31 March 2011

Where my spirit rests

Bonnie concludes our exploration of rest by asking how we experience spiritual rest and talking about finding whitespace in our lives. 

My whitespace is rarely white, but splashed with vibrant colour.  It is a place I visit most every morning, to seek His face, His heart, His counsel.

Music, smooth, no lyrics to distract.
I breathe, settle and fix my mind on finding Him, my friend, the lover of my soul, my Lord, my Jesus.
I allow my mind to wander and create of image of His presence.
We may be walking hand in hand on the shores of the sea. 

The blues so bright, so deep, yet always eclipsed by His beauty.
Perhaps we sit on a grassy hillside, my head resting against His strength.
I long to hear what He has to share with me, and opening my journal, I write.

His words may challenge me, rebuke me, exhort me.
They flow from His great love.
Even brief moments of connection bring deep spirit peace, joy and refreshing.
The blood in my veins resets to match the beating of His heart.
I am ready to begin the day knowing I am His.
And He. Is. Everything.

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Psalm 23:2-3 The Message

Stop by to join in the jam at Bonnie's

Break, breaking, broken

After a night of little sleep I looked forward to my time alone with Jesus, sitting at His feet, hungry for what words He wished to share.  Journal in hand, I waited:

Do not weep for the crumbling.  Things that I allow to fall apart will either be rebuilt by My hand or were never meant to be.

Can you hold on to Me while letting go of all else?

The bitterness you taste of the ways of man is the vinegar that was brought to my lips on the cross.

Yes, I forgave, and forgive again, but what they built could not stand, and yes, even now, things built by man's hand alone will meet decay.

Hold fast then to what is good.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 NKJV

Come on over to Emily's to read what others have shared with broken and imperfect hearts.

30 March 2011

Higher ground

Piano keys pictureImage via Wikipedia

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
words by Johnson Oatman, Jr.

Think once again of a piano.  It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the "right" notes and the "wrong" ones.  Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or set of instincts; it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.  C.S. Lewis
Moral compass, higher ground, black and white, right and wrong.  C. S. Lewis continues to discuss the "thing" within us all that is drawn like a magnet to "be better".

I know, beyond knowing, in a deep place, that there is a seed, a core, something that is always right, something that is always true.  It is not created by the hand of man, it is often misunderstood by the mind of man and it seeks to lay hold of the heart of man.

It is the mind of Christ.  Today I am asking the Lord for His help, that I might be better able to surrender to His ways, to turn up the heat that I would be drawn, just like a moth to His flame.

for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV

Join Jason and Sarah as we press on in discussion of Mere Christianity.  This week the links are posted on Jason's blog.

29 March 2011

Let striving cease

In my time of journaling this morning, this is what the Lord shared:

Whether you look at Me or turn away, I Am still here.  I know its difficult for you to comprehend, for you think in natural terms and imagine Me with the same capabilities as a man.

You know the words, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, yet they are indeed hard to grasp when you have no frame of reference, for truly there is nothing like Me.

Rest your spirit, little one, I do not condemn you for this, for I created you, I know the limits of My creation.  This leaves you always reaching, expanding, searching Me with wonder and awe.

What I would and have condemned is those who would take Me for granted.  Those who act as if I Am a possession of theirs, as if I was a trump card or a trick up their sleeves.  Just a relic to pull out to impress others.

I will not be possessed and I will not be ignored.  Let history stand as a reminder of what happens to those who have tried to live thier own ways, without Me.

Come sit with Me.  Search for My heart.  Look for My eyes, eyes that are gazing upon you even now with more love than you can hold.

In this place, let striving cease, for there is nothing more you need.

In this place
let striving cease
There is nothing
you can earn
or bargain for.
All that you need
is all that I Am.
The world sifts
like grains of sand
through fingertips
as you try to grasp
what is nothing.
In this place
let striving cease
this upside down
where less is more
lost is found
last is first
and the only way
to hold on
is to release.

Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?  Luke 9:23-25 The Message

Stop by Jason's to read more from other warriors

26 March 2011

Tribute to barn cats

While we were out of town, Pepper, the last of our barn cats disappeared.  Whether to coyote or fisher or simply wandering away, we can't be sure.

I've been thinking of the various felines who have graced our yard with thier presence, and decided to play tribute to some of them here.

