Relocate Your Attitude

I felt the unnerving snap of the joint, the subsequent crash of immobility and the final realization of the game change.  Your mind relentlessly re-lives violent falls or crashes allowing you to witness every step of the accident like patron in a theater who can not escape the movie. You feel the tendons snap, or you hear the crash over and over again. You cringe at the ability of limbs to betray you at such lengths. Of gravity to seemingly vanish while you grapple in a free fall.

crutchesWhen you hit the ground the healing journey now set before you derails all the prearranged plans you concocted. The walk down the hall to the loo now resembles the mountain climb you had in mind for vacation.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end….   Jer. 29-11

In a rather crucial moment I came to realize midway through the dislocation and break of various body parts this summer, that the biggest dislocation I had was my attitude. When the first bits were relocated I had to humble myself and hug the Dr. who had promised it would go well. As my situation was assessed by various doctors over the course of  several days many other body parts were discovered to be injured. Culminating in the possibility of a hip being dislocated.

The trepidation of the cure was as bad or worse than the accident.  On the way to the orthopedic surgeon my terror level was on red-alert. I was in agony and so was my soul. I imagined the joint being “popped” into place without understanding the process, without the benefit of ANY information, only my imagination in a fear-feeding frenzy. Half way to the doctor’s office it came to me to turn it around. I realized with a clear voice in my head that I could NOT continue my life like this; and the solution -what ever it would be- would have to be applied.

I had to re-locate my attitude. I had to accept the situation at it’s basest level. Completely and physically stop my thought process and say out loud so I could understand, “What-Ever-Has-To-Be-Done-To-Fix-This -Must-Be-Done”…..in doing so I re-aligned my reason with my resolve and instantly felt calmer. I had to surrender, to become the weakness and let go of all the resistance.

And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Cor 12:9

It’s the second clause there that is the hardest to grasp. Oh yes, your grace is sufficient, and in that phrase we somehow think that our calamity will be a cake-walk, but no! In our weakness, in our brokenness that is where His power is made strongest. When we are forced to give in completely. When we can no longer stand up on our own two feet….. sometimes literally.

Thereafter in physical therapy it was found that other subsequent joints were out of alignment…..that recovery road became bumpy and pitted all over again. Trips back to the doctors confirmed that more work would have to be done. But at this point my attitude was unwavering. “What ever it takes to get well.”

And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

This meant another physiological shift in thought process-however brief, shooing away the”I can’t believe this is happening to me!” Recommitting to,  The Lord will be with me every step, and there is something to be learned here.

God in His wisdom used this summer and fall (and Fall!) to challenge me to stop and wait. To listen and wait. To rest and heal. To be patient and and listen and trust. Gratefully He put in my path trained professionals who also walk with Him. On the four month journey we all learned from each other. Listening, learning, working, sharing and trusting in Almighty God.

Father God,

I thank you for this healing journey and your company on every step of it. I thank you for the calm exhortations you revealed to me and gave me the boldness to share. You are my healer, You are my physician, my portion.

Amen!

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Who Do I say that I am?

leavesblowingI find it alarming how much we blow in the wind like leaves dangling from branches. We bask in the sunshine of praise and clamor for more, and the next person who doesn’t appreciate our praise worthy characteristics deflates us instantly and we droop dejectedly.

I have just spent ten months jumping through ever escalating hoops, twisting in the wind at the whims of a self admitted petulant egotist.  Having risen to her every occasion I actually enabled her.

The co-dependence hinged on my  ability to retrieve or create whatever bit of minutia she demanded within  minutes, and her barest acknowledgment of appreciation. Those rare nods at approval, dispensed by the eye dropper full, were the only sustenance I received. I mastered spread sheets and deadlines, for 5 intertwined entities.  The calisthenics of the mind that I performed were gold medal deserving.

All the while I doubted my abilities, I doubted my constitution, I doubted my very faculties. Why?

Because I wasn’t bathed in appreciation? Because I was taken advantage of? Toted along on a current of implausible demands? Each more innocuous than the last?

What I failed to recognize is that I rose to the challenge and surpassed it. I engaged in each task as if it were a duel set forth by my mental Sensei and I vanquished it. All the while steeped in prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to actually do my work! Haha! Which He did! Many a time.

