Monday, September 21, 2009

Maturity


I don't think I would have seen it had it not been for the Boy Scout scrapbook I'd started last year for Robbie. On the cover I put the picture of him at the house. The picture by the lake is from this year and he hardly looks like the same kid...!!!

In just one year he's lost that little boy look and is beginning to look like the teen he almost is. How did that happen and what did they do with my little boy?!?

He loves the fact that he's a mere 1/2 inch shorter than I am and I still can't believe the fact that I can talk to him eye to eye now without having to bend over. I knew this would happen, of course it's sooner than I'd thought, but he's maturing.

Are we?
What does it look like for us?
Is it connected to wrinkles and stray facial hair?

What do mature souls look like?

Consider this quote:

Continue to be soft and pliable in the Lord’s hands and out of that relationship will come the things that define you at the deepest level of your heart—revealing to yourself and others what you are really about—what moves you, motivates you, and forms your true longings. These longings come from God’s heart touching yours—resulting in the things that He will work in you and bring to pass through your life. (Based upon Psalm 37:4) by Roy Lessin

I think that as we mature in our relationship with our God that unlike the human process of becoming more independent as we grow up, we become increasingly dependent on Him. Christ welcomed the children and said that one needed a child-like faith to come to Him. Is it not true that the more we get to know Him that we realize both how greatly we need Him and how much we can depend on Him?

Could the measure of our maturity be what it takes to get us on our knees?

Seriously, think about that - what puts you on your knees?
How much does it take or how bad does it have to be until you realize that you can't do it on your own and need God? When God wants you to come before Him what does He have to do to get your attention? Call your name? Shout? Put up a neon sign in your pathway? Or as in Balaam's case, an invisible angel with a flaming sword and a talking donkey?

How soft and pliable are we in His hands?
How quickly do we yield to His rearranging of our plans to accomplish His plan which of course we know nothing about? How long does it take us to unbegrudgingly and sincerely say "Thy will be done"?

So as our children grow and our bodies age, are our hearts growing more pliable in the Father's hands? Are we maturing too?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blooming Tea

I've just discovered something beautiful and amazing and it's commonly known as "Blooming Tea".

These are made of tea leaves that are hand-sewn into bundles. They're small and tight and not very attractive and there's no indication of what is hidden inside...

But...when these are placed in a teapot and boiling water is poured over them they blossom right before your eyes. (You can watch it here and I suggest you do!)

Wow, what a surprise! It's incredible how hundreds of individual tea leaves carefully joined together can, under the right conditions produce something beautiful and good for you.

It reminds one of Romans 8:28 doesn't it? If a tea crafter can select individual, unrelated tea leaves and bind them together into one tea ball that reveals a whole greater than the individual parts, then why do we doubt that God can not and is not doing the same thing with all that happens in our lives?

No, really, I'm asking that. How is it that we have a view of God that is so small that we assume that the trouble and trials in our lives are occurring without His knowledge and for absolutely no reason?

We have no way of knowing how what we are experiencing now will be used in what is in our future. I Corinthians 1:3 tells us that "For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you." and you know how that has already been true in your life; how because of your experience you've been able to relate to and encourage someone else going through something similar. I have some friends struggling to maintain a pregnancy who were just introduced to a couple who had the same experience last year and the comfort and understanding they've received from connecting with them is beyond description. Perhaps you've been in such a place and found hope because of someone else relating their pain and the hope they'd found through it and realize that you can too.

Now the tea flower needs to have boiling or near boiling water poured over it to activate the changes, and none of us have any desire for that to happen in our lives. I'd like my life cool and temperate thank you very much, no boiling stresses or circumstances for me! But, when those times come (and they will) perhaps all the things you've been learning in your time with the Father will reveal that He's been doing a work in your life, hidden to you, but one that now brings both honor and glory to His name. Perhaps as you obey His voice in the small everyday kinds of things that He brings to your heart, He is working in you something that someday will be revealed as far greater and more amazing than we could ever imagine...

Who would think a dried up walnut shaped pod could become a large blooming flower filling a pot of hot water with an aromatic and healthful beverage? And if men could invent this, what might God be planning in our lives?

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Scent of God's Goodness

It hit me as soon as I opened the box of fall decor, this scent of mulled cider, and it made me remember...

The October I turned forty I was able to take the beginning of a weekend and head up to Lake Geneva Wisconsin by myself. Turning the "Big 4-0" was a BIG deal to me - I mean this was"40" halfway to 80 - I'd already lived half my life, I was not only an adult now but had been an adult for twenty years - it was time to start feeling "all grown up" - when my parents were this age they were OLD! And then of course what about all that stuff you hear how your body goes downhill after forty, and your endurance is less, and you need bifocals or (if you're in denial about that) longer arms...for many reasons the future was looking less promising than the past.

