29 September 2011

Finding my voice in His

Finding my voice by HisFireFly

Sometimes a shout. more often a whisper
confident or hesitant
faltering or strong and clear
my voice
in s
       t
         e
           p        
             s,
in s p a c e s
in bold print and flourishing italics
in very tiny fonts almost too small to read
yet wonders why it can't be heard

I am learning to listen
to speak what I hear
and breathe in the silence
to do only as He did and does still...

I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness.  John 5:30 The Message

May I be a mere shadow of my Lord
and find my voice, an echo of His.

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Jamming with Bonnie about finding our voice


Joining in the choir at Emily's of those imperfect yet beloved

28 September 2011

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

I have been a regular reader of Emily Freeman’s blog Chatting at the Sky and was an active participant in her online community gathering Tuesdays Unwrapped where we took the time to explore the gifts God was placing in our lives. Emily’s new book Grace for the Good Girl letting go of the try-hard life is surely one of those gifts.

The back cover intrigues with:
You're strong. You're responsible. You're good. But . . .
. . . as day fades to dusk, you begin to feel the familiar fog of anxiety, the weight and pressure of holding it together and of longing left unmet. Good girls sometimes feel that the Christian life means doing hard work with a sweet disposition. We tend to focus only on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods.
But what would happen if we let grace pour out boundless acceptance into our worn-out hearts and undo us? If we dared to talk about the ways we hide, our longing to be known, and the fear in the knowing?
I wasn’t sure I thought of myself as a “good girl” for I am one of those that Emily writes about who spent a lifetime of turning-away before I allowed the Lord to own my heart. Yet as I moved through page after page I did indeed find myself within her words.
If the masks we wear are the false identities we show the world, then our performance is the rubber band that holds them in place. I perform so you will like me. I perform so you will think I’m okay. I perform because it’s comfortable. I perform to prove my worth to you, to God, and to myself. I perform because I don’t know how not to. Page 24
There is hope, there is One Who desires to rescue us from our “good life” and allow us to live a life dependent on Him.
The Jesus dependent life is not a balance between a little bit of law and a little bit of grace. Be sure not to tip too far to one side! That’s the problem: we can’t figure how to keep the scale balanced all the time. The true gospel says we don’t have to. Page 74

Jesus came to save me from myself. He came to save me from self-effort. He didn’t just die for my sin to give me forgiveness; he rose again to give me life. And so he beckons me, “Come.” Page 124
There is freedom in the pages of this book. You will find yourself and find the One Who longs to lavish His grace upon you, and if you want to share the good news with others, there is a small group study included.

Don’t miss the chance to learn more about His great love. Don’t miss this book!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

27 September 2011

Loving the wounded and the wounders


Week piles onto week in the Never Beyond series.
With each new poster, God exposes a bit more of the darkness in my heart.
I continue to pray as David prayed:

Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24 Amplified

I am not proud with what has been exposed in me; doubt, anger, fear.

This week, we look at people who lived lives in God's service.  It would take too long to list those that they wounded; young children, parents, the innocent;  believers who placed their trust in those they thought God had chosen to lead them, then found they could not trust in God Himself.

A defensive spirit rises up in me spewing ugly words, "how dare they misrepresent our loving Father?" as if the Lord needed me to defend Him.

As I wait, in stillness, convicted by my own judgements, I hear His voice.

I love the wounded.  I also love those that inflict the wounds.
There is no wound so deep that I cannot heal.
There is no inflicter of wounds too far from the reach of My grace.
Go and live likewise.

Joining with others at People of the Second Chance, learning to walk in outrageous grace.

26 September 2011

No simple vow

More than a promise
no simple vow
we have sat
together
broken bread
held each other's hands
and hearts

We can not love
like this
without His blood
poured over us
rushing through our veins
love
flowing pure red
fresh and free
more than a promise

No simple vow
this covenant
He calls us to
to live His love
bright, shining

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.  1 John 4:19 The Message

Covenant by HisFireFly


Adding  my voice to Jason's warrior chorus as we look at covenant





also sharing with Nancy's Voices and friends....

