Being Still in the Midst of Messy

Being Still.

The Lord keeps taking me back to that lesson. It’s a daily struggle but I have noticed that when I do stop and be still, I hear that still small voice of God so much more clearly, and more importantly, I hear it. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in life. It can be messy, it can be painful, it can be non-stop and sometimes, just plain unbearable.

I have weathered some storms in my life and if I have learned one thing it’s that I can navigate better when I am leaning in and taking and making time to be still in the presence of Jesus.

I know…it may seem impossible but there IS a way – *Psalms 29 tells us how amazingly strong  and powerful our GOD IS. It may only be a 5 minute walk down the street, or it may be a whole day curled up on the couch with ne’er a soul to be found all day, but God will show you opportunities to check in with him to connect.   He loves us and wants the best for us and wants to spend time with us so He can help us navigate our seasons of life with seasoning. I believe that it is the moments we take to sit with Him, especially in the messy, that helps craft our spirits into the salt that we are to be in the world, because “The Lord gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace.”

– Psalms 29:11

And it all goes back to being still. *Elijah, a major prophet, stood in the presence of God way before that ( the presence of God) was a thing on earth and experienced earthquakes, and fires and all kinds of crazy and you know what? When did God speak up?

In a whisper. A good reason to be still.

So…. I have been struggling to stay focused and have been trying to practice the very lesson that the Lord has put on my heart to share here. And today, in my attempts at “being still” time, I heard that whisper, but it was clear. I was praying about how to mange our finances and at the same time keep my working hours to part-time. The Lord had put on my heart earlier this year, that this is a year of restoration. Last year was transition, this year – restoration. A thought flitted through my head that I was on the right path currently.  It was in that moment that I asked God to tell me again, make sure I heard Him right. And technology. That was his avenue today and it was awesome. Not 30 seconds after the thought flit and the prayer, my Pandora started playing the song that was one of our first encouragements from God when He revealed that wanted us to move across the country to a place where we knew no one. AND my meditation app launched with a background of birds singing at the same time, which is also significant for me as birds were a big part of God preparing me for this adventure ( another great God story for another day). There it was –  the whisper.

My heart bursts with joy that we have a God that actively wants to engage and interact with each of us right where we are, when we are, no matter how crazy or broken we may feel, He wants his relationship with us to be personal.

Be still.

*Psalms 29

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 

2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. 
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. 
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. 
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. 
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. 
7 The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. 
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 
9 The voice of the LORD twists the oaksand strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. 
11 The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
*1 Kings 19:11-12

11 The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

 

 

 

A Heart like Mary

A Heart Like Mary

“Peace be with you.”

“And also with your spirit.”

As I stood in the church and repeated the ritual greeting with those around me, I took in the elegance of the sanctuary; the sprays of flowers so precisely placed so that all could enjoy their beauty, the small well spaced windows above the crucifix that showed just the right amount of sky, clouds lazily drifting by giving the notion that maybe we were getting a glimpse of the heavens themselves.

I blinked back tears as I watched a father and daughter embrace the rest of their their family with anguish and tenderness. My thoughts drifted back to the day when I stood in a similar place, saying goodbye to my mother. I remembered the raw almost unbearable ache in my heart that was mixed with relief and joy that she suffered no longer. I couldn’t really reach the joy very well that day because the ache of separation overwhelmed me, but it was there – knowing that she was with Jesus and she knew no more sorrow, no more tears and that she was perfect and whole.

I knew this was also true for my dear friend Grace Ann but I still had that too familiar ache of separation and sadness.

Grace Ann reminded me of my mother and I suppose that accounts for some of my fondness for her, but Grace Ann was a force of her own nature and I loved her dearly.

I only knew her for two years, but I felt as though I had known her so much longer. I became a part of her life every week once a week, discussing our lives, all things food and what I could do to help her find some relief.  *I had the great honor of being her massage therapist and truly, I think I got the better end of the deal. She was held prisoner in her own body by a debilitating disease known as Multiple Systems Atrophy and it showed no mercy.

And yet…

she would not let it take her spirit.

I stumbled into some scripture this morning and I was especially touched by what I read. Maybe you know the moments I speak of- when you’re not really looking for anything specific in the Word and yet the Lord reveals a scripture to you that hits you a new way and speaks to your heart in a way that only the Holy Spirit can speak to.

