Just Breathe

Breathe in:
Father, you love and accept me,

🍃

Breathe out:
All the time, no matter what.

 

Dear friends, I hope this anchors your souls and lifts your spirits.

~Romans 8~

 

Mind-Numbing Ruminations

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest….”

Several years back, I was standing on the precipice of an immense life change, carrying a weight of confusion and multiple emotions.  Our entire social network was pulled out from under us, and almost everything we believed was henceforth put on the table for questioning.  My thoughts did not know where to stop or start.

During that time we “got away” to a vacation on Banderas Bay, a beautiful alcove surrounded by the Pacific. One morning, I was walking on the beach, picking up rocks, and ruminating on the same heavy thoughts. I was mentally worn.

While in wordless prayer, God brought to my mind this well-known verse and used my surroundings for a perfect word-picture:

“Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”

…..So there was little me, at the edge of the big-wide ocean with a rock that I had been looking at intently and carefully massaging in my hand. Casting…….
“What does it mean to cast?,” I thought as I looked at the stone weighing down my hand.
……I wound up a pitch…..Followed through, and released……….

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When I cast it into the ocean, the feel of it leaving my hand
And the sight of it dropping into the vast waters….
The satisfying sound of its fall……
The disappearing……………………
That wonderful disappearing…………
Where I could no longer carry it or feel it anymore….
Where I could no longer SEE its lines and colors…….
helped me then, and in days to come,

to release the actual stones weighing down my mind;

to release them into HIM, where their weight is rightly measured and beautifully hidden;

to release them upon His vast character and consuming love…… for me, for you, and for those we need to forgive.

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May we live the blessing of a life that is light and free.

“….Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Jesus

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References: Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG); Psalm 54:22; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 27:13,14; Philippians 4:6

Definition of “Casting”: from Strong’s 1997 = epiriptĂł:  to throw upon, place upon, to throw away, throw off to cast upon, give up to, God.

 

Fitting quote: “If I must seek an identity outside of myself, then the accumulation of wealth, power, and honors allures me. Or I may find my center of gravity in interpersonal relationships. Ironically, the church itself [and other relationships] can stroke [the sin nature] by conferring, and withholding honors, offering pride of place based on performance, and creating an illusion of status by rank and pecking order. When belonging to an elite group eclipses the love of God, when I draw life and meaning from any source other than my belovedness, I am spiritually dead. When God gets relegated to second place behind any bauble or trinket, I have swapped the pearl of great price for painted fragments of glass.” – Manning

Prayer Challenge

In my prayers of deepest longing,

I ask You to saturate, invade, take over.

~~

And I yield to You my dearest belongings;

my fears and speeding thoughts by your love, lowered.

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Here poised, can I pray without condition –

willing,
surrendered to face

pain for Your end, all-wise?

~~

And, to set my face steadfast –

resting,
knowing Your compassion overwhelms all hurt,

And You, Yourself, shall be the prize?

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” T. Roosevelt

This has been my struggle lately.  (Maybe some can relate?) I *too* often compare myself to others and find myself less-than or lacking. I know I shouldn’t do that, but I do. This is what it is like: I picture myself in the large room of His Body where we all occupy, and my head turns from side to side……and then down at me. I am dissappointed. But then  these words fall on my ears:

“Certainly, when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they show how foolish they are.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:12

After a sigh of “that’s right,” I look up and see His eyes looking INto mine. His look is piercing and yet comforting. He takes my hands, my palms up with His hands under mine and I hear Him say, “I. Know. You. I don’t make mistakes. Don’t look around or down, but turn your eyes upon Me. I always give exactly what is needed.”

I allow His words to seep in and almost literally, feel a weight leave my body.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” ~ Psalm 23:1

When Your Life Has Lost Color

Coffee cup and leaves

“Time is the brush of God, as he paints his masterpiece on the heart of humanity.”
~ R. Zacharias

Fall is a beautiful season and {I strongly believe} it should last in full color through November. But it doesn’t. Ever.

