Floating

C847A552-22B8-4EB4-B816-75161DD88C47One of the things I have taken from my life changing moments, the big and the small, is the realization of how tiny I am in the big picture. Yes, I know my tiny self can make a huge impact. I like to compare it to being a piece of the puzzle. One piece can close gaps and bring fulfillment. The thing is, until I see the other pieces being important as well, I cannot truly fit. I must be able to see beyond myself.

Sometimes, I try to wriggle my way in to find I don’t fit. I need to see that I may be trying to fit in the wrong puzzle. I want to fit where I want to fit. I see the place that makes the most sense. I see the place that is easy and comfortable. Maybe at one time I did fit in a particular puzzle, but something changed. I grew or simply changed…or the other pieces around me changed. I could go on forever with the possibilities.

Let me just face it. I am not carved piece of cardboard. The puzzle is simply a metaphor, a weak one if that. I don’t just belong to one puzzle. I am moldable and so is everyone else. Isn’t that beautiful? Inspiring? Scary? Yes, yes, and definitely yes.

For someone like myself, the transition from one place to the next is terrifying. It can feel as though I am floating around frantically looking for my safe place to land. I like having my place. Not just in the physical sense, of course. Even in friendships or other relationships, I need my place. I’m not thinking of any friendship or such right now, though. My point is that I seek purpose in all aspects of my life. Is it good or bad? Maybe it is both.

When I find myself floating around I must remember He is molding me or molding those around me. My safe place is not always in the purpose of today or where I fit into the puzzle, but it in the purpose of the days to come and where I may soon fit. It is in trusting His lead that my faith is strengthened. It is in the floating into the unknown that His power is shown.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

 

 

 

Unwrapped Present

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Have you ever had an idea, a great idea, maybe even a brilliant idea that just sits there?  You think about it and you may talk about it.  It feels right.  It feels straight from God.  It lines up with scripture. You know you have the spiritual gifts and passion for it, but it sits there on your shelf in a neatly wrapped package, untouched. Well I have. I actually do right now. When I think about reaching out to unwrap and use it something stops me.

I used to daydream about it. Then I would get impatient and disappointed in myself for not doing something. I was almost convinced it was fear stopping me, but when I would reach out to grab it that something that stopped me felt right too. Makes sense, right? It was like I knew this was something I truly need to do, but also I knew it something I was not ready to do.

I prayed, prayed, and prayed some more. I was reminded of God’s timing. God does not live through the restraints of time like we do. A day, a month, a year doesn’t mean much as far as eternity goes. He is patient, he properly prepares us, he knows the plan we need to follow. Trust Him and His timing…know there is a time for urgency and there is a time to wait. Waiting is not a bad thing.

Someone once told me something I really need to remember every day of my life. It was something like this: God first, then your family, then your ministry (or God’s work), then everything else. When you get these out of order you will see it in every aspect of your life. So, maybe the reason why I haven’t been able to unwrap my present is because I had these a little mixed up. And I didn’t fully realize it. You probably don’t fully realize it. You are doing the best you think you can, you are doing good things, and you are a good person. You are just doing things out of order.

Through the busyness of life, we get swept away and Satan loves it. It is his best attack against us faithful God-fearing ones. He knows we aren’t going to stop believing in God and trying to do His work, so he tries messing with the order in which we should follow. Next time you have that great idea and it seems to just sit there, try looking at the order in which you are following. Maybe all you need to do is move things around a bit and God will help unwrap your present when the time is right.

Caution: Road Block Ahead

imageMy normal twenty-minute trip of taking Oliver to school took me about 45 minutes this morning. Even my alternative route was closed.  So I had to go another way, then another, and another. I got home and made myself a cup of coffee before I took off again to go shopping…by myself. Any parent knows the joy it brings to shop alone. I cannot tell you the frustration I felt when I looked out my window and saw my road was blocked. Yep, I live on the corner of a court with no other way out. I felt trapped and completely ticked.

All I could think of was how the construction is messing with my life and plans.  

I took a few deep breaths and then sat in my favorite chair. My 72 pound lap dog jumped up on my lap and nestled in. Ranger’s drowsy eyes looked up at me before his big wrinkly head landed on my hand. He loudly exhaled and then closed his eyes.  Within a minute he was snoring.

Apparently my dog was quite pleased with the construction that led to my being trapped. I rubbed his head with my free hand and began to relax. I realized I probably needed my dog and favorite chair more than I needed shopping. I began to sip my coffee and my thoughts carried me away.  I wish I could say they carried me away from construction, but it was not so.

It dawned on me how easily we become frustrated with road blocks. Sometimes it is all we think about.  Sometimes it trickles down into every aspect of our lives.

I’m not speaking the literal sense of a road block. I’m sure you’ve already picked up on that, though. You may even be nodding you head and are thinking of a situation in your own life. You are ready to move on. You want to go where you think/know you want/need to go, but you just can’t get there for because of the stinking road block.

