Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Curse of Comparison

I watch and listen to them when they don't know it.
They're doing it again, this comparing of self to others.
This looking at each other with hesitant eyes and nervous glances.
I hear it in the bathrooms and the hallways during the in-between times.


"Her speech was so good; I could never do that well!"


You'll never measure up.  Why even try?


"She's so beautiful; I wish I looked like that."


You're ugly.  Who would like you?


"She's like the perfect girl, you know?"


And you're not.

It's different, I've convinced myself, this position of outside-looking-in.
My window is different but I can still see the mirror.
The mirror that reflects the should-bes and the not-good-enoughs.
A distorted view in a cracked glass.
It's been cracked by the Deceiver who hammers the lies.

image credit

I watch them crumble under the weight of the lies, and my heart breaks for these sweet girls.
For I know this weight well.
I want to grab them all by their tired and worn shoulders and speak truth!

"Stop comparing yourself!!!  You are a beautiful daughter of the Most High, and He loves you more than you can possibly imagine!"


But then I realize I'd have to grab my own shoulders too.
And I'd shake hard.


"But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!" (2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT)







Shunning the voice of the liar and letting His sweet voice fill the vast expanse in my heart.

You are mine.  Compare yourself only to me.


"You must be holy because I am holy." (I Peter 1:16 NLT)


Not "be a good speaker because she is."
Not "be beautiful because she is."
But "be holy because He is holy."

This curse of comparison always kills.

"So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 20:7 NLT)







Monday, February 27, 2012

Uncovering the Good Girl

It sits on the table, staring at me and shouting, "Hey! Pick me up!"  And every time, I cover my ears and run from the room, not ready to go there yet.  Not ready to hear its words and face the truth about this "good girl." I know what that book will do to me- it will make me uncover years of thing swept under rugs, things better left in the dark, dusty corners.  The things I don't want to remember or fix.




Who I really am is better left undiscovered.


Then this sweet friend says she'll buy the book too and we can read it together and talk about it and it will change our lives and, oh my, really?!  Am I really going to have to crack open the safe that so carefully held my secrets?  Do I really have to read it?  Am I ready?

And so, in spite of my temper tantrums and screaming, I agree.  I agree to read these words that I just know will pierce my soul and force me to stand face-to-face with the good girl living behind this smiling face of "I'm fine, how are you?"  Maybe it will be easier without having to walk alone.

Maybe?

As so perfectly predicted, the first words knock me flat on my back, all the breath pushed out.



"God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another." -William Shakespeare, Hamlet


I want to close the book and hide.


"I desperately want to manage your opinion of me."


Oh, so desperately...


"Good means I never mess up."


Well, of course it does!  Right???


"All he wants is simply you- minus your good works, minus your perfect attendance, minus your politeness."


Do I even know that person?


Thirty-seven pages have seeped into my heart and I read slow.  Deliberate.  I still want to run and hide, but He calls me back every time.  He bids me to come back and read.  This one who wants simply me asks me to come and find out who that girl is.  Who she is without the perfection and organization and to-do lists and sweet smile and always-listening.  Without the doing and performing and pleasing.