But the question begs, Who do I say that I am? And why? By whose esteem do I set my tenuous own? Why is the value that others place upon us the gradient that we in turn measure ourselves?

Who cares what they think?

We should ultimately regard the one true judge of our work, of our play of our faith. Our almighty God.

Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6

The exhaustion and mental gymnastics aside, I was quite capable of doing all of the work. So why was it for nine months my confidence and esteem were shaken and stirred like a rock tumbler? Because though I prayed, I forgot that my first and foremost title was Child of the One True God.

I was weighing my worth by the automatic response of a person steeped in a career so daunting as to have lost all touch with reality. Her every waking and breathing was swinging precariously atop the merit her bosses placed upon her. Like the silly clown balanced on the tee in that child’s game Tip-it. tipit

The trickle down effect put a damper on all she touched, including three husbands, dozens of workers, friends, neighbors. The only adjective I think of to describe her with is -impossible. The drama that goes along with “impossible”, is staggering. Her needs could never ever be fully met.

When she returned from a much needed vacation I saw in her the sparkle and sweetness of her true nature. I took the opportunity to engage in a true conversation to extol the virtues of balance, harmony, and living with intention. She was enraptured with these concepts, and I became her confidante. She soon recognized the Holy Spirit not whispering in her ear, but using “a megaphone” to get her attention as she put it, on those very topics.

Her short lived joy drained away replaced by tension and angst in the post-vacation return to reality. Curt snappish replies quickly returned.  My work complete I moved on to a new project, in an alternate universe. The complete opposite atmosphere and pace of work. With a resounding appreciation of my abilities apparent from day one. Of course the horror I just escaped an all too necessary proving ground for this new project. (As I always say God is no waster of things.)

So in doing the same exact work, with the same exact challenges, requiring the same exact skill set and accuracy, how did I go from barely being able to look in the mirror to confident achiever? Gone were the constant cutting judgments and concerns, replaced with respect and appreciation of work being done to the best of my ability.

I am the same person, doing the same work. So where does my self-worth come from?

Once again the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young surprised me with this passage:

“My Children make a pastime of judging one another–and themselves. But I am the only capable Judge, and I have acquitted you through My own blood. Your acquittal came at the price of My unparalleled sacrifice. That is why I am highly offended when I hear My children judge one another or indulge in self-hatred.

If you live close to Me and absorb My Word, the Holy Spirit will guide and correct you as needed…..”

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.    Romans 8:1

I was so self absorbed in pleasing someone who was herself twisting in the capricious wind for others, that I was lost my self worth. My self worth comes from the Lord. He is my compass. He is my judge, He is my redeemer. He fills the voids, He lights the way. He is the one I need to please.

I don’t need to look to another to approve of me. God is the great decider and judge. He will prove me and refine me.

Father God?

Help me to remember that you come first in all I do and say. Help me to work to the very best of my abilities always aware of the depth of your love. And in that love I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Let me be conscious of the fact that I am your child first so that all the other titles I bear will be with joy and confidence.

Amen!

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Joy Unspeakable

 “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ:
 whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory”       1Peter 1:7-8

There is a “peace that passes all understanding”! And it blossoms when in obedience, a transcendent connection is made to another through the Holy Spirit. Let me explain.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

I was driving to the office, not focused on anything in particular when it came up in my mind to pray over someone at work. Pray over as in out loud in their company. Not pray for, which I was already doing. This suggestion was not something I would naturally think to do. It has been something I have wanted to be able to do. It has been something I have hoped to be bold enough to do…..someday. It was a suggestion square in the center of my mind and heart, solid and tangible. So I just smiled at it. I didn’t think on it, I didn’t immediately discount it as silly or out my league. I just accepted it.

Fifteen minutes later, having forgotten about it, there was the opportunity and there was the suggestion. And, I acted on it. I said to my coworker, going through some major transitions-not limited to: a divorce, a friend losing a battle to cancer, a new job and  impending financial troubles. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I want to pray over you. Can I? Out loud? Pray over you?”

She seemed puzzled but said, “Okay, but can I work while you do that?” and chuckled.

prayinghandsI said sure, and snuggled my chair up to hers and gripped her shoulders and tucked my head near her ear. I thanked the Lord for always hearing our prayers and that we could bring her to His throne of grace. I prayed un-haltingly, thoroughly, and sincerely. I felt her body stop looking at the computer and relax, she straightened up when I said “in the precious name of your son Jesus Christ Amen.”

