Fix Up My Heart and Use Me O God

The Lord has been relentlessly laying Psalm 51 on my heart each day for weeks. First, He was guiding me to read it each day. Then, He brought other people to me sharing wisdom from the beautiful Psalm. And, then finally I began meditating on it and thinking about it in my own words…something I love to do with Psalms. I love the simplicity and rawness of this Psalm. David is so honest and vulnerable about his sin and  his need for God. I also love how the Lord takes our confessions, cleans us up, and then uses us to love and teach others.

I am so sorry for turning away from you, God.

Please forgive me by your great mercy and love.

Clear away all my sin and ugliness.

Wash away my wickedness.

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For I know my sin is evident, and the worst is that I have sinned against you, Lord, and gone against your commands.

I was sinful from my first breath, born of sinful parents.

Certainly you want faithfulness for me — deep down in my heart.

You enable me to understand what is truly wise.

Grant me a supernatural cleansing from the inside out so that I am as pure as new fresh snow.

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Let my heart receive your joy,

Let the weight of my sin give way to your forgiveness.

Turn your face from my sins and look on me in your grace and mercy.

Out of nothing, make my heart pure, O God, and renew a faithful spirit in me.

Do not separate me from you or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Revive me with the joy of your salvation and give me a humble spirit to carry me.

Then I will be able to help teach other sinners about you and they will turn back to you.

Save me from my punishment, O God, the God who saves me.

I will sing of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my mouth and your praise will flow out.

You do not desire for me to bring you an earthly, material sacrifice.

The sacrifices you desire from me are a broken, humble spirit and a remorseful heart.

O God, You will delight.

In spite of my failures, have mercy on my family and bless them.

Provide a hedge of protection around my family, keeping evil out.

We will let you in to humble hearts and offer you endless praise.

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Who is Like You?

The following poem is really a compilation of “who is like you” questions I wrote each morning for the last few weeks during the beginning of my quiet time. I have really been encouraged to be in awe of the Lord God Almighty. My response to this awe is to ask the Lord, who is like you? The answer? None other than the Lord. 

Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11

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Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, waiting on me, listening with patience and kindness?

Who is like you, pouring out endless grace and mercy?

Who is like you, filling my days with purpose and focus?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, steady from beginning to end?

Who is like you, holding my past, present, and future?

Who is like you, full of power, strength, and sovereignty?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, Father to the fatherless?

Who is like you, protector of the weak?

Who is like you, guide to the blind?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, a King in a manger?

Who is like you, humble and meek?

Who is like you, born to sacrifice?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you? Oh, who is like you?

 

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From Pity to Gratitude

Groggy, quiet, and contemplative I enter my prayer closet this morning. Holding my hot coffee in one hand, I open the closet door with the other hand. Upon opening the door, I am filled with defeat from a night of tossing and turning with doubt and hopelessness.  Yet at the same time, I remember Hopeful Expectation, the promise the Lord keeps whispering.

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I enter the closet, overcome with envy, self-pity, and discouragement. Envy over the moms who have children that can get themselves ready in the morning. Envy over the children who got ideal starts in this world. Envy over kids who are able to hold two thoughts in their minds and complete those tasks. Pity for myself for the elaborate measures I take to help my kids follow simple routines. Discouragement over the lack of progress seen.

Stepping into the closet and then plopping down on my pillow, I begin my seeking. Matthew 7: 7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  

I come filled with ugliness, but seek the Beautiful One. I come filled with doubt, but seek the One filled with answers. I come full of myself  but leave filled with His Spirit.

As I begin my study and prayer time, I am reminded of how Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
 on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

I remember my Father in heaven who leans in to listen to me, who meets me there before I even awake. I remember my need for Him and His ability alone to meet my daily needs. I remember His heart to forgive me (even my stinking pity party) and my need to forgive all those around me. I remember to seek Him to deliver me away from the temptation of self-pity.

This morning, He changed my pity into gratitude. This morning, I entered my time with the Lord covered with stains. This morning, I left my time time with the Lord with one last whisper, “Lord, that I’d stay connected to you all day today, that this wouldn’t be the end. That it would just be the beginning of our day together.”

Thank you, Lord, for these children that keep me at Your feet…keep me coming back to You. Keep me seeking You for wisdom, peace, encouragement, and hope. Amen.

Hopeful Expectation

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But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6

The Lord keeps whispering this phrase to me, hopeful expectation. He keeps lifting my eyes, my heart, my hope to Him with the promise that He hears, He cares, He protects. Everywhere I look, I see His promise of hopeful expectation.

In the promise of the changing seasons; the shorter days, colder temperatures, breathtaking color, all promising a change to come.