And so I turn the page, to thirty-eight, and my wary eyes begin to touch the soul-searching words...

~~~



Counting gifts today-


#375- days off to recover
#378- warm blankets
#380- Thin Mints from the freezer!
#383- emails of encouragement
#384- new books
#391- reading next to napping husband

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Rushing Ends in Nothing [Fresh Brewed Sunday]

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. (Psalm 39:6 NLT)
Rushing.
Speeding.
Running.
Always going,
always doing,
rarely being.

Are we spending our time on things that don't really matter?
Have we replaced quality with quantity?
Have we lost ourselves in the shuffle?
Have we lost our God?

Today, take time to slow down and find Him.
He hasn't moved, you know...


Joining Barbie on this Fresh Brewed Sunday.  Won't you join us too?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sandpaper's Grit [FMF]

Always rubbing me rough...
like gritty sandpaper that shreds skin.
This strife that falls into my peaceful world.
It brings discord, fear, confusion.
Finding my deep parts,
my hardened parts,
the parts that reveal.

Smoothing my rough places, 
the ones that need His touch.
The grit imparts pain but births beauty.
My potter is forming His clay.
He's making me fully His own, ready for service.
Proven and tried.

When everything is smooth and even,
everything that is left will be His.
A radiant vessel for His glory.

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. (Jeremiah 18:4)

~~
Linking with The Gypsy Mama today for Five Minute Friday.



Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Resounding "No"

What if the answer is no?
What if the thing I pray desperately for, beg for, and strive for will never be?
What if that thing I want more than anything isn't part of God's plan for my life?
What if the answer isn't "not yet" or "one day" but NO...


Will I sulk?
Will I run and hide?
Will I forsake faith?

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord..." (Jeremiah 29:11)


Somewhere in the midst of all the "what ifs," I find the hope I need...



What if this is what I really need?
What if what I want will bring harm?
What if my relationship with Christ requires sacrifice... more sacrifice than I had planned?


" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord..." (Jeremiah 29:11)


"My ways are higher than your ways..." (Isaiah 55:9)


Higher.
Better.
Perfect for His glory in my life.

Deep faith comes through complete trust when our grip seems too fragile.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Not Good Enough

I don't make friends easily...
I shy away from connection that brings even the slightest bit of discomfort.
Often I am running from eye contact, for fear that you will see straight into my sinful soul.
And what you'll find there, well, it probably isn't very pretty.
Fearful of your reaction, what you'll think of me, the real thoughts that won't ever escape from your lips...



When we do become friends, real and true ones, our relationship will have deep roots.
You will find loyalty from me, and it will take much to sever our ties.
I will write to you and give you warm hugs and smile big when I see you and talk to other people about how great you are.

But my inconsistency is great.
On the one hand, I desire vulnerable connection, but on the other, I stand stubborn and firm behind my wall.
Most of the time, I feel more safe hidden behind my wall than I do with you.
Convinced that I am the only one who could really know this girl and still accept her, I believe the lie that I don't really need anyone.
The bottom line is this: I am afraid to find what I really need.
Afraid of the possible pain, the betrayal that's plagued me in the past, and most of all- the critical rejection that I'm certain I will face.

When did I start believing these lies?
Oh, it was long, long ago.
Those many years ago, when I was struggling to figure out who I was...
But I let others decide for me.
Young girls who had but one agenda- themselves, and boys who gave no thought to feelings of others, only the laugh- they are the ones who taught me how to hide.
To shy away from love.
They sang their song to me day after day, the melody loud--
"You're fat."
"You're ugly."
"Why can't you just let go and have some fun?"


You are not good enough.


And I believed every word.
I lived it then.
I live it now.


The song of people long-gone from my life rings in my head and I realize I know this voice.
It's the same voice that tells me today that I'm too shy for that job or too ugly for those women or too awkward to speak to that group.
The voice is that of the serpent in the garden, not shouting, but whispering his lies.

You are not good enough.


It's the age-old song that's been slithering from his tongue for generations.

Did God really say...?


And I am Eve, standing by the Tree, wondering if he's right.
But as I stand, trying to make sense of it all, I hear another voice, much louder and sweeter than the first.
He tells me that I'm right; I am not good enough!


But He is.


I am lovely in His eyes because I am His beloved, full of grace.
The song of the deceiver screeches to a sudden halt and I am whisked away on the wings of my Savior.
He touches my face and I hear only His song now.
My heart sings harmony and I am ready to love, with a real love that can't be shaken, because it's His love.





Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No Saving Seats!

I am 12, and I hear those dreaded words from the mouth of the teacher.
"No saving seats!"
Immediately I enter survival mode.
Who will I sit by?
Do I need to hurry so I can be sure to find a seat?
Will anybody want to sit next to me?
My panicked eyes dart around the room, searching for a place of solace...comfort...a friend.

Fast forward 20 years, and I am still that awkward preteen, hoping for a saved seat.
Gatherings of friends and coworkers bring out the insecure girl with too-few-friends.
She shouts, even now...
Who will I have to sit by?
What if it's awkward?
What if someone wants to...talk?


And then I pick up that old gnarled stick, the one I beat myself up with...
Why don't I have more friends?
Why am I so...uncomfortable?
I'd rather just sit alone...


But God gives grace.

My phone announces a sweet message-
"Do you want me to save you a seat tonight?"
Me?  Really?!
She wants to save me a seat?
She wants to sit with me?


I don't think she realizes it, but that small gesture gave me wings.
For one night, I forgot about my nervousness.
I forgot about my lack of confidence when things get personal.

I stepped outside of my comfort zone, and I actually felt welcome there.

Gift #337 Somebody saved me a seat.


"Two are better than one..." (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV84)


When have someone's actions made you feel welcome?  Share your story with me!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Forced to Slow

In this sick bed, where I've been for days...
And I forced to slow...
To stop.
To be done with the hurrying and going and doing and talking and... all of it...  
Just to be...

And while slowing down is exactly the thing I find myself desiring every single day, I find myself stir-crazy and wishing for more.
Have I trained myself to mindlessly exist in the busy?  Content to go and never really stop?
Why, when I get what I think I want, do I immediately find myself wanting something else?

Maybe it's just another manifestation of this deep longing for heaven that fills my being.
This desire for more, for something never quite grasped, for something bigger.


I am small, gazing into the vast expanse of heaven, shouting to Him for come and fill me with more!
More joy.
More grace.
More of Himself.

And so I drink in the moment and seek the gifts He's given.
I savor the time to really see...

Always counting...
#363 Grace to respond with kindness
#364 Emails filled with truth at the perfect time
#366 New friendships that click from the start
#369 Trust that He's in control
#372 Calm spirit in tense situation



Linking with Ann today on my journey to 1,000.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Yet I Will Rejoice

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)
~~~
Ran across these verses this week while reading through the Old Testament.  It's such a simple reminder that even if everything, our entire livelihood, disappears, we still have our God, and that is enough.  We aren't called to settle for Him, but rather to rejoice in Him!





