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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bitter turns sweet

"I have work for you."
 
That phrase echoes from last fall.
 
I had no idea what that meant.
 
How could I?
 
 
 
It's work...
 
Finding you.
 
And it's work...

this surrendering to you.

And it's work...
 
dying to my own desires and not letting my emotions get the best of me
 
as I home school,
 
as I have a college-age boy living back at home,

as I wonder where this nomad life we live will lead us next.



Quite honestly -

some days

or moments,

it is a lot of work.

And I don't think I want to work,

at least not this hard.






Work, which is defined as the "sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result, OR the labor, task, or duty that is one's accustomed means of livelihood OR a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity."


Nothing comes easy, they say.

The water of life is sometimes bitter, I say.
 
Very bitter.
 
Yet I'm afraid I've the one that made it that way.
 
Just like the Israelites did.
 
I read this morning how they had to eat the bitter crushed tablets - you know, the ones that the 10 Commandments were written on. Then Moses came down from the mountain because he heard them having a party! He crushed the tablets and mixed them with water and they drank it. They were tired of waiting for a revelation and too scared to get it for themselves, so they made an idol with their precious gold jewelry.

 
And Adam and Eve - their wanting to know . . .

that's what lead them into trouble.
 
You will know .... and that was intriguing to Eve.

So I ponder,
that MY wanting to know
often gets me into trouble.

But my God, He is a Redeemer.

Of all things.

This is what He does:


He makes the bitter water sweet.


And Moses cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast it into the (bitter) waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them.
Ex. 15:25
 

And the process is more important than the product. Because the process changes you. This process is more than bittersweet as we know it. Not sweet with a bitter aftertaste. But bitter (stress, pain, intensity) completely transformed into sweet (pleasing, gentle, fragrant). I have to say it again. And I may not see it yet, but I know the One who is Faithful and True.

He makes the bitter water sweet.





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beauty & the Butterfly

I didn't use to take the time...

to see the butterflies

to watch them in flight

carefree

beautiful

fluttering here and there.






Just like I didn't used to take the time...

to spend with You in the morning

to listen to Your voice

both then and as I went through my day.


And some days....
or some hours
or some moments

go by

And I still could say

I used to...



But then you send a butterfly my way

or a sunset into view

or the majesty of Your creation overwhelms me

and I remember.


How loved I am.

How wonderful you are.

How your beauty chases me

Even when I am not actively chasing You.

Beauty is defined as:  
1. the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure
    to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit
2. a beautiful person or thing
3. a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality
4. a brilliant, extreme, or egregious (distinguished) example or instance of 
    beauty

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life. Psalm 23:6 MSG

Just as each day brims with your beauty, my mouth brims with praise. Psalm 71:8 MSG
 
For GOD is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs. His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap...GOD made the heavens— Royal splendor radiates from him, A powerful beauty sets him apart. Psalm 96:4-6 MSG
 
For GOD is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. Psalm 100:5





Lost without Your Light

A few weeks ago, when the weather was still summer and the boys were outside in flip-flops and shorts, my son lost his shoe.

Too busy swinging away at twilight with not a care in the world.

Spending time seeing how much daylight could be squeezed out of the day 
in the neighborhood playground.

 Off went the flip-flop.

Sailing high into the sky, I am sure.

And then the search.

For now dusk had come and gone.

Boys and flashlights.

An all-out search party.


The out of breath boy runs inside. "We went deep into the woods," he described. "We all had flashlights and we can't find it anywhere."

"It has to be there, and it'll be there in the morning unless some animal would like a smelly old shoe for a home tonight," I reply. "We just can't see it without more light. We'll look in the morning."

The next morning, going outside to look for the shoe was the first priority.
We retraced steps.
He showed me where he was on the swing
and pointed to which way the shoe went flying
and told me how they walked deep into the woods.

But before we could walk deep into the woods, we look down
and there,
in plain daylight,
was the shoe.

"Oh my goodness!" he exclaimed. "I can't believe it was RIGHT HERE and I COULDN'T SEE IT. WE WALKED RIGHT PAST IT!!"

We went back inside and he is still mesmerized by the whole event.

Even his friend, concerned about finding the missing shoe, has his mom send me a text asking if we ever found it. I tell her the story and how we did find it this morning.


I ponder the message here.
In the midst of my day-to-day life.
The message I miss if I don't once again slow down and listen.


