7.31.2011

Sometimes It's Scary



Have you ever been venturing into uncharted territory in life, happily plodding along trusting God, figuring faith has you covered when all of a sudden 
POW:  fear clobbers you like an iron pan to the head and suddenly amidst the stars circling around, you remember that you have no business in this new, unknown land anyway and you better get your tush straight on outta here before something worse happens. Yup, that was me as I perused some wonderful Faith Blogs and considered some guest contributing opportunities to share, learn, network and grow. All of a sudden I was reading the details and suddenly I went from inspired to downright conspired against! I felt like I had just seen those "Giants" that were "Grasshoppers" in Joshua's & Caleb's eyes. I FELT like the grasshopper in a land of giants and suddenly my portion seemed very small. Well if that isn't enough to send me running right to my Father's feet I don't know what is. I need to remember that with the Lord with me I can do all things through Him. I think this is an important verse to cling to when I am stepping out in faith following Him. I need to understand there are times when it might seem scary. I think back to Israel's history and so often they were looking at scary circumstances. But they also saw the Lord their God make a way where there was no way. I feel these days I am on a similar journey. Do I hearken back to the familiar, comfortable and known safety of the past or do I continue to step out and see God's mighty hand provide, guide and lead me into a new place of faith and life I have not yet known. I do not have answers yet. Just hints, whispers and a path I have yet to see clearly. The result of this is my eyes are on the One who leads. I dare not take them off of Him, because this is what He desires of me. This is the only way for me to "Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway", as the title of a book I read years ago by Susan Jeffers states. This is the path I must follow. It is an unknown path to me but not to the One I am following.
May I keep my eyes fixed on Him as He leads me. May I be found faithful. May I fight the good fight and bring glory to His name, not by power, nor by might but by His Spirit. May your fears, friends, also fall by the wayside in the light of His Truth and Holy Power.
  May all your perceived giants be but the grasshoppers they truly are when you realize, accept and acknowledge the God of the Universe is standing by your side. Let us walk into this uncharted territory together, by faith into the beautiful land filled with milk and honey that the Lord is calling each of us to.

Words of encouragement from THEN for NOW and ALWAYS: 

Numbers 14:5-9,
Deuteronomy 31:6, 8,
Philippians 4:13, 3:13-14
Psalm 56:3-4





Take a deep breath of faith and press on to your own high calling!
Enthusiastically Yours,

Dawn

7.30.2011

Home, Sweet Home!



I have just returned from a wonderful family vacation and am looking forward to sharing my latest life revelations, once unpacked! Priorities, after all. But, truthfully, I enjoyed all that God allowed on my recent trip to Maine and did not even have ONE inspirational thought for this blog while I was there. But you know there really is always more going on beneath the surface. Since writing is such an integral part of my life, like breathing, it is rare for me to go a day without a pen stroke. I remember years ago I had a quote on my bulletin board that read ( To this day I cannot find it anywhere!) something like: " A writer needs to live, live, live. Read, read, read and write, write, write." So during this vacation I focused on all of the above! The living part was filled with trying new things and experiencing many blessings. I still need time to digest and reflect on the beauty of this gift God gave our family and me personally. I did this regularly, as I sat on the beach in the mornings looking over the beauty of the mountains, but I kept most of my writing to detailed journal entries capturing the experiences we had daily. I purposed to really be available and present completely every moment. In this day and age that is a challenge! Fortunately one of the blessings was no TV, computer or cell phone service (for the most part). What a wonderful gift for our family. Of course there was a portable DVD player for a rainy day movie and some of our camping friends had TV for some chill time for kids who wanted a little plug in time. But for the most part we just were able to enjoy what each day brought, together. Of course, I did get to peruse two wonderful booksellers while on vacation and I was able to get a couple of very old books. Even though I had my Kindle with me and  I also had books from home  I still found new books to procure. Perfect. So writerish, right? Or should I say, write?

This week allowed me to truly recreate the way the Lord wants. Recreation should be time spent being "re- created". Vacation as well as daily quiet times allow this to be time spent renewing, refreshing and replenishing my vision, creativity, enjoyment of life and love for others.
Sometimes the best thing we can do in life is the very thing God has before us RIGHT NOW! In the midst of harried lives, He brings stillness, peace and rest. Sometimes we miss out because we are tuned out, burnt out, distracted or mentally unavailable. This is not God's will anytime for us, but a vacation really can remind us of how blessed we are and also help us appreciate and say with satisfaction today, "Home, sweet home" and really mean it. Because dear ones, home is wherever the Lord has us right now- we are always "at home" with Him who gave His life for us.


