Did you ever have a moment in middle or high school when you felt like as soon as you entered a conversation, your peers would suddenly have something else to do and become scarce? (Okay, self-reveal: Maybe that was just socially awkward me?)
Maybe you came to pick up your child to leave a playmate’s home only to experience the frustration of him hiding in a closet so he didn’t have to leave.
Ever find your dog, tail-down, hovering in the crate or under the crouch because she had an accident and knows you won’t be pleased?
My daughter has a bunny with the annoying habit of retreating to her hideaway whenever I come in to offer fresh pellets or hay. It’s not very rewarding to have her scamper away at the sight of my presence.
Do you ever feel this way about God? Like you came into the room, so to speak, to ask Him something, but He might be busy listening to someone else or have better things to do?
Be honest with yourself. This is important. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: 1 Chronicles 28:9, clothed with righteousness, come to me, finding God, God with us, God's promises, he will be found by you, hide and seek, hiding from God, I know the plans I have for you, I will be found by you, jeremiah 29:11, king david, Matthew 11:28, robe of righteousness, seek God, seek me with all your heart, seek the Lord, seeking God, you will seek me and find me
I am not very good at keeping still. In fact, I turn still into a such a multitasking event that I defeat its entire purpose. Last night, for example, I sat down to watch The Peanuts Movie with my youngest son, and I turned it into a moment of buying a subscription to a creation science magazine for my oldest child for Christmas.
I was always the child who had to play a board game with myself or work on a scrapbook project while watching television. Even when my friends would come over to play Barbies, I would sing commercial ditties or manage multiple tasks at once. Ask any one of my childhood friends, and she will tell you I drove her nuts! Being at rest is not a concept I have ever understood. I have always been driven and project-focused. The night of my bridal shower, I stayed up late for hours to make sure all thank-you notes were immediately written, stamped, and addressed.
For a long time, I chalked it up to an amazing work ethic. I was the ant of Proverbs 6—and proud of it!
Proverbs 6:6-9, ESV
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
Right now, for example, I am writing an email reply to my mother while
–looking for dressy heels for my daughter at Famous Footwear online,
–writing this article,
–checking on the dogs,
–and thinking about the school evaluation forms I have to fill out and promptly sign and return to special education office in the school district.
I also might stop and wrap one present.
I might be productive, but I certainly am not focused.
What does still mean for you?
My still consists of the few moments Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: advent, Advent peace, ant of Proverbs, be still, being at rest, being still, fighting still, finding still, focus, gathers her food in harvest, God with us, Hebrews 4:16, immanuel, keeping still, know that I am God, peace, Proverbs 6, psalm 46:10, quiet the storm, still, The Peanuts Movie, Throne of Grace, walking on water
This year, I made myself a promise that I would buy 95 percent of Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving. I’ve even managed to ship a few care packages and boxes of presents already. I think I learned from previous years that if I want a peaceful, Christ-focused Advent season, I have to be organized, planned, and efficient.
Two years ago, my father passed away on December 2. Advent was a blur. I don’t even remember if I shopped. This is a difficult time of year for that and other reasons, and I am choosing to spend December reading about shepherds watching their flocks by night, singing worship carols, and focusing on Immanuel, God with us. I want to create more family time, play board games, do a jigsaw puzzle, watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, The Christmas Story, and Elf. I can’t wait to cuddle my dogs on cold nights and breathe in Christmas candles and essential oils diffusing in every room. I look forward to my daughter baking cookies and filling the house with the delightful smells of Christmas.
I want to be expectant in my heart and soul, like Mary, mother of the Christ, my heart trusting in my God.
Luke 1:46-50, ESV
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”
What about you? Did you anticipate the fun or the stress of last-minute grocery runs for the cranberry sauce, post-Thanksgiving cleanup, Black Friday shopping, crowds, traffic, and the tensions that can be both beautiful and stretch us taut when around extra family during the holidays? Did you put up your Christmas tree? Lights?
Is there anticipation in the air—or just weariness?
Whatever season you are in, wherever the needle on your stress gauge is at the moment: Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: advent, call me blessed, Christ, Christ child, expectant, finding advent, God with us, holiday peace, holiday stress, holiday weariness, humble estate of his servant, humility, immaculate conception, immanuel, Jesus, live peaceably with all, living peaceably, living peacefully, Luke 1:46, Magnificat, mary mother of christ, peace, rejoice in hope, romans 12, soul magnifies the Lord, weary
I could feel his presence as I entered each room. He had only been gone one year; past conversations and memories bopped around in my mind—random flashes of the past with no clear timeline. Dad making himself known in my heart and thoughts. His love was tangible. The house was pregnant with his solid faith and unconditional love. We missed him terribly, but we walked the legacy he set in place before us. With each step of remembrance, I felt his nod of approval, his pleasure.