Oh - how I need your light, Jesus, to find what it is I'm looking for. To help those who are lost. To find my their way. To find the way I should go. I need your "God said" in my situations, so I can rest assured. Rest assured in You.

Because so it is,
so hidden
so NOT obvious,
when I look on my own.

With my little flashlight.

Trying to make sense of the world,
the year,
the month,
the day,
or even this very hour.

But when I have His light,
brighter than the noon-day sun,
shining on my life,
everything hidden become obvious and clear.


Light is the radical thing in a dark world. - Ann Voskamp

The One that Almost Got Away . . .

The other morning...


the pug got away.


Extreme panic.

I had stopped
 and the leash slipped right through my hand.

I didn't know if he'd come back
because the harder I chased him,
    the farther & faster he ran.

But when I enticed
  with open arms 
    and a voice that beckons ...

He'll come running.


The Perfect Father.

He won't panic
  when I run off after my own ambitions
   when my heart has wandered
    when my thoughts have drifted afar

I won't slip
  farther than He can grasp
    beyond hearing His voice
      out of reach of His unfailing love

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.  Psalm 94:18
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3

"I know how to love you ... perfectly ... completely."

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Eye is On You

All it takes is one moment.

Face to face.

One moment.

One touch.

That's all it takes to turn me to You, Jesus.

To turn my heart connection to my Lord.

There are no prerequisites.

Not "I have to get clean first" because honestly I am not capable of cleaning up the mess myself or getting perfect. Or having to figure it all out (yes, I like to try to do that too)!







But just me saying "Here I am. I I want to be connected with you."

Just turn and look into those eyes.

Of the One who says "My loving eye is on you."

He's watching.

He's waiting.

A couple songs come to mind. The first is a country song, but the last line rings so true of Jesus - knowing that forever He's all mine. The second a song from a group at church.

"...ain't it wild what a little flame
can make you wanna do?

I melt,

every time you look at me that way.

It never fails.

Anytime

any place

This burning me,
is the coolest thing I've ever felt.

I melt.

...What's even better is knowing that forever you're all mine." -Rascal Flatts "I Melt"


"My heart stops, when you enter the room

all my affection is turned towards you.

just one look

is all it takes

to be mesmerized

just one look into that face

is all it takes

to be forever changed"                -Awaken Wells "Mesmerized"



Sylvia Gunter says,

"If you lose your connection with his face, you lose your orientation. He is your true north. In finding out where you are and where you are going, orientation is everything. God has written the treasure map of your life, the way to the gold, so let him be the marker that says 'You are here.' At times that may be all he will give you, just the witness that 'I am here.' He won't let you see the whole map, but he knows the place in time meant only for you and found by you only at that moment. He inhabits that place and that moment. Wait on him to interpret it and lead you there."

This I Know

Sometimes it seems like it all boils down to just one thing.

One thing to hold on to.

One message.

One thought.

I feel as if I don't know much lately. So many decisions and emotional struggles within and without.


There was a verse on a notecard that sat on my mirror for weeks.

Usually, I change it every day. Sometimes it will stay up longer, maybe a few days.

But I just couldn't change this one.

I clung to it.

Because of the promise it held.

Because it was so simple.
So profound.
So true.

THIS I KNOW, MY GOD IS FOR ME Psalm 56

Like I said, I don't know much lately. So many choices and decisions with life-long impacts. Where we will move next, when, if. How to best raise our kids, including school and day-to-day life. How am I going to get through the day? The endless to-do list. How to look at life through the eyes of Jesus, not my own filters or not becoming bogged down with the stuff of life on this earth.

But knowing this one promise, I mean knowing it as in experiencing it, holds me steady. In Psalm 63, the psalmist writes that "You hold me steady as a post."


In Matthew 6:26 of the Message version, Jesus exhorts us to  "Look at the birds, free and unfettered . . . . careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds."

Getting to the heart of the matter expressed in the words of Kari Jobe's song:

"I know that you are for me. I know that You will never forsake me in my weakness. I know that you have come now, even if to write upon my heart. To remind me of WHO you are."


That where the trouble lay...that I thought I would be forsaken in my weakness. And I forgot that I count far more to Him than birds. And that he would attend to me even more than the most gorgeous wildflowers. 

