Friday, August 31, 2012

Family Matters

One of the requirements for being a dentist must be the gift of gab.  Imprisoned by a chair, my dentist's conversation with his assistant held my attention, causing three hours to pass quickly.  I'm convinced the dialogue was to distract me from discomfort. 

Yet as much as I was interested in the conversation it frustrated me.  With my mouth full of clamps, drills, cotton, and what have you, I could not contribute, only listen.  Topics ranging from the untimely death of a mom, to abortion, to the republican convention, to contraceptives, to sports, and to obsession with athletes were all discussed.  Whew!  Now that's a mouthful! 

With the above topics you can see why I was dying to say a few words here and there.  But all I could muster was a few grunts indicating whether I felt any pain and if I was doing okay.  However, my mind was thinking of all the perfect things to say if only I could talk. 

As I bemoaned my incapacity to speak I thought of the blogging world.  We are all so eager to let our voices be heard, to somehow make an impact.  But how eager are we to listen?  And perhaps this is one reason the social network is so attractive, because there we can talk all we want but we don't have to listen.  It appeals to our selfish nature . . . that what we have to say is all important . . . one sided conversations.  I've often been guilty of this . . . the gratification of speaking my mind.   

For these reasons I've been wondering about the point of blogging.  It seems that writing a post can keep me from doing the real writing God has directed me to do.  Yet, I started this blog out of obedience to God, a mountain which loomed frightening before me.  In fact I still struggle with fears whenever I click the publish button.  

The internet is certainly not lacking for gifted bloggers able to communicate direct to the heart.  It seems that others have already said what needs saying.   On top of that there is great potential for offense because with many words sin abounds.  So why blog?

I continue out of obedience, but also in the hope that somehow someone will benefit from the testimony of my life.  As each life is unique, perhaps my story resonates with some like none other can.   But in order to balance the rest of my life with blogging, I've decided to aim for a post once a week, every Friday.  Maybe you can find time to read it over coffee Saturday morning or in the wee hours of the night, but I trust it will be uplifting. 

I've decided to check my motives for each post.  I seek to encourage but also to challenge, not with a lot of fluff, but with transparent reality.  My goal is to be concise and short.  I know I'm far from that goal at present!  But thanks for following along anyway as I struggle to learn writing skills.  I will try not to preach, scold, or brag, although I know I've been guilty of all three in the past.  Most of all, I hope to make this blog worth your read. 

I would graciously ask that you please take a moment to sign in as a member.  I admit that signing up as a follower will do nothing for you, but much for me.  It lets me know you are there, but mostly builds a platform for the day when I may seek to publish.  But no publisher will take me seriously unless they see I have followers.

Thanks for sticking with me through my many ramblings.  You are a great encouragement to me!

Monday, August 27, 2012


'We're not plannin' it, we're just doin' it', has become my new motto.  Well, not really, but seriously, it has become rather convicting for me as of late.   I like to have plans made ahead of time, goals spelled out, and schedules in order.  But I've realized that in my planning I leave little room for faith.  When all is under my control then it becomes all about me and what I want. 

I've been putting some things on hold in my life until my writing project is done.  It still isn't finished, but in the meantime a window of opportunity is slipping by.  I know God wants me to reach out to those He has placed in my life right now, even if it means I must move forward with unfinished work, unknowns, and sketchy plans. 

Normally I become rather irritable when my plans are interrupted, but lately my eyes have been opened to see the interruption as God's specific direction.  Rather than resisting change, I'm seeking to be more flexible and sensitive to where God might be leading me.  I've recently had an opportunity slammed shut in my face and in hindsight, see that God used it to humble me.  Yet at the same time I'm so very excited because God's 'no' confirmed a definite 'yes' in another direction.  

I don't know what God is up to, but I do know that He has given me a renewed passion to go for His plan as opposed to mine, even if I feel unprepared for the task.  As I teach a group of high school girls it is not my hard labored notes, rewrites from an editor's wisdom, or the specific study guide I had just spent years writing that we will be using.  No, it is something new, a study on Esther rather than Ruth.  With the Bible as our text and the unwavering assurance that this is God's plan I move forward in faith resting in His sovereign control.  I will still be writing on my "old" project, but have no idea what God has in store for this interruption to my plans. 

