Around the Corner

cornerAs I rounded the corner on my usual walking route through the neighborhood, my mind went directly to the disciples and the days leading up to Christ’s death. When I read through Luke 22, I read about the disciples shortcomings, their humanity, right there recorded in history.

Jesus’ disciples were incredible men of faith. Being used by the Lord, soaking up His teaching, and continuing to share the Gospel after Christ’s death. I am so incredibly thankful for their examples and the words they left us in the New Testament.

But, I am also thankful for their genuineness. I am thankful to be able to relate to their failures.

Sigh. That’s me, Lord. Whining, complaining, arguing, rejecting…sleeping when you are offering me love and instruction and about to work a miracle in my life. 

The disciples didn’t understand what was about to take place. Jesus had given them forewarnings, “In a little while, you will see me no more…”. But in their humanity, they didn’t fully understand. They saw their circumstances with their natural eyes. The disciples went about their days, arguing about who was the greatest, sleeping when Jesus was in anguish, and disowning and rejecting the Lord. They could have been standing with Him, learning from Him, serving Him, loving Him. They were entangled in their own lives. They were caught up  in what they saw around them.

I can only imagine the pain that followed for the disciples. As the hour came, and the land became dark, and Jesus took His final breath, Luke records about 3 hours of darkness. Continuing on my walk through the neighborhood, I swallow hard. The deep anguish of a sudden trial. The sting of pain. The overwhelming flood of heaviness.

They didn’t know. They didn’t know the pain would soon turn to rejoicing. They didn’t know what He was doing. They didn’t know what was around the corner.

Oh, Lord, it’s just like me. Caught up in my own life. Seeing my life with my natural eyes. Praying and waiting on what you are about to do. Not knowing what’s around the corner. Not living with the expectation that you are at work. 

But, when my eyes are focused on the One that does know what is around the corner, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, I can remember my place.  When my situation doesn’t change, or my trial is just beginning, or all seems dark, I can remember He sees around the corner. He knows the miracle coming.

Sunday is coming, complete with it’s life-giving resurrection.

Are you waiting? Are you stuck? Is your humanity getting in the way of what God is doing through you?

I think the disciples may have responded differently in the days leading up to Jesus’ death had they known what He knew. We can learn from them. We can stop our useless disagreements, our rejecting the truth, and our sleeping.

Now is the time! Lift your eyes. Lift your eyes from your circumstances. Lift your eyes from your pain.

Lift your eyes to your Creator. Lift your eyes to the One who loves you, the One who knows, the One who heals, the powerful One.

Lift your eyes to Jesus and know He sees what’s around the corner. 

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Piano Praise Beauty

 

Something about the piano praise medley on Pandora brought much needed inspiration this morning. There were no words playing from my speakers, but the words played in my heart. The words echoed,

beauty

beauty

beauty

On a dark, dank, wet day, there is beauty.

The melody repeated and the Lord highlighted the beauty all around. Temptation to go looking for His beauty filled me, until He pointed out that I didn’t need to move from the spot where I was perched at our paint stained kitchen table.

The words from Philippians 4 flooded my heart,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

My pen began to slide along my journal, pouring out beauty.

Beauty in the sounds.

Beauty in the breath.

Beauty in the light.

Beauty in the soul.

Beauty in the raindrops.

Beauty in the squirrel discovering the feed.

Beauty in the shine off the wind chime.

Beauty in the Easter garden awaiting the sun and warmth to aid the grass in growing.

Beauty in the empty cross and tomb reminding me death has no sting.

Beauty in the mound of soil ready for it’s plants.

Beauty in the Easter egg project my 9-year-old left strewn about the table waiting to bless her cousins.

Beauty in the school posters hung on the wall signifying learning happening within these walls.

Beauty in the stack of books laying horizontally longing to be read.

Beauty in the mud covered boots reminding me of the tromping my 11-year-old did the day before.

Beauty in the signs of life all around.

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Heal

WordPress Daily Post Heal (one word prompt)

To heal. To fill in the holes. To cleanse the wounds. To dry the tears. To mend the break.