"Have you seen color and design quite like it? If God gives such attention to appearance of wildflowers, most of which are never seen, don't you think he'll attend to you?" another reminder from Matthew 6 of how faithful and constant and true He is.





Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Steady My Heart

 
Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You're here
You're real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it's hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart [x2]


"All grief's being transfigured into a greater grace." -A. Voskamp's 1000 Gifts

Monday, June 11, 2012

Surrender & Redemption


The perfect photo opportunity ...

way out of reach.










When it doesn't go like you plan . . .



trying to see history in the making
the Space Shuttle Discovery's last flyby . . .
But there was sooo much traffic . . .
and kids who didn't want to be there . . .
so I missed it by minutes . . .
And I am missing the point
by focusing on the wrong thing
what good is it if I get "the perfect shot"
and all else is lost or at least in upheaval
because hearts are not settled.


What is the point . . .

I wanted these beautiful shots
but also wanted to have a memory with the kids
and today,
   I couldn't have both.


My mind wants to argue though
Why can't it be like Sunday?


Sunday was different
   and that was fine.
A family outing.
A family festival, with an outdoor concert, sponsored by
   a local Christian radio station.
We arrived just in time for an acrobatic performance
and a spot in shade to hear Jamie Grace
and autographs with her for the kids!


But today was not Sunday
nor did it go how Sunday did.

I need to surrender to that.


And it is well.
With my soul.


Because I am learning to be thankful . . .
. . . for the parking space right up front
. . . lunch at our favorite pizza place 
. . . and giggles at the humor of a nine year old boy's joke about a store named Chico's:
"Those are some nice "Chico's" you have there!"


My youngest once waved his napkin when he was full.
Said he's waiving the white flag of surrender.
He was full.


And I find myself full.
Full of my plans going awry and the frustration along the way.


"If you surrender, I redeem"


It feels like He shouts it in a whisper.
Why is it always the one-liners that knock you flat?


When I surrender the thanksgiving, the moment is redeeemed by joy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The pieces

Listen God!

Please pay attention!

Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and my cries?

King-God, I need your help! Every morning you'll hear me at it again. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for the fire to descend.          

Psalm 5:1-3 MSG

One week

One week, changes everything . . .

One weak, changes everything. 


One weak, changes everything.

OR

One who is weak, changes everything. 


Our oldest came home from college for the summer a week ago. Amazing how in one week, everything changes; from needing more groceries on the practical side to the adjustments family dynamics on the emotional side.

The needles on the tree outside - such growth in one week.

And as I muttered that comment to myself, but realized it was God speaking to my heart, the second part came:

Yes, Kim, 'One weak, changes everything.'


 
A question was posed in my study of David strengthening himself in the Lord the other day,

"Are you more impressed with your problems or lack or resources OR with the ability of God? Are you desperate and distressed enough to tell God 'I give up. I can't do it!'?" -Sylvia Gunter In His Presence II

And I realized that all these mountains looming in front of me, these things distressing me (causing anxiety, sorrow, or pain in); yes, I have been way more impressed with them! Mountains of despair, of schedules and timing, of situations way out of my control, of medical issues, job future, school decisions. And I came to the place where I was literally saying out loud to Him, days before reading this, "I give up. I can't do! I need you Jesus to come and show yourself strong because I wanted to do this and that and be this and that, but I don't have it in me." 

He asked me on Sunday,
Have you forgotten? I Am the God of Hope.
Have you forgotten? I Am the God who makes all things new.

 
"When I am dry you are my fountain,
When I am weak, you are my strength
When I need faith, you move the mountains,
To stay alive I need you
You're my everything."                    -Awaken Wells "My Everything"


My prayer is that this weak reed will vibrate gratefulness, producing a beautiful sound to You (a reed is a tall, slender-leaved plant of the grass family that grown in water or on marshy ground; also, a thin strip of material which vibrates to produce a sound on a muscial instrument).

The promise that preserves my life: Is. 42:3 NLT He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.


Monday, March 26, 2012

What are you hoping for?

"Yoda, what are you hoping for?"


The words no sooner drop from my lips than the weight of that question knocks me over, makes my heart flip...


...because I just felt the impact of the surgeon's scalpel. His powerful words, the one that cuts through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's word - we can't get away from it no matter what. For God means what he says. What he says goes. (Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG)

What AM I hoping for?


A tasty morsel?


Of what?

Of things going smoothly?

Of plans going my way?

