Snags

Okay, in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve slacked completely off on the 30LG. For various reasons, last week ended the fast for me. The main reason being it is too difficult to maintain such a fast while travelling and eating with friends. Honestly, I’m absolutely ok with breaking the fast. I know I can do it.

Moving on. I’ve been thinking about snags. My fingernails always seem to catch on something, often times clothes. You know how when you get a snag, slowly but surely things begin to unravel. Once favorite clothes are tossed in the donation pile, or worse, delegated to the rag bag.

Here’s the thing, I believe we also have emotional and spiritual snags. You know, those times when you think you’re holding together nicely when all of a sudden something catches and the next thing you know you are unraveling. Emotional snags are when the tears or anger or fill in the blank, take over and every little bit of what you thought you’ve overcome starts unraveling before your eyes once again.

Spiritual snags generally become evident by the input of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when you’re reading a verse. Other times out of the blue, something unexpected triggers something in your heart and you find yourself unraveling before the Lord, and sometimes others. And when it is with others, it isn’t necessary for everyone to know what is at the heart of the matter. Although I do recommend talking about it with a trusted friend.

I’ve had lots of snags over the years. A re-occurring one for me has to do with not having children. Today, I caught myself on a depression and quickly began unraveling.

Thank God for grace. Embrace the grace.

What’s snagging you these days? What are you doing with them, letting them unravel you, or giving them over to the Mender of your heart?

 

Day 20: Strength and Community

I’ve moved twice in the last year to two separate communities an hour apart from each other. I long for community. I long for the Woodland days when I could walk into a store and greet someone by name, besides the check-out person with a name tag. Still church shopping, ugh, and still not plugging in anywhere really. It’s easy to slip past it all when you don’t have children, or a job.

The gym is not a place to meet people. Most are on the equipment stealing a few quiet moments to themselves and working on their own definition of healthy. Quite honestly, I don’t see myself keeping membership long term. I think I’m more of a class-y gal, and not in an “I’m better than you” kind of way, more like in an “I want community” kind of way, even if it is just one night a week for 45 minutes.

I was taking a walk today with a friend–thank God I at least have one of those here. We were discussing community and texting and facebooking and you might as well add in blogging. You loyal readers are considered a community of sorts. More and more I think there is less and less of face to face, let me bring chicken noodle soup over because you’re sick kind of community.

We are all so focused on our own little lives walking around with our head in the cloud of whichever device is our favorite. I’m going to try an experiment, I’ve decided to try and smile and or say hi to as many people as I can. It sounds easy enough, but my mom could testify with story after story of how many times she has told me to smile.

Do you think Jesus, when He walked the earth, kept His head down when He wasn’t working miracles, or did He look people in the eyes and smile? Do you think they felt it down to their toes?

There is strength in community, in looking out for others physically in front of us. And of course, there is strength in distant communities as well.

Where do you invest your strength in community?

30LG Day 19: Web of Distraction

Moved firewood various times over the weekend, encountering all sorts of creepy spider webs. On the arms, in the face, spiders in my hair, lovely.

This morning as I hit my devo time, I found myself stuck in another web–the web of distraction. I mean, I knew why I was setting aside the time, I knew to whom I was paying homage and worshipping, I even knew how much I needed this time to start my day out right.

But like Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, I was running into one web right after another. So much for quality time.

Finally, I stopped long enough and did an exercise I like to call alphabet praise where I acknowledge God through each letter. Today’s focus of alphabet praise was the presence of the living God and why I was here.

By the end, the sticky strings of the web of distraction were gone and then I was present enough to pray. Some days it just takes longer than others.

Good thing God is patient with us.

What do you do to get yourself out of a web of distraction?

30LG Days 16, 17: Weapon of Choice

I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately with battle scenes and I’ve been thinking about weapons some. To be honest, my use of weapons has been limited to shooting bows and arrows at a camp I worked at, along with BB guns. Beyond that, I fired a 20 gage shotgun once at a clay shoot fundraiser, literally, one shot.

I envision myself as more a bow and arrow kind of gal versus gun, but I’ve never fired a pistol and that seems like it would be interesting. Knives, forget it, I throw worse than a girl. Oh, and I’ve thrown a few tomahawks in my day as well, camp again.

Crossbows maybe? Sword? No experience whatsoever with either.

For the day in, day out battles–most of which are fought on a plain of mediocrity–I have to choose the weapon that packs the most punch and quells the enemy, crushing him under foot.

I read a Bible verse a few days ago which I’ve been mulling over in my mind, letting it steep into me. Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not My word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (ESV) God’s word is fire and hammer, it’s the sword of the Spirit, it is sharper than any double-edged sword, separating bone and marrow. Hmm.

