Faith Over Fear

pexels-photo-990826.jpegA movie plays in her mind. Scenes from the past, scenes of unfinished work, scenes of overwhelmedness. Her heart quickens as each scene swirls behind her closed eyes as she pleads with sleep.

Hadn’t she just shared with someone going through so much more than she about a word-art sign she looks at often which says, “faith over fear”? Yet, her mind won’t shut off. She allows fear to take over. Fear of failure, fear of not-good-enough, fear in trusting the One who can. Fear of someone seeing what really is.

She is still learning what it really means to have faith in the One who made her. Learning to trust Him in all things. Slinging Him her worries without yanking them back to hold and worry all over again. Leaving everything at His feet, walking away and never looking back.

She is truly learning what it is to be a work-in-progress on the rocky road of this life. She’ll stumble and fall, skinning her knees and palm as she tries to catch herself. Blood and dirt smear as she tries to clean the mess up on her own, yet He is beside her with His hand out waiting.

Waiting with a smile and tears in His beautiful eyes, “You’ve done this alone for too long. Let me take care of you.”

“The faster I choose to say amen (so be it) and trust He’s in control, the quicker I participate in the remaking of broken things.” — Author Beth Guckenberger in Start With Amen

A Little Salt and A Whole Lot of Light

Lately, “Debbie Downer” may have had a hand in writings my post. I really want this to be a fun place for people to gather, so I thought I’d share some beauty I’ve enjoyed recently. Sadly, my lilac bushes are still in the process of blooming (thanks, Old Man Winter for your control issues, thanks) so we will all just have to wait for those beauties.

Enjoy!

I’ve been enjoying the art of words by Morgan Harper Nichols:

may you never
discredit
how far
you have come,
for even here,
in the forest;
you are under
the sun.
in the thick
of the wild,
there is still,
a way out,
and if you only
keep treading,
you will see
where you’re heading
is where
you are meant to be,
and it is worth it
to believe
all of this,
out here,
is a part
of the journey.

And, another piece she wrote for someone wondering what a new season will bring:

All by grace, she will never lose her wonder. She will never lose that feeling that there is more beyond the shore. She will never lose sight of the fire in her soul, even when her world is changing and things are out of her control. In every season, she will be anchored to a hope beyond the ocean deep, and it will steady her in chaos, so she is free to be at peace: in the mountains, in the valleys, in the open air that lies between. She will see The Light in everything, that leads her where she is meant to be.

Confession: I’m not in love with poetry. Yet, a woman in our writing group is a poet and since I’m trying to spread my wings, I bought Morgan Harper Nichols book since it is basically poetry. I actually like it and now I don’t even know who I am anymore.

But I do know, for sure and for certain, I enjoy the music Morgan Harper Nichols and her sister Jamie Grace (yes, that Jamie Grace). I’m enjoying Daughter of the King (song starts at the 4-minute mark) and Here.

Currently reading a very thought-provoking, discussion-provoking devotional by Lysa TerKeurst called Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close. She shares a verse, a life-story, and often more verses and ends with a prayer. The devotions are short, which I need right now.

My nose is ready for the fresh dirt smell of a freshly plowed field, yet our area farmers are getting a late start this year — looking at you Old Man Winter! I, however, am not looking forward to the other smell when the windows are open — you know, that country air smell. Farmers think it smells like money, I, sir, do not. I can think of a few other words to describe it and money is not one.

And, if you made it to the end of this post without falling asleep, well done. Well. Done.

What are you enjoying at the moment? 

Home

Confession: I have a thing for music by Sleeping At Last. There is just something about his music – it draws me in, allows me to think a bit deeper, relaxes me, and is wonderful when looking out the airplane window during a flight. Remember that book I wrote (still editing)? Sleeping At Last instrumental music played quietly in the background as my mind and fingers flew.