Is that what my heart really needs?


But if I am hoping for the things of His kingdom,


will I find myself following at his heel, His every footstep


Will I be hanging out in his presence (in the kitchen) where the morsels are most likely to drop?


Will I wander the kitchen in expectation?


Run to the place He dwells when I hear Him there?


Sit at His feet and wait?



Wondering if He'll take notice?



Oh, He'll notice alright.

Just as I can't NOT notice the pug puppy waiting for a piece of apple or lettuce (his favorites),

and as he sits and waits,

I'll give it to him.


I will reward those who diligently seek me with
a heart of faith.  Heb. 11:6

The Hope Diamond

Bottomless Love

The french fries at Red Robin are delicious!

And they are something else.


Bottomless.


"What does that mean?" My youngest asks . . .

I can see the wheels turning in his head.

"They would just keep bringing them - as much as you want?"

"Yes."

"Really?"

"Really!"

"Oh the guy on Man vs. Food should come here. That would be a challenge!"

It's got me thinking.

Not about fries.

But something that you can never get enough of.

Something overwhelming.

And the source of overwhelming.

Bottomless.

Overwhelming.

Bottomless, overwhelming love - our world knows it not.

And neither do we, if we just look around instead of up.

His love for us - bottomless.

Words have been penned, trying to describe this bottomless, unfathomable love.

"Your love never fails,
never gives up,
never runs out on me" -Jesus Culture's "One Thing Remains"

"lacking a bottom;
immeasurably deep;
difficult or impossible to understand, unfathomable;
having no limitations or bounds." -dictionary.com

Just yesterday (or today depending on where you live), James Cameron went to the bottom.

The bottom of what we know.

Seven miles deep into the depths of the Marinas Trench.

Two hours of diving down.

I am perplexed.

Intrigued.

Why?

Because that is a loooong way down.

To the bottom.

And God's love is deeper than that!

His love for me.

His love for you.

This perfect love.

The love that knows how to love us.

Perfectly.

He is not afraid of how to love you and treasure you.


And that is unfathomable.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Focused & Fixed

























Looking around.
























What should I be doing?
























What is the next move?
















Focus.



Fix.


Look straight ahead. 

Not to the side.
































"I know what to do because I watched the master in front of me.
Time and time again.
He taught me.
But I don't see him now."


So I waiver.

I hesitate.

I question.

But in my mind I can see him.

Going through the moves.


Oh but it's so easy to look around and see in the natural what every one else is doing...


How often I look around.


To make sure.



Today, I inadvertently cut someone in line. We were at Costco lined up in long line with the only cashier open for food on a Saturday (what was I thinking, I know!)

Finally, another line opened, after we had been talking about spending so much time in this line. The new line opened to my left. So the family who now is in front of me gets out of line and the cashier is waiving me up . . . You don't need to tell me twice - I'm moving right up to order my one little item. Then I hear "Excuse me," and the heated indignation rise from the lady with her teen daughter who was once in front of me. The lady who I honestly thought had moved to the other line.

Apparently, I was wrong.

I apologize, or at least try to.

But all I get is the hand.

My son stares incredulously.

But I am so thankful that my young precious boy is with me.

I would have lost it right there.

It was one of those days.

Not lost it in anger, but in tears.

And she won't even let me apologize . . .

That's what starts to cut like a knife through my heart.


Then I am reminded:

She doesn't know you.
She doesn't know your motive.


And I find myself talking to my son, but in reality, I'm just reminding myself what I know is true. I tell my son that I might have made a mistake and didn't realize it but honestly thought she was in the other line. I tried to apologize and say I was sorry. But even if this lady won't allow me that, God knows. He knows me and He knows my heart and how heavy it is right now, because I didn't mean any harm.

Jesus, I'm sorry if I did cut her.
Thank you for your forgiveness.
Thank you for peace in the hard things.


A quote full of wisdom from Lisa Bevere "Allow the critiques of other to refine you, not define you...If you're not careful, listening to what other people say about you might actually cause you to forget who you are."

And Jesus, thank you for reminding me who I am.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Perfect View

Interesting title for an obviously NOT perfect view of the sunset the other night.


Of course, I was out "chasing sunsets" as my husband would say.

But I wasn't chasing them.

I think they chase me.

It's one of the ways God speaks to me ....


Actually I was out doing errands, being intentionally SLOW, not being in a hurry in case there was something to see.