The Lord takes the weak, the needy and the broken and He heals.

He brings Clarity to situations that were once chaos.

He brings Wholeness to places that were just pieces.

He brings Wisdom to minds that were just confusion.

The Lord still heals.

I know this because each day

He is filling me,

mending me,

cleansing me,

Healing me.

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To Be Counted Among the Immovable

Will I let the moods of others dictate how I feel and act today?

This has been my guiding question over the last couple of weeks.

How does it work, to not be moved? Do I plaster a smile on my face? Go about my day as if nothing is happening around me? Humming peaceful songs under my breath as chaos erupts around me?

To not be moved. Not to be swayed. Not to fall away. Not to change course.

To accomplish that kind of stability, will I need to just have my head in the clouds, oblivious to what is happening around me?

No.

When I think about Jesus, that’s not what I imagine and that is not what I read in the pages of scripture.

He was real. He wasn’t floating around like a hovering angel, above the pain, needs and dysfunction around Him.

He saw the pain, the hurt, the need, and nothing kept Him from doing the will of the Father.

When people lacked belief. When people rejected Him. When people flogged and beat Him down. He didn’t stop doing the Father’s will. He continued in the trial set before Him. And, He continued to love those around Him. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

His purpose didn’t change based on the actions, feelings, or behavior of those around Him.

He was not moved.

Jesus’ command to me and to you in John 13:34, is to love one another. Although I search for a footnote explaining the times when I am not required to love, it is not found. I am to love. I am to love and not to be moved to do otherwise.

No matter how those around me are behaving. Rejecting my words. Arguing. Acting in an unpleasant manner.

The call to love remains.

When Paul was about to face certain danger by traveling to Jerusalem, he told of his immovability. He would not be moved or led away from the calling Jesus placed on his life.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24.

Oh, to be counted among the immovable. The saints in the Bible who remained firm in their call to love. Remained firm in their call to share the gospel. Remained firm in their devotion to Christ at all times.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer…Psalm 18:2

Today, I will not be moved.

I will not be moved by the behavior of those around me.

I will not be shaken.

I will not waiver from the path the Lord has for me.

I will not turn from love.

Today, I am not moved.

Not because of my strength.

Not because of my righteousness.

Today, I am not moved.

I am not moved because of His abundant love living in me.

I am not moved because of His unchanging ways.

I am not moved because of His Spirit powerfully filling me.tree

I Will Seek You in the Morning

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. Psalm 5:3

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Morning is a gift from the Lord. To wake up once again, open my eyes, breathe another breath, stretch out my limbs, and begin another day, is a gift. How often do I forget to enjoy this gift of time given to me by the Lord? How often do I just go into automatic mode, put my head down, go about my morning routine, barreling through? But, when the girls are still sleeping, the house is completely peaceful…this…this is the time the Lord has given me to use. No distractions. No stimulation. Just time for me to hear from Him and be still.

Teaching the pre-K Sunday school class at church leaves me tired and happy. The goal each class is to gain their attention and hold it long enough to teach and encourage them in even the smallest of ways.

The cheerful chatter fills the tiny room. Girls reconnecting after a long week apart. Boys knocking blocks to the ground. The hugs. The sharing of toys. The whispers between friends. The excitement dwindles slightly and I sense my opportunity is nearing. I do some crazy song and dance to get their eyes and ears to turn my way. Got it! Okay, here we go! Let’s pray! Short, sweet prayer, don’t want to lose their attention now. Jump into the Bible lesson, while I still have the majority of them looking in my direction.

Eager hands are raised to share their thoughts about the Bible lesson. Some have questions, both on topic and off topic. Many want to share what they know about Jesus and the Bible. All come with prayer requests.

Entering distracted, but now fully engaged in learning the Word, the 4 and 5 year olds  soak up all the knowledge. Although challenging to gain their attention, once they become engaged in God’s word, they are captivated.

After pouring my coffee, my automatic, mindless routine is coming to an end and I sense the Lord calling me. Beckoning me to turn my heart and mind to Him. Asking for my attention.

How do you want me to spend this quiet, Lord?

In My presence.

Seeking Me.

