Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why Don't They Fly?

This morning after I dropped Ethan off for his 9 am karate class I decided to make a quick run to Wal-Mart (which turned into a quick run to Wal-mart and Target) before I had to be home at 9:45 to pick up Jake to take him to his 10 am karate class. So needless to say I was pressed for time, and I was rushing. I needed to pick up laundry supplies and some new hampers.

As I was riding in my car this morning I was listening to a CD that an acquaintance gave me. He's the father of one of Victoria's classmates and at a few birthday parties and on the campus we've had a few conversations, as well as with my husband and his wife. Nice guy, and an associate pastor at a local church. It's clear our belief systems are very much in line. Yesterday he gave me the CD which was of a message his pastor gave recently in their church. I thought it was kind of interesting that through just a few primarily casual conversations he thought I should hear a particular sermon. It intrigued me.

The title of the sermon was "Prosperity in Adversity." I hadn't actually gotten to hear very much of it by the time I arrived at Wal-mart (though I can now tell you it was all very good), but I had heard something that I liked. At the beginning of his sermon the pastor had everyone in the congregation lift up their bible and together they recited a sort of mantra. I can't quote it verbatim, but they made a faith declaration together along the lines of, "this is MY bible, this is God's word to ME, this is Truth, and I am who it says I am, and I can do what it says I can do, God's promises are sure, and I can trust this Word." I am totally blowing the actual quote, but the sentiment is close, and in the true fashion of the Holy Spirit speaking, it's what I took into my heart.

So back to my story, I had parked the car and I was hustling through the parking lot trying to get inside quickly. As I was walking there were these two little birds on the ground in front of me, walking... they were trying to walk ahead of me rather than get run down by my quick moving feet. As I got closer they seemed to struggle into little birdie runs, but they were struggling. And I thought to myself, "why don't they just fly??"

It was one of those moments of revelation, and I felt like I heard the Lord say, "Yeah, why don't my people just fly?"

How often do we as Christians seem to forget who we are and what God wants to accomplish in our lives? We forget all we have. We get caught up in life and circumstance and get bogged down by it instead of remembering who we are in Christ.

A bird's ability to fly seems like a miracle of sorts to me. God really is an incredible designer the way he's made this little creature able to completely defy gravity and at will move his wings and soar into the sky. As a person I could stand and flap my arms all day and never make it an inch off of the ground, but we can flap our spiritual wings but instead we do our little people run, overwhelmed and flustered looking for the easiest and quickest out, forgetting all the promises and all the assurances that we have.

We can soar. The Bible says so. This is what the bible says in Isaiah 40 verses 28-31:

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

So how do we wait upon the Lord? For starters we need to know His Word, because it's there they we discover who God says we are, "a royal priesthood, a chosen generation" (1 Peter 2:9); and we learn what He says we can do, "all things through Christ who strengthens us" (Philippians 4:13). When we wait upon the Lord we realize that we have promises that we can build our lives upon, we have guarantees.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:31-38

WOW! God is for us! He is on our side! He has promised to meet all of our needs (Matthew 6:25-34), according to HIS riches (Philippians 4:19), not restricted by our circumstances. I have said it a thousand times (most often to remind myself) "Our circumstances are NOT our reality!" Each and everyone of us who have accepted Christ and his sacrifice for our salvation have a hope and promise, we are made for a good purpose and His intentions toward us our good. As our faith is perfected, as we grow in that knowledge and understanding, suddenly, we find ourselves, defying gravity, and we are able to soar, "with wings like eagles."

Be encouraged, remember who you are in Christ today, and whatever you may be facing, however daunting it may seem, place your hope in Him, wait upon Him in faith and confidence, and you will find yourself soaring.

Friday, January 9, 2009

This Is How I Know

So some of you may not know that my husband Neal and I actually work together. We both work for my parents, and have for almost 20 years for me and almost 19 for him (though I took a long, long, long extended leave from the end of my pregnancy with Victoria until she started kindergarten.) One of the benefits (because Neal and I actually enjoy one another) of working together is that most days we have lunch together too.