And sure enough, as I pulled into the parking lot at the post office, I glanced over to see this beautiful view. I couldn't wait to get out and get a photo of it. All I had with me was the camera on my iPhone. I got out of the car to get that perfect shot before heading in . . . 

and was so bummed that the power lines ruined my sunset shot!

Or so I thought.

Truth is I needed that "imperfect shot" to write this blog, for Him to speak to me . . . what would there have been to say if it had not been for the power lines in the way?

Oh, it would have been a beautiful picture of the sunset - shouting out the glory of God.

But you know what?

It still is.

There is a beautiful sunset shouting out the glory of God.

When I focused on the sunset and not the power lines, I see that.

It would've been great if I could physically changed my position - got to a better vantage point to get that clear unobstructed view. Sometimes in life you can change you position. But there are many times you cannot. You need to find the beautiful in life as it is.

Because the sunset - the beauty, the glory, the presence - It's still there.

All there.

The question is how.

How do I change my perspective?

The answer is in the looking.

Looking for opportunities to be grateful.

Because that's how I change my position.

It's all in my perspective.

Gratitude.


If you're looking for a book that showcases a life of gratitude, read Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts. In case you haven't noticed, I started reading it last week. And it just reinforces what God started with me so many years ago - opening my eyes to see. The beauty all around me - in the big and in the little. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Open the Door

"I ask Him to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in."
                                   -Ephesians 3:16 &17a MSG

A question has been asked lately. The words came from someone else besides our pastor and he was quick to acknowledge that. But the Lord Jesus originally asked the question, and the question remains:

Have you learned to love?

This passage in Ephesians 3:7-21 is about Christ's extravagant love. Exceeding the limits of reason or necessity, more than necessity . . .

Lavish - marked by profusion or excess, expended in abundance (comes from the Middle English laves or lavage, which seems to be from the Middle French lavasse, lavache which means downpour of rain, or laver which means to wash).

I don't think you can learn to love until you know His love. I mean know it by experience. Not just recite verses. Or talk about it. Or study it. But you have to experience it; poured out on you, in abundance, in excess because this love has washed over you.

One day over the Christmas break, I was sitting in the early morning hours (thanks to the puppy who woke me ;-) pondering that question.

Have I learned to love?

As Christ loves?

Because that is the only love to compare to.

Hardly . . .


for love is patient (Can I get in the bathroom before 10 p.m. at night? 3 bathrooms for 19 adults & kids = patience),

love is kind (What has been my tone of voice to my husband, my children, my family? Umm, not so kind. My inner tone, the mumblings about slow drivers, etc.? Again, not so kind)

it does not envy (I wish I had the that aspect of the life she has)

it does not boast (Did you see what my child did?)

it is not proud (Well, at least my child is not throwing a tantrum - at this moment!)

it does not dishonor others (You can go first - your kids are younger)

it is not self-seeking (it would be easier for me to not have to do x, y, or z)

it is not easily angered (I know you didn't mean what you said, you were acting out of hurt; I'm full of the Holy Spirit's oil so that comment/action will rub right off of me)

it keeps no record of wrongs (When was the last time you ______? I shouldn't have to even ask that question)

Love does not delight in evil (when someone else hurts, I hurt)

but rejoices with the truth (freedom for those in emotional bondage)

It always protects (I'm choosing not to go there in my mind, because that doesn't line up with what Christ has said),

always trusts (God, I'm trusting you with the outcome of my son's new girlfriend in another country),

always hopes (closely related to trust, it means to expect with desire . . . hmmm)

always perseveres (I'm not giving up on a situation/outcome because You are faithful).

Love never fails. (It is complete - it accomplishes, achieves, gains, reaches, succeeds - always)

As I stopped to think about my thoughts and actions that were being tried during this joyous family celebration aka craziness . . . the spirit allowed the words of the question to cut through. Have you learned to love?

Day by day, learning to love. It's a process. Am I better today than I was a year ago? I sure can't do it on my own "brute strength," although I try. I have to let Him in, invite Him in - daily, moment by moment. That is how He strengthens me with a "glorious inner strength."
I pray that we will all open the door to Him, invite Him in and that He will live in us - through His glorious strength inside of us.









PS I couldn't resist adding the pictures of these different doors. After all, none of us look the same so why should the doors representing us look the same :-)