Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Clearing My Head

What do you do to clear your head?

Lord, help me to clear my mind today so that I may be able to relate with you in a meaningful way. You see, when I awoke... I know I wanted to be near to you, but immediately my thoughts invaded and the silence that was there... that came with the morning rise... the one I know you provided...it was gone.
And as I tried to focus, the demands of the day began to take their toll on me. And I hoped for some time alone... with myself.. with you. I waited for the opportunity, but it seemed too far to hold. I wanted to be near you, but instead I felt alone.

Lord, give me the self-control that will help me to succeed. I don't want to carry the burden of the downfalls I might cause. I want to be just like you, but is it too far beyond my reach? I want your lead to follow, but sometimes I'm just confused.
Lord, should I be concerned that I'm falling far behind? I know sometimes I stagger, and it seems I'm out of time.
Anxiety creeps in on me. I'm overwhelmed with thoughts. Thoughts that I can't handle, at least not on my own.
Yet, somewhere in the midst of it, I can sense you are calling me. Towards you... to you... offering peace that's not my own.
I hear you say advisingly, or is it more of a warning?
"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." 1Peter 4:7
I hear you Lord,
Clear my mind of worry... clear my mind of "me".
Help my self-control... better yet, help me to be... under your control.
Lord, this I pray.
Lord, I'm off to face the day now, knowing clearly where I stand. I'm under your control now. I leave all of it in your hands.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feeling a bit Forgetful Today

I've been feeling more and more forgetful lately. I've always heard that as you get older, you tend to become forgetful. Well, I never really believed it could happen to me. Now, I'm not trying to age myself, but I feel like the only things that I remember vividly are those events in my childhood and upbringing. Like I can remember the color of the jacket I had on the day my third grade class was going on a roller skating field trip. I was standing in line with my classmates, when a girl came up to me and starting picking on me. I had on a bright yellow jacket. I was third grade, she was sixth. I can tell you all about that day, but I can hardly remember the details of today.

You know what else I remember in vivid detail? I clearly remember the times when people have wronged me and caused me pain.
The suffering I've had to endure. The hardships in my life. Like there was a time in my life when I was a "single mom". It wasn't for long, but I remember that time in my life very well. I had my firstborn, as a toddler. I lived with my parents, and I was receiving government aid, or as we call it, "welfare". I specifically remember standing in line to get the monthly stipend one very cold winter day. In fact, it was New Year's Eve day. The line rolled around the entire street block to the back of the building. And I remember standing, and waiting for what seemed like an eternity...looking around at the very dull surroundings. Everything seemed so grey, dark, and dull and cold. Except for my little boy's beautiful eyes, there was nothing to inspire. And I waited on that winter day. Along with all of the other "hurting" people who were waiting... maybe waiting for a glimmer of hope, or just something better.

Days like that seem to be so easy to remember. Just like I can easily recall the times that I've messed up badly. My "trial and errors". My temptations. My downfalls. And the inner struggles begin, as I hear "Lucy, you messed up really bad! If only you had...." I try closing my eyes, as if to push it away and "I wish I could just erase it..." Erase it from my memory. Erase it... so that it never did happen. But it has. And I'm remorseful...and then all of a sudden, just like in my little boy's beautiful eyes on that dull dark winter day, I see a glimmer of hope. It's like a little glimmer of light... as I turn my eyes and thoughts to my heavenly Father's word. And as I search within it, the glimmer becomes radiant; so clear and yet too vast for me to comprehend.

And in amazement I read, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

Truly there is hope in Him who sees us through our good and bad! Not only do we find forgiveness, as He erases our wrongs; but through His grace, he gives more. He gives us a future. (Thank God for future) If all we had was our past, how dim and void our life would be. And actually, if we are living our lives looking back "remembering" our past mistakes and hurts, we will surely lose sight of the grand future that God has already prepared for us.