24 September 2011

Time flies and other flies...

These are the days when the sun begins to rise late and set early, unfolding colours that God seems to have created new for the occassion.  Summer days were long and lazy and felt like they would last forever.

Yet time flies.

In fact the days and weeks bleed into each other.  The blur leaves me a bit edgy, as if I've missed much, almost as if some sort of madness has crept in.

picture from Dr. Bug site http://www.drbug.ca/insects/cluster_flies.php
What has crept in for sure is a constant stream of cluster flies.  I never knew about them before, never wanted to know and truly wish I never needed to know. As annoying as these little demons are, I'm relieved to learn there are not a sign of an unclean home.  That helps chase away the sense of shame that was beginning to descend.

After vigorous swatting escapades that left me with streaked, slimed windows, we have taken to sucking them off the windows with a vacuum hose.  This is cleaner indeed!

I have been enjoying the warm and sunny days as Summer tries to linger, but perhaps I am ready for the colder temperatures to settle in, bringing an end, at least until Spring, to mosquitos, grasshoppers and these pesky flies.

23 September 2011

Five Minute Friday - Growing

Lisa-Jo calls us to writing freedom on Fridays.  She says:
We write for five minutes flat on Fridays.

We write bold and beautiful and free. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just write or not.
This week's word is growing

So.. with a quick glance at the clock - I begin:

The crispness of Fall fills the air.

I take the best of what our garden has produced to preserve for later use, as what is known as the season for growing comes to an end.

But I have heard a still small voice, the One I recognize, like a sheep knows the Shepherd.

And he tells me to stay awake.

As the earth grow stills and snow falls hard, plants begin a time of dormancy, of storing up energy for a future growth spurt.

I think of winter; slowing down, curling up, seeking warmth and comfort, wrapping up in thick blankets of the love of my man, and my friends and my God.

Do not sleep, He whispers.

This too will be a growing season for you, much will take place unseen. Hearts will be healed, faith will be renewed.

So inhale, breathe in courage, come along with Me.


There is much to be done.

 
 
Come on over to Lisa-Jo's The Gypsy Mama to read more words written freely or share some of your own.

22 September 2011

Summer Farewell

Why do I mourn the fading of summer
the bright, the bold, the hard to miss
"in your face" colours?
I need not seek for beauty
it shouts out and finds me
creates a perfect laziness.

Autumn is softer
even its chill
edges lose their focus
more effort is required
I don't see until I look
but glory waits to be found.

So too, in riotous summers of my spirit
over-filled with His goodness
I tend to grow dull, taking Him for granted.
My words of repentence
crackle as the fallen leaves
calling out my mistake
as I more gladly now
bid farewell to Summer's ease
and step into the Autumn toil.

Yes, I will seek You.
With all my heart
with all my soul
with all my strength
and You will Be my all
as Winter comes.

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near Isaiah 55:6 NIV

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.  Deuteronomy 6:5 Amplified



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Jamming with Bonnie about Autumn's Song


Joining Emily and the broken redeemed


21 September 2011

Word Filled Wednesday - Harvest Time

Combining field of canola

Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going
is that I do the will of the One who sent me,
finishing the work he started.
As you look around right now,
wouldn't you say that in about four months
it will be time to harvest?
Well, I'm telling you to open your eyes
and take a good look at what's right in front of you.
These Samaritan fields are ripe. It's harvest time!



Click over to Internet Cafe Devotions to enjoy more combos of pictures and His Word

20 September 2011

Quilted words

My hands and thoughts have no patience for crafts
no knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking done here
no sewing, embroidery, needlepoint, ceramics
I do not quilt
though I am fascinated by the piecing of scraps
building colour upon colour
Is it the same as when I take simple ingredients to cook
creating something greater than the individual parts

And yet...
perhaps I do quilt, in my way
stiching together words
building colour upon colour
creating stories greater than each individual word
something to climb inside
find comfort, warmth, joy.

We should use the tools He provides
each a gift not received lightly

How do you quilt?