In the promise of sleep; the sun going down, the days activities ending, the weariness and quiet, all promising a time of rest.

In the promise of a rainbow; the sun amidst the gray rain cloud, a pause in the storm, beams of color radiating the sky, all promising a reminder of the Lord’s commitment and beauty.

In the promise of a Holy answer; the stillness of the room, the peace flooding my soul, the quiet whisper to my heart, all promising the Lord’s attention to my prayer.

In the promise of refining; the stirring of my habits, the Word rushing to my mind, the quieting of my mouth, all promising the Lord’s sanctification.

In the promise of growth; the new routines, the developing awareness, the repetition of positive behavior, all promising maturity in my children.

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Hopeful expectation. It’s everywhere. It’s in the look I can give my child in anticipation of her remembering the lesson and choosing what’s good. It’s in the tone when I pray with confidence, knowing the Creator hears. It’s in the conversation with my husband in anticipation of the Lord’s work in his life bringing him closer to Himself.

It’s the way the Lord looks at me. Sinful, selfish, stubborn me. Looking at me faultless. Righteous. Beautiful. Because of the redeeming love of Christ, He sees me with hopeful expectation. Through eyes of grace. Filled with compassion. Layering on the mercy. Hopeful expectation.

Dear one, what situation or person is the Lord stirring you on to look at with hopeful expectation? Have you made the choice to believe, to really believe the Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him? Are you on the fence? Can you, this very day, go to Him and ask Him to reveal His hopeful expectation to you? Oh, I pray, you do. I pray WE do look to Him in hopeful expectation

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He Who Dwells

Studying and personalizing Psalms is becoming a personal favorite for me during my quiet time. Taking each Psalm slowly, meditating on the words, studying their meanings, and then responding is filling my soul with goodness.

Isn’t that what a loving relationship entails…really listening and then responding? The Lord first loved us. 1 John 4:19 reminds us of that truth, We love Him because He first loved us. We have a choice to respond. When I read the Psalms, I feel an urge to respond to the Lord.

This past week, I studied Psalm 91 and then responded by putting the words into my own and personalizing it as if it is between me and the Lord.

Psalm 91:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

My response:

I stay in the protection beneath God and find refreshing relief in my position under the All-Powerful God.

I will tell others about God, “He is my protection and place of security; He is my God in whom I rely.”

Without doubt, God will save me from the traps of the devil and from deadly evil.

As a bird protects its young, God will cover me and be my shelter; He will keep His promises and be my protection and defense.

Day and night, I have nothing to fear. The evil in the dark and the destruction during the day will not bring fear.

I will only see the effect of the trouble that passes  by me. I will not suffer the punishment the wicked suffer.

I will be protected if I rest under the Almighty God, and yes, I do rest under Him – death will not come to me or my family.

He sends his angels as a bodyguard for the faithful. His angels will carry me so that I can avoid even small evils.

I will march victoriously over opponents, even over the most powerful evil.

Because I am bound to Him and cling to Him, He will rescue me. When I call to Him for help, He will answer me and rescue me and provide satisfaction and…

ETERNAL LIFE. 

Amen.

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Remedy for Anxiety

Hurricanes, threats of attack, environmental disasters, fatal accidents, higher taxes, overpopulation, traffic, violence, hatred, racism, disease…these words flash at me when scrolling my local news app on my phone. Heart rate quickens, breathing becomes shallow, mind races.

Rather than continuing the pursuit of the local news, I turn to God’s Word for a remedy for anxiety. An answer to the unrest all around. Peace in the turmoil.

Studying Psalm 23 this week, led me to realize this is a passage of scripture that I have known for a long time. It was the only scripture I memorized as a kid at vacation Bible school. The words have always drawn me in and painted a beautiful picture in my mind.

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But, this week, the Lord brought greater understanding through slowing down, verse by verse and allowing His Spirit to unlock the words for me.

Each day this week, I took one verse of Psalm 23 and journaled about what the Lord was saying to me through His words.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord
Forever.

Psalm 23

And, Psalm 23 in my own words:

God is my loving guide; I am in need of nothing more.

He provides what I need to be fed; He guides me to quiet rest.

The Lord brings back to order my life; He guides me in the right way I should go because of His name.

Even though I go through low times even close to death, I will not be afraid, because you train me, support me, and bring encouragement to me.

You bring peace and nourishment to me even when those who despise me are near; You fill and empower me each day; I am content in You.

Without fail the Lord’s favor will pursue me every day of my life; And I will live in heaven with the Lord forever.

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You Are the God Who Sees Me

IMG_1155She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

I can only imagine how Hagar must have been feeling. Most are familiar with the story of how Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands when they were desperate to have a child. They had been given a promise from the Lord. He had promised they would have numerous descendants. But, still, Sarah remained barren.