Linking up with Barbie today for Fresh Brewed Sunday.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Twirly Skirts and Purple Shoes [FMF]

On Fridays, we write for just 5 minutes.
Today's topic is delight.
~~~

She is all eyes and smiles when I come into view.

"Tadie, wook at my shoes! Dere purple!"
"See my twirly skirt? I can twirl!  Watch me!"
"Guess what I did today at gymnastics?"

And she delights in me...
In my presences.
In sharing everything with me, even the tiniest details, about her life.

And, as usual, the Creator of the universe uses the innocent to teach the weathered and worn.
Those of us who tend to forget delight in the midst of busy.
Oh, to delight in Him and take great joy in just being in His presence!
To become wide-eyed and all smiles...
To share my day and my joys with Him...
To delight in Him...
In just being with Him.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)






Because HE is the desire of my heart.
And His delight is in me, His dear daughter, twirly skirt and purple shoes included!

~~~




Thursday, February 16, 2012

Consider it Joy

When the testing feels like too much, will I give in to failure?
When the rough patches skin my knees bare, will I stand up and walk away?
When He calls me to walk through the dark and scary places, will I run away in fear?
When opposition screams in my face and accusation soils my name and I'm attacked from many fronts, will I just hang my head in shame?
Run?  Blame?
Lose hope?
Sometimes I wonder...

Consider it pure joy when you face trials of various kinds...

