Monthly Archives: January 2018

Part 3 ….and when the dross turns out to be the meltdown of an idol

As I have been gathering my notes for this, I find myself in a sticky place where I have to look at the ways God has convicted me personally and decide how much is beneficial to you and how much is sacred to me.

I have found in seasons of grief and loss resulting from the choices of others, there is a blessed gift of conviction that feels like anything but a blessing at the time.

There is nothing quite like receiving the loving comfort of the Lord in times of sorrow and then realizing the gentle hand wiping my tears is also beginning to pry into some areas of my soul that would have happily stayed hidden and buried.

Because as I grieve, God sends messages through His Word.

Through a Bible Study.

And then another.

Through a sermon or a devotion that comes in my email.

In one season of loss, I ran into one word repeatedly expressed in multiple ways until I could no longer avoid the fact that God was speaking to me in my circumstances…a word that I was forced to face as conviction…

Idolatry.

Here I was, asking God for help in processing how to move forward with life and what is going on and where is He in all of this and I kept running into the theme of….

I.D.O.L.A.T.R.Y.

While it was so easy to see how the offending party certainly had erected some idols…

the studies and the sermons and the scriptures constantly cropping up seemed to point to …. uh..my wounded spirit.

So I found myself responding to all of this evidence of needed self-examination with the spiritually mature and godly cry of…

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

But sure enough, I started to fill in the blanks of open ended sermon questions like…

What is the thing that if it isn’t going well, your whole world is falling apart?

Yeah.

Stuff like that.

And my heart was definitely being convicted.

I began to look at the deeper levels of my sorrow and loss and I realized that somewhere along the way I had begun to set some things up on little pedestals.

I would never have thought I worshipped them until I lost them and their worth to me became so evident.

Good things that had become main things.

My “success” in life depended on the success of my people and circumstances, and if my people and circumstances failed; then I failed.

I had determined what success looked like and suddenly the cruel waves of other’s decisions and choices washed away the sand castle.

I realized that I was grieving the loss of what I thought life should be like.

Are you noticing a pattern in the above statements…

my people….my circumstances…had determined…thought…

But what did God say?

Tearing down idols is hard work.

You have to put some muscle into pulling them down.

But when you are frail and thin from a hard season of grieving and sorrow, raw from too many tears and too little sleep, set aside from the comfort of others because you have been seeking solace in the Lord…you are in the best possible place for God to show you the good things you had begun to invest your worth and value and security in.

And then He shows Himself to be the best thing.

The only thing.

The only ONE.

The Rock and Solid Ground.

The Firm Foundation.

Idols are funny things.

They can look like being a good parent or a dedicated employee or in a happy marriage or your excellent reputation or even “the real deal” in your spiritual walk.

They are anything that takes the place of the only God worthy of all glory and honor and praise and notoriety and fame and set themselves up as the main thing keeping us steady and giving our life purpose and meaning.

So for today…do an idol check.

Answer the simple question….

What is the one thing that if it isn’t going right, your world falls apart?

Thanks for coming back today…not a fun part of the series, is it?

But necessary.

I hope you will come back tomorrow <3

 

 

 

 

Part 2 from yesterday <3

I am a collector.

Of papers and pictures and stories and memories.

All kinds of tangible and intangible mementos … keepsakes and gifted items, photographs and emails.

Snippets of conversations and moments can be replayed in my mind for hours as I recall the details of what was said, how it was said, what it felt like to hear it.

And attached to each is layers of meaning and emotion.

I would love to be able to turn this off sometimes, especially when these things only serve to enhance a heartache, but I can’t.

Instead I write about it and pray over it and ask God to show me more of Himself in the midst of how He made me to process the circumstances of life on planet earth.

And as I ponder and pray, He seems to lead me to yet another smattering of dross that needs removing from this old soul of mine.

Thus it was I discovered an interesting reference to a fellow archiver of moments in a recent devotional reading from 30 Days in the Land with Jesus by Charles H. Dyer.

When visiting the area of Mount Hermon, a likely location for the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9), I find yet another reason to understand Peter.

The disciple with a penchant for reacting instead of responding, putting his foot in his mouth, swaying quickly from great faith to watching the waves instead of the Savior, swearing undying allegiance hours before he denies he ever knew Him…I get Peter.