Which brings me to why I’ve called you here today… North. Can we talk about this song? I’ll wait here while you click on the link and listen. But, before you go, promise me you’ll come back. I may or may not have issues of getting left behind/left out. How insecure does this make me sound, but seriously… Okay, pinky promise to come back… Wait, you forgot what you were supposed to do, didn’t you. Click on the word “North” above.

pexels-photo-1029599.jpegYou’re welcome. Isn’t it a beautiful song? The singer/songwriter/composer (must be nice to be talentless) wrote this song when he and his wife bought a home.

I was struck by a few lines of lyrics, “the dirt in which our roots may grow.” and “Slowly, our paint chips away. But we will find the strength and the nerve it takes to repaint and repaint and repaint every day.”

Transparency moment (or perhaps warning): Lately, I feel like I’m stuck in dirt. The progress I thought I was making came crashing down. Now, I’m trying to claw my way out of the dirt, yet, it is hard soil. I know, and trust, there is a lesson in the dirt.

pexels-photo-1030320.jpegWhen we were raising our children, I would often use the example of how our faith must be deeply rooted. Faith in Jesus can’t have roots so close to the surface that any amount of wind could knock us over. Our roots in Christ must be deeply planted.

As much as I hate what I am going through right now, I know my roots are growing deeper. And, like a tree beginning as a seed, I’m trying to claw my way out of the dirt, relying on Him with the process, and into the light knowing my roots are deeply planted.

Christians are not immune to struggles and heartache. It can become tiresome when one struggle after another, after another, after another is slung our way. Yet, as the songwriter of North writes, “we will find the strength and nerve it takes to repaint, to repaint, to repaint.” That strength and nerve comes from God. I can’t do it alone. For that, I am thankful.

“And if not, He is still good” (Daniel 3:18)

North
we will call this place our home,
the dirt in which our roots may grow.
though the storms will push and pull,
we will call this place our home.
we’ll tell our stories on these walls.
every year, measure how tall.
and just like a work of art,
we’ll tell our stories on these walls.
let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.
let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide.
settle our bones like wood over time, over time.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.
a little broken, a little new.
we are the impact and the glue.
capable of more than we know,
we call this fixer upper home.
with each year, our color fades.
slowly, our paint chips away.
but we will find the strength
and the nerve it takes
to repaint and repaint and repaint every day.
let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.
let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide.
settle our bones like wood over time, over time.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.
let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.
let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide.
settle our bones like wood over time, over time.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.
smaller than dust on this map
lies the greatest thing we have:
the dirt in which our roots may grow
and the right to call it home.

Two Steps Forward, Twelve Steps Back

pexels-photo-631986.jpegLife throws some pretty serious punches. Just when one is convinced there is growth in areas of struggle, something or someone comes along and you’re back where you started.

You may even begin to believe those lies you once threw away. You may even wonder if there is anyone (in this world) in whom you can trust. Were the whispers about you true?

But, here’s the thing. Even though you may feel like you are back at the starting gate, you aren’t. Through everything you’ve gone through, you’ve learned. Learned how to overcome. Learned it isn’t what people around you think of you, it’s what God thinks. Talk to God to clarify if the thoughts/feeling are from Him or an attack against you.

It may take a bit of time to recover, but it is doable. Slowly, but surely you’ll get back to where you were. Don’t let others make you feel guilty for your retreat, it’s okay. Cry out your emotions–you know, the ones you’re allowed to feel because no one can tell you how to feel. Those emotions are yours, and yours alone, to deal with right now.

So, when you’re ready, lace up those walking shoes. Hike up your drawers and look ahead, not behind. I know it is difficult but you can do it…one step at a time.

“We are not what we do. We are not what we have. We are not what others think of us. Coming home is claiming the truth, I am the beloved child of a loving Creator.” ~ ~ H. Nouwen

Oh, English Language . . .

Raise your hand (in the air like you just don’t care) if you’ve ever thought you knew the name of, oh…let’s say a dance, and it really wasn’t what you thought it was named.