Joy!?  Pure joy?!  How can I find joy in this?
I mean, isn't there a point at which it really does become too much to handle?
You know, that point where we look to heaven and cry out, "Why, Lord?  What is your plan here?"
But what if every experience is planned for me to make me wholly His?
What if the only way to teach me to be more like Him is for me to share in His suffering?
His shame.
His struggle.
His pain.

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces...

When He commands me to be holy as He is holy, what if He's demanding more?

perseverance


What if He's ordained my walking through the valley so I can truly learn to appreciate the majesty of the mountain?

character

The valley is dark, and it's wide, but I am not alone.
Never...
He is carrying me in His arms, whispering love into my ear,
"Remember that time we..." and "Remember those many years ago when..." and "Look how far I've brought you, my love!"
And while we walk, I am satisfied and His footing is sure, never faltering.
He tells me just to talk to Him, to tell Him all my fears and problems, because it's just us and He's all mine.
My Father snuggles me close and tells me just to rest...to breathe...to find peace.

hope.


I don't have to worry about any of it.
He is completely in control.
Completely.

"And He walks with me and He talks with me. 
And He tells me I am His own.  
And the joy we share as we tary there, 
none other has ever known." 
("In the Garden" by C. Austin Miles)






My soul finds rest in God alone; My salvation comes from Him. (Psalm 62:1)





Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Serenade

It's quiet... and I've been craving this all day.
All that reaches my ears now is the occasional creak of walls and the steady whirl of the ceiling fan.
The noise begins with the alarm's usual announcement of 4AM and a call to go run.
Then there is the thud thud thud of feet on the treadmill.
Then dog's whine and car's engine and audio book's voice and 175 "good mornings" and complaints and questions and laughing and questions and questions and questions.
Sometimes I fight the urge to run out with my hands over my ears, shouting, "la la la la la."
By day's end, my pile of noise had grown into a mountain that threatens avalanche.

All of this noise drowns out the song.
The song that fills my heart with His love and care and protection.
He sings it every single moment, wild and strong, and He begs for me to hear.
Sometimes I do hear it faintly, during the in-between times and the moments of gasping for breath.
But in the silence I can hear full and complete, its words and melody touching a place in my heart craves only His music.
He's the only one who sings to me.
The only one who loves full and complete.
The only one.

Often, I try to sing my own song.
The notes squeak from my mouth and the scales are a mess of broken majors and minors, never making any sense and certainly not becoming beautiful.
For I'm singing the world's song, trying to soothe my soul with words and notes of another kind.
This singing I do is in a foreign language and all I really need to do is cover my mouth and let Him sing over me.

So when my tired head falls exhausted onto the pillow and I pull the warm blankets to my chin, I will relish the silence that brings His voice, always calming my heart.  I will relinquish control of it all and lie in peace.  

I will be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)

























You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Late-Night Wrestle

I wallow in frustration because things aren't going as planned.
As I have planned...
Because, you see, I am in charge and I want this to be perfect.

"For I know the plans I have for you..." (Jeremiah 29:11)




But Lord, I've put in hours of work, and I need this to work and I want and I need and I...and...


"Let me quiet you with my love..." (Zephaniah 3:17)


And I am 3 with my dress too short and my hair all a mess.
Stomping and screaming that I want my own way.

This always happens!  Things never go smoothly!  I don't understand.


"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond all cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)


I can't deal with this anymore, Lord.


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)


And here I am, trying to cast my own nets AGAIN, forgetting to trust and release.
With clenched fists, I am firm.
I hold tight.
But nothing changes.


"Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this." (2 Timothy 2:7)


The hands begin to slowly unclench.

These plans of mine that I hold so dear are just an illusion.
It's all in His control anyway.

My fists fully open.
And though it hurts my pride, I choose to submit.
Because He demands it.


"In his heart a man plots his course, but the Lord determines his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)





Monday, February 13, 2012

Thorny Vines and Mossy Stones

I am trudging through the woods, the ones I gaze at from my bedroom window every day.
Dodging branches, trying to avoid thorns and briers.

