Thursday, January 13, 2011

Be Still and Know

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

I am so amazed at God!

On Monday night I was driving home and having a talk and honestly laying out some stuff that's been on my mind and on my heart. One of things that I said was that I'm worried that we're on the wrong path in an area of our life....a big area!

I've really committed to this fasting from asking God for stuff, so instead I kind of asked Him how I was supposed to pray and not ask Him....

"Be still and know that I am God." On my drive home I felt peace and a sense that God knew my needs and I could let it go...for the time...

The next morning (Tuesday) I went to Bible Study and sat at my usual table of women. They have the pretty usual bible study format where there will be a teaching time and then a time to share within our table groups. During that time we ended up sharing generally what was on our heart and what we were looking forward to in the new year. I completely forgot about my prayer and my concerns from the previous night and shared how I wanted to be a part of what God was doing in peoples' lives instead of hindering it.

For some reason the leader in our group felt that they should all pray for me and they did. She prayed that God would lead us on the right path! That God would send wise older men to counsel my husband! And that God would be filling us with wisdom for the season ahead!

I forgot those needs and didn't know how to ask when they were on my mind. God remembered them and had others ask for me.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

These Psalms were on my lips constantly these past couple of years since we've been in this constant feeling of transition. We haven't changed jobs, but our lives have been changing; my heart has been changing!

I've been learning that sometimes the line between giving up and surrender is blurry to us in the fog we're walking through, but God sees our heart and gives grace to the humble. I'm learning that it can be the same way with complaining and honestly pouring our hearts out before the Lord.

I'm praising God because my future, our future, is in His hands.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

Monday, January 10, 2011

Be in the Moment

This is the day the Lord has made,
I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

I grew up with that song and so many times when we're on the way to school and I'm not liking the atmosphere of our car, I start out with "This is the day...." It's so funny that even my older girls still join in.

And it changes things!

A couple of days ago I was growing kind of anxious and feeling a little self-pity about this whole fast. I am still not so good at waiting and if I come to a point where I sense something coming, I just wanna get to what's next! I easily grow tired and impatient of the process. Can anyone relate?

That got me thinking, what helps me endure the trying times in motherhood? It's not just looking to the future and knowing that the times will pass. Looking back I think what has helped me the most is finding the joy in my children during that time and focusing on that.

My son is three years old and he loves to run from me. In stores, at home, when I'm trying to get him dressed, when we need to leave the park and head home. It is so frustrating at times but this is also a time when he'll snuggle up to me and fall asleep in my arms. He'll run up and hug my knees and think that I'm the greatest person alive, along with dad, and probably big sister Ruby. I know he won't always do this and I cherish these moments we have now.

So how can I find joy in the middle of discipline? How can I be in this moment?

Philippians 2 mentions joy when Paul says "make my joy complete by being like-minded, ... not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Paul was in prison when he wrote what I consider his most intimate and beautiful letter to the Philippine church. Talk about a trying time!

Paul's joy was outside of himself. My joy is found when I am very conscientious of the world around me, when I'm rocking my child, when I'm praying for someone, when I'm laying down my own negative emotions and having compassion for others. Then I am more myself.

Let me tell you about that photo above. My friend Amy, who's blog is at the top of my page, brought me some purple tulips when she visited last year. She hasn't been able to visit since because her husband was in a serious dirt bike accident and he's recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Amy is spending every moment possible at her husband's side, cheering him on in his recovery and she's devoting lots of time to her young daughter. You can read about her journey and join in praying for Adam's recovery, just click the link.

The thing is, I never hear a ounce of self-pity coming from her. She's full of praise, encouragement and is always thinking of others. I'm sure she has moments, but during a time when she could be very down and depressed she's staying focused on what's True! She's being herself, who she was created to be and doing what she was created for. It's inspiring.

When she gave me those tulips she pointed out that purple is the color of royalty and she told me I'm a princess of the King of Kings. That's who I am. That's who we all are as women.

Then when the tulips were opened and catching the light in such a beautiful way, I took a picture to remind myself later of who I am. Encouraging me to be myself.

Do you have something reminding you of who you are? We are not what we've done, things we've said or the mistakes we've made. We're not a sum of our education or accomplishments or lack thereof. We are not what other people have told us we are. We were created for a greater purpose than ourselves and we were placed in the Kingdom of God as heirs. We are daughters of the King.
You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:3

Thursday, January 6, 2011

For Such a Time as This

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

I'm feeling incredibly overwhelmed by God's faithfulness and goodness today; His faithfulness in meeting me here; for blessing my life abundantly and for giving me eyes to see.

