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A few days ago I lost the charm off of my necklace.  I’ve literally worn this necklace for 16 years.  I scarcely ever take it off, although this year my pageant sisters did convince me a few times.  Every one of my kids have broken it at least once pulling on it with their little hands.  I got it in Mexico in 2002 while meeting some orphans and learning about life and love from them.  Orphans always have a way of teaching us things that we couldn’t learn any other way.  But the necklace is kind of like a part of me now.  It’s a daily reminder of who I am and who I really want to be.

So I realized my cross was missing and I remembered that I’d heard something drop onto the floor earlier that morning in my bedroom.  I went back to see if it was there and, after crawling around on the floor for a few minutes, I found it.  As I attempted to reattach it to my necklace on my knees on the floor, it occurred to me that this was exactly where God wanted me to be.  He wanted my attention.  In days past I have been so unwilling to give it to him.  Right then and there, the Lord broke my spirit of resentment and anger.  He spoke to me.

God has given me some great days in 2018.  I’ve done things I never thought I’d get or even want to do.  He has also given me some terrible days.  I’ve experienced fears and feelings I never thought I’d have to.  But if there’s one thing I’m learning in my old age – finally! – it’s that it really is a choice which of those things we see most and allow to be our focus.  I realize that I have a choice every day to wallow in self-pity and sadness or to walk in the freedom and faith that God is ever-extending to me.  It has been a hard, difficult, painful lesson for me to learn.

Down on my knees, cross in hand, I realized how many times this year I have so desperately needed God and so absolutely refused to talk to Him.  Because I was mad.  And scared.  And bitter.  And hurt.

But down there on the floor, I saw him.  I saw him in a million ways like I had never seen him before.  He allowed me to see him in people – in you and in me.

About thirteen years ago I wrote an autobiography of sorts.  It was my first attempt at writing a book and I never even had it bound.  I wrote the whole thing in about two weeks.  It was called, “Seeing God in the People You Know.”  I was looking for ways God had shown up on other people in my life.  By the time it was complete, I was amazed at how much I had seen him in so many people, and, how easy it was to write about.

It’s kind of always been my dream to compile an unabridged version complete with pictures and bios of everyone I know.  Just so the rest of the world can see what I see in them; so they can see what I see.

Sometimes we have to look for Him, though.  So many times I’m so frustrated when he stays quiet.  Other times He just shows up and punches us square in the face with his power and glory.  Sometimes he uses prayer.  I could tell you so many amazing stories about how God has used prayer to show me his power and glory.  I’m talking about New Testament signs and wonders I didn’t know he still performed and certainly never expected.  And I’m not even a good pray-er at all!  So that’s all grace.  But sometimes God uses people to show his power and glory.  Prayer and people.  I don’t care what any religion or religious person may tell me.  Prayer and people – that’s what knowing God is really all about.  That is all knowing God has ever been about.

Lord knows I have spend my entire life desperate to either be or become one of those people – not ever realizing that I am already apart from any accomplishment or antecedent.  I am a person that God will use because I am a person who wants God to use her.  Yet, my most overused and grieving prayer is and has always been, “Lord, convict me; impart wisdom to me; USE ME.”  And I’ve sat around moping never believing he would or was really using me at all.

But I know He has.  I know He is.  I know He will.

Still, fear tells me that all my efforts, hopes, and dreams are for naught.  But faith says he has, is, and will use me mightily if I just trust and obey.

That said, I want to encourage you today, on this last day of 2018.  Do not let another year end without looking for the cross.  Do not let another year begin without getting down on your knees and praying to the only One who sees and knows you rightly.

You might not see what I see.  So I want you to hear me when I tell you who you are – what he told me to tell you no matter how I might personally feel about myself on any given day.  God wants us to encourage one another.  Down on my knees I thought of so many encouraging words that have been said to me personally over the past month;  words I really needed to hear from an actual person; words that truly scooped my heart up off the floor and healed it.  Listen to these words.  Drink them in.  They are about you – not your neighbor or your friend or your sister or your priest.  These words are about you and me and who we actually are in Christ.  Believe them.  Listen and live accordingly.

When I see you I see a human trying really hard to be different and to make a difference.  I see honor, grace, and love.  I see quite a few amazing, God-given gifts.  I see virtue, compassion, and genuine care and concern.  I see a person who is able to bring everything dead in me alive.  I see a friend and a confidant.  I see a star; a hero; a warrior.  Don’t you ever sell yourself short.  Don’t you ever settle for less than you dream. Give God the glory, but give yourself a real hand.  You made it.  You might not be where you want to be, but you have every single right, resource, and reason right inside yourself to get there.  You inspire me.  I love who you are and I love who you’re going to be.  Be kind to yourself.  Don’t worry.  God has built you into a person who possesses a great deal of power and strength.  I see you using it daily.  I am a better person because I know you.  Countless people are.  Keep being exactly who you are.  You are so much better than you think.