Posing with my bookstore find!
"The writer's duty is to keep on writing…" William Styron

Well rest assured- God is faithful and He did show me some things worth sharing even while I was on vacation. As we drove home the words and thoughts were already forming in my mind, much to my own surprise. I pulled out the notebook and pen and began to write (Fear not, friends my husband was driving!). Such is the way of the writer's life. That particular draft will be shared within the next day or two. SO please be sure and stop back here. Until then, make sure you do keep digging beneath the surface...
One more thing:

In case any of you missed my post on Melinda Todd's sight "Trailing After God"  I wanted to put a perma-link (I think this is it below- give it a try) to the Trailing After God guest post.



Enthusiastically Yours,

Dawn




7.22.2011

Lessons From A Dog's "Ruff" Life


Banjo

A few years ago we adopted a dog from a rescue in Arkansas- of all places,
and he has been teaching me lessons on life, 
love and TRUST ever since he came to live with our family on that fateful day. 

I have really never trusted dogs, although I love all animals. 
I confess I have been biased towards cats most of my life as far as the domestic arena goes. 
I have kept company with many greats, there is no doubt about it and faithful companions they have been. But my focus for this post is really a dog not cats and how one particular dog is teaching me
Dogs to me have always seemed more unpredictable - I just did not trust them. 
Of course part of this belief came from my lack of firsthand experience with dogs.
 I can read cats well.
I have studied them with delight and although many believe them to be less loyal than dogs, 
I have found this to be completely inaccurate. 
They just don't do the "pack" thing. 
They do everything on their own terms but they are not completely uninterpretable. 
You just have to know where to scratch and understand that claws and teeth 
are loving playfulness as well as angry expression. 
I remember telling my very possessive cat Arnold 
(named after Arnold Schwarzenegger- the bodybuilder not the Governor-at the time) 
while pregnant with my daughter, 
"You must love the baby".
 He did. 
I have pictures of them and she dragged the newly tolerant Arnold everywhere 
and he never lifted a claw or bared a tooth at my baby! 
When she would cry, he would sit on the end of the bed and cry. 
It was crazy!
But there came a time when my girl decided a dog was needed.
 Little did I know the sweet mutt that would come into our lives 
would ensnare my heart and turn me into a (forgive me felines) true dog lover. 
Looking back I really didn't think he was the cutest dog.
 But there was this look in his eyes I could not forget.
 I just so wanted the right dog for our family. 
It was about trust; this dog had to be good with cats, my girl and trustworthy to me. 
I didn't trust him at the start. He didn't trust me. 
We had to earn each other's trust. 
It took time. 
It also meant learning about one another. 
In the beginning if I walked near his food bowl, he would growl. 
It took time for him to realize that I wanted to give him good things not take them away. 
It took time for Banjo to learn who his family was. 
It also took time for him to know that he had a safe place with us. 
We all need a safe place to be...with people.
 Sometimes we lose our trust in people because of what we experience and we stop believing that there is a place of safety. 
As I watched our new furry family member struggle and learn to trust I saw so much of my own struggle with trusting others. 
Banjo had good reason not to trust. 
He was abandoned.
 Was he abused? 
Was he fearful during the long nights? 
Did some crazy territorial farmer take pot shots at him as he padded across his property? 
Whatever the case,  I know it took time, communication and love to earn his trust.
 I relate to our "pup's" baggage, but right now he is in a safe place, with a loving family. 
I see so much of the providence of God in his little rescue story. 
I see so much of my own struggle learning to trust a good, completely trustworthy and faithful God because of life experiences. 

I have been that growling dog baring my teeth 
when I feared  "my portion" would be taken.

But I have learned to trust the one 
who gives the portion that truly satisfies.


So thankful that God rescued me!
I will be on vacation for 1 week and hope to return with a fresh breath of faith to share!
In the meantime- keep digging beneath the surface,
Dawn

Winter morning watching the waves.