For taking my burdens, my sorrows and my shame and for redeeming my life with His unfailing love!
Feeling exhausted, I was so tempted to spend my quiet time today watching TV, but I'm so glad that I didn't give in!
When we listen to his still small voice and choose Him in the midst of our day, He's waiting there with so much for us, it overwhelms my soul.

And I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of urgency!

The other day I mentioned my panic at the thought of not being able to ask for things during prayer because of prayer requests which I anticipated in the month ahead.

Yesterday and today I've been thinking and it's growing more and more clear that I have been asked to do fast because there are urgent prayer requests! I had the phrase from Esther "For such a time as this" in my mind and then Alicia in our group posted some thoughts about Esther in her blog post today! (You can read what she says about purification here.) Yep, no coincidence there!

Now is the time to be declaring the authority, the promises and Truth of God's Word in my life, my family and this world we live in!

Now is the time to be spending time in thankfulness and praise!

Now is the time to be seeking the presence of God, to seek His words, His vision and His love!

For in His presence, the things that don't want to be there, such as anxiety, fear, panic and dread, leave!

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:5-7

In my time with Him today He gave me a job to do. To be lifting up my husband with words and thoughts of encouragement. To, instead of focusing on disappointments, to be appointing my man to the calling God has for him.

The following is a clip of Lisa Bevere on Life Today, talking about being a wise woman. A quote that stands out to me is this..."We all grow in the reflection of the love we're shown."

I want to see the ones I love grow and be a part of that!
(Be sure to pause the music player at the bottom of the page.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalm 62:5-8

Bare with me because I have three days of thoughts swirling in my brain...

As far as the fast goes I am starting to feel better. I guess I've never been so determined to be faithful in this because the detox symptoms I expected on days 4 and 5 came on Day 3 and for the entire day I felt like a recovering drug addict with crawling skin and lock jaw! Not serious lock jaw, but just the tightening that you sometimes feel from extreme stress. This is very eye opening to me how sugar has taken over my life and my health and I'm praising God to bringing me to this place where I'm able to let it go...

So today I've really been thinking a lot on hunger, brokenness and emptiness.

On Hunger:
Cutting bread and sugar, and basically everything I crave, has really caused me to be constantly hungry. Yesterday I was giving in to the hunger by snacking every time I felt that pain, holding myself over with a cup of coffee, drinking water to feel full or busying myself with housework to distract my mind. None of these are bad things. The truth is I have been hungry because the snacks that I've been choosing are low in calories and it would make sense for me to want more an hour later, but something was nagging at me. Something was still missing...

On Brokenness:
We are very quick to fix things when they are broken, or throw them out and get new ones and I think this also describes how we handle things with our emotions and our need for God. A couple of years ago my dishwasher broke and we were not in the financial position to be buying a new one. I can say that that was the year when my time with God was never forgotten because something about standing there washing dishes by hand kept me talking to Him.

I think it's our human nature to not like the feeling on unknowing and discomfort. We want to feel like we're in the drivers seat and it would be preferrable to stay out of the fog! Are you seeing this theme of wanting to control come up again and again? Yes, my name is Jewel and I like to handle things on my own and be in control! This fast is for the purpose of ridding my brain from toxins and I believe that's been one of them!

I'm not alone there though. What did the Israelites do when Moses was taking awhile up on the mountain talking to God? They made the golden calf!

Someone posted on 30 Days of Praise about using the time she feels hungry to pray for whatever comes to mind. My spirit cried out "Yes!" I know the benefits of waiting and listening from my year of hand washing dishes, but how often do I take things into my own hands and fill the need with whatever easy to reach when I should be asking God to share what's on His heart!

Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name. Psalm 33:20-21

As women, when our hearts are broken and hurting, how do we want people to respond to us? Do we want their quick solution? I heard a radio show about marriage the other day and she was encouraging husbands to first listen and hear their wives because women want to be heard. I wonder if God wants us to lay aside our quick solutions and listen and hear what He has to say.

These thoughts may be a stretch, but how does he feel toward injustice in the world? How does He feel when His children reject Him and His love? How does He feel when those who were created in His own image, whom He fashioned together thinking of every detail, hate themselves when they look in the mirror or compare themselves to someone they are not?

How does He feel when I choose imitations and distractions over Him and His love?

