Saturday, February 27, 2010
That didn't sit well with me.
I'm a girly-girl, but I didn't want to be a princess. I'd come to associate the word "princess" with "diva." Not good.
I don't tend to mesh well with divas. I spend too much of my time in their presence biting my tongue to keep from saying, "Get over yourself" (which I would never in a million years actually say). I don't have much patience for that sense of entitlement, that "the-world-revolves-around-me" attitude. I especially cringe when I see it in little girls.
So in the years since those words were spoken to me (and it's been quite a few), I've tried to be anything but a princess. I don't demand my own way. I'd rather die than send back food at a restaurant. I say "please" every third word when I even order, and thank the waiter multiple times. I totally get the fact that nobody owes me anything, and I act accordingly (most of the time).
But I've been wrong to say I'm not a princess.
I'm not a diva. But I am a princess. See, this world has it wrong. The idea of being a princess has come to suggest that "I'm-up-on-a-pedestal" mentality. But a princess's royalty has far less to do with her, and far more to do with being the daughter of a King. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, which makes me a princess. Not because of who I am, but because of who He is. My Heavenly Father is the King. That makes me royalty.
This past week I memorized 1 Peter 2:9 with Weekly Bible Memory Verse on Facebook. Awesome verse. It says I am a royal priesthood--not that I may be lifted up, but that I may "proclaim the praise of the One who called me out of darkness into marvelous light." My position as a princess means that I bring glory to my Father the King. Period. He is the One on the throne, and I get to spend my life bringing honor to His name!
Guess I'm a princess after all. Although I'd still rather die than send food back in a restaurant. :)
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Now imagine that the infestation caused some serious, very costly damage.
Go with me a step further as we imagine the exterminator taking out his checkbook and saying, "I am so glad you called. Wow, what a mess! Pesky bugs. Let me just repay you for the damage they did."
Wait--what? That would never happen.
Oh, but something a lot like it did.
In the book of Joel, the story is told of a plague of locusts coming through the land and destroying crops. Then a second round showed up and devoured what the first round had left. Then came a third round of locusts. Then a fourth! Can you imagine the nothingness that remained? Absolute devastation. Utter destitution.
But the people turned back to the Lord--they repented and returned. And when they called, there was no rejection--He just told them He was glad they'd called. And He went on to say, "I'm sending you new grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you" (Joel 2:20, 25, 26).
Um, Hallelujah! No other word seems sufficient. We've all had "locust" years. Maybe they were a decade ago, or maybe you're in them now. But whether then or now, they call out for redemption.
Mine surely do. I have already seen Him "make amends" (from the Hebrew word "shalam") and give again. I have eaten of the new grain. But there's more. I get to go through my days knowing He will continue to restore.
So as you recall your "locust" years of
going your own way
or your own "fill in the blank,"
know that you are received by the One who will wipe away the years of the locusts and will restore every single one of them. :)
Monday, February 22, 2010
As I kept driving, I saw five more snowmen, also all without a patch of snow anywhere around them. "How in the world have these snowmen not melted?" I wondered, as the temperature hovered around 60 degrees.
I guess when you gather those millions of snowflakes together, they can endure much more and remain much longer.
I love people. I am like 98% people-oriented and maybe 2% goal-oriented. But I am an introvert. All the way, baby--I am textbook! When I was single, I used to take a long drive by myself almost every single night (gas was a lot cheaper then). Being with people makes me very happy and I love being in large groups--I have a blast while I'm there. But sometimes I feel like I could hibernate afterward!
I have to be careful, though, not to isolate myself, not to feel like it's only just me and God. Or even just me, God, Justin and the kids. I NEED PEOPLE. I was made to need people, introvert or not. And when I pull back too much, the enemy can really use that isolation. Any predator has a better shot at its prey when it's alone. So even though my need to withdraw can be a really good and even necessary thing, it has to be kept in check, otherwise I know I become...vulnerable. Susceptible. My Shepherd has me as part of a flock for a reason, and it's not good to be isolated for too long.
As one lone snowflake out there, we can easily melt away when even a little heat comes. But when we're packed together with other believers for the purpose of Kingdom stuff, the heat can come and we'll still be a part of something that's standing.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Only she didn't push it open for me. I pushed it open for her.
There is no way she has in her what it takes to open those heavy glass doors on her own. But when she pressed her hands against the door and pushed, I was right behind her putting my hands on the door and pushing it open. In her mind, though, she was the one who had done it.
As this scenario was unfolding, it felt familiar. Perhaps because it wasn't the first time someone has said "I did it!" without cause. Scripture is full of people who did not recognize God's hand in their circumstances. Even in this day and age, this world echoes the words spoken in Deuteronomy 32: "Our hand has triumphed--the Lord has not done all of this" (v.27). Even my own mirror shows the face of someone who is not always aware of God's hand just plain accomplishing. Fulfilling. Making a way. Must've been my hands, right? After all, those are the ones I see.
Mighty God, thank You for this picture. I can see my own hands on a door that I couldn't possibly open on my own. And should it open and the only hands I see are mine, help me to perceive that Your strong and able hands were over mine, doing what I could not do on my own!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
When I was 15 and started my behind-the-wheel training, my instructor spotted something right away that needed to be corrected in my driving.
