Wednesday, May 31, 2017

God is ALWAYS GOOD

Recently the sun has been shining and I have been renewed. I live in a northern zone that lacks sufficient vitamin D to last the winter and as a result, winter blues are a thing. Throw some sun, fresh mowed grass and time with friends around my backyard firepit at me and I am restored. 

Sunday evening I posted a photo of our Bing Cherry bush loaded with flowers, #godisgood. Today is Wednesday and struggles have come as they tend to do. It has been resting in my spirit that God is still good. I tend not to confess this during the struggle, I still know it, but don't proclaim it. That still small voice is encouraging me to confess His goodness as publicly as I did on that beautiful sunny evening.

I am not theologian or well read on ALL THE THINGS. I am a child of God learning to know my Father. Sometimes it is a struggle. This is one thing I know. I have first hand experience. God sees the big picture and what looks to us like harm is actually good, because GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD. 

Having the dreaded "C" word cyclone through our family, up close and personal, has increased my understanding of the Goodness of God. I hear accusations against God about all that is wrong with the world. I hear believers shrinking their theology to fit their human understanding. Let me tell you now, God is Good. Sometimes, not being healed IS GOOD! Why, because we don't see the big picture! Big picture made slightly smaller, while Paul was going through cancer, he was supernaturally heal, not of cancer, but his kidney! (I won't tell you the story because it is his to tell, however, we have medical evidence that he was indeed healed). Why didn't God heal the cancer at the same time? I mean, he was RIGHT THERE! Surely it wouldn't have taken any more superpowers to heal the cancer too! 

Here's the thing, God has a bigger picture for Paul, for all of us. He has things to teach us through our struggle. We don't learn THE BIG THINGS without the struggle. We don't develop deep, abiding relationships without the struggle. If the struggle doesn't happen, we don't get tested and if we don't get tested, do we really know how deep our trust in God's goodness actually goes? 

My struggle this week is an old one, the issue at hand is not really relevant to this post. What IS relevant is that even though I am not feelin' all the rays of sunshine in this moment, God is still good. All the time. Every stinkin' day! Hashtag God is Good. Hashtag all the time. 









Sunday, January 22, 2017

Awkwardly Executed Obedience

I came across this lovely turn of phrase today while writing an email as a follow up to my "awkwardly executed obedience". As uncomfortable as it is, I feel inspired to write about it. (as an hysterical aside, my sister's blog is called "Wild Obedience"... she definitely is the wordsmith!)

2016 was a HARD YEAR. It sucked! There is no nice way of describing the truth of it. Painful, empty, hopeless, like being stuck in a mud bog, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. Winter, the ugly part of Winter, not the beautiful snowy parts, the despairingly bleak part of winter. 

2017 dawned and brought me hope. It stirred a fire in my spirit, like the dawning of Spring. Life has been renewed and hope has restored. I am seeing green shoots of promised victories poking through the muck that remains of 2016.

 It is not my desire to be awkward, or to make others feel awkward. That being said, I volunteered a long time ago to do and say the hard things to pave the way for others. I have been called to be brave and courageous. Fear has not made that easy. Fear is a bastard. 

Today I had a choice, obey the Spirit within me or surrender to the fear of man. Such an easy choice! I blithely stepped into obedience and rainbows broke out in the sky and unicorns started dancing in fields of daisies!  So NOT the way it actually happened. So not. Rather, it was publicly awkward, in a place where everyone knows me. Step aside Mariah, my turn... Except, shame is also a bastard, and I refuse to surrender to shame too. 

Could I have stepped out in a less awkward way? Probably. I have thought a several ways to redo it... It was messy. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Today I won a battle against the fear of man. There is a bit of debris to clean up, but through the clean up, the door to dialogue has been opened.
Image result for jesus christ smiling with children 
You see, Jesus delighted in my obedience! He wasn't looking at the mess I had made, He was rejoicing in my boldness and willingness. While this isn't actually new for me, the platform was. As a worship leader, I was afforded the opportunity to speak that I didn't have today. There was no beautiful segway from song to spoken word, today, it was just word. Today was baby steps in new territory. Jesus, like a proud parent, was delighted!


Who am I to please? God or Man? If that is my choice, hands down, I want to please God. Life brings forth more life. Birth is messy! Babies aren't born without a lot of pain and mess. Awkwardly executed obedience is simply the birthing process. Bring on the messy! 

I pray that we may be bold and embrace the awkward, messy process. I bless you with courage and boldness and a willingness to embrace the messy, there is life and hope on the other side. I hope you are surrounded by good people who will pick you up and brush you off and encourage you in the aftermath.  

Go forth into awkwardly executed obedience! Jesus has your back!

So Humilated!

As I enter my blog after almost a years absense, I found this, dated March 3, 2016. We've come so far, we aren't there yet but we're closer than we were before. 

