You can also find me at streamofcontinuousness for the fun stuff and fluff....oh and baby pictures.
This blogger page will mostly be devotionals and meditations on scriptures. I'm not promising to be serious here though. I seriously believe that God is Fun.
Enjoy my pages and I hope you come back to visit often.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
I earnestly yearn to brag on my God.
The God who brought my family through the struggles of infertility. The God who abundantly blessed us during both my husband’s layoff and my recent job loss. The God who has showered me in loving mercies during a time that most would see as a severe trial. Sure, I do have a public forum. I write a blog, but most of the folks in my church don’t read blogs and I find myself wanting my congregation, my home church to hear about my God and the wonderful things He has done for me.
Even the psalmist had this same longing. Look at Psalm 116:17 – 19
To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the LORD
I shall pay my vows to the LORD
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people
In the courts of the LORD’s house
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem
Praise the LORD!
So, in an effort to break out of my overly-southern, rigidly-polite heritage and offer public praise to my Lord, I now submit a sacrifice of praise in the form of a psalm. I'm not a poet, so forgive me if this is a little rough. It is from the heart and that is all I was trying to accomplish.
When I cast myself down and wept
Lain down on a bed of sorrow
You comforted my heart
Your peace, O LORD flooded my mind
When I wandered in darkness,
angry and filled with bitterness
You sent words of comfort
you gave a song to my throat
and fierce joy to my limbs
My God will fight my battles
You allowed earthly powers to triumph over me for a day
but granted me the grace to look
mine enemy in the face and
bless Your name
My oppressor has acknowledged
You O my God.
The power of Your hand has been visible
even unto him who has struck me down
You caused him to weep
in bitterness and to bless your name
You have allowed my oppressor to see
Your favor for me.
He has witnessed the outpouring of
Your blessings on my house and my lands
O LORD my God
May Your name be praised
May my speech and the labor of my hands
Be nothing more than a window to You
Protect me LORD from everything
except Your Glory.
May I never cease to sing Your Praise.
Try writing your own psalm to God during this Lent season and see what happens.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
my new mission is simple
what? you ask. Well I just had a very humbling experience.
I think of myself as a fairly cheerful person. Fun to be around, etc. And photos of me pretty much bear that out.
See? lots of smiles.
But….that is only what happens when I look at a camera and deliberately smile. Apparently my normal, neutral face doesn’t smile very much at all.
How do I know this?
Well I just got home from a solid hour of video taping. My dear, darling wonderful husband got the joy of hearing, over and over and over again a short (3 minute long) piece that I had written at the request of our pastor regarding my job layoff and some of the things that came out of that.
The piece is full of joy and hope and purpose. Or at least the TEXT is full of joy and hope and purpose. But if you turned off the sound and just watched my face you would think I was announcing the death of thousands or something. Seriously, I looked bleak. And I had THOUGHT my expression was pleasant.
So we did it again. This time I will try to smile, really.
and again drat it.
I finally got it right after 5 takes.
It gave me a whole new appreciation of just how much attention I need to pay to my physical expression and the impact it can have on my message.
But wait, I’m not a pastor. I’m not a paid speaker. Why do I have to worry about this stuff?
Well the folks at my work and in my family and friends know I am a Christian. They know that I profess to have God in me. So shouldn’t that show? Shouldn’t I look different? If I say I have the Joy of Christ Jesus in me, doesn’t it follow that my face would show it? At the very least it should show when I am actually talking about the joy of Christ.
So that is my new mission – to spread the joy of my Lord by smiling more.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I recently got a message from a friend who reminded me that I hadn't posted on the blog in a while.
That same day I had submitted my written testimony as part of a job application to a Mission organization that I really would love to work for. In the process of writing the testimony, I handed it to my pastor to see if he had any edits or suggestions.
He handed it back to me and to my utter shock said this
"Don't change a word. Oh, and I want you to read this during my sermon this Sunday"
Can you spell shock? or how about flabbergasted? that's a good one.
So I did it. I read it in church. My husband says it went over really well. I wouldn't know. The whole experience is somewhat of a blank to me. Something about the dark room and that spotlight just erased my brain I think. Anyway, here is the written version.
Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing…..
As a Christian child, I loved the Jesus of Sunday school and songs, but my faith had no depth, so my adult choices resulted in two failed marriages. At my lowest point I was living in a sinful situation, with no repentance or desire for God. I thought God was all about “no” and rules. Eventually my wrong thinking took me somewhere I had never planned to go. Friends and family alike were fed up with my continuing disasters. My life was a mess, and it was my fault.
I was alone.
