Thursday, October 25, 2012

You Went Through Hell

These words, “you went through hell”, conveyed our counselor’s, our Christian counselor’s immediate response to the telling of our engagement story.

His words stopped the telling; they shocked; I dissolved into tears—the beginning of the healing.

The twenty-eight year old story told many times to many friends never elicited that personal emotional response. The difference …

He didn’t mince words or truth.
He didn’t minimalize the trauma of those months.
He didn’t moralize with the response we had come to expect, God is sovereign.

Something changed that day with those four words; he earned our trust and, taught us a big lesson about connecting with others.

Life is hard. Minimalizing and moralizing experiences negates their impact.

Those months had been hard, really hard. When my friends accepted my invitation to be bridesmaids and backed out, it was embarrassing. My parents questioned the friends I chose. It put fertilizer on the lie I believed about myself, I’m not good enough. It fit the pattern of life I had come to expect—a sad commentary on me. God’s words to us faded in the words of people.

But I digress. Many of our friends currently live in their own hell. They call for my compassion, not my understanding. They need my ear, not my commentary. They need to know their story is important by itself, not compared to mine. They don’t need me to minimalize or moralize (thank you to Tullian Tchividjian for introducing me to theses verbs) their situation. Life is hard, really hard.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Psalm for Ashlyn

A new GRANDchild on the way propels me to pray, what Scriptures should I trust God for with this little one?  Those prayers continue as I get to know them.

Last June during "Mana and Pop-pa Camp", 4 year old Ashlyn and I turned her bedroom into a Noah's Ark room. I was amazed by her creativity. She then memorized Genesis 6:8, "Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord" and turned it into a song to the tune of "Skip to my Lou". A few days later I heard her say, "I want to be a song-writer when I grow up".

Later in the summer during my time with God, He led me to Psalm 100 and I knew that that was one of the Scriptures I wanted to pray for Ashlyn. She turned 5 this week; her gift was Psalm 100 for Ashlyn, matted and framed in little girl style. My paraphrase written in 5 year old language ...

Make a joyful noise to God with your songs,
O Precious Ashlyn.
Serve God with gladness.
Come into His presence with your singing, Precious Ashlyn.
Know, Ashlyn, that the Lord, He is God.
        It is He who made you.  You are His!
You, Ashlyn, are His; the precious sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with your thank you prayers, Ashlyn.
        and His courts with your songs of praise.
Give thanks to Him, Ashlyn; bless His name.
For God is good;
        His love for you, Ashlyn, is always and forever
        and His faithfulness to all generations.
A Mana paraphrase
 October 17, 2012

"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord".  Psalm 40:3

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wait ~ Trust ~ Hope

I promised in my August 16 post to share some thoughts from this scripture:

“Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”
Psalm 33:20-22

The context: Bill introduced me to these scriptures one cold wintery evening in the lounge of my dormitory. He also brought a special gift for me that night; a cross necklace with a tiny diamond in the middle. That special time is forever etched in my mind.

This gift from God, a message to Bill, passed on to me, brought goose-bumps and tears of joy—someday we would marry. Seven times the plural pronouns proclaimed this passage was for us—for Bill and me. The pronouns instructed us by the verbs they connected with: wait, trust, hope.

Wait—for God’s timing.
Trust—in God who knew the future.
Hope—not in circumstances, but in God.

We waited 3 ½ long years. Our hope did not wavier because our trust rested in God and His words to us that winter night. Trust enabled the waiting and hoping.

Waiting equates to hard work. Will the job offer ever come? Did I pass the test? Will the surgery be successful? Waiting often involves anxiety and questions.

Hoping evokes a more positive picture. I hope to get the job. I hope I got an A. I hope the surgery was successful. In each of the previous sentences, “hope” could be replaced by “expect”. Hoping focuses on encouragement; there is a bit of wonder, but it usually predisposes an expectation of good.

The pendulum of trust in God (not circumstances) reaches back to the hard waiting and swings us to the expectant hoping. This valuable lesson often repeats itself in new ways. Scripture memory awakens this truth just when I need it again.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.”
Psalm 39:7

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Be Loved

The beloved child of The Father, my primary identity; it rolls off my tongue so easily.
Have I ever stopped to ponder its truth?

I hear God, say it slowly my child. Wonder about it. Dissect it. Beeeeee-loved.

I sit; I soak; I ask—how does a child know love? My grands love the attention I shower on them; they love the care I give them; they love the invitations to be with me.

Kind of like me! Beeeee-loved. I think it’s …
·        to give myself permission to be who I am with all my needs..
·        to ask God to shower me with His attention, care, and invitation.
·        to realize it’s ok to say no.
·        to linger in the freedom of childlikeness.
·        to take time to experience its reality.

“And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God”.
Ephesians 3:17-19, The Message