Usually I make a lunch or I can pull a meal from a stack on Lean Cuisines I have in the freezer to make. Some days (and I'm trying hard to make them fewer and farther between) it doesn't work out that way and I will run to go get us something or we'll head out on his brief lunch hour to grab a bite. Today is one of those days.

We decided splitting a tuna sandwich from Subway off of their "$5 Footlong" menu was a good choice for our budget today, and because I have a little more leeway in my lunch hour, and we like to make the most of his lunch hour, I headed out to pick it up before his lunch break.

It wasn't a good start when I walked out to get in my car and the wind (sense I a Santa Ana?) kicked up and blew my hair into the door so that as I closed it, not all of my hair had made it into the car. So I opened the door back up, had the wayward hair join the rest of me in the car and headed out. I got to the Mobil Gas Station with the Subway inside and went in and order our tuna sub and pay. Then I decided to grab a bag of chips to split and a couple of fountain drinks. As I stopped at the cashier to pay for the additional items it appeared to me that the Subway cashier had given me the wrong change, I saw a $5 bill and some ones instead of a $10 bill and some ones (because I paid with a $20 bill which I thought was the only cash in my wallet.) So I headed back to the other cashier to deal with the mistake. As I did, my faulty zipper on my backpack/purse (which needs desperately to be replaced) falls open and about half the contents in my purse fall on the floor while the backpack holds everything else teetering in the lip of the zipper ready to fall.) I'm asking the gas station cashier to hold on as I'm scooping back up my items, holding my purse together and walking back to work out the wrong change issue.

As I righted myself and got to the back of the store, it's then that I realized I had two little stashes of cash in my wallet and sure enough, the proper change was there. I'd already started to address the situation so I pretty much interrupted myself, excused myself and headed back to the front to pay the other cashier for the drinks. Sigh.

As I walked out into the parking lot Neal's drink started to overflow out the top and off my hand and I actually felt it land in my shoe (little open clog like shoes -no wooden dancing shoes, mind you- but apparently open for spills - if you have really good aim.) Sigh. So I was trying to right myself with the sandwich, another baggie, my faulty purse and the two drinks, all the whole adjusting and manipulating to pull my car keys out of my sweater pocket. As I got the car unlocked and the door open I realized my drink holder where I intended to set the drinks was blocked by a card I have for a friend. So I decided I'd slide in and move it then put the drinks down, except as I am holding Neal's drink out away from me I lift my drink a little over my shoulder and as I climbed into the car I hit the door jamb with it knocking the top off and spilling a good couple of gulps down the front of my sweater, a little on my top and a splattering on my pant leg. Sigh.

I got back out of the car, putting the drinks on top of it, trying to lean forward continually so the soda running down my front would remain only on the sweater and not get more on the pants and shirt. It's at that moment the thought runs through my mind, "Wow, I'm really glad I was wearing this sweater." Huh? Yeah, that's what I thought. Finally I get the sweater off, move the card, put one drink in the car, then put another drink in the car. As I slid into the seat I felt the soda that had apparently spilt there soak into the back of my pants and O thought, "Well, at least I got that dried up."

Finally making my way back to work, as I drove down the street I thought, "This is how I know." Know what? This is how I know that spending time reading my bible and praying, abiding in the presence of God makes a difference in my life. I don't always walk away from reading my bible with some great new revelation or understanding (though sometimes I do) but I do walk away affected.

In John 15:5 Jesus says, "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit..." What fruit is He speaking of? In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul tells us, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." I know there are lots of people out there who God has geared up differently and a situation like this wouldn't throw them at all, but I also know me, and in my flesh on any other day, my reaction would not have been so passive or peaceful, it's not my nature.

It's proof yet again, that Kingdom math holds true. If I abide, then the fruit comes through.