It's 24 degrees, and my fingers have turned any icy red, begging for the warmth of mittens that I've left in the house.
Birds' songs fill the tall pines and oaks and cedars; they're high above me, basking in the lovely created world.
Winds whip about my face but sun shines hard, warm, bright...
Today, I'm feeling the urge to go deeper...
To find the beauty...
To... see.
Something catches my eye, and I bend down, pushing aside a thorny vine, to get a closer look.
There, illuminated by sun's rays, lies a moss-covered stone.
Lush palette of green, reaching ever-upward from earth to sky, seeking growth and warmth.

Wanting more, I lean closer.
Taking time to watch...
And ponder...
And... see.
It's always here, you know.  This moss on this cold stone.
But I have never really seen it.
Not like this.

And all it took was desire and time.
I stand up, gazing about, searching for more detail to discover.
Curling vines.
Upturned bark.
Tall grasses gently waving in wind.

It's all around me, this beauty in the depth and details.
This beauty, that even in the bleakness of winter, thrives.
It begs me to worship its Creator.
To find His gifts.
To praise...










#336 Undeserved forgiveness
#340 Courage to share
#345 Friend requests
#346 Political discussions with students
#348 Joy from snow flurries
#350 Classical music
#355 Morning light

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Let Down Your Nets [Fresh Brewed Sunday]


"When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break."  (Luke 5:4-6 NIV84)









