Category Archives: Processing

Rest

Rest.

To cease working

To cease thinking so much

The mind rebels at this idea

Why?

I must be responsible?

What must I prove?

He says come all you weary

Come all you who are heavy laden

I will give you REST.

In him this is what we have.

Always.

No demands to produce

No asking me to do more, be more.

In Him…just rest.

Oh the struggle though.

I don’t see the rest or understand.

I try hard and fight against.

What will come?

How?

When?

The worry and the straining.

Yet he still is there calmly offering

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 5-minute-friday-1

Linking up again with other writers and Lisa-Jo Baker to write for 5 minutes using this word prompt – no editing, no backtracking. 

 

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Forgiveness ~ some thoughts

 

This week a blogger friend and author Tracie Stier-Johnson has released her book 31 Days of Forgiveness {through the eyes of grace}!! I am so excited for her and I am jumping in here at the end of the week to join many others in blogging about this book of hers.

 

 

Forgiveness is something I am wrestling with…again. I used to feel so raw about the subject that I couldn’t really handle listening to most Christians talk about it. But right now I’ve actually come to a place where I’m ok with listening to various takes on the subject. I think people are very brave to tackle this subject in a book, article, blog post, or even just a conversation with someone!

 

And yet, I don’t feel brave for writing this blog post! Far from it! I am scared to death and have put this off for weeks!!(Sorry for all the exclamation marks but it’s the best I can do at conveying just how freaked out I am!)

 

 

Forgiveness is messy. That’s what I’ve come to see.

 

You know that saying “Forgive and Forget”?

 

Yeah, not so easy.

 

We do not totally forget and the moment you say “I forgive you” it doesn’t mean the forgiving stops.

 

So then HOW do we forgive?

 

Yeah, that’s where it gets real messy for me and where I am wrestling.

 

 

I have no plans here to lay it out and give you the answer. I do however, want to share some thoughts as I begin reading 31 Days of Forgiveness.

 

In her book Tracie shares this verse from Luke 22:44

 

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

 

This verse stopped me in my tracks, especially when it comes to the subject of forgiveness.

 

It makes me think of just how much anguish Jesus went through before he went to the cross for us so that we might be forgiven.

 

I’m comforted to know that I am not crazy for struggling so much to forgive others. Even Jesus, who was the perfect God/Man was in so much anguish over it that he sweat drops of blood! I never understood how that could be, before I went through something where I was acutely hurt, but now I have an inkling. Nothing like what He went through of course, but it’s painful.

 

Jesus, being God, understood the WHY of what was to happen to him – he wanted to forgive and be a part of that (otherwise he would have not come to earth!) – and that was part of the struggle maybe? I don’t begin to understand all of what He must have been thinking especially being an All-Knowing God! But I do know as a human, struggling to forgive someone who has wronged me…There is a great struggle within me of wanting to be gracious and merciful. Wanting to not wish bad to happen to someone or the same pain and hardship on them…because I know what pain I am going through having been hurt! And am so incredibly thankful and relieved that God is merciful and gracious to me when I don’t deserve it.

 

AND at the same time I am struggling with the sinful nature that I still have to deal with here on earth. When hurt, I want the other party to know and understand the pain I feel. To pay for what they’ve done. And I want them to know just how disappointed, angry and upset I am. I want them to realize clearly the reality I live in now thanks to their choice to hurt me. It’s quite a wrestling match inside of me!

 

If Jesus experienced intense anguish and pain as he faced the cross and was/is perfect, without sin? It encourages me to know that

 

a) He undestands me and my struggles and

 

b) it’s not strange that there would be this wrestling going on within me over the hurt, emotions, and the struggle between my sin nature and me the New Creation (the REAL me).

 

It doesn’t excuse what was done. Nor does it excuse me from forgiving.

 

In fact, it shows me more and more just how amazing God’s love is for us. That He would send Jesus and that Jesus would take all our sin on himself and die for us. What love!