 Here is the Link to the Rescue we got our Banjo as well as his foster mom Janice's place:



7.19.2011

The Unlikely Bloom: His Purposes Prevail

The Unlikely Bloom in all it's Glory!
Coffee in hand "Bible Bag" in tow, I headed off to my early morning quiet time in the seclusion  of my lovely and much appreciated back patio. This is the place where I meet the Lord in the Summer as I sit and watch all of the bustling and entertaining activities His creatures perform for an audience of one. Well two, really. This morning was not unlike the other beautiful mornings. I come. He comes. I listen for His still, small voice. Sometimes I hear Him clearly, sometimes not at all. Some days I pour my heart out, other days I ponder all He is showing and teaching me. I read His word, reflect on His generous love and mercy, pray for those that come to mind and meditate on His truth. Often he uses the simplest things to offer the most profound insights and lessons. Sometimes the lessons are gentle, other times harder to swallow. Always they are measured out in love and grace, never in condemnation. He is not the bringer of that, that is not the way of the Teacher, but the way of man. This morning I was overjoyed to see the first Sunflower bloom towering jubilantly over the birdbath in the backyard. This is a much anticipated flower, you see because it was not intended by me, my husband or anyone else for that matter. And yet there it was from seed to flower without, effort, intention or attention from us. It truly is one of my very favorite flowers and much to our surprise God has intended that there should be quite a few of the lovelies billowing, beautifully from this place for the birds and my utter, glorious joy!

The first!
You see, the past few years we have been feeding the birds with abundance and plenty of Sunflower Seeds have been shelled, shucked, plucked and pecked during this time. At first the stalks were thought to be weeds but this Summer they have shot up with supernatural strength and speed. I remember the mess of shells at the base of the feeder and thinking to myself what a mess was left. But I knew the birds and other sweet critters (my family calls me  Snow White) had been regularly feeding through the seasons. Both my Mom, who lives with us,  and I, so enjoyed providing for them we could not be bothered about the messiness of their eating habits. So instead of a mess, now what I see is the most unlikely blooms where love was planted and a sweet reminder of how God's purposes prevail in the end.

Pre-flower- anticipating the blooms to come.



Look at the birds of the air ; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?  ~ Matthew 6:26


It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire of effort but on God's mercy.  ~ Romans 8:16


Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the
law of sin and death.  ~ Romans 8: 1-2


Well, I am truly blessed and feel kissed by Him, today!
Enthusiastically &  In His Grace- I remain,
Dawn

Notice the smaller stalks to the right!
A harvest of Blessing to come!

Lord, let me remain in you, remember that your purposes prevail
and in the end what remains is love. All else will be gone, pulled up by the roots.
(prayer based on Matthew 15:13) 


I am linking this post today anew with Emily and friends at Imperfect Prose. 
April 25, 2012


7.18.2011

"I Am That Woman" on Trailing After God

1993 in Florida "posing" for a professional photographer at a physique show.



Well friends, today I am thankful to guest post on a sister's Blog.
Please check it out and be sure to let me know what you think!
Thank you Melinda Todd for the opportunity to share my heart
and also for being the courageous woman of God you are!
Check out her story, website and my Guest Post here : I Am That Woman
(Archives July 18, 2011)
In His Grace for His Glory!

Remember, there is always more...beneath the surface! Don't settle for less- Keep digging!

Enthusiastically, Dawn

7.16.2011

Power Through Praise

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs
in his arms and carries them close to his heart.
 He gently leads those that have young.  ~Isaiah 40:11

I looked at the ad in the local "Reminder" again, as I did every time I picked up that little hometown publication. I scanned it looking for the ad as I usually did. There it was looking back at me as if it were the only ad in the paper. I can't remember the exact words, but the name and number of the leader of the Mom's In Touch group http://www.momsintouch.org/ was listed and it said the group met weekly to pray for their children. It was important for me to see that little ad for two whole years before I finally gussied up the courage to walk into the charming country church where they met, to pray for my own precious daughter. Thank God for the faithfulness of that leader. It was her faithfulness, availability and dedication that allowed me to go deeper in my God confidence at a time when it would be instrumental to my faith. It's not that I hadn't been in "mom's" groups, or that I wasn't praying. I just felt so completely inept in my ability to be a mom, wife and parent that I knew I needed more than outings to the parks and advice about potty training with mom's who seemed completely at ease with all of the challenges of their "Momdom". It wasn't easy or encouraging being around Christian mom's at this time in my life. Some seemed to be so secure in their own answers I felt no connection to them at all. Others would offer advice or be quick to judge without really knowing the full story. I remember thinking WOW! Where is the Mom Camaraderie I assumed existed among mothers? It seemed Mom's wanted to criticize and tear down and instead of encourage and build up. It also seemed to me that unless you fit a certain mold, you might not be included - except for some very peripheral activities. Where was the Mom Squad? It felt to me there was something missing and of course it would mean taking a journey... beneath the surface. I also want to make sure to mention that I can certainly think of a few authentic and down to earth women who were available along the way- after all God is faithful- and I understand that sometimes when he holds back giving something, it makes us a bit more sensitive to others to whom we may  have a heart and openness toward, because of our own experience, all in the end for His glory.