May I stop trying so hard to do it all myself.
May I listen to my Savior's words as He pleads with me to let down my nets.
May I trust...
~~~Linking up with Barbie today:

Friday, February 10, 2012

There's Dirt in the Cracks

Today I write for five minutes straight.  Linking up with The Gypsy Mama and writing about... Trust.


Go.

"I have trust issues."
I wonder how many times I've uttered those words.  For a long time, when close friends would ask me to tell them about myself, that sentence was something that always managed to slip its way into the conversation.
It's been a crutch of mine for as long as I can remember.  
I've been hurt in the past... 
So naturally, I shouldn't trust anybody, right?
The middle school mean girls, the high school insults, the college loneliness...
Piles and piles of dusty reasons not to trust.
I guess I just stuffed them all into the corner rather than sweeping them out the door.
Sweeping dust and dirt out the door isn't always easy, though.
I remember when Mom taught me how to do it well, and I remember being frustrated and not really even caring if it some of it seeped down into the crack at the threshold.
The dirt just piles up that way, you know.
And if you never dig deep to sweep it out, it will eventually hinder the walking out...

I wonder how high that pile of dirt could get before you were stuck on the inside of the door forever.
I guess eventually you would just learn to ignore it and be content to stay inside...alone and hiding.

All the words and looks and actions that have stolen my joy throughout life- for a long time, they gave me an excuse not to be vulnerable and real with others.  My hurts held me in chains like a prisoner kept in a dark, damp cell.  I didn't fight.  I was content to hide behind my reasons excuses and rot alone in my filth.

"Do not be afraid: you will not suffer shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated." (Isaiah 54:4 NIV84)

And after all these years, I'm finally learning to sweep the dirt from the cracks.

"Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart..." (Proverbs 3:5)

STOP

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Hide and Seek

I like to hide.
Behind the screen, these clicking keys...
Behind pen strokes on page...
When I have something to share, it's best shared from a safe place.
A place without contact of eyes or hearing of words.
A place without... fear.


When I venture out of this safe place, it's fine as long as I can sit all comfy in my box.
The box that I control.
Where I'm not caught off guard and no one ever confronts me with conflict.
The box that... doesn't make me grow.
Ouch.

Words in person end in stumbling, speaking quickly, too many ums and ands...
and the feeling completely and utterly ridiculous later on upon reflection.
Why don't I just keep my mouth shut?
She probably thinks I'm a complete idiot.


Can God really use an introvert?

So I search the scriptures.
(Too bad the word introvert isn't in the concordance!)
But suddenly, there he is, permeating the history of God's chosen people- Israel.
I find him sitting around, tending sheep.
He's not giving speeches or anything like that.
He's just... shepherding.
And God speaks to Him...
I have chosen YOU to lead my people out of Egypt.
I can almost hear his heart pounding in his chest.
“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3:11)
Who am I?
And God says, "I will be with you."
Not "Be more like so-and-so" or "You can do it! Head up!"
He simply states, "I will be with you."
Moses is not convinced.
He's nervous about speaking and leading and all that eye contact!
"I'm not an eloquent guy, God, you know that.  Are you sure you didn't mean to ask that other guy?"

It has taken my stubborn heart 32 years to get it!
I am not less of a person because I'm a shepherd rather than a great leader.
God does not peer down at me and shake his head, wishing I could just "Be more like so-and-so!"
I've spent too many years comparing myself and wishing for something different.
God gives the gifts we need for the things He calls us to do.
I'm a listener, I pay attention, I see things in the faces of people that others tend to miss.
God uses that gift to press me into ministry...
And how do I minister?
With words.
Even the quiet ones...


I'm a perfect fit for my calling.
We all are!

What is your calling?  How does God use you?



Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Taming the Wild One















You love every harmful word, oh you deceitful tongue! (Psalm 52:4 NIV84)


Sometimes I feel them welling up inside of me.
They claw their way up to the surface and shoot to the sky like waters in a fountain.
Try as I might, I simply cannot keep them in!
Words.
Harmful, hurtful, selfish words.
Words without love, born from sinful chains that seem to hold me captive.


Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18 NIV84)


My words are reckless, my emotions unchecked.
Every solace I seek from myself brings only frustration.
I want to hide until the storm passes...
The angry thoughts shout in my ears and beg to be heard.
My tongue obeys.
And I speak.


And I'm defeated.... yet again.


But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8 NIV84)


All of my trying is in vain.
I am unable to tame my tongue!
My sinful nature won't allow it.
Only God can tame my tongue.
Only He can harness this evil that lies within me.


Hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught. (Psalm 55:2 NIV84)


Praise be to God for his unfailing mercy.
Without it, I am hopeless...
Without it, I am wild...
Without Him, I am nothing.


Do you find yourself struggling to love with your words?  Do hurtful words seem to take hold?  

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Cherished Sin

A lovely talk with a lovely friend.
Words about our weekends.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
As the conversation drifts toward sin, I feel myself wanting to shrink back.
Uh oh; it's about to get real here.
And I'm face-to-face.  