I have an older brother, who has had a rough past. Yet, if you met him today, you would never know. You see my brother lives his life with his sight set on what God has prepared for him. It's funny because my family and I will try reminding him of some of the crazy things he put us through, and he doesn't recall. He literally can't remember....
I say, "Count that as a blessing!"
To not remember.... to forget.... isn't that what God does? He intentionally forgets our sins. It's not that He's not aware. He simply chooses to erase them so that we can then focus on what He's got in store for us.

With of all that said, I will admit to feeling a bit forgetful today.
You should try it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Proverbs 3: 3-4, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man."

I ordered and purchased a bracelet this year. It has the words love and faithfulness on it. It was an attempt of having a more constant reminder of that which I want to strive for and who it is I want to please.
You see, like so many people, I struggle with wanting to be "approved" of. I mean, doesn't everybody crave for approval?
Maybe not.
But I believe it is a very natural and human thing to desire approval.

Approval... to find favor in... to be pleased with ....

I remember when my peers' approval was the most important thing in my life. I wanted to be "cool". I wanted to be liked. And I did things to gain approval. Nobody even asked me to. No one needed to. I just did. And I loved the response I got in return.
"I was somebody."
This mostly happened in high school. I went into high school with many goals.
Goals that went forgotten, as I quickly got sidetracked by the attention I got from boys.... and from peers in general.
" I belonged."
The approval of others, however, can sometimes trip us up. Sometimes the approval of others bears strong demands. And sometimes we lose our ground. And we find ourselves all alone.
You see, while seeking the approval of others, I learned that it can be a very conditional thing.
I am accepted as long as...
As long as I am doing that which is approved of.
When I fail to do what is expected, however....or when I don't meet the standard... and I fall short, I face the dark side or the flip side of approval... rejection.
And oh, how rejection hurts!

I remember as a little girl wanting so badly, to have my father's approval. I wanted him to be pleased with me. But I seldom experienced that. In my memories, I almost always, see a frown on his face, as he looks at me.

I guess that's why the desire to fulfill that "need for approval" felt so vital for so long.

What's interesting is that after the many "trial and errors" in my life, in my quest for approval, I have found myself time and time again flat on my back looking up... to the one whose favor is most important. And He made no demands.
While seeking someone else's approval, the "let downs" always lead me to Him , who does delight in me. The one who has approved of me. Not because I've done anything high and mighty, but because of His Son's favor.

And so after all of these years, if you ask me who am I trying to please? I will say, "may love and faithfulness never leave me; as I bind them and write them on my heart, so that I may find favor and a good name in the sight of my God and savior".

Monday, September 13, 2010

When was the last time you told God you love Him?
Have you ever done so at all?
I must be honest. I seldom do tell Him. In fact, most of my conversations with God are filled with requests instead.
I do tell Him, however, how grateful I am for what He's granted. But I seldom remember telling Him how much I love Him.

And so today......

Dear God
I love you.

In the most unique of ways.
It's not that I want something from you.
It's not that I'm not satisfied.

I don't want to lavish you with words.
But have I said enough?

I am blemished and forsaken,
and I could never be enough.

So with these words, I say it all.
Waiting to hear your sweet and soft response.

I sit in wonder.
I wait in silence.
And then...just then, I hear you call.

It's in my spirit. Too deep to comprehend and too complex to explain.
And yet, I feel it. I know it. You, my king, love me within.

You love the little girl that professed your name with childlike faith.
You love the teen who lost her way.
You love the woman who still calls you friend.
You love me still.
You love me again.

So dear God,
I love you
and I felt the need to say it today...

Psalm 18:1, "I love you, O Lord, my strength."(David's words to God)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Word for the Wise

As our kids get ready for school this fall, and we anticipate the busyness that comes with it, we feel excited and yet a bit anxious. Change is in the making. Seasons change, routines change, our kids change. And all we can hope for is that the changes that come will be good ones.

