Today, I’m ____________.

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Today, I’m writing. Today, on July 4, 2016, I’m declaring independence from the enemy and his ongoing attacks to frustrate, sabotage and keep me from doing what God has purposed me to do.

Today I am no longer willing to hide behind a glossy mask under which fear and pride as a writer cycle around like gnatty annoyances. Fear is going down in the name of Jesus.

I’ve been reading Romans in the Message these days. Parts of chapter 7 hit particularly harsh(16-25):

I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it… 

I need something more!

the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions…

I obviously need help!

I realize that I don’t have what it takes…

I can will it, but I can’t do it…

My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions…

Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time…

 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable…

The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up…

I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight…

Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge…

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. 

Two weeks ago I went to a craft store and asked the Holy Spirit to speak to me whatever God wanted. I saw these two images, in this order.

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I was drawn to arrows right away. The enemy continually fires arrows at us. The ones he shoots at me say, “You will never be good enough.” God does speak in craft stores. He was telling me to be brave against the enemy’s arrows aimed right at my heart’s desire of writing. The scripture is Jeremiah 29:11.

The second photo was taken far away in the store from the first. Needless to say, it stopped me in my tracks. Can we say enemy attack?

I’ve been avoiding writing like the plague and viewing blogging as a leper colony, a place of isolation and disease.

But I’m back. I can only do this with God. Apart, on my own, I will continue to fail at it.

So today, I start. I write. I blog. I look up to the hills from where my help comes from.

What about you? What does your arrow say? What goes in your blank, Today, I’m ___________?

Subtle Attack

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The battle was today. Lena had prepared for it as best as she could, relying somewhat on instinct, intelligence gathered from allies and definitely from prior experience with the enemy. The enemy’s camp encircled hers, battle inevitable.

She was not afraid. She had prepared. She knew the war had already been won. She shifted her shield in front of her heart and raised her sword, waiting. The forest was still around her, full of rustling, russet beauty. The peace of the place brought praise from her lips. She belonged to Him. This skirmish was merely to test the strength of her armor. And He made her armor strong.

The enemy never stood a chance against Lena, armed to the max. Yet in a strange twist of fate, the enemy never engaged her at all. Before her very eyes, the enemy’s camp was slowly dissolving, disappearing. Lena sang for joy at their retreat.

She went on her way later, journeying across the open field on the way to her cabin. The joy of not entering battle that morning swelled her heart. She went about her day, working, completing menial tasks that must be done around home.

Slowly, things began to go south. Simple tasks of habit took on greater obstacles. A project she had been putting off for a week suddenly became impossible to complete due to forces out of her own control and knowledge. Frustration built, attitude embittered and before she knew it, Lena was lying on the floor feeling defeated, depressed and discouraged.

She fell asleep there, a mere fragment of the warrior from earlier.

When she awoke, all the signs were visible. The enemy had attacked her, not on the battle field, as she had supposed, but in the subtle aftermath of her everyday life.

The Insignificance of . . .

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Yes, it’s been another six months since I last blogged. I’d like to say that there were a great many things, definitely important things, keeping me from blogging. But then I’d be lying. Yes, my mother passed away seven months ago, but that hasn’t been the reason I’ve not blogged.

Nope, essentially it all boils down to pride.

This weekend I got together with a wonderful group of Christian women writers for a retreat and several, if not all of us, struggled with the lack of recognition prevalent in the blogging world. We writers are crafters of words and like any artist, we like recognition. (Okay, maybe some there were better versed in humility than I.)

Quite honestly, my blog feels insignificant to me often. And of course the pride-y part of me will always think that.

As I was listening for God’s voice by a river this weekend, I looked down and saw a tiny, miniscule stream trickling into the greater river. So often I feel as though my words make no difference whatsoever, especially my blog which may or may not be read by a friend or two on facebook.

Seen through the eyes of God, the stream takes on a completely different meaning–I am contributing to the greater Kingdom River through my little blog stream. Mental note to self: remove self from the scene and write anyway.

Driving home on Sunday, I watched a single leaf or two float to the ground. At first glance, insignificant. Yet how many times have I picked up a single leaf and held it close as a treasure?

And so that is my hope as I return to the world of blogging. May someone, somewhere find a treasure in it.

Barn Exploration

Things have felt pretty busy and hectic lately. While driving home from work today I had an overwhelming desire to go for a long drive on a deserted country road. I’m longing for simplicity, but it seems the more I long for it, the more it eludes me. But I think it is nearby, whispering quietly.

Recently I entered a deserted barn on thirteen acres by itself. The contents of the barn were many:  a couple of old vehicles, some antique tractors, a really cool wagon, old farming equipment and loads and loads of garbage/trinkets/household items. I explored for a bit and returned home, wanting to know the story behind some of the items found.

How did these things come to be there? What was the story of the lives who used the items? Honestly, it made me curious and sad. It had the feel of tragedy to it. Why else would these things, some of value, come to be there? And have the owners completely forgotten them and the barn itself and its thirteen acres?

