Saturday, March 24, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

I want to dance in the lion's den!  I want to dance in the lion's den!  I want to dance in the lion's den! -- Tanner, age 4 1/2, singing at the top of his lungs

It isn't surprising, really.  I have been studying Daniel in my weekly Bible study.  We had Daniel in our school curriculum.  And the boys have been learning about Daniel in Sunday School.  I am not sure what triggered Tanner's song, but he was gustily singing it for several minutes.

Because of all this emphasis on Daniel in our house lately, I have been thinking a lot about the lion's den.

I have often felt like I am there.  Single parenting stinks some days.  Having grief as my companion stinks some days.  Having all the household chores and the running people to and fro from soccer to guitar to AWANA to play dates stinks some days.

But am I in the lions' den, really?

Daniel, an eighty year old man, was looking into the teeth of lions as he was tossed downward.  He knew if he followed God he was going there -- down into a pit full of hungry lions.

Even so, he did not waver in his devotion to God.

Can I say the same about me?

Some days, sure.  I am "in the zone" and can say that God and I could tackle anything life could throw at me.  Bring it on!  My God is bigger!

Some days, not so much.

I am burdened by the things of this life in a way that I don't want to be -- and that God doesn't want me to be.

How do I let go of that?  How do I stay so focused that I am not scared, even when looking at teeth and claws on the way down?

Lesson from a four-year old:  dance!

Sometimes that means turning on the praise music and actually turning about the room.  The boys are often right there with me, and we sing and twirl and act goofy until we all are breathless and laughing, happy to be serving our God again.

Sometimes it means reading Psalms quietly in my room and dancing in my mind.

Sometimes, I admit, it means picturing myself twirling in Keith's arms again.  That one usually makes me smile as well, because, as great a guy as he was, the man could not dance.

Sometimes it means putting my feet on my Father's, holding on tight and dreaming of some day.  When I was a girl, these dances with my earthly dad had me dreaming of being a grown-up lady and dancing with a groom.  Now, I dream of a different Groom, and that dancing will be glorious.

Now the lions don't look so bad; the drop down the hole does not look so deep.

Not bad theology, kid!  Keep it up!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -- Hebrews 12:2-3

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good Pictures?!

There are times when the prevailing thought in my head is, "I wish I could talk to Keith about this....."

When I was having a stressful day with the boys, my 9-1-1 call to him always started, "Do you have good pictures of the children?!"

He would take a few minutes to talk to me, even if things were hairy at work, and would "talk me down." this one, he is making a funny face...Well, he has gotten so much older this one doesn't really look like him any more...This one is missing the dimple (that would be if it was Matthew)...Well...Hmmm...I think you better keep him alive...I don't have any good pictures of him.

(Lest you think I was serious, this would be a figurative killing of the child, not literal.)

By the time the conversation was done, I would go from a stressed-out, heavy-breathing mom to a somewhat rational human being again.

But, I don't have that any more.  I have to deal with my frustration, my anger, my stress...on my own.

Well, not really.

You know what I do now?  I have a similar conversation with God.  Right out loud.  I speak out in frustration, fear, anger, stress, from any and every emotion that I feel.  God is big enough to handle it.  I don't blame Him (usually)...I just claim the emotions.

You what I have found?  Then I can more easily let them go.  God will respond to me in my spirit similarly to how Keith would have if he was here. 

Today, for instance, in talking with God I told Him, "It's never about me!"  His response?  In my spirit I felt Him say, jokingly, "It's always about you!  Your worries, your fears, your stresses."  It was not condemnation that I felt, but love and acceptance of me and confirmation that this is the place He wanted me to go -- big picture with the loss of Keith, and smaller picture with these conversations with Him.

And, just like my conversations with Keith, I am back to the somewhat rational human being again. 

Only now I have some food for thought about making it all about me....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Following the Fire

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, SO THEY COULD TRAVEL DAY OR NIGHT.  - Exodus 13:21 (emphasis mine)

Reading today the second half of this verse struck my eye.  It seems that the Israelites traveled day and night.  Imagine!  A million people! Small children and pregnant women!  Surly teens and overworked parents!  Day and night!  Makes me weary just thinking about it!

