30 March 2014

as surely as

For as [surely as] the earth 
brings forth its shoots, 
and as a garden causes what is sown in it 
to spring forth, 
so [surely] the Lord God 
will cause rightness and justice and praise 
to spring forth before all the nations 
[through the self-fulfilling power of His word].

Jumping Tandem

rejoicing with the Sunday singers at Deidra's

 

29 March 2014

stretch up

All this hurrying soon will be over. 
Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.
Rainer Maria Rilke

my heart aches
to slow
down
to stretch
up
to touch Him
and allow myself
to be touched


Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
in the stillness with Sandy

 

28 March 2014

matter of trust

With so much uncertainty ahead of us
it is easy for my mind, heart and spirit 
to grow unsettled
as I sat journal open before the Lord
He gently urged me 
to not allow anxiety to rattle me

Have I not told you
worry not about tomorrow?
Does not today
have enough trouble?

What will come
will come
and I will Be there
and I will not Be surprised
I have already made provisions
for all circumstances

As always
it is a matter of trust
will you leave everything
in My hands?

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. 
Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day 


 

27 March 2014

wounded wounding

For today's Faith Jam Bonnie gave us the writing prompt wounded.  I am sharing a clip from my novel in progress. Here Jessie discovers that the wounded create more wounds.

Jessie closed her eyes and found herself walking down crowded city streets.  People looked straight ahead, not to the left or to the right, ignoring those beside them.  Often they would bump into each other or step on someone's feet.  Sometimes when people got hit, bumped or stepped on they tripped and fell, banging into more people before they hit the ground.  Those who created the original problem did not even seem to notice.  The pace on the streets quickened.  Everyone had somewhere to go.  Jessie tried to slow down or stop but was moved along by those surrounding her.

She walked the streets for what felt like days.  There were bruises on her arms from bodies pushing, shoving or falling into her.  Her legs were covered with cuts and scrapes.  People yelled and people cried.  There was a constant falling and rising, to stop would leave one even more vulnerable, an open target, ready to be trampled unnoticed.

Jessie's feet were burning with pains that shoot through with every step. In the crush of bodies it seemed like all space was occupied.  She managed to walk fast enough to find a tiny clearing of space around her so that she could look down and see lower than the waists of other people.  When she looked, she saw the sidewalk running with blood.  Her feet were bleeding, the feet around her were bleeding.  Hurt was everywhere like a river and all of them continued moving, swept into  the pain, downstream, not able to change direction.

Those that were the most damaged fell more often, and as they did, the ones around them received more injuries as well until there was no one on the street that was free from damage.  Broken and breaking the parade continued on.

Jessie shook herself awake, reaching to rub one of her feet before she realized it didn't really hurt.

“How many people did I hurt?” she thought about the dream.  “Every time I stumbled, every time I fell someone else was harmed.  Could I have stopped it?  If I would have just given up and stayed on the ground?  But then I would have been an obstacle for them to trip over and they would have fallen too.”

Jessie spoke aloud “How do we stop?” and then fell asleep again.

There was a man with a dagger like knife in his hand, lifting his arm, about to plunge the blade into the back of a person standing in front of him.  Behind him was another man with a dagger trying to stop him, and behind him another, and another, and another.  A loud voice shouted “STOP” and all who heard it froze.  Yet the one at the back of the line was too far away to hear.  He plunged his knife into the one before him.  As the stabbed one fell, his knife went into the one standing before him, and on and on and on like dominoes they fell.  The one at the back of the line who hadn't heard the call to stop was the only one left standing and listened to the moans of pain echoing back.  “This isn't what I meant to do” he cried, over and over again.  “This isn't what I meant at all.”

Jessie woke again.  She thought the two dreams were connected and was afraid to have another, so she rose quickly and walked around the apartment to fully wake herself.  She thought again about her mother.  She picked up her pen again.