OK, OK, I resorted to "click bait", it's true. I have had thoughts about humiliation v. humility for weeks. Let me give you a bit of background to that thought.

Currently,  we are quite literally living off the charity of others. Charity can have negative connotation in our society, especially if you are the one needing it. It is a word we can use frequently with a touch of superiority. We make "charitable donations", do charitable deeds for those less fortunate that ourselves. 

Charity is defined as, "benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity". The origin of the word is from a Latin word meaning Christian love, dearness. It's akin to Old Irish word meaning "friend". That is a word loaded with All The Good Things. We all admire those who have given their lives to charitable living, those living in the trenches, those who get into the dirt and grime to embrace marginalized people. Think Mother Teresa.

In our society, it is a noble thing to give to charity, even the government supports charitable donations. Giving to the needy had always filled me with good feelings. Seeing the needy pulls on my heart. I generally tear up when I do face-to-face charitable deeds.  It feels good. I also find it humbling. Giving costs me. Sometimes, not much at all, sometimes it's a big faith thing. Sometimes, an act of obedience. 

So, where I am now? On the receiving end, that's where. You know what's hard? RECEIVING! I am very independent (You're shocked, right?). Not being self sufficient is hard. Not being financial independent is hard. We put a lot of stock on that in our culture. It can be a thing of pride, not being financial independent can be a thing of much shame. I have felt plenty of shame about that myself. 

One day last summer after Paul lost his job, I was in my room angry cleaning. I was talking to Jesus, probably a bit angry there too, however, He's bigger than my anger and answered me anyway. Deep within my spirit I had such a strong sense that our next step was learning to live on faith. That did NOT inspire me! It filled me with dread! Great! I would NEVER have those things that I want! Ever! However, I knew with all that was in me that that voice was the Father's and His word is true. 

We are approaching one year of Paul not working and having cancer, not knowing when he will be able to work again. We have been living on my wage, which is good, but not sufficient for our expenses. We also had insurance on our mortgage and loan, thankful we made that decision. Life still costs more.  We have been subsidized by people who are giving, some from their overflow, some at cost to themselves. There is nothing so humbling as receiving the widow's mite. 

Which brings me to my point, weekly, sometimes almost daily, I come face-to-face with a choice, do I receive this humbly or do I feel humiliated? Saying "thank you" and feeling like that suffices, that is hard. This is just for us. Just because we are in need. I have to make the choice to hold my head up and understand that this is charity in the best possible definition. Sometimes, I feel myself wanting to curl up and feel humiliated. How dishonouring would that be to those who give out of CHARITY, out of love and friendship?

We are completely stunned and overwhelmed by the charity of our people. Seeing a glimpse of how many lives we actually have touched and who have touched us. It is a very humbling thing. We are so grateful to each and every person who has given of themselves to care for us and support us, just because we are us! That's really big. It is so big my eyes overflow at the thought. 

Recently someone asked me what my favorite Bible verse was. I'm not sure that I have one but if I do, chances are that it is the verse that my Oma had on her wall. 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.     Psalm 121:1-2
  
Or as it read on her wall:

Ich hebe meine Augen auf zu den Bergen von welchen mir Hilfe kommt.
Meine Hilfe kommt von dem HERRN, der Himmel und Erde gemacht hat.

Nothing remains truer. All these people are simply the hands and feet of my help source.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

I'm His Favorite

Favour, we all seek it. From infancy to adulthood, something inside of us cries out for favour. The favour of man is fleeting and subjective. The favour of the Father is eternal. The Bible is filled with promises of God pouring out his favor on his people.

I found myself looking for favour. I went to a conference for worship musicians. I was surrounded with people who were being drenched in His favour. I was not jealous, I was just looking for mine. To me, my favour looked like singer/songwriter. My friend was getting these songs just downloaded into her brain almost faster than she could write them out! My husband was receiving inspiration and wisdom daily. Me, I felt like I was just a sidekick. Nothing seemed to be coming in my direction. This was supposed MY time, I was the one who instigated this trip anyway!

I went to the prayer chapel one day at a time of overload. I wanted peace and time to just talk with Jesus. While I was at the chapel, sitting in the sunshine, I was getting my "download"! It didn't look at all like what I was looking for. No songs dripping with epicness dropped on my lap. Instead, I received a basic outline for our music program at church (which reminds me, I should really work on that...). It was good. It was relevant. It didn't look like what I was looking for at all.

Fast forward, skipping an epic moment or two, we returned to our normal lives. My husband had lost his job and we fully expected him to find work after we returned from our trip. Except, he didn't. About a month ago, we though we had something. It was good! It was service! It was going to be epic! Except that it crashed and burned, badly. It hurt. We were all in, sold out, willing to sacrifice everything to do what was set before us. Now what? God, what is going on? I was so certain in this path, more certain than I had ever been before, ever! I still believe that it was His plan, but all of us have choices, and others made choices that killed ours. Now what?