But God was there.

He may not have saved them from the work -- He could have, but He didn't.

He had His purposes for them to have to work hard for their freedom.  I imagine it had to do with trust of God.  If things were easy for them, they would not have to trust God so fully.  They could have escaped in their own strength, and not have had to work to become the devoted, obedient believers they were in the process of becoming.

How much like the Israelites I am!  I need constant reminders of God's love, my own pillar of fire! 

And God graciously provides!  He is always, always, always there.  He is always leading me, whether I am traveling light -- or with the baggage of a thousand sad days, a thousand bad choices, a thousand moments of uncertainty -- or a thousand-pound bad attitude.

He doesn't promise the journey will be easy, but He promises to be there.

Just as God led the Israelites day and night, He will lead me...if I let Him.

But the people You redeemed, You led in merciful love; You guided them under your protection to Your holy pasture.  -  Exodus 15:13 (The Message)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Flowers and Candy

For those of you who saw my last post, I had been more distant from the Lover of my soul than I had wanted. 

I had the opportunity on Sunday to tell some people how much they have meant to me and my family, something as a people I don't think we do enough of.  I shared how they had blessed us and I think that blessed them as well. 

Then my Lover sent flowers and candy to my soul.  My connection with Him deepened in just that moment.  I felt His presence to the point of tears. 

Funny how often the fix for me is to look outside myself and do something for someone else!

Here is the prayer that winged its way from my heart onto the page at that moment:

Gracious and awesome Lord - I am humbled by Your love and care for me and my byos.  It brings me to my knees emotionally to think of what good care You take of us.  Even though today, especially, I miss Keith more than ever, I wouldn't change my life, where we have gone, where we are going, for amything because You are there, there, there!  I can't imgine my life not being as it is now.  I glory in serving You, in being Your instrument to allow others to step up and help us and therefore bless us and further Your kingdom.  Help me to never, never forget that -- or my boys to forget that.  I love You!  Help me to live for You always, always, always! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Couples Time

Okay, so I have been incredibly busy.  You may have guessed that by the lack of posts.

Things have been crazy here, and, often, so have my responses.  It seems the volume of our house has changed and everything occurs at a new volume in the last few weeks -- and that volume is not softer.  Just so we are clear.

What is the problem?  I have wondered.  What is going on with them, with me?

Then it dawned on me.

I remember being married to Keith and in some seasons I was with him, but not with him.  We were near each other and working toward a common goal, but did not have the time or the energy to just be together.  Too often, due to the busy-ness of life, we had what my sister calls task talk only, and not lover talk (that  intimate talk that was not about the words but about the blending of spirits, the openness between us).  I have to admit, mostly it meant that I dropped my agenda and listened to him instead of just pushing on.

Now, in this life I lead, God is my Husband (and so much more, but that will be for another post). 

Unfortunately, I am guilty of the same thing in this relationship -- doing mostly good, God-honoring stuff, pushing along to what I see as His goals for me and for the family -- but not spending that intimate time with the Lover of my soul.  Oh, sure, I am reading my Bible and doing my Bible study work, but I see that as becoming more like task talk than lover talk.  

I am an overworked mom (can anyone relate?) who spends more time dealing with broken feet and dog throw up and dirty socks and grading papers than I do basking in the love of my Savior!

Revelation made.  Now how to solve. 

Cheap quote from The Princess Bride:  "I am waiting for you Vizzini! You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have. This is where I am, and this is where I'll stay. I will not be moved." - Inigo Montoya

That really is the answer, though.  Go back to the beginning.  When do I feel closest to God?  When do I listen best to Him?  Probably for me, the answer is in writing and prayer -- which often occurs simultaneously.

So, that is the goal.  To be still more to know that He is God, and to rest in His arms, having lover talk with Him whenever, however possible.  It is crucial to my life, as the last few weeks have indicated. 

Watch and pray with me that I can find quiet time in Him, and thereby find peace in me.

You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. -- Revelation 2:3-5a