Stop by Peter Pollock's to read more words on quilts

Who built the pedestal?

There is something in our nature that tends to elevate others above ourselves.  We build platforms, pedestals and altars for those we deem worthy of more than average praise.

Celebrities of all sorts, from musicians to actors to writers to ministry leaders are lifted up to where the air is thin as we circle around them in a sort of frenzied adoration.  The higher we raise them, the more room there is for them to fall.

As they lie bleeding and scrambling on the ground, do we offer a hand up?  Or do we snort and sneer and mutter "Just who did you think you were anyway?"

It is not for me to judge the intentions of Mel Gibson's heart, that job is God's alone.  Perhaps we would be well served to ask God for His opinion.  After all, we serve a God who called King David a man after His own heart, this, after David swan dived big-time.

I pray that hearts are open when viewing the new works of Mr. Gibson, that we do not count his errors against him because he couldn't sustain life is his high spot of elevation.  Before we judge his fall, let's ask ourselves, "who built the pedestal?"

Stop by here to read what others have shared and perhaps raise your own voice for Second Chances

18 September 2011

Everything that has breath

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voice and with us sing,
O praise ye! Alleluia!
(see all lyrics and listen to melody here)

Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Hallelujah!

17 September 2011

September Saturday

Oats, barley, and some food products made from...Image via Wikipedia


After two mornings of frost on the ground and car windows the temperature reportedly has moderated a bit, but to me, the last two days have felt even cooler, the chill crawling deep into my bones.

My thoughts are as scattered as the leaves tossed on the ground.  I decide it is best to give up control and allow them to wander.  Perhaps God has a reason for this drifting.

While the swirling continues I choose the task of bread baking.  There is the magic of creating something more than its various parts. There is a grounding in the yeasty aroma, the mixing. the warm sticky yielding under my palms.  The dough will not be rushed.  There is the making of a sponge that rises for two hours.  Then the mixing in of whatever additional nuts, seeds and grains might be close at hand, and flour, more flour kneaded in.  Another rise, at least an hour, while I read email, write this blog post, tend to other household tasks, before I can shape loaves that will require a rising of their own.  Then the baking, the cooling, the waiting for the first taste. 

I am thankful that my Lord does not require of me the same patient restraint before I dig into the daily bread that He Is.  Instead He delights to see me come in a rush, starving for a taste of Him, all thought of hiding my hunger cast aside.

Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy].  Isaiah 55:1-2 Amplified

Here is the recipe I am using today, one Rick found many years before we met.  It is now a favourite of ours.

Ocean's Bombs of Love Bread

1 c. lukewarm water
1 pk. yeast
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 cups water
1/4 c. oil
2 t. salt
Nuts, seeds, cereals, spices, dried fruits, etc. of choice
7 cups whole wheat flour

Make a sponge: Combine lukewarm water, yeast and 1 Tbsp syrup. Let stand about 10 minutes until creamy. Add remaining maple syrup, water, oil and salt. Mix well. Stir in 4 c flour 1 c at a time then stir vigorously in one direction until thick and smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl, cover with damp towel and rise until doubled and tiny holes appear on surface (approx 2 hours)

Make the dough: Add the optional nuts, spices, cereals, fruits, etc. to sponge. Add remaining 3 c flour mixing with a spoon, then with your hands, then turn out on a floured surface knead until smooth and elastic adding flour as needed.  Shape into ball and place in an oiled bowl, turn once to coat. Cover with damp cloth. Let rise until doubled (approx 1 hour) Punch down 10-15 times. Turn out onto floured surface. Divide in half. Knead each half for 5 minutes then shape into loaves. Push dough gently into corners of pans. Preheat oven to 350F. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until dough is just above sides of pans (about 30 min)

Bake 40 - 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

Enjoy with a heart of gratitude!

 

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16 September 2011

Seasons will change

The other morning as I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders to chase away the chill of the early morning air, I asked the Lord what He wished to share.  I believe His words are for me, but not for me alone.  If the following sparks something in your spirit, take it as your own.