I want to think about this in spiritual terms. Do we have barns stuffed with stuff we don’t want to deal with? What sorts of interesting things are in my barn, in your barn? Barns should be places of bountiful harvests, not deserted places of valuable things forgotten.

I wonder what sorts of things spiritually I’ve forgotten. And what kinds of things have I thrown into the barn just to get it out of my face so I wouldn’t have to deal with it?

I don’t know. However I do know this, if I don’t sort through the barn and find the God-good, the enemy of my soul will not hesitate to break in and steal things of value.

I need to explore my barn. How about you?

 

Ziplining Faith

I went ziplining for my 42nd birthday. The first time I went was several years ago at a women’s retreat. What I remember most about that time was being terrified on the platform, utterly afraid and unable to step out into thin air. I finally made it off the platform after I sat down and ungracefully shuffled my way off.

This time was completely different. I stepped off right away, every single time–six ziplines in total.

In March I underwent a twenty-one day fast while God spoke to me on fear issues (you remember, the mouse invasion time). I’ve been going through “Believing God” a Beth Moore Bible study since July first. I know that the stepping right off the platform six times had everything to do with God moving in my life and speaking to me about fear and faith.

I was also keeping my eyes on the line this time and not looking down so much. This is where my faith is these days–not looking down but moving forward. This goes for my writing, as well as other areas where I’m longing.

The last two ziplines were longer and I stepped off no problem but my hand was gripping the device that controlled the steering so tightly that I had blisters. Still trying to keep some semblance of control. And all that brought was pain, not the glorious freedom I had felt on the other lines.

Ziplining and faith is an intense combination because in faith you can’t even see the cables, only the platform in the distance. And the platform is the place where God’s purposes and you heart’s desire meet.

And there’s only one way to get there:  Step off the ledge and believe God can get you there, that God has a hold of you and He will not let you go.

Regardless of the height from which you are stepping into the unknown, step. Trust God, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Only stop looking down and step.

In what ways have you experienced ziplining faith? Do you spend more time looking down or stepping forward into the unknown?

 

Hurdles

I have a memory from sixth grade about hurdles. That season of PE was focused on track and the gymnasium had various track activities set up of which I only remember the hurdles. We students were required to jump over, or at least give it everything we had in trying to.

I hated them. Time and time again I ran up to them and stopped, afraid of falling, getting hurt. And maybe at first they were set super low and perhaps I did make it over one or two of them. But what I remember most is the stopping when they got too high.

Earlier this year I was conversing with God about things in my life I wanted to accomplish–okay, specifically publishing a book, which has been an ongoing, difficult process. In a very direct way, as God’s voice always is to me, He said, “You are your biggest hurdle.”

In this season of my life I’m going through Beth Moore’s Believing God Bible study. A key component to it is the statement, “I’m believing God”, said for those things in our lives in which only God can bring about and fulfill.

Yesterday I was again talking with God. The conversation went as follows:

Me:  “Lord, I’m believing You.”   God:  “Great. Now move out of My way.”

This may sound harsh or un-God like to some, but if I am my biggest hurdle then yes, I do need to get out of God’s way. I need to get over myself and let God lead me to my promised land. I need to follow in obedience, and quite frankly I’ve been slacking off a bit there lately.

So how do you take down a hurdle, when you are the hurdle?

Prayer, lots of prayer, followed up with obedience. God-directed steps always lead to victory, even though sometimes victories are delayed. Still, every small step in God’s direction is a victory, ground gained.

And you, are you your biggest hurdle over something good God wants to achieve in or through you? What are you gaining by remaining hurdled in place? More so, what are you missing out on?

May all of us make it over a hurdle  today.

 

 

The Waiting Things

All of us are waiting for something. We all have at least one desire of our heart awaiting fulfillment. I happen to have two currently.

These are the barren areas of our life. They are empty, devoid, not bringing useful results–well at least according to worldly standards; from a spiritual perspective, barren areas can be quite useful and productive. If we allow it.

It just so happens that one of my areas is actual barrenness. The other night I shared this with several people whom I do not really know and vice versa. I walked away feeling as though I’d dropped a conversational bomb.

I know our culture says, “Hey, it’s okay. Everybody’s different.” However I felt as though my sharing produced a different result.

My tendency to over analyze and read way too much into things probably did not help me out at all. However, the experience, accompanied by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, brought the following perspective.

Am I wearing my barrenness, my waiting thing, as a mantle of sorrow? Mantle in the verb form can mean “to be or become covered, as a surface with scum or froth,” mantle itself is to cloak, to cover, to hood (Webster’s dictionary). And is the mantle of sorrow like an old bandaid, merely covering up a scabby, crusty wound?

What is the alternative? A badge of faith, because I am believing God to work seemingly impossible things for my waiting things.

How do I make the switch? It will take time and prayer and Scripture and faith, but the end results will glorify God instead of focusing on myself. And it will change the impact in conversation.

What is your waiting thing? And how are you wearing it, as a mantle of sorrow or a badge of faith?

May God be glorified in our waiting things. Yes, Lord, yes.

Catty Thoughts

I am afraid of mice. And I mean in a screaming-like-a-little-girl-run-to-the-highest-bit-o-furniture kind of way. This past spring we had a mouse invasion at our house.

