Thursday, November 10, 2011


A step into an airport and my mind already starts to wonder, "Who will the Lord place in my path today?"  This started years ago with a single trip where I asked for God to show Himself to me, and that I would be awake to see Him.  I ended up sitting next to someone and we spoke about all sorts of things, eventually leading to the sharing of my faith with that gentleman.  The series of curcumstances were such that God's hand could not be ignored, and the adrenaline I felt knowing that I was interacting with God on such a direct level was powerful.  It began this state of mind - really a state of expectation and anticipation, knowing that God always directed a situation on each plane ride that really was unexplainable.  I recently flew to Arizona with my husband and we ended up being among the last people on the plane, us begging for someone to give us a seat in the fully booked plane.  I wasn't surprised when a man in the very back slid over, and I smiled inside, knowing this was God's plan.  As I sat down, I saw a black book in his hand, a gold cross on the cover, and I had to laugh - my Lord never fails!

When we flew to New York, a friend and I years ago, I remember us praying before the trip and on the way, even together on the plane just before landing, that God would use that time to show us He was with us and to create a new work in us.  When we landed, the first thing we did was to hail a cab and the driver looked completely intimidating to two young women from the midwest who came from towns with combined populations of less than 2500 people.  We loaded our luggage, hoped for the best and settled into our drive when the gospel music came through the radio in the cab and we knew that man was a believer.  For the rest of the trip, everwhere we looked, we saw things that reminded us the Lord was embracing us there - so much so, that we began to comment to each other - I wonder where we will see Him today?  And we did.  What a joyful expectation that was!

And so I wonder why it never occured to me that this is how we should live each day.  I remember this as I read a book that talks about the weighing down of moments - of bringing them into sight and beholding them - of being alive and awake to how God is working each day.

We live in a culture saturated with the concept of "living in the moment", which has somehow become a slogan for consumption - gathering all you can of everything because you never know if there will be more.  We grab for money, for power, for more, more, more.  Us sinking deeper into the pit of soul-poverty, drowning in the mountain of our material posessions.  The moments we live for are all about spending - even the spending of our time as if it is running out.

But what if we are really gaining time?

These moments placed in the jar of the heart and mind, gathered for eternity, accumulating joys.  What if "living in the moment" really requires us to let go?  To let go of striving, of worry, of anxiety, of planning, of control?  What if we give it up to Him?  Do we actually gain our lives in return, awaken to the eternal moments?  And is the doorway to that way of living wrapped up in gratitude and expectation?  Is the slowing of moments really the casting of nets to gather His gifts?  I have worked hard to do this life right, planned, and prodded, and labored.  Does the overflow come when I lay down the net instead of dragging it?

"Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”  When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.  But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”   For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken."

When stop striving and grasping but instead I lay down the net - resting in the moments, knowing I will see His miracles there.  He fills my net of gratitude full of His gifts - moments in time, true joy - and my net is not just full, but OVERFLOWING!  Others notice.  It changes their lives too.  Their boats get filled all because I let down the net.  And in the abundance, we can't help but see the Provider, the Maker of all things and acknowledge our lack.  I awaken wide, my soul-lense etching pictures in my mind.  My net is laid down and I eagerly wait for the catch, knowing that my net will overfill.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Staff of a Shepherd

A tree dies and the real dying begins.  A knife cuts deep and when thick wood finally begins to take shape, the knife continues to peel back, sawdust pieces hitting the floor.  The frustrating friction of sand makes it worn and smooth, rough edges removed....

Lord, this task can be so hard.  I don't want to lead these little sheep in my fold, the babes looking to their mama and me having to show them you in each moment, me failing in so many moments. 

I don't want to be their shepherd...... 

I can't be their shepherd......

Lord, make me the staff I pray, the one that can be used by the Good Shepherd as He guards His flock.  Carve me intentionally, even when the pain seems too much to bear, remove the bark that detracts from my purpose, your purpose.  Whittle down the rough spots, and sand me smooth with your Word.

Teach me to stand firm under the weight of Your glory, a tree with tight grain.  Let me be content when my desires are cast aside and you throw this old rod down beside you to carry one of these lambs during times of pain.  Let me be a comfort on the easy paths, allowing the joy of the journey to point to You.  Let me find strong footing under your Hand when you lead our family through deep valleys and the path seems less clear.  Let me be worn, deep groves borne from years of being held by You alone.

Yes Lord, make me the staff I pray.

And when I am broken, bruised and err, or if You should call me home, my lambs will not be shaken

For their Shepherd, their Perfect Father lives.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving and Praise

From C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (as quoted in John Piper's, Desiring God):

"But the most obvious fact about praise - whether of God or anything - strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all the enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise.... The world rings with praise - lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game... My whole more general difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdely denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses, but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."

Piper then comments:

"Praising God, the highest calling of humanity and our eternal vocation, did not involve the renunciation, but rather the consummation of the joy I so desired. My old effort to achieve worship with no self-interest in it proved to be a contradiction in terms. God is not worshipped where He is not treasured and enjoyed. Praise is not an alternative to joy, but the expression of joy."

So I must begin with something practical, and I have chosen to do what Ann Voskamp testifies changed her life. To count the gifts. To trust that in all things - hopeful, joyful days, and deep, dark sorrow - He is there, working it all to His glory. If my joy is complete in my Savior glorified, then all things would call us closer to Him - and that is the ultimate gift.

This life is but a vapor, and the moments are our days. I will notice, I will see.

54. slow dancing with my hubby
55. Watching my daughter dance with Daddy
56. Boys in footie pajamas
57. Fresh baked cinnamon rolls

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stretch Marks

I glance sight of them when I lift my arms to brush my hair in front of the mirror.  My shirt lifts around the midline - and there they are - stretch marks.  I think about how the skin at one time was stretched, pulled to it's maximum capacity swollen with baby and just when it felt like it may rip right open, the skin stretches again, this time with scars we call "stretch marks". 

I hesitate.

Isn't our spirit the same way? 

We pull and plead, tug and stretch until we feel so far out of our own ability, and in the midst we nearly rip right open feeling the wound of transparency as our spirit-skin grows tight and finally scars.  Those wounds, etched into our spirit skin that eventually give birth to new life.

I thought maybe I would be the one who has four kids and no stretch marks, but I am not.  A roadmap might be easier to read than my stomach.  My spiritual life hasn't escaped them either.  And sometimes I want to argue with God to tell him that this growing hurts, that I am stretched as far as I can go and any more will split me wide open, a gaping wound to show the world.  But He stretches more, and the painless scar shows, and gives witness that I have borne the hope of something new.

There's a new journey ahead He is birthing in me, and I am sure my spiritual stretchmarks will spread wide and burn when patience is required, and I have none to give.  When love is tired, and courage is weak. When days are long and I fail one. more. time.  Yet my hope swells with anticipation of the new birth and I wonder how long this gestation might be until it is born and I am embracing the new - this grace-filled, gift-filled life.