Saturday, November 27, 2010

She's A Thinker

I turned my van round and round escarpment curves and sighed relief that we were finally headed home. Suddenly, a distressed, backseat Emily cried out, "My brain is so full of thinking that my head hurts! For another thought, my mind doesn't have room! Oh, I don't know what to do. There's just too much thoughts in my head!"

Folks, that one's a thinker :) What a five year-old could possibly have all squished in that little brain of hers, she couldn't explain. But it was definitely too full in there.

These are the moments that keep me sane in the daily grind. When I feel like complaining, God always reminds me in small and profound ways that I am so very, very blessed. I live alongside five of the most amazing people on the planet and I must count--I mean it--count those precious humans as gifts. Not to mention all else I've been given.

Adding just a few more to my 1000 Blessings Count (even though it's not Monday :)...

541. for seriously funny sayings spoken by little ones

542. for Christmas program practices

543. for the hockey season (yes, speaking words of life here :)

544. for making it to the final Ladies' Bible Study at church before the new year

545. for the homeschool table set up at the back for those kids whose moms needed Bible Study this week!

546. for a gracious bride-client

547. for an encouraging word that was planted by the Holy Spirit

548. for the Light which is now revealed to dear friends who've been in dark tunnels

549. for a sister who is patient, easy-going and calm during her bone scan testing in recent days

550. for healthy meals when others have so very little

551. for every tiny little precious interaction between me and each one of you... I cherish you all and am so grateful you're in my life!

holy experience

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who's Welcome Here?

Whom have you allowed to peek into your heart? Are you holding your friends at arm's length or are you drawing them into your "discomfort zone" by revealing who you truly are? Some of you have been burned. A friend has taken your vulnerability and gossiped to another... perhaps even a Christian friend. There's a friend who sticks closer than a brother, we read in Proverbs, and Jesus knows who we are and still loves us. He stands at our door and knocks, waiting for us to allow Him to come in.
But, He also wears skin. He left us with His Body; and His Spirit, as it resides in other Believers, becomes a comfort to us. God desired that we would lean on each other, bear one another's burdens, pray for one another. He desires that we dwell together in unity. If your little part of the Body has been severed, dare to trust again. It's God's will for you to open the door of your heart to His people. Pray that He would send you someone trustworthy to lean on. Pray for a mentor. These are His ideas for His children. That means when we pray for these things, we can know He'll answer in His timing. Be patient and lay down that wounded heart at Jesus' feet and begin again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Doing Thanks

It's not until you've had the rug ripped out from underneath you,
It's not until your heart has been torn into a million pieces,
It's not until you're not sure you want to go on,
It's not until you understand the hurting souls with the sad eyes,
That your very own gratitude to Jesus for the gift of His life means you're going to make it.
This is what "doing thanks" looks like.
Sometimes it's the only thing you can give back to Him.
Living a life of gratitude, despite the pain and circumstance.
...the only thing that brings joy into the dark places.

holy experience

Passing On The Word

She decided one day that she was going to church when her family made plans for a picnic. Her mother had agreed to let her go and so she did. "I had been an obstinate little girl, but when I made that choice, I really did choose God," my Grandma told me one day. She remembered that moment so clearly and attributed her continued faith to it.
Passing on the Word and it's life-giving importance became stronger with each generation. I grew up catching my mother sitting in her favourite chair, early in the morning, reading her Bible. Her pink leather Bible was always full of papers and pictures, underlining and dates. It was well worn and so were her knees. The legacy that was left to me is something I'm grateful to have experienced. My oldest daughter wrote a post on her blog yesterday and the joy I felt as I read her words is inexpressible. She too, is finding her desperate need for God's words and often shares that she's asking Him to help her apply something she's read in her personal devotions. Here is an excerpt from her post...

An Ideal Christmas Present

Last night I came across a verse in Proverbs. Right now Proverbs is one of my top favorite B.O.B (books of the bible). I like it because it tells you that something will happen if you are not careful to do this, or try to do your best on that because that is going to crush you if you don't. Know what I mean? Love it.