Since adulthood I’ve been mainly a dog person. I had nothing against cats per say, but let’s just say as a teenager, and later a nanny, I had too many incidents of spoiled cats with litter box issues. As a child I loved cats to pieces, even wrote my first book in second grade about cats.

After getting two dogs, I thought all was well and good, that is until the mouse invasion of 2014. Emptying mouse traps 20+ times in a month and a half brought a fresh perspective. (Yes, my husband emptied most of them.)

Desperate, we immediately called to surrounding shelters to find cats that could be garage/outside cats only. We were put in touch with organizations working with barn cats and feral cats. They came in colonies of 4. We didn’t want 4, we wanted 2. We contacted 4 organizations total and finally by mid-April we had a placement of a mother-daughter team. Perfect. We didn’t need them to be cozy in our lap cats, we needed them to be mouse assassins.

The cats were released into the original one car garage attached to our laundry room. They bolted to opposite walls, put Superman to shame with their ability to leap tall in a single bound, and dropped into the house soffit, thus accessing our attic where they stayed for a week until we live trapped them.

We next kenneled them while husband made soffit inaccessible. We released them from the kennel and the two feral cats went everywhere they could to be out of our reach, including behind a placed sheet of dry wall. At the end of the recommended confinement period they bolted, only to be seen a few times since.

Feral cats didn’t work. We left food out but didn’t know what exactly was eating it and neither of us wanted to be feeding raccoons, opossums or rodents.

A month ago we got kittens. We can handle them, we watch them play, eat, they come over to us–in short, they let us love them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the contrast between the feral cats and the kittens and people’s reactions to God. Many people in our world are God-feral. They want nothing to do with Him whatsoever no matter how much He simply wants to love on them and care for them.

I’ve got a couple of God-feral people in my life. You too? I think I will continue putting out food consistently; who knows, perhaps they may yet come around. In the meantime, I will continue being the God-fearing kitten that I am, happy to have any contact with God.

Shady Reflections

I’m on heightened alert these days. Reading the NT in the Message, fasting from seven foods (dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts, sugar, corn, eggs), and doing a Beth Moore Bible study have all upped the anty, shall we say.

And yesterday I plummeted off a cliff into an imagined icy luxury hotel where self-indulgence has its way. The bag of chips are gone. (And no, it didn’t make me feel any better.) Today I awoke, still out of sorts, ready for the funky mood and wrestling with God over specific issues to end. Which of course meant I needed to relinquish my rights.

It all sounds a bit elusive, but the point is I went for a walk in a woods this morning. In my usual fashion I was walking, wrestling, venting and asking God to pull me out of the tailspin. At one point I paused and looked up. I was underneath a maple tree and the translucent, green leaves provided adequate shade from an ever increasingly intense sun.

Jonah came to mind and nothing was fishy about it at all. No, after he delivered God’s message to Ninevah, he went out of town and set up under a shelter to await the doom and destruction of the city. God caused a tree to grow up and shade him, which made Jonah happy. Then God caused the plant to die and a hot wind to blow in and nearly scorch Jonah to death, which made Jonah angry.

All of this was due to Jonah’s anger over God’s mercy and compassion shown to Ninevah. Spoiler alert:  God doesn’t destroy the city, the people repent. Jonah missed God’s blessing because of anger in his heart. Or seen another way, God’s blessing went away because of anger in Jonah’s heart over God matters, over how God operates.

How often am I angry over how God operates? What blessings disappear before my eyes when I am too busy comparing my life to others?

I walked on. I came around a bend on the trail and there was an extraordinary plant. White and translucent, with leaves and buds intact. It was completely by itself. I’ve never seen the likes of it before.

God can do what He wants to do, when he wants to do it.

God intimately works in mysterious ways, searching for those willing to see and crave more of His Spirit.

What does Jonah’s story speak to you?

Resistance Distance

After a hiatus of a three month disappearance from the world, I’m back, ready to try again, re-committed to bringing insight from my life to light through blogging. Why so, “long time no see”?  Not sure exactly.

Thought maybe my thoughts weren’t that insightful, got too bogged down in life to blog, went off on a life tangent which led to another life tangent which led to yet another life tangent. But if I am to be honest, I would say the number one reason I disappeared was resistance distance.

You know what that is, right? How sometimes something turns from enjoyable into hard work required and so you begin to distance yourself from it based on the resistance? Yep, that’s me and blogging. The discipline of consistency broke down. The idea well ran dry and instead of digging a new well, I used it as an excuse to not blog.

And spiritually? Whew, look out. I’m a pro at resistance distance when it comes to things God calls me to. I’ll make excuses for the excuses, travel through rabbit holes searching for rabbit holes. And what does God have to say about all of this?

I know what He’s been speaking to me lately. My resistance to God is called disobedience and yes, it does indeed lead to distance in my journey with Christ.

For me, for now, these little bit of words on a computer screen are steps back to the best God calls me to.

What about you? What in your spiritual life is causing some resistance distance? What step do you need to take to recover the distance? And are you willing?