Category Archives: Journey through Lent 2017

What I added…

Good morning …. good wonderful, yippeeeee-it’s-Friday-finally….morning to you <3

Even though there is rain, rain and more rain in the forecast…it’s Friday so … yay!!!

After yesterday’s somewhat yuk post of soul-bearing, I am looking forward to leaving you for the weekend with the Praise-God-from-whom-all-blessings-flow love that He poured into me during Lent as I added two things…

First, I used a little gift book that was given to me several years ago by my sweet sister/friend Lisa.

It is called The Tender Words of God by Ann Spangler.

The book is divided into thirteen chapters with morning and evening readings. The readings are just one or two passages of Scripture followed by a prayer.

Each week has a different theme based on what God has told us about Himself as our loving Father.

A few of these include…compassion, forgiveness, faithfulness, hope and comfort, love and mercy.

The week of devotions ends with some reflection time on Saturday and a short meditation to start the new week’s theme on Sundays.

Lovely.

Here is an excerpt that will give you a better idea…

From The Tender Words of Blessing and Provision 

I Will Provide a Way Out”

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.   Deuteronomy 2:7

So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.    1 Corinthians 10:12 

Lord, you know that life can sometimes be like a wilderness – dangerous, difficult and lonely. And you know how discouraged I have sometimes been. Forgive my complaining and help me remember that there is never a time when your grace is insufficient for my need.   Page 163

As we passed through the season of Lent, I let these gentle words of hope and promise breathe life into my soul.

Sometimes little is more, and these small passages would feed me morning and night. It became something I looked forward to at the start and end of each day.

Spiritual CPR.

The passages were short enough that I could grasp onto a phrase of truth and mull that over and meditate on and ponder throughout the day.

This discipline worked well with the second thing I attempted to add.

I say attempted because I was not as consistent with this one.

My hope was to learn to incorporate the Prayer of Examen into my bedtime prayers, but many nights I ended up reverting to my usual cover-all-the bases prayers of anxiety and guilt…instead of following the ordered steps of the Prayer…

which is neither good nor productive..

or…

I would be in the process of becoming still in His Presence and going through the day thinking of the ways of gratitude in my heart for various things and…

I would fall asleep.

Which maybe isn’t such a bad thing but still…

But the nights I did work through it, were refreshing to the spirit and I will persevere in learning this discipline.

Here is the the version of the Prayer of Examen practiced by St. Ignatius that we received from a prayer service at FCC in my own words:

  1. Become still before God and ask the Holy Spirit to presence Himself with you as you look honestly at your day.
  2. Gratefully recount the events of the day from morning til evening
  3. Reflect on your emotions, responses and motives that fueled your actions
  4. Confess those areas that come to mind where you did not follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit or, basically, did it your way, ask for help to respond differently to similar settings in the future and RECEIVE His forgiveness.
  5. Hopefulness as you think over the new day tomorrow. Rededicate yourself to the LORD and ask for His guidance for the things that you expect to happen and those that will catch you, but not Him, by surprise.

Both of these additions to feed my soul…

COUPLED WITH….

a subtraction of something that fed my flesh…

made for a beautiful journey through Lent 2017 <3

God bless you all and I will see you on Monday!

 

 

 

The good, the bad…and even some of the ugly <3

The first part of this is a short update/thank you…etc…so please hang in there and read the note for today after the praise for funds raised!!!

I received this news in an email from WBGL organizers today and I want to share it with you to rejoice and thank those of you who partnered with us and to offer an opportunity to help WBGL meet their goal if you missed it but wanted to still donate.

“Nearly 330 walkers and runners joined the WBGL team and participated in a variety of races from the 5K to the full marathon last weekend, and many others purchased t-shirts and a custom art print to support the cause. Together, WBGL listeners and those in the races raised just over $64,000 and fully funded 9 Freedom Packages through International Justice Mission – as you know, each package includes a rescue operation and aftercare for those rescued. This is absolutely incredible – and we couldn’t have done any of it without each one of you!

As you know, our goal was to fully fund 10 rescues through IJM. We’re just about $4,000 short from funding our 10th rescue. If you know someone who wanted to get involved, but hasn’t had a chance yet, it’s not too late! All the team pages are still up and running.” see WBGL.org Hope for Justice

That is exciting to me and I hope it encourages you that they were able to raise that much in funds!

Thanks for listening….

and now for today’s note to you.

I wanted to take a moment and share some thoughts gleaned from Lent this year.

If you remember, I encouraged you all to add something and take something away.

The something I took away was to limit my exposure to social media.

And by “social media” I mean checking FaceBook a couple of times a day, checking back to the blog and taking a peek at Pinterest and Instagram throughout the day. A lot.

Right now my cheeks are getting a bit flushed and I’m wanting to go scrounge the baking cabinet for the Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.