“I have goosebumps! Look!” She thrust her arm in my face to show me. “The pain in the pit of my stomach! It’s gone! I felt it lift off of me,” she pointed to her stomach. “It’s gone!” This is a pain for which she takes $275 worth of medicine each month.

I looked her in the eye and said, “That’s the Holy Spirit!” I had lump in my throat from the joy that I felt in that moment. Such happiness! I don’t even have the words! The Holy Spirit transcended all of my issues, all of her problems, and in that small time was present with us. The connection was distinct, alive and unmistakable.

Everything else fell away, and I was so joyful. And not ooey-gooey- ((hugs))-lets get lattes-happy. Not physically self-satisfied, or superior or lofty-happy. But a joy that is not the result of anything you can get happiness from here in this earthly experience.

See? There are no words. A delight that moved beyond my capacity to bear, it consumed my inner being, and I was truer than I had ever been.

And I realized, that is what we are here for. That simple act of sharing God with another. The title of that popular book,  A Purpose Driven Life leaped to my mind.

This has happened several times before, and I just wanted more.  I could glimpse for a minute why people would travel round the globe to deliver this message, or become Pastors; for that pure unadulterated joyous connection. That in obedience, doing what was put on my heart by the Holy Spirit, to deliver a message to a heart in need and a heart already prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive the message; to see the truth ignite in the person. The actual cognizant realization that our Almighty God is real! What a hope there is in Jesus!

She wanted to tell “everyone” about it. I said, “I didn’t do anything! It was the Lord!” and I prayed the rest of the day about it, to ward off any ego-stirring and stay grounded, and pray that God would be glorified. Focusing on the joy to be had in this life time!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

The next morning’s devotional in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young had this to say:

“I am creating something new in you: a bubbling spring of Joy that spills over into others’ lives. Do not mistake this Joy for your own or try to take credit for it in any way. Instead, watch in delight as My Spirit flows through you to bless others. Let yourself become a reservoir of the Spirit’s fruit

Your part is to live close to Me, open to all that I am doing in you. Don’t try to control the streaming of My Spirit through you. Just keep focusing on Me as we walk through this day together. Enjoy My Presence which permeates you with Love, Joy, and Peace.”

Wow. God is amazing!  heart

Father God?

Help me to follow your instructions, to let your light shine. You are so incredible. I am so grateful for the glimpse of the promise of the joy you have in store for us. I pray my words are yours and the message sits in the heart of others where it can take root and grow as you have done so mericfully for me.

I love you!

Amen.

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Let Your Light Shine

 ….that the light of the world has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.

I remember taking a big chance and sharing my God given light with someone relatively close to me, when my light was fairly new. God separated the twisty darkness for me, let me step through the veil and into his radiance. All I had to do was let go.

I explained how for all my self admonishments to release the harbor of years old atrocities cataloged so neatly in my mind, I could not. I was prey to my own resentments and nursing the wounds daily. But the Lord cleared the deck entirely- once I looked to Him. It was not me. I couldn’t do it. Not until I accepted the invitation the Holy Spirit so patiently held out for me.

She listened carefully and said, “I can’t believe you just told me all this. I was at a wake last night and the priest basically said the same thing. I just can’t believe it.”

“Believe it,” was my quiet urgent plea.

“Naaah. I’m not ready yet,” she replied.

He who believes in Him is not condemned: but he who does not believe is condemned already, because of the only begotten Son of God  John 3:18

I heard the sound of the lights snapping off, the whirring drain of electricity squirreling down to nothingness. Darkness flooded up into the divide. She chose not to stand in the light. DSC_0262

Funny how we choose the dark. How the smirk lines the base of our cheek hooking to the lips, conjuring choice thoughts into expression. How we are so self pleased with our stinky little schemes and salty comebacks. How we regale others with our triumphs, “And then I told him a thing or two.”

While all around us we witness the results and shake our heads and wonder why the rest of  world is such a horrific mess.

Jesus explains that we love the darkness. When we do wrong or practice evil we do not want to be exposed. We would rather smirk around in the dark scaling from naughty to downright dangerous rather than face the light.