It is not quite time for the seasons to change, this is simply a reminder that they will, a sign of the time that is coming.

I always give you warnings before changes are upon you, but not all have eys to see or ears to hear, and yes, even those who do see often choose not to look.  Have I not said in My Word that I do nothing without first telling my prophets?

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7 NKJV

So while the seasons are not yet turning, they will turn.

But, little one, what will be a time of dormancy for the land shall not be a time of dormancy for My people but instead a season of accelerated growth. 

Even covered, like the ground, in thick blankets of snow, and hidden - hearts will be expanded, faith will be renewed and fresh wisdom and revelation will be released.

It will not be a time to sleep, no, for I say there will be much to feast on in the coming days.

The door into My Father's heart shall be open unto you.  Those who sleep will indeed miss this very special time.

The days may grow short, but you will see by My light.

Words and The Word

I love books, as a writer, I love words. Writers open their hearts and pour out whatever they find there. Words can be funny, critically important, frightening and encouraging, stirring the heart and spirit in powerful ways.

But…

I'm talking about the power of God's Word today at The Everyday Testimony Project.  Click here to read the rest of my post.


15 September 2011

Layers of light

Sunset on Lake Bemidji - September 2011

The days indeed grow short more quickly now.
The colours of the day grow more intense. 
Brighter blues, deeper greens, the golden glow of the sun as it departs
all catch my eye and for a moment stop my breath.

Life spins, but in His hands.
I read love words written to and about @gitzengirl a woman I never got the chance to know
a woman who burned with love for her Lord
and the desire for all to know Him
the pain of thier loss mixed with the pain in her body
and the Lord teaches us how to mourn
and the Lord teaches us how to rejoice
She will soon look into His eyes

His glory falls in golden light


shared with Emily and the rest of the imperfect

There are friends then there are friends...

A couple of years ago when Internet Cafe Devotions was hosting a weekly series called Cafe Chat I attempted to answer the following question:
Name 3 qualities or characteristics of a good/close friend. Explain why the qualities or characteristics you listed are important to you in your friendships.
I wasn't expecting this question to move my heart to dig so deeply.

Integrity -- "Integrity may be seen as the quality of having a sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one's actions. The term "hypocrisy" is used in contrast to integrity" from Wikipedia

Transparency -- "Transparency, as used in the humanities and Pilatian theories, when used in a social context, implies openness, communication, and accountability. It is a metaphorical extension of the meaning a "transparent" object is one that can be seen through." from Wikipedia

Love -- Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

It does not seem possible for me to have a genuine friendship if the people involved are not genuine as well. When I invest myself in a relationship I am looking for something more than icing on a cake, I'm looking for bread, for meat, for accountability. I have known many women who I can enjoy spending time with, having fun and sharing a moment, but if it never goes any deeper than that, they may join my list of girlfriends but they do not become what I consider a good friend or someone I enter into a covenant relationship with.

A covenant friend is consistent and true to who God created them to be, bearing the mark of integrity. A covenant friend will allow me to see who they are, on good days and bad. That kind of transparency builds trust and history. It allows me to heed the words of the Apostle Paul:

Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others' joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others' grief]. Romans 12:15 Amplified

A covenant friend will speak to me about the hard things in life and because I know they are speaking in love I am able to receive their words. For the same reason, they allow me to speak into their life also.

What qualities do you seek in a good friend?


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Jamming with Bonnie on the topic of friendship

14 September 2011

Eden Derailed by Matt Williams

One of the blessings of maintaining this blog is the opportunity to read and review books.  For a long while my heart and spirit have been troubled by the state of marriage these days, so when I was asked if cared to review Eden Derailed a theology of sex, the first book by Matt Williams, I gladly agreed.  The back cover states:
We live in a culture littered with the carnage of sexual train wrecks.

To understand the cause of this personal and cultural derailing - and to restore our vision of what could be, what should be - we have to go back to the beginning and see how the train ride began...
Matt takes us back to the garden where our life as men and women came flying off track, where God's perfect design for intimacy between His creation and Himself and between man and woman was shattered.  He also takes us into the present day reality of life and love and the search for the kind of partnering we think we want compared to what God intends for us.

