What Say You?

images

I sit back and read and watch the exchange of powerful ideas.  The ideas of freedom of speech and the protection of human rights.  Debate argued from differing opinions.  Good.  That’s what America is about.  So, here is my freedom of thought and speech.  I will add mine to the count.

altes-buch-173803

This morning as I was relaxing in bed and enjoying this holiday weekend, I scrolled through social media.  Always an interesting way to start the day.  I came upon a video commentary about gay rights vs. Christian rights VS. gay rights vs. Muslim rights.  There is an incredible amount of hypocrisy going on.  Christian bakery owners aren’t allowed the same right to refuse service as Muslim bakery owners.

It isn’t real freedom for liberals to say a Christian cannot believe or practice certain things, if those practices disagree with their beliefs. 

Liberals and extreme leftist groups are some of the most intolerant folks I see today.  Christians don’t tend to be a vindictive group on the whole.  But, I see the LGBT rights’ groups working to massacre anyone who doesn’t agree whole heartedly with their views.  (Let’s be clear, I’m not saying all LGBT people are intolerant.  Just as I would not say all Christians are not vindictive.  I am saying the LGBT political groups, on the whole, are very militant and extreme.)  I’m not for hypocrisy from any camp, but the left is quick to point out hypocrisy among the Christian community.  However, nobody seems to really acknowledge that hypocrisy from the extreme left groups.  But, it becomes quite clear.  If you are a vocal, national voice and dare to express your opposing opinion of the LGBT rights, you will pay the price.  Or maybe you are just a Christian business owner who wants to stand up for your religious belief.   You may pay the price.  And that price is exacted in many different ways.

images-5

Christian rights are under attack.  I am starting to believe Christian rights are losing their protected status.  And, it’s likely to get worse.  I just never thought I would see it coming from this angle.  I guess I didn’t really expect to face it in my lifetime.  It seems as if the downward spiral has sped up.  I sit and watch human rights and freedoms violated every day.  It seems as if the clock of this world is winding down.  There is this sense of change on the horizon; I have no idea when or what exactly or whether it will be sudden or a slow meltdown.  I make no claims at being a prophet.  There is just an unsettled sense in my spirit.

I am also concerned about our lack of concern as a nation towards Christian persecution in other nations.  Or, how about the American Assemblies of God minister that is imprisoned in Iran now for 3 years, simply for returning to his country of origin to visit family?  He is being tortured for his faith.  American diplomats have seemingly been very unsuccessful in securing his freedom.  I wouldn’t even begin to claim to know what all has been done to negotiate his freedom, but there seems to be no real urgency.  When foreign countries are more sympathetic to his plight than his own, I am disturbed.

images-6

I read an article which stated Muslims are being granted easier access into our country while Christians from Middle Eastern countries are faced with a much more difficult time of gaining entry.  Many of those are trying to escape the extinction of their families and are desiring freedom.  If our borders are going to be porous, why shouldn’t these threatened peoples be allowed in?  I don’t know about you, but I feel as if we could be witnessing on a smaller scale an evil akin to Hitler and his followers.

Some say the turning away is for political reasons; some wonder if it is numbness, denial or a lack of knowing what to do.  I don’t have that answer.  I just know a horrendous atrocity is occurring before our eyes.  Radical Muslims are evil.  And we are their enemy.  At this point, it doesn’t matter whether you think the wars we were involved in are what caused this, it’s here.  It seems evil against Christians is increasing.  Times are a changing.

tra

America is changing.  And, I don’t think it is for the better on the whole.  Yes, protecting basic rights for the marginalized is a good thing.  As Christians, human rights protection should be of the utmost importance.  Human life is precious.  No one should be treated inhumanely.  We must defend those without protection.  No, we can’t possibly rescue or protect everyone.  But, we risk callousness and the selling of our souls if we don’t stop, take notice and do what we can.  What is that?  Frankly, I’m not sure, but we at the very least have to take notice and ask God what He sees.  Ask God what He needs us to do.

images-8

Perhaps, prayer is where we start first.