Fire destroys, purifies, makes way for new, burns and warms. Hammer breaking rock makes me think about a stone quarry I would sometimes walk to with huge, massive boulders, the kind that could kill you if one fell on you. The type of hammer to break that size of rock would be humongous and heavy, crushing all in its way. Don’t even get me started on the power and strength needed to wield such a hammer. Swords with two edges, deadly on its own, God’s word even deadlier to those who stand in its way.

Can you believe that we may wield such a weapon against the enemy in battles big and small? Unfortunately I seem to overlook this point often.

I think it’s time I take up God’s word and learn to wield it well against attacks.

What about you? What’s your weapon of choice? What weapon are you using most days against the enemy of your soul?

 

30LG, Day 15: Halfway Refreshment

Most days I scratch my head and wonder if I’ll ever figure ____ out. You can fill in the blank for yourself. And then there are the days when the Voice is so clear and the choices so obvious and the presence of God so strong that I nearly fall on my face in awe, shattering the smudged, murky glass of days, weeks, months past.

I had a kairos encounter. Kairos is defined at www.jrbriggs.com as the following:  “Kairos is pregnant time, the time of possibility – moments in our day, our week, our month, our year or our lifetime that define us. It is a crossroads. It has the ripe opportunity to make you bitter or better. It is a teachable moment. It is the right or opportune moment. They are rarely neutral and always leave an impact on us.”

I was reading Jeremiah 31 today when I suddenly found myself flooded by God’s love, mercy, compassion, goodness, faithfulness, etc. Here are just some of the gems pulled from the page.

v2 God speaking. “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness. . .”

v3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued My faithfulness to you. . .”

v12 “And they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD. . .”

v14 “My people shall be satisfied with My goodness. . .”

v17 “There is hope for your future, declares the LORD. . .”

v20 “. . . therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him. . .”

And verse 25, my favorite of the day:  “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” (All ESV)

My kairos moment changed my entire day. I found strength in my Savior’s love and spent a good while praising and singing. Nothing else mattered to me. It was as if my parched, hungry heart was invited to a banquet in my honor.

It was awesome. It was needed. It was a halfway refreshment.

Look for the banquet in your own lives. Ask for it. Our God is faithful.

30LG Day 14: Weakness

Wow, am I really not even half-way done with this? I had a waste of humanity kind of day brought on by a 1:30am awakening that didn’t leave until probably around 4am. I escaped the only way I knew how from the list of tasks that required way too much energy of me–story.

Weakness overtook me today. I casually tried to wrestle away from it but it took me by force. Some days weakness haunts me, or is it hunts me? Either way, it seems to be always on the horizon of the day mocking me and trying to knock me over. Many days I let it.

What is it about weakness that holds me so? Is it because it doesn’t require a lot of me? How easily it leads into avoidance. And avoidance into depression. And depression into . . .

But what if weakness is allowed by the Sovereign God to sway me to Him? What if the very thing that hunts and haunts me is there for the sole purpose of pressing closer into the Strong One? How would life change or be different with this shift in perspective?

Even in my greatest strength I am weak. Yet even in my greatest weakness God knows and cares and loves. He is merciful in our weakness. We are but a mere blade of grass, easily plucked and forgotten, crushed underfoot with little effort. And yet for love Christ died for us that He might pour His everlasting, powerful strength into us to do things even greater than the mundane tasks of our existence.

Are you being hunted and haunted by weakness today?

30LG Day 13: Personal Strength Training

I joined a gym two weeks ago and today I finally made it in. Beyond the food, I wanted to gain physical strength on this journey. Today I entered the gym and met with my freebie one time personal trainer who took me through a physical assessment.

Overall I was disappointed. She was a young gal with energy and spunk and just starting out, trying to drum up business. Instead of teaching me how to use the equipment, which I desperately needed–my right brained mind lacks logic often, she kept telling me about the different tools she uses, none of which were available for use at the gym.

I did learn a couple of the weight machines (are they even called machines?) and after her courtesy half-hour I returned to one of the machines and could not figure out how to adjust it.

Did I mention this is my first time ever around weight machines? Needless to say I soon left the gym frustrated and feeling extremely out of my element. But I had specifically joined the gym for this journey and so I will force myself to return in a couple of days.

Strength training, physical or spiritual, is an individual matter. What works for one may not work for another. I would like to identify four different weight machines at the gym and learn to use them. I think this will work for me. And yes, I will be asking for assistance from the staff often.