Receiving from Me.

Growing in Me. 

Just like the distracted preschoolers, my attention isn’t automatic. I see the distractions around me. My eyes focus all around the house. But, the One who knows what I need to start my day off prepared for the Spiritual battle that awaits, doesn’t stop calling to me.

Once I open my Bible, close my eyes in prayer, or even just simply utter the first words to the Lord for the morning, I am hooked. Just like the preschoolers. I want more. He’s got my attention. My thirst is quenched. My dry bones are filling with life.

Is it dark where you are? Are you full of dread for the upcoming day? Is each day leaving you drained and empty?

Can you give Him your morning? Your first moments awake? Can you look to the sky, above your own situation, to Someone greater? Someone who holds the answers? Holds the peace you seek?

Someone who is calling to you.cherry blossom

 

 

What I Learned in March

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

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Last month, I decided to begin summarizing my monthly learning. It’s almost like I am testing myself to see what learning took place and how the Lord led me. Maybe something will resonate with you. Or, maybe you will share your learning with me in the comments. In my learning, you may read spiritual lessons, cooking tips, homeschooling tips… you just never know. Feel free to share your learning in any area below.

This month I learned:

The power in setting a timer: I set a timer for Talk Time with my kids. And it works for exercise, keeping track of how long I’m exercising. Why not try it in other areas of my life? This month I began setting a timer for 5 minutes to simply be in the presence of God. Not talking, praying, or reading. But just being with God. It’s such a beautiful, sacred time. The timer helps keep me on track and also keeps me from talking myself out of it with such ridiculousness as, “I don’t have time.”

Juicing lesson: Beets taste earthy and sweet when juiced. And they make my juice a beautiful, vibrant, bright color!

Beet juice

Listening to my children can solve so much: Much of my reading this month has been focused on parenting. The Lord has revealed to me that I have not been listening to my children and it’s time to make it a priority. At first, I thought, “No, no, Lord. You have this all wrong. My children, they talk all the time. I homeschool them. We are together all the time. Lord, I listen to them.” Until I started focusing on verses such as, Proverbs 18:13, To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. And, Proverbs 1:5, let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.  And, reading books such as The Explosive Child, Parenting Your Spirited Child and Sibling Rivalry, and I realized I wasn’t really listening to them. I was allowing them to talk just long enough and then rushing to a solution that would work for me. In my listening to my children, I have discovered:

They are able to solve problems collaboratively with a little coaching.

When I repeat what I hear them say, they diffuse quite quickly.

When I acknowledge their frustration, even when it’s about their sibling, they don’t become more frustrated and actually act less negative toward their sister.

They notice I smile more now! My oldest daughter had to change my icon on our Wii, “because you smile more now, mom.” Praise God! And, I am so thankful I heard her say that!

Sometimes rather than teaching manners it helps to work on listening to your child. The healing that can come results in greater respect from your child and thus genuine manners. A heartfelt, “thank you”, goes so much further than a taught, “thank you”. 

Riding a bike really is just like a riding bike:

My husband and I had a rare afternoon all to ourselves and it wasn’t raining! On a whim, we decided to get our cobwebbed covered bikes down from their hanging spot in our garage, pump up the old tires, and head out for a 15 mile bike ride. “I hope my bike doesn’t disintegrate underneath me!” I declared as we headed out of our neighborhood. Riding a bike, feeling the wind blow against our faces, and breathing in the fresh air, made us feel like little kids again. I highly recommend going out for a bike ride as soon as possible! And, don’t worry, you haven’t forgotten how to ride a bike!

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One on one time with each child during homeschooling is invaluable:

One of my children explained their desire to spend one on one learning time with me, just as I spend time with the students I tutor. This particular child had been struggling emotionally, so I was ready for a change. We loaded our arms with school books, pencils, and notebooks, and headed for the quiet of her room. Again, we set a timer. We would spend one hour just the two of us plugging away at her school work. Sometimes I was just there. Other times, we woud pray together. And, still other times, we had discussions about her work. Still considering myself new to homeschooling (Overcoming School) (this is year 2 for us), I am still relaxing and learning how to teach without creating a classroom feel. It’s tough. But, the fruit came when my daughter, often agitated during school work, was pleasant and engaged all throughout the morning.