So, as I was scrolling through social media, I stumbled upon something positive.  After digesting the disturbing fare of national and international news, I came upon this sounding alarm.  Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, senses a change coming as well.  And she is urgently calling for Christians to pray.  The prayer initiative started earlier this month, but continues until the end of May.  Check out her website http://www.annegrahamlotz.org.  She is calling on Christians to pray for our country.  I would encourage you to stop over and see in what way you could participate.  It certainly would be the most powerful first step we could take.

What Are You Looking At?

1-1234699141PRLFI’ve been thinking about today’s blog.

I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to go…until now.  I don’t know, call it writer’s block.  I never really want to write a post without some kind of inspired direction.  I had several seemingly disjointed thoughts rolling through my mind and couldn’t bring them into any cohesive thought, until now.

I’ll let you in on my analytical brain’s journey.

My first thought from the week:

My personality doesn’t do well with conflict.  For the most part, I think most people do not do well with conflict.  However, I do know there are some who seem to enjoy it…get a kick out of it.   But, that’s not me.  It causes me a level of anxiety that sits in the pit of my stomach.  Generally, I deal with conflict by avoiding the person with whom I am having conflict.  Not the best tactic, I know, but that is my default mode.  As I am growing, I am learning not all conflict resolution has to be traumatic and disastrous.  I am making baby steps toward handling conflict that results in positive and life-giving ends.

My second thought from the week: 

I don’t like to complain about being in ministry.  There are many great rewards, opportunities and joy.  However, it’s not easy at times.  In fact, there are unique challenges, disappointments and pain other professionals don’t experience, much less their spouses and families.

I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum.  Christians don’t always act like Christians.  And, honestly, that can be a disappointment.  But, on the flip side, Christians have been living, breathing fleshed-out hands of God in my life.  In some congregations, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  In fact, keeping in mind I don’t do well with conflict, there was a time during a very difficult season, attending church was too painful and I would have to leave the worship service because of severe anxiety.  Sadly, for a while, it didn’t feel like a safe place for me.

I wasn’t even the “personal” target for attacks.  My husband, mainly, and occasionally one of my children were the focus of the attacks.  It seems people forget their responsibility as Christians in a body of believers.  When someone decides to “take on” an issue in the church, they often forget the collateral damage that is done.  When issues are addressed in a toxic way, many hearts lie wounded in their wake.  It’s not just the leader affected, but his wife and children as well.  God reminded me “He sees it all and knows it all.”   He will make right the wrongs.

My third thought from the week: 

This is the greatest of all from the week!!  As I was walking the circle in my neighborhood, I took notice of the beautiful spring blooming around me.  It was such a beautiful day! As I was trying to reign in all my thoughts and see what kind of coherent message I could bring from it all, it hit me straight on.  I realized my rambling thoughts were coming together!

  Nature yells out the very existence and hope of God.  It was screaming out to me a message I needed to be reminded of!   The joy and hope I sensed in that moment caught my attention.  As I was looking at the yellow-flowered weeds in the field near my house, I got it!  I remembered a verse I had come across the day before reading through some journaling I had done last year.  Psalm 27:13, 14.   Yes! It was all clear now.  The seemingly random thoughts were coming together to form one powerful thought!

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Life is messy.  Stuff happens.  People disappoint….some over and over again.  People don’t act as they should and many times we are hurt by others’ selfishness.  But, life is also very beautiful.  Or at least it can be.  It depends, though.  And frankly, it depends on you and me.  I’ve experienced enough toxicity to last me my lifetime.   Life can require responses or decisions from me I feel are unfair at times.

I just choose over and over not to focus my attention on that.

Maybe, right now you see harshness or injustice.  Perhaps you are experiencing a motherload of inconvenience and disappointment.

But, if you quit in this one snapshot of a moment, you will never see the finished portrait.

old-camera-1352392502n6P

If you quit now, you won’t see the would-be, finished, beautiful product. 

Our hope and joy lie in God and our trust in Him.  Such beauty and grace resides in Him.  He promises to show us His goodness in this lifetime.  So, focus your attention on what you WANT to see.  Stop focusing on the unfinished business; focus on the promised beauty.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

What’s In The Cup?

images-55cf7ed00c3c9df8aa952894a273703d2

In a worship service recently, we sang the worship song “Your Presence Is Heaven” by Israel Houghton.  I’m sure you are already familiar with it, but just in case you aren’t, here are the lyrics.