Spiritual strength training for me these days is similar to my experience in the gym. I have yet to find what will work best for me.

My husband says it takes time to get the most out of weight machines. His own experience with them in high school showed that it took about a month before he felt comfortable and knew what he was doing, and started feeling the benefits.

I hope I last that long. I have a tendency to lose interest if I don’t get it. Regardless, today showed me that strength training is a personal thing.

Anybody out there have a gym story to share?

30LG Day 12: Neglected Strength

When I was younger I lost myself in songwriting. Before the days of writing for publication I poured all of my creativity and soul into song. The harder the strum, the more deep into my soul. It’s been awhile.

I picked up my guitar earlier and sat on the swing with the intent to play louder than the nearby highway traffic. I strummed hesitantly at first, telling myself I must play a song, but the couple I tried fell flat–figuratively, not literally because I tuned–and I was left with a need to play hard ’til my fingers bled kind of feeling.

No blood splattered the guitar but as I was strumming hard in minor chords with an occasional major, it came to me that this vital part of me I thought I had lost was merely neglected. Guitar playing and songwriting is a natural strength, meaning when I can lose myself in it, I feed a vital part of something good God created in me.

Last night I was overwhelmed by the longing for a routine of some kind. Several areas of my life continue to be up in the air and I’ve been neglecting areas where I need to move forward. Maybe neglect isn’t the right word there. Maybe it’s more like delay on my part. I started thinking about which things need to be included in my day.

After playing the guitar, I’m convinced that picking up an instrument for an audience of One needs to be included in my ever-shifting routine. As does writing and nature. These are gifts from God that give me strength. And when I see them as such and embrace them in a day and direct them to Him, then I will feel the force of His strength through them empowering my soul.

What are your natural strengths, God gifts that feed your soul? Is it time to pull a couple of them out of the back of the closet and dust them off and let God give you strength through them?

30LG Day 9 and 10: Heart Hunger

I’m restless today. I experienced it yesterday too, but today it seems stronger. The food part of my 30LG  Journey is going well, the rest of it, not so much.

This journey isn’t taking me as deep as I want it to and I’m frustrated by that, probably more so because I said I would blog every day and once again I fell off that wagon. Are these attacks from the enemy? Either way, God has allowed it and I must awaken to the restlessness of this moment and pry open the door with its rusty hinges to my heart.

Yesterday after a night of book virus, I awoke to immediately pick the book back up and finish it. (See facebook posting of yesterday.) I was aware as I did so that God was nudging me to contemplate heart hunger.

Too often I say I hunger for the things of God. More often I find myself reaching for temporal things around me to feed the cravings of the heart. And it’s not that reading or TV or whatever is bad–as long as I’m not avoiding God in the process.

Many of us church goers have heard the phrase, “hunger for the things of God.” What does that mean in a tangible way? What does that look like on a day when restlessness haunts me or there are too many things that must be taken care of?

What does my heart hunger for? What does my heart feed on, junk food or deeply satisfying food? How often do I prefer the junk food instead?

The junk food I’m feeding my heart is not bringing me the strength I long for on this 30LG Journey. It’s time for me to get out the scales and weigh, measure out the portions of heart garbage food. If for no other reason than to heighten my awareness as to how and what I’m feeding my heart.

How are you feeding your own heart hunger?

30LG Day 8: Hunger Games and Strength

Back to food issues. Examining hunger under a microscope. How often in a day am I really, truly hungry? How often am I simply wanting to graze, to go into a state of numbness via food?

I live in an instant gratification society. Most days hunger plays games with my mind, body and sometimes heart. Comfort foods. When meal times roll around, eat, whether you’re hungry or not. Eat eat eat, maybe take a breath or sip of water, and then eat again. Some days I’m so focused on food it’s disgusting.

Talking to a friend tonight about hunger and how on this seven food fast it seems to rear its ugly head and that’s okay. There’s a world of difference between Somalian hunger and my own hunger. An emaciated individual’s hunger is unhealthy, causing weakness to the point of sickness and even death.

My own hunger of middle class America translates to a strength. Mental discipline. Denial. Surrender to a higher power, AKA:  God.

Oddly enough, the excessive feeding of my hunger leads only to an insatiable hunger. And this goes way beyond physical food. This concept enters into the depths of my soul, affecting who I am, or rather who I think I am, and not who God says I am.

Hunger games are constantly occurring within me. But only one thing can really satisfy the cravings of the soul, nothing else will really fill the gap. And so I eat less and learn to be satisfied at the table. And slowly, but surely the strength of hunger is revealed.

What does your hunger game look like? Do you find spiritual strength in hunger?