You were hurt and so you hurt me
Did you ever even know
or were you caught up in the flow?
When I thought you didn't care
could you even see me there?
Did you ever try to stop
or did you never hear the shout
that might have saved us all.
Is it better to be the last one standing
or the first to fall?
Everyone that walks in pain
hurt and hurting, again and again
There has to be a way out
a way that we can see or hear
do we really have to share the pain
with all who would come near?

“So you are beginning to see” quietly came The Voice.  “You are letting me show you many things.”

“These things are hard to see” thought Jessie in reply.

“Will you continue to look?  If I ask?”




jamming with Bonnie

 

26 March 2014

open wide

I was trying to join corporate worship in song Sunday morning
but my scratchy throat silenced me
I needed to save my voice to speak

soundless I lifted my heart
in those moments of parchedness
I longed for water, or something cool
and all at once these words came
His gift to me

open wide your mouth
and taste of the goodness of the Lord
open wide your mouth
and speak of the goodness of the Lord
open wide your mouth
and sing of the goodness of the Lord

taste and see
taste and tell
taste and sing

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! 
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) 
is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him. 

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; 
for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!
 

22 March 2014

Enlarging

“Clear lots of ground for your tents!
    Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope,
    drive the tent pegs deep.
You’re going to need lots of elbow room
    for your growing family.
You’re going to take over whole nations;
    you’re going to resettle abandoned cities
Jumping Tandem
singing with Deidra and the Sunday choir

 

21 March 2014

still in the marketplace

"Be still and acknowledge that I am God" 
(Psalm 46:10).  
These are words to take with us 
in our busy lives.  
We may think about stillness 
in contrast to our noisy world.  
But perhaps we can go further 
and keep an inner stillness 
even while we carry on business, 
teach, work in construction, 
make music, or organise meetings.

It is important to keep a still place 
in the "marketplace."  
This still place
 is where God can dwell 
and speak to us.  
It also is the place from where 
we can speak in a healing way 
to all the people we meet in our busy days. 
Without that still space we start spinning.  
We become driven people, running all over the place 
without much direction.  
But with that stillness 
God can be our gentle guide 
in everything we think, say, or do.
Henri Nouwen

This was a street side market
in Kampala, Uganda
November 2007

colours bright, voices loud
all seemed a bit chaotic
and I thought
but Lord, you've transformed me
from urban
to a quiet country girl
would you then place me back
in the crowds?

I am unsure 
of what Malawi
will bring
but find hope, peace
and challenge
in Henri's words
to learn to carry
the stillness
with me
in me, always

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
in the still place with Sandy

 

Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee

I don't read self help books, far too aware that I can not help myself but must allow God to do with me as He wills.

Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee is NOT a self help book, nor is it your typical Christian Life book. Jennifer's words are brave and hard as she stands before us and God in transparent honesty, revealing how deep the need for approval has buried roots. This could be my story. This could be your story. The problem is so universal that every reader will see themselves reflected, not always in a flattering light.

I must admit I am having difficulty working my way through Love Idol - because I am holding the book in one hand and a highlighting pen in the other. There isn't a page that isn't marked with bright colour.

Yes, the words are that good. That good indeed! I know I will return to this volume again and again. Reading it is almost like a prayer of repentance and surrender.

Lives are changing as idols are exposed, thrown aside and smashed to pieces.

To read more about the book and the Love Idol Movement that has been shining God's light, visit Jennifer's website here

To read the work this has stirred in me personally, read my blog posts:

Seeing the ugly idols

One True Voice

Journey

Not at all pretty


 

20 March 2014

anchored

My prayer has long been
Lord help me be willing to be willing
to go when You say go
and I believe that pleases Him
but He reminds me
will you also be willing to stay
when I say stay?