Perhaps you are like me and have heard different applications in teaching about Peter’s burst of enthusiasm to build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

But Dyer offers one I had never heard – he says that perhaps it addresses our human nature that has a bent to “build memorials to commemorate historical events.” *pg. 128

He points out that “shrines and monuments dot all of human history and landscape.”

Ouch.

Is it possible that somewhere along the way, my mementos of the past became “shrines and monuments”?

It gives me a check in my spirit and that is always a good place to open up wider and let the Light of God’s Word in.

So I am stopping here for today…and we will finish up this little section tomorrow.

But for now I would ask you, did anything there prick at your soul?

Let’s ask God to expose what needs to be brought to light so that it can be cleansed, removed or redeemed…

His choice.

Always <3

What to do with the memories <3

This little man is the first one that made us grandparents.

He still asks me if I can pick him up and I just barely can.

I am not sure which will be harder…the day I can’t…or the day he doesn’t ask.

A few weeks ago we had a slumber party at a hotel with a pool for him and his brother.

In the morning as we packed things up, he looked at me deep in the eye…which is often the way he looks at me and said so wistfully….

I wish it was yesterday. 

I asked him why and he said then we could just be starting.

From the mouths of babes.

As we continue our series on Deep Healing this week, I am starting out with those poignant reminders that come out of nowhere and pierce the heart and soul.

We live in an age with constant visual reminders of our past.

Photographs tucked in boxes, the “memory” notice that comes up on Social Media, old acquaintances who want to catch up on our life as we stand in the middle of a store or the sidelines of a football game.

Caught off guard, we can find ourselves awash in grief all over again as we struggle to find that footing we thought we had secured.

As I was putting my thoughts down for this section, I came up with the word “wistful” for Graham that morning.

Looking up the meaning today I find it is defined perfectly for the feelings these moments evoke in us as we are in the early stages of healing…

wistful ….having or showing a feeling of vague or regretful longing

Yes, that’s it.

A vague longing that is like a cavern that only fills itself with more emptiness.

There is an ache there as we are reminded and a sorrow knowing we can not go back and a sting wondering if what we thought we had was a lie all along.

It is a difficult place, this sorting through memories.

And as in all things healing, the only place to really take them is to the Lord.

Ask Him what to do with the physical reminders such as photos and tokens that are tied to those severed relationships.

Get rid of what you need to … find a safe place to stow what you can’t until you can…literally lift them and the accompanying emotions to Him and breathe deeply from His strength.

I truly believe the tears are cleansing so cry as needed and then let Him wipe them away.

Forgive the awkwardness of these words today.

This is such an individual reality in grief and each person experiences so differently so for now I want to just say a prayer for us and tomorrow we will look at what some of these feelings can reveal as we lay them before the One who knows us and loves us perfectly <3

Heavenly Father,

Like little Graham, we can be a wistful child when we come across reminders of lost love, relationship, position, status.

We see the smiling faces of a joyful season that has been taken from us unnaturally and sorrow mocks us.

It is no longer a milestone in our story. Now it is a shredded piece of the tapestry that was our journey.

Like a photograph torn in half, only portions of the past remain tangible and we are left missing sections of who we thought we were.

It is in these moments that we pray no root of bitterness to form.

We pray that we would not look at others’ intact lives and allow that to influence our understanding of Your love and mercy and grace over us.

Instead we pray for guidance in how to move forward.

We pray for mercy gifts when those unexpected reminders crop up.

We pray for honesty in facing the truth of our circumstances and for renewed hope in the future.

Most of all, Lord we pray, that none of this season be wasted.

Let it be used for Your glory, in Your timing and in Your way.

Thank you for Your Presence in our grief.

Thank You for your sufficiency in our emptiness.

Thank You for Your comfort in our sadness.

Thank You that nothing we experience has not first passed through You and that we are never alone  <3

Because sometimes people are kinda like the cable company

I have been working around the house today catching up on cleaning and chores.

As I worked, I prayed and I pondered about our next step in this series of Deep Healing and how to share enough and not too much and generally word it so you can apply it to your circumstances; yet honestly and transparently so that you know it’s from my heart based on  my own experiences.

One of my tasks for the to do list was to call the provider for our internet.

When we moved here we found out we have one choice for that and to put it mildly, they simply do not have a great reputation for service, support, pricing, communication…etc etc etc.

It is the company we left many years ago for those very reasons and evidently they continue to embrace this method of business practice.

