But I wrote this for a friend once. Maybe there are others who need to read it too. I know it's been a blessing to me when I'm discouraged.

        When all hope seems gone
          When all joy seems spent
          And all peace seems lost
Those are the days, that meant the most

When you're too tired to take another step
          Or breathe another breath
           When your heart is full
         And your mind won't rest
Those are the days, true beauty resides

            For the soul is in need
             That only One can fill
The Living Water--for the body, mind, and spirit
             So pour out the ache
        In the way you're designed
For a deeper connection is yours to find.

May you find that beautiful surrender when His joy and peace wash over you in the midst of life's tornado.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Unknown Place

Have you ever had a vision in your head of an unknown place? Maybe it’s a glimpse of your life in the future, or someone with whom you are spending your life. Perhaps the place is a state of being, the lives you’ve touched, or the people who’ve changed because of knowing you. Then again, maybe it’s more…

For me, it’s like standing in a desert, looking at a picture through a veil. The beginning of a sandstorm kicks up all around me as I try to see the image. I might succeed in seeing colors or vague shapes, but the image is never clear. Like a mystery behind a curtain that I can’t touch or lift by myself. But it’s there. A promise that keeps me moving forward through the wilderness, even when things around me are taunting my ability, whispering words of failure; and that I don’t really know what I’m doing, or where I’m going.

I am reminded of a group of people who once were led by a pillar of fire to the promise land, but I have no pillar of fire before me. Sometimes, I find myself getting so lost in everything I see around me, I can’t help but beg for something physical to guide me. I complain that it’d be so much easier to follow something I can see, but then I feel it…

The fire is in my heart; He guides those willing to listen.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A good trade

I realized, the other day as I was cleaning my room, that under my bed needed some attention. So I got the vacuum cleaner out, and I pushed the beds apart (my sister and I have two twin beds pushed together). A thick layer of dirt covered the floor, along with a bunch of miscellaneous items: pens, paperclips, a random sock, etc. I began picking up the unwanted junk when I found something that made my spirit drop instantly.  The DVD of a favorite childhood movie that I had just bought was lying on the ground looking up at me without its cover. I had been so excited when I found it in the store after so many years, watching it again had brought back warm memories as a girl. But when I picked it up, I knew the scratches were too severe. It was ruined.

I knew my little sister, and some friends had been on my bed watching movies recently. I had been okay with allowing them; they knew whatever they borrowed they needed to put back. But apparently, she had missed putting it back, and now it was ruined. My initial reaction was to show my little sister the reason why you should be very careful with other people's things. I was extremely disappointed, and she needed to see that so she would learn. But as I went downstairs, I prayed.

I found her in the dining room, and by then my disappointment had cooled down. I showed her, but I wasn't angry like I would have been if I hadn't taken the time to seek my Lord.

All I had to do was show her, and I could see the disappointment in those beautiful blue eyes. She had let her big sister down, and the tears began to flow as she defended herself. I told her I wasn't upset with her and explained why she should be careful with things that weren't hers. It didn't feel good. In fact, I had to force myself not to be upset with her. Then I went back upstairs. It didn't take long before the Lord told me to go back down. Your sister is more important than a movie. Make sure she knows that. So I went back. I hugged her and told her the reason I wasn't upset with her was because I loved her more than a movie. Her little eyes told me she needed to hear that.

Once again, I returned to my work. This time I found a CD without a case. It was scratched, not nearly as badly, but the CD was my other sister's. It was the CD that I had borrowed a while back and forgotten to return. Despite my best effort to live my beliefs and be a good role model for my little sister, I had slipped up. I had forgotten to return something I'd borrowed. I tried to imagine how I would have felt if I had gone down, been harsh with my little sister for her mistake, only to come up and find that I had done the same thing; I just didn't know it yet. Aren't you glad you came to Me, and I gave you mercy to give your little sister? Instead of the justice you went to give?