(I must add a note here - if you are not yet forty you may be able to identify with what I'm saying. If you're past forty you're probably not remembering having such angst yourself now that you're on the other side of it and realizing it's not that bad and if you're really over forty I know you're thinking "40? Pshaw, you're just a baby!")

So here I am, alone on a beautiful fall weekend, contemplating this move into a new decade. I stopped to pick up some supplies; some great bread and cheese, a seasonal coffee, a fleece fall throw, and some candles.

Throughout that day I read through journals, listened to great music and walked through a cool afternoon surrounded by brilliant color until it became a clear crisp night with a full harvest moon.

So when I reached the end of this time filled with remembering and wondering and the scent of mulled cider; I was fully convinced of one thing; God had been faithfully active throughout my life so far and He was not going to desert me now.

For in all the words I read of my own life's journey and in all the promises of Scripture; I found they harmoniously joined together in the declaration "Great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever!" (Psalms 117:2)

I had no idea of the changes the next few years would bring. About a month later my mom fell and broke her hip and had various other health concerns and before I would celebrate my next birthday she was home with her Lord. Finances change, kids grow, conflicts arise, nothing is stagnant and tomorrow is not guaranteed to look like today...
We have no idea what is ahead for any of us wherever we are in our lives whether today is a "big" turning point birthday or just another weekday; but here is what I know.

"Nevertheless I am continually with You, You hold me by my right hand.
You will keep on guiding me with your counsel and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever." Psalms 73:23-26

Nevertheless - you've got to love that word!

Nevertheless what my life has been to now, You are holding me by my hand.
Nevertheless what the future hold, You are continually with me.
Nevertheless when my body fails and my mind is gone, You are still mine forever!
These are precious promises to take with us into an unknown future.
So may this season in it's "cinnamony" scents also remind you that, whatever is ahead, great is His faithfulness!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Year Round School?

That is the question and the main reason seems to be, "Kids forget everything they've learned over the summer!"

Now I've never agreed with that statement - until (sigh) this morning...

I was helping my daughter with her socks in an attempt to hurry her up and said "Don't forget this part goes on your heel" to which she quipped, "Hey don't blame me. I haven't worn socks all summer!"

I guess they really do forget...!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What? There are no coffee filters?!!

(Some of you already know what's coming given my addiction to love of coffee!)

Let me set the scene.
We'd gotten home at 10:30 pm Labor Day night after being gone for six weeks.
The car was unloaded and everything put into piles on any and all available floor space.
Six am wake up as it is the first day of school.
Everyone actually manages to get out the door on time, having eaten breakfast, finding their bike helmets and carrying all their new school supplies in their backpacks.
I, after taking the first day of school pictures, (standing on the sidewalk in my pajamas of course!) go back inside and survey the chaos.
Six weeks of dust and cobwebs, plus the "throw a van load of stuff in the house" plus the mayhem of a typical school morning equals I need a plan and COFFEE!!!

I fill the carafe with water, select my flavor for the day (hazelnut) and pick up the coffee filter box only to find that it is EMPTY!

NOOOOOO!!!!!

For several years I'd been ordering coffee from the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and with every order they included a free box of filters so I haven't bought filters in years. But I'd stopped getting coffee so I knew there were no more spare boxes of filters... This particular pot used a cone filter, and it's the only one that does so even if there are more filters around the house they would be the basket kind (which make great snowflakes when folded and cut btw).

I start looking anyway just in case and in less than a minute I find an unopened package of cone filters from the store!! I have no idea when or why I'd bought them as I for years have had all these boxes of these free filters but at that moment all I knew is that I was going to get my coffee! Hurray!

So now as I sit down with my coffee, growing "To Do" List, and Bible I read in Luke 12 (selected phrases)

"So I tell you don't worry about your everyday life - for life consists in far more than food and clothing - Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? - If God cares so wonderfully for the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't He more surely care for you? - Your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern"

He will give you all you need from day to day... coffee filters included I guess! And if God, who knew my needs and provided those mysterious filters, took care of such a small thing who am I to doubt that He will also provide everything else I need today?

Time to get to more coffee (!) and to take advantage of His strength for my day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fearless

Fearless people scare me as I sit on the couch watching their exploits on television...who is crazy enough to climb a mountain, sail around the world, or be involved in the X Games?

