Monthly Archives: June 2014

What are you doing here?

It is a gray Monday and my mood matches the view outside the kitchen window.

While there were some good things that happened this weekend, the lives of several dear friends were impacted with deaths. Most were the kind that rock  you because, in our eyes, they happened way too soon in the span of that life.

Then there were the walks for cancer in Decatur and Crohns/Colitis in Peoria.

And there are burdens on my heart for some people I love so much.

So when my reading falls in 1 Kings 18 and 19, by the time Elijah is camped out in a cave both physically and spiritually, I am definitely tuned in. My heart resonates with his mood and I am like, I know just how you feel Elijah. Move over, buddy.  I think I am just going to hunker down with you in this cave for a while.

Because I can relate with his view that all the zeal for the Lord in the world is not going to overcome the tide of evil that is sucking up every good thing God has done in these precious lives, my ears perk up to the fact that God seeks Elijah out and sends a Word to him.

Yes! I can use a Word from the Lord today.

And while I know this story from previous readings, I hear afresh the Word of the Lord to Elijah….and He says….

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

And I hear it to me, “What are you doing here, Laura?”

And I wonder. Where is the emphasis on the words?

So I try it like….

WHAT are you doing here……

What are YOU doing here…..

but I think He is asking….

WHAT are you doing HERE, Laura?

As in, why are you hiding out in the back of a cave? And just cowering. What is going on and why are you in this place? And I think I need to examine the position I have chosen to take this morning. Because if God is asking what is going on  with where I am and what I am doing, maybe I need to reevaluate!!!!

So I read on, and I wrap a cloak around my head and wait with Elijah for the Lord to pass by…and I brace myself through the wind, and the earthquake and the fire….and I listen for the still small voice….and when He asks me again….

WHAT are you doing HERE, Laura?….

I kind of answer like Elijah….well, Lord, I’m weary and tired. I have prayed the circles….and lifted the hands….and released….and pressed in….and trusted…and stood in the gap….and kneeled in the gap….and wept in the gap…..and waged war in the spirit….and fasted…and prayed…and spoke the words You laid on my heart….and held back the ones You didn’t….and repented the ones that weren’t from You but I said anyway…..and right now, to be honest, the whole scene is looking kind of bleak.

And I read His response to Elijah.

Go back through the Wilderness. I have prepared reinforcements. You are not alone. I am God. I am in control. I am Sovereign.

So I head back, too.

Renewed.

Refreshed.

Encouraged.

One more trip through the Wilderness. One more session bent in prayer. One more round in the battle.

Because I serve a God that is Mighty and yet comes to me in my weakness and asks me what I am doing hiding out when there is work to be done.

 

Bloom

Today is the 21st day of the 21 day prayer challenge from the summer study we did with women at our church. (Mark Batterson/The Circle Maker)

Can I tell you that if I make it through today without completely destroying my testimony as a Christ follower in the eyes of the public, it will be entirely by the grace of God?

So far this morning, I have been less than cheerful with two AT&T technical support people as the “this may take 15 minutes to install” process took 45.

I took a “short cut” on the way to work that led me on an unexpected curve AWAY from the street I needed to be on.

I purchased a drink at the store next door with minutes to spare to open ours. The girl had multiple issues getting the gadgets hooked up on the machine. Finally, I walked out the door with my drink. As I unwrapped the straw, I dropped the  wrapper. Stooped to pick it up and the drink slid out of my hands and is now drawing flies out front.

And I want to ask God – WHAT IS UP???? I am trying ….. TRYING …. to stay focused on YOU and on prayers and on drawing circles around things and trusting You and wow…..

Wah. Wah. Wah.

Because all of that is just so much distraction.

And the real stuff is happening.

Like the purity retreat for girls that our church is hosting today and tomorrow. Our local crisis pregnancy center does one every year.

They are calling it Bloom and it is based on Ephesians 2:10.

And when I think of the absolutely beautiful women who are involved and the hopes and dreams they have for these young women who will attend, I am brought to my knees at their love and devotion to Christ and to His Body.

And when I think of the smirky jokes I have heard from popular comedians about purity and virginity, I am brought to my knees in tears by how much opposition there is for them.

The enemy wants to take something far more than a Friday soda treat and smear it across the sidewalk.

But God….

I got a text from one of those precious women who not only serves at the center, but serves in my life as my pastor’s wife and dear friend.

She asked us to pray for the retreat.

So I did. And I reminded God how much opposition those daughters of His are facing.

And then I opened my email. And He reminded me.

He knows….

The daily devotion from Eastview Christian Church in BLOOMington today is….

Ephesians 2:10     IMG_0291

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God has great plans for our young men and women.

Do you have some young singles in your life?

Embrace them. Encourage them. Pray for them.

 

Children of God

Summer heat makes my mind wander to thoughts of a swimming pool and from there to a memory from my childhood.

Please forgive me if this is inappropriate, but hang in there…it has a point…=0)

I loved going to the pool and could stay in the water until I became a wrinkled prune.

My sister, eight years older than I, was usually my chaperone. I’m sure she suspected something since I never left the pool, even sitting with my feet dangling in the water and wiggling to get back in during the mandatory rest breaks.

She inherited our father’s good German authoritarian demeanor which she would wield on me when the situation warranted.

On one visit she told me, with great severity, that the lifeguards had started to use a chemical in the water. If anyone went potty in the pool, the water would turn the color of the offender’s swim suit.

She was dead serious as she warned me and I believed her.

Sadly those good old German responsibility genes must have mutated below the blonde pig tails of her little sister.