He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 
~ Ephesians 2:14


I first called Lucy after an incident that left me feeling once more overwhelmed by the demands of parenting a wonderfully strong willed and smart child complicated further by my attempt at homeschooling in a new community. She was kind and I told her I was interested in coming to the group. She let me know I was welcome and gave me details about joining. A year passed before I finally dropped in one morning. I knew Lucy had prayed me there! I was welcomed and I sensed God's protection and peace in that small place with the few ladies who had gathered faithfully to pray. As I began to come regularly to meet with these praying Mom's I felt my trust and faith in God and others growing in a healthy way, as well as a special love and appreciation for them. Hearing Lucy's Co-Leader, Faith pray for my daughter one morning really touched me significantly. This is what I needed, to hear another sensitive, listening,caring mom, lift up my girl, when I was too entangled in my emotions to feel I could pray effectively. It was such a gift! I thank God still for these ladies who became friends and prayer partners in my life and journey of faith.
However God was about to blow my mind with one concept that would change my perception of Him forever...


Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise,
give thanks to him and praise his name.
~Psalm 100:4

As I continued coming to the group and following the four steps of prayer -  See them here: http://www.momsintouch.org/leaders-corner/getting-started/4-steps-of-prayer  - I started to reflect more upon my own prayer time. There was something that wasn't quite right to me as we flowed through the time of Praise, Confession, Thanksgiving and Intercession. I realized that I often thanked God for all he did and acknowledged him for who he was but I did not yet fully grasp the Power potential of Praising God. I leafed through my prayer journals...lots of thanksgiving, yup. Ugly confessions (somewhat edited at times, just in case!) check. Intercession? Lots of that...names I knew well and random names that had made their way into my prayers but I didn't remember at all. Praise. Hmmm... my Personal Trainer mind needed to figure out how this fit into the regime. If my spiritual journey was like a fitness routine in some way I did not want to miss out on an important aspect that would make me better ie. bring me closer to the prize- the Lord Himself! It is just the way my mind worked. But praise became to me like the secret supplement coveted by the most serious athletes. Praise is critical to my spiritual well being because it does not depend on what God does, it is all about who He is! This is no small fact. It transformed my prayer life and relationship with God. It  took discipline and effort to stay with Praising him and focusing on His attributes, His names and His revelation of himself in His Holy Word. Anyone who has endeavored to grow spiritually or to attain physical goals, knows it is not without persistent, sustained and intense effort. But to those who can claim the prize, it is well worth the effort put forth! In the book Every Child Needs a Praying Mom , Fern Nichol's writes, "Praise is a lifelong, treasure finding journey of getting to know your God. It's distinguished from thanksgiving in that praise is worshipping God for who He is while thanksgiving is centered on what He has done." Dear friends, this is muscle building for your faith! You want to be stronger in Him - Praise Him! Learn of His names and attributes! Spend time focused more on The God in your circumstances rather than the circumstances you're in- with God.



Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.
~ Psalm 150:6

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power
is made perfect in weakness.
~2 Corinthians 12:9


 
If you have not tried this before I promise you you will be greatly blessed as you get to know the Author and Perfecter of your faith and the power that comes through praising Him for who He is. Focus on one of his many name's (Shepherd, Holy One, Son of Man etc.), attributes (God is Love, Faithful, Supreme) or Old Testament Titles (Elohim, El Roi, El Shadday) learn, dig and study then Praise the Amazing, Awesome and Almighty God for who He is! I love the book by Ann Spangler "The Names of God" and use it sometimes when I want to dig deeper in my quiet time and reflect on one of the Lord's names in Hebrew and stimulate some new praise muscle with this wonderful tool. (Couldn't resist one more fitness reference.)