I want to check the laundry or do anything but tell you why I knew this was something I needed to take away.

As I prayed for what God would have me remove for the season of Lent that might be feeding my flesh, I was not surprised when this is what came to the forefront.

I knew I had drifted from my initial intent to use FaceBook to help share what God lays on my heart to write each day. I also was spending a fair amount of time checking in on these other things…letting my curiosity and natural tendency toward procrastination and distraction to become unbalanced.

It is hard to put into words without sounding needier than I already do, but I was finding myself wasting incredible amounts of time checking to see responses/reactions to my post…

and scrolling through endless feed…

and starting to compare myself and either over assess or under assess my value…

and all of this became quite evident that it was getting an unhealthy place in my focus when I had to REMIND myself that I was fasting from checking it except to post first thing in the morning and then scroll through the first ten feeds and LOG OUT.

And the reminding was more like pushing my phone away and praying for strength to follow through on my “fast”. I know…pathetic.

I also…ugh…was in the habit of checking back to the website several times a day to see if the post was well-received. (so embarrassed…I could crawl through the floor…but hey…truth or dare…so nothing but the truth for you all)

So right now you may be shaking your head and wanting to tell me how you don’t do FaceBook…

or you might be shaking your head thinking you don’t give a feather or a fig about how people have reacted to a post you made or something you said or wrote or drew or whatever…

and to all of that I say…

good for you!

But.

Maybe what I discovered about why I needed to deny my flesh in this area might be applicable to you in some other thing you do that, if you took it away, would make you uncomfortable at your dependance on it.

Because I realized as I fought the temptation to check it during any given day that I had two “fears”…

One was how dependent on the approval of others that I can be.

The other was that I thought I might be missing out on being included in the very odd community that is FaceBook/social media/pseudo-cool-clubness.

Or worse yet, misunderstood because I wasn’t responding to other’s incredible or sad statuses. Like …. gasp…what if they think I don’t care or am uninterested????

People were sharing their stories and pictures and others were liking or loving or commenting or all of the above without me.

And both of those “fears” revealed some parts of me that needed to die.

Not just for Lent but for good.

I found myself turning to God more as I turned to technological connectedness less.

In those quiet places, I found I could hear God’s voice more clearly than I have for too long of a time.

Now that Lent is over, I am finding I have a better perspective on checking in with the different ways I connect electronically.

I may need a refresher course in a few months but for now, I know God has led me to a more disciplined approach to how I spend my time both on and away from social media.

It would be encouraging to hear about your take aways from what you removed and your gains from what you added during the season of Lent.

As you ponder your own God-whispers from Lent and Easter, please please share those thoughts with others.

That is how we live out our faith…and that is what sharing our testimony is all about.

Being real about what God has revealed to us as we seek His refining is one of the best (though sometimes painful) parts of the journey…

On a positive note…tomorrow on the blog I am going to talk about what I added. So if you are still speaking to me….I will meet you here tomorrow.

Otherwise … have a blessed day!

Living in the twixt and tween…

As I drove to work last Wednesday, I was following a car for several blocks that was sporting a bumper sticker advertising a website that promised me access to “Forbidden Information” if I visited the dotcom being offered.

I wasn’t interested.

At all.

Me…who googles EVERYTHING…had not even one single urge to jot down the address so I could check it out.

After a while, another car pulled out of a side street.

On this bumper was a bright and cheery “I love Jesus” sign.

The word “love” was represented by a red heart.

So there I was …. following these two messages until they reached an intersection with a left turn lane.

Forbidden merged left….Jesus fan merged right…and I went right up the middle between them.

My heart was racing as all three cars idled side by side.

Adrenaline pumped as I sat between these two vehicles that I am kind of thinking may have opposing world views.

And for all I know, I could be at complete polar opposites in doctrine, beliefs, theology…etc…etc…with either or both of these drivers if we got to talking.

I have lived long enough to know that a bumper sticker does not a brother, sister or enemy make.

It seems we are more and more wearing and looking for labels and wondering where people stand on issues as we seek some level of camaraderie in the chaos of our world.

The atmosphere rapidly escalates into shouting matches between “sides” and even our governing authorities seem more interested in agendas and media coverage and leveraging for their parties than in doing what is fair and just and right…

let alone righteous.

We try desperately to align our politics and civic duties up with our faith and it gets oh-so-messy.

So as I read through the passages recounting Jesus’ last days on earth, I was fascinated that in the midst of HIs walk to Calvary to deliver humanity from the death sentence which we deserved…

He took time to answer a question about paying taxes.

The Pharisees were attempting numerous times to trip Him up during the week and so they come to Him with a question about the legality of paying taxes to Caesar.

I think of how relevant such a question might be to us, as Christians, today.