It was the first time in his home since he had passed. I was so relieved his blue recliner chair was there, the leather worn in places where his hands used to push forward to fold out for a nap. The seat of it revealed the wear of a consistent presence like the dent in a blanket left by a warm dog after it gets up and stretches.
During some of our last visits, an external bladder pouch sat next to him on the floor, taking the role his cancer-ridden organ used to play. Sweet as he was, he used to ask if it would upset my children to see it. I was honestly glad they did. They remember the battle he fought so courageously and the toll it took. His robe would hang slightly open where the tube delivered its contents to the pouch on the floor. None of us minded. At the time, we were so grateful he was still with us.
I can’t look at that chair without seeing the red-white tufts of hair poking out over its high back or the freckled, hairy, lanky arms sitting on the armrests. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: 1 John 4:16, abides in love, abiding in God, death, Deuteronomy 31:8, Dwelling place of God, exodus 33:14, Fullness of joy, God is love, God is near, God with us, God's presence, grief, i will give you rest, immanuel, Lord goes before you, loss, mourning, presence of God, Psalme 23:4, relationship with God, Revelation 21:3, valley of the shadow of death
He was sitting in the middle of a winepress, hiding from his enemy, threshing wheat. Defeated and discouraged, Gideon was hardly a man you would describe as part of God’s inheritance of the Promised Land. If he didn’t thresh his wheat in secret, the Midianites, his enemy, would come and plunder the food, leaving him more hopeless and desperate than ever. And yet in the middle of this sad state, an angel of the LORD visits him:
Judges 6:12, ESV
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
Um, what now?
There may be circumstances in your own life where you feel completely done under, barely coming up for air, sitting in the dark threshing your own wheat just to get by, trying to manage making it through one more day. You simply want to go unnoticed and un-harassed. Oh, I know several folks sitting in that place right now. It was me last year this time. And I know that in these moments, we certainly don’t feel like “mighty men of valor,” but when God Himself calls us that, He has a clear vision of what’s ahead and how He is about to use us for good.
For good? In these circumstances of certain defeat? How can He possibly use it for good?
Well, Gideon sure didn’t jump in with both feet initially. He needed a bit of reassurance, some confirmation. Do you know why?
At first he did not Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: blessed assurance, Christian faith, Gideon, God speaks, God with us, God's plans, God's purposes, God's reassurance, God's rescue, hope of Christ, Judges 6, mighty man of valor, presence of God, winepress
Recently, I was sitting on the Boston T staring at the feet of many people. Wow, her toenails need painting, just like mine. Cool wedges…wonder where she got them? He is dressed to the nines. I wonder what he does? Does he like himself at the end of the day? Oh my, that child needs a new pair of sneakers for school; I hope his family can manage that.
I’ll admit I wasn’t looking at the whole person. I just was gazing at feet. I wasn’t trying to make assumptions. As a writer, I visually see things and then have a nonstop ongoing dialogue with myself in my head.
I also receive snippets from God throughout the week as to what to write about, and “subway” came through crystal clear.
The next day, at the suggestion of a sweet mentor, I was listing so many questions I have for God. I truly have more questions than answers. I don’t imagine He was exhausted from my list, but I sure was. And then an area I had been praying about for a while came into focus on a day when I was troubled that my father was so knocked down by chemo that he couldn’t continue the treatments that week.
I was so scared to carry out the actions I felt God was telling me to take with regard to another person. It was an area of constant rejection and pain. Am I tough enough for the response, God? Maybe we should try this at another time?
And there it was, plain as day: Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: anxiety, chemo, communicating with God, Give us this day our daily bread, God with us, God's provision, God's purposes, God's vision, God's will, hand of God, hand of Jesus, in earth as it is in heaven, matthew 6, more of heaven, on earth as it is in heaven, perfect peace, relationship with God, subway, talking to God, the Lord's prayer, thy will be done, trusting God, warm hand of Jesus
Ever feel like screaming:
“God, where ARE you? It’s the eleventh hour, and I’m beyond impatient waiting on you to show up!”
In a crisis situation, that desperate plea sounds pretty reasonable, right? We’re frantic, and we cry out. There’s nothing wrong with that. David did this repeatedly in the Psalms. God isn’t afraid of our honesty. In fact, He welcomes it.
Even so, there are four fundamental misconceptions with these statements, and believe me, I’m guilty of wrong belief myself!
- God is not with us.
- He might not respond, so we have to get His attention again.
- It really is the eleventh hour.
- It’s about us.
As for Number One, can I just say here that Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: 1 john 5:14, christ who lives in me, cross of Christ, Deuteronomy 31:6, down to the wire, eleventh hour, faith, galatians 2:19-20, God answers, God hears us, God with us, God's purposes, he hears us, He will not leave you or forsake you, immanuel, in the valley, It is finished, listening to God, Lord your God goes with you, matthew 1:23, relationship with God, rescue, time lords, trusting God, waiting on God, where is God