I realized I was wearing a plaid swimming suit….and, well….do the math. All I could think was how amazing it would be to see the whole pool turn plaid.

It was disappointing when I realized my sister had lied.

And worse, I couldn’t confront her.

I still laugh when I think of what a goof I was and the idea of everyone knowing what I had done didn’t even phase me.

I wonder when I became so self-conscious and socially paralyzed by fear of rejection. But somewhere along the road of life, we all do to some degree.

Recently, our middle daughter and her husband were home and I showed them some of the treasures of the posters and projects she and her siblings produced over the years of their childhood. Each one is as unique as the child who made it. We laughed til our sides hurt. But as she wiped the laugh/tears from her eyes, she shook her head and said, “We were the weirdest kids.”

(I’m thinking in light of the above story that her mom took the prize in that category….)

I got my defensive mom hackles up when she said it. I thought in my heart –

“NO!!!! You were, and are, creative and funny and delightful”. God wired each one in a way that is as distinctly individual as their fingerprints. Wonderfully made, not weird.

We each have a personality designed by God and it is most freely expressed, I believe, in our childhood.

It IS important that we mature.

Otherwise, you would not want me to swim in the same pool as you, much less be a part of your life!

But I think as we move through life, that child-like imprint gets bruised up and tainted and scarred; and we try to distance ourselves from the way God made us as we conform to the world in order to fit in.

And as we distance ourselves from how God wired us, we distance ourselves from God.

But when we come to God, through Jesus Christ, the messes we’ve made and the human sin nature we were born into and the damage done to us by evil in the world are washed away. And He calls us….His children.

I’m not advocating you go dye test the water at the local pool; but I do encourage you to take yourself a little less seriously this summer by taking God more seriously.

2 Corinthians 6: 17-18 Come out from among them (the INFLUENCE of the idols, lawlessness and darkness of this world) and be separate says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters…”

God bless you this day, little children, for you are wonderfully made and well-loved by your Father <3

Where’s the marker?

My sister taught me to knit when I was a kid.

It came in handy when I saw the Knit a Square group at my church one night and thought…now this is a multigenerational group of beauties I want to get to hang out with….  (see post “From generation to generation” February 12, 2014/Empty Nest)

Now I want to grow in my new hobby, so a friend offered to help me with some lessons.

The first one (after correcting a very bad casting on technique), was how to add on a stitch.

The day of the lesson, we only had one ball of yarn, so the marker was the same color.

IMG_0691

Not a good idea.

At all.

Hard to tell where the dividing line is.

Easy to knit the marker right into the pattern.

She told me I would want to switch to a different color, ASAP.

IMG_0696

I found the whole thing a cinch once I made the change.

And that’s how it is with my walk.

If my behavior blends in with the world, well….my life starts getting knotted up.

I can’t tell where the dividing line of change is supposed to be.

I don’t grow, because it’s hard to tell where growth is needed when me and what I do looks pretty much like everything out there.

Scripture is my marker.

So is quiet time with God.

Mine happens first thing in the morning.

I’m too prone to wander and blend if I don’t set my marker early in the day.

What’s your marker?

What’s your distinguishing line that sets you and your day apart for Him?

 

Psalm 90

In my own words from meditation this morning on Psalm 90, unplugged…unedited…

<3       In every generation and before time on earth even began, until long after the end of all things — You are God. In every generation, those who know You have made their home in You and now, You in us.                (1-2)

<3       You have always allowed us to see the end result of sin – it is death through separation from You. And in every generation, You have cried out for us to return to You — our Home.      (3)

<3       Time has no meaning for You. While time takes its toll on all living things, You remain the same. Yesterday. Today. Forever. You are our Constant in the midst of fading years, decaying bodies, deteriorating minds .              (4-6)

<3       In Your Presence, the truth of our sins and sin nature are exposed and we see our iniquity in the Light of Your Holiness. There is no defense we can offer as we stand exposed to what we are in light of the Perfection of Who You are.           (7-8)

<3       Suddenly, all of our labors and boastings and justifications and self-worship are shown to be what they are. Nothingness. We have provoked You to anger and we are laid bare before Your Righteous Judgment.              (9-11)

<3       Teach us, O Lord, in light of this truth, to move through each day with a fresh awareness of Your Sovereignty, Your Mercy, Your Grace….and our GREAT need of YOU. Give to us Your WISDOM to live each moment in Your Presence – to bring Glory and Honor to Your Name.             (12)

<3       Come back to us, O God. Have compassion on us for we are poor and needy. Give us a sense of Your Presence. Fill our hearts with repentance that we might know Your Mercy again. That we would rejoice and be filled with Joy in knowing you again, through restoration and wholeness in You.        (13-14)

<3       Let us, O God, be joyful and thankful and reverent in these years of suffering. We acknowledge that much of our grief is the result of our own sin. But let us rejoice in the  loving embrace You have given to our repentant souls. Not only for us, O God, but for our children, our offspring, the generations coming behind us. For these, O God, we raise our cry – Have MERCY! Show to us and to them Your Glory through Your Son, Jesus Christ.       (15-16)

<3       Let Your Beauty rest on us, Your people. Let Your Beauty be clearly displayed in us, Your people, O God. In us and in our children and their children. Father, take the things we do, and establish Your Kingdom in the ways we serve You. Establish our works to flow from lives that are redeemed, from hearts that rejoice in Your transforming work in us. Let our works declare Your goodness, Your Mercy, Your Grace, Your Salvation. Let us reflect Your Glory, Lord, as You restore us and settle us and establish us. Establish Your Kingdom IN us and THROUGH us.           (17)

Amen <3