Freedom

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. ~Romans 6:2

When I say I long for freedom, freedom from what? Freedom from the illusion of control, that if I can just make sure things line-up “just so” nothing bad is going to happen. Freedom from the need to be right all the time, that sometimes I simple just don’t know the answers.  Freedom from the fears of serious things, like being lost, getting sick, the death of a loved one.  Freedom from irrational things like an organized house will bring peace and the feeling of order or that making everyone else happy can by some miracle make me happy.

When I say that “I can’t”, when I see that “God can”, when I take the action of letting Him handle all things, then I can experience freedom. Freedom from the try-hard life where I stay strong, put on a good front and think that I can handle all things my-self. When I trust, allowing my “self” to fall to the ground like a seed, that shell of my self-life can burst allowing the Healers life to burst forth.

New life brings freedom. God’s life allows me to experience a freedom I can never find on my own. I just have to allow myself to be buried with Jesus so that I may also be raised into a new life free of trying hard (and missing the mark).

Heavenly Father, I find myself trying so hard. I want to control everything and know all the answers. Please free my from my “self” so that I may have true life through You. Amen.

Forgiveness

Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. ~Mark 1:35 (CEB)

It is that time of year again when I begin to live out that which I have planned out. There is something comforting in the laying out of information and the putting plans on a calendar for me to follow. There is nothing like having “life” laid out on paper (or computer) and knowing where you will be and what you will be doing when. At the same time it is very daunting as well. Sometimes after getting into the new schedule I find there is little or no margin. I have learned just because it works out on paper doesn’t mean that it will work out in real life.

So as I look at lesson plans, art projects, Bible studies, music lessons and gymnastics, I am reminded that I must allow some breathing room in my schedule for the “what-ifs”.  I am reminded that a schedule that I am able to begin with is not necessarily the same one that I can keep up with. I need room to breathe. I need margin in my schedule before I begin to feel that there is not enough of me to go around. As I plan out how I am going to take care of those around me, I need to also remember to give myself some space.

Jesus realized that he needed times to have space to breathe. He regularly took time to slip away for time with God. No matter the needs of the people there was still his need for quiet to spend time with his Father.

When I don’t plan some margin in my schedule so that I can find places of rest and times to connect with God I find that I can’t keep up with things. Then I find that it is tempting to cut rest and quiet to make up for my lack of time to get other things done. How crazy is that? The most needed things, rest, quiet, time with God are the things that slowly get left out when we scramble to keep up with our life.

Heavenly Father, in my planning help me to stick to the need for margins that will allow me the time I need for quiet, rest and most importantly, time with You. Amen.

Special

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ~1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)

“Special”, my daughter says means that you are different. Being different apparently means there is something wrong with you. God didn’t make us all the same. It would be boring if He did! There is no comfort when you tell your children that God has made us all different.

Sometimes I too find myself longing for someone else’s kind of different. It might be nice to be more outgoing maybe even flamboyant. Some days I think it might be nice to not be so contemplative and analytical. Although sometimes I do find myself more outgoing than others I cannot change the personality that is me.

Henri Nouwen in his book, Bread for the Journey says this about temperaments, “Our temperaments – whether flamboyant, phlegmatic, introverted, or extroverted – are quite permanent fixtures of our personalities.  Still, the way we “use” our temperaments on a daily basis can vary greatly.  When we are attentive to the Spirit of God within us, we will gradually learn to put our temperaments in the service of a virtuous life.  Then flamboyancy gives great zeal for the Kingdom, phlegmatism helps to keep an even keel in times of crisis, introversion deepens the contemplative side, and extroversion encourages creative ministry.”

Nouwen goes on to say that we should treat our temperaments as we do gifts that help us deepen our spiritual lives. God made different people because He has different kinds of service. Instead of looking at how it must be nice to be comfortable in a crowd of people, I should use my contemplative nature as God intends, in service to Him.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for my kind of different. May I use who I am in service to You. Amen.

Because my Bible tells me so

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You are my secret hideout! You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of rescue! I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you. ~Psalm 32:7-8 (CEB)

I have a pretty Bible that I carry with me to church. It has a nice compact size that fits well in my purse making it easy to carry with me.

My study Bible isn’t compact. It’s big, bulky, heavy and looks like it has seen some better days. When my son was 6 he knocked over a water bottle and now some of the pages are wrinkled. It is marked and written throughout with thoughts I have had and even some questions that I asked. It now holds a lot of memories. It has memories because I started reading it.

I began really reading my Bible several years ago because I started having questions like, “What does God expect of me?” I got this bright idea that maybe somewhere in my Bible I might find out what God wanted of me. As I read I underlined scriptures that I felt answered this question. Eventually I even found a verse in Micah 6 that actually says “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

As I read the Bible looking for what God wanted me to do and how he wanted me to act, I discovered scriptures that talked about his love for me. Psalm 139 is my favorite of all the psalms. It tells me that He knew me even before I was born. Before my mother even knew me, God loved me. I marked verses that talked of God’s love in pink.