God then poured out His mercy on me through one friend - Barbara. She made it clear that she deplored my choices, but Barbara also made it clear and that she, and God, loved me. And she set out to prove it. After unsuccessfully inviting me to church many times, Barbara decided to kidnap me. Every Sunday she got her family up early, drove to my home, rousted me out of bed, and took me to church. My unwilling ears heard truth at that church.
Sometimes I would come home from work, expecting a silent, lonely house and I would find instead a home full of Barbara’s family. The kids were happy to see me, dinner was on the stove and I had a family to eat it with. We would read, talk, and fellowship. My hardened heart saw love made tangible.
Because of Barbara’s deliberate ministry to me I began to want to know God. I finally read the Bible, and found out about a God beyond Sunday school songs. A God that wants an intimate relationship with me. That still blesses me with fresh meaning every day.
My life still has highs and lows, but every day I learn more ways to praise my redeemer. These days my husband and I host a Bible study in our home, I write devotionals, volunteer in our church, and I’m currently learning the inductive method of Bible study. Martin works for our church and we have a beautiful daughter through the blessing of adoption. My Lord has bound my wandering heart to Him through more goodness, blessings and merciful moments than I can count. Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing. Here, I raise my Ebenezer indeed.
Monday, September 20, 2010
and lately I've been thinking a lot about a particular piece of football equipment.
the mouth guard.
Intellectually I knew that mouth guards affected speech and I always felt sorry for the guys on the football field trying to speak and to understand each other with those things in their mouths. It is a familiar sight to see a quarterback take the mouth guard out, call the play, and then put the mouth guard back in before the snap. Anyone who watches football has seen that happen.
But just how much a mouth guard affects your speech never really sunk in for me till this past week.
I have had to start wearing a mouth guard at night.
No, I am not involved in some bizarre night time sporting activity which requires safety gear. But I have been clenching my jaw in my sleep for years and it is starting to have a cumulative effect on my teeth. Initially the dentist was talking about fitting me with an expensive, custom molded mouth guard. Yikes. I don’t have bunches of money right now so the prospect of a custom fitted dental appliance was a bit daunting! But then the hygienist told me a secret.
“couldn’t I just get a football mouth piece?” I joked.
“yup” she said.
Music to my ears!
So the next time I was in Wal-mart I planned to get a football mouth piece. Just for fun I looked in the dental care section first and lo and behold they had a mouth guard of the “boil and bite” variety that was not built for sports, but instead was designed for folks who clench or grind their teeth. Perfect! Just what I needed. For only $20. Yipeee!
Bought it. Took it home. Boiled it. Bit down. I now have a mouth guard molded for my teeth that I can use each night to keep me from clenching my teeth all night in my sleep, Hooray! Okay, actually to be perfectly correct, the mouth guard does NOT keep me from clenching my teeth. It just keeps my inevitable jaw clenching from doing any damage to my teeth.
Aside from keeping me from damaging my own teeth, the mouth guard has had a major side effect though – I have gained a more personal, visceral understanding of just how difficult it is to speak as you normally would with one of these things in your mouth. I have a greater appreciation than ever of football players who can manage to make themselves understood on the field.
And I have also gained a new understanding of Psalm 141:3.
Last year I memorized this verse and I intellectually related it to a football mouth guard as a way of helping me remember the verse.
Set a guard over my mouth oh Lord,
keep watch over the door of my lips.
But I hadn’t really understood just what I was asking God for. I had previously thought of asking God to guard my mouth as essentially me asking God to “stop me from speaking Lord.” But I look at it very differently now. Now that I have actually had a mouth guard in my own mouth I realize that really it is more that
the mouth guard fundamentally distorts your speech.
It’s not that you can’t talk. You can. Reasonably well actually. But the mouth guard profoundly affects everything you say. Your voice sounds a bit different, your pronunciations change, your ability to make any clipped sounds or sharp, crisp cut offs of consonants is gone, and glottal stops are just out the window. Having a mouth guard in even, to a certain extent, affects your breathing mechanics. And to a small extent it changes some facial expressions.
When I think now of asking God to “set a guard in my mouth” and realize that the guard He will place in me is the Holy Spirit, that whole last paragraph takes on spiritual meaning.
With the Holy Spirit in me, my voice should sound different. My pronouncements will change. My ability to be short with people and in my conversation should go away. My every breath should be a prayer. And if God is IN ME, He will affect even my facial expressions.
I Want God to Fundamentally Distort My Speech.