Amidst this heartbreak, the hubs was diagnosed with cancer. Are you serious? All this other crap isn't enough right now? What? Where does one go in all of that? I went into shock. Not medical, just a bit dead. I wasn't depressed, sad, angry, just emotionless. Thankfully, it's a "good kind of cancer to get", if there is such a thing, definitely not a death sentence.

Through all of this, I am still a worship leader. I still have to choose to get up in front of lots of people and lead them into worship. I can't do fake. They can tell if it is fake. Fake makes me vomit. Before we knew the diagnosis, we had been seeking prayer and others around us were being healed. Wow. And I'm His favorite? (seriously, I know we are all His favorites, OK? I get it, but that still means I'm His favorite!) The night before this shock broke off of me, I was praying about the worship I had to lead the next day. I had such a sense of God's favour hanging over our heads just waiting for us to reach for it (us, collectively, the church). During worship, I spoke about seeking His favour.

After the first service, I mulled over the thoughts in my head about favour. I know favour isn't fair. Favour is something that is good for us, something that the Father LOVES to give. I suddenly realized that I was looking for favour in the wrong place! I wasn't looking for favour where is was, I was looking for it where I wanted it to be. I was looking for ease of life, you know, a job, a healing or treatment, in my timeline, a brilliant song that would be song by hundreds. Instead my favour is the peace that I have had throughout what would normally be a really difficult summer. That's favour! An envelope on my car windshield jam pack with cash. That's favour! Coffee (Pumpkin Spice Latte) and muffin (Pumpkin/Cream cheese) delivered to me at work by two of my favorite people, on a Monday! Trust me, that's favour! A bunch of summer fresh veggies gifted by green thumbed friends, that's favour! Opening my wallet and finding a wad of cash with a note, "Rest in His Love". That is favour. Becoming a part of a group of friends that are becoming more and more like family, that is favour!

I can't look into someone else's life and see their favour and think that is what mine is supposed to look like. My life has my own struggles and my own glories. This valley that we are walking through is pretty deep. It seems very long. Yet, through it all, The Presence is so strong! The assurance that God's got this is overwhelming. 

This is an excerpt from The Passion Translation, Psalm 23, my new favorite.

"1God is my Fierce Protector and my Pastor. I always have more than enough.
2He provides a resting place for me in His luxury-love. His tracks take me to the quiet brooks of bliss, the oasis of peace.
3That's where He restores and revives my life. He opens before me the pathways to God's pleasure, leading me along in His footsteps of righteousness, so that I can bring honor to His name.
4Lord, even when Your path takes me through The Valley of Deepest Darkness You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Because You are with me. I have no fear of danger! Your authority is my strength and peace. The comfort of Your love takes away my fear. I'll never be lonely for You are near.
5You become my delicious feast Even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of Your Holy Spirit; You give me all I can drink of You until my heart overflows.
6So why would I fear the future? For Your goodness and unfailing love will always be my companions every day; Then afterward, when my life is through, I'll return to Your glorious presence to be forever with You!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Good, Good Father

What comes to your mind when you think "God"? Do you think of a loving daddy? Do you feel comfort? Are you frightened?

I am a Christian and have been since I was a very out spoken 6 year old. It was logical that I become a Christian, I was going to a Christian school after all. There was no earth shattering redemption from the black hole of filth of my own making. How much mess could a 6 year old have made? I was too young to drink, my mother would not have let me get away with anything terrible, even by 6 year old standards!

During my teen years I had a few renewals of the heart. I wanted to make good and sure all my bases were covered. Every one was heartfelt and sincere. I never got into much trouble as a teen so even then, no radical 180° turns required.

In my 20s I had to decide if my faith was truly my own and not just the result of my upbringing. Having small children did not leave me much time to THINK DEEP THOUGHTS very often. I do remember not trusting God with my children. I thought he would take them away from me to "teach me a lesson". Surely, I had plenty to learn. I survived pretty much on my own. I was exhausted.


Until recently, the picture in my mind when I thought of God was of good ole Abe Lincoln sitting on his concrete chair, cold and distant, waiting for me to mess up again to say, "See? I told you, you never listen!" I did not see a good father, I did not see someone who loves me.  



I have a good dad. He has been a great example of a good father to me. Why did I think God would not be a good father? I am sure many would analyze my life and say that my father let me down, did not praise me enough. To that I say, Phewy! If we are going to play that game, we will do so all the way back to Adam. I am sure my dad did not do ALL THE THINGS RIGHT. None of us do. I refuse to lay blame at my dad's feet. That would mean my children can do the same thing to me! There is no way I am perfect! I have broken most of the "Good Mother" rules. This will only bring about condemnation furthering defeat. Do I have little girl memories when my daddy hurt my heart? Of course I do! Did my dad intentionally do things to hurt me, ABSOLUTELY NOT! We all work within the scope of our life experiences and hurts.