Ann Voscamp says it so well on her blog, A Holy Experience, "When you're waiting for an answer and it seems like life is silent, God is actually calling."  Sometimes in all my trying and all my plans I lose sight of God's working right in front of me.   I'm thrilled to be included in what God is doing, not plannin' it, just doin' it!  Plain and simple.  I guess it boils down to obedience. 

All of my ambitions, hopes, and plans, I surrender these into His hands...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Deliverer

When I speak to first time expectant moms I can't help but think, ignorance is bliss.  But after experiencing it three times I was terrified of what lie ahead.  I know births are supposed to be easier the more children you have, but that had not proven true for me.  I pleaded with God.  Please God, could you have mercy on me, just this one time?  Must I always have to struggle through some deep spiritual lesson at the birth of each of my children?  I can't do this . . . but somehow I must.  Cries from the soul pierced heaven's realm. 
In desperation I asked God for a verse, something to cling to and focus on during the labor.  As I read the Scriptures that morning Zephaniah 3:17 jumped off the page and I knew that was my answer.
"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."  (Zeph. 3:17)

As I ran that verse over and over in my mind God came close.  Really God?  I have not dropped off your radar?  You are with me?   I know in my head that God never leaves his own, but my heart felt dejected . . . distant.
I kept rolling it over in my mind.  He is mighty to save, mighty to save, capable, powerful enough to see me through no matter what I am destined to face.   As I neared the delivery of my fourth child I needed to be convinced that God could truly deliver me, in a 'help me I'm overwhelmed' sort of way. 

I've always struggled with believing I was in God's good graces.  To think that God would delight in me was a distant concept.  I was anxious and discouraged about many things, and the thought of God quieting me with His love was like a soothing balm to my soul.  Yes, He rejoiced over me with singing.  I wasn't sure I really believed it but I wanted to.

Then as Summer Faith was born the grace of God washed over me in full force, the gentlest and shortest birth I have ever experienced.  I was in awe of God's mercy.  He heard my cry and most of all, I knew His personal touch in my life.   The Deliverer stepped into my dilemma.
My four children were each born in a different season, but Summer seems to be of a different cloth and appropriately named.  Sunshine spills out of her life, this child so rarely sad.  She delights in making others smile.
(Summer/summer, Tyler/fall, Ivy/winter, Heather/spring
Grandpa calls her a pistol and Nana tells me that this child will not be bound by the box.
For several years she had a passion for being an astronaut.  She is not content with living an ordinary life and would rather spring right off of planet earth and discover new worlds.  Lately she's decided to be a composer.  I'm curious to see what her ambition will be when its time to graduate from high school. 
This week she has taken to running laps around our tiny back yard, religiously doing her situps and pushups, all of her own initiative.  She has a natural bent towards repetitive tasks and self discipline which she carries over into her spiritual life.  I came into her room to talk to her one day and she was lying flat on her face.  I thought something was wrong and started to speak.  She shushes me and declares, "mom, I'm praying."  In other words, "don't interrupt." 

I don't know what God has planned for this child, but I do know she has brought great joy to the rest of us.  Always happy, she lightens many a moment.

Yet when Summer was only a few years old, she acquired a bone infection in her hip.  We thought she might be taken from us, and once again I was in dire need of my Deliverer.  God spared her life overwhelming me with His mercy.  

One thing I know, this child will always remind me of God's grace which smiled down on me one Aug. 19th.  God beamed vibrant sunlight against a dark place in my life to unveil a shade of grace in passionate hue.  In the shadow of the Rock, under the shelter of His wings, I can still see its color.
Today I face another monumental mountain.  It is inevitable, this transition, as our family sprouts wings and flies toward college.  I must surrender my children once again, remind myself of Who's they are, and believe that He who began a good work in them will complete it.
I have a Deliverer who is standing by, Jesus, the One who cares deeply not only for me, but for my children as well.  He is the LORD of Heaven's Armies.  

And when it comes time for Summer to fly I know My Deliverer will still be just as strong to hold, to keep, and to carry.

Her birthday will always remind me of God's face shining down on me. 

Happy 10th birthday Summer!  Go with God, for He will always go with you!
And we're off!   

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Greatness Walks By

Last night I was giddy.  My family thought I was crazy.  The thought that I might catch a glimpse of the President of the United States in person totally awed me.  A once in a lifetime opportunity was within my grasp! 