After God supernaturally took decades worth of pain and bitterness off of me the instant I forgave-which He led me to do- I  still grappled with the concept of remaining in His light.

I thought it would be too hard to be good for that long. For eternity? Me?

But when your heart is filled with God’s love, you just want to be good. You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, you don’t care if you have the last word, you’re not interested in stepping on toes, or stirring the pot. You just want His peace and not the darkness.

Jesus answered and said to him “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again he can not see the kingdom of God.” John 3:5

So it was a three week process for me. Just coming to terms with the moniker of “saved” or “born again” because so many have totally maligned it. And coming to terms with my own behavior. Once I understood that I didn’t have to do a thing. It was no longer up to me, “but He that lives in me”; I accepted the invitation.

Slowly and gently over the course of another few days my deeds were brought to the light. That’s just how it worked out for me; long forgotten entanglements, wry gestures meant to sting, down right detestable acts would bob up to the surface of memory. I would sit with them for a very short time and give them up in acknowledgment to the Lord.

Painless to me, because Jesus took on my sin, bountiful to me, because Jesus survived death though my sins were pinned to him, I could quietly repent and move on.

“Yes, did that too Lord. Yes the consequences of that action-mine. My own. My fault. I’m sorry Father for doing that too.” And very kindly very patiently -blink of the eye quickly I owned them and moved on. Quite simple.  Each sin released like a plume of vapor absorbed into the merciful light.

For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John 3:20

His light is sustenance and pure hope. A kaleidoscope of possibility and ever changing.

It is the very meaning of liberty. I was freed. From all the mess I was mired in. The burdens I struggled beneath, the second I believed I found peace and light.

But he who does- the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.   John 3:21

You can soak in the truth of God’s light. He loves you, He is calling you to come to the light.

Father God,

I pray today your perfect invitation to receive the light of truth will be accepted. Those who suffer in darkness needlessly will know You and become what You know them to be. They would call on your son Jesus very essence of your loving light and receive Him today.

Amen!

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Out Of The Darkness Into The Light

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.    The same was in the beginning with God.

 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.    In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:1-5

 We stayed in a mountain cabin in the wilderness of Massachusetts, where sunset over the mountain top plunged us into unexpected cold twilight. No television, no neighbors, no traffic sounds punctuating the night. Just peaceful stirrings of woodland breeze in the trees.

The evening lounged before us, we listened to Prairie Home Companion on the radio and played a hand of  Go Fish or two. After a while we  ventured outside to see the stars ,expecting that so far removed from  suburbia they would be plentiful.  A cozy fire in the fire pit and some hot tea sounded like the perfect way to end a perfect  day.

Once outside the darkness enveloped us, extinguishing all reason. It turned up to down and left to right. A quick return indoors for the flash light was futile. The dark was all-encompassing. Reducing the flashlight’s beam to a piteous almost laughable attempt at sight.

“The darkness comprehended it not”  flashlight

The darkness had no use for our light, It scoffed at it. Swallowed it whole. We turned the flash light and on and off just to marvel at it’s ineffectiveness. So thorough was the night.  Hold your hand in front of your face and if it wasn’t for the fact that it was attached to your own arm, you’d never know it was there.

I remember when all my life was stalled in limitless darkness. And I remember when the true light finally dawned.  The darkness fell away, it’s power ebbed as Jesus took control. The darkness shrunk and the light shined upon all it touched, even the ugliness that I thought would never see the light of day.

And it was all made right, enlightened by His Spirit and Grace.

I pray that this year the Light of Christ would be so abundant in our lives that His perfect light would pierce the darkness for others who would be drawn by the beacon of God’s radiant Love.

Father God,

Shine your light on us this Christmas season. Guide us. Use us. Help us to know you more.

Amen!

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How Great Is Our God!

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. Gen 1:16

  For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone              Psa 86:10

I watched with fascination a show on NBC about gigantic radio telescopes on an Andes mountain top in Chile. The Atacama Large Millimeter/Sub Millimeter Array built by a multi-national pool of contributions host the worlds largest telescopes> Sixty-six in all- when the project is completed. All of them working in concert aimed at the heavens and broadcasting a wealth of information back already.

A guest Professor of Astronomy explained that within a photo brimming with stars one particular speck of light near the center was actually a galaxy quite like our Milky Way. Imagine that?