 

 ~~~~~

 

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” ~1 Peter 4:8 {NLT}

 

God’s love isn’t cautious and has no restrictions. He doesn’t love us to get something from us. God has loved us before we were ever born . . . extravagantly.” ~ Tracie Stier-Johnson

 

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If you go over to Tracie’s site : Tracie Stier-Johnson {believing in better} you can check out the giveaway she has going on and other important information about her book.


He gives gifts – always

 

We get up

We go through the routine of getting ready to send my window cleaning husband out for the day

Rags are folded and by the door

Invoices ready

Lunch packed

Uniform on

While this routine is now familiar, it still feels strange.

So different from what we once did

What we thought we’d do for life

 

Here we are now in this season

We have peace that for now this is where we stay

This is where we work, live and play

And there are days when we really don’t want to do this

 

What has come of it?

Incredible blessings – without a doubt.

Along with the uncomfortable, the sometimes painful, the weird…

There is joy

 

Our Father, He gives gifts – always

I don’t always see them, yet they are there

 

And so I count:

#1087 – Family who is there for us

#1088 – Kids growing and learning lessons not learned any other way

#1089 – Peace and freedom found in following God’s voice

#1090 – Cardinals singing to each other in the back yard

#1091 – Pink streaks in the sky as the sun comes up

#1092 – Food to eat

#1093 – Plateful of cherry tomatoes, green and red

#1094 – 4 kids sleeping in their beds

#1095 – Meeting new people

“…and it’s counting the ways He loves, this is what multiplies joy.

The life that counts blessings discovers its yielding more than it seems.” ~Ann Voskamp

 

 


What is life about anyway? -guest post

Today I want to step aside and let you hear from my son, Dane. I know I might be biased, but he has a way with words and this time is no exception. As I process the things as I go through life these thoughts resonate with me.

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I have a sticky note pasted on my bible that says, “This is a STORY, not an ENCYCLOPEDIA.”  Because I forget.

I forget that a million Israelites wandering a desert in the Middle-East for 40 years is not about wandering the desert, but about how God sometimes takes long seasons to change our hearts in the ways they need to be changed.

I forget that Solomon being made the richest and wisest man in history by God because he asked for wisdom, not money or fame, is not about some up-and-coming king that got a little extra help from God, but about God’s desire for our hearts to be in the right place.

I forget that Jesus coming, performing miracles, dying, and coming back to life is not just about a man from heaven who helped a lot of people and cheated death.  It’s about the creator of the universe loving a planet full of messed-up people enough to come and exist among them, so far outside his comfort zone, caring about them so much that he didn’t care how broken or sinful they were.  He came and loved them anyway.

And I forget that my life is a story, and that this continuous struggle back and forth is not about self-control or my ability to be moral, but about my heart being changed, about God calling me to move forward and not backward.

Why do we forget that our lives are stories?  Stories make perfect sense.  The characters don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but when we turn the final page, we can see how each event was important, however dark it was.  Take Judas.  One of the saddest parts about Jesus’s story is how one of his disciples — no, one of his closest friends — sold him out, despite everything that the thirteen of them had been through together.  And yet, if Judas hadn’t done what he did, then things would not have happened as they were meant to.

But no, our lives aren’t a story.  They’re just a jumbled mess of random events that are the result of events set in motion a long time ago, and nothing really means anything.  There is no reason that God didn’t save someone’s mom from cancer, or that the homeless man downtown lost everything he owned.  We’re down here, and He’s up there, and who really knows why anyway?

And we believe that’s what the truth about life is.  But…really?

I guess that’s what memory is for.

Thinking back, I can see that the pastors tearing down my dad for not living up to their standards — an event I didn’t witness, and don’t wish I had — resulted in my family seeking out a church.  A seemingly random Facebook ad, a subtle nudge from God to my mom, and then Mosaic.  Uncertainty.  And every week, through uncertainty, Mosaic.  And healing.  New friends.  Close friends.  A wonderful place for my parents, and a wonderful place for me, though it took some getting used to.  The closest friends I’ve ever had in my short life made there, people I would trust with my life if it ever came to that, and almost none of them are my age.  But they’re exactly what I needed (and still do).