My town is not a large important city, but it is the biggest and broadest metropolis between Denver and Salt Lake.  I heard on my local news that President Obama was coming to my town.  That in itself is amazing and I'm not sure why he would come here as our people vote 75% conservative.  But then the announcer told us that he would be speaking at Grand Junction High School.  It grabbed my attention.  That's my school!  My oldest two children went there.  It is within walking distance of my house! 

I'm not really an Obama fan and so I wasn't very motivated to get a ticket to listen to him speak but the position is powerful and he is our president.  God directs the heart of the king and places political leaders in office on purpose.   For these reasons I hold him in highest respect.  

The thrill of adventure rolled around in my mind.  We could go for a presumed casual walk and watch him enter the building.  Maybe we could catch a view of his limo or of secret service men all staunch and serious in their black suits and sunglasses.  But my husband claims I'd get thrown in jail if I tried such a stunt.  What?  I pay taxes for the sidewalk.  I have every right to walk on it whenever I so choose.  He laughs and reminds me that our own church congregation has several individuals who have been in the secret service and one man has even shaken President Bush's hand!

Okay, so I'll just behave myself and stay home minding my own business, but it was fun to think about.  I have to wonder, what is my reaction when Jesus of Nazareth passes by?  Is that how the crowds of their day thought of Him?  If only I can catch a glimpse of Him in person or better yet, hear Him speak and look into His eyes, even touch the hem of His robe . . . the chance of a lifetime.

But the sad thing is, every day, every moment, The Great One passes by and I so often see it as ordinary. . . routine.  Jesus invites us into His very throne room and we so casually shun the opportunity.  Do I highly treasure the name of Jesus?  Does my heart thrill at the sound of His voice as He speaks to me through the Spirit and the Word?  

What is our response when the Great One passes by?  Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!  That was the response of the blind beggar by the road.  Grown men tore the roof off a house, multitudes practically ran around the Sea of Galilee, families went hungry, a boy gave up his lunch, a man scrambled up a tree, and women broke tradition just to be near this man and to worship at His feet. 

God has given us a royal summons to enter His presence and to draw near to His heart.  I wonder, what am I passionate about today?  Is there an urgency, a fervent awe in seeking after the Savior?  When the torn veil exposes the glory of Christ, what is my response?  

Friday, August 3, 2012

God Gifts

Life is not laid out in a neat little formula, though I often want it to be.  An athlete's defeat by a hairs breadth and subsequent sobbing in deflated disappointment  proves it is not.  We are not machines with input output buttons but I wish it was that easy.  

Input . . . . hard work, drive, and excruciating discipline. 
Output. . . a gold medal at the Olympics. 

We are told the sky is the limit.  We can pursue any dream and accomplish any feat, if we are willing to work for it.  But that is not entirely true.

Sometimes I believe the lie that if only I work hard enough I will see results.  But when an editor tells me to hit the delete button on months of labor I come away dripping tears, just like those athletes.  But though my pride is crushed, the editor is right, I do need to be wise in my labors so they are not wasted in futility.   The efforts are then directed towards the goal and not into the wind.

Yet some excel toward their goal and still miss it.  Often a destiny is wrapped up in the opinion of a judge, an agent, or a publishing company.   I wrongly assume I deserve the prize because I have put in the hard work but "in vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for He grants sleep to those He loves."  (Psalm 127:2)

It is God who grants the gift and brings rest to our striving for "every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights"  (James 1:17)   Even after all the training some athletes have a bad start, some have an off day, and some even perform perfectly but still do not gain the prize.   It all comes down to God's purpose for their lives . . . a gift. 

Today I work hard toward the calling God has placed on my life, but my trust does not lie in my own efforts.  Rather it rests in His sovereign control, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127:1)  Any good we accomplish is from Him.   God alone extends our sphere of influence in order that He may be lifted high.  (Isa. 26:12, 15)

I've gained some new heroes this Olympic season, some women like Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas.  They have something in common.  Their gold is not expected, not assumed, and not the complete sum of who they are.  They deem it as a gift. . . and gratefulness streams from their faces.  

Pursuing excellence?  Yes.  Trusting excellence?  No.  And I often fall short of even the excellence.  Yet God's purposes prevail.  Thank you God for your perfect gifts.  May I never assume I bring them onto myself.  All Your gifts are grace poured out.