Presently, I do not have any major road blocks. At least none I am aware of. I can recall the ones I’ve had in the past. I remember the frustration. I remember the only if’s. Only if…then my life would be better. I could accomplish more. I could be a better mom, spouse, friend, or whatever. I could be more faithful.  I could be more…

What we fail to see is the significance of the road block. God needs for us to stop so He can do the construction needed within us and around us. He is the one who knows the best path. We need to trust Him when He takes us on unexpected or inconvenient ways.

Amazing how with just a twist of perspective, the meaning of trapped and inconvenienced transforms into our ever-loving God fixing and beautifying us and our path called life.

Season of Change

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The once green leaves darkened and dried.

I never thought to just let them go.

I prayed for strength to keep and bear them.

 

Still, the crisp air came and began to rip them away.

Some twirled, some plummeted, some fast, some slow.

But all landed on the ground around me.

 

I didn’t believe they would wander far.

Give me the strength Lord, please.

They may still come back to me.

 

Slowly the wind picked them up.

One by one they flew further and further.

I tried reaching down to grab them.

 

God simply told me no.  

 

I realized a season of change had come.

New leaves would surely emerge.

But only after the release of all the old.

 

The Light in the Darkness

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Last night my nephew stayed the night.  We let the boys stay up a bit past their bedtimes so we can catch lightening bugs.  As they were running around, I realized it had been a while since I had been outside in the dark. With young kids we cling to the light––we close up shop for the day. Oh my, it was a beautiful night and I was in awe of the dark cloudy sky. A much needed light glimmered through and around me.

I walked around our yard and watched the boys.  I remembered the joys of my own childhood. I pictured my young self standing still and waiting for the small flickering of light. I felt the sneaking up, the holding up of one palm, and then the taking of the other hand to quickly trap the lightening bug. My favorite part was the release. Sometimes they would immediately fly off and other times they would linger for a few seconds.  I would not move until I once again saw their flickering of light in the darkness. Then I was off to find the next flickering of light. I never had any doubt that I would find another.

I began to think of the pain in this world, of the darkness the pain brings. The sun always goes down and the darkness always finds its way. My natural instinct as a parent is to wrap my arms around my kids and pull them close to me.  I want to cover their eyes and shield them from the darkness of this world. I love my children and want to protect them. I can’t though.

Instead of always trying to shield them, I need to show them how to stand in the darkness by always looking to God. One day they will have to stand in the darkness and I will not be able to shield them. I will not be able to shield them. (I have to say it once more.) I will not be able to shield them. What I can do is continue to equip them by:

  • Teaching them the Word.
  • Praying with them
  • Praying for them.
  • Leading by example.  
  • Pointing out the light in the darkness, even if it is just a flicker.  
  • Being their light when I can.
  • Allowing them to be my light when they can.  
  • Trusting God and God’s path for them.
  • Praising, loving, and striving to be more like Christ with them…the only unwavering light in this dark world.

 

Be Still

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A few weeks ago someone I consider close said something hurtful to me.  I cannot stop thinking about it.  It was one of those things the more I think about it, the more it bothers me.

Be still…

My grandpa had a quintuple bypass surgery.  I’ve been so scared to lose him.  I am not ready for that.

Be still…

I feel our lives have been so busy.  We can’t get caught up on the little things.

Be still…

I am not sure why, maybe from busyness, there’s a loneliness creeping in.

Be still…

I know not everyone will agree, but there seems to be so many changes in the world and  I don’t like them.

Be still…

So many I know and love are hurting.

Be Still…

(The list goes on and on.)

But then, I think of my kids and how much they mean to me.

There’s the stillness…

Their faces lit up when their dad, my husband pulled into the driveway.

There’s the stillness…

I hear my husband’s laugh.

There’s the stillness…

Our nighttime routine, our family prayers, our ever-growing traditions, our love.

There’s the stillness

I look and see my completely marked up (falling apart) bible.

There’s the stillness…

My knowing when I’m scared, or when someone is hurtful toward me, when life gets crazy, or when I worry about loved ones, when I miss loved ones, or when Satan tries pulling me down I know where to turn.  I know because He whispers to me…

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

 

Overgrown Grass

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One of my favorite things to do is look at pictures. My fondest memory consists of sitting on the floor at my great grandma’s house and going through photo albums. It was what I looked forward to the most when we went for a visit.  I loved the stories that went along with each picture. More though, I loved that the pictures themselves said more than what the spoken stories told.

I happen to like taking pictures as well. I am no photographer, but, there is something that happens to me when I am behind the camera: I feel inspired and I feel as though I become part of something larger than ordinary life. Maybe I should take some courses to improve my skills, or maybe I should just continue not thinking and just snap away not worrying about the result.

I do not remember where this particular photo was taken or why I even decided to take the shot. I see nothing except overgrown grass and darkness.  I wonder what my thoughts were at the time.  I wonder why I was standing in the midst of overgrown grass. Was I trying to take a picture of something that merely was hidden in the darkness past the power of my lens’ ability?

Funny how often in life beyond the camera I do the same. I get caught up in trying to see into the darkness––instead of focusing on the overgrown grass I am in the midst of…

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

~Matthew 6:34

 

 

 

Me, Myself, and I.