As I picked up the phone to call my other sister and ask her for forgiveness, I was reminded of the parable of the debtor who didn't give the mercy he had been given. Right then and there, I knew there are so many times, I've tried to do the right thing according to the wrong done, but I forget what I've already been forgiven. If I had condemned the wrong my little sister had done, how much more should God condemn me for not being gracious as He is to me. Actually, God wouldn't have had to condemn me. My actions would have condemned me.

It was a good trade, giving and receiving mercy rather than what was deserved.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Living like a Humming Bird

I sat on a rock outside the front of our house, watching a green, humming bird bathe in the trickling waterfall from our pond. He dipped in the water and ruffled his feathers, making the water droplets look as though they lept off the tiny bird. He repeatedly dipped in the cool water, thoroughly enjoying himself in the summer sun before zipping here and there--wherever he pleased. He was fast. He kept busy, yet he was light and without burden.

Leaning back, I found how enjoyable watching him zip here and there was. Sometimes, he had a purpose. Sometimes, he was curious. But he was beautiful to me. He's not like other birds who soar or gracefully dive in the air. He always appears busy with constant energy, but he was uniquely beautiful. He didn't need to play tag in the air like a crow, swoop like a hawk, or flutter like a finch. He was exactly the way he was made.

I made a comment to the Lord about how I enjoyed watching him, and I heard the soft whisper in my heart, "That's how I am with you when you're living the way I created you to be." Suddenly, an image came to my mind of the humming bird, filled with worry and fear. He didn't have time to be enjoyed because he was too busy striving to make sure he had enough to eat, took care of those he loved, and most all...strove to get everything exactly right. The sight of a weighed-down humming bird was so wrong that it hurt me to imagine. I knew in a moment God was showing me that He wants me to be the way I was created. I don't have to be a humming bird, wishing I could soar like another bird. I don't have to burden myself with trifle necessities that God knows I need. I can be at peace. I can be enjoyed by Him and be His delight by being who He created me to be--His.

He Holds My Hand...even after graduation

June 29, 2009

I have been reminded how incredible my God is through the lessons that He continues to reteach me. First, I was thinking about how the more I get to know Him, the more I realize it is not about being a good person. I remember a time when I felt like a good person, who did not really need to be saved. I was grateful that Jesus loved me enough to save me, but deep down inside, I did not feel like a bad person. Warning flags went off in my head, but that was honestly how I felt, so I prayed about it. Since then, God has been revealing more and more of Himself to me. And I realize that it doesn't matter! Who cares if I feel like I'm better, cleaner garbage, or closer to the top of the garbage can than a lot of humanity? The fact of the matter is that garbage is still garbage in comparison to God! I know I still think better of myself than I should, and God deserves more love and reverence than I give. I pray that as my walk continues, He will strengthen my awe and reverence of Him and humble me with eyes to see what I am in comparison to what matters--His standards. I know this lesson is not new, but each time He teaches me things like this, the synaptic connection is strengthened.

This reminder caused me to contemplate the constant battle Christians face. We are repeatedly reminded of the things of God. Trust for example is one of our most difficult. As humans, we always need a plan, a goal and a way to achieve that goal. But the goal is not the focus of life. Jesus Christ is our focus and through our focus on Him, He accomplishes what needs to happen through us. At this stage of my life, right out of college, it is easy to waver in my trust. For in this flexible stage, I could head in a multitude of directions and it is easy to get overwhelmed, hoping that I choose the right door. But as soon as these thoughts come crowding in, God steps in and calms my mind. He tells me that I don't need to worry or stress. He tells me to do the tasks He has put in front of me, have the courage to knock on doors for the future, and be at peace knowing He will supply all of my needs. The answer is so simple--trust. Yet it is so difficult for us to always stick to it. I cannot even count the number of times, God has had to remind me to simply trust Him. And I know it will continue the rest of my life.