My personal paraphrase of Psalm 141:3 as a prayer now goes something like this -
“Set your Holy Spirit in my very mouth LORD, profoundly affect my every word, make it so that I cannot speak at all without betraying that YOU are in me. Watch over me Lord. Affect my breathing, and my expressions Jesus. If I try to take out your guard so that I can speak in my old sinful selfish way, SEE me Lord and let your Holy Spirit kick me so that I do not take out my mouth guard. Ever.”
It is one of my most frequent prayers these days. Well, other than “Lord, please do something ‘bout dem DAWGS”…………..
Friday, September 10, 2010
Did’ya ever say one thing…
And your audience heard something else entirely?
Basically it came out completely wrong.
At a recent Beth Moore event I spotted this gorgeous young lady. She was beautiful and dressed beautifully. I thought she must be in the choir or platform party in some way. She looked elegant, fully made-up, hair in an up-do, flowing floor-length dress……at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
She was only a few feet away from me so I caught her eye and said
“wow you sure are dressed beautifully for a Saturday morning!
She looked at me as if she was offended and said “well it’s very comfortable”
And gave me a pinch of her dress to feel.
It was comfy – it was stretch cotton, but you would never know just by looking.
I tried to backpedal, I tried to make her understand that I was ADMIRING her
But the initial phrase had come out wrong (or been wrongly received) and I couldn’t fix it.
The doors to the auditorium opened just after that and we will never see each other again. I don’t even know her name.
It haunts me.
Has that ever happened to you?
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a comment that initially sounded hurtful?
I know I have. There have been plenty of times in my life when someone has said something that I could instantly take as insulting. And usually I do take umbrage far too easily.
Perhaps I should reconsider.
Perhaps they meant well, but it just didn’t come out right.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
tomorrow is National Day of Prayer.
I agree in concept with a day to concentrate on praying for our nation, and our leaders (Mr. Obama certainly needs God's guiding hand on his heart)......
In the midst of spreading the word and reminding people to pray we must be careful of something - the majority of our own prayers should be kept private. I am by no means saying that there is no place for a prayer gathering. Just that we need to be deep-down certain that we are utterly focused on God, not on the humans praying along with us. Stick with me here.
Christ actually said to pray in secret. I believe that this is not because he wants us to hide from men, but rather to keep us from falling to one of the easiest snares for a Christian - spiritual pride. Pride in our own spiritual-ness.
Here are the relevant verses:
5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]' 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Has someone ever surprised you by asking you to pray in public? what immediately went through your head? did you start worrying about how you were going to sound? will I get too emotional? Will I sound too detached? Will my sentences even make sense? (maybe it's just me that feels like this?)
Worse yet, have you ever known ahead of time that you were going to have to lead a group in prayer? Did you find yourself composing a suitable prayer? (tell me I'm not the only one...)
God wants my whole attention on HIM when I pray. He is the only audience that counts. But Christ knows that I am all too human. He knows that I can't help but worry when I pray out loud with someone else in the room (or many someones), so he suggested a way out. Ironically -to go into a closet.
Do you have a private place that you pray? I don't, but I need to. I usually pray in the car. Private, sort of, but certainly not conducive to concentrating on HIM !
When I was a kid I recall that my dad always prayed in the bathroom. Possibly because it was the only room in the house with a lock on the door....
But I love the idea of a prayer closet. Amy March had one in Little Women. Do you remember?
"Esther fitted up the closet with a little table, placed a footstool before it, and over it a picture taken from one of the shut-up rooms. She thought it was of no great value, but, being appropriate, she borrowed it, well knowing that Madame would never know it, nor care if she did. It was, however, a very valuable copy of one of the famous pictures of the world, and Amy's beauty-loving eyes were never tired of looking up at the sweet face of the Divine Mother, while her tender thoughts of her own were busy at her heart. On the table she laid her little testament and hymnbook, kept a vase always full of the best flowers Laurie brought her, and came every day to `sit alone' thinking good thoughts, and praying the dear God to preserve her sister. Esther had given her a rosary of black beads with a silver cross, but Amy hung it up and did not use it, feeling doubtful as to its fitness for Protestant prayers. The little girl was very sincere in all this, for being left alone outside the safe home nest, she felt the need of some kind hand to hold by so sorely that she instinctively turned to the strong and tender Friend, whose fatherly love most closely surrounds His little children. She missed her mother's help to understand and rule herself, but having been taught where to look, she did her best to find the way and walk in it confidently."
Having a closet, or a space designated as a prayer space in the home would be such a comfort and a great place to have a daily devotional. It might even be a great way to involve a child in private devotions from an early age.
Has anyone else done this? what did you use? a closet? a comfy chair in the corner of a room? was it for anyone in your home? or just one person? I'd love to hear your ideas/feedback.