Here's the verse...Proverbs eight eleven. A.m.a.z.i.n.g. (!)
Okay, here it is! (So excited to share this with you!)...Aah!

"...for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her."

I love it how Solomon personifies wisdom (and the whole book of Proverbs). Personally I love personification. I'd like to use it as many times as I can! Also, I told my mom that I want wisdom for Christmas! Doesn't it say that nothing you desire can compare with her? Yeah. I think God gave me this idea. He speaks to people in different ways, but with me, it's the ideas :)
Father, let us pass your Word on to our children, and in opportunities with others, with all diligence, so that Your Name be lifted up, as it should be.
May I encourage you to read the True Word more than any other book this advent season?

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” - Psalm 100:4-5

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Morning Chaos

I'm happy and I'm sneaking quietly to the shower to get a head start. I've laid out the children's church clothes the night before and I feel good about my timing. Ah, the silence. I think about the fact that I may actually get to blow-dry my hair this time, that I may even be able to apply makeup before we leave the house. I realize that a cup of tea will have to be "to-go" but that's okay because I'm prepared in all other areas.

But somehow, the morning gets away from me and while I'm ironing the forgotten item and one child lies sleepily on the stairs and one is in a puddle of tears over not being able to find her other shoe, I sigh in dismay. My husband, who is trying to pull a shirt over a child's yawning face, is looking at his watch and calling for everyone to get into the van or he will be late for choir. I try to brush through the matted nest of my daughter's hair, as she cries like a wounded seal. My son is playing "drums" with the bananas we're taking with us for our breakfast-on-the-run and my mood is becoming less and less cordial.
Finally, we manage to get to the back door and someone lets the cat out. We tumble out of the house, now engaged in a game of chase-the-indoor-cat-who-longs-to-be-free and I'm exasperated. I set the alarm and lock the door, jump into the van, tearing my pantyhose, only to find out there's still one child in the house and I've locked her in. I'm muttering under my breath to my husband and I'm raising my voice to the three other children to "Get buckled!".
Our drive is not as joyful as I had hoped and while I try not to stab myself with my eyeliner, someone tattles that someone else has worn running shoes with her fancy dress and that so-and-so forgot to brush their teeth. I give up.
After dropping the four children off at Sunday School with forced smiles, hugs and kisses, I arrive breathless in the sanctuary where, obviously, the Holy Spirit has already shown up. I know this because I immediately want to cry. I feel His presence and I long for His comfort. For some reason, I'm resistant to Him and try to enter into the worship time pretending to be at peace. I catch my husband's eye from his choir row on the platform and I lose it. Tears come and I gush my need to the Lord for cleansing and renewal. He immediately responds and I'm swept away by his beckoning.
Grace on Sundays... it replaces the chaos for peace and offers forgiveness to accepting hearts. (#531)
532. for weekend success in homeschool organization (sometimes works and sometimes doesn't... this weekend I'm so prepared--now pray for me--ha ha!)
533. for our new contemporary evening services that send us home with solid, powerful teaching
534. for the advent season
535. for excited children who love their many, many Christmas program practices
536. for quick downpours--love them!
537. for scarves, mittens and colourful tights
538. for canvas prints
539. for how my children play "Helen Keller" every day :)
540. for my Christmas schedule I'm mapping out to avoid the mall this season

holy experience

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Trapped In Time

Are you waiting for something? Have you heard and read so many times to wait patiently, that God's timing is perfect? Sometimes it's so difficult to believe, isn't it? That He hasn't forgotten you? That He really is working out all things for your good? Try to imagine it this way, God transcends time. He is not governed by it. The end is as clear to Him as the beginning. He reads each moment as a whole and not as segments or a succession of time slots, as we do. He is and He always was. Your life to Him is one moment and yet He's to intimately involved with you every second. This is so hard for us to fathom but, since He is not bound by time, nor by "hindsight", your prayer is as much a part of your future as it is your past. He knows what you need and He's already provided it in the future. We wish we could see it all, as He does, but what we can do is rest in knowing that the prayer is already answered. Our best is already up ahead of us; we are trapped in time. Praise God that His love has already saved and provided for our future. Rest in this today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In The Thick Of It