Making a long story short, we have made multiple calls and been told a variety of different things. Even though we have clearly stated on every call what we got out of the conversation; and each time, the person on the other end affirmed that indeed we had…

nope.

Not happening that way after all.

And I can get as mad and offended as humanly possible and vent the unfairness to the next customer service rep I get, but basically he or she will cheerily apologize for my inconvenience and either do nothing or make matters worse.

Because the truth is.

The rep and the company Do. Not. Care.

And that’s the crux of the start of our series.

The kind of deep wounding we have been talking about is the kind that comes from someone who let us down, or bailed out on us, or sold us out and they really don’t care.

If they cared, there would be a measure of healing at the start of the pain.

We could understand if someone was bothered by the fact that their choices and actions completely changed the trajectory of our life.

But when we are wounded by someone who was supposed to be on our side and now that one has basically said with words or actions…to us or to someone we cherish…

Your pain because of my decisions does not matter.

You aren’t worth it to me to work this out.

See ya.

Even as I type that I feel the stab in my chest.

At those times our first response to God might be to tell Him how unfair all of this is.

How we, or our people, do not deserve to be so unloved and disregarded.

For me this step is a process that can take a while and comes with a mixed bag of emotions that can include anger, depression, despair, bitterness and a deep wounding to my spirit that makes me withdraw into myself.

On a constant loop.

I don’t want to talk to anyone human because to voice what has been done makes it real

Personally, I don’t think this is a bad response unless I turn to any kind of substance to numb pain or allow myself to simply wallow in this season with only my own thoughts and solutions.

To turn to God in this initial shock is the only way to begin the process of healing.

Because it is in these times that God meets the full vent of my emotional roller coaster and speaks words of TRUTH.

So here are some things that I have gained in this process…not all the things…and certainly they are based on my experiences and personality and wiring and faith journey…but I pray in sharing that you will perhaps gain a different perspective on your own pain or that of someone you care about.

<3 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes, but fear the Lord and turn from evil and thus receive healing for your body and refreshment for your soul.   Proverbs 2:5-9     my paraphrase 

Sometimes/often it seems as if God, Himself is the one who bailed on me. Since I believe He is Sovereign and able to do anything…why couldn’t He make it work out or kept me from going into the situation to begin with. As I vent, I find that I have to acknowledge that I am holding some of those wild emotions towards the God I love and who died for me and I have to come to terms with it.

Oswald Chambers refers to these times as when God will appear like an unkind friend.

It is in these times that I find I am so thankful I drew a line in the sand of my life at some point and said….no matter what…You are good and You are kind. You are my God and I will trust You even if I NEVER understand what happened and why.

Burying myself in His Word instead of my grief reminds me of who He is and when the waves overtake me, it is by faith that I say what I know until I can feel it again.

<3   It was good for me to be afflicted that I might learn your decrees.  Psalm 119:71  NLT

After about the zillionth time that I tell God how we didn’t deserve to be treated like that, and I get absolutely no divine pat on the back and affirmation that, by golly, we are too darn good to experience pain…I start to get quiet.

In the silence I realize what I am actually saying to the God of the Universe who, by the way, sent His sinless Son to the Cross on my sorry behalf.

Then I start getting really quiet.

It’s an uncomfortable place as I start to recognize the sin of pride and entitlement that are rather pervasive in little ways that I had not noticed before.

A driver cuts me off and I feel a surge of rage because I was obeying traffic laws and this crazy guy just about clipped my bumper.

I get overlooked as I wait in line for an appointment or to pick up an order.

I have to come back tomorrow because the post office closed two minutes ago and my clock says it’s straight 4 PM

I have to return a box to the internet office because the girl that arranged our wireless charges assumed I wanted TV too..

You get the idea.

Entitlement

Pride

“I don’t deserve to be treated like this.”

That’s a hard one when you are in the midst of grief and sorrow at the hand of someone.

And if your toes hurt right now, just remember … mine have been stomped on mightily.

<3 He was despised and rejected…a man of sorrows acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care.   Isaiah 53:3    NLT

Here is the richest treasure, my friend.

When I go to the Cross, I realize that my own “righteousness” is non-existent.

Any good I thought I did that should have bought me insurance against pain is suddenly exposed for what it is. Maybe a nice effort…but my motives even on my best days are tainted with self.

In the midst of my sorrow and pain, when I finally acknowledge that the other party made a choice and it wasn’t for me and mine but for something or someone else…I acknowledge the rejection and realize..wow..this is just a small sample of what Christ felt.