What appears to us as an insignificant dot is another vast empire of stars and planets and asteroids  millions of miles wide. As was probably the case for many other of the stars in that picture.

Hard to wrap your mind around. I think about God creating the universe and perhaps it began with a huge bang, why not? I think about our God being so magnificent, that perhaps He resides beyond the universe He created.

Now that is something to ponder. God. Spiritual Being in a place outside of the universe He created…..yet able to meet us in our little self-absorbed world. In the very corners of our mind, dabbing our tears, dusting off our hurts, mending our hearts. You and me, the guy around the block with the monster truck, a nobleman of a foreign land, a child hiding in a closet in Bengal, an aged grandmother in Iceland, countless millions of us. Like the stars in the heavens, more than we can comprehend.

  I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people. Psa 35:18

And He loves each and everyone of us. How glorious our God is!

Father God,

Each day we take for granted here in your kingdom on earth, let us at least acknowledge your grand creation, your infinite wisdom, your love for us, and the sacrifice of your Son Jesus for our sins.

Help us Lord to love you first and ourselves last.

Amen!

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Tempest In A Tea Pot

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.         2 Corinthians 10:5

There is a song “Into The Ocean” by Blue October whose lyrics say: “Let the hurricane set in motion yeah, let the rain of what I feel right now come down down, down…..”

Do you ever get a problem stuck in your head so that it revolves around like a twister? It gathers steam from the corners of your mind and forms a never ending loop. It begins spinning furiously and the replay of events and possible responses churn like a hurricane in your mind stamping out all reason.

What is that?

It’s exactly like a tempest in a tea pot, and if you weren’t so busy tormenting yourself you’d hear your brain is screaming I’M A LITTLE TEA POT SHORT AND STOUT……NOW  SHUT UP OR POUR ME OUT!

As the queen of Tempest in a Tea Pot Syndrome I feel unquestionably qualified to speak with authority on this subject. I have spent countless hours worrying a problem until I have manufactured it into a F-10 sized tornado of the mind.

I’ve rehashed all the angles until they are soft and blunt. I have replayed and reviewed what “he said, and then I said” until I can’t stand the sound of my own voice. I have practiced all the possible responses that I will never ever say, and categorized and underscored a litany of snarky comebacks for any outcome.

Like the song says, imagine the “rain of what you feel right now” coming down when the hurricane in your head has been set in motion? The rain drops would be the size of Volkswagons.

The flood of your tempest could be so enormous you could surf along its current for days and days. And that’s just it. It’s your imagination. The tempest is all astir because you are  whipping it into a frenzy. Oh! If only we could apply this must energy into cleaning  the house!

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!” Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT)

There comes a time when it becomes impossible to sustain the hurricane in your head and you must turn it off. Hopefully before you make a fool out of yourself. Have you ever disemboweled someone with your tempest tuned barbs only to have them stare at you dumbfounded and reply, “Wow. I never even said that.” or “Wow, I was in Cincinnati when that happened.” or the ever popular, “No, I think you said that; not me.”

That shugggzzzzzing sound is the echo of a deflating hurricane inside your head. Nothing sounds more pathetic than a purely emotionally driven argument that you’ve been having in your head for days.

 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Phi 4:8

If only it were that easy. There once was a little trick for quitting smoking: place a snug rubber band around your wrist and every time you contemplate smoking reach down and pluck the rubber band so that is snaps against the inside of your tender wrist. The pain will replace the urge to smoke.

Taking thoughts into captivity until they submit to the Lord sounds like an impossible ordeal. Remembering the Jesus was here on earth, brutally beaten, spit upon, screamed at, insulted, cursed by mobs of angry people, and that He knows emotional pain, helps. Taking the steam out of the tempest by replacing it with God’s words is the only way to becalm the storm.

  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Heb 13:5

Every time that gnawing hurricane begins to blow chanting  “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” helps tremendously.

Honestly, the only way to avoid Tempest In A Tea Pot syndrome is to head it off before it begins. That means calmly speaking your mind, without criticisim, getting your point across and explaining your feelings. This will release them, so they are not pent up boiling around in your head. We all have a point of view. Expressing them safely is paramount to our health.

Father God,

I’m so glad that I can count on you in the storm. That you will never leave me nor forsake me. And never is a long long time.

Amen!

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