I tune my ears to the Spirit
wanting the voice of my Shepherd
to ring louder
than any other

before sleep the other night
I saw a large metal anchor
I sensed God telling me to set my anchor in Him
if I set it in the ground, I am fixed in place
anchored in Him I can move where He moves

so this morning, pen in hand
I asked Him if He had more to share

Grounded in Me isn't static
but it is stable
the safest place
there is more freedom
more joy, more peace
When I move, you follow
and I remain your base of support
Yes, drop your anchor here
from your heart to Mine

What comfort this brings me
to know that even as I go, I can stay
in Him, and He in me



jamming with Bonnie

 

19 March 2014

reminding myself to breathe

my nights swirl with dreams
I wake often 
listen to the worship music that fills the room
stretch, pray, turn to snuggle close
to the one rests peacefully beside me

breathe
I remind myself
inhale truth
exhale love

my days scatter
with emails, phone calls
calendars and spread sheets
tracking financial support
scheduling speaking, sharing times

breathe
I remind myself
inhale courage
exhale faith

none of this is a big deal
for the One Who 
holds all things in His hand
He has this
He has me
He has us all

God answered Moses, 
“So, do you think I can’t take care of you? 
You’ll see soon enough 
whether what I say happens for you or not.” 

walking with Emily loved in our imperfection

 

18 March 2014

craving colour

snow returns
again and again
not concerned
with welcomes
so many days clothed
in shades of gray
leaves the heart weary
so that even the dull red
of out buildings
brings delight to my eyes
so hungry for colour
as I wait for Spring

 

15 March 2014

raise the roof

Heavens, raise the roof! Earth, wake the dead!
    Mountains, send up cheers!
God has comforted his people.
    He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people.

Jumping Tandem
singing with Deidra in the Sunday chorus of praise

 

14 March 2014

friend of silence

We need to find God, 
and he cannot be found 
in noise and restlessness.  
God is the friend of silence.  
See how nature - 
trees, flowers, grass - 
grows in silence; 
see the stars, the moon and the sun, 
how they move in silence.... 
We need silence to be able to touch souls.  
Mother Teresa
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
in the stillness with Sandy

 

13 March 2014

remembering a time before Him

Today, in the midst of planning and preparations for the mission field, I find myself remembering the time just months before I opened my eyes to see the Lord I never knew.

When you have nothing to believe in, life does not have a center.  All things are possible yet all things are meaningless. This is the void where I lived, in so deep I didn't even notice. My days as a personal trainer were filled with fitness clients, most of whom I saw in their homes. My evenings were scheduled full with exercise classes that I either taught or enjoyed as a participant. Nights were occupied with my true addiction, sexual affirmation.  All were gift wrapped in the smoke of three packs of menthol cigarettes a day.

“Life is good” I would tell my friends, “I'm having the time of my life.” I relished the feel of my body; lean and fit and sensitive to the slightest touch of a man's hand. If something did manage to creep in to upset me or cause me to feel anything unpleasant, I would run to the arms of a stranger, or the bed of a recreational friend. The overload of physical sensation would numb my emotions. It was a routine I had followed for so long it had worn deep grooves in my thought patterns, like a ball in a maze that always ran the same paths. Of course I seemed to feel good, for I was always in the process of taking the edges off my feelings.

I began to read books about living for the moment. “Be here now” was a motto that seem to fit my life. This sort of quasi Zen Buddhist philosophy became very attractive to me, someone who could hardly think past the end of the day. Being aware of each moment as I lived it seemed like something I could do.

I controlled my food intake. I controlled my clients exercise plans. I controlled my heart rate during  aerobic workouts. I controlled how close to me I would allow someone to come. I never consciously thought about how much I wanted to give up that control.

In God's perfect timing, He reached out in a way that captured me, and I relinquished the control I had fought so hard to maintain.  The days, months and years since have been a journey of surrender.