"My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

"All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man[f] as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the LORD endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25

Man, the Lord is good!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I am really feeling joyful today, the kind of joy you can feel almost bubbling up inside you.

I keep having this one scripture run through my mind, over and over again. James 4:8a says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

I'm pretty sure I have shared on this scripture before. I consider it to be like "Kingdom math," A+B=C. A classic IF/THEN principle. If you do, then He will. There aren't a whole lot of things in life like that you can count on, but God's Word is.

Anyway, back to bubbling joy. I think it's from the play out of this scripture in my life right now. I have been digging in, more determined to focus and keep Him at center point the way He's supposed to be. I love the sense of abiding, of feeling plugged in. It's not as though I was backslidden(total Christian-eeze, not a real word), or had fallen away, but so often the busyness of life gets in the way of relationship. It happens in marriages, with children, friendships, and it happens with the Lord. At least I've found that to be the case.

Of course unlike in marriages and friendships and the like, when it comes to ones relationship with the Lord, the obstacles and estrangements are completely one sided. The Lord doesn't forget about us, doesn't fail at the foot of intention and desire. He's there, ready, willing and waiting for us to remember Him, to turn our minds and hearts back toward Him, and when we do, via "Kingdom math," He responds and rewards us with His presence. Incredible.

If my children went days or weeks without paying me any mind or at least not actually talking to me, I'm not so sure I'd be so quick to forgive. Imagine them even coming into my home or bedroom (since technically at this stage it's our home) and if they never even truly acknowledged I was there too, just going about their business, visiting with others, maybe singing a few songs and then leaving... Hmmm, I think perhaps I am getting off track.

So, in the past couple weeks I have been turning my heart towards the Lord with vigor and purpose. I wish I could say it was never turned from Him, but I have been distracted. I have allowed myself to become distracted. But slowly I have been reordering things, focusing on Him, getting life in order, in my schedule, my home, with my family, taking bites from the elephant.

And these are some of the things I have been wondering about as I notice the dramatic difference it makes when I am looking to Him.

When I am "tuned in" to the Lord, He speaks so clearly. Even in little things, God does speak. I can think of half a dozen ways I have "heard" Him direct me in just the last week. When it happens, it excites me.

Let me elaborate, and give a very practical example. I misplaced something of value yesterday, initially it stirred panic in my heart. I stopped and prayed and suddenly remembered I had left it in the pocket of the sweater I was wearing the day before, I went to the closet where the sweater was hanging and sure enough there it was in the pocket. I believe the Lord was speaking to me, He helped me remember and stopped the panic. Now here's the rub, I get excited that I hear God's voice. Not literally, but the still small voice in my heart. I'm sort of proud, for lack of a better word, not necessarily of myself, but of the fact hat God speaks to me. So I wonder, is that prideful?

And here is yet another thought on the matter. When my focus is stronger on the Lord, I open myself up to be used by Him more. Sunday at church there was this weird thing that happened and I knew I was supposed to pray for someone, but I hesitated, but then she came to me. As I prayed for her I felt all this faith rise up in me, it was exciting, and powerful. It made me proud. I was proud to be used by God, proud that I felt it was confirmation that He was speaking to me about praying for my friend. So when I feel this pride, am I lacking humility? Seriously, these are some of the questions I struggle with.

I don't know, I suppose I over analyze these things, and I strongly suspect that God Himself imparts far more grace to me than I do myself, but I do get my brain caught up in these matters. I just know I am very glad to be feeling so connected with the Lord, and every time I arrive at this place I pray this is the time it will stick and truly become a lifestyle and not just a cycle. So glad He isn't giving up on me and will keep working on me till the day I see Him face to face.

Be blessed!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Inches and Seconds

I know it's completely out of character for me (ahem) but I'm going to make a confession here. Yesterday I spent the bulk of my day cleaning my room. It was a mess, and I don't mean kind of, I mean, you'd think I was still a rebellious teenager, bad. Bad enough to the point I was mortified the other night when my daughter opened the door and let her 6-year-old friend see inside. Yes, bad enough to worry what a 6-year-old would think.