Heaven--where every tear will be wiped away, all pain will be gone, all sorrow removed from us. My husband and I are in the throes of loving people through marital separation, depression, anger, sickness, disease, addictions, imprisonment, and recently finding out about adultery. We love so deeply and have prayed for the opportunity to minister. We've been through so much ourselves that we are passionate about helping our brothers and sisters-in-Christ.
But, there are days when we long for heaven more than other days. We can't fix them! Oh, how we want to wash it all away for our fellow sojourners, for ourselves! We can only lead them to the One who can, the One Who will forever, some day. We intercede, we meet, we advise, we receive, we pick ourselves up off the ground, we love. Praise God for mentors who lavish their wisdom on us so that we in turn, can share how Jesus has yanked us from the miry clay. We're so thankful to be in the thick of it... anything else would be a waste of time.

A Tight Fist

A scowl-faced girl with a tightly clenched fist stared deep into my eyes.
"I don't want to give him any!" she crowed.
I quickly prayed for wisdom. "But if you do, you'll never regret it," I replied, pulling my small, teary-eyed boy into the huddle. She kept her eyes fixed on me, refusing to acknowledge his presence. "When we share what we have with another person, we get to see their joy because of our kindness and that makes us feel so good. God made it this way so that we would love sharing."
Her grip loosened, knuckles not so white, shoulders dropped a little. The three of us stood in silence for a moment. I could almost see the wheels turning in her little mind. "Well," she began, eyes peering into her fist all stuffed with melting m&m's, "he can have one." She turned toward her brother and carefully plucked a brown candy from between her fingers and held it out to him. A grateful boy wiped his tears with the back of his hand and popped the m&m into his mouth.
She turned back to me. "That's good, right?" she questioned with raised eyebrows.
I sighed and pulled her in close. "It's a start," I whispered.
And off they ran, as though nothing had ever happened and I sat thinking about how often my tight fisted-ness has kept me from peace and joy. I had convinced myself that I give tremendous amounts of love and time to others--others who are easy to give to. But when I began to think about who in my life is difficult to selflessly give to, that caused me to wonder what God thinks of my giving. Is it all like "filthy rags" to Him if it's not with a cheerful heart? If it's not given equally to each needy one He sends my way? What about my cranky neighbour? My high-maintenance friend? My weary husband? I can see it all so clearly in my children, why not in my own selfish heart?
I bowed my head and opened my tight fists and asked the Lord to help me to give abundantly, uncompromisingly and selflessly to all... especially those who are difficult.
P.S. For all of you who are wondering if you're the high maintenace friend... you're not. I had no one in mind, in particular. In fact, I'm sure I can be one of those too :)

holy experience

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From Ethiopia With Love

I checked Anna's blog one last time and discovered that they had already left the Paris airport and were on their way home. Since I couldn't tell when that post was written, I immediately sprang into action, gathering my children.
"We're going to get there too late! Let's move quickly!" I called.
We pulled up into their driveway to hang the pink celebratory balloons around their home. Anna and Paul's family had obviously already been there and had staked a huge homemade sign on the front lawn. I grabbed the balloons and string just as the family pulled up beside me. They were meeting each other to drive to the airport together. They had signs and cameras and were bubbling with excitement. The adrenaline of all of us was high... and I was glad we weren't too late!
Since we now had some time, the kids and I decided to chalk pictures and messages all over the driveway... just to make things look even crazier :) It was so thrilling to be part of such a miraculous homecoming.