These verses in Hosea give such a beautiful picture of our Father's heart. I encourage you to read these words and meditate on His love for you.

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.[a]
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused. Hosea 11:1-4,8
“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
People will dwell again in his shade;
they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:4-7

In His Grace,

P.S. This may sound kind of silly, but when I was thinking on all of this I went in to do my laundry and noticed the light was burned out. Today is kind of dark and stormy here in the Northwest so I reached for the box of light bulbs. Then I thought, "No, I'm gonna wait a bit". There was enough light to load the washer and dryer and I really was thinking "Oh God, this is ridiculous, what possible purpose is there for not putting in a new light bulb??" It did get me talking to Him:)
Have you ever wondered what exactly is a "Cedar of Lebanon"?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Seek His Word

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
Your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
You give them drink from Your river of delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:5-9

I have a confession to make. A couple days before we started this fast from negative thinking, complaining and asking, I had a moment of panic!

Some issues came up in our family that are sure to come up again in the next month and suddenly I felt like these were urgent issues needing my thoughtful and prayerful attention. The idea of not asking God about it (to help him?) or complaining (so he'd really know the urgency of it) was giving me major anxiety!

Pretty quickly I recognized that these feelings were NOT from God and guess what?? "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world." Am I right?

So the fasting from complaining is pretty cut and dry right? Well maybe not, but we're not going to go there right now. What about the fasting from asking? That's kind of a crazy idea right?
I like the word revolutionary better:)

Personally so often when I am praying and asking God for something I am coming from a place of worry, anxiety and unbelief. Trying to muster enough faith to "help God out". Really when I'm asking I'm wanting answers and my idea of what the good result would be.

The answers are available to us when we open His word. And the one answer and the only one thing we can depend our life upon is the Word made flesh. He is the Truth! And besides His idea a good result eternally surpasses our short sighted expectations...

Our pastor is talking for a few weeks on evangelism and gave us some questions during the sermon this morning. They seemed simple but profound. He asked "Do you really believe this stuff?" (referring to the bible & Christianity).

If we are not going to the Word and believing Jesus is the Truth, where are our beliefs coming from? What are we depending on? Who are we listening to?

Worry, a false sense of control, anxiety and even feelings of worthlessness and failure can quickly turn into idols in our minds and their negative affects take place in our body and our soul.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

The second question in the sermon was: Have you been changed by the Gospel?

The Israelites were freed from Egypt and when they came into the land God had promised them they were challenged by Joshua in the following verses.

"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15

I encourage you to read this whole chapter and Isaiah 52 and meditate on God's amazing grace in your life. How you've been set free, how you are being set free, and how you can walk in that on a daily basis.

Awake, awake, Zion,
clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled
will not enter you again.
Shake off your dust;
rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
Daughter Zion, now a captive.
For this is what the LORD says:
“You were sold for nothing,
and without money you will be redeemed.” Isaiah 52:1-3

Peace and Love,

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Seek The Lord

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You;
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2

These scriptures bring several questions to my mind: What do I look for to satisfy me when I'm hungry or thirsty? Does what I fill myself with satisfy me? What difference would it make to seek God early?

I was listening to Gary Thomas tell a story about moving with his family from Washington down to Texas. He went out for a run and being from the Northwest and not used to Texas heat and humidity, he didn't bring a water bottle. Running along and ready to die of thirst he looked over and noticed a half empty bottle of coke in a ditch and for a moment longer than he was happy to admit he considered drinking it! His point (from his book "Pure Pleasure") was that if we don't fill ourselves with the pure goodness God offers, our thirst will lead us to something harmful to our bodies and our souls.

That picture struck me because I know when I haven't filled myself with life giving substance early in the day, reality hits me from all sides and suddenly I'm looking for something to hold me over. My cravings kick in and that's when I find my hand in the bag of marshmallows! Our world is filled with things to "hold us over" and then once again we're empty, exhausted and ready to quit.

But the Lord is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. "See I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgements, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. Deuteronomy 30:14-16

I know that there is that which brings life; art that inspires, foods that energize, songs that life up my soul. Internally there is forgiveness, mercy, grace and peace to name a few.

On the other hand there are activities, foods, thoughts and behaviors that bring death, drain me of inspiration, make me feel sluggish and sorry for myself...

During this 30 Days of Praise I'm personally challenged to seek the Lord and His goodness first thing and spend my days satisfied with His pure goodness.

Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. Psalm 63:3-5


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