Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stories: Made, Told, Written, Understood

Story-making begins with hunger.” Christie, you are right!

With Lily the lizard
This week is our annual Mana ~ Pop-pa Camp.

We are writing the next chapter of the story that began eight years ago when Jack was born. It will be recorded in special scrapbooks and take-home journals. Ashlyn is 6 1/2.

We hunger to know our GRANDS better. Who are they? What do they love? How can we pray well for them? 

New experiences, fun times, creating memories, hearing their stories, sharing ours, the family story is in the making.

Melinda and I ordered our lunches and settled in at the local café to get to know one another.

“Tell me your story.” 

She started, “I arrived here the day the fire broke out.” 
favorite place to meet friends

I interrupted … already, “You arrived on June 11?” 

Just one sentence into her story and I began understanding in the context of my story.

Story-telling begins with memory and creates connections. June 11, a significant day for both of us, was the context that filled the next hour. We wondered over the similarities we learned about each other.

Story-writing is for me … and for you. 

When I write, I process. I hear and I believe. My friend Carole said, “Don’t write unless you can’t not write.” It seems I can’t not write. As I journal, Echoes comes to life. 

God’s story-writing recorded in the Bible fuels my imagination. I listen to the then and I ponder my now. Is trust the same for me as it was for Samuel?  

I Samuel 12:19-24 summarizes Samuel’s farewell address. As I thought about how I might respond to each of his instructions, five everyday words stopped me in my tracks: “far be it from me” (verse 23).  How would I finish the sentence, “… far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by …”

God’s story-writing stopped me; I listened to Samuel’s words, and looked at my life.
How would you finish that sentence?

Story-understanding came in the midst of my own story. Five words hooked me that morning; my curiosity awakened and truth reclaimed. One of my answers (and there were several), "far be it from me" that I should sin against the LORD by taking our relationship for granted.

“When I listen, I listen not only to a story, but also with a story.”                                                                          A Spirituality of Caregiving, by Henri Nouwen

What are the stories that have captured your imagination and transformed your days?

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”                                                                                                                             John 20:30 and 31

PS ~ You may want to skip back here and read more about story.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pornography, Food Addictions, Comparison ~ A Grace Story

It didn’t feel like a grace story. 
It felt like a battle; another battle in my area of vulnerability. 
me and Ruthie

Whether pornography, food, comparison, or, or, or—they share a common root. My friend Ruthie Delk says, “No matter what emotional hole you are sitting in you probably got there by believing lies.” Craving Grace, p 108.

The common root … the lies planted deep in our souls by the father of lies. John 8:44.

Comparison, springing from a lie, is a vulnerability for me … still! 

I’m a child of God; you’re a child of God; each with a God-ordained purpose—isn’t that enough to crush those controlling lies? No.

Crushing the lies, freedom over sin will be reality when I meet the Lord face-to-face. 

Now I live in the reality of neediness; the propensity to believe that I’m not good enough will always be with me. And, the Lord’s presence with his words of reassuring truth are with me as well. 

Freedom from sin, victory in the moment, is possible. 

I’m part of a small cohort, a group of friends who are learning what it looks like to trust God with who He created us to be. Last week some were sharing about struggles with pornography and with food. I’m listening and thinking, I see a pattern. The fruit we are experiencing is different; the root is the same. The root - lies. My fruit is often comparison.

Recently I was sitting in on a presentation on spiritual rest. I knew I was walking into my place of vulnerability—but my motive was right. Vulnerabilities and motives are not equal. 

My friend commented, Sue, you courageous woman. Walking into your hard. I will be praying for you. 

Two things were going for me: I was aware; I knew I might struggle. And I came into the light with my friend; she was praying. Good things. But enough?

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11. There are no cracks in God's custom-made armor.

Knowing is not the same as trusting. I knew me. I knew my friend was praying. So now I can confidently go ahead with my plan—not!

My confidence was based on knowing, not trusting. 

God wanted my trust! 

God longed to be my rescuer, to lift me out of those vulnerable places.

Three words remind me of my need—my NEED, not just good suggestions: repent, realize, and request.

·       Repent – Admit I can’t go it alone.
·       Realize – I need friends to go with me.
·       Request – God’s presence as well—trust.

Is it realistic to live my life protecting myself from all that might tempt? No. But I can strive to live in such a way that I trust God and others and allow them to protect me.

God’s grace reminded; trusting trumps.
Two books I'm living in recently.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and 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

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Story, Your Story

Captivating, a page-turner, tears, the aha moment—the keys of a good story.

Seventy percent of Scripture is story. Listening to author and speaker Dan Allender a few years ago, my thoughts were challenged by his insight, There are far more stories about death than resurrection. And if God is good, will I suffer through these stories? 

There must be something about my faith growing through engagement with story. I want my faith to grow.

Henri Nouwen suggests, “When I listen, I listen not only to a story, but also with a story.” (A Spirituality of Caregiving, page 36) I hear your story through the lens of my story.

Sitting in church last Sunday, I followed as the pastor read, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” John 12:27, 28a

Jesus’ words, my soul is troubled. I can’t imagine. My soul aches; it is agonizing! Jesus knew the future as he rode into Jerusalem—his hard future. He also knew truth—for this purpose I have come. His motivation and his purpose clear; he did not waver. That week was part of his story; it is part of my story.

Beyond his death on the cross, beyond paying for my sins, beyond Jesus’ story, I thought about my story. 

I lifted Jesus’ words and reviewed my now, my story.

Starting eleven months ago, the unexpected, the hard entered and formed a framework we never
Our neighbor's home in flames.
anticipated. The Black Forest Fire, our subsequent evacuation, and our new reality started a year we won’t soon forget.

On the heels of the fire, Bill’s pain began—a severely herniated disc leading to surgery and an extremely painful, long recovery. Not what we expected; we are still in the midst.
Lexie sympathizing with Bill.

My soul hurts; hurts for my husband; hurts because of dashed expectations. And there is a bit of fear.

“And what shall I say?” Jesus’ question and my question too.

“Save me from this hour?” In my flesh, this is my plea. It entered Jesus’ thoughts too. But no. Jesus knew his purpose; he knew his desire. 

There is purpose in our hard. We may not know what it is, but we believe—there is purpose in our now. 

And as Jesus said, we echo… “Father, glorify your name.”

What story are you living now? How has hearing Jesus’ story (or my story) impacted your story? How can I pray for you in the midst of your story? Please let me know. I would be honored to walk with you.

“As long as we have stories to tell to each other there is hope.” Henri Nouwen, (The Living Reminder)

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”                                                   Genesis 50:20

PS - Echoes tells my stories and how God met me (or is meeting me) in these stories. My prayer is that as you read Echoes, you will consider your story and how God is speaking in it. The words recorded in Colossians 1:25 are the words I pray for you as you read Echoes of Grace. Bless you, my friend.