She's finally home! Welcome Baby Deborah Audrey Nekemte Vos to our community of love. We've been waiting so long for you. Praise God for your beautiful little self :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Workin' Mommas

It occurred to me, in the middle of the night, that there may be some working mommas out there who feel like they'll never be able to influence their children the way that homeschooling mommas do. I'm not implying that stay-at-home mothers are not working but I am talking about those who step out into the world every day, kiss their babies goodbye and entrust them to others while they are away. Whether you work outside the home because you desire to or because you have to, I'm here to encourage you that you are having a profound influence on your children. Homeschooling mothers also face insecurities because, while we are with our children for countless hours, we can fall into escapism. We struggle to carve out "me-time" and thus, are tempted to push our children away and can even create a negative environment. And, sometimes we just want to be like you! :) We are all just moms on the journey to raising our children in the Lord.
As women, we were designed to care for our offspring. Our circumstances may not allow us to do this in the way we think is ideal or we may not feel we are equipped to be the primary caregivers of our children in the daylight hours. But, in the heart of every mother, the ache to do it "right" nags at us. We read about it, talk about it at playgroups, we see other women at church and at work and we compare. We ask ourselves, Am I a good mother? Am I influencing my children for the kingdom? Am I even capable of remembering to pack their lunches!? We are often guilt-ridden simply because we are striving for some sort of invisible standard. I struggle with these thoughts daily and I'm with my children all.the.time.
I have learned from reading and gleaning from other "fallen mommas" that what children need most is to know that when their mothers are with them, they're engaged. That looks different for each of one of us... which is why we cannot compare ourselves with others. Most importantly, our prayers for our children are what sustain them during their day--no matter where they are. God truly is the primary caregiver of our children and we must trust Him to watch over them, believing that He ultimately loves them more than we do. Is that even possible? Wow.
Practical tips are what I'm always looking for so I'm sharing what I've learned with you (and I know that some of you reading this have loads more to offer me, too!)
  1. Always smile at your children when they approach you.

  2. Touch your children as often as possible. This is especially important when you also must be working at home, in some way--perhaps on the computer. A little stroking of the hair or a snuggle on your lap as you type, helps them feel like you're engaged with them while you work.

  3. Take a minute to go with them to where they're calling you. I've "shooed" away my children too often while I was editing photos and quickly learned that taking a short break from the computer to admire a Lego tower or watch a dance goes a long way in the bonding department.

  4. Calculate the cost of not praying and reading God's Word with your children daily and then calculate the short amount of time it would take to add this into your day. If you're always racing to practices and appointments, pray in your vehicle and play worship music with them.

  5. Pray for them and pray over them. We can whisper a prayer that they will never hear but when we embrace them before heading out the door and quickly pray God's peace and protection aloud over their little heads, they'll always know their momma believed in God's power.

  6. Have a secret mommy handshake or code language saying that only you and your children know--something that makes them smile and feel loved (ex. the picture book The Kissing Hand).

  7. If they're old enough, write them a note for their pillow or lunch bag that let's them know you've been thinking about them.

  8. Before they fall asleep, tell them, "I love you because..." and fill in the blank with something you noticed they did that day. As they get older, they can reciprocate to you!

  9. Don't give into the endless amount of guilt that the enemy would love for you to carry.

  10. Sometimes a temper tantrum or angry battle requires a big hug rather than a lecture.

We're all in this together, friends. Let's encourage each other to be the best mothers we can be. That doesn't mean we have to be afraid of failing in front of one another, on the contrary! Let's be honest and humble. Bringing our struggles into the light is the only way we can be healed. Pray for other mothers instead of judging them. Every mother is in a different place and every mother can teach another something good. Have a wonderful, motherful week!