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I spent many years, my late teens through my early twenties, trying to find myself.  I guess I always had (even before that) been looking and trying to find and be me.  It is a part of who I am, my core, always trying to peel away the layers to expose what is inside…to expose who I am meant to be. I am most content when I am unapologetically me. I think many creative types can totally relate to this.  I don’t like when people try to be like me, sometimes I get a bit territorial with myself.  I think I am like this because I like others to be themselves, as well.  We all have a unique beauty that lies within, just waiting to shine.  When I see and feel others basking in their own beauty I am inspired to bask in my own.  I feel a deep sadness when I see people struggling to accept themselves.

I reached a point in my life where I realized I wasn’t the most socially adept person.  In fact, I could spend hours in my room by myself and be completely content.  I would think.  I still can do this.  I love to think and relax inside my own head.  That is the why I am so drawn to writing.  Although I loved being around people, I was never good at the skimming the surface conversations that people start to blossom in once they hit middle school.  I like depth.  Not everyone does, so I found myself drawn to having a few close friends, rather than trying to be friends with everyone.

Now that I am older I have adapted and accepted the surface with most people.  I actually have become more socially adept, as well.  It has been a process and one I wished I could have seen the simplicity in sooner…but then there is always a reason for the journey.

I once took the path of the world.  I think the world seems far too attractive for us thinking/philosophical types.  When I tell this part of my story, I always feel the need to defend myself a bit.  Like, I wasn’t a horrible person…I never did drugs and blahsy blah blah. I think it stems from guilt of walking away from the path God was trying to lead me. I guess, also, it proves my point even more. You can live with morals and be a good person and still not be living the life you are intended to. Anyhow, I always felt His pull every single day. The strength it took to fight it almost led me into complete darkness.  But it was as though He kept relighting my candle just enough for me to see Him still.

Once I realized that He would not give up on me––I gave in.  Because feeling His light…even if just a shimmer…was the only thing that gave me hope…it was the only thing that helped me see my true reflection.  Nothing this world offered helped me to find myself.  No, it was through Him.  It was through trust and digging into the Word.  The more rooted I became in Him, the more I saw myself and the person I was meant to be.  I found my joy and I will never let it go again.

 

 

His Land, or Mine.

 

 

Deuteronomy 11:10-15

10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

I used to loathe the Old Testament.  The older I get, the more I love it. It feels so alive and enlightening and relevant…

I look at the many parallels between the Israelites and my life (our lives) and I feel a bit ashamed. Before, I would read their story and roll my eyes at their stupidity.  Hello!  They had God there with them showing them signs such as bread falling from heaven.  He spoke through burning bushes.  He parted the Red sea, for goodness sake.

This morning I read these verses as the rest of my family was still asleep. I allowed the words to penetrate every part of me.  I closed my eyes and envisioned a gate.  A gate that is always there, where ever I go…it is right there. I open it and walk through.  I see all the things He has planted and cared for.  I am taken care of. I can relax and breathe in His peace.  His flowers bloom in their appropriate seasons.  I don’t need to water them, his rains fall as He sees fit.  But then, I get impatient.  I think this flower should have already bloomed. So, I water it myself.  I water it too much and it dies.  The gate reopens and the winds blow me back into the barren land. I am just as stupid as the Israelites.

He sometimes allows me to stay in the barren land.  I grumble just as they did.  But then, I feel His presence.  He has never left me.  He simply waits for me to allow Him to care for the land He has provided.  Only He knows how long I need this reminder.  When He knows I am ready, the spirit leads me to reopen the gate.

How many ways can you see these verses?  There’s literally, of course.  That is how I first see it. It is history. Then, I see my life before and after Christ. I see my life now when I try to control things instead of following His lead.  I see how humbling it is to let go and allow Him to care for me.  I want to stop, be still, and let Him hold me.

 

Conflict

For someone such as myself who usually avoids conflict, I have to admit (at the present time) how grateful I am for it.  Through conflict I am forced to examine where I stand and why.  For without it, my comfort would thicken and thus my growth would lag…

Conflict. One side is right, the other is wrong. Both sides are right, both sides are wrong.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, there is always something for all to learn.  If you go through conflict and do not, I would suggest you are wrong even if you are right. You don’t need to be the wrong one to be the one to learn a lesson. Maybe it is that God wants you to draw nearer to Him because of what He has planned for your next step.

I struggled with this recently.  I wanted clarity from the other side, the side I feel was/is wrong. I always strive to find clarity to the point it is a strength and a weakness. Sometimes it is not mine to have. Sometimes handing it to God and allowing Him to do His job is what I should be striving for. When I reminded myself of this, I saw why things sometimes linger.

God’s timing is not my timing. I feel as though I need to repeat. God’s timing is not my timing! Some have thicker walls built up around their hearts.  It takes longer for them to see the lesson and sometimes it just isn’t their time. Maybe all that was meant for them was to chip away one more layer so that the next conflict or the one after can knock down the rest of the wall.