We can think about and put ourselves in Sarah’s shoes. Waiting on a promise to unfold. If you have been a follower of Jesus for any time, you have likely had times of waiting. You also may be familiar with the sting of taking matters into your own hands and not waiting on God’s promise and timing to unfold.

But, can we stop and think about Hagar? Hagar was the servant of Sarah, who became the instrument in which Sarah and Abraham’s plan apart from God, took place.

It seems that Hagar could have fled. She could have up and left the area when approached with the idea of bearing Abraham’s child in lieu of his wife, Sarah. She may have been able to try to talk some sense into Sarah by reminding her of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and unwaivering promises. But, she partook in the human-made plan to make Sarah and Abraham parents.

Hagar went along with the plan until the situation became unbearable. Sarah began mistreating her. I can imagine the bitterness Sarah would feel toward Hagar. And, I can imagine the pain, isolation, and loneliness Hagar would feel.

The Lord didn’t allow Hagar to stay secluded in her pain. He sent an angel for her. The angel spoke direction to her and that is when Hagar knew the Lord saw her. Hagar declared, “You are the God who sees me.” What a comfort to know that God sees us. We see so clearly how the Lord was with and was leading Abraham. But in chapter 16 of Genesis, we see that none were forgotten. Hagar was not forgotten.

I pray for times like these in the lives of my children. When they are struck back by God’s presence. When they have no doubt that the Lord sees them.

My oldest daughter recently became separated from our family while on vacation. We were visiting Cannon Beach in Oregon, which is a bustling little town throughout the summer. There were 9 of us walking through the town in search of a place to eat dinner. Having made the mistake of heading into town without a plan at prime dinner time, we were faced with overcrowded restaurants with long waits. The adults all paused in our search to talk about where we would go next. After deciding on our next destination, we headed off.

Making our way through the overcrowded streets, our group of 9 seemed to kind of break off from one cohesive group to 3 smaller groups. After several blocks, I took inventory and noticed I could not see Mikayla, our 12 year old. “Jeff, do you have Mikayla up there with you?”

“No, I think she’s in the back group.”

“Dave, is Mikayla back there with you?”

“No.”

“Jeff, where is Mikayla?” panic filling my voice. Even retelling this story is causing my heart to beat faster and my whole body to tense. There is nothing like not knowing where your child is. The hunger and fatigue I had felt a moment prior, gave way to a huge adrenaline rush, as I pushed back toward the crowd, following the path we had just taken.

When is the last time I saw her? Had she mentioned wanting to look in a particular shop? What color was her shirt? Does someone have her?

Frantically calling her name, scanning the sidewalks on either side as I walked, I had laser focus. I would not stop until I found her.

Lord, help me. Be with her. Keep her safe. Lead me to her. 

Immediately after muttering that short prayer, the phone in my hand began to vibrate. On the caller identification screen it read British Columbia. Seriously a telemarketer is calling right now? I couldn’t take my eyes off the sidewalks. But, I glanced down one more time, and realized maybe it was someone calling me about Mikayla. “Hello! Hello? Hello?”

I look up one more time, turning my head to look down a side street and there she was. Oh, there she was! My girl! We ran toward each other and embraced in the middle of the road, crying and holding each other tighter.

We both cried on each other’s shoulders. “I just prayed,” I told her.

“Me, too. As the phone was ringing, I prayed.”

“Was that you calling me?”

“Yes. So many people passed me by as I sat there crying. But one older couple stopped and asked if I needed help. They sat down with me and gave me their phone to use.”

“Where are they? I need to thank them.”

We both looked back at where Mikayla had come from. “Is that them?” I asked.

“No. Mom, I don’t seem them anywhere.”

They were gone. I so wanted to thank them.

Suddenly, a supernatural chill came over my body as I pondered the thought that the Lord had sent angels. Remembering Mikayla’s words that “everyone else just passed me by, but one couple stopped to help”. This happened just as I was communicating with the Lord.

Angels.

Oh God, with the hundreds upon thousands of people walking around this town, you saw  us. You heard the prayer uttered amongst the chaos. And, you saw us.

Only God could change anxiety over a lost child to joy over knowing the All Powerful, Almighty, Sovereign King of the Universe sees you and your little family.

Thank you, Lord for keeping my girl safe. Thank you for leading me right to her. Thank you for seeing us. Thank you for never leaving us. Thank you for revealing yourself to my child in her time of need. 

Just as Hagar needed the reassurance that she was not forgotten, when we seek the Lord, He will show us that we are seen and remembered by Him.

Dear one, you are seen. You are loved. You are cherished by your Heavenly Father. Seek Him. 

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