Just noticing now that Ann has some more tips on her blog too!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cousins Make Math More Meaningful

They aim to please, especially when it means that completing their math pages results in a longer recess time with their cousins :) My sister's four children were here to do their schoolwork with us again and somehow it makes each subject more meaningful. When an older one sits beside you and computes numbers you've never seen, well, that just spurs you on to do your own work to appear "big" too. I witnessed this phenomenon with each of my children who all have at least one cousin older than them. At times, you could have heard a pin drop with all eight of them in our little school room. Math becomes more meaningful, not to mention our morning message for Language Arts and Bible Time. They get along famously, most of the time, and somehow manage to include each other in their outdoor play as well. At lunchtime, all eight of our children performed a little dance for my sister and I, even the oldest, Jacob, to humour his dramatic cousins. Have I mentioned lately that I love homeschooling? :)

In Flanders Fields and In Our Home

In Flanders Fields the poppies blew; here, they serve to remind us of the sacrificial gift of life that was given for our freedom. In those fields where once young men marched valiantly, only painful memories floating amidst wooden crosses remain. Here, in our home, an eleven year-old girl won't allow their memory to be in vain.
Meghan sobbed throughout the War Memorial service we were viewing on T.V. this Remembrance Day. Cameras scanned face after face of wrinkled and weather-beaten veterans, eyes brimming, hands trembling. Wreaths were laid, children sang, and canons blasted periodically while prayers were raised and words were spoken in this annual funeral-celebration. All of my children were riveted, at times, but it was she, who still knows the pain of loved ones lost, she, who listens to the stories of Canada's past and internalizes them, who shook her head in grief. She threw her arms around me sideways where I sat and I held her awkwardly as she mourned. It's this tender heart that wouldn't let the rest of us turn away from the T.V. for a single minute, pointing us back time and again, when we were distracted. She will do great things for God with that sensitive spirit.
In Flanders Fields, they beg we take up their quarrel with the foe and here, in our home, that baton is received, and in prayer, one girl marches against the real enemy behind every war.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Every Day Is Dress-Up Day

In these here parts, every day is dress-up day. Halloween night usually means we go with our cousins and stop at our favourite neighbours', who love to see the kids, then off to Grandma's and then onto the church for the Harvest Party. This year, all of the kids, as well as, my husband were not feeling well. I had just returned home from my retreat two hours before and they just had to dress up anyway! We didn't end up going to the church, which is a twenty-five minute drive for us but we did manage to visit a few people with our beautiful butterflies, Egyptian princess and little cowboy :)
But, it wouldn't matter what day it was, these children of mine love nothing more than dressing up and play-acting. We've joined a homeschool theatre group and are presenting Peter Pan in June. This will feel quite natural to my children as they dance about as some new character a few times a day. My husband and I have no lack of entertainment.
Now, if only someone would come and make all this candy disappear!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Random Act Of Culture

With the proposal for change of the Canadian anthem and other ways the media has led us to believe that Christianity is no longer appreciated, there comes something called the effect of the Holy Spirit, which no one can deny. If you haven't viewed this incredibly moving scene of shoppers at Macy's, stopping to take part in the Hallelujah chorus (with the choir), watch it and see how an enormous amount of people know the words to this famous piece that proclaims Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! It brought me to tears. Every knee shall bow!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

They Can't Take It Away From You

The Holocaust. We're talking about it together today. I want my children to know the wise words I've heard lately and listened to again on this video, "What you keep in your head cannot be taken away by anyone." The Bible tells us to hide God's Word in our hearts so that we don't sin against Him. Keeping Scripture in our minds and hearts also protects us spiritually and emotionally from what "man" can do to us physically. Alice, who is the oldest holocaust survivor in the world (107 this month!), knew how to maintain her sanity through this horrible time in her history. She shares it here. Watch and be inspired to be full of gratitude today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Best Medicine