Now, it’s your turn. I would love to hear what you are learning. Please take a minute and share with me in the comments below.

Waiting On Spring

In my home state of Washington, we have been waiting. We have endured more snow, rain, clouds, cold, gray, yuck than usual for our Pacific Northwest winter. We have been waiting for the change in season. Waiting for colors to reappear. Waiting to feel the sun warm our bodies. Waiting for more time in the fresh, warm outdoors. Waiting for freedom from our cozy couches covered with blankets.

All through this lengthy winter, the plants, shrubs, and trees have held life. My hydrangea plant held the dried brown leaves throughout most of the winter, until I finally pruned them off. But, even on the cold, damp days, when the old dead leaves barely hung on the branches, new life was surging deep within the plant.

Abundant life, just as Jesus promises to us.  John 10:10 says, The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

Abundance. Extremely plentiful. Oversufficient quantity or supply. Overflowing fullness.

A blogger I follow, Wilderness Joy, wrote the most beautiful words about abundance,

As we notice the way nature abounds with God’s goodness,
and overflows with the wealth of His provision,
we are reminded that He is working in us to bring about
the abundant fruits of His tender planting.

Recently I came across an old journal of mine from 6 years ago. I began reading it, eager for encouragement. The Lord has brought me so far in 6 years, surely I’d see evidence of growth.  As I began reading, my eagerness quickly faded. My eyes fell on words that could have been written yesterday, “Lord, fill my mouth with Your words. Help me to love my family the way you love.”

Oh, Lord, you have brought me through so much. My dependence on you, my faith in you, and my love for you is so much deeper than it was 6 years ago. How can my prayers be the same? For 6 years, my prayers regarding my words and my heart have been the same. 

Closing my eyes and focusing my heart on the Lord, I begin to think about the budding plants from my walk that morning. They hold abundant life from the Creator all during the biting storms of winter. There is no evidence of the abundance contained inside, but any scientist or gardener knows it is there.

During the 6 years that passed since I wrote in that old journal, many trials and triumphs have come.  Growth, pruning, and dying off have taken place. New ways have taken root, while old patterns have died off. Many stretches have gone by that look like winter. No evidence of any growth, change, or beauty. Downright discouragement and defeat have shown themselves.  But, the Creator was still and is still at work.

When I don’t see evidence of spring coming, it doesn’t mean it’s not coming. The growth is happening, where I cannot see it. Just because I cannot see or feel something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just like the changing of the seasons, one day the new life, the new growth, just springs forth. A bright flower or a fresh leaf will open up and the evidence of what was happening all during the winter is now visible to all.

Although many of my prayers are still the same as they were 6 years ago, I imagine and actually hope some of them will always remain the same. I pray I always have the desire to speak and love the way Jesus did.

Thumbing through the old journal a little more, I see it. “Lord, please help me to live like you are near. “

I can remember the desperation. The distance. The discouragement. My desire to be closer to the Lord was there. I was right to be praying for it. But, I wasn’t experiencing it. I continued in the dark of winter. Putting one step in front of the other. Never fully turning my back, but not experiencing the beauty of growth.

That’s what I was longing to see in the journal. I longed to see evidence of how far the Lord has brought me. Yes, I am aware of the distance left to travel, but so incredibly grateful for the growth and beauty the Lord has created through the trials. The fruit is now there. The close relationship I desired is now there. The dependence I longed for. The trust I needed. It’s springing forth and giving beauty to my soul.

Dear one, is it dark where you are? Hopeless? Are you growing impatient as you wait for renewal? 

As you look for signs for change, dear one, do not lose heart. 

Take hold of these promises from God:

  • And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9
  • And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
  • Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12 

The Lord is with you. The abundance you seek is within you. It may not be visible, but spring is coming, dear one. Just hold on to the One who will never fail you. 

Father, thank you for your promises. Thank you for the budding growth you promise in your time. Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. Thank you for lovingly carrying us through the winter. Amen.