Sunday, July 31, 2011

Today and Tomorrow

Bogged down. Heavy. Processed.

I feel that way today.

How could I not? 

I go to the grocery and throw boxes into my squeaky wheeled cart - and I buy bread made with machines and my cravings are for cream-filled snacks made in the same way.

I buy clothes off of racks made by worn hands who aren't compensated for the wear. And I rarely stop to consider their precious efforts.

My children play with plastic toys that make noise (and headaches). They watch shows and films that keep them from living in real color - where they could actually experience the scenes flashing across our television, instead of just hypnotically watching them.

I grow more grass than I do vegetables. And I spend my time shearing it off each week instead of tending to a worthwhile crop.

I throw my clothes in. They moisten, drain, and spin....and I throw them in another...they warm and tumble and dry. And all that's left for my calloused-lacking hands is hanging and folding. In the midst of which I complain about the task.

I rinse my dishes and line them up in the black box next to my sink...and I pour in the suds. The box and bubbles do the job that was once designated for my hands....leaving them, as mentioned, uncalloused and less than worn.

I store up more than I give out. I cling to the temporary security that money brings - all the while refusing to feed the mouths of the poor and clothe the backs of the needy. I grow in debt and shrink in decency.

But it's all starting to bother me. Just because it's mainstream - doesn't mean its for me. Often times - that can mean that it isn't. 

Today - I want to purge our pantry of the packages. I want to kneed and twist and mold mounds of bread right here in my own kitchen. I want to wear clothes made by my own hands - with stitches and needles. I want my children to discover and learn and play in dirt and come in with rosy cheeks and mud under fingernails. I want my garden to be something I tend and nourish - because it tends and nourishes me. And if I'm being honest today, I don't want to washboard clean my wardrobe - but I do want to be thankful for the manner in which my clothes become fresh - and I do want to hang them out to dry in the air that leaves them smelling of summer. I want to use a rag to clean my dishes and as each cup passes through my hands to a drying rack - I want to thank God for how my cup always overflows.

Today - I'm craving the simple. I want to consume less and feel thankful for more. I want to minimize the stuff and maximize the blessings. I want to rid myself of the longing for things.....and fill myself with a longing for Him.

Do you ever feel this way?

Do you ever feel like doing it different?

Today - I do. And in the tomorrows ahead - I pray that the prodding continues. I pray that He prompts me to give up what never should have been mine in the first place. I pray He teaches me on earth to go against the flow and live opposite of the current. 

Because with less -  I could do more. 
With callouses come experience. 
And with the simple...comes the Divine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Realization

As I sat ....listening to an extraordinary author speak about thankfulness - tears moved down my cheeks in a constant flow of emotion - each tear saying....

 "Lord, I'm so sorry for the ungratefulness I exude."

As she spoke - about death, about grace, about children, about love, about joy, about Jesus..... the overwhelming, yet gentle conviction I felt in my spirit was more than me, or the box of tissues at our conference table, could handle. The conviction emptied me....and I emptied the tissue box.

The sorrow I felt for being so ungrateful in the midst of such blessings - made the tears pour forth... and pour forth....and pour forth.

I looked back at myself - my thoughts, my feelings...and my spirit crumbled to pieces. As I turned my attention to the 5 years 5 minutes before - I suddenly realized the ugly and immature web I wove of constant unsatisfaction and ungratefulness. A web, that only caught in it's trap more unsatisfaction and more ungratefulness.

And in that moment - an author much wiser than I - brought to my attention the affliction:

A blindness to blessings.

What's even more startling is that I created the blindness myself. The blessings have always been there. They weren't hidden or twisted or even small - they were in the light, obvious, and larger than life...... It was the sin-darkened, world-tented eyesight I had let myself develop - that tainted my seeing them. The blessings, that is. The bright and many blessings that littered my life.

What the author said of herself is also true of me...

"My default is always unsatisfaction. Always."

And it can't go on this way. My womb has been full too many pantry too mind to marriage too bed too thirst too soul too saved - to live wallowing in ungratefulness.