Who is like You Lord in all the earth?
Matchless love and beauty, endless worth
Nothing in this world can satisfy
‘Cause Jesus You’re the cup that won’t run dry

Your presence is heaven to me
Your presence is heaven to me

Treasure of my heart and of my soul
In my weakness you are merciful
Redeemer of my past and present wrongs
Holder of my future days to come

All my days on earth I will await
The moment that I see You face to face
Nothing in this world can satisfy
‘Cause Jesus You’re the cup that won’t run dry

Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus
Your presence is heaven to me
Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus
Your presence is heaven to me

I’ve sung this song before and it always makes an impact on me.  This particular time was no different.  But, this line I have sung so many times, really struck my heart on this particular day.

121133961

‘Cause Jesus you’re the cup that won’t run dry. 

I think I came to understand something in a new way.

Jesus never runs out of the answers, strength, provision, wisdom, help, protection, or love….and the list goes on and on….I desperately need!!

Whatever I need, He is!

There it is, plain and simple.

And He NEVER, EVER stops being what I need!  His supply is endless.  He is endless. It just never runs out!  My supplies and resources always run low or run down.  But, He has everything I need, when I need it.  Furthermore, He knows what I will need before I am even aware I need it.  How amazing is that?

As I stare down a new phase of our story, and feel the full weight of the pain and ugliness, my heart is heavy.

I’m not up for more pain, more hurt, more anxiety, or more injustice by misguided people.

I don’t want to live out the big fear made reality.

I said this to God in worship that day.  Wearied by just the thought.  I’m just not up for it.  This fear and anxiety and always looking over my shoulder.  The fear of your child having to relive the pain or face down the ugly once again.  I have enjoyed my hard won peace.  We have fought for and found our peace.

But, God helped me understand He has everything I need to handle the story with grace and peace.

HE is EVERYTHING I need for this leg of the journey.

We won’t fight this part of the battle with old, decayed supply.  It is brand new supply from here on out.  He has taught me new wisdom and has strengthened me through old battles, which has prepared me for the new battles to come.

Unlike our earthly supply, He won’t grow stale, run down, or run out.

I can rest in Him, without ceasing, and He will NEVER, EVER fail me.

Furthermore, He saw this coming and is fully prepared to lead us all the way home.  What a relief and peace that comes from this knowing.  He knows my future days to come.  He knew this was the future day to come.  He knew the weaknesses I would feel and will be merciful to me.  He is sufficient supply for whatever I am not.

It stirs my heart encountering the personalized experiences God uses to speak big and powerful messages to me.  He knows the grief and the pain that come surging to the surface in a split moment.  One text can change things.  One email can shatter calm.  But, God knows—He isn’t surprised. He is unending.

Life is often unpredictable.

But God is not.  Many times we are left scratching our heads, searching for answers.  But God does not.

I will rest in the knowing.  I will rest in the peace only He gives.  I will not look into an empty cup.  For it does not exist.  He is my cup that NEVER, EVER runs dry.

images-2

tumblr_lgdxyuMlCO1qd2ic7o1_500

I am wondering.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation which requires something you do not possess on your own?

I would love to hear your comments (post below).  We can learn from each other.

Hope is stirred when a heart has found what it needs…sometimes we need to hear from someone else’s point of triumph or learn from their sting of adversity!

Green, Green Grass

 

images-2

 

I can feel it coming!  Can you?

Days are getting longer and spring rains are bringing life support for the flora and fauna.  The chill gives way to warm breezes.  And, if you live anywhere near here, a yellowy film covers every outdoor surface.

One of my favorite signs of the coming season, though, is the green grass and creative, ardent gardeners prepping their plot of earth for summer beauty.  Life bursts on the scene after the dead of winter.

Summer is a unique time for me. 

I look forward to it.  I think I still have a schoolgirl’s mindset.  After all, with homeschoolers in the house, I live to the special rhythm of the school year clock.

