Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Could It Be?

Our kindergarten son experienced bullying at the bus stop. This mom sprang into action. No big kid was going to bully my son. I’m the mom; I can protect.

Our other son ran his truck off the road. Not good; tow truck required. He handled it himself. No mom needed to protect this time. (Co-incidentally, I found out about this incident quite by accident—when the bill arrived from the towing company).

There were other times when our almost grown sons shared their hurts—they wanted the familiar protection of mom and dad.

Now our sons are married; they have kids of their own. Along with their wives, they try to protect those kids. We grandparents stand-by, watch, and pray.

Perhaps God has my attention more than ever before. I am learning deeper levels of trust. I feel more helpless than ever; I have no choice but to be dependent; there are no other options.

Could it be that God has me right where He wants me? Could it be?

“…the Lord is near. Have no anxiety …”
Philippians 4:5 and 6

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gramma Prays

Our son posted these thoughts (not his exact words) on Facebook earlier this week.

Judah has been saying "why" all morning. Unfortunately I don't know if ...
     he is asking the question "why";
     he is asking to watch his favorite TV show, Super Why;
     or is he commenting on the fact that we are going to the Y for a
Who knew two year olds could engage in lexical ambiguity so effectively.

Or could it be that for Judah's dad (a pastor) and for Judah's mom (a physician) "why" is an important question. Perhaps asking "why" is in Judah's genes.

The story reminds me of my struggle with prayer. Does God sometimes wonder at my requests? Or even as He listens is He shaking His head in disbelief?

Sometimes I'm afraid to pray. I'm aware of my one-sided knowledge of situations. And I'm aware of my limited understanding of the workings of God.

I don't want to mess things up.

I know scriptures that encourage me to pray along the lines of my desires:
     "... the desire of the righteous will be granted". Proverbs 19:24
     "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". Psalm 37:4

I also know others:
     "And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul". Psalm 105:15, KJV.

Recently, as I was really wanting to ask God to work in a certain way and puzzling over the scriptures that kept coming to mind, God's still small voice whispered to me, Sue, go ahead and ask. You can trust me with the outcome. I am good.

What a relief; what an encouragement. My prayers were emboldened and this gramma prays on with renewed confidence in the One who brings about good answers to her prayers.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths".
Proverbs 3:5 and 6


Friday, May 18, 2012

Scary Words, Scary Concepts

Hermeneutics, apologetics, and justification ~ these (among others) were scary words for me. But back when my relationship with Jesus was in its infancy, Bible was a scary word. I was enrolled at a church affiliated liberal arts college that required three religion courses of their students. I was avoiding those classes like the plague. I knew little about the Bible and I was trying to keep that fact well-hidden. I mean, how embarrassing.

While attending church one Sunday in the fall of my sophomore year, I heard something new—something that made a lot of sense—Christianity is more than a religion; being a Christian meant I had a personal relationship with Jesus. John 1:12 was key to my understanding, it was not just believing in God, it was receiving Him as my savior and as my friend.

When I returned to the dorm that evening, my girlfriend introduced me to the Bible study she was a part of. It was a fill-in-the-blank format. It wasn’t intimidating. I joined. That was the beginning of my journey of losing my fear of the Bible.

The relationship—that led to the Bible study—was the baby steps I needed to overcome my fear of the Bible.

Sabbath was not a scary word for me, but it was a scary concept. I needed some baby steps. Those baby steps started long before I ever went to college. I grew up in a blue law town—all the businesses were closed on Sundays. Before I had any understanding of Sabbath, I knew there was something special about Sundays. To this day, my home town remains a blue law town. Sunday was also the day we visited Grandma. I didn’t connect that to Sabbath, it was just what happened on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes we do more right by accident than by design.