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live in him.  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:11

My word for this year is encouragement. I have been given so much more encouragement than I deserve.  I have shamefully so often failed to offer it rightly to others.  This year I will give it back 100 fold.  God waited 37 years to make me a real cheerleader.  Two years later I think I’m finally ready for the game.

Prayer and people.  Let’s do that, 2019.

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I hate being late.  That’s why I married a drag racer at age 20.  I usually show up fifteen minutes early with a well-deserved speeding ticket and an invisible trophy from my imaginary friend who I like to call “Put Together and Prompt.”

That said, at three days into the New Year, in Loriland, this article is extremely late.  This time, my lateness is purposeful.  I believe it actually reveals something about what God has been doing in me over the past year.

As many do, I like to recollect my thoughts, evaluate my life, and process what I have learned and where I’m heading at year’s end.  I usually start summing up the day after Christmas.  By the time my tree is down, my time is up – if I want the trophy that is.

This year was different, though.  This year was exceptionally deft.  It was also unusually difficult.  It taught me – a recovering intuitionist – to slow down.

Oh, by the way, if you don’t read me often, I also make up words.  That’s what creative writers do when there aren’t adequate describing tools.  Don’t worry, though, we usually also define them.

Intuitionist – a person who trusts intuition and instincts to a fault and frequently inserts both feet into her mouth.

Being intuitive is not bad.  If you’re a single woman or a witch hunter, it’s likely highly beneficial.  The problem is that intuition is likely responsible for creating both the Mr. Perfect illusion who keeps single women perpetually single and the Salem witch hunts where innocent people were mistakenly murdered.  The truth is that fear, past experiences, and personal insecurity can easily be mistaken for the highly regarded, supposedly fool-proof test known as intuition.

Enter: pseudointuition.  (Yes, I made that one up, too.)

Pseudointuition is very dangerous for those of us who like to think of ourselves as naturally intuitive.  It causes us to conjure up flawed hypothesis, enter into premature judgments, and jump to hasty conclusions about many matters.  Without adequate prayer and fasting, pseudointuition will destroy true discernment and leave us paranoid, cynical, and thoroughly untrusting – just like single women and Salem witch hunters.

Like I said, though, I am recovering.  I am learning.  I am slowing down in a good way.  I no longer say everything that I initially think.  I am avoiding any reliance on first impressions.  I am refraining from dismissing that which I cannot put under an interrogation lamp, study intricately, and dissect until it stops moving – yet.  I am learning to wait upon the Lord – longer.  I am beginning to hide my face like Elijah and pray five, six, even seven times for the tiny rain cloud that I must believe will annihilate every desert and doubt surrounding.  Even when every weather man insists that there will be no rain for many more days,  I resolve to keep on believing for the very best.  I resolve to put down the pride that prods me to pounce when people and places seem particularly peculiar to me.  I still have my wings.  I’m just not sure how often the Lord really wants me to fly.  I think, maybe, he gave them so I might spread them to protect far more often than I project.

Bottom line: Life is not an algebraic equation.  A + B does not always equal C.   If anything, life is more like geometry – you’ve got to be able to prove how and why the pieces fit together before you really find a concrete solution.  If you cannot, you are probably suffering from a bad case of pseudointuition with the underlying etiology of fear, bad past experience, and personal insecurity.  Life really isn’t like math anyway – despite how desperately I need it to be.  I think it is more like creative writing – there are too many words to ever comprehend them all but never enough of the right ones.

That is why my New Year’s recollections are, according to the schedule of a neurotic race runner, late.  My goal for 2014 is not to be less intuitive or timely, but to be more patient, prayerful, and, God help me, precise before I act, write, or speak.

  Happy New Year!

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
    but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. ~Proverbs 28:26

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victory“No, I don’t know where I’m going.  But, I sure know where I’ve been.  Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday.  An’ I’ve made up my mind,  I ain’t wasting no more time.  Here I go again.” ~Evan A. Rogers

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new year.

No longer am I willing to stand cowering, failing to engage my Goliaths.  No longer am I going to sit with my tail between my legs, boohooing over his taunts and trifling temptations.  No.  I know where that road leads, and, God help me, I refuse to go back.  No more wasted time.  Here I go.  Here’s to a new, different, hopefully much better year.

I may not know where the Lord will take me this year, but I do know one thing – I’m ready to run into battle.  There’s not a chance in hell that it’s a coincidence that today – the very first day of 2013, I come to David’s victory over Goliath in my study.  God’s providence has placed this passage in my lap today to encourage me to be a fighter, a winner, and an overcomer this year. (more…)

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