Just maybe, however,  it’s quick passage is meant to remind us that we also do “fade as leaf.” That time is very, very precious – and it’s beautiful offerings are to be carefully taken in as though our season is also very short.

How easily I forget this. Yesterday He graciously reminded me to Let. Him. In.
……to let Him into the innermost chamber of His temple and to let Him “search me and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts.” He reminded me to be There, in the Holiest of Holies, *with Him* unafraid, unashamed. 

His call was refreshment. His call brought color to what was beginning to feel –  even without me noticing – a dull black and white, a blur of sorts, instead of a slow thoughtful passage.

Let’s open our doors to Christ – just like we ‘take in” a beautiful scene in nature. Let’s *join Him* in the blessed process of His painting His masterpiece upon our hearts – as we sit at His feet, behold His glory, hear His words, and move at His call.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me.” ~ Rev. 3:20

When You Feel A Bit Shabby

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This morning I was feeling ugly. This is not too uncommon for me because half of my face does not function correctly; I have Bells Palsy.  I have had it for 16 years, but now, well, things are exacerbated with age. So today, when a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit came across my path, I soaked it in like a welcomed beam of light……and immediately felt rooted and grounded.

I hope, friends, it does the same for you:

“‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Let’s remind ourselves today how long, and how far, and how deep the love of Christ comes after us. He is relentless in His care and will never let us go. He will love us, like a favorite, even when worn and falling apart. Now I can find a lot of beauty in that.🍁

Doorstep Wind-blown arrangement

Coming Out

I have a confession to make. IMG_5353

This past weekend I stepped out of my comfort zone. Want to know what I did? It really isn’t very interesting, but for me it felt like a very large step in a direction  I have been being pushed into.

(Yes, pushed. Kinda like being told that you have to swim when you don’t really know how.)

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This weekend, I walked up to a red-brick building edged with snowball hydrangea bushes, my eyes wide and my heart a little nervous. The scurry of all the people around me only made me wonder why I was there; I felt unworthy really. I decided I would be a passive listener – and that is exactly what I did. I doodled what I thought was important to me during each session of the day:

These are the things that will stick.
Now, you can zoom in and notice all my imperfections – you can really see up close that I’m no expert or artist. You can scrutinize my words on this blog and find faulty sentence flow. I know you can – like I said, I don’t really know how to swim. I lack confidence. But I am going to try.

At the Northwestern Writer’s Conference (Yes! THAT is my confession – I boldly went –  Eeeeee!!) and was reminded to try. I was encouraged that in the Body of Christ we all are different. We are all imperfect. We are all unique.
Yet
(glorious, yet)
GOD works in and through each of us to touch others – maybe even just one person – in ways that no one personality or even a few could. NONE of us should sit on the edge of the dock in fear thinking we aren’t good enough, or that I don’t swim like the person on my right, or I should wait until I have it more together. (Ha! That would be never for me.)

“For it is God who works in you both to desire and to do of His good pleasure.”

SO that is all. Be bold. Be you…..IN Him. He IS safe – jump in and swim!

 

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What make you unique? What is it that others have told you you should do because it shines out of you? What makes you light up when the subject comes up?

I’d love to hear about it. And this newbie would also love any writing advice.

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Where is the Music?

“Every sound perceived by the acute ear in the rhythm of the world about us can be represented musically. Some people wish above all to conform to the rules, I wish only to render what I can hear.” ~ Debussy

Waves

I was going to post an entirely different thing this morning, but circumstances have steered my mind on a different road…..or a different tune. So here I am on this road of familiar scenery, this song of the all too familiar sound: failure.

I woke up to in-your-face-13-year-old emotion…….
and (That is a very short word, but a lot can happen or not happen in those 3 letters)…….
I let all of that annoyance enter my skin and seep into my mind. Allowing it to enter caused a physiological response called “fight or flight”: my blood pressure rose; my heart started to beat faster; and my potential responses, stemming from rule and law, piled up quickly against the doors of my mouth, ready to burst them open.
(Here comes that word again) and,
I reacted.

