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God of the harvest

Waiting on the Lord versus just giving up. Listening to Him to tell me when to move versus acting based on my desires, wishes, or what I think God should do. That is how my prayer life and spiritual walk has been for some time now. Praying for light, but seeing darkness among the very crops for which I have been praying. Continuing to plant seeds here, but looking around to see them wither and die in front of me.

There is a lot in the passage from Isaiah 30:18-26 that mirrors my walk right now. As I sat reflecting on its truth today, I could not help but see the parallels.

He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries (v 19).

And cried I have. I have laid before my prayer wall with tear-stained cheeks wondering why God keeps directing me to do something. To pray continuously. To keep trying. To not give up. And feeling like those pleas are not reaching past the ceiling. Feeling like, maybe, that still small voice I heard was my own, and not His at all. That maybe this is not His will at all, but all my own. I have pleaded for Him to “just fix it.” I have said the same prayer over and over and over until I have wanted to rip it off the wall and burn it.

I’ve called for help.

I’ve heard nothing.

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (v 20).

I’ve called for help and heard nothing. And I have certainly suffered for what He has asked of me. Hurt. Rejection. Criticism. Discouragement and disappointment. When the way I was told to go doesn’t produce the fruit I hoped I would find.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you he will say, “This is the way you should go.” (v 21). 

This is the hardest part-surrender.

To a will that is not my own. To an outcome I may not like. One I definitely cannot see. It’s teaching me to wait. And I’m not so patient. It’s teaching me to relinquish control, when I want to be in control. It’s teaching me to trust, but I have soul deep trust issues.

It’s teaching me that it’s not my will, but His. And isn’t His always better than mine?

I may cry now. I may feel I am surrounded by darkness, and that all these seeds of grain I am planting are returning void and useless.

But there is a purpose in this season of suffering. While God harvests this turmoil here in my heart, he is also harvesting a victory:

Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock (v 23). 

There will be reward for your obedience, January.

There will be fruit for your labor, January.

Don’t give up now. Your tears mean something. They are not wasted. Your prayers are heard. Your work is not in vain.

I’ll show you if you just let me do the work.

If you just trust me with this harvest, I’ll show you what those tear-stained prayers will produce.

Don’t give up. Keep praying. Keep listening. God will do the rest.

He is the God of the harvest.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2019 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Well done….

 

“Well, what do I get if I do that?”

An all too common question. What is in it for me for serving, for being kind, for meeting an expectation?

People are often surprised that I do not demand that my kids do more chores. Earn their keep around the house. Perform duties in order to be rewarded for all the “good” things they have done.

It’s true. I don’t.

I have tried every chore system known to man (or rather, woman). Every velcro stripping, popsicle pulling, washi tape plastering, dry erase board posting, laundry clip moving chore chart on Pinterest. None has lasted. The only thing successful among any of these charts has been the endless arguments over who gets to do what chore, and earn what silly reward.

So, we keep it simple. We teach them how to respect each other and the adults in the home. That in our home (and beyond), we are spoken to with words of love, and no one leaves a room when asked to stay, without completing a discussion on an issue. We praise the daughter who decided to check the mail without having to be asked. Or the boy who fed the dog, just because he wanted to help. We deposit these moments into our memory banks so that the next time that girl wants an impromptu play date, we can remind her of her frequent mail drops and quickly say “yes.” Or that boy runs out of ice cream, and we remind him of the time he did not let the dog go hungry, and we can quickly hop into the vehicle for a quick trip for fro-yo.

But there are also times we remind them that in life we are not rewarded for doing good. We won’t always be praised. Sometimes we will be unappreciated or overlooked. However, we do our little bit of good anyway. We keep giving to others anyway. Even if you don’t get in return. Even if people don’t do anything to earn it. Even if people aren’t even very good.

Why?

Grace. Undeserved favor. We don’t deserve it. We have no reason to expect it. Yet it is freely given.

Just as God gave us.

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan. 2 Timothy 1:9

We didn’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. He gave it anyway. He loves us anyway. Even if the world may not notice our good efforts. Even if we may be overlooked, and it may take a lifetime. Grace was our reward. And, one day, all of those small efforts we make will be acknowledged when He looks at us and says “Well done. Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Now, that’s one fine reward. Don’t ya think?

