Saturday, July 27, 2013

Words

Words.

They are dear to my heart
And my greatest enemy.

They are my tool
And they are my treasure.

I stumble in them
And I stumble over them.

There absence makes me anxious
Their excess strangles me.

I rarely take them at face value from another
I always wonder about what's really behind them.

They lift my spirit
And they crush my soul.

Spoken or thought
They consume me.

I say so many more than I don't want to
And I can't stop them from running through my brain.

I hope for them they don't come
I drown in the flood of them.

They change my perception
They fall prey to my interpretation.

I fear my own are misinterpreted
And yet silence is not my strength.

I love words
And I hate them.

Words love me
And they hate me.

I am consumed.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Making macaroni salad with the Lord

Several years ago, I found myself alone at a woman's retreat.  To clarify, there were lots of other women around, but my BFF at the time had come along on another friend's dime, and I didn't feel like I ought to infringe on their time together.  I hadn't even planned on going, but at the last minute someone sponsored me, so I did.  But I ended up rooming with one of the women who was teaching several of the other classes, and my other roommate was on the worship team. They were just too busy to hang out. 

So I just sort of drifted about by myself.  So I wasn't alone, there were more than a hundred women there at least, but the (actual) introvert in me just kind of hung back, alone.  I had arrived at the event feeling pretty good. I had been super consistent in my morning devotional time.  Every day for 50 some days I had gotten up early and was going through the book of Isaiah one chapter at a time.  Every day I sat and took down notes on the story of the prophet in my little spiral notebook before even rolling out of bed.  I was being faithful, and I felt really good about it. 

So needless to say at the retreat I had a lot of time to think and meditate on the Lord with very little interruption.  It was actually at that retreat that I heard the Lord tell me to minister through writing, and it wasn't long after this blog was born.  But that's another story. So the first morning there I was in a worship session, feeling pretty good about my consistency in seeking the Lord when I heard Him whisper to me as I had my hands raised to the heavens just singing along to the band. 

"I don't want to be a habit," He said.

It was so clear, I dropped my hands and looked around to see if He was standing next to me.  He wasn't, but I knew it was His voice anyway, conviction settled in very quickly, because that's exactly what I had made Him, something to check off my to do list. 

The fact of the matter is, I would have been better off if e has been labeled "human doings" instead of "human beings." I like to "do." And I like nice little "to do" lists that I can check off feeling like I am accomplishing things in my life. It's part of what has been the hardest about this decade long hiatus from any formal ministry, nothing to check off, no sense of accomplishment.  All the while I hear the little whispers of the Lord in the background, "Love and worship."  "Be still." "Rest." Grumble, there's no lists to coincide with those directives. 

These past few months I have been in quite the desert. It wasn't my first trip there, but it was definitely the darkest and driest desert I'd ever found myself wandering in.  Deserts are lonely places. And last week I got to a definite breaking point.  Crying out in my heart to the FFH song "Move," I kept singing it in my heart's prayer, "Lord, move, or move me."  And so I started what ended up being a three day fast from food and a 5 day fast from Facebook.

I am happy to report that God's promise, "If you draw near to God He will draw near to you," has once again proved true.  And it wasn't long at all before I felt like the clutter between us was unplugged and with my focus righted, I could hear Him and sense His presence again. During the food fast in particular, I let every hunger pang drive me to prayer and communion with the Lord.  If only I could fast forever (which by the way would be great for my waistline (for a while) as well.)

Wednesday morning, while still fasting, I woke to some typical mommy drama that kept me from lounging in bed and communing in prayer and reading with the Lord.  In fact I had been at work for a good hour when it dawned on me that I had barely given Him a cursory hello.  As I leaned down to grab my prayer journal out of my purse, I just dodged the blanket of guilt that tried to rest itself upon me. 

I heard Him whisper, "I don't want to be a habit, but I do want to be a priority." 

I felt the Lord's pleasure as I knew that what drove me to still pick up that journal was not the desire to check my "time" with Him off a list, but because I felt like I was missing out.  It was important TO me and important FOR me to have time with Him, whether it was for an hour before rolling out of bed, or for 10 minutes just to connect sitting at my desk at work.  He just wants me to want Him there (which He always is by the way) and to include Him as I go about my day. It's not about "doing Jesus," but about being with Him, out of a joyful heart. 

This morning I woke up and I didn't feel like I had a lot of prayer on my heart beyond "Good morning Father, thank You for this day."  I didn't have any real direction about what or where to read. So God and I got up and went into the kitchen and made macaroni salad for Neal's dinner tonight.  (It's his favorite.)  And can I tell you, it felt really good, with the house quiet, the kids asleep, to just talk to the Lord while I cut up veggies.  It wasn't formal, or profoundly spiritual, it was just about where my heart and my focus were.  The Lord wants to be the center of our lives, so it doesn't matter if we're making a huge life altering decision or just making macaroni salad for dinner, He's already there, He just wants us to remember that, and keep our focus on Him.  

So be encouraged, wherever you are, whatever you do today, be mindful of the fact that the Lord is with you and be with Him. 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 
James 4:8a