Thursday, June 30, 2016

An Invitation - An Advertisement




"Humility is trusting God and others with me."

Three years ago the invitation arrived. Sue, we'd like you to be part of the beta group for the brand-spanking new High Trust Leadership Certificate. 

Interesting ... I'd been asking God, what are my next steps for spiritual growth. Not only asking, but researching, lots of researching; praying, lots of praying; and seeking counsel from many others. 

Honored, surprised, and neutral. My neutrality surprised me too.

But I took the plunge, paid the money, signed up ... still neutral. Was the HTLC the answer to my prayers?

YES IT WAS!

"In a community of grace, who I am in God's eyes is not questioned --
it is affirmed."

The online course started in January. Placed in a cohort with a few other new-to-me women, we started the journey together. Communicating on the online news feed gave us glimpses into the lives of each other. Sharing how we met God through the bi-weekly exercises deepened our new friendships. Truly, I have never participated in any other small group where the depth of vulnerability and humility was so well lived. Even though we never met in person, I know our friendships are life-long. 

God opened my heart in new ways as I viewed the weekly videos teaching the Bible through the lens of grace. Transformation was happening - a new Sue was emerging.

"Understanding who I am is virtually impossible
 without interacting meaningfully with others."

Now I'm inviting you to share this journey with me.  
The next course starts August 1.

In the words of Trueface Ministries who sponsor this opportunity ...

Grace can only be experienced in relationship, ... We have designed tools to help create and accelerate relationships of trust for you, because without trust: 
  •   I cannot experience love
  •   I cannot experience truth
  •   I cannot have relationship with God or man
We cannot be High Trust Leaders who build High Trust Environments without personally risking trust with people.
To learn more about the HTLC and experience a sample of the course, visit www.trueface.org/trustonecenter. I also encourage you to watch this youtube video. The Two Roads represent choices we make every day, and reveal to us our understanding of grace.

Please, let me know of your interest. I want to share a few more details with you.

"The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
Psalm 92:12-15

The quotes sprinkled throughout this post are all copyrighted by Trueface.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Privacy Behind the Hedge

Water is scarce in Colorado. And I love water. I love the waves of the oceans crashing onto the shore; I love the quiet of lakes nestled among trees; I love the sound of water careening over the rocks of the rivers. 

"He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul."
Psalm 23:2b, 3a

Not all water is still, but for me all water restores. Ahhhh. Did I say I LOVE water?! Even listening to the small fountain off the edge of our deck is a bonus these summer mornings.
Last week I headed to a small man-made lake, a beautiful spot on the south of town. Armed with my coffee, my Bible, my journal, and my camera, I was ready for a time of listening to God. The day was
warm, blue, and cloudless. Perfect! I found an empty bench at the edge of the lake and settled in. These Ducks (hoping for a hand-out) kept me company bobbing up and down as the breeze ruffled their watery perch. They made me smile.

Occasionally someone passed by - morning exercisers, or strolling with their baby, or talking with a friend. Some greeted me, some didn't. 

When the sun climbed higher in the sky, I moved in search of shade. And I found the perfect spot behind the hedge. 

My view of the lake was not as clear, but the privacy was wonderful. Hidden behind the hedge, those exercisers, mamas, and friends passed unaware of my presence a mere few feet away. 

I soaked in the words of Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church. I journaled. I talked with God - silently, I wasn't all that far from people. It was good.

And I learned something ...

You might remember my post last September entitled The Message of The Picnics. I spoke of how beauty and quiet were key ingredients for me to restore my soul. In my mind water was another ingredient. And it is. But I learned that even more important is a place, a space to be with God that is alone. That's what the hedge offered me last week. 

What about you ...
What are the necessary ingredients to restore your soul?
Where are the places, the spaces that create the perfect environment for you?

"Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear that your soul may live;"
Isaiah 55:3a





                                                      




Thursday, June 16, 2016

Here She is To Save the Day - NOT!

A superhero, I'm not! Thank you to my friend Lisa Anderson for her insightful words the week I stepped on the plane to visit Mom. It was the first of several grace-sightings I experienced while there.

Mom is 96 and lives in her home of 55 years - by herself for the past 19. She is an amazing woman who loves her 2-story home, loves having her daughters visit, loves puttering in the yard, loves her screened-in back porch, loves her freedom.

She doesn't move quite as quickly as she used to on the basketball court. Her hearing aids are a must. She swallows several pills a day. She sold her car.

She has her routine, the newspaper every morning after breakfast including doing the daily Bridge hand often beating the one who posts. She still manages her own finances and investments. Mom cooks for herself several times a week ... although we know she appreciates her breaks from that. She has her favorite TV shows.

I have much to be thankful for.

I also wonder. Is she safe? Is this home - that I love too - still the best place for her?

We disagree. Disagreements produce tension.

And I did NOT want tension on this visit!

I invited several friends to "come" with me, to pray for my time with Mom, and perhaps text a scripture that I can think on during the day. They "came"; it was a good week - not perfect but very encouraging. 