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2019 in Grace

 

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I need what He’s got

Crowds. I never much liked them. As a kid, teen, and a young adult I always remember struggling to figure out my place in the crowd. Where exactly I fit in. It gave me anxiety. Made me nervous. Made me wonder who exactly I was. I would either be the loudest in the room.

Or the quietest. It all depended. My anxiety either meant I over compensated by becoming a social butterfly, flitting through the room lit up like a Christmas tree. Mingling and talking to anyone and everyone. And I do mean ANYONE. Or I was in a corner with my head in a book. Daring anyone to talk to me.

At times. I still go between the two.

But when it comes to being attractive to others. I want to be more like Jesus.

Whose mere presence in a room or crowd commanded attention. Who may have walked by many who were watching, waiting and looking just for him.

But his presence was quiet. Sure-footed. Humble. Purposeful. He was powerful. He drew crowds. He wasn’t intimated by them. He certainly knew his place in them.

As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, the whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” Luke 8:42-46

Yet he still had time to stop for the one who sought him.

He didn’t need fanfare. He didn’t need to announce himself. He walked up in the place and peeps just knew!

I gots to get to Jesus!

I need what He’s got.

I need some of that in my life.

I want to be like that. Not the loudest. Not the one who commands attention by doing things to get noticed. Or the one who walks in, unsure of herself. Of her worth. Her place in that space.

I want my presence to light up a room. Sure. But only because it means I’ll be a noticer of a face in a crowd who needs a little love, and knows they will receive it. The one who will stop and help the fallen even if I’m busy. Even if a slew of other people and things need my attention. This one may need it, too.

I want to walk quietly, sure-footed, humbly, and purposeful. Knowing to whom I belong. Stopping to touch his garment at all times when I feel empty and discouraged.

Yep. I need what He’s got.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in Like Jesus Does

 

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It’s all going to be OK

Faith and feelings. Or “suck it up, don’t talk about it, just pray about it.”

I’m a straight shooter. I’m honest. I keep it real. I share my struggles. And, I value the art of vulnerability in our lives. Even among the faith community. However, there is often this idea that we can’t be vulnerable, be a mixed ball of feelings and still have an abundance of faith.

Here’s the thing. I am a Bible carrying, post-it note writing, war room crying, prayer warrior. I have faith. I also have a ton of feelings. Many I suck up. Many I just don’t.

Here’s why: We are responsible for what we damage when we are here. And too many are damaging hearts and relationships simply hiding their true feelings. Not being honest with self and each other to save face, and look good in a highlight reel.

Too afraid to admit they are a mess. When God already knows our messiness. We can’t hide it from him. We can walk around wearing a mask of macho and cool in our daily lives, but we can’t hide our broken hearts from him. We can come to church cleaned up and pretty on the outside, but we can’t hide what’s on the inside.

“Pretending away reality never makes things better. It just causes you to implode on the inside while smiling on the outside. That’s no way to live.” Lysa Terkkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

So can we just admit to each other that we are not OK? That what we really want is someone who can be vulnerable enough to admit it, so we can finally say…”Oh my goodness. Me too!!!” And, tell each other that’s it’s OK to not be OK?

That it’s OK to miss someone. Because missing someone means we have also loved someone. We have a hole in our heart that aches because that person inhabited a place in it, and we now grieve for that emptiness. And it’s OK if your grief was short, and if your grief takes longer. It’s OK if you are missing someone who is still fully alive. It’s OK.

It’s OK to have big emotions. Like anger. Like sadness. Like frustration. Like loneliness. God made us with those emotions. He also knows every single one of them. He felt anger when he saw the evil he had created among the world, enough to wipe them out in the days of Noah. He surely felt sadness when he sent His son to die. He feels frustration when His purpose does not come to fruition because earthly desire takes over and wrong choices are made. He feels all that, too. We are made in His image. He gave us all these emotions so we would understand the one he wants us to use the most-love.