Matt shares his belief that commitment must precede intimacy.  Yes, you read that correctly but we live it incorrectly.  We tend to get over involved emotionally (even if we are able to leave sex out of the picture) waiting to see if a relationship feels right before we commit.  The wounds and pain we bear and inflict pile up in heaps of rubbish.

I am not proud that I myself have a past "littered with the carnage of sexual train wrecks" as Matt would say.  I bought the lie that the world and the enemy were selling, but I have been cleansed and redeemed by the One Who always loved me, long before I chose to acknowledge Him.  Allowing the Lord to lead me resulted in a Godly marriage that I rejoice in and thank Him for daily.

With wisdom and fresh revelation Williams walks readers through shaky ground.  With study questions to go along with each chapter I believe this book can and will help others avoid the mistakes I made and the mistakes made by so many others.

This book is both important and well written.  Grab a copy for yourself and for anyone else you know who may be lost in the maze created back in the garden.

You can read the first chapter on the Eden Derailed website Here.

Matt Williams is the Founding Pastor and Directional Leader of Grace Church, in Greenville, SC.  Eden Derailed is his first book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions shared are my own.

Stuck by Jennie Allen

When Graf-Martin Communications approached me with the opportunity to review the new DVD-based Bible study Stuck the places we get stuck & the God who sets us free by Jennie Allen, I couldn't say "yes" fast enough. I was intrigued by what the publisher shared:
We are often so stuck in invisible struggles in our hearts and minds, we barely have space for God. These deep struggles, these stuck places, are familiar to every one of us: brokenness, anger, discontentment, fear, and sadness. Stuck takes on these struggles within us so that we can encounter God. Because until we recognize that we are stuck and in need of God, we will miss what He has for us.

Jennie Allen's Bible studies are designed to draw women close to God and to each other. These shorter studies dig deep quickly, creating experiential conversations and allowing women to wrestle with Scripture in a deep and authentic way throughout the week.
I received a sampler version of the book and a dvd containing small samples from each of the eight sessions.

As I clicked the play button I was quickly set at ease by the soft music and the tone of Jennie's voice as she humbly presented herself as a woman just like the rest of us, broken, unsure and tired of hiding her "stuff" from those around her.  In the introduction Jennie writes:
So my prayer is this study will be a safe place to explore God and your own heart.  The state of our hearts and what we believe about God are the two most important things about us.
This study is intended to be shared in small groups that create a safe place for women to openly share the things they may have been hiding for years and allow God to begin to bring healing and wholeness to those places inside that are broken.

The workbook provides opportunities to dig deeper into scripture, pray, spend time pondering with the Lord, even draw pictures.

I feel as if I have been given an appetizer and it has indeed made me hungry for the rest of the meal.  I need this study and suspect that most of the women I know need it as well.  My mind is busy churning the idea of hosting a small group at my home, seeing a vision of freedom as we break through and become un-stuck!

I received a complimentary sample study from Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.


13 September 2011

Can I draw the line here?

I am scared of this poster.
There is a terror that rises deep within.
I am not afraid of being harmed by the KKK, I am white, favoured, safe.
What haunts me is a fear that I could very easily draw a line here.
I could shake my head and my fists and shout
"Enough of this grace stuff.  How can anyone forgive such hate?"

And once that line is drawn, who else would I place on the other side?
How high up on the ladder of judgement would I climb?
How many would I add to the list of those beyond forgiveness?

Yes, the KKK was/is a movement of hatred.
If I counter hate with hate then I join their ranks.

Lord, my flesh squirms, recoils and wants to deny the very thing You died for.
Help me extend forgiveness.
Help me walk immersed in radical grace.
Help me counter hate with love.

I am not beyond a second chance.
You, who are reading these words, are not beyond a second chance.
May we walk in this world believing the same of everyone.

At People of the Second Chance we are raising  our voices for second chances, to overthrow judgement and liberate love. Will you join us? 


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