This morning, as I watched a morning news show, the hosts played a video of a poor, poor fella who mispronounced a word in the puzzle on a game show. (I’ll take a “t”, Pat). Here is the video. Yes, I was just as confused as he looks in the video.

I, personally, thought the game show messed up the spelling. Because we all know it is Flamingo Dance and not Flamenco. Or so I THOUGHT. Oh, my word. In my 51 years of life on this planet, I honestly thought it was FLAMINGO.

If one really thinks about it, now that I know it isn’t flamingo, it really is quite comical to think of a flamingo dancing the Flamenco! I mean really funny. Clearly.

Learning. That is what it is about, folks. Or embarrassment – either way. Tomato, tomato. Flamingo, Flamenco. flamingo

Also, as a bonus in our little learning fun today, did you know Flamenco is the Spanish work for flamingo? I know, right? No wonder I’m so confused. You’re welcome.

What word/words (trust me I have many) have you thought correct when it really wasn’t? 

Remember

Opening my inbox after work a few days ago, I was greeted by an email from a person in the writing group I attend.

It said, loosely translated, “Remember this season that written words matter and change the world. Read John 19:19 thru verse 22.”

I don’t know about you, but when someone tells you to read a section of the Bible, curiosity takes over.

Is your curiosity taking over, too? Well, fear no more…but, first here is what is happening before the set of verses we’ll look at in a minute. Pilate, a governor, ordered the flogging of Jesus. Pilate reluctantly ordered Jesus’ crucifixion. He couldn’t find anything to charge Jesus with, but the mob-scene mentality of the crowd won. The soldiers took over and made Jesus carry the cross even though he was beaten and weary. Now we pick up on John 19:19-22 . . .

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Words DO matter. Did you catch that? Pilate wrote in other languages, as well so all could read, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.” And, the micro-managing chief priest tore into Pilate saying it should read “…CLAIMED to be King of the Jews”.

Isn’t it funny how one word can change everything? One word. Pilate may have given into the crowd but he was holding his own in saying, “Look, I meant what I wrote so leave me alone.” Or something sassy like that.

Words have tremendous power — to divide or bring together, to stir up or calm down, and to claim truth. And, it was one man, leaving out one word, who finally had enough and stuck to his guns.

May we, who play with words, who speak words, realize the power those words have on others. May we use our words bravely, kindly, and lovingly.

As you reflect on Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for you and me, may we always be in awe of His love for us.

Easter Cross what love is

Bonus:

For the storyteller:

Tell the story
of the mountain
you climbed.
Your words
could become a page
in someone else’s
survival guide.

From the book, Storyteller: 100 Poem Letters by Morgan Harper Nichols

 

Sunday Rest?

Normally Sunday is set aside as a “day of rest”. Yet, I find myself thinking of what lies ahead this week. The busy business of appointments and getting ready for an overnight guest this coming weekend. My mind is busy planning as it seems to do without fail.

When our children were little, advice from mature moms rang, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Like a good student, I’d listen and try to do what they said. Did you catch that? Try to do. After the put-baby-in-the-crib-without-waking-up-baby contortionist moves, I’d try to sleep, too. Yet, my mind never quite got the sleeping memo.

My mind would not shut off. I should be doing: laundry, dishes, planning the evening meal, vacuuming, recording baby milestones, and so on and so forth. Do, do, do. We are a culture of do.

Transparency alert: Even during the sermon this morning my mind refused to stop. Yes, I followed along in scripture reading. Yes, I heard the sermon, yet, my mind wandered to and fro . . . eventually coming back to the sermon and then it would go off on another adventure. Even if I’m resting my body, my mind is a stubborn one. One I’m still trying to figure out how to control.

Am I really resting if my mind is running a marathon? How do I hear God’s voice in all my mind chatter? Perhaps upon waking is when I seem to hear from God–my mind hasn’t awakened yet?

How do you “shut off your mind” in order to rest? Or hear from God? Inquiring minds really do want to know!

Come to me