My grace-sightings continued beyond Lisa's words and the support of my friends. 

*The first day there, the Holy Spirit whispered, Sue, you don't have to win. I needed that.
Honor who Mom is and how she feels. We'll never agree on everything.

*My friend Kathy texted, I'm praying you will be a blessing to your Mom. Immediately Philippians 2:4 came to mind. It was a turning point that week.

*I thought about how she understands love. We spent much time just being with each other and chatting. (My knitting project appreciated that.)

*We talked about Psalm 23, her favorite scripture.
I've been pondering it since and the phrase, "I will fear no evil" (verse 4) has been ministering especially as I thought about all the care Mom's house needs and the care Mom could enjoy. My sister Sara who lives in the same town admonished, Sue, you just can't worry about it. She's right.

*I can't compare Mom to Kathy's Mom who still takes regular cruises with her family.
  I can't compare Mom to Carol's Mom who lives in the local Alzheimer's facility.
  I can't compare Mom to Mary's Mom who is the family prayer warrior.
  Kathy's Mom, Carol's Mom, Mary's Mom, and my Mom are God's unique creations even now
  living in their 90s in very different places; the perfect places for each. 

Several weeks previous to our visit, I read Proverbs 30:11, "... and do not bless their mothers." That day I started praying, God, what would it look like to bless Mom today even across the miles? Mom would agree this visit was a blessing.

"and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with faith and love that are in Christ."
I Timothy 1:14










Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ever Green

We live in Black Forest, Black Forest Colorado that is.
Our neighbor's home burned to the ground.
Three Junes ago this very week wildfire threatened our forest consuming 14,000 acres of pines. Black sticks, once lovely Ponderosa Pines, a forever reminder. The 100 year fire left many of our roads including one we often drive a moonscape.

As I turn right onto our road, my breath catches, I inhale a deeply. The green still stands. Slowly I exhale and bow in awe. So very close!

Our road, our home, our view charred but spared.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mana's Writing Room, the re-purposed bedroom on our main floor is my place. My desk, my computer, the bookshelves all claim their space. A writer can't write without tools. The pines close to the windows a piece of creation informing my creations.


My most essential piece of furniture, my comfy overstuffed chair is angled toward the triple windows framing those 80 year old Ponderosa Pines; tall, beautiful, cone-bearing evergreens. My fingers would never touch the keyboard if it wasn't for that comfy chair, the place where my writing begins.

One hundred miles south is our small cabin we call *The Sanctuary. It sits in an in-holding of the San Isabel National Forest. Evergreens abound.

Last week at The Sanctuary I sat in another overstuffed chair gazing out a sliding glass door at the cone-bearing Cedars and the Pines. The sky overcast; the temperatures more late fall the summer. The message the same.





Evergreens ever green. Small brown cones on some; others with cones encapsulating pine nuts we  harvest in season, the fall.

"They still bear fruit in old age;" 
Psalm 92:14

God's creation picturing my heart - to still bear fruit in old age.

"The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the LORD: they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
Psalm 92:12-15 

What atmosphere fuels your creativity?
What are your pre-requisites?
What is your heart's desire?
How are you living that out?

* I penned my first poem at The Sanctuary. It carries an important message if you desire to stay ever green.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Red Hot Buttons



It happened again.

The old familiar cycle repeated itself A-GAIN!

So frustrating. Why can't I break this pattern?

The circumstances may be different; the contexts may be different; the pattern is the same.

Atychiphobia strikes again!

At least in my eyes.

Her husband commented to her, When we go to visit your family in the city, you always turn into a different person. I guess I'm not the only one.

A few months ago while visiting my extended family, it happened. That is sometimes fertile ground for my atychiphobia. But truly I've experienced many other contexts as well where my victim-hood shines, I'm not good enough.

Over the years I've tried different methods to reach my good enough goal. What outfit might be just right for this occasion? How should I style my hair? What thoughts should I offer for this dilemma - what would sound really wise? 

It boils down to people pleasing, and the cycle begins.


It starts with this unhealthy self thought, I'm not good enough. This is the fuel the feeds the cycle.
But I can handle this, I think. I review Psalm 139, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (verse 14)

But even that truth is not quite enough.


I hide my feelings and paste on a smile.

I take cover away from others trying to erase my reality and protect myself.

These resistance techniques are digging me deeper into despair.



Now I'm tempted to act out, No, I DON'T want to go shopping with you. No, I DON'T want to go to that meeting.
 
I justify that decision. I need time and space to lick my wounds.

Blame is easy, they really don't know me and my opinions are not important to them anyway.




The shame sets in. I'm a mature woman. I should know better than to be acting so foolish.

Truly I'm not good enough. 

My hope that it will ever change vaporizes.




And round and round the cycle I go.



David's cry in Psalm 30:2 gave me words, "O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me." I prayed for God to heal ... or at least give relief from this damaging cycle. Hope begins to surface. Awareness is huge.