I was reading Luke 1 ( The Message version) and about how the angle Gabriel came to speak to Mary and later how Zechariah prophesied the coming of Jesus. What struck my heart was Mary’s reply to Gabriel when he told her that her whole life was about to be turned upside down.

“I am the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.

Let it be with me just as you say.” – Luke 38 (The Message)

“ I am the Lord’s maid, ready to serve..”

That was the heart of Grace Ann. She may not have been able to control much of her body, but her spirit – she had a servant’s heart, and it was very big.

We all are all called to ministry on some level in our lives, regardless of our station or occupation, God blesses each of us with our own unique gifts that can serve His Kingdom. One of the most powerful ministries we have is in our own homes and with our families and Grace Ann was a shining example and inspiration of embracing such an important ministry, regardless of our circumstances.

Each day she was challenged by what most of us take for granted, the simple tasks of eating and drinking and being able to scratch our own noses when they itch. She was at the mercy of a body that didn’t work and yet she still found a way to be His servant. She took each day as a gift and trusted her Savior and never gave up hope that He could heal her if it was His will and yet accepted where she was with grace and dignity and courage. She prayed and believed and continued to pour her spirit out to those who God put in her path, including myself. In the midst of her daily struggles, she had always had a kind word to say and still knew how to laugh – she still found JOY and peace in spite of her circumstances.

I am IN AWE…. Her humility and bravery and grace and willingness to serve Jesus in whatever state she was in – well, she was GRACE Ann and she had a heart like Mary.

What would the world look like if we all said,

“ I am the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.”

It broke my heart to say goodbye to her, but I look forward to seeing her again in eternity.

These wise words of Zachariah have touched me in my sadness and in my own grief of losing my dear friend. May they touch you as well.

“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s sunrise will break in upon us,

Shining on those in darkness,

Those sitting in the shadow of death,

Then showing us the way,

One foot at a time

Down the path of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

Until we meet again dear friend….

 

*As a massage therapist, I take client confidentiality very seriously.  I was blessed with permission by the family to publish this piece.  My prayer is that this little slice of knowing Grace Ann will touch your heart as she has touched so many in her path.

Fireworks and a Fountain of Drool

Trust. When I look through the definitions in the dictionary, what stands out most is,        “confidence placed in a person or placing reliance on.”

Did you know that Trust is mentioned in the bible almost 150 times? I know, I know, it depends on the version of the bible as to the exact amount of times, but the point is, it mentions trust a lot!

Specifically, We are encouraged to trust in God.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not  depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all that you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

It sounds easy enough on paper, but I think for most of us, the struggle is real in letting go and letting God run the show.  If I had to guess, I would even consider that the enemy’s use of distraction in our own insecurities derails us more often than we would care to believe. It can be so easy to get lost in our current circumstance if our focus is not on the promises of God’s peace and that He has a plan to bless us (Jeremiah 29:11)¹.

This is where the drool comes in.

Our dog Poppie is a happy dog. She is smiley and loving and confident and just brightens the room when she makes her entrance.  She is a rescue dog and I am happy to say that she has really settled in well with our family.

However, her confidence quickly faded on the eve of 4th of July as neighbors and others around us set off fireworks that were rather loud and startling. Her demeanor shifted from happy to scared and she began to fret and she became very needy and drooly. Wow, I mean someone please turn off the waterworks, I had no idea I would get such a Poppie shower.

It was only when I held her close and spoke reassuring word into her ear that she would start to relax and then wander off  until the next round of loud bangs would go off and then we would start the dance of drool and reassurances all over again. It’s moments like this when I wish she realized that I would keep her safe and that all of the crazy noise would be over soon- that is was only a short season of 4th of July madness.

I don’t know about you, but I know I have those moments of fret too. It’s when we are in the middle of fret and drool that  if we don’t have our focus, especially our trust, on the Lord  – we might just get stuck in the cycle of unnecessary too.  Unnecessary panic, unnecessary worry, unnecessary negative thought patterns. If we would just let God hold us close, trust Him and remember His words of assurance in our times of doubt and worry, we wouldn’t miss out on the peace that He wants to share with us so abundantly .