The life that awaits me is built around listening to and obeying His plans, trusting that He knows each curve in the road.  I pray that in my submission He will be glorified. 



jamming with Bonnie


 

12 March 2014

not at all pretty

I can't write this post 
with lyrical light
or pretty prose
what I'm looking at
is big, ugly
frightening in its depth
and power

it is need
roaring, aching
need to be seen, heard
recognized

it opened like a gaping hole
yesterday
and I stepped into it
eyes wide open
falling hard
fast and completely

most people know I have written a novel
I would like to see published
desire it so very much
that I allowed my ears 
and heart to be teased
tickled and tempted
by a dangling carrot
too sweet to be real

I nibbled, briefly
long enough to spin
and dance and sing
proclaiming my good fortune
to all who would hear

only by His grace
I sensed the gentle tug
of the Holy Spirit
through the fog
I was able to slam on the brakes
avoiding the train wreck
of contractual destruction

finances were not in danger
but the security and ownership
of my work may well have been at risk

today, on my knees
naked before Him
and you
I am licking wounds
offering my heart
for cleansing and repair

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 42:11 Amplified




walking in transparent imperfection with Emily
 

10 March 2014

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey

Giveaway winner is named at the end of this review.

I became a fan of Billy Coffey's writing years ago, devouring his regular blog posts before he published his first book.

Then came Snow Day, Paper Angels and When Mockingbirds Sing.  I have savoured each novel, always looking forward to the next.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly is a deeper, darker tale, previewed on the back cover with the following words:
For the three people tortured by their secret complicity in a young man's untimely death, redemption is what they most long for . . . and the last thing they expect to receive.
As I writer, I read not only for content, but for the taste and feel of the words themselves. I was not disappointed, like his other works, from beginning to end, Billy's prose remains stunningly lyrical.
I come to this place of darkness because it is where the light of heaven once touched. I come here for the ones who were saved on a night long ago and for the ones lost.  
I come because heaven is not without the past.
These are characters that dug their way into my heart, both heroes and antiheroes.  My concern for each kept me turning page after page, hungry to discover what would happen next.  I was moved in the darkness to each shining patch of light.

My only complaint is that this novel deprived me of sleep and distracted me from my own work.  Yes, it IS that good.

You owe it to yourself to read The Devil Walks in Mattingly as well as Billy's older books, and make sure to catch up with him on his blog What I Learned Today where he shares day to day truths with home town warmth and skill.

Thomas Nelson Publishers has graciously provided a copy of The Devil Walks in Mattingly for me to give away to one lucky reader.  Selected by random draw is Pastor Joel!  I do believe, however, that anyone who takes the time to read Billy's work will find themselves a winner.

I was blessed to receive a copy of this novel to review.  The opinions I have shared, as always, are my own.

 

08 March 2014

no other rock

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
    and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
    besides me there is no god.
Who is like me? Let him proclaim it,
    let him declare and set it forth before me.
Who has announced from of old the things to come?
    Let them tell us what is yet to be.
Fear not, nor be afraid;
    have I not told you from of old and declared it?
    And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
    There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Jumping Tandem
singing with Deidra in the Sunday chorus of praise

 

the hard parts

This week Diana has us pondering what we do with the hard stuff in the Bible.

there are so many books to read
page after page after page
of words, facts or fiction
all of questionable veracity
all, but one

this, a letter written
from a heart of love
mercy, grace
a verbal portrait of the author
the perfector of our faith
given to be read
again and again and again
but never alone

with our own eyes and reasoning
the words are flat
ink on paper
beyond comprehension
all of it hard stuff
so I read with an interpreter
the Holy Spirit
gifted, poured out 
and into me

there are words of love
easy to swallow, sweet
and satisfying
but words of correction
direction, can taste dry
stuck in my throat
I can struggle to understand
make sense of things
on my own, choking
and remain unnourished

how much better
to request living water
and let go, trusting
He will make all things
the hard, complicated
sticky things
clear in His perfect timing

help me then, Lord
to remember to release it all
that my answer to 
what do I with the hard things?
would be
I lay them at His feet


Diana Trautwein - Living the Questions

living into the answers with Diana

 

in His presence

One way to recollect the mind easily 
in the time of prayer, 
and preserve it more in tranquillity, 
is not to let it wander too far at other times. 
You should keep it strictly in the presence of God; 
and being accustomed to think of Him often, 
you will find it easy 
to keep your mind calm 
in the time of prayer, 
or at least to recall it from its wanderings. 
Brother Lawrence

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
finding the still point with Sandy

 
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