The way I reacted was to raise my voice and harshly counter her tone with a consequence. That may not sound too bad, but harshness and quick reaction did not demonstrate my love for her in the correction. In fact, it demonstrated a back-in-your-face-48-year-old emotional response……..
(and here comes that word again)…and…….
my daughter allowed that annoyance to seep into her skin and mind.
So, you can guess what happened: frustration given, brewed frustration; sin given out, created more sin.

She went in her room. I felt the conviction of my Father.
Things could have been different.
I could have not let the noise take over the music.

God’s convictions in my heart have never been harsh or reactionary. They have never been given to me out of a posture of authority. They fall on my mind like sadness, like something is wounded or dying. He knows what it means to speak the truth IN love – and He never fails at it.

Today, when His conviction came, I could have merely heard it and went on my way simply breathing an “I am sorry” to my daughter, but I knew doing so (by the wonder of experience) that I needed to go deeper. Times like this are times to be still……….
and (that beautiful word of rest)…………
really listen. These are times to learn. These are times to understand HOW all the facts we learn, are implemented and woven into the fabric of our lives.

Listening is not easy though. It is an exercise or labor of sorts. I calmed my mind before Him, but, and here is the labor, I felt immediately unworthy to be with Him. I did not feel like I could call Him Abba or Dad. I was shamed by my failure to obey the laws and the rules. But thanks be to Him, He has unlocked those prison gates – my mind does not need to stay there.

I knew those “locked” gates of condemnation were from my human nature and not His nature, because sin and our nature will always block His voice. They will put up walls and veils so we cannot really SEE or HEAR what He has DONE and completed for us in Christ.
He wants me to see and hear that the same Spirit of His that is grieved when I do the wrong thing is also telling me to cry, “Abba, Father!” He does not EVER distance Himself or turn His back on me (us) in times of sin. He already forgave all my sin, past, present and future. His love is unwavering. His love has no limits. His love fulfills all laws.
Blessed thoughts! He has sealed the victory over sin and the law, death and the grave. His love is steady, sure, and faithful.

I am reminded of this after His convictions, and my thoughts fall back onto Him.
All fears and guilt leave………
(and here it is again, the rest note) and……..

Whole note and rest on a staff.

I am THEN able to hear His Spirit teach me. I am able to allow His resurrection life to bring victory over failures. There are no walls. There are no veils. I am able to be taught. I am able to learn.

I am learning.
Today I am reminded to treat my daughter exactly like He treats me.
I need to listen to His voice when I am faced with the harsher notes of life……….
and (rest and listen)……..
so I will not let the sin of others get in the way of my seeing Him in their life… even IN their moments of failure;
so I will not let my sin get in the way of my seeing Him IN all things, working the moments of life into His full song.
I am learning to keep close to Him, and be close to His children – everything else can resolve in the midst of that
love relationship.

Rest.

That vital note in the music of our days.
That pause of allowing the entrance of His love and life, instead of sin and shame.
That pause of knowing that His love for my daughter is deeper, broader, and wider than her sin…..and mine.
That pause and rest that says, I do not need to let failure pass fear, or guilt, or shame in me or on others I relate with.
He is bigger than this moment……He has fought and won the battle, and therefore,
our relationship is bigger than one note.
We do not need to fight what He has already won.

I desire to live in His place of resurrection, victory, and steadfast love.
It is only There that the effects of failures lose their power.
It is There that the noise fades……….
and…..(that vital pause)…….
He makes true music of our days.

Where is the music?
Listen to Him.
He is making it. He is continually working all things together for good.
The music is found “in the space between the notes.”

And………that He is.

The Composer

(Ephesians 4: 2,15; 5:2; 4:30; Galatians 4:6; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 15:55-58; 1 John 4:18; 2 Corinthians 3: 6-18; Philippians 2:7-9; Hebrews 10: 1-23; Romans 8:28; Hebrews 4)