He tells us ” Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you upright with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

He also tells us ” Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow brings it’s own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” ( Matthew 6:24 NLT)

I know for most of us,  trusting and not worrying  can be one of the biggest challenges we face as believers, and yet it is such a critical element of our love relationship with God. It is a way we can show our precious Father how we love HIM because let’s remember, HE wants only the best for us. So I challenge us, let’s take that trust leap forward everyday and see how much more it blesses us- because when we experience His blessings, we can be a blessing to others.

 

 

¹”For I know the plans I have for you,  says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Greater Things

It’s month four in my new to me city, and while I am still finding my way – my direction continues to be reaffirmed in my moments of communion with God. I still haven’t made any deep connections yet but I have made connections and I believe that there are no chance encounters in life. I believe strongly that God gives us free will, and I also believe that He, whose ways are not our ways, can use any circumstance or any choice we make to serve His higher purpose.

I look at this season as a time to connect deeper with my Father, where the distractions are less in the day to day, and sometimes more than I can bear when seeing what is going on in the world around me. And yet, in my season of a slower pace, I also have found that in my opportunity to connect more deeply with my Father, it is truly a gift in that He can grow my roots more deeply in the promise that the JOY of the Lord is my strength.

I have begun attending a bible study (Experiencing God, Blackaby and King) at my church recently,  and so far, it’s been such a great re-affirmation of the importance of time spent with Him who loves us unconditionally. One of the actions of the lesson this week is to take a walk with God, to spend time purposefully seeking Him and listening for His voice. It’s purpose is to encourage us in the importance of taking time every day to HEAR what God wants us to know.  In this day and age, I see so many lost and lonely people yearning for a deep and committed connection, an acceptance for who they are  and to feel cherished and loved.  I feel the sadness of God’s heart in that so many of these lost and lonely people chose to seek  to fill their  need for connection in the worldly instead of the Godly. I feel the pain of God’s heart in that, if only they would seek Him, they would find Him and find Him abundantly. This doesn’t mean that because I seek Him that my life will be perfect. As a matter of fact, the bible tells us we will have troubles – it is an imperfect world, but He WILL be with us in our troubles and He WILL NEVER LEAVE OUR SIDE AND HE WILL BLESS US!

I feel so blessed that this lesson  of daily connection with God is not new to me, that I have experienced more times than I can count, the amazing and wonderful ways that He speaks to me. As I further this blog,  I will share some of those moments in hopes that He can use my moments to speak to you!

As I took my walk with God today, my heart was troubled by the great loss of life yesterday in the Las Vegas massacre and I had a hard time focusing. My mind wandered to a recent conversation with neighbors about a break in down the street, and then to the people of Puerto Rico and the chaos that is our country and our world today. I think most of us struggle with the crazy that is our world today, and biblically speaking, it’s only going to get worse – not a comforting thought. I had my praise music blaring and here I was troubled. I was supposed to be drawing near and it was a struggle and then..

God spoke.

It was a stirring in my heart that I have come  to recognize  as His voice and I looked up to see the wind blowing in the trees, the Spanish moss gently waving too and fro. and I stopped and I watched it for a moment and the next song came on on my Pandora playlist, not a programmed list, but random and I knew it was for me, He loves to speak to me though music- and I love that too – that He wants such an intimate moment with his daughter that He loves. I attached it below with lyrics. It was just what I needed this morning, a reassurance that He has me here for a purpose and that He will guide my steps.   Once again I was blessed by time spent with Him.

Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

 

The Lamentations Trailhead

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,  because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning:   Great is Thy faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

This.

This is the verse that I look at every time I walk into my bathroom. This is the verse that brought me to the house that I now live in. A house that represents so much change, so much new, so much….unknown and yet so much peace and hope and wonder.

This.

This verse that stares at me several times a day, that sometimes goes unnoticed in the  going in and  coming out as thoughts and tasks overtake me as I go about my day.

This.

Promise that God has placed in my physical sights to remind me, to ingrain in my heart His passionate love for me.

This.

A well placed bit of wisdom from the Master artist whom orchestrates so intricately the ebbs and flows of His communication with His children.  Wisdom that takes us closer to the anointed life that He desires for us.

This.

This is where it all starts.

Our God is a God who wants to be involved and personal and He tells us, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” James 4:8

Lets walk together shall we and see where the road leads… and don’t forget to watch for signs, because they are everywhere. All you have to do is look.

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