It’s OK if you didn’t cope so well with those big emotions today, and reacted in not so glorious ways. It’s OK if you yelled at your kids. It’s OK if you cried in your bed under the covers. It’s OK if you walked into Starbucks sobbing because they handed you the wrong coffee, desperate for one thing to just be right in your day (hand raised here). That’s all OK. Show yourself the same grace God shows you and start over tomorrow.

And know this: It’s OK if you are so not OK that you need a little extra help.

In a world where it’s better to look like you “got it going on,” with a plastered on smile, letting a big fat “fine” roll off your tongue, while inside you are dying, sad, lonely, and wrestling with emotions and thoughts that even scare you…look, we can’t afford to not reach out and get some extra help. Our minds, our hearts, and our souls are too valuable.

It’s OK if you need to call a therapist. It’s OK if you need some extra help from a pill. It’s OK if you need to admit, I don’t “got this,” and I need some help. It doesn’t make you weak or less of a man. It doesn’t make you less “Christian.” It let’s others know you value yourself to keep waging this battle that is taking over your mind, and that you are going to be OK.

It’s all going to be OK.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Move, girl!

Hmmmmm……looks like they finally moved that thing. How many times did I ask for that very same thing to be done?

Wow! Really? I put that request in years ago, and now it’s finally important to someone?

This is how it begins. A blast into the past. Recounting all the hurdles I had to jump. Lamenting over things He had already gotten me through. Just not in the way I wanted. Then wondering why in the world that “assignment” was so hard for me?

In high school for two spring seasons, I decided to join the track team. Somehow, during that first season this short girl was encouraged to try the 100 meter hurdle race.

In high school I was also persistent. I didn’t give up easily, and even though I trained painfully to clear that bar, I missed it each race. Tumbling to my feet, onto the ground. Humiliated and defeated.

I needed a new assignment. A different race. I needed to move.

My perseverance and persistence has not faded since high school. Which means I still painfully work to clear hurdles from my path. In ministry. At work.

I get frustrated each time I don’t clear that bar. Upset each time I fall. Each time I hit a road block. Crying out for help in my suffering because surely if He called me here…well, I should not be set-up just to be knocked down. Humiliated. Defeated.

They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over the Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew for sure God had called us to preach the good news there. Acts 16:6-9, MSG

Move, girl! This isn’t the place for you. You belong in Philippi.

I had to move.

He had a different place for me. A different assignment. And, he set up some roadblocks where I was for a purpose. Just like he prevented Paul and Silas from preaching in Galatia and Bithynia.

He had to get me to Philippi.

And if I stayed comfortable where I was. If I stayed happy where I was. If I never fell over another hurdle, or had someone or something block my path-I never would have moved.

Move, girl!

So, I did.

Which means…who cares who moved those darn pictures? It was not my assignment. Who cares who blocked the way at work? I was never meant to stay where I was. It was no longer His place for me.

He gave me a new assignment. He sent me to a new place. To tumble over some different hurdles I am sure. But…when he says, “Move, girl!” He will also provide the way for me to clear them, too.

Move, girl!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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And I know He watches me…

I don’t like birds. May seem like a random bit of information. And, it could even seem a little strange, since as a child I used to watch them. Study them. Wonder where they were going. Had been. What their behavior said about them. However, I also remember walking to the school bus and getting pooped on by a bird. I remember getting attacked by one as my brother and I walked through our neighborhood as kids. I don’t really like the gulls who think I packed all those sandwiches on the beach for them.

No. I don’t like birds.

Yet, a bird is the subject of one of my favorite songs when I used to sing in high school…before I ever knew God. Two are tattooed on my hand to remind me of this song, and it’s corresponding verse:

“What is the price of two sparrows-one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Matthew 10:29

But, I hate birds.

God. He has a sense of humor.

For two summers, I found the time to enjoy my front porch. I wrestled with some hard stuff there. I cried many a tear. Screamed many times at God.

And, was visited each summer by a bird. Tiny little sparrows. No. I ain’t lying.

Yes, during those times when I felt distant from Him-much like a forgotten sparrow that had fallen to the ground-I have watched one of these lonely birds calling to someone in the distance. Pleading desperately on my porch railing, as I pleaded desperately for it to just fly away. For any ole bird out there to hear its call. To come help him so he can fly home, to where he or she was going. Or was supposed to go.