It is exciting to see my daughter starting Kindergarten. And my middle child entering Middle School. My oldest has but two more years of High School! Time keeps ticking away, and I only hope that my grip was strong enough to leave a long lasting mark, while I let go a bit more each day. Letting go...

I remember when I couldn't bare to see a bump on my firstborn's knees or arms. I remember how I went out of my way to protect him from the most minor scratch. Actually, I can remember back to the first time I brought him to church with me after he was born. I went into my Sunday School class with him in his baby carrier. He was sleeping. But I remember not wanting to take him to the nursery, even though it was highly recommended. I finally did make my way into the dreaded nursery room.... welcoming ladies, baby still sleeping, tears running down mommy's cheeks, as I walked away. I didn't want to let go. I couldn't trust anyone else with him. It sounds silly now, of course after all of these years. Especially after the many trips to the doctor's office. The allergy issues. The eczema. The immunizations. The stitches. Oh and with Kristian, the trip to the ER for stitches have been more than I want to remember. So much so that I'm looking to write a new version of the "Butterfly Kisses" song. My title will be "Butterfly Stitches", and it will be dedicated to Kristian.
Okay, I realize I'm getting off track. But you know how it is with our kids. We can go on and on sharing the stories... the stories that keep us alive.

It's hard to let go at times. I am learning, though, that whether I realize it or not, I can't always be there. And I can't always be the one to care for them. And I won't always be the one to influence them. In fact, the world and its big "neon signs" do a really nice job at influencing our kids. Wouldn't you agree? I mean everywhere they look, they see the signs. And what exactly do the signs read?.... POPULARITY----SEXUALITY----PROFANITY---SOCIAL---DARING----APPEARANCE----MONEY----BIGGER----BETTER----THINNER----BETTER
And so on and so on. The signs appear from every angle. And it seems these things cut in on what you've been trying to teach them. Sometimes so overtly, that they actually keep them from the things you believe God has for them.
Peers have such great influence on them, as well. It's a natural thing. And acceptance becomes so important. Inner struggles take place and internal questions begin to arise.
And the influences voice their opinions. And our kids are left with tough decisions to make. Which way do I go? What friends do I choose? What do I believe? What do I stand for? Do I even have someting to stand for? Or do I simply go along with the crowd? Were mom and dad's lessons true? Was the Sunday School teacher telling the truth?

Still the word of God says in Galatians 5:7, "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?"

And I want to just tell my kids, "this (your walk with God) is too awesome a thing for you to let anyone or anything trip you up"! I want to protect them. But I have to let go.

I was encouraging my younger son today, after his soccer practice. He was so proud to tell me that he scored 3 goals. And as I patted his back, I said, "That's right, son. Don't hold back. You give it all you got." In other words, "Don't let anyone cut in on you. Stay focused, son."
With tears in my eyes, as I write this now, I think, "if only I could engrain that into his head with everything in life." But I know I can't.

And it's easy to use this verse as a reference of guidance for my kids. I can easily counsel them about not letting anyone or anything get in the way of their walk with God. But the truth of the matter is that I too have been lead astray many times by the influences. In fact, there are times when even our closest friends, brothers and sisters in Christ even, can become a negative influence in our lives. Yes, I said it. Even brothers and sisters in Christ. Indeed, if we are not careful we will allow our walk or race to be interrupted--sidetracked--and/or even destroyed. To the point, that we may find ourselves far away from where we once were with God.

And still God challenges us by saying, "who cut in and kept you from obeying the truth?" ..."who kept you from me?"

As I let go of my kids this fall, and watch them emerge (change), I pray that I may be focused enough in my own race, that I will not allow for any outside influence to hinder my steps. You know why? Because ultimately, I believe my steps will leave imprints for they who follow in my footsteps.

2Cor. 7:1b, "let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

Hebrews 12:1b, "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Hebrews 12:13a, "make level paths for your feet..."