Our daughter is about to leave for full-time missions. It may sound silly but I smiled as I pulled the stale waffles out of the refrigerator. They are summer memories of three of our adult children in the kitchen eating one of their favourite foods.
We were saving them to toast, but forgot them in the back of the top shelf. Now I fear they may choke the toaster.
As I dump them out of their plastic storage bag, I can hear my daughter downstairs, stuffing her duffle bag full.
What have we gotten rid of in our lives in order to pour into our children, the very best of all He is?
Life is full of object lessons. Life is a series of getting rid of the garbage and filling our souls with nutrients.
“Train up a child in the way he should go…..” Prov. 22:6
Ephesians 4:22 – 24, setting aside the old life and being renewed.
Grant my children godly discernment and wisdom to know not what, but whom to hold onto.
My workweek was experientially rich. I could say “rough”, but I am going to choose the word “rich”. In my line of work debriefing is mandatory. In most cases a debrief means communication between two people in order to process confidential and often challenging information. This communication practice, in my work setting, is to help me process what I’ve heard, and to help me leave the information in God’s capable hands.
This week I didn’t get the chance to debrief so I wrote instead. As I wrote down each experience a new realization came to the forefront of my mind. Sometimes, even when we are able to debrief with someone we are often still left with an unexplainable unsettledness deep inside. Why?
Even when the hearer is listening, a part of the speaker’s heart is never heard. I am not saying those whom I have talked to in the past have not heard me. I am not saying those who have talked to me have not been heard. I am realizing that as mere human beings, we are incapable of doing what only God can do. We cannot hear the heart. We hear sound bites only.
As I watch my adult children growing and learning and developing in their unique vocations I see a similar frustration across the board. We are family. We have genetic commonalities, personality similarities. Our faith heritage contributes to the way we experience this world as well. But despite our kinship, as we come together to share our deepest concerns, there can still be unseen tension. This tension or inner frustration isn’t because we don’t love each other. It exists because we cannot hear one another’s hearts like only God can.
No matter how much we love each other, there is a limit to our hearing and our understanding. I often think of this song lyric “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus….”
If I could give my husband anything, if I could give my children anything, if I could give my friends anything – it would be these words:
When no one understands debrief with God – He hears your heart.
Better still, before we look for someone to understand – go to God first.
I don’t like climbing mountains, so I was surprised to find I am a mountain climber. The rocks are life’s challenges. The sheer height is fear of failing. The climbing gear is my relationship with Christ, and His Word. And the climb? My continuous choice to overcome.
I was looking for useful tools the other day for a friend who is fighting depression, and came across a podcast by John Piper (his youtube channel is Desiring God). Thanks Julie for suggesting it.
As embarrassing as it is to admit – I can’t remember which bible verse he quoted, but He tells us the best way to overcome depression is to gaze at God. At first I scoffed “oh come on – it can’t be that simple.”
You never want to give people advice that you can’t take yourself, so I pondered John’s words.
I didn’t understand.
“How do I gaze at You?” I asked God.
And then I sat very still and quieted my thoughts and waited. An answer came. You gaze at God by not staring at the world.
I personalized “the world”. What did that represent for me? I had been watching mystery/crime television, when I could have been playing music, or writing, or even resting. The information consumed left me feeling fatigued and restless. Images of struggle and death were the last flashes before I fell asleep. Not something a mountain climber needed to reach the summit.
A light bulb moment, fuel for the fire, energy for the climb! If you find yourself slipping, if you find yourself stuck, if you recognize you are out on a limb going no where – perhaps some reflection is needed on what or whom you’ve been staring at?
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 (NIV)
Guess what? I skipped television tonight and wrote instead, as well as visited with some friends. Our conversation was very focused on….you guessed it, my best friend. tonight I think we’re going to be mountain climbing in my sleep:)
The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the gift of listening. But once the period of listening has been realized we have a decision to make. It is always good for the listener to clarify what they’ve heard, but eventually both the listener and the sharer should make goals in order to move forward.
Making goals to move forward in no way means the information shared has not been taken seriously.
Repeating the same information over and over again does not help get your point across, but keeps you stuck in the past.
Making goals to move forward can be scary. Doubts can creep in, fear can put a freeze on moving forward.
Moving forward is absolutely necessary for the healing journey to begin.
*I know from experience that the deepest damage, pain, and trauma is healable.
If you are someone needing to heal from trauma, let that trusted listener help you make some goals so you can begin your healing journey, so you can begin to move forward, one step at a time.