They have wandered
on padded paws
in and out of our lives

bringing wonder,
delight and entertainment

while doing the work
of rodent control

Some remained too wild to touch
while others
shared licks, rubs
and contented purrs 

these are always
the most difficult

to lose

25 March 2011

Turning from, turning to...

In my quiet time, sitting in my Jesus chair, the Lord led me to turn to the following passage of Scripture:

For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not Isaiah 30:15 NKJV

Then He shared the following words:

Will you turn away from the peace I offer to seek the approval of man?

The noise of the world can not give to you, in hours and days and years, what even a moment in My presence provides.

I Am strengthening you in ways of which you are not yet aware, fortifying stress points, so that when I call you to stand you will be able, not because of who you are, but because of Who I Am.

I want there to come a day, little one, when you do not have to discern about yourself: "what is Him and what is my self?" for it will all be Me.  We will be that united and you will be that surrendered.

Your surrender is an offering
your obedience a gift
There is nothing I treasure more than these.

24 March 2011

Randomly pleasant and not too disturbed

Speaking of squirrels, (I'm sure someone must be speaking of squirrels) I'm thrilled to see them scurrying over the snow banks in the yard, such signs of life bring hope to a winter weary heart.  Faith has not noticed them yet, or the chase would be on.

By Tuesday evening we were once again unable to navigate the deep drifts that had blown across our road.  The snow sparkled in the mid Wednesday sun, the sky flashed a brilliant blue and we felt drawn again and again to the front window squinting into the distance for any sign of the plow.  By 8:00, as the sun was quickly disappearing, there was still not a glimpse and Rick prepared for calling in to take another snow day.  8:15 and there were lights, glorious, flashing, twinkling lights.  The roar of the motor was a cry of emancipation!

My mind was was rewriting that old classic song about saints:

Oh when the plows, oh when the plows
Come rolling in, come rolling in
Oh when the plows come rolling in
I can feel a rush of freedom
Yes when the plows come rolling in

Rick drove off happily to work this morning.  I'm here watching the squirrels, not leaving home, but quite content to know I could if I wanted to.

Join Duane and the gang for more random outbursts here

Giving in

This week Bonnie asks us how we experience emotional rest.

I grew up knowing I was loved by my parents, two older brothers, and extended family members.  Our family was about as normal as anyone could ask for, no divorce, alcohol/drug abuse or domestic violence. Ours was a "happy home".  The ultimate goal my parents had for each of us is that we would be "happy". 

Therein began my dilemma.

If happiness was the target, then anything that fell short of that mark was wrong, somehow unacceptable. Expression of emotions outside of the “happy realm” seemed to cause distress to my parents.

“What exactly is happy and how do I get there and stay there” I’d wonder and condemn myself for feelings of fear, hurt, loneliness, pain or any other less than “happy” emotion. Not only did I learn to keep these black sheep emotions in the closet, I also concluded that there was something defective about me for experiencing them at all.

“What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just be happy?” I was asked whenever a stray emotion wandered out into the light.

“Why can’t you just be happy” echoed the voice of mother for years, and years, and years.

During times of emotional overload the voice grew louder.

One day the Lord revealed what had been hidden to me.  He had emotions.  All different kinds of emotions.  As well as feeling great joy, He felt pain.  He felt anger.  He trembled with compassion. And... He created me in His image.  All at once I was validated as an emotional being, and by His design.

For me, the best way to experience emotional rest is to find a quiet place to be alone with God to express and release all that I've been feeling.  In His presence and His unconditional love, I am accepted, with each and every flaw. 

In that, there is rest and peace beyond measure.

Come on over to the Faith Barista and jam with us as we continue sharing on rest.

23 March 2011

No more excuses

Jason and Sarah have again chosen the task of leading us through weekly discussions.  This time they have chosen the classic Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.  Always charmed, enlightened and often pierced by Lewis's words I've decided to join in.

This week in Chapter One - The Law of Human Nature Lewis' writes:
I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say. I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people.
He then goes on to talk about how we make excuses, for indeed we do know the difference between right and wrong, and long to think of ourselves as right. If we can blame someone else or something else for our “wrongness” then we can continue to believe the illusion of our “rightness”.

An illusion it is indeed, for not a single one of us is "right" as Paul teaches in his letter to the Romans:

There's nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They've all taken the wrong turn; they've all wandered down blind alleys. No one's living right; I can't find a single one.  Romans 3:10-12 The Message

Shades of gray

Can we really be surprised
at those things surrounding us
that cause our jaws to drop
the harshness of the actions of man
when shades of gray
have blurred the lines
and black and white disappear?