Cleaning house has never been my strong suit. It may well be the result of parents I was able to divide over the issue when I was a teenager, but some 20 years later, I don't think we can hold them at fault. (As much as I might like to pass that buck along.) I do think there is some root from going from being a kid who didn't have to keep her room clean to the lady of the (same) house who was responsible for keeping the whole house clean. I never really found my niche, and 20 years, a marriage and three kids later, the job never got any easier to conquer. And deep down I have a talent of lazy disregard. It was easier (always) to walk away from the mess, leave it behind a closed door and ignore it. (I hear a whole post birthing out of that comment as I type.)

In the early years of my marriage there used to be lots of battles between Neal and I. It really used to tick him off, and the wars were great. They never accomplished much, at least not for very long, but they happened. Over the years he has mellowed. I don't think it was a happy surrender, but it was one I appreciated, because there was a definite dying to self as he let go of the fact that I'm no Donna Reed. To some degree, I might not even be a Peg Bundy... a bit more like Roseanne, perhaps.

But the mess has been pretty unbearable, and though Neal held his tongue for the sake of peace, I could feel the unrest beneath the surface. Truth be told, even I was getting my fill, but every time I would walk in the room to consider doing something about it, I'd just get overwhelmed, walk away and close the door. Yesterday I got to the task though. And shockingly, it didn't take as long as I thought. Mind you I'm still working out the laundry, a dozen plus loads that have been assembly line organized in the garage to be put back in order. I've done quite a bit and heard comments like, "Wow, I haven't seen this shirt in forever!" Yeah, yeah, it's there now.

Along with this confession comes another. There is a part of me that has the potential to be a complete Type A personality, I can be a real zealot, an out and out Nazi mom. Truthfully it's one of the reasons I don't knock myself out with perfect cleaning, because when I do and my husband or one of my precious three children come in behind me and mess things up, well, I can be known to take it a little too personally. Offended is an understatement. And the temperamental personality I try so hard to keep under wraps fights doubly hard to be recognized, and I have to fight absolute rage over the tortilla chip crumbs that accumulate under the kitchen table. It isn't pretty.

So what's a girl to do? Last night I baby-sat for my neighbors and after their daddy came home I came back to a quiet house where my husband and two of my three children had gone off to bed. My teenager was watching a movie. After I sat down and did my daily reading (trying to keep that resolution of daily time in the Word,) all I really wanted to do was head off to bed. Instead I made a choice to take those few extra moments to pick things up and put them away, to load the last couple dishes in the dishwasher, to put the "lived in" back in order.

This morning it was the "little" thing of wiping down the counter after washing my face and brushing my teeth. It was taking 5 minutes to make my bed (a task that I can fully legitimize never doing.) And yet as I stand back and look at the room, it's that one little thing, making the bed, that makes the difference between order and chaos, it's what makes it tidy.

As I was wandering through my morning, able to walk through my bedroom without worry of tripping on laundry or stepping on some forgotten toy, it was quiet as by the time I got up to get ready for church Neal and Jacob had already gone to church, and the little ones were still sleeping. It's then when I heard the Lord speak quietly. "It's in the inches and seconds that victory comes." It is there from where faithfulness is built, it's there where the character is found. It's where discipline and habits are created. And isn't the case in just things like keeping house, though it applies beautifully there. Whatever our battles or struggles may be, it's not in the overcoming of the mountain peak, it's in each step made up the incline. Whether we want to run a marathon, lose 10 pounds or 100, or grow in the Lord, it's the faithfulness in the little steps, in the inches and seconds, that will lead us to the place where we can turn around and be amazed at the journey we've made, at the feat we've accomplished.

May 2009 be a year where I can find myself faithful in the inches and seconds, so when the journey is over I can be amazed of how far I've come. May it be that kind of year for you too, in Jesus' name!