 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 it's
shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~Hebrews 12:2




 








Well friends, this Praise post has been on my heart to share for some time! I pray it is a blessing to you- until next time- Keep digging beneath the surface! Don't forget to check back on Monday this week when my very special Guest Post will be featured on  Trailing After God! Here is a hint: It will be about a certain woman Jesus met at a well. Shhh...wait for it!

Enthusiastically Yours,
Dawn




*Some names have been changed to protect individuals privacy


7.15.2011

Being The Change I Long To See

 

   

 

  

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of” ~ Helen Keller


I confess, I am truly challenged at times in my little life. I long to soar on wings of eagles but instead find myself cackling among the crows. I desire to do extraordinary things ...instead I see before me laundry, dirty dishes and unmatched socks! I have learned that Jesus can bring great joy into the mundane. The key is my willingness to let him. Daily I surrender. Daily I resist. Slowly I am being transformed by His grace, truth and faithful love. (2 Corinthians 17-18) I guess I'd like it to be quick. I've never been patient. I'd love for the process itself to be less arduous (This is my favorite word of late). I'd like to find a shortcut. Instead my Savior guides me into that which is needful, not always what is wanted. He sees the end. I see only a part. He holds the vision, I see my temporary circumstance. He broadens my vision until eternity is continually within my view. I know not the length and duration of my stay but only the yielding daily of my way to His way.



"Be the change you want to see in the world."  Gandhi

I long for my husband to hear me, so make the effort to listen better to him when he speaks.
I long for my daughter to obey and trust her parents and God, so I learn to submit myself and lean on
the One who I can't see but who sees me. I long for others to be less judgmental, more accepting, less mean and more compassionate, so I strive to be gracious, kind and respectful to all, trusting in Him when I fail and fall.

Therefore as God's chosen people, dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity. ~ Colossians 3:12-14

My God is with me and He is mighty to save!
He takes great delight in me and all the while he quiets me with His love and rejoices over me with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

I know he can quiet you with his love, as well, my friend. He loves you to the uttermost. Oh, how He does love us, indeed!

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." ~ Mother Theresa

When we do our small things with great love my friends, the world takes notice. Let us endeavor then to be that change we so long to see in another. Let us get on with the noble task of living the life that God has given us with the same servant heart of the one who came to serve, live, love and die for us. I know it won't be easy but we have a MIGHTY God on our side. And we have each other to encourage!

Reflect on The Word: Ephesians 5: 1-2, 21,  Galatians 6: 7-10, 1 Corinthians 13

Grateful that all TRUTH is God's TRUTH. There is no other.
Until next time, Keep digging beneath the surface,
Dawn

I love your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
 Thanks, for stopping by!




7.11.2011

Road Blocks: Pathways to Discovery





How do you respond when you the path you are on is suddenly blocked? What is your first response? Do you shake your fist and holler out "Get out of my way" or "Coming through" and push  through anyway? Or are you the kind who stews quietly thinking the words you would never say. Maybe you respond with a diversion like checking your phone messages or the surrounding scenery. Chances are on your way anywhere in this life, whether literally on the road or just maneuvering along life's path, you are going to encounter unexpected road blocks, unplanned delays and various derailments for better or worse.Well I am here to share a few of my latest insights in light of my latest road blocks and how I believe they are helping me redefine my definition of success.

Lesson 1: Look Up or "Are you talking to me? "
Personally I have never REALLY had an animal speak to me BUT if I did I would like to think I might reconsider the direction I was travelling. When Baalam rides his donkey (Numbers 22) and is derailed, by an Angel no less, instead of contemplating the direction he is going he tries to plow on repeatedly until finally he realizes God himself is the creator of the road block standing between him and his gain. When we want to plow through obstacles we really need to be clear that God isn't re-directing us for a reason as in this case. Baalam's wrong motives as well as choice were completely out of the will of God. God deals mercifully with him despite it all. So lesson number one is all about looking up when something stands in your way. Check in and check yourself out before God. Maybe you are off track. He can get you back on the right path...or direct you to another.

Lesson 2: "Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option."
I am not sure who said this but it is a lesson that resonates strongly within me this year in light of recent personal circumstances. It just makes good sense. One of the biggest challenges we face as believers living in an unfair world is balancing our faith with common sense and practically living it out wherever God has us, often before an unbelieving world. Wisdom is needed and Wisdom is promised. But sometimes we forget and get sucker punched...so we pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and get on with it. Rose gardens are nice but begging your pardon, we are not promised a rose garden. (You know I have to include a random song that is triggered when I write).