I know why I thought of God as cold and distant. I will let you in on that little secret. As long as I remained intimidated by the God I serve, I remain ineffective. I have always believed in God's existence. I have only recently believed in His goodness. How can I inspire others to embrace the goodness and love of God if I myself do not believe? If satan's desire and mission is to cripple Christians, all he has to do is convince us to believe a lie. Mission accomplished. 

The picture I now see of God is still in His big chair, but now I see Him engaged in me! Looking at me like a father would look at a child he is enjoying. I have engaged with Him and saw myself sitting on His lap, snuggled into His chest. I am learning to speak to Him. Jesus' death on the cross makes it so that I can. The difference this understanding has made in my life is noticeable, even to those who do not know Him. This difference changes my entire perspective on who I am which in true effects how I speak to others, my children, my husband and every person that I meet. 

What do you see when you think of God?

 Here's what I know, He's a Good, Good Father.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm back!

These days so many thoughts are roiling around in my head and since processing my thoughts out loud usually leads to eyes rolling back in heads as people fall asleep, then they start to drool and it gets embarrassing. I often don't even know what I'm thinking until I hear myself say it. Oh, you've noticed?

I was just reading my old posts and I still feel the same. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up! I do now work outside of the home. I am working as a legal secretary, so not what one would imagine me doing but, God is good. He provides and this is what I do. In four to five years, my bosses will retire. I don't want to find another secretarial job then. Eww.

Thoughts are clamouring to be let out. Do I have what it takes to be a mom, wife, secretary and student? Will my brain know how to study? Will it know how to retain information? Will it be what God has for me? I've gone down enough rabbit trails trying to do my own thing. Tired of that! Will my passions align with my purpose? That would be amazing!

See? Now you know why I might need to rant sometimes!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Musings of a Deep Thinker

Ha! You may not know this, but when I think, it is very deep. So deep I often can't verbalize what it is that I have concluded. Some thoughts just don't go away and must be thought completely before they will leave me at peace. There is a reason for this. God wants me to grasp something that I need to know.

Something very powerful is happening in our world these days. Everyone feels it. Not everyone understands what it is about. It is the stirring of a revival like we have never seen. There is a very powerful stirring happening in the youth and young adults around me. There is a boldness that I sure never experienced as a young person. I was always kind of embarrassed by the fact that I went to church (a weird one) and a Christian School. I was odd. I felt odd. I hated feeling odd. Now I'm use to it. I have embraced my oddness. It is inevitable.

In light of what I have observed, I have been pondering my role. I could feel really left out that I'm not on the cutting edge of this fiery passion. I don't. I see that it is something for the younger ones. My role is different.

Acts 2:17-18 comes to mind as I think these deep thoughts.
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
(Just for the record, I'm not an old man. I'm not an old woman either. Considering that it the days that this was written, I would have fallen into the old woman category, I feel comfortable about using this for the purpose of formulating deep thoughts.)

I see the Spirit being poured out on all of us. I see it in my teens. I see it in my sister. I see it in my younger friends. I see it in my church. More over, I feel it in my spirit. It is more real than anything else I know.

I have concluded that my part in this amazing movement is that of a mentor. (Ack! Me being responsible! Egads! What is this world coming to?) Over my years of going to that weird church and Christian school, I have learned a ton of sound stuff! I might not know much about popular culture, but I know a heck of a lot about Christ Culture. I'm over feeling dumb and left out because I'm not up on the latest band, star, what have you. That won't get me anywhere and I really could care less. ( I didn't really care about the latest, but I did care about not knowing my own generation's information.)

I have been pondering this stuff for a couple of weeks a least. Today in church, the question was put out there for me, I'm sure of it. "What are the three top things you would like to be equipped in?" Guess what? I already had the answer for one of them. When does that ever happen? I'm not generally so prepared! Woot woot! Since this was put out to the home groups, I really don't need all of the answers, one will do!

I am finding that I am content when I am moving in the direction that I am called to. A huge step for me was leading praise. I've been part of the team for years. I used to in the weird church, but that was different. I KNOW that is what I am designed to do. I KNOW that I am to learn to hear my Father's voice so that I know without question what He is saying to me. The reason Jesus was never wrong is he KNEW his Father's voice. Imagine never having prayer unanswered, saying the right thing to someone at the right time, being His voice to those who haven't learned to hear it yet. Powerful. Not power to me, but glory to Him. Witness that makes Him undeniably awesome. Now that rocks!