As I am humbled…the sin of my own selfish ways revealed, I can move from the foot of the Cross to the arms of my Lord.

It is then that I begin take those tears and despair, the depression and anger, the pain and shame, the fear of how the future will play out now and the questions about the truth of the past now that it is darkened by my new normal and I can finally move right up to His own wounded side.

I hold up the shattered pieces of my own heart, and in prayer, the hearts of those I love and I begin to truly release them into that nail-scarred hand.

And I can cry with Him and rest in Him and lean on Him as I have never done before.

His suffering and my suffering blended now and this is the start of where He can work the deep healing I so desperately need.

It’s a journey, my friend…one we share with Him.

This is the hardest one I will post in this half of the series…most likely….maybe not…we shall see…<3

Go put some ice on those bruised toes…pray for what He might be saying to you…sit down next to your Savior and let Him minister to you….and I will see you back here on Monday.

 

 

 

 

Because it’s Thursday…and some insider info <3

So this is page one of my brain…oh my gosh…can you only imagine?

I am jotting things down and brainstorming as we move forward and since it’s Thursday, which if you have been visiting for a while you know…is my day to connect with an email list that superseded this website gig…you all are getting the same message they are.

The good news is…I have today wide open to get some thoughts down so tomorrow…I promise…we will explore the plunder we talked about on Tuesday…

but for today…

here is what I have for you <3

As I continue in my daily read through of the Bible for 2018, I have been making notes in my journal of things that jump out at me.

I have done annual read-throughs before and yet I always find fresh insights and notice things that I missed.

I also make new connections in my understanding and application.

This year I am using the Chronological Bible which throws me off because the passages are sometimes out of order….which ratchets up my OCD tendencies to an uncomfortable level but that is for another day.

On Monday I was reading about the instructions for the construction of the Tent of Meeting and as I read through the directions for weaving cherubim and pomegranates and all manner of intricate details into the curtains I had some kind of weird flashback to our days with StoryTeller Theater and one of the most creative people I have ever met…our director/designer/artist/leader Sue.

Sue would take a well known children’s story from a book or a movie and design sets and costumes and a script and then audition a bunch of kids from elementary through eight grade and come up with the most amazing results.

Our Sarah loved the stage early on and so of course wanted to try out every year and consistently got a part.

Yay.

Because the way we moved from all the sketches and ideas and drawings to the actual production was through the blood, sweat and tears of us parents.

The first year Sarah was involved we received a form to fill out with basic information and any skills we had.

I checked the box for “sewing”.

With several years of middle and high school Home Ec classes, plus a mom who was a seamstress and a good teacher, I could read a pattern and put a garment together with a fair amount of skill.

Oh…I had no idea.

Sue would hand me a pile of scraps and old sweatshirts and previous costumes, hunks of fake fur and a drawing… a DRAWING…of some animal I was to create out of said materials. If I did have any kind of a pattern, it was simply so that I could gauge how to fashion some critter’s ear or nose out of what I had been given.

And if I got one finished, I was handed another.

By the time the curtain went up on opening night, my sewing room looked like several animals had blown up in the middle of it.

I do remember vividly though, sitting in the audience of the Civic Center and seeing some kid prance across the stage in something that my hand had stitched together and marveling that God had enabled me to pull it off…because, surely indeed, I had prayed my way through every seam.

I was simply not equipped to do what Sue was convinced I could accomplish.

But God.

And that is the amazing thing about the Exodus story.

The Israelites were former slaves in Egypt, living in tents in the wilderness and God gives Moses these incredibly detailed instructions about hammering out gold and designing beautiful curtains of embroidered fabric, creating an intricate wardrobe for the priests that included setting gemstones into a breastplate and fashioning almond flowers (I googled them..very delicate) into lamp stands…seriously…

and how did they do it?

“See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel…and has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.” Exodus 35:30

God also gave him some helpers and he filled them with the holy spirit so they could not only do but also TEACH others how to do these things.

Has God called you to a task that you think you are just not qualified to do?

He will…HE WILL …. equip you with what you need.

We often look at others and think they are gifted and we are not but each of us, who have surrendered our life to Christ, are given gifts that enable us to do things that would be impossible without Him.

I pray today for a fresh awareness in each of us to be grateful for the equipping we receive through His Spirit and a confidence to face the tasks ahead knowing with God, we are able.

Have a blessed day!