Another thing I noticed when I read the scriptures is that the phrase “Do not fear” repeats over and over throughout the Old and into the New Testament. Whenever I would see the phrase “Fear not” or “Do not Fear” I would put a box around it.

What started out as simple curiosity lead me to discover answers to questions I didn’t know I yet had. “Does God really love me” “where is God when I am scared?” “Can I be angry at God?” “Is it okay to be sad?”

Reading my Bible has taught me when the world seems bigger than me and my problems are too many that God is not just with me but fighting for me. During times like this, I am reminded of my very favorite verse from Exodus 14:13 “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today. . . The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.

Dear God, Thank You for Your Word that lives and breathes in me. Thank you for being bigger than my questions. Thank You for steadying my steps and fighting my battles. Amen.

Margin

Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. ~Mark 1:35 (CEB)

It is that time of year again when I begin to live out that which I have planned out. There is something comforting in the laying out of information and the putting plans on a calendar for me to follow. There is nothing like having “life” laid out on paper (or computer) and knowing where you will be and what you will be doing when. At the same time it is very daunting as well. Sometimes after getting into the new schedule I find there is little or no margin. I have learned just because it works out on paper doesn’t mean that it will work out in real life.

So as I look at lesson plans, art projects, Bible studies, music lessons and gymnastics, I am reminded that I must allow some breathing room in my schedule for the “what-ifs”.  I am reminded that a schedule that I am able to begin with is not necessarily the same one that I can keep up with. I need room to breathe. I need margin in my schedule before I begin to feel that there is not enough of me to go around. As I plan out how I am going to take care of those around me, I need to also remember to give myself some space.

Jesus realized that he needed times to have space to breathe. He regularly took time to slip away for time with God. No matter the needs of the people there was still his need for quiet to spend time with his Father.

When I don’t plan some margin in my schedule so that I can find places of rest and times to connect with God I find that I can’t keep up with things. Then I find that it is tempting to cut rest and quiet to make up for my lack of time to get other things done. How crazy is that? The most needed things, rest, quiet, time with God are the things that slowly get left out when we scramble to keep up with our life.

Heavenly Father, in my planning help me to stick to the need for margins that will allow me the time I need for quiet, rest and most importantly, time with You. Amen.

The well

The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.” … The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus. ~John 4:25-30 (CEB)

What was the woman at the well needing? Healing, love, closure. What was it that Jesus was offering her at the well? Real love.  Not temporary, momentary love, but deep lasting love that could satisfy her for all time. She had tried to heal her broken heart, one messed up relationship at a time. Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter. “Where have you been looking for love?” In all the wrong places.

There is no condemnation in Jesus’ questions. Without addressing the hard questions healing cannot happen. “Come to me”, is his reply, “I can give you that true love you long for. Come to me and you will never be hungry or thirsty again. Come to me and I will heal your broken heart.” No matter what we are broken from aren’t these words that need to be heard?

What was the response the woman had to Jesus’ words? She immediately went to tell others what she had found. She wanted to share the good news. She went back to the same people who had probably been critical of her situation. The same people who probably didn’t know that underneath the behavior was deep pain. The woman at the well had found healing, closure and a new life. She was unable to contain the news. It bubbled up from her.

When we look to heal our brokenness on our own or through someone else, we find ourselves going again and again to the wrong places. There is only one Source. When healing is found and joy is complete we find we can’t keep this miracle to our self.  Good news must be shared even to the ones who never understood our pain.

Heavenly father, I thank You for giving me a real love that touches the depth of my soul. I thank You that healing can happen when I take the time to ask the tough questions. Amen.

Eight hours away. . .

(I wrote this a year ago… and as I find myself waiting yet again for more tests on his heart today, I thought this piece appropriate to re-post… )

My heart pounds in my chest because death’s terrors have reached me. Fear and trembling have come upon me; I’m shaking all over. I say to myself, I wish I had wings like a dove! I’d fly away and rest. ~Psalm 55:4-6 (CEB)

My heart today is eight hours away with my father. I feel like my spirit has flown away leaving behind this shell of a body. I wander around the house aimlessly, picking things up and then wondering why it is in my hand. I might seem to look at you but my eyes see right through you.

My mind keeps going back to a year ago. It was unexpected then. I was going about everyday life. Then a call. Fear. Worry. I was afraid to hope. To think. To feel.

There was a time I thought my dad could and would move mountains. I thought he would always be able to find me when I got lost. All I would have to do was call. Then I found out that nothing is forever here on earth. Eventually even the mountains crumble into the sea.

Today, my father is 8 hours away. He’s back in the hospital. This time there is hope. A pacemaker to nudge his heart. This time still finds me wishing I was not…. eight hours away. Oh that I had wings like a bird and could soar. I could be there in a moment and see with my eyes if he is okay. I could put this fear to rest.

I know that no matter what God has my father in His hands. Here on earth or up in Heaven I know my father will be okay…

But still my mind wanders and I wonder why I am standing here… what was I headed to do? I can’t seem to think with my heart… eight hours away.

Heavenly Father, I know You love my father even more than I do. Please calm my trembling hands, focus my mind on the things that still must be done. Take care of my heart while it wanders today. Amen.

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