The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fear, loneliness and sadness

In today's post at Ann's, she is writing some truth to their boy, who is ready to leave home. There are some powerful words  worth reading. But one thing she says struck me in light of our world today.  It is so needed:
"It’s true, son: Be different and know everything you do matters. It’s what the Christ followers know: One man with God can change a culture. God didn’t put people in your path mostly for your convenience; He put you there for theirs.Loving the poor will make you rich, I promise.
The only life worth living is the one lost.
No matter how loud and crazy and broken the world is, child? Let joy live loud in your soul."

Our self-absorbed society wrecks havoc with our faith...it teaches living the opposite of the selfless life Christ commanded us to live, the kind of life Ann is talking about.

But from the time our children are little, we coddle, pamper, protect, spoil (as much as our budgets or government help will allow). As they grow older we spend our energy making sure they have everything they need, everything they want, everything that will make them look good, be the most popular, make them loved by everyone around, everything that will make them happy.  We pat them on the back when they do well and even when they don't. We even confront teachers, coaches, family and acquaintances who dare to say our child is not as great as we want the child to think he or she is. And what do we get?  We get ugly.

When I was teaching, I had a young teen come to high school after being home schooled.  Talk about confrontations...I was too hard when I graded, expected too much, I didn't appreciate the sarcasm or the "laid back" attitude apparent every day of high school.  As I tried to challenge this apparently bright child, I met road blocks at every turn. Then graduation came and as the parents told me, "They knew great things would be accomplished by this extremely gifted young person."

I smiled and said I hoped they were right.

A year later, Mom sat in my room crying. "The first job had been lost, "____ wouldn't get up early enough for work."  "Attitude towards co-workers was rotten." "He wants to move home, with no rules." "I had no idea he was like this."

She followed with what to do?

I breathed deeply, "Pray." Simply pray.

The problem is that for those growing up with well-meaning parents who thought the best thing they could do was make life easy, there will be some hard lessons to learn later about life.  As parents we do the best we can and then we pray and pray and pray.  The proper order would be to pray, and pray and pray first.

Life throws all of us unexpected curves. and those circumstances of our life can cause us to experience pain, fear, extreme sadness, boredom, loneliness, and more fear and pain.

After all these years of living and feeling all of these emotions, I realize these hard times are not bad  but actually good experiences, because if life didn't get hard, we wouldn't need God. We wouldn't come to the end of our own self-reliance in how great we are.  We would never realize just how good God is.

I smile at what David says in Psalm 13:1-6.  Believe me he is having a pity party, really being honest about what he feels but then once again, he remembers the right answer.

"How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation..."

"I have trusted in your steadfast love...."   Never failing, never changing, never ending love...that is what God is for us.  And yet we look to our circumstances for fulfillment, for the hole in our heart that needs to be filled.  When I look to things, to food, to clothes, to friends, to praise from others, to "stuff" to make me feel good, to get rid of the "feelings," the outcome is never good.  It is only God and his "steadfast love" that fills me with peace, with love, with satisfaction, with contentment.

Now for the practical...how do I do that?  In I John we have the answer...

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God."

Calming our fears,
    filling the holes in our hearts,
        overcoming sadness with joy,
              and removing the lonliness with satisfaction
comes from loving others and being thankful for every circumstance in our lives and the emotions that brings because it is at those times, the times of tears, of pain, of fear, of lonliness, of sadness that we are drawn closer to our God, the God of "Steadfast love and faithfulness."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My "Word" for 2013...

 Choosing a word to focus on in 2013 was not so hard.  "His Presence" seemed to lead to this one..

The "word" that I want to focus on in 2013 is something that I have learned a little about this past year.... It really began with that book I have recommended over and over in my posts and in conversations with friends and even strangers. The Spirit opens up opportunities to share things I have learned over and over again as I give thanks for this wonderful grace given to me, to all of us....prayer.

The book is A Praying Life by Paul Miller.

It is funny how when I really began to work at committing chapters and books of Scripture to memory by using  Scripture Typer (click and you can get started), I began seeing threads running through God's revelation to us.  One that has stuck out to me in the Sermon on the Mount,  and in I John is that if we "just ask" he hears us.  There are other truths attached to asking, like loving God and others, asking in His will, abiding in Him, trusting Him.  But the word "ask" is the connecting word, a word that suggests
an intimate relationship,
    a growing relationship,
         a dependent relationship on God.

John 14:13 ESV "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

John 16:24 ESV "Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

Matthew 7:7 ESV "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

I John 5:14 "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we aks anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."

Okay, I think I get it...."Just ask...."

So "ask" is my "word" this year.  My prayer in putting this phrase out there goes something like this:

Father, in your Word you tell us that if we ask for anything in your name, you will give it to us.  Jesus also said that "You have not, because you ask not."  Oh, Father, help me to remember to ask before I go into "fix it" mode.  Before I start planning and manipulating on how things need to get done.  Help me to hear the Spirit speaking truth to me, "Ask, and you will recieve."   Just asking seems like a copout but help me to understand that it is the only way to peace, to living the abundant life, to living in dependance on You, knowing that everything I am, everything I have, is because of you and you alone.
Oh, God, help me in the hours, days and months ahead, as long as you give me life,  to remember to "just ask!"
And then, Father, help me to see, to give thanks for and to lift up Your Name when I see your work all around me.
Amen...and Amen.

What is your "word" for 2013?  It can be the same....wouldn't that be fun?  Let me know and I can "ask" for the strength and courage you will need to follow Him this year in how He is leading you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reflections on "His Presence"

2013...a new year...a fresh start....a new beginning.

Well not exactly....I've been doing this for a while...65 times. Funny how a "New Year" draws us to the possibilities...to the wonder of what could happen this year.

My past is certainly a big part of me....it is a lot of who I am.  The work that God has done for me, the work that he has done in me, the work that he has given me to do by his grace and power, the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is who I am right now.

That is where today begins....praise God, this life is not about me but about my Creator God, my Redeemer, my Savior, my all in all.

Last year I chose a word for the year. Well, mine was actually a phrase, "His Presence" (click and you can read it also).  I saw progress...God enabled me to see him at work each day as his ever abundant grace came in gifts of beauty, quietness, fires, friends, opportunities to encourage or be encouraged, of just knowing that he is here with me every single day.

This picture was actually of the solar eclipse in the Spring.  Can't see the eclipse but I love the light behind the flowers.

Will I ever tire of this beautiful mountain and the glimpse of God's glory when I see it?

I love butterflies.....so many colors, sizes, markings....amazing Creator we have.

Even the desert blooms with His glory....

An amazing view of the peak covered in snow in May.

In flowers God's desire to give us color, form and absolute breathtaking beauty is seen.  Thank you!

And for friends.....such wonderful friends!!!
And so 2012 has come to an end but another year begins with another "word."  The Lord willing I will have a "word" for 2013 in a few days....as I continue to practice "His Presence" with His help.