"Um, you need to look a little further ahead than just the 3 inches in front of the car."
He could see I was intensely focused on staying between the lines--watching closely the road that was disappearing under the front of my car. "Don't do that," he said. "Odd as it may sound, you'll be a much safer driver if you don't even look at the road. Just look out that way," he said, motioning out toward nothing specific--just the landscape in front of me.
"You could actually get into a lot of trouble if all you do is focus on what's right in front of you. You need to look down the road when you drive."
Making decisions, calling shots, and spending time based on a few inches right in front of us will not lead us where we want to go. In these minutes and hours right in front of me I want to see what's new on Facebook, sleep in, and put my feet up. I want to eat what I want to eat and dwell on what I want to dwell on. I do not really get time to myself, so I want a break badly enough to steal the wrong kinds. I want to check out mentally, I want to unplug.
But none of that will take me where I want to go. I want time with God and a heart filled with the Word I've hidden away in it. I want a husband who knows he has my undivided heart and attention. I want children who know I want them in my lap rather than my computer. And rather than holding my Blackberry, I want their hands in mine. I want an organized house that is a delight for family and friends to walk into. I want a healthy body and many days to make an impact. I want balance. Basically, I desperately want Kingdom stuff.
There are just too many discrepancies between those last two paragraphs I just wrote. I say I want to be one place, but I am headed in an entirely different direction than I actually want to be. I used to be a lot better at focusing on what matters. But lately, I haven't. I'm not plunking down on the floor and playing with the kids as much as I used to. I'm on the computer in the evenings when I should be available to unwind with Justin. Honestly, I do need a break. Some time away from my all-over-the-place schedule, and my attempts to get little mental breaks in the middle of it all just to try to survive. I wonder what things would look like if I wasn't so...fragmented.
I want to know badly enough to try and find out.
It's all starting to come into clear focus only recently. Like a long, winding trail throughout my life, it has followed me--my belief that there might just be something wrong with me. And "stupid" is the conclusion I've reached too many times.
Like as recently as two days ago when I was near tears trying to read the book our couples' small group is reading, only to find the words seeming to swim on the page--no clue of what I'd just read when I reached the end of the paragraph.
Or the fact that when I was reading through Isaiah, I had to read first out of my Living Translation and then out of my NIV, just to be able to understand what I was reading.
Or the fact that unless something is written in a very conversational style, it'll take me three reads through one paragraph to tell you what I just read. If it's detailed, flowery, descriptive prose, I'm out within a sentence or two.
Or the fact that I was about to pull my hair out trying to understand the historical details of the book of Esther so I would feel somewhat prepared as a facilitator in my Esther Bible study.
Or the fact that I only read one out of many assigned books my entire senior year. Not because I was a slacker, but because I really didn't understand what I was reading. Thank goodness I could turn out a great essay, which allowed me to fake my way through Miss Dillman's Advanced English.
Or the fact that I get nervous when I substitute teach in the high school, for fear that I'll have to read and then explain something and not be able to do it.
Then there was the humilitation I felt when an overnight guest was appalled at my lack of literature on my bookshelf. On my bookshelf: Framed pictures, parenting books and some old Bible studies, mostly. Not "The Catcher in the Rye" or "Wuthering Heights." I felt a similar shame recently at a friend's house at the sight of her extensive literature collection on her bookshelf. I probably couldn't get one chapter into the majority of the books on her shelf.
I can't tell you about the plight of the oppressed on the other side of the world, because when I try to read about it, it's like reading another language.
Just recently I have begun to open up about how I have shied away from the pursuit of knowledge because I have known people who have made it their god. True enough. But my motive for not pursuing knowledge also stems from the fact that it is just extremely difficult for me to understand sometimes, and I hate it, so I don't even want to try.
I get mad sometimes that I struggle so much to understand. I don't want to have to work so hard at it, particularly when it comes to the Word of God. I love His Word. And it really breaks my heart that understanding truth comes with a lot of work and several read-throughs. I envy those who have no difficulty getting it. It's just not that way for me at all.
As for "stupid," I know it's a lie. I mean, no, I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, and I'm okay with that, but when I really examine things, I really don't think I am truly what I've believed I am. There is peace in knowing that I was knit together very intentionally by a God who isn't impressed by IQ, and that any limitation I may have just leaves room for His strength to be revealed. And I have to remember that when I finally do "get" what I read, the Holy Spirit brings such understanding. I want knowledge to come easily, but more than that I want wisdom. I crave discernment. I long for understanding. And I know God has been faithful to give those things for His glory and delight.
I love this passage--and I especially rejoice in the BUT GOD in the middle of these verses. They give me hope that He can use someone for whom it just doesn't come easily:
Friday, February 12, 2010
It's hard to believe that one teaspoon of something bad could override cupfuls of sugar, butter, and other deliciousness, but it did.