And books.  Books suggested by a fellow Christian kid met only a few times at a church youth group out in the country.  Books that changed my life, my view of God and Christianity.  And he became my friend (my best friend, in fact).

So many experiences, wonderful and not so wonderful, set off by the most insignificant of events.  A quick message to someone I’ve never met before.  Popping by for a random visit at a friends’ house, just as they are leaving to youth group.  So many different places, so many different wonderful people and lessons learned, and God.

There’s no way any of those things was an accident.  And there’s no way that there isn’t a God watching out for me.  The trick is knowing when and where he’s pointing.  I’ve been granted the grace to be guided mostly by the actions of others and what seems like happy chance (but is really Jesus bringing something I desperately needed into my life), but now it feels like he wants me to take my first real steps on my own.  And I’m scared.  And angry.  Angry that responsibility would be thrust on me, responsibility I feel I can’t bear, and why couldn’t life just be about surviving, or could I even just skip life and go Home?  But no.  And at the same time…I’m tremendously honored, and shocked.  You want…me?  But…I could never do that.  But I want to.  I want to help in that way.  I want to bless like I’ve been blessed, pass on these rare lessons I’ve learned.  And I’m confused.  What’s the next step?  Here or there?  When?  How?  So I ask, and wait.

This life is a story, if we’ll just look for the chapters, the major events.  Some people’s stories are happy.  Some people’s stories are sad, but that doesn’t mean the Savior’s handwriting isn’t all over the manuscript.  What about the man that was born blind that Jesus healed?

“‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind?  Was it because of his own sins or the his parents’ sins?’

‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered.  ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.'” – (John 9:2-3)

This man’s story was characterized by a disability, and probably a certain degree of estrangement from his friends and family.  Definitely a sad story.  But there was a reason.  The bad in our lives isn’t God trying to get back at us for doing bad things, or him just not caring.  Pain is a necessary prerequisite to beauty, more often than not.  That doesn’t mean that God cares.  And that doesn’t mean that we should just brush off pain, as if it doesn’t even matter.  It matters.  Anyone who has ever been in pain (in other words, every human being who ever lived) will tell you that.  It hurts when your marriage doesn’t work out, when your best friend dies, when you’re laid off and have no hope of providing for your family.  God does care that it hurts.  And he’s doing it for a reason.

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs.  In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.  But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.  Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.” – (Romans 8:17-19)

Ultimately, this is about God’s glory.  Which we will share in.  The pain will all be worth it.

Life is a story.  Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad.  But every event has meaning, although we can’t see it right now.

Life matters.  Pain matters.  You matter.  Don’t give up just yet.  There’s a reason for everything.  It will be worth it.

Dane is my oldest son and he writes over here at A Sword For The Kingdom. Check it out!


Change…

Sometimes it happens all at once.

Sometimes very slowly.

I question the “good” of it.

And then realize there’s a myriad of emotions that can occur at once.

At times I give myself a break in the process.

At times I try to hurry myself to get with it or conform to the new…faster already!

What does it show me?

I can be real, say what’s on my mind to someone safe.

I can be honest with myself and others.

And maybe, just maybe it will help this process when change must happen.

Maybe I’ll not find myself so worn out in the end?

And if I fight it, and if I don’t…

Isn’t there One still there with me in it either way?


Give Thanks – Part 2

It was January 2011 and I was having a very discouraging day. It was about 2 months into our family’s new reality.

We had hoped we’d be returning to Peru in January.

Back to ministry with the Quechua people.

Back to our friends, team mates, and all that would come in the new year after a time of rest.

Instead God had closed all doors in that direction (for reasons I still don’t totally understand) and allowed some very hard things to happen to us.

Here we were trying to start a business, trying to adjust our thinking in so many ways.

Facing some new realities or as some said “your new normal”. Ugh.

So on this day in January while I was particularly discouraged, I went online looking for some encouragement from some ladies who always seem to have a way of encouraging me.

It’s a great site called…get this, (in)courage.

I had found it a few years before about the time it got started.

I honestly was not expecting to get anything out of it this time.