Nowhere to hide.


I'm one of those people who doesn't sin openly.
I'm a good girl, you know.
When you ask how I'm doing, you'll get the usual, "Fine, how are you?"
Even if I'm not...
No, my sins are hidden deep within.
And honestly, I've spent my whole life believing I was better off that way.
After all, I'm not like those people, right?
I would never do that!


This friend's nature is more rebellious than mine.
She struggles with open sin.
And I struggle to understand.
All the while thinking...
At least I'm not like that.


Two hours later...


God forgive me, I've got it all wrong!
As if I'm better because I hide my wrongdoings.
As if I'm more holy...


You can't see my sin.
I hide it well.
Behind the smiles and the "fines" and the accomplishments.
But it's there...
Deep in my heart.
Judgment.
Selfishness.
Resentment.
Pride.
Sin.


You see, I don't want you to see my sin.
I want to keep it all inside.
Vulnerability is too hard.
It's too real.
It's all better left tucked away, ignored.

Yet, the Psalmist says, "Search me O God, and know my heart" (Psalm 139:23a NIV84)


Sin that is left unseen digs deeper into our souls, poisoning our hearts, root by bitter root.
I don't share it.
I hold onto it.
I cherish it.

"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and hear my voice in prayer." (Psalm 66:18-19 NIV84)


And He speaks to me, in hushed tones at first, but louder as time goes by.
He pleads with me to let Him cut deep, down to the roots, and kill the sin I harbor there.
My redeemer hears my heart prayers and He heals.
He removes my sin, despite the pain I feel.
I'm Eustace Clarence Scrubb, shedding the dragon skin.
And it hurts...
Pain necessary to live...

My sin at the foot of the cross; ugliness displayed for my Savior to see.
My heart to heal.
My soul to redeem.



Do you struggle with hiding your sin?  What sins do you cherish?  Please share!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Beyond the Blackboard

*My brother who, even when he only has 10 minutes, talks to me*
His brother graduated last year. He's in college. He is still his 16-year old brother's best friend.


*A party that pulls me from my comfort zone*
Oh-so-shy when we met.  Now growing into a beautiful young lady with something important to say.


Every week, we sit on blue carpet.
It's a simple circle, ten souls, sharing hearts.
Our favorite time.

*Time of morning worship in my car*
This girl overflows with laughter and joy and Jesus; she blesses us daily.


*Clean streets after a storm*
Sweet, caring heart.  Noticer of the little things.  Encourager.


I read the book to them...
The words of thanks and gifts and praise.
The words that changed my life...
And we count gifts.


*A sister who likes to sleep in my room*
She'll be leaving in a year.  Her family is her life.  She actually realizes how special that is.


They're only 16 and 17, but they always bless me with their words.
Willing to share.
Longing to be heard.
Craving authentic connection.

*Tears...*
They fall from her eyes, even now, revealing her heart and all that hides deep but comes to the surface in this safe circle.


Soon, I notice that they've brought in journals.
We call them joy journals.
I watch them, throughout the day, pens in hand.
They write feverishly, recording the gifts.
These love gifts from their Savior.






*That I'm not drop-dead gorgeous and can avoid all the drama*
Oh this girl...she's me. Yet she figured this out so much earlier than I did...
And all the girls agree.
They connect.
Bond.

*I can't even imagine who I'd be if I hadn't come to this school.  I'm just so thankful...*
Fighting tears, many of them, because they truly love this guy.


*Teachers who care about our character and spiritual well-being*


And I smile, deep in my heart, silently thanking God for these moments.
Among all the notes about Abraham Lincoln, the reading quizzes, and the endless diagramming of sentences, He's given me a gift.
The beautiful gift of watching them bloom.

We're counting gifts.
They're seeking beauty.
My prayer is that they always will..

#283 Gift-sharing with juniors










Always counting...

#292 Jeans on clearance
#294 Crunch of perfectly-cooked grilled cheese
#302 Homemade vegetable soup
#303 That His Word does not return void
#320 Books with surprises
#324 Answered prayers and softened hearts
#325 When worship is more valuable than sleep
#333 Prayer that calms

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Potter's Hands [Freshly Brewed Sunday]









So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. [Jeremiah 18:3-4]
How freeing it is to know that God is shaping our lives to be they way He wants them to be!  
Rest in that today, friend.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

So Still


I am up with the sun on the day that ends the week.
All is hushed as day slices night.
Winter clouds race across a blue-gray sky, announcing the coming rains, while tall pines sway back and forth to their tune of wind.
Birds begin to wake and proclaim their sunrise songs.
And I am still, watching and waiting.

A hint of color breaks through and I'm rushing to the east window to see paintings across sky.
A rooster crows and a lone cow joins in with her voice.
Tall grasses boast gold tones as the colors of morning come to life.
It's all so still...
and I'm so still.


He is all around, filling earth with glory.
I find Him best in early morning,
before all the noise invades and drowns praise.

A new beginning.

A new day to love and worship and grow.
The sights and sounds of morning- all expressions of His love.

How often I miss them in my hurrying and rushing.
I relish the days I can just sit...and watch...and not have to be anywhere or do anything.
The days I can just be still and know...
For there is something precious in the knowing.
It's what leads me to praise.

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
 

Friday, February 03, 2012

Masquerade

It's Five Minute Friday!
Today's word= REAL












