Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Alarm-Clock Crash

We woke with a start that morning. The loud crash from someplace close could not be ignored. It wasn't a dream. Bill, Lexie (woof), and I all jumped. Sleep was history.

Bill and Lexie--the brave ones--went to investigate. Had a bear knocked over our grill or perhaps the large barrel that sits outside the bathroom window?

No, the grill outside still stood.

Bill peered out the bathroom window; the barrel was upright and unmoved. Nothing seemed out of place.

My courage found itself and I joined the search. What was the cause of the loud bang?

I walked into the bathroom too (the noise originated from that direction); immediately I saw--the source of the crash was obvious! The shower curtain still attached to the rod lay on the tile floor.

The bathroom in a cozy mountain cabin is small. Why had Bill not seen the problem? He stood only inches away from the misplaced curtain when he checked outside.

He didn't notice because he was looking in a specific place ... outside; and he was looking for a specific answer ... something like the work of a bear.

If he had looked toward his feet, he would have seen the culprit.

The teaching of the story came right away. Isn't that how I often go to my Bible? I'm looking for something specific. I'm on a hunt. There are loud noises in my life and I. want. answers.

I have a quiet time plan. I have a reading program. My prayer journal is neatly outlined. And those straight and narrow plans can keep me from really meeting with God, from tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I lay my plans aside. God initiates; I hear his voice; I follow his lead. He knows me better than I know myself. Often, very often, his wisdom speaks in ways I had not considered.

I am learning to listen, to let God speak; it is good.

Our friendly neighborhood bear
I've developed a habit of starting my time with God with what I affectionately call sit and stare. In normal language that means I sit and enjoy just being quiet, being with God without my agenda determining our conversation. I haven't opened my Bible yet. It's a time of letting go of the cares I'm carrying and enjoying the quiet God created. Often in these times, God whispers, he takes the lead and prods me to a certain portion of scripture.

Other times in those minutes I'm reminded of a conversation with a friend; God leads through that chat. Or perhaps it was that sentence I can't get out of my mind from a recent book, or the words of a favorite hymn.

God has many ways to lead me to his Word; to welcome me to his heart. And he loves the privilege of initiating the conversation.

How refreshing! The spiritual disciplines are building a friendship. Oh the joy of not being controlled by a check-chart. I'm amazed by how much I missed when I focused on my plan.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Her Issue - My Issue

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise. She was only a few sentences into her short story (a story not about me). But in a strange way, it intersected my own story.

My involuntary reaction was swift. My body stiffened; my breath caught; her words in that story not about me offended, still.

Only a few sentences later, and the hairs lay back down, my body relaxed, and normal breathing returned. That part of the story was good; I liked it. It’s okay that our stories intersected now.

What was going on? Why the reactions?

The story, both the offending piece and the part I gladly claimed, sounded familiar. Although our circumstances were totally different, the theme brought back a memory. And my very different circumstances clarified in the hearing of her story.

Yet, interestingly enough, just the day before my story had been brought out of mothballs with two trusted friends. For years (lots of years) I carefully guarded that part of my story; I had shared it with only a few insiders … those few I felt would understand.

God was speaking. In case I hadn’t heard his thoughts the first day clearly enough, he revisited it the next day from a different direction. (I’m smiling as I type). As I pondered later on day two, I saw the connection. Very gently he seemed to say, Sue, you don’t need to hide that part of your story. Sue, you don’t need to protect The Navigators (the mission board we work for was part of my story). That’s my job. 

And for the first time it occurred to me, God created that story. And maybe, just maybe it was not for me alone. In the telling of it, might not others be ministered to? God is able to do far more abundantly than I even imagine. 

I’m thinking, God writes stories to redeem stories. Vulnerability is not just for me. I’m feeling redeemed.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, October 2, 2014

YES Boundaries

I can count on it (I bet you can too). A boundary stretching opportunity. I smile. It's a good thing. I listen. I write. God smiles too--we process together.                                                            

Recently I heard his voice, Sue, you've come this far. That is good. Now here's another possibility.

Deep sigh.

I want to keep growing--spiritually that is.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

More opportunities.

More paths--more good paths; more desirable paths; more paths that fit who I am.

God, where do you want my footsteps to fall?

Soon after deciding to post School or Church, an enticing offer invited.
I prayed and sought counsel.
I read and tried to not read for just what I wanted to hear.
I pondered and realized, this time yes was the boundary designed for me; created to protect, built on trust, and allowing me to steward me.

Keeping my options open was not an option. The invitation had a deadline.