So I wipe the tears and gather the pieces of myself  - I reach up to the One...the Grace-Giver, the Blessing Bringer, the Banisher of Blindness - to pour His grace forth on me. And the thought of His grace pouring forth....again, makes my tears pour forth. And I'm grateful.

The pouring out of me and the pouring in of Him...isn't that what we're after?

So He has me where He wants me. Not at a conference or a lecture or a city - but broken in the palm of His hand. And as I lay in a convicted and tired heap in his touch - my eyes are opened. Not only to the dark realities of my ungrateful heart - but to the scars that lay there as well. For the palm that holds me - held the nails that save me. And the grace that drips from those wounds - heals the blindness in me...and the blessings begin to out-do the bitterness.

So as I charge into the everyday  - where life isn't a pretty poem and the Enemy crouches around corners - I realize my default can only be outdone by the out-pouring of Grace.

 And the web of darkness I once wove is torn because of Him. And it leaves me thankful, void of unsatisfaction ... full of Jesus.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Be My Calm

This morning - as I opened the Scripts to Mark - this little gem spoke right to my scared little soul:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39

He can do the same thing in the tumultuous seas of our weary souls. He is our Wind-Ceaser, our Storm-Calmer, our Peace-Bringer, too.

With eyes wide open - I study the next verse:

But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"

He is saying that to me. And He is probably saying that to you. And He wants us to recognize His power, His dominion, His authority, His ability - in all things. Even in the scary. Even in the ugly. And He knows we both need help with this.

Then verse 41 goes on to say:

And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

Notice that their unhealthy, earthly fear - turned into a holy, God-revearing fear. Just like it should.

They asked the question, "Who can this be?" The answer: No one but the One who spoke it all into motion in the first place.

Oh, Jesus - let me recognize You for who You really are. This much afraid, timid little heart wants to trade in her worldly fears for faith. On land. On sea. In the sacred. In the scary. Always. Come. And be my Calm. You're the only One who can.


May the Lord bring you peace and reassurance and a fresh wave of faith this week! He is trustworthy.

So thankful for you all :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dark to Light

Just another devo I wrote for my church....this one makes me squirm. Love to you all.

I’ve been consumed lately by the many mentions of ‘light’ in the Bible--particularly in the New Testament. It’s everywhere. Jesus is all over it--constantly contrasting the light with the dark, the night with the day, the seeing with the blind.

Jesus even went so far as to call Himself ‘the light’. And indeed He was. Still is.
There are so many awesome and pertinent passages in the Bible concerning light--I regret we can’t discuss them all here! Since we aren’t able to, go with me to the book of John.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12

That sounds good doesn’t it? Follow Jesus, and you follow the Light. Chase after Him…and His brightness will chase after you. And because of it…your life--the way you live, the way you love, the way you linger here--will illuminate the dark corners of our universe.

And there are so many dark corners, aren’t there? In the room of a dimly lit home office an addict drowns in the darkness of lust. In a third world country in the middle of the night, a girl is engulfed with the reality of darkness overtaking her life in the form of slavery. In the black of the womb a forming child’s life is in jeopardy because of the dark lie it’s precious mother is believing, “I have no other option.” In aloneness a crying and devastated person is morning the loss of a loved one. And just today, I read an article concerning the darkest of the dark… rape and baby killing as a weapon of war. The dark corners are many.

And then there is Jesus. And the ones who follow Him. You and me. We are aware that there are dark corners. But are we going to them? Are we bold enough in our faiths to wonder from the comforts of our light-illumined churches to shine some Jesus bulbs onto the dirty and darkened edges of the world? Make no mistake…in one way or another, this is our calling: To follow Jesus. Live in the Light. And love on others because of it.

Let’s be keenly aware of the darkness crouching at our doors… attempting to extinguish the light we have been given. There IS an extinguisher of the flame. And he wants nothing more than to pull you away from the Light Source. His goal is to shatter your light-bulb--the one you’re capable of taking into the dark-infested corners of our world.

For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" - Acts 13:47