When I think of this, I am astounded. Why would God love me enough to pay that much attention to me? Why does He patiently remind me of all the lessons that I have to learn and relearn? I think of a common pet peeve--to go over and over the same thing with another person. It's frustrating when someone does not get a concept, and you have to teach them over and over again. I know I get frustrated with myself when I can never seem to get it right and have to relearn the same lesson. My God not only patiently teaches me, He teaches my friends, my family...anyone who asks Him. And He never gets frustrated that He has to teach you again and again. Instead, He gets hurt and grieved when you turn to other things instead of coming to Him. How can He have the strength to be that patient with us? It's admirable and brings tears to my eyes. He holds my hand and never gives up, no matter how many times I fall down. Oh how I wish people could see how much He loves us, and how much we hurt Him. How patient He is with us and how quickly we forget Him. Even His discipline is an act of tough love for children that need it. I want more! I want to know Him better! If He is willing to pay this much attention to me, I've found my source of love and worth!

Encouargement for the Unknown

January 13, 2009
I had an amazing time on Sunday, and I think my experience may bless others who are struggling, afraid of the unknown.
In service, I was praying, and my thoughts turned to the next step after graduation. As of now, I have no idea where God is leading me. But as I stood there, I thought of that poem, or writing, about the footsteps in the sand and how God carries us through the difficult times.

Well, in my mind, I was on a beach with Jesus leading me by the hand. I couldn't see, but he told me to keep walking forward. I wanted to walk confidently, charging ahead in full faith. But I was timid. I began to cry, telling God that I wanted that kind of faith, but I was honestly scared. I wanted to fully trust Him without any doubt, and I was grieved to find that I wasn't in that place. I told God how much I love Him and because of that love I want to charge ahead.

But then, He said gently, "Would you be listening to My voice if you weren't scared?" I had never thought of it that way. He was right! If I was confidently striding through life, unafraid, I would be trusting my own judgment, oblivious. My ear would not be seeking His voice. Because I'm nervous about the unknown, I am leaning on Him for guidance. I think that's where He wants us to be in our walks. Loving Him enough to want to be lions in our faith, but being lambs, straining to hear their master's voice.

Too good to keep to myself

November 5, 2008:
I was writing in my journal and was touched so much. I think it's worth sharing. I may have to be slightly vulnerable to write this, but it's too good to keep to myself.

Recently, I experienced a lot of hurt by a friend, who almost became more than a friend. I was praying about it because I wanted to love and bless this person. To shine Christ's light and love into his life, and I couldn't. He wouldn't let me. That hurt. It's hard to love someone and be not be allowed to give. I was praying and asking God why this was happening to me. I didn't understand, and I didn't know what to do with the ache in my heart. He whispered, "Now you know what I feel. I hold out goodness, love, faithfulness, trust, hope, peace, joy--everything they need, and they still reject me and return to their own sin."
It hit me. I realized that the pain I felt for this friend was a tiny glimpse of what God experiences everyday. Oh, how His heart must break! How has God endured this from millions of people throughout all the ages? That's a lot of people, and we all reject Him over and over again. This experience has increased my love for God. I would have given up immediately if I were in His place. Yet He patiently endures pain after pain as we shove His goodness and blessings in His face. How many times do we run from God when He longs to shower love on us? Why do we fear good? We run from what our hearts long for and crave--unconditional love. A love that will turn the other cheek. A love that will still pray for, and be a friend to, the one who gave the injury. A love that knows our weaknesses and loves us anyway.

I am grateful that God has shown me a taste of what He is given all the time. I love and trust Him so much more for it. It's humbling when you experience a bit of what we put God through. Why is it that we are so self-centered that we complain about our lives to God and demand to know where He is? But rarely do we think about what OUR lives do to Him? I think God wants to bring us to a point where we stop focusing on ourselves--on our pain, on our relationships, on our friendships, on our struggles, on our tears--and consciously live to be a blessing and joy to people around us...but also to God. That our focus becomes: how is God using my struggle, my pain, my fear, my insecurities to further His kingdom and bring glory to His name. I pray God touches others as He has touched me through this lesson. To Him be the glory and honor forever.