She just finished yelling, through tears, at her brother for carrying things around in her purse because it is, "Just for show! It's my shelf decoration!". Barely a minute later, she stuffed the cat into that "show purse" and paraded around with her all squished in there. I pointed out that she was being unfair to her brother by now using the purse herself. Her head hung low. Suddenly, we all noticed how that kitty was so content in her little ten inch square spot, paws sticking out over the edge, tail draped on the other side. We all laughed so hard, Oliver too, and all was forgotten. Grace, mercy and letting things go. When your day is filled with disciplining and lesson-learning, the relief of a little laughter is so, so good.
Gratitude continues:
514. for sunlight bathing my kitchen floor this morning
515. for the forecast of a warm week ahead
516. for a little boy who is found playing drums on my tupperware and grocery items
517. for a five year-old girl who takes schoolwork to the next level every time... looking for how she can apply it in other ways... amazes me
518. for friends who stay after the mess has been made
519. for sisters who are more like friends
520. for the way the Holy Spirit can change an ugly situation in a heartbeat if a humble prayer is offered
521. for cousin sleep-overs that actually help my day run smoothly (thanks, Brooke)
522. for Little House On The Prairie Box Sets (oh the re-run memories)
523. for Kashi almond bars
524. for grace extended from one Christian to another (when judgment is so prevalent)
525. for the hope we have in the promise... train them up and they'll return to the Lord
526. for children who remember to pray a blessing over every shopkeeper and doctor we know as we drive through our town
527. for forgiveness... the only thing that allows us to maintain good relationships from now until the end (what a release!)
528. for beautifully varied Canadian seasons
529. for a dancing family... play some music and we break out into movement :)
530. for children who are pointing out the fruits of the Spirit in each other

holy experience

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Big Fat Fight

Ever have arguments with your spouse where you walk away feeling less proud of yourself than when you first entered into the boxing ring? This song, by Sara Groves, always reminds me that we can allow a heated moment to throw off a beautiful day. You can listen to the song here, but reading the lyrics is sometimes more powerful for me (see below).
Ter, I'm sorry for pushing about something so petty. I could have stopped it and I want you to read that I think you're the coolest dude I know. xo

It's Me

weather came and caught us off our guard
we were just laughing and feelin' alright
had such a great time just last night
we walked into a minefield undetected
you took a tone and I took offense
anger replacing all common sense

oh run for you life
all tenderness is gone
in the blink of an eye
all goodwill has withdrawn
and we mark out our paces and
stare out from our faces
but baby you and I are gone gone gone

incomprehensible layers of isolation
now you're the man with a heart of stone
making me pay here by being alone
seemingly justified righteous indignation
now I'm the woman who holds all her pain
looking for somebody else to blame

we hold all the keys to our undoing
cutting me down in small degrees
you know my worst insecurities
I'm making no effort to understand
no one can hurt you like I can
deep down inside the girl's waking up
she's calling out to the boy she loves

it's me
oh baby it's me
how in the world can tenderness be gone
in the blink of an eye

the girl in me she's callin out
oh the girl in me she's callin out
to the boy in you
to the boy in you

baby come back
baby come back to me

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day's End In The Life Of A Boy

Day's end has come and my boy sheds layers of clothing and energy. His five o'clock spurt of adrenalin has passed and as the sun dips down behind the treeline, he asks to be tucked into bed. The little body that once pushed that big yellow dump truck down the hall and those hands that drummed on my dishes and furniture and those eyebrows that wiggled up and down when he was in trouble, are plum-tuckered. Every waking minute has been used up with activity and as I cocoon his three year-old torso into puffy covers, he wraps his warm arms around my neck and kisses my cheek over and over. I smile as I remember how he had walked by and noticed me in my room earlier today and said, "You're cute, Mommy."

I stroke his thick, brush-cut as he repeats the same made up prayer he prays every night and I think about our conversation in the van on the way home. He was the only one running errands with me and I slowed down for a red light. Suddenly a very disturbed voice called out from the middle seat, "Mommy, don't stop! Roads are for races!". I laughed and he wasn't too pleased so I explained why I had braked. He was quiet for a few minutes and then retorted, "Oh, why do we have to have stoplights?"
A sleepy boy turns his head toward the window and snuggles deeper. He bids me goodnight and closes his eyes. Tomorrow is another day and we'll commence all this racing again. I lean in and press my lips to his gently pulsing temple and thank the Father that I get to experience life through the eyes of a boy-child.

Praise Drawing

We make ourselves quiet and listen closely to the words of the praise music.

God whispers pictures to us of His love. That's how we just know what to draw.