Do we continue to pay taxes and do other things that support a government even when it seems to be working against or outside of or ignorant of God’s laws?

Do we still try to honor a country that dishonors us and all we hold to be true?

So I lean forward to hear what Jesus has to say and I find His response is to be somewhat irritated with the question.

From the description in my Bible, I can almost see Him roll His Holy eyes and then say,

with a bit of impatience….

“Hand me that gold coin in your hand, sir.”

I picture Him glancing at it, almost with disdain, and then flipping it back to the person and saying…

“Well…it has Caesar’s pic on it so it must belong to him”.

Makes me think of how my dad was fond of saying when he wanted you to know how little he had emotionally invested in something….“Whom cares?”

Or as Jesus put it….

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.

That He took the time to answer the question is as interesting as the answer itself.

It seems to me that what He said and the way He said it was to be significant a teaching for those left behind to carry on His work.

Then and now.

As I have set aside this season of Lent by adding some things and removing some other things, I have begun to see that I spend far too much time focusing on how my faith plays out in the world I have to walk in….rather than on the One for whom I walk.

Much of what grabs my attention has the face of the Caesars of this world stamped on it.

And Caesars come and go.

I have to live peaceably within the laws of a government that leads a diverse population.

Unless I am forced to compromise my faith, I follow the rules and render unto “Caesar” that which belongs to him.

But God has set my heart on eternity and that is where my rendering needs some work.

Christ purchased me back from death and it is now He who lives within me and so I render unto Him all that I am.

For the choices I can make about where I spend the resources of time, money, energy and talents that He has given me…I sur-render all.

It would seem that God is far more interested in how I am doing in that area than how I am holding turf for Him out there in Caesar’s playground.

I pray God blesses us with wisdom and discernment as we ponder how to work out our salvation in the time and culture and government authority under which God has placed each one of us with our focus on Him and Him alone <3

Sometimes we just need to say it again

When I ran this morning I listened to a sermon from our friends the Embree’s church in Decatur TEXAS….from a great series Pastor Darren did on Four Days.

I recommend the whole series, but the one I happened to listen to this morning was by a guest speaker, Karl Martin //crossroadspeople.com/4days-crucifixion-karl-martin

It was about the crucifixion and I know we all just walked through Easter weekend but can we just replay this again.

One more time.

That Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the entire world.

He willingly and obediently was beaten to a bloody pulp, ridiculed, spit on, mocked, stripped and had a crown of thorns jammed on His head.

He died on a Roman cross like a common criminal.

He was buried in a tomb; wrapped lovingly, but hurriedly by two men who needed to get home for the Sabbath.

And the part we skim over is, He didn’t just lay there sleeping for the next few days.

He descended into Hell.

The Hell you and I and every other human being on earth deserves because we have gone our own way and decided that we are smarter than God and that we don’t need Him telling us what to do and how to live.

The Hell of eternal sickness and suffering and sorrow and grief.

The Hell of consequences and guilt and shame.

The Hell of brokeness and unforgiveness and regret.

The Hell of depravity and addiction and everything that would separate us from the God who made us.

And it says He preached the gospel and He brought back captives.

Oh, yes.

And also the keys.

The keys that got handed over when all Hell broke loose on earth.

The keys that mean all authority…ALL AUTHORITY…in heaven and earth and all of creation is back in His rightful hands.

Then…He arose.

Not from the slab He was laid on but from Hell itself.

He arose.

He conquered sin and He conquered death.

Once and for all.

It is finished.

And in Him…IN HIM…alone…we  have L.I.F.E.

 

 

 

What I did on my Easter Vacation…

I used to love to write those essays in school…yes, I am one of those who actually liked English class….

so without further ado…

I went to Texas to see this guy…

We ate some good food…

all healthy, of course…

and met our quota for carbs…

We visited Texas Hill Country…

and I praised God for the measure of healing He has given to him as I watched our son climb rocks and run and hike hills and scare the living daylights out of me again…

We checked out the downtown areas and the graffiti park…

and I praised God for a pretty little gal with a can of black and a can of gold spray paint who left her mark as I watched…

I rode shot gun in a golf cart on Easter Sunday as John served the parking lot ministry offering rides to members and guests at the late service of his church…

and I thanked God for fruits of the Spirit in this kid-that-we-miss-so-much (and who isn’t really a kid but you know how mom’s are)..kindness…goodness…gentleness..patience…joy…peace…all of ’em…and then I thanked God again.

We met up with a long-time friend from home who also moved to Austin…

celebrated the Resurrection…

had Texas BBQ…

and then it was time to head home ….

And as I flew over the most amazing clouds…because seriously…how can anything this beautiful just be moisture????

I watched the sun set…

and I thanked God <3

I hope you had a blessed Easter.

Now it’s off to catch up on laundry and work and Monday….I will see you tomorrow <3