Sunday, May 25, 2008

Through it All

One child has a sinus and ear infection, the other child (young man) has pneumonia. He's very sick. The dog, even, has an infected mysterious spot on his back, and we are concerned about that. Thankfully we have the best of doctors, and amazingly the children's doctors' office is less than a mile from our house.

This morning as we got ready to go the doctors (they were open this weekend), we had a short little "service" in our living room. Very short- as our son was half asleep on the couch, and looking very ill. Our daughter wanted to share some Scripture verses with us that SHE felt strongly about. We smiled as she led our service. Lead on! We prayed and thanked God for His grace.We felt thankful that we have these minor illnesses to deal with. We know that there are many who are dealing with heavy, severe trials of disease and chronic illness. We have to deal with something that is treatable (even if we do have to watch carefully over our son's health due to his history of Asthma and pneumonia).

Lately, all I see is God's hand of the midst of our small trials and obstacles. It's not that I don't think God wants to show up in some big Victories for us. He does. But for now, we are dealing with a number of concerns, obstacles, challenges, predicaments. And I see how God wants to be the stabilizing force in our life, the Hand that under girds us, the Way Maker, the Light, the Fire that continually reignites within us when we get weary or start to do too much sighing.

When I sigh a lot, I know something is wrong. It's not that I can't get weary or tired or that I am not allowed to ever feel overwhelmed. But sighing is- for me- a sign of impending despair. And that is one thing I can not ever afford to have in my life.

Despair is not supposed to be my portion in this life. Here's why:
Despair means you are without hope, and that you sense there is no way out.
  • a state in which everything seems wrong and will turn out badly; ...
  • the feeling that everything is wrong and nothing will turn out well
  • abandon hope; give up hope; lose heart; ...

  • I am not ever giving up hope. I have more hope than ever. I have more confidence than ever in the hand of God, the loving heart of God, the will of God, and the plan of God for my life. I see more than ever that I don't have the answers, that I don't have resources for the challenges of my own making. I perceive that God's resources are not only stored up for me, but that He waits for my recognition of this fact and longs for me to tap into what HE has in mind for the battle at hand, the problem ahead, the challenge that looks too daunting for me to handle.

    "Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD" Ps. 31:24. Let your heart take hold of what He has- and don't let yourself get near that dreaded word- despair.

    There's no reason not to experience more of what He has laid up for you: hope, increased perception of His grace and His strength, and a path to take THROUGH the raging seas.

    Monday, May 19, 2008


    Our son got back last night from a five-day senior trip he took with his class to Virginia. It was like a trial run, for us, finding out what it feels like with him gone. When he's away at college next year, thirteen hours away by car ride, this is what it will feel like in our house: it will feel unnaturally quiet, calm, and a tad boring I think. Our son certainly livens up our home. (He's a creative techno-genius who plays his music loud and is usually engrossed in some media project where I have to make him come up for air!)

    Our daughter missed him terribly, and even the dog had gastro-intestinal problems all week, nervous and confused with Alex gone. Harry laid on his bed, daily, and looked out the window for "his boy" to come home. When our son returned last night, we fed him some homemade banana bread I had made that afternoon, and listened to his account of his time away. It was so good to have him back.

    Waiting for him to return got me thinking about the subject of waiting, in general. I've never liked waiting and I have to confess that I've never seen much redemptive value in it. I know its necessary to wait for good things, but I've always felt that waiting was like taking medicine: you do it because you have to, not because it's a pleasant experience.

    But this morning I was drawn to this verse from Isaiah 30, and I noticed something I hadn't "seen" before. We are not the only ones who do a lot of waiting. God waits too- and He waits purposefully. He waits- not because He has to, not because He is forced to, but because He longs to be gracious to us. So He therefore waits for opportunities to display His goodness. He waits for us to be ready for Him so that He can make "Good happen"in our lives.

    "And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!" Isaiah 30:18 Amplified

    When I first looked up this verse to check the Hebrew word for "wait", I thought the "waiting" that God did might be different than the waiting we have to do, but it's not so. God waits or tarries (in Hebrew chakah ) to be good to us, and we are blessed when we wait (chakah) for Him.

    If He can do it, so can I- the waiting, that is. If God can bear to wait for us, if He can wait and long for us to perceive His presence and His heart toward us, then I can surely wait for Him with great expectation and anticipation. I can wait for God to manifest His power in my life- and the waiting doesn't have to be a negative experience. I can wait with anticipation, wondering What will God do next?! How will He do it? What amazing thing does He want to do in my life?

    Remember that line from that song- "Anticipation is making me wait"? Well, it's not anticipation that keeps me waiting. It's the God Who does great things who makes me want to wait for Him, for whatever He does next. And as I wait, I'm quite busy preparing myself- body, mind, and spirit- to grab ahold of what He's going to do. Because let me tell you, it's going to be amazing.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Rise and Shine!

    I haven't been posting as frequently because all my energies have been directed into some serious exploits. Under one category they are all grouped together: the opportunity to rise. Some people would just say I'm dealing with a lot of obstacles, issues, battles, and draining situations. I thought that was what I was dealing with first.

    But recently I am "seeing" something I didn't see at first. "Do you not perceive it?" the Lord asks in Isaiah 43 and He asks that of me, today, as well. My answer is, "Yes, now that you ask me that, Lord, I am starting to see things I didn't see before. I'm starting to see the new thing you are doing."

    When I opened my journal this morning to write, one of the first verses that came to my mind was that inspiring one from Judges 5:31, "So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength...".