I am tired of excuses
yours, thiers
mostly sick in my depths
of those I utter with my own lips.

I have His Word
I contain His Spirit
I can not say I do not know.

I can strip off the covering of
my own sinful nature
and choose
yes, I choose
to wrap myself in the clothing
of His righteousness.

He chose the cross
to offer me this very choice.
Can I continue to deny that sacrifice?

Join in the discussion at Sarah's Living Between the Lines

22 March 2011

Keeping my goal in sight

Goals is the word for this week’s One Word at a Time Carnival.

I can think of many things I plan, hope, and pray for in the near and distant future.
  • I will finish the novel I began in November.
  • I will see words of mine published on paper before printed books become obsolete.
  • I will serve the Lord in whatever way He chooses on the red dirt of Africa.
But none of these can take priority over the greater thing that God has placed within my spirit.

You may be shocked, surprised, or worried about the status of my mental health to learn that my primary goal is death.

Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I am not suicidal. I don’t wish to take my life; I want to give my life, wholly and without hesitation to my Lord.

I’m talking here about death to my self (with its fleshly actions and desires) and the fullness of life in Christ. That is the key to transformation, to becoming the new creation He gave His life for. This dying is a day by day, no, moment by moment, challenge.

This is a goal that will stay written on my heart, my calendars, my planning lists and yet never been fully attained until I meet Him face to face.

Oh, what glory then.

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 The Message

Stop by Peter's place to read more views on goals.


21 March 2011

Missed the moon

Reports all over the news, scattered notes on Facebook, Twitter, blogs;

Watch for the moon, the biggest, brightest moon in years, the super moon.

I joined in the excitement, always delighted to witness God's glory displayed.  Perhaps we'd even try to capture some digital images, saving a memory in pixels.

A storm was forecast: freezing rain, wind, snow.  And the clouds blew in and filled the skies.  Our chance to see the moon, this very special moon, dashed.  Our night was dark.

Yet I knew the moon was there even if I could not see it.  I can trust my views of prior moons, my knowledge that the moon exists, waxes and wanes month after month, ever faithful.

In the same way, I know my God is there, even when I cannot experience Him with my natural senses.  Unlike the moon, in Him there is no waning.  He Is always.  His glory vast and deep.  I have learned I need not see to know.

Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing."  John 20:29 The Message


18 March 2011

Sticky release

This week, for Friday Poetically, Brian Miller posted this photo of a sculpture from the Taubman Art Museum in Roanoke, Virginia.  Brian said:
I came upon this work of art, which screams a poem just waiting to be written.
Then he challenged us to do just that.  Here is my response.

you see not my tears
nor the eyes
that give them life.
Do you assume
this armor
that covers my heart
protects, conceals
or restricts?

Even in my letting go

I hold tight
to find release
from castle dreams
that grow larger
as I decrease.

Yes, my kingdom

must fall
so that His
will arise.

Stop by and add your own words at One Stop Poetry

17 March 2011

Who Is my Shelter by Neta Jackson

Who Is My Shelter by Neta Jackson tells a captivating tale.  Gabby Fairbanks has seen the life she thought she knew throw a few curves at her.  She is busy with the first residents of House of Hope, an apartment complex for homeless women and their children, finding meaning and satisfaction in her work.  There are many more twists in the road ahead. The husband who cast her aside, leaving her homeless suddenly asks for her forgiveness, leaving Gabby with more decisions than she can handle on her own, wondering if she truly can forgive and trust again.  She learns to turn to the only place truth can be found, the arms of God.

I enjoyed meeting the various characters in this, the forth book in a series of House of Hope novels.   Because I hadn't read the first three, I was worried I would feel left behind, unable to connect the dots, but I found myself able to jump right into the story with enough background information scattered throughout.  The author moves easily from one character's situation to another, weaving pieces together in ways only God could arrange.  I look forward to reading the next book, anxious to learn what happens next in the lives of these people I have come to know.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

A happy captive

While my week in the States was far from physically demanding, it was a hard time for my heart, a stiff confining of my spirit that left me weary and weak.

I longed to run from the constant company of others to the lavish silence and space of my Father's arms.  How much energy is consumed trying to hold back wings that ache to soar?

After a week away from home, there are chores to be done, errands to run and people to see.  But all will wait, by His design.