Who’s going through this kind of turmoil?

And why would they talk about it online in a way that could be encouraging anyway.

I read this post: Come Take the Dare to Live Fully Alive

Go ahead, click over and read it, then you’ll know what I mean.

I actually stopped part way through to read the whole thing out loud so my husband could hear it too.

We bawled.

And then I wondered what this was all about.

1,000 Gifts.

Am I just going to find myself mad again? Or trying hard again and failing at this whole giving thanks thing?

Or is this different?

Since it was an online book club starting up and I actually caught the info. BEFORE it started, I hardly had to ask my husband if it was ok to buy the book and read along.

I ordered it and found myself cautiously optimistic.

I started reading and participating in the Bloom book club.

Interacting with others about this subject was so helpful.

One woman in particular really stuck out to me.
Gitzen Girl, who’s blog I had read before because she wrote for (in)courage.

Here was someone else who’s life had taken a difficult turn only, Wow! She couldn’t even leave her bed?

Sarah, like Ann, was telling the hard stuff and digging deeper to see what Truth might be there to see and understand.

If they found real TRUTH and it made enough of a difference that they kept going, could I?

More than finding an answer from someone’s story or someone’s book or blog, I wanted to know and find that God is REAL, that He SEES and CARES about what is going on down here in my life and the lives of others.

I wanted to really KNOW that I could hang on to Him and count on Him more than anything or anyone.

Because frankly, my life was a mess!

I felt like it had been completely ripped open, dissected and discussed, was falling apart and falling away.

I couldn’t tell which end was up.

Whether anyone could be trusted from one moment to the next.

Whether everything and everyone would be taken away from me and the ones I loved the most, or whether it would all settle down.

Total chaos and pain would describe the whole experience.

Even with all that chaos, I found it helpful to read or hear from others who seemed to speak my language.

They asked the hard questions I was asking or wanted to ask. They said what I was thinking.

In wrestling with this whole issue of “bad things” happening and how to be thankful it was a huge relief to know that others had asked the same thing…

”How can I be thankful when ____ is happening?”

And they too had wondered where God was in all of this.

Have you ever wondered if God is REAL, if He Sees you and your circumstances and CARES about you and what you are going through? Have you come across a person whose story asked the hard questions and said what you were thinking?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts. If you blog about it and want to share, leave a link in your comment so we can check it out. Thanks for joining me in this “Give Thanks” series.


Give Thanks – Part 1

ImageGive thanks.

These words bring to mind so many contradicting things.

Image

Generous gifts given…so thankful and amazed at their kindness.

People were there in a time of need…grateful for the love shown.

A beautiful day, a wonderful relationship, a lovely flower.

Good news, a happy event, an answered prayer.

In all these, of course it’s easy to give thanks.

ImageBut when the day is hard, the relationship is strained, the flower dies?

God seems to be silent.

Did He notice what’s going on?

Give thanks?

How? Why?

Be thankful you say?

I want to fling that thought away with a big “NO!”

It seems like I am being told to be happy about this.

Give thanks.

Like an insistent voice in my head saying I MUST do it.

I give in.

But in my own strength it is only possible for a time.

I can put on the face, say that I am thankful.

Beat off all the questions in my mind and make.myself.give.thanks.

And then I break. I cannot do it.

How do I reconcile these questions in my mind.

ImageHow do I give thanks on the hard days?

Why is it important that I do so anyway?

Does it really make a difference?

I want to give thanks, yet how when I am struggling with the reality of the now?

More questions than answers as I wrestle with these words.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

I’m going to start something here today on this blog and talk about giving thanks for a few posts.

It’s time for some interaction!

I am thankful (you heard me!) for those who have taken the time to click over and read and I hope that those who want to will at least from time to time feel comfortable sharing in the comments. I do review them first before posting but don’t let that stop you.

Share with us today or consider:

When you hear the words GIVE THANKS, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s positive or maybe it’s negative. What words, phrases, messages or pictures come to mind? Do you struggle like I do? In what ways?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts. If you blog about it and want to share, leave a link in your comment so we can check it out. Thanks for joining me in this “Give Thanks” series.