    Difficult situations are really an opportunity in disguise to rise up in God's strength, God's perspective, and see a victory come about. There's just no other way to view these seemingly negative situations or obstacles -for the Christian- than to see them as opportunities to demonstrate the life of God IN YOU, His power to overcome. After all, to those who have no strength, He gives power. Strong young men may fall but THOSE who hope in the Lord, those who put their confidence in God, will renew their strength and...what? They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will RISE. (Isaiah 40:31)

    All these thoughts were going through my mind early this morning. I studied Scripture and pondered my complex situation. Then I opened up my little leather-bound My Utmost for His Highest, and turned to today's reading and what do I read?!!-

    "RISE to the occasion- do what the trial demands of you....May God not find complaints in us anymore, but spiritual vitality- a readiness to face anything He brings our way."

    I'm shouting this out to you, friend. My complaints and cries are turning to shouts of victory because "Sounds of rejoicing resound in the tents of the righteous" (Ps. 118:15). (I've mentioned this loved verse before in my post Battle Song).

    I'm calling out how things will be- not because they feel like they're going well, but because I am rising to the occasion. I am rising up in His strength. Realistically, I survey that challenges are in my life. But what's also in my life is the opportunity to rise.

    So I'm going onward...and I'm going to higher ground.

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Where I've Never Gone Before

    So many people are moving. Some people I know have enjoyed the miraculous sale of their house after many months of waiting and waiting. Some have to move quickly due to a job transfer. As the school year winds up, many are thinking about what life will be like in the new town they are going to.

    Now, not everyone is physically moving. Some of us are just moving onward. I hate to say "just" moving onward because it is no small thing to let go of the past, to fix your eyes on what is unseen, to take a deep breath, and by faith prepare for change, for new experiences, for increased understanding in how to look at things. Moving onward involves a resolute transfer of your affections. You may love certain memories or have enjoyed a wonderful experience, but now you're sensing that you have to move onward and go on to something new.

    I know that our family will have some changes just due to the fact that our son will be living down south next year. Visiting him- or getting him home for a visit- will be no small thing. We now will have planes and/or long distance auto trips that take a whole day or more just to reconnect with each other in person. Then on top of that, we will be parents of just one child at home. I am looking at moving onward with my writing and speaking and ministry to women. My husband and I are praying about possibilities: the fact that our future is not in what we have done or in what we know, but it has to do with where we have never gone before. Maybe it's new terrain, a new landscape, or a new business or ministry- but whatever our future holds, it is not something that we will naturally feel comfortable with and used to. I do know that.

    The One constant in our future is the One who holds our future. He solidifies what I feel about moving forward, moving onward: the Lord will pave the way, go before me, make the rough places smooth (Isaiah 45:2). It's His delight to do all this for me- and it's my delight to go where I have never gone before, certain that I have no need to be afraid. It's an adventure. It's a journey by faith. And I'm declaring how good it's going to be.

    Monday, May 05, 2008

    Spring Forward

    This is a typical Spring morning in upstate New York: you open the front door and try to get a feel for the weather so you know whether to dress in sweaters and socks or to throw on a t-shirt and sandals. It's a fashion adventure, every day. And if you don't care about fashion, then it's an adventure of another sort. For those who have allergies and asthma, it's a question of what the day will do to you: will you be sneezing, coughing, gasping for air or running around playing Frisbee and happily taking in the sunshine?

    I've got doctor's appointments to schedule, an orthodontist appointment for one child, prescriptions to fill for the other child, a quick jaunt to the school to drop off my kids, and then back to the school to pick one up later. This is all about attending to the necessities of life. I'm not doing any major dreaming here- or goal setting or prayerful planning with a pad of paper. This day is about the basics of health, education, breathing, and reuniting at the house tonight over a supper I have yet to decide on. I already know that today I am just going to be glad I can take care of what I can take care of.

    I am not going to do anything heroic today (not that I know of); and I'm not going to be doing anything that seems grand or of a breakthrough nature. But I am going to live today- live it up to the max. And for me that means I am going to be glad I am a mom, be glad I have the ability to handle lots of appointments and issues and needs. I'm going to be thankful for the ability to cope with many small things as well as the ability to cope with the large big things in life when they arise.

    HE makes me ABLE to meet what the day brings.

    Friday, May 02, 2008

    What's Ahead?

    It's Friday, gray and almost rainy. It's the conclusion of many things and the beginning of some wonderful new things. That's life in general; and that's how my personal life seems to be right now. We're winding up some things, nearing the completion of my son's senior year of high school, anticipating the beginning of some new things, and feeling surprisingly at peace in the midst of all this change.

    If there's anything that I've gotten used to- it's the fact that things are always changing. The good and bad of that? New, good things can spring up like a gorgeous flower that suddenly appears. The bad thing about change: you're in a constant state of trying to internally prepare and it's hard to prepare for what you do not know, do not yet see.

    I think about that favorite verse of many- in Jeremiah- that underscores what I'm dealing with currently:

    Jer. 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

    In the Message version, we see this aspect of God's heart for His people, His concern that they KNOW what He is up to :

    10-11This is God's Word on the subject: "As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before, I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

    I just love how the Message version singles out the underlying truth that God is expressing here: He knows what He is doing! He has "it all planned out". He's got a way for us to take. And His intention is that we KNOW He is leading us, guiding us- into the unknown, yes, but into His grace and His care and His plan as well.

    For those who are in the midst of change, those who are about to graduate and go on to something new, those who are about to move or about to change roles, whatever the change is- we've got a God who knows what He is doing. Prosperity- in this case- is the full realization of God's abounding grace and provision in such a way that we can look forward, look up, and greet the future with a sense of adventure and awe. Because what God has in mind is, ultimately, good.