Days, weeks, months.  Semesters and curriculum.

Books completed and boxes checked off.

81c8dfd936fb44beafda0fadfd156dd9.jpg_srz_p_313_315_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

And here we are.  We are not year-round homeschoolers.  I definitely need the summer break!  Summer break is mainly for me and my sanity!  I know my kids would rebel if I even thought about year-round schooling, though.

I need the leisurely mornings and unhurried schedules.  But as much as I love lazy days by the pool, I start to get antsy about a month in.  There is only so much laundry, straightening and organizing a soul can do before losing her mind!  I start to slowly morph into a discontented, unhappy woman.

I lose all perspective and basically, I get bored with my life! I don’t know how to cope with all the down time.  Crazy, I know.

So, I have made a plan for my summer.  I decided to be proactive this summer and save us all from my mid-life crisis.  I figure this is a great way to recharge my creative and intellectual self.   I am calling it the Creative Summer Immersive—CSI.  (Well, I just decided to call it that since I’m writing my blog post about it and it needs to sound official.)

In a nutshell, I am going to immerse myself in a summer of creativity that will stretch and grow me.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

800px-Paintbrush_and_palette-1

I’m rather pleased with myself.  Here is my plan:

  1.  Find 2-3 artistic/creative projects where I can learn a new artistic skill. (Probably going to hit up Pinterest.)
  2. Continue studying about and working on my writing. (I have a membership to a training/mentoring group I will continue working with.)
  3. Explore enrolling in a free online university class (MOOC) and learn something new and interesting. (Going to check out mooc-list.com.)
  4. Explore drawing techniques I want to learn. (I will probably purchase books on drawing flowers.)
  5. Read enriching and enjoyable novels and non-fiction.  (Of course, the library is one of my very favorite places.)

So, there you have it.  Not overly complicated or grueling.  But, it does allow me to grow and thrive.  Can’t really ask for much more that that!

Here’s the deal.  I am going to be full of grace towards myself.  If I don’t hit everyone of these goals, or maybe focus and become immersed in just one particular goal, then so be it.  My thoughts for this are to give myself a plan to work from.

If you don’t aim for something, you’ll hit it.  

Anyway, I’m sharing this with you for a simple reason.

Summer is a great time to explore and try something new.

I realize not everyone’s schedule reflects mine.  In fact, summertime may not really mean anything new or different for your world.  But, you can’t help but notice the new life and fresh growth all around you.  Nature shouts out the beauty of new creation.  It’s everywhere.

So, why not challenge yourself to try something new, learn a new hobby, or take up something you’ve always wanted to do.  Make this a summer of dedication to your well-being.  You never know what you just might find out about yourself.

Maybe your need isn’t even about creativity.

Maybe it is taking the time to broaden your world and practice a new service to others.

Maybe there is something innovative you can do for your neighborhood.  What does this look like for you?

Maybe you need to purposefully enlarge your circle of friends this summer.  Live it up!

Maybe there is some learning you have put off for another time.  Go do it!

Just imagine how much richer your life will be by the time summer is winding down.  Maybe, just maybe, it won’t be wasted.

 

We all want richer,

fuller

and

more meaningful lives in this world gone mad.

634763077931900519-my-beautiful-angel-wings

What are you going to do with this one beautiful life you have been given?

For this, it doesn’t have to be super spiritual, mega-watted or compare to mine or any other’s summer.

You do you! 

Just set a goal and be intentional.

In other words, number your days.  Give meaning and purpose to each day.

 

   “So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

I am excited.  Perhaps it won’t all go as planned.  This is not a problem.  I am just excited to see what I can find out about myself.  Who’s gonna join me?

one-wild-precious-life-quote

 

Here’s your assignment for this week.  Start thinking about some new insights, hobbies or endeavors you might be interested in.

How do you want to grow in the three months of summer?  Write it down.

Research how to move forward towards these new projects.

Hit the ground running as soon as your schedule allows you to do so–if it is sooner that June, go for it!

I want to hear what you are planning.  I will give periodic updates on my summer adventure.  I want updates from you, too.  Let’s help each other.  Pull up a chair and let’s chat….comment below!