1. Remember and review my primary identity, the beloved child of God. Be on the offense.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us ...
called children of God ... exactly who we are."
I John 3:1, The Message

2. Remember and review God's personal whispers to me concerning atychiphobia. Be on the defense.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you."
Jeremiah 1:5

3. Be humble enough to invite my community, a few trusted friends to 'come with me', when I know atychiphobia could be knocking at my door. Ask them to pray; ask them to text scriptures. 

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin."
I John 1:7

"Therefore confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power and is working."
James 5:16

I'm thinking, this is the way of escape.

"Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful,
and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it."
I Corinthians 10:12, 13 (bolding mine)

Reviewing truth, walking in the light, inviting community - these are life-giving principles to overcoming atychiphobia. 

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline."
II Timothy 1:7 NLT 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Three Ways Hurry Hurts Me ... and You!

Memorial Day - the first picnic and parade and celebration of summer. Enjoy.

Summer is the beginning of a different schedule for Bill and me. Since I was 5 years old, my calendar rotated with the traditional school year.

Summer always brought a slower pace, a time for family, a time for camping, a time for rejuvenation.





Three Ways Hurry Hurts Me…and You!

Performance driven Christians live in a continual state of anxiety and fear. How? By hurrying. We have so much to accomplish so God is pleased with us we push the accelerator to the floor. We live by the lie that busyness equals importance…that my accomplishments create my identity and my value to God lies in my usefulness.
I learned the hard way the destructiveness of busyness. Here are three lessons living at warp speed taught me. I have more I will share later.
  • Busyness is the enemy of my soul. Lance Witt says, “You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul.” Not only do I desperately need time with God, Jesus wants time with me. He tells me he no longer knows me as his servant, but as his friend. He has made a fire on the beach and wants me to come sit with him (John 21), and just “Be still and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
    unfriend
  • Busyness is the enemy of friendship. Hurry always hurts relationships. Always. Hurry is a “Hi, how are you” without stopping where you are going. Hurry is texting while listening. Hurry is scheduling five minutes between appointments. It’s not building in a buffer to have time for people. It creates resentment. It demeans and hurts. Hurry believes there is no meaning in the present, only in the next thing I have to do for God.
  • Busyness is the enemy of love. A common closing blessing in many churches is taken from Numbers 6:26, “The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” This means he takes time to stop and look right at us…full in the face. He takes time to pay attention…to our joys, our hurts, our concerns, our anxieties. In His stopping we know we are important – we are loved…and in His stopping we find peace.
“God takes the time to do everything right – everything” (Isaiah 30:18, The Message). May we do the same.

QUESTION: Where do you need to slow down? How will you do that? Is there someone you need to turn your face toward?

ACTIONS: Become a part of our blog family and become a subscriber – it will help you slow down. Then share this with a busy friend.

NEW!  Starting this coming Monday, visit my “Monday Quotes” page. I’ll share with you the best of the best quotes I have journaled over the years that help me live in the freedom of the gospel and that I regularly take time to review.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

He Holds My Hand


2016 opened a new chapter of my journey. Friend after friend after friend met Jesus face to face. My wonderings, my curiosity, my trust about heaven was stirred, a good thing.

Jerry Bridges titled his memoir, God Took Me By the Hand. Apt words for me as I've pondered familiar scriptures expanding my thoughts of heaven.

I'm overwhelmed a-GAIN by the love of God

His nickname is Doubting Thomas. His faith challenged when his friends tell him they have seen Jesus after the resurrection. He retorts, "I won't believe unless I see the nail wounds in his hands ..." John 20:25 NLT

Jesus submits to his request.

Jesus has visible wounds AFTER his resurrection! Doesn't the Bible teach that our resurrected bodies will be new, whole, healed, well? It appears Jesus is an exception.

Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology says, "The scars from Jesus' crucifixion are unique ...The fact that he retains those scars does not necessarily mean that we shall retain ours" page 616.

I wonder, if Thomas was the only one to ever want proof of Jesus' crucifixion by seeing the scars, would those scars have remained just for Thomas?

Yet those scars testify to us as well of God's amazing love, love big enough to send his son to the cross so we could have a relationship with him.

Inner Renewal

My friend Larry met his Savior face to face on March 6. As a result of a horrendous car accident 39 years ago, Larry suffered a closed head injury that defined the rest of his days. Although his physical capacity (his outer self) was forever changed, it was obvious that his inner self was the same and being renewed. He loved God and his family and because of the few words he spoke, I believe he knew God loved him, his inner self not hampered by his broken body.

II Corinthians 4:16, 17, "... though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Jesus never leaves us ... He takes us by our hand


Psalm 23:4 speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Physical death, our doorway to heaven. The Psalmist declares, "I will fear no evil," Why? "Because you (God) are with me."

Hebrews 13:5 referencing Joshua 1:5, "I will never leave you ..."

God never ever leaves His beloved children! Never!

In the opening verses of John 14, Jesus tells us that he is preparing a place for us in his Father's house. When that place is prepared he will personally escort us there. (verse 4)

Even in those moments as we pass from our earthly life, Jesus has our hand. Never are we away from his presence.

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you blameless
before the presence of his glory with great joy,
Jude 24