I am scrolling through the pictures downloaded to this Journey website over the years.
Seven years to be exact.
Today marks seven years since I slipped my first post on to this site and hoped and prayed someone and yet not too many would see it.
I was scared to put myself and my heart out here on the internet but this guy here kept encouraging me to do it.
He saw something in what I write that he thinks others need and so I swallowed back fear of exposure and fear of rejection and I started showing up.
I kept it quiet and I told God we should keep it small and God told me to be quiet and not worry about numbers – small or big.
Just do the thing He lays on my heart and let Him worry about the rest.
So seven years have passed.
As I scroll through the pictures this morning I see faces who no longer gather around our table or occupy a space where we can give them a hug. Some are gone by death and some by decision.
I see faces that have been added through the years that don’t replace the ones gone, but continue the faithfulness of God’s kindness to us through the years.
I see wrinkles appearing on my own face and weight fluctuations and changes in hairstyles.
There have been two houses, several computer changes, guest posts from friends and family (that usually did better than anything I write…I’m not bitter…honest…teehee).
Family gatherings, travels around this country and beyond, holidays and birthdays…all the journey that was lived day by day in just the ordinary and extraordinary of God’s mercy and grace.
The comments from some of you here on the blog or out there in the real world when you say you read it and it encourages you come at just the right time to let me know God is still using this for His purpose.
And my heart spills out over how He has given me a place to journal where I can meet with you and share how He has shown up in all the seasons in such amazing ways.
So this week, we will celebrate the Journey of seven years thus far.
Thus far, He has brought us…and I am so thankful <3
One of the hallmarks of the events of 2020 for me is a sense of unrest and lack of peace in my soul. As I was thinking how to start our time together I tried to put some kind of concise word to what I find very unsettling in my daily life and I finally landed on “conflict.”
Whether it is in our home or out in public or on the forms of media that we have so much access to, conflict/debating/arguing/attacking…these things rip my soul apart and cause me to be anxious and distracted. While some seem to enjoy a good rousing conversation of ideas shared and no answers or solutions of consensus actually arrived upon, I stir and churn in my spirit and desire nothing more than to have everyone agree or pull the covers over my head as I drift off into some safe place away from the noise.
Neither of these are good options of course as the conflict of our day and age is only escalating and there is life that needs to be lived. The roller coaster of 2020 has been a rough ride for all – some more than others and if you have an ounce of compassion, you are not only feeling your own angst and pain, but absorbing a fair amount of so many others who are dealing with hard things right now. Add to this the ugly commercials and political shenanigans of two parties that seem more interested in being superior to the other than in explaining exactly how they think they can get us out of this mess…and well…I am spending a lot of time meditating on the truth of Scripture and praying and asking God to help us turn this shipwreck around.
Which is probably the best thing that has happened to me in a long while.
Because I realized of late that I have grown a bit ho-hum and lax in studying, really studying God’s Word.
With my stepping down from teaching, I also stepped down from study as I didn’t have that weekly lesson to prepare. I forgot that teaching is the outpouring of study, the end of the means…the means being chasing rabbit trails led by the Holy Spirit. I was relying on some devotionals to feed my soul. Devotionals are wonderful, but they are like cheese and crackers. They help stave off your hunger, but they will never be fully nourishing. They are just the extra before the real meal.
So I have been returning to the discipline of really studying Scripture and in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, God is working in me His peace. He doesn’t call us to study to punish us, He calls us to study because it is good for us.
I had a little incident yesterday where what I have been working into my soul, worked out into my day.
Around 4:00 I pulled into a gas station and realized this must be prime time for people heading home from work. Most of the pumps were occupied, but I saw there was one lane on the far side completely open.
As I circled around the full bays, an SUV that had come from the same street entrance behind me picked up the pace of approach. I don’t know if it was intentional, but this larger vehicle did a wild u-turn maneuver rather rapidly assuring its ability to back into the pumps I was headed for. I was alarmed to see it was coming at a pretty good rate of speed backwards into me as I was attempting to pull in to my spot.
Granted it then attempted to pull forward a bit to make room, but by this point what is fondly referred to here in our home as the “Lochner temper” had ignited. I felt hot rage rising in me at the injustice of this car not following me around and using the pump behind me when I pulled in, but instead whipping in for the win. I would not have done that, hence this driver’s choice was an affront to my sense of fair and righteous behavior.
As my heart rate increased, this SUV began to represent all the personalities of the smug and the oh-so-smart “winners” of this world system that exalts self and laughs at things that are wholesome and godly and pure.
And that’s when it clicked in me. Wholesome and godly and pure.
My rage…my anger…my rights..are not wholesome and godly and pure.
Quick as you please, I gently went around the obstacle. The peace of Christ overruled the temptation to be insulted by someone who may have not even intended insult. And even if he or she did do it intentionally and thoughtlessly, so be it. That’s on that one, not me.
I determined to just pull in behind another car and wait my turn, and low and behold…there was now an open bay for me to pull into.
The peace of surrender.
The peace of not having to win or be right or be first.
We will be assailed today by all manner of things that will seek to steal our peace. But if we will bow in surrender to the Prince of Peace…if we will live under the authority of His guidance and leading in OUR lives, we will have that peace that passes understanding and we will live with purpose and effectiveness for His Kingdom here on earth. We worship what we bow to. I am learning to bow to God, not the forces at work in this world.
My prayer for us today:
May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among you!
2 Thessalonians 3:16 The MSG
God bless you as you grow in surrender to Him alone <3
Last night I read through a rather lengthy email from a missionary family detailing their hasty exit from the area where they had been serving when Covid first reared its ugly head and the world came to a screeching halt.
I sat there at our kitchen counter in the comfort of our home, finishing a nice dinner of turkey, wild rice and veggies. The air conditioner had done a fine job keeping our home cool as the Midwest experienced temperatures in the low 80’s yesterday and we had to switch from heat to cool so we wouldn’t roast inside our four walls.
Due to some family needs, the missionaries said goodbye knowing they would not be returning. Their email shared pictures and stories of the friends they left behind. Some of them had relied on this couple for income and support. They tried to set in place for them other means to make a living, but the odds stacked against their friends in a country on the other side of this globe is hard under the best of circumstances.
One of the men who this missionary father called his best friend is a single dad because of tribal issues that took his wife away from their home. It would seem hatred of people who are from different groups runs deep amongst all of us on planet earth.
One photograph showed him teaching Bible to a crowd of little faces gathered on a dirt floor and leaning against one another as they were obviously engaged in what he had to say. His face was alive and full of passion.
I felt pretty small and petty sitting there bemoaning what I have “lost” during this pandemic. I thought of all the people around the world who have nothing and yet have everything because they have Jesus.
I thought of how glibly we say we love Jesus and….fill in the blank of the t-shirt from any number of shops online.
And I thought how poor we really are when we have room for anything else beyond Him.
Surely you know of a family or two today who have left all that was familiar behind to go and share the Gospel. Take a minute and thank God for them. Think on what this pandemic has done to their ministry and to the people they were called to serve and say a prayer.
Say a prayer for them and then say a prayer for what we can do to not only support them but set aside our addiction to our comfort and our rights and really be filled with love for Jesus that cannot be shut down or shut up no matter what comes our way <3