Winter's hand still rests heavy upon our region of Canada, with snow and freezing rain blowing in winds that shift the landscape.  Of our two vehicles, only one can safely navigate the drifts and icy roads.

So here am I, left at home, a happy captive.  When we neglect rest we often find it cast upon us.

My mind turns to a deeper place.  I sit and watch the birds, hungry at the feeders.  I listen for the still, small voice the world would chase away.  I read.  I pray.  I worship the One Who arranged this time to simply breathe.

Rest while you may. There is always work ahead.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5 NIV


Jamming with Bonnie as we continue to ponder rest.

Stop by Emily's to read more words imperfect.

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Statue of St Patrick from Agahower.Image via WikipediaI arise today
Through a Mighty Strength
The invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the Threeness
Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's Birth with His Baptism
Through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial
Through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension
Through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim and obedience of Angels
In the service of the Archangels
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward

In prayers of Patriarchs
In predictions of Prophets
In preachings of Apostles
In faiths of Confessors
In innocence of Holy Virgins
In deeds of righteous men

I arise today
through the strength of Heaven:
the light of Sun
brilliance of Moon
splendour of Fire
speed of Lightning
swiftness of Wind
and depth of Sea
stability of Earth
and firmness of Rock

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me
God's might to uphold me
God's wisdom to guide me
God's eye to look before me
God's ear to hear me
God's word to speak for me
God's hand to guide me
God's way to lie before me
God's shield to protect me
God's host to save me:

from snares of devils
against temptations of vices
against inclinations of nature
against everyone who shall wish me ill
afar and anear
alone and in multitude

I summon today
All these powers between me (and those evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppress my body and my soul
against incantations of false prophets
against black laws of pagandom
against false laws of heretics
against the craft of idolatry
against spells of witches and wizards
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul

Christ to shield me today
against poison
and against burning
against drowning
against wounding
so that there may come to me abundance of reward

Christ with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down
Christ when I sit down
Christ when I rise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me

We arise today
Through a mighty strength
The invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the Three-ness
Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator, of creation

Praise the Lord!
Shout to the Lord!

as sung by David Ruis

Sharing this today as it touches my spirit.

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16 March 2011

Tears for one - tears for millions

Picture from PentictonToday.com

Since the earthquake and resulting tsunami I’ve been spending time in prayer, seeking the Lord for answers to the emotions stirring within.

Surely I grieve for the lives shattered and lost in Japan; the ears of my heart are not deaf to their cries.

And yet I wonder why the outpouring of shock, tears and support is so evident around me in the middle of this crisis in a way different than when Haiti was struck, or when the tsunami devastated Indonesia. These already seem forgotten.

Japan is much like us, a first world nation. Is that why we are moved? If this could happen to them, it could happen to us.

In the middle of my pondering I recalled the following from Richard Stearns The Hole In Our Gospel:

I want you to imagine for a moment that you woke up this morning to the following headline: “One Hundred Jetliners Crash, Killing 26,500.” Think of the pandemonium this would create across the world as heads of state, parliaments, and congresses convened to grapple with the nature and causes of this tragedy.

Now imagine that the very next day, one hundred more planes crashed – and one hundred more the next, and the next, and the next. It is unimaginable that something this terrible could ever happen.

But it did – and it does.

It happened today, and it happened yesterday. It will happen again tomorrow. But there was no media coverage. No heads of state, parliaments, or congresses stopped what they were doing to address the crisis, and no investigations were launched. Yet more than 26,500 children died yesterday of preventable causes related to their poverty, and it will happen again today and tomorrow and the day after that. Almost 10 million children will be dead in the course of a year.  So why does the crash of a single plane dominate the front pages of newspapers across the world while the equivalent of one hundred planes filled with children crashing daily never reaches our ears?
Do we, can we allow the storm that rocked Japan to loom larger and take on more importance than any other losses?

I hear the voice of one
in the cries of millions.
My heart trembles
teeters, cracks
as it falls
all at once able
to leak fresh tears.
there are no answers.
My spirit weeps
with those who weep.
I hear the voice of millions
in the cries of one.

Check more Wednesday One Shots at One Stop Poetry

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Silent lament?

For days I have felt "without words" and thought it was perhaps mere laziness, writer's block, emotional "stuff"...
then this post from Laura at The Wellspring where she writes about Japan, tears and the lament of prayer...

and I wonder if my silence is the lament the Lord has requested of me?