I could see this from the angle that one bad apple ruins the whole bunch. True enough. But I can't forget just how oh-so-yummy a batch of cookies can be with a bit of vanilla in the mix. Makes me think of mustard seed faith--how just the tiniest bit of faith is enough to override heaps of doubt and discouragement.
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20). Not even mountains in all their grandeur can trump the tiniest seed of faith.
Think of how the tiniest flicker of light can so easily pierce through darkness. Yes, even all-consuming darkness is consumed by the least little bit of light. And in the same way, when everything around us speaks against hope, our wish-it-were-greater FAITH is sufficient to permeate our circumstances.
Ever feel like you've got only the tiniest teaspoon of faith in the midst of overwhelming odds? When even a shred of hope exists in seemingly hopeless circumstances, we have the authority in Jesus' name to take one look at the mountains before us and say, "Move on out of here."
For a teaspoon of faith is far greater than the mountain.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
With his hands set to the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, there were those who sought to distract him, to tear him away from the undoing of the distruction.
He was quite close to finishing the wall (only the gates needed to be hung), and some people around him started to sweat bullets. We've gotta stop this--he is so close, they thought.
So four (count 'em, four) times they sent messengers to try to get him to cease his efforts with lies and malicious intent. And each time he replied with the same answer:
"I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down."
He recognized their attempts for what they were, and called out for Almighty God to strengthen His hands to finish the task.
My hands are set on completing a task, too. A great work. An enduring work. My work is to minister to Justin, Trevor and Aila, to make Christ's love more real to them, and I too "have devoted myself to the work on this" (Nehemiah 5:16). But that doesn't mean that I don't have all kinds of messages coming my way from one who sees that I am close to seeing fruit--and does not want fruit to exist within my family. He may come at me with lies and malicious intent, but my God reigns and He is the One to strengthen my hands for the work. After all, I am called to accomplish my work just as Nehemiah accomplished his--
So when opportunities come that get in the way of this,
I AM DOING A GREAT WORK, AND I CANNOT COME DOWN.
When discouragement looms,
I AM DOING A GREAT WORK, AND I CANNOT COME DOWN.
When temptation lurks,
I AM DOING A GREAT WORK, AND I CANNOT COME DOWN.
When a "safer" life beckons,
I AM DOING A GREAT WORK, AND I CANNOT COME DOWN.
With the vision of a family rooted established in love and truth in my mind,
I AM DOING A GREAT WORK,
Thursday, February 4, 2010
This week I have broken 3 things--a coffee mug, a juice glass, and a bowl. Normally I can go months, even years without breaking stuff. Not this week.
I grew accustomed to the sound of breaking glass while working in the dining hall & kitchen at Mount Hermon Conference Center back in '99. Seemed things were always getting dropped and broken. Finally, my friend Skye said, "I think we're supposed to pray for brokenness."
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:17). And in the Hebrew, the word broken means
So when I broke that juice glass yesterday--the third time this week that I've had to gather up the jagged pieces--Skye's words came to me again and I thought, "It's time to pray for brokenness."
I don't grieve my sin the way that I should. I can easily downplay it in my mind since my rap sheet isn't as long as the next guy's. But my sin grieves the heart of my God, so it should break my heart as well. The selfishness, the pride, the lack of self-discipline and self-control, and the constant battle in my heart to surrender to a God whose ways are not my own (and thank goodness for that)--even one of these offenses created a cavernous void between my God and me, and had Christ not come in on my behalf to die for those sins, they would separate me from Him eternally. A precious price was paid on my behalf, and it had to be paid because of my sin. My rebellion. My "wanna go my own way."
Lord, you do not reject or despise the one whose heart breaks over sin. Instead, You come to put the shattered pieces back together. You are all about binding up the brokenhearted. Thank You for forgiving my sins--I can get so self-righteous and don't thank You nearly enough for doing what I really, desperately needed You to do on my behalf.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Seeing as how I end up chasing her down said street, I disagree about the fun part.
Today she was already two houses down when she tripped and fell, skinning up those cutie-pie little knees of hers. I scooped up my weeping little one in my arms and loved on her as I carried her back home to bandage up the owies.
How many times have I been running in the wrong direction with my God in pursuit of me? How often have I tripped and fallen along the way? And how often has He scooped me up, loved on me and bandaged up my wounds? More times than I can count.
But here's the thing: Aila still bears the marks of running away on her tiny legs. The evidence is right there beneath her Fairy Friends bandaid--a painful reminder of her run down the road--and a wound I did not want her to have to wear.
Even with my sin, failures, and selfish pursuits, I am clothed with redemption, forgiveness, and love. And yet underneath that robe of renewal, I wear bandaids. And beneath the bandaids, wounds that are healing--evidence that I tried to run away. I am forgiven completely and loved unreservedly. I don't doubt for a moment that He has taken my sin away from me as far as the east is from the west. But there are consequences of being on any path but the one on which He wants me to be.
I hope that tomorrow when we head out to the car, Aila will remember her scraped-up knees and resist the urge to take off running. But far more than that, I hope that as I walk in grace, I will remember the consequences of running away and choose to stay right by His side instead.
I don't want any more bandaids under my renewal robe, but more importantly, He doesn't want me to have to wear them.