~~~
Authentic.
Masks thrown off and pretending put away.
To step into each other's worlds without fear or worry.
This is a gift that most have forsaken.
Being real.

To be able to trudge through the dark places where others fear to tread...
To be welcomed with open arms...
no matter what.
To stop the hiding and running and just...rest.
To be real.


We were made for community.
We were made to love and be loved.
But I'm convinced that we can't really have community unless we peel off our "everything-is-okay-don't-worry-about-me" smiles and get down to the real us.

Is it hard?
Yeah.
Will it hurt?
Maybe.
But is it completely worth it?
Absolutely.

I've been blessed this week by a sweet sister's painful confession.  She chose to be authentic and rip away her mask, revealing the pain.  She's inspired me to let go of the fake and just be me.  


What keeps you from taking off your mask and being real?  Please share!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My Secret Ambition

It's Spirit Week at school.
Five days of ninjas and princesses and painted faces and pajamas.
And today... today was Secret Ambition Day.
We were all supposed to dress up like the thing we really want to be but know we will never actually be.
Oh good grief.


After much wrestling thought, I decided to dress like a writer.
Because, after all, that is my secret ambition, right?
Something I will never actually be...
You know, it's too hard.
I'm not that good...

I suppose my idea of what a writer looks like is naive at best, but it's all a dream, right?
So it doesn't really matter.
T-shirt, jeans, cardigan, slippers, messy bun, and a pretty little flower in my hair.
My idea of comfortably pretty.
My idea of peaceful.
My dream.
You know, that secret one?

And somewhere between the rushing out the door at 6:45 and reaching the four-way stop in my little country town at 6:51, it hit me, like a ton of bricks...
This secret ambition isn't secret anymore.
When they ask me what my secret ambition is, I will shuffle my feet nervously and admit, a catch in my throat, "I want to be a writer."
And they will know.
Exposed.
Authentic.
Terrified.
Because isn't there a saying about if you say it, it's real?

But I'll never be a writer.  
Who would read my words anyway?
Really...


This little flicker of desire has been floating around inside my head for weeks now.
And quite frankly, I have no idea what to do with it.
God, what are you leading me to do in the future?
What are you preparing me for?
I'm scared... don't let me fall, alright?


Words.
I'm good with them.
I'm the proofreader and the email-composer and the article-writer and the essay-grader.
I splash words on a page- they come from my heart- and somehow, they paint a picture.
I have no idea how it happens.
I never do.
But God does.
People tell me just to write what I know.
And God moves my fingers across the clicking keys...

Today, I opened my mouth wide and admitted something to the world that I was too scared to admit even to myself-
I want to write.
And I have NO idea where that will lead...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dear Friend...

Dear Friend,

I do not deserve you, but you were thrown into my lap by a God who delights in blessing me with good gifts, and you are certainly a gift.  I wasn't even looking for you, but God had you waiting in the wings for when I was ready to receive you.

Your encouragement and truth compel me to live fully.
Your listening ear and the time you take to care humble me.
I am blessed by your love.

Sometimes I stand back and watch you, how you move in and among those whom God has placed in your life, and I'm amazed at your joy.  It's clearly been placed in your heart by your Redeemer.

On the days when I grumble and complain, you gently lift my spirits and lovingly remind me to thank and praise and breathe...  When I'm low, you pick me up, dust me off, and hold my hand until I can walk steadily again.

And you, no matter what, never, ever stop loving me.

The words you give me penetrate my heart and leave scars... scars of grace and mercy and healing.

To you, I matter.

Continually, you give me the best gift you possibly can- yourself.

And so from the deepest parts of my heart I thank you, dear friend.  Although a simple "thank you" never seems to be enough...  I love you.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:10)




Take the time to tell your friends how much they mean to you.  
It matters...

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