As I grew in my understanding of Sabbath, two words came to the surface: cease and celebrate. Cease whatever it is that defines my normal activity for the purpose of focusing on God—intentionally creating time and space for Him. For a long time, I thought that was the entirety of Sabbath—spending long amounts of time reading my Bible and praying. I’m learning; focusing on God is an important element of Sabbath; and celebrating is too. Ceasing those everyday activities also leaves room for those we love and other activities we love—the celebration part.

Each spring, my husband and I take a Sabbath vacation. Hmmmm, I never called them that before, but that is what they are. This year we have rented a home in the mountains. For a full week, we are ceasing and celebrating. In the mornings, we will go our own way to enjoy an uninterrupted time of being with God. About lunch time we will come back together for the afternoon and evening. We’ll hike, or peruse the shops in town (including the ice cream parlor), maybe play Scrabble; we’ll relax together. We find it refueling, and restorative. We did not start these forays thinking of Sabbath. We accidentally tripped into a wonderful Sabbath tradition. Sabbath is changing for me—from scary to inviting.

What do times of Sabbath look like for you?

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”.
Mark 23:27

For other Sabbath thoughts, read The Rubberband Ball, my post from September 28, 2011.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Hard Grace

My vow—not the good kind—was painfully clear to me. Even after the speaker finished I was rooted to my seat. I got it; and I didn’t like what I was getting.

The paralyzing truth may have been God’s grace toward me that morning; but it didn’t feel like it. My friend sat with me; the rest filed out; into their day, unaware. The tears flowed; I hoped they weren’t noticed.

Like everyone, because of the circumstances of my life, I grew up believing certain things—lies—about myself. I’ve heard it said, “Children are great observers and horrible interpreters”. That was me. The twisted, warped interpretations of my life story led to a personal belief system that affected me negatively into adulthood. For several years I have been on the offensive; battling back with truth from Scripture.

But that wasn't enough. Those lies—besides being untrue personal statements—created additional havoc for me. It was subconscious; I didn’t realize what was happening—until that morning. I had made a vow (I didn’t know I had made a vow); the vow was powerful. The vow, what I said to myself because of the lies I believed, literally controlled my behavior.

For the first time, I saw it; and it was very discouraging.

In desperation, I asked my friend, “What do I do; where do I go”? Her wisdom didn’t seem to help. She gently responded, “Awareness is huge”.

She didn’t tell me to stop living from the vow; she didn’t tell to go and ask forgiveness; she didn’t tell me to beware of future pitfalls; she just said, “Awareness is huge”. She trusted the Holy Spirit in me to lead me and to guide me.

Awareness is huge! My friend was right. It was the gentle encouragement I needed.

My awareness is leading to some ah-ha understandings.
My awareness is helping me answer some of the whys in my life.
My awareness is paralyzing some days as I ask myself, is this
                                                                  because of the vow?
My awareness is opening some very encouraging conversations.
My awareness is spinning new angles on the circumstances
                                                                             of my life.
My awareness is changing me.

Awareness is HUGE. Awareness is a gift of God's grace. 

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you (make you aware) into all truth,”
John 16:13, parentheses mine

Thursday, May 3, 2012

An Affirmation Story

I was one of almost 100 in Sunday school that morning listening to my friend’s story. During her widowed years she alone raised her grand-daughter. It’s been a challenging journey. Her grand-daughter, now 19, was also listening.

When my friend finished her story and returned to her seat, another lady spoke up, “I was her (the grand-daughter’s) high school Sunday school teacher. She worked hard at memorizing the catechism. Her heart for God was evident.”

Another stood, “I so appreciated when she came up to me after my husband’s bike accident and told me she was praying for him.”

A third testified, “I think she is the friendliest person in our church.” I would add, I know few who know the names of everyone as well as she does.

The affirmations came like pop-corn.

A holy hush descended on the room. It was palpable.

I once heard a man say, you will never know who you are without affirmation. I am so glad the grand-daughter was in the room to hear the spontaneous affirmations that came her way. I hope she remembers.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
I Thessalonians 5:11