It's not just a regular art time.

We want to know Him and the Scripture in the songs inspires us to draw who He is or who we are in Him.

How precious are Your thoughts unto me, O God. (Psalm 139:17a)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Of Drawing Close And Hearing God's Voice (Concluding October's Theme)

Dwell on this: the Creator and Master of the universe designed you and wants to have a relationship with you. He did not make your body, soul and spirit and then leave you to flounder about in this life. He made you with the capacity of actually communing with Him. We don't deserve to be connected to an Almighty God because of our sin, but guess what? We get to anyway. God desires to speak to us. He longs to share the secrets of life with us. He wants to reveal His plan for our lives! How often do we wander this earth, fixating on things that don't matter or waste precious time?
Being raised in the church means you hear this stuff your whole life. That makes it wonderful, but it can also take the power out of it. If I heard the above information for the first time, at thirty-eight years old, I would be astounded and awe-struck! Since I've grown up with this profound knowledge, I've had the privilege of practicing it but also the unfortunate opportunity to dismiss and down-play it. What a terrible tragedy! That is why we need mentors, accountability, retreats and regular meetings with the Body of Christ. We need to be reminded of the matchless gift we have that in this Faith, we get to have conversation with the Living Founder!
Seek it, friends! Long for the drawing close. He'll meet you. Set time aside and keep it! Always have a notebook and pen. Begin with worship, whether it be through music or the reading of a Psalm aloud or by simply telling Him how awesome He is. Whatever you do, be still. Quiet yourself. Don't feel guilty about not being able to concentrate. When your grocery list comes to your mind and all the things you have to do that week, write them down! God is helping you be organized. He will order your thoughts and even help you to remember, in this time, things that are important that you may have forgotten. I used to feel so guilty about not being able to concentrate during my prayer time. I'd try to focus only to return to my lists. But this weekend, I learned that God even cares about all those little details and doesn't want me to try to push it away in my own strength. Honour those thoughts, ideas and lists to get them off your mind.
Next, if it helps, picture Jesus. It can be a picture of Him with you in your home or perhaps on the Sea of Galilee or on a hillside. This is just to help you focus your thoughts on Jesus. Then, you can write a question to God. He actually wants to answer it! Wait for His answer. God speaks to us through our spontaneous thoughts. Let the Holy Spirit flow and write down whatever you "hear". Don't doubt it. Don't fear that it's your own thoughts. Another thing I learned this weekend is that we can shut down the flow simply by doubting it. Just write. You can always go back later and check what you've "heard" and test it against Scripture. If what the Lord has been whispering to you lines up with His Word or His character, then you can believe He really did speak all of those things to you! How exciting!
Now, I've always known this. Have you? Practicing the beautiful dance of communication with God has been half-hearted, short and choppy with me, to say the least. I'm sure I've stepped on His toes many a time! However, I long for a deeper connection now and I've discovered that if we honour Him with our time, He promises to be there and to reciprocate. It's what He has designed us for! The words He spoke to me this weekend left me reeling in my mind as to why I haven't been giving more of my time to Him. Ask Him friends, ask Him your most pressing questions. Ask Him what you don't need in your day. Ask Him how He wants you to approach that unsaved loved one. Ask Him how much He loves you. God wants to share His thoughts with you (Psalm 139:17)! He doesn't take pleasure in sitting back and watching us try to figure it all out on our own. He says, "Come to me all you who are heavy with burdens and I will give you rest." He says, "Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." He even speaks to His people in visions and dreams. And why not? Did He not create our minds for this capacity? What else is our dreaming for? Why wouldn't He communicate with us by using an intricate part of us that can be used for His utterances? All of life belongs to Him and points to Him. Every part of us is for Him.
So, wait on the Lord, journal what He tells you and digest it. Soak it in. It's in this relationship that He can save your day, your marriage, your friendships, your motherhood, your life. Enjoy continuing to draw close and I pray that we may all grow wiser, full of joy and peace as we move into a new month and season with all we've learned together. God bless you.