Yes, it fit my design and it fit my desires, but it was still a scary yes. Did I believe in me as much as they believed in me? Did I want the boundary of that yes?

Hard questions.
Trust questions.

I replied, Yes, count me in.

I felt God's smile AND I still questioned. Did I decide aright? (There was time to reverse my decision.) Oh, I am so human.
Within two days two more opportunities presented themselves.

But, yes, I'm at peace with my yes.

"The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him ... entering into what God does for you." from Galatians 3, The Message

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Today is a SIT day

Originally recorded in my journal last month, the truth of this poem was appropriate again this week.

For me, these simple words convey an important message, white space on my calendar is a very good, a very necessary thing.

Today is a SIT Day

A place to sit on the grounds of Glen Eyrie.

Today is a SIT day,
A day to be,
A day to listen,
A day to ponder.

Today is a SIT day,
A day without my Bible,
A day without my journal,
A day without other books.

Today is a SIT day,
A slow walk day,
An enjoy the delicate wild flowers day,
A feel the breeze on my face day.

Today is SIT day,
          A no errand day,       
     A no project day,
  A simple day.

Today is a SIT day,
A play day,
A Sabbath day,
An away from day.

Tomorrow is a Martha day,
A different gift from God day,
A unique, special day,
Today is a SIT day, a Mary day.
It was the autumn time four years ago, when I began to learn the need for sit days. I was invited to a weekend retreat with Sally Breedlove in North Carolina. Yes, a long trip from Colorado for a weekend, but an investment well spent. I came a bit skeptical, I left a different person. That weekend and reading Sally's book, Choosing Rest, have been transformational for me.

And I want you to have the opportunity to hear Sally for yourself. I am delighted to invite you to a Sabbath-Living weekend in March (springtime in the Rockies). It just might be life-changing for you as well.

"And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching."
Luke 10:39 (emphasis added)
"Jesus went up on the mountain and there he sat down with his disciples."
John 6:3 (emphasis added)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Can't Remember the Last Time I ____________.

Very telling words, those seven.

They came as I sit on our covered porch listening to the rain rolling off the metal roof and landing on the parched ground.

The smell refreshing.                                                                                                                                 The air cool and damp.                                                                                                                         The view manifold shades of grey.                                                                                                                                                                    My light jacket providing the necessary comfort to stay and feel the slight rock of the hanging swing.

I can’t remember the last time I just sat experiencing the wonder of rain.

While I sat, thoughts tumbled into my journal…

The gutter-less metal roof causing streams of water to cascade before me defines the picture. Those streams from above cut small crevices in the hardened earth below; the crevices enlarge and the crusty brown turns soft and malleable.

A visual from God? Perhaps.

Might the rain be picturing God’s tears falling on the hard places of our lives; creating crevices and gently crushing our overly-protective exterior replacing it with seeds of trust, and grace, and growth in the now softened soil? 

Is this not a living illustration of Isaiah 55:10-13?
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, and everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

I’m thinking I need to create more times—times of sitting and pondering God’s masterpieces—and fill in the blank behind my “I can’t remember…” seven words. 

New aware-nesses and new perspectives that my busy, full life often speed by become obvious. I want to harvest those good seeds and let them conform me to His acuities. 

Oh how much I miss in the fast lane!

What does this look like for you? How do you take time to watch, to be with, to hear from God? What are the crusts in your life that would benefit from the gentle water of the Word? What would it look like today for you to trust what you are hearing from God?

“The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!”  (emphasis added)                                                                                                                                                                 Psalm 93:3 and 4

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Exciting News Spawning a Big Question

Already I love this Baby!

December 9, 2014—not only our 42nd anniversary, also the due date for our next GRAND-child. We are thrilled that Jeff and Aubrey are expecting their third little one.

With the announcement of each baby, my habit is to ask God for a scripture to pray for that child.
Psalm 22:30-31 was his answer this time.

“Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.”

God’s answer led to a question …

How do you do that? How do you proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn?

I love God’s words to Jeremiah. He records for us in 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;” And Paul’s words too, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:4

Precious Baby Feet
And the familiar words of Psalm 139 speak of God’s activity as well in the lives of the unborn. "For
you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Wonderful are your works; … My frame was not hidden from you, … Your eyes saw my unformed substance;” (phrases from verses 14-16)

What does it look like to join with God in his activity before a child is born?

Moms, grandmas, everyone—I’d love to hear your thoughts.

“Our children and their children will get in on this. As the word is passed along from parent to child. Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news—that God does what he says.”                                        Psalm 22:30 and 31, The Message