Chances are that person (whom God can lead you to) may have come through the exact same thing. The listener is not going to reveal that right away, because your healing process isn’t about what everyone else has gone through. Your healing process is about you, your very real suffering, how valuable you are, and how possible it is to make strong choices moving forward.
I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.
How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.
And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)?
Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).
How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?
What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26
These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.
I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.
I awoke this a.m. and found it hard to get going. The sun helped. My warm bath soothed. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to begin a new day with the right attitude.
I flipped through some old songs and found a worship chorus I wrote back in two thousand and four. It made me think of my Grandmother who told me, “the best time to be thankful is when you don’t feel like it.”
“And how do you do that” I asked her.
“Choose an attitude of praise” she replied.
So I took the song “I Will Hold to Your Promise”, and went down memory lane, out loud, at the piano.
I confess with my mouth
I believe with my heart now
I accept your gift of love
take my sin to the west
throw it over your shoulder
cover me and lift me up
I will hold to the promise
I will see you one day
I will hold to the promise you have made,
I will hold to the promise
I will see you one day
I will hold to the promise you have made
“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
“Promise” is a beautiful word. God has promised to forgive of us of our sins, to be in relationship with us, and to return for us one day.
Suggested reading 2nd Peter, chapter 3 – The Day of the Lord.
Long after hearts were hard, barraged by the world’s lies
Sweet Mercy had another plan in mind.
Though the journey faltered in temptation and despair
The prayers of the warriors compelled me on from there
Weak in my marrow but mighty in His might
Sweet Mercy kept the vigil day and night
And where the rage died, the peace grew
And where the sorrow tried to drown me, the joy broke through
Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy
The lineage of hatred determines not your name
The blanket of oppression has no stake or claim
Though you’ll remember and mourn from time to time
Sweet mercy has another plan in mind
My past does not define me. Does yours? Look at the message of the Gospel and how Christ transformed lives. He still transforms lives today with His sweet mercy. He forgives. Have you forgiven yourself?
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:13, 14
When I was in my early twenties I came to the late realization that trying to do life without God wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
I decided to wander into a church in my hometown one Sunday morning, and wasn’t prepared for my panic. I was certain as soon as I crossed from the foyer to the sanctuary, everyone would see right through me, to my black heart.
Thanks to an associate Pastor, who kept reminding me about God’s grace, I kept answering the ‘Sunday’ call. Over time the doubts, and accusing voices in my head grew faint, and God’s voice became familiar. God became my Father, I became His child, and the congregation – my family.
During that time I concluded there had to be other people like myself who questioned whether they belonged in church, and decided to write a song…
Sunday Mornin’s Callin’ You
Verse 1: Sunday mornin’s callin’ you, crusted dry and over due
Pack your black heart on your back and run, fast as your feet can carry you
Bring your heart in from the cold, shake the dust off of your soul
They don’t know where you have been or what you’ve done,
Only Jesus has to know.
Chorus: Sunday mornin’ keeps on callin’, blossom fresh and clean
It’s never too late to trust in Jesus, you know what I mean?
Verse 2: So you’re travelin’ down the road, passed a church a mile or so
Your mind’s certain on sleep my darlin’, it’s let you down before you know
So your baggage is raw you tell me, and you’re so pressed for time
No time like the present, to change your mind
Chorus: Sunday mornin’ keeps on callin’, blossom fresh and clean
It’s never too late to trust in Jesus, you know what I mean
Going on a holiday is all about finding rest – an internal rest. But even in those moments of almost complete abandonment, there is reflection.
-The joy in the sweet reunion with family and friends, and in the celebration of new and beautiful surroundings.
-The peace in the departure from focused routines and checklists.
-The opportunity to meditate on character, and relationships, and ample room for prayers of thanksgiving, for all the good God has done and continues to do.
There is space for questions, and re-evaluations about the place you are planted.
It would be absurd to think each time one bends towards the sun (a new destination), that one’s roots be moved as well.
Knowing we are rooted in God where ever we go is a holiday in itself.
But wondering….”are we growing where we’re planted, or are we just planted?” This is the question? This is the deep reflection and stirring in my heart.
After having had the privilege to sit in some SBS Bible classes at the YWAM base in Maroochydore, QLD, Australia, and witness their example – I’ve been challenged to learn more (Hebrews 5:12-13).
Is it to be accomplished here where we have settled into familiar soil? Are their ears to hear? Is their evidence of fruit? Does God have a new work for us here, or a work for us in a new field? Does God have a fresh wind, and refining fire for exactly where we are?
1 Peter 2:2 “like new born babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”