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.

Spiritual Rabbit Trail

I was reading in Hosea this morning and I followed the notes to their end. I didn’t end up so much like Alice in Wonderland, more like Alice wandering in Heartland. Here is the trail to follow along, if you feel so inclined.

“Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him, and to require His favor, til He comes and teaches you righteousness and rains His righteous gift of salvation upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (AMP)

Which led to . . .

“And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity].” II Corinthians 9:10 (AMP)

Then the trail went to . . .

“For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10,11 (AMP)

Made me think about my writing and gardening and the purpose for which God has for me in both. I love this time of the year, watching things bud and sprout up from the dead. I may be in a place of mourning these days but still, there is life around me and seeds to be collected from the dead parts of my life to plant in the fertile soil around me, ripe and ready to be cultivated by God’s provision and grace.

God’s word alive and active in me, aka, Christ, is the rain which waters the earth around me and causes things, good things in abundance, to sprout and bring forth seed and bread. Opportunity and nourishment. Purpose and sustenance. Hope and discovery. A garden of possibilities abound.

What’s in your garden?

Gain or Loss

I spent half the month of March on a journey of my mom passing away. I know she’s with Jesus and that brings me great comfort, but I still miss her.

There were so many good things that came out of the two weeks away from home including quality time with both of my sisters and time with my dad. We all had opportunities to say our goodbyes.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve received multiple sympathy cards. Most people write or speak to me, “Sorry for your loss.” And it is a loss.

Yesterday I started thinking about Philippians 3:7: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (ESV) I began to wonder if God had something else for me there.

Yes, earthly gain counted as loss for Christ is God truth. But what if earthly loss counted as gain for Christ is also God truth?

I’m not trying to add to the word of God, rather thinking about my response, any of our responses, to earthly losses of any kind. What are our options?

Wallow in sorrow, despair, self-pity. Plant feet firmly in anger and resistance against God and others. Go to our happy place, AKA, escape and never truly deal with the loss. Just a few examples from an endless list I’m sure.

But what if I take this earthly loss and live it out in such a way to bring glory to God? What if before I respond in my human flesh, I try responding in the Spirit?

I’m trying my best to do just that. I’m hoping that all of us who call ourselves active believers can do the same.
That’s not to say that sorrow and anger and the rest of the grieving process isn’t valid, it’s more to say that we don’t let it consume us.

What current loss are you struggling over? What could you do to make it a loss that counts as gain for Christ?

100% Unscathed

My mom has been in the hospital two times over the last two weeks. My prayers are with her often, as are my thoughts. I know, based on my own hospitalizations, that fear, anxiety and depression can quite easily take over.

Coincidentally, by divine design, I’ve been reading in the book of Daniel. I just read two of the more memorable Sunday School felt board stories: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lions’ den.

Where do these two thoughts meet, you might be thinking. I’m glad you asked. Perish or relish.

When life circumstances bring us to the brink of disaster, to the edge of the precipice, to the mouth of a bubbling volcano, we have a choice. We can dwell on the circumstances only and perish through depression, fear, anxiety, regret, bitterness, etc., or we can relish in our God, in our LORD.

This is easier said than done. Duh.

I can probably count on one hand or less the times when on the brink of life disaster, according to my perception, when I chose to relish instead of perish. Even when we choose to perish, God shows abundant grace. Ah, but when we relish.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to relish in their God and they came out of the fiery furnace, that was so hot it killed the guards who put them in it, 100% unscathed. They had no burns, their clothes were intact, their hair was still there and even the smell of smoke was not on them.

Daniel came out of the lions’ den even without a single scratch.

I want that kind of faith, don’t you? I want to come out of whatever circumstance I find myself in 100% unscathed because of my faith.

What current life circumstance feels like you are on the brink of disaster? How can you relish there instead of perish?

God is faithful and full of grace. Thank You, Jesus.

Zipper Faith

I’ve been zipping a lot, and I mean A LOT, of jackets lately. This happens when you work at a school with pre-schoolers and you are outside with them before, during and after school. I’ve encountered plenty of zippers with problems.

Some are just plain worn out, on jackets handed down from siblings and used repeatedly. Others are smooth and zip easily. Lots of them get jammed by the side material. The most bothersome ones are the ones that zip initially but then split at the base. Even my new jacket did that one day.

So what’s the big deal? What does this have to do with faith?

In my quiet time I sometimes pray the alphabet, which I talked about quite a while back in “God APP.” The letter “Z” is always a challenge to come up with a praise or prayer word for. Many times I use the word zipper. I imagine my journey of faith as a zipper and I want my life to groove in with God’s will as the zipper moves up, as my faith moves up.

The broken zippers lately have me thinking about zipper faith. What kind of zipper is my faith? What circumstances in life cause me to split at the bottom or get stuck on the side? Is my faith right now a smooth kind of zipper or one that has grown complacent and taken for granted God’s zipping of my life to His will?

The zippers that come apart at the base are the most dangerous kind of faith. It is the faith of a person who thinks they are great with Christ, with God, but really are coming apart at the core. The zippers that do that in real life are only fixed by starting over from the bottom with a firm standing. Sometimes, God reminds me of this in certain areas of my life.

What about you? If you had to describe your faith in terms of zippers, how would you describe it?

 

 

Glory

Here I am six months since my last post with no excuses to offer except stubbornness, fear, and if I’m honest with myself, a bit of rebellion.

This week I went away from the world on a defining the writer retreat. What that means is that I actually went away by myself to discover who I am as a writer before God. And trust me, it was needed after five months of using writing coach services on my first manuscript. The process was grueling and ugly and all sorts of gross attitudes and yucky things surfaced, not to mention the overall rewrite that is still needed.

With writing heart wounded and yet hoping, I armed myself with writing projects, three songs (my phone had no signal and I couldn’t get wifi), a Bible and a cool book called “The Pilgrim Spirit”, and went to a secluded spot on the coast and wrote, read what I wrote, prayed, worshiped and hoped.

A quote from J.D. Salinger’s, “Catcher in the Rye”, came to mind. WARNING:  A SWEAR WORD FOLLOWS. Holden, the main character, says, “That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘F— you’ right under your nose. . .” [–‘s added by me] “If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn’t rub out even half the BLEEPS [again added by me, Laura] signs in the world. It’s impossible. . .”

This world is all about writing you know what on every surface.

On the retreat, out in the midst of praising God and worshiping and praying over my writing at the same time, God spoke. He told me that my words, my blog, is me writing the word “glory” on a surface.

It makes me think about our lives too. Our lives will write one word or another on the surface of everything, person, place we encounter. I believe that as believers in Christ that we are to be glory writers. I don’t know what this looks like for you, and even for me. But this I know, at the end of my days I want to have more “glory’s” than the other.

What about you, what word are you currently writing on the surface of your current circumstances, relationships, even possessions? What could you do today to write “glory” for all to see?

Holden might be right, we can’t wipe out every single “F— you” in this world. But we can try to write at least as many, if not more, “Glory’s”. I’m starting today with this blog. Glory.

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.