Two years later. I sit again. On this porch. Watching this squeaky little bird That I just want to go away. And, I stop for a minute and remember God’s promise in Matthew 10:29. In that song I used to sing so long ago: His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me. 

See, I had just asked Him: What is the point of all this? Why did all this happen, and when the heck are you going to give me any answers? Are you ever going to listen? 

I had been wounded. I had been attacked. I had felt abandoned, like a lost bird, and I didn’t understand it. And I needed his help, and I felt like he was silent.

Sometimes I feel like a wounded sparrow desperately calling out, and no one hears me. Yep…not even Him. He won’t give me the directions, and sometimes He isn’t telling me where to go.

When, in fact…He does. His Word. The very One that said I would never be forgotten in the first place. So, I opened my Bible, turned to a page at random and read Jeremiah 30 and 31 finding some of His promises:

“I have wounded you cruelly, as though I were your enemy. I will give you back your health and heal your wounds. In the days to come you will understand all this.” Jeremiah 30: 14,17,24

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble.”  Jeremiah 31:9

He is telling me to trust Him. To stop worrying, and he promises he won’t leave, He won’t drop me on my face, even though it feels like I am suffering down here.  He will pick me up when I fall, and he won’t ever let me go. He loves me.

I may feel like a lost bird some days. I may feel like that sparrow on my porch howling for someone to please come get me. To hear my little shriek down here below.

I may “feel” like he isn’t listening, but just like he gives flight to those birds. Gives them a place to land. Watches them, and won’t let them fall. He won’t let me either.

His eye is on this little sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Need an answer? Don’t Google it…

“I saw it on the internet.”

“I don’t know. I googled it.”

This. This is how we get our answers to many of life’s problems. To the things we don’t know.

I am of the generation who had to research via encyclopedia. Trying to find out information on anything took more than 30 minutes; sometimes even days, and if the World Book didn’t write about it, well you had to trek to your local library hoping to find an actual book that was written about it. Then read it.

These days you can pick up your trusty phone, ask Google and she (or he) will come back with a number of “hits” all about your chosen topic in a matter of seconds. Problem is…most are not based on fact. And, many…many are definitely not family dinner conversation worthy.

We decide what’s right or wrong based on what we read on websites, or see on YouTube.

We can determine our level of “cool” based on what everyone else is doing on social media, or what our friends tell us.

We look for “signs” from Insta-worthy quotes.

We can even ask our “friends” for recommendations on the best places to go, the best movies to see, even the best way to handle a nasty co-worker, or a salty spouse; and get a ton of advice. Some probably really great. And none at all the same.

Instead, we either listen to the wrong voice, or simply just give up.

Rarely do we dial up God about something. You don’t hear in our daily conversations “Oh, I read the Word, and this is what it said about that.”

I have asked God recently over a number of months the same question. I have prayed the same prayer over and over. I have come away not hearing the answer.

Searching instead for a sign on the internet to solve my problem. Hoping Google will provide me with some answer. Ready to give up, because I came up empty each and every time.

Until, I opened up His Word, and was given the answer that I needed.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. Psalm 23:1-2

See, I had been hanging on to the past. To the hurts of the past. To those who had harmed me. To those who had mistreated me. Used me. Manipulated my compassionate nature.

I was no longer in that place physically. Yet I was still living there in my mind and heart. Looking for answers and healing from worldly devices.

When it was right here in His Word all along.

Those people are not here, where I can rest in a green meadow if I so please. Walk across a bridge, through a path, and meander by a rock-strewn stream if I desire. Those people didn’t come with me.

But, He sure did.

He had never left me. He had come with me. He was simply waiting for me to let all that other stuff that I left behind go, so He could do something greater here.

I didn’t find that answer on the internet. Because it wasn’t going to give it to me.

I found it by looking around at the beauty He had placed around me. The place He had put me. I found it by praying. By listening. By surrendering my need to fix the past, and focusing on one truth: His Word.

Which provides the answer every time. Google can’t hold a candle to that.

So, need an answer today? Don’t Google it, or expect Facebook to provide it…ask God. Or even better-open up His Word, and read what He has to say about it.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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