But the problem is that you don't have to do something extreme to experience fear as it is all around and within us.
Max Lucado has written a new book entitled Fearless and in it he addresses, not the fear of bungee jumping in the Grand Canyon, but the fears that plague us deep in our hearts.
The fears of
Overwhelming challenges
Global Calamity
Not Mattering
Violence
Not being able to protect my kids
That God is not real
Of life's final moments
Of what is next

I find myself at this moment most strongly identifying with the fear of what is next as I seek to reenter the world of the employed. What if no one wants to hire me? What if I've forgotten how to handle a classroom full of children? What if I can't keep up with all the rest of my life and a job too?

Yep, I'm one fear filled woman.
I read the first chapter (and you can too here) and then skipped to the one about fear of what's next and discovered the most important truth - as already recorded in Scripture in 2 Timothy 1:7 "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power and of a sound mind."

The author of fear is the enemy of our souls. Am I going to believe what he says or claim God's promise of love, power and a sound mind?

This book is excellent - right on target for now with the future and the economy looking so uncertain. If you're in my area, we're going to be starting a group study and discussion of this book later in September - let me know of your interest and I'll get you more details as we figure it out - and if you're not here in the area - take a few minutes and check out the online resources and the book. What do you have to lose but your fears?
“The promise of Christ and the contention of this book are simple:
we can fear less tomorrow than we do today.” Max Lucado

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Depressive to manic?


You have turned for me my mourning into dancing - Psalms 30:11

That's quite a statement isn't it?
It sounds a bit manic to me - mourning into dancing - great depths to great happiness - from lacking strength to get through the day to having so much joy one can not stand still - I think if those words were coming from my friend, I would be concerned about their mental health...

The Psalm begins "I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to you for help and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death."

So either David was a bit of a "drama queen" or he was in some serious trouble - and if you read in 1 and 2 Samuel, you'll see it was that latter. The man was like a lightening rod to trouble!

But here he's talking about how he's been rescued from this trouble, from enemies and death, and he's so relived he's dancing. I think it's a similar principle to what we find in Luke 7:37 when the immoral woman came and washed Jesus' feet with her hair and her tears. He said,“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:37

One forgiven much, loves much; one rescued from much, praises much!

But haven't you also found that to be true?

I've just discovered this again recently.
There were no enemies, grave, or pit of death (sounds a bit like an Indiana Jones episode doesn't it?) but there was disappointment, confusion, and hurt. I didn't understand why all this had taken place; it made no sense, and left me sighing.

Notice the actual phrasing of the verse - "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing". If these were the psalms of Becky it would read "You have turned for me my sighing into grateful praise." The key concept here is that He has done the turning, the rescuing, the saving - it's not coming to the end of the rope, tying a knot and hanging on but it is being pulled out of danger and despair by the almighty hands of an attentive God.

That is something I love about God - He is attentive to us - "I love the Lord because He hears, and answers my prayers, because He bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!" Psalms 116:1

When God does the rescuing - when He is the one who, without our assistance, changes a situation from mourning to dancing, or sighing to praising, we can then say "You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!"

Whatever situation you find yourself in, from enemies and peril, or hurt and confusion recognize that, although this right now is so hard, that our God has the ability to turn it into cause for joy; genuine "I can't even believe it myself. I feel like dancing" joy!

Fog



The top of my mattress meets the bottom of my bedroom window so in other words all I have to do in the morning is open my eyes and I have a good idea of what the day is going to be like.

Most mornings still snuggled in blankets I see the sun rising spreading it's orange and yellow banners across the window's width cheerfully bringing in the new day and reminding me of the verse, "Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will." Isaiah 50:4. The day is clear and bright.

There are other mornings that opening my eyes is not even necessary as I can already hear the rain pounding on the pane and know what's in store...

This morning I woke up to a vague greyness.
Fog.
I could feel it's cold dampness just from the sight of it.

How this day would unfold is not readily apparent. I can't see into the distance as everything is shrouded and obscure.

It seemed all too appropriate for it to be foggy this morning as it was the beginning of Labor Day weekend; the end of the summer and the beginning of a new season. It'd been a good summer, sunny and straightforward for the most part. But that was over and it was time to plunge back into all that the word "Fall" means for a family of four - a new schedule, back to school, sports, and other activities, and the responsibilities we'd been able to take a break from over summer vacation.

So how do you deal with fog? How do you progress when you can't see the way?
One step at a time.

"Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path." Psalms 119:105

You know the comparison - a light gives you enough illumination to see the next step. It's the same in fog - you can see immediately in front of you but that is the limit to your vision. Take the step you can see, and then the next one, and you'll find that you are down the road and there the next step will also be clear. It's slow progress, there's no sprinting here, but there is the assurance that "The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives." Psalms 37:23

At some point the sun will come out, burn off the fog, and the way ahead will be clear again but until then "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5,6
One step at a time.