Lesson 3: "Trust No-One"

Many years ago I was a fan of a TV program called The X-Files. The tag line of the show was "Trust No-One". Now this might seem extreme but I think we really have to be careful of who we trust. One of my first Bible Teachers reminded me that in this life I will be let down and I will let other's down. That is reality. We live in a fallen world and we ourselves are prone to sin. Once we are spiritually born into the family of God we desire to walk in victory. But truth be told (and that is what I am here to do) I have fallen on my face as a Jesus loving, God fearing Christian despite my desire to shine for my King. I also have had some really nasty things done to me by those who claim His name. I have learned that GRACE is how we get here and GRACE is how we stay here. It is never by anything we can do or not do or muster up on our own. Heaven is the place for perfection. In the meantime we have to be careful to keep our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith and trust Him alone. It all comes back to Him ...and he will lead us to a few who might be trustworthy. Thank Him, stay focused on Him and recognize that trust is a fragile thing. Think eggshell. Be careful with where you place it and be careful to treat other's trust gently.

Lesson 4:  Remember the Good
Sometimes remembering the good isn't easy. But I promise you it can be done. Sometimes it takes time to heal or just time to allow more perspective. This is not about rose tinted glasses but think of it as "Reality Training". Scripture tells us to bring every thought captive and under the authority of Christ. It exhorts us to dwell on that which is good and excellent. It reminds us that what we do not master will ultimately master us...past or present. We are not to be slaves to our past, but as God reveals truth to us we seek Him and bring our minds into full submission to Him. We train ourselves to remember the good. Focus on it in others and ourselves. Leave the rest to God. Leave behind that which is not useful to you. The fact is anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness can be traded for empowering emotions when brought into the light and transforming grace of God. We are not to repay evil for evil. We are to be excellent at what is good and innocent of evil. It takes training. It takes going to Jesus continually. It can be done. And when we feel we can't ...again we run to him in our need, failure, fear and doubt and He meets us there.

You never know where a road block might lead you ...it might just take you down a new path of discovery which brings you closer to God. I pray it does. So remember the next time you hit the ground running, ordering your life just so, heed the donkey, the angel or whatever God uses to block your way. You never know what catastrophe He may be keeping you from...or what blessing lies just around the bend, over the horizon, or beneath the surface!

Until next time, enjoy the scenery along the way,
In His Grace,
Dawn

Read: Numbers 22, Romans 12, Hebrews 12,  Philippians 2, Ephesians 4, Colossians 3

Road Trip to Maine


7.07.2011

Discipline, Direction and Divine Intervention

As I walked along the ocean road this morning, my mind drifted to a conversation I had with my husband the night before as we discussed our daughter's attitude and disposition. He expressed that she had been saying "thank you" more often and interpreted this as a reflection of her increase and growth on the attitude of gratitude "scale". This got me to thinking about the difference between what is spoken and what is truly conveyed. The words we speak can often reveal our heart attitudes, can't they? At times they reveal more than we mean for them to. Words can also harbor destruction, if we let them and the attitudes they reflect remain unexamined or unchecked. As I considered  the context of her "thank yous" I began to make a connection in the spiritual realm.
She was thankful every time she received something good. Let's see...thank you for the chocolate, new book, go-cart rides, sleepover with friend, movie matinee, and ice cream. But no thank you to: discipline, direction and boundaries! I realized the attitude of gratitude did not yet have the capacity for anything but the good things. Wow. Here it comes...conviction. You know the hardest part of being a Christian is having "the mind of Christ"! Before, I could just indulge every thought, prejudice and self-righteous attitude and others would agreeably chime in. But no more. Praise the One who brings Light, Truth and His own Righteousness! Having His mind is also the greatest privilege and blessing of being a Christian! He loves me too much to let me indulge in the garbage of self-centered thinking and polluted worldly views! He gives me clarity, focus and direction. When  I think, he lovingly interrupts my thoughts with His thoughts and gives direction and revelation to me as I listen and yield my own mind to His. This is the same thing I so often am guilty of myself. Lord, thank you for the good things but please can you give the bad stuff to someone more deserving? Let me remind you of X, Y, Z and why are you giving them good things? I am so glad that my God is patient with a capital P and does not just deal with me the way I deserve! Giving thanks in all circumstances is something that takes practice. It means we do it whether we feel like it or not. Especially if we don't feel like it- we need to do it. As an athlete trains in season and out, so we need to train and stretch these specific muscles of thanksgiving lest they atrophy growing stiff and useless. Muscles not used and stretched are prone to injury and can sideline the greatest of athletes. And they will the Christian who does not exercise them daily. Thank Him in all circumstances and you will grow in discipline and the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our God brings both the rain and sun to the godly and ungodly, because He is gracious. It is not our concern how he deals specifically with others. We need to keep our eyes on our Living Hope and Shine for Him as He disciplines, directs and intervenes in our lives. We need to accept the good and the bad the exact same way. Learning to accept all things with an attitude of gratitude reveals Christ in us. I believe giving thanks when it is difficult is sacrificial and that's why it is pleasing to God. We may not be able to sincerely thank Him for every circumstance that touches us (yet) but we can remain thankful in every circumstance. We have His promise that He will never leave or abandon us. Now I am going to end on a light note: The song that came to my mind as I ended this post this morning was an old TV commercial sung by a child: "I am stuck on Band-Aid, cuz Band-Aid's stuck on me!"- Now God is greater than any band-aid, that is for sure,  but I am feeling overjoyed in His love this morning as I consider Him who I am stuck on and thankfully consider how He is "stuck" on and in me.

Until next time, please keep digging beneath the surface,
Dawn

Grab a spiritual workout: open your Bible: 2 Peter 3:18, 2 Timothy 2:1, 1 Timothy 1:17, 2:5, 4:4,
Colossians 2:8-10, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, 3:18-19, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Romans 14:4, Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5


7.04.2011

Why My Bible Is My BFF



My Bible is my best friend. Does that sound crazy to you? I have had many friends in my life and I am grateful for each one, however I consider the Bible to be my "Best Friend Forever" or BFF in "tween" language. It has proven a faithful and trustworthy friend through every season of my life. When times are good, it is with me. When times are bad it stays beside me. When others betray, it remains true. The reason for this is, my Bible is alive (See Hebrews 4:12). It is not the words and works of men who are dead but the Living Word, the very breath of God. One of my very favorite (ok, I confess I have many)  passages in the Bible, is found in the book of John in Chapter 1, it reads: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and theWord was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:1-4) It continues, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." and "For the  law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
My God is the Living Word who became a man, taking on a body to secure my eternal salvation. Amazing love indeed! He did it for Jew and Gentile alike. He did it for every culture, race and creed. (Acts 10:34-35) He planned it before time and secured it forever. He did it for me and He did it for you! It is as exciting to me now, maybe moreso, as it was in the beginning when I first began to grasp it. In one of my favorite books (Ok, I confess I love them all) of the bible, Colossians it says: "He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For by him all things were created..." (Read Colossians 1:15-20).
I don't want to give you the impression it is one specific version or material item. This Word is not bound by paper, binding or translation. It cannot be. It supercedes all and does not itself comply to that which is temporal. It is holy, pure, timeless and unchanging. It contains truth, is truth and will always be truth. (Revelation 1:4-8)
My trustworthy friend has surpassed all other loves in my life and yet this love alone leads me to greater love and compassion for those around me. I recall a time of extreme trial on my bed in tears, unable to even open the book and instead laying my head upon it while the tears stained the pages. A faithful friend. I remember training a certain jewish client who had confessed to an affair and how, with my BFF in my hand, while working out in a gym, God led us both to the specific scriptures which were able to convict and birth right there at the moment. A merciful friend. I can still see myself staying up all night devouring scripture in my hunger for truth and enjoying joyful discoveries and satisfying fellowship. A wise friend. I've clutched it close and layed it aside, yet this friend is a firm foundation which can be fully relied on. A reliable friend. I can recall the time I opened my Bible to the book of Jeremiah and how the words jumped off the page and pierced my heart as I tried to figure out whose heart was "deceitful above all things & desperately wicked", Boyfriend #1 or Boyfriend # 2 when I  finally realized the Word was speaking to ME about ME and calling me to intimacy with himself, alone. (Jeremiah 17:5-10) That took me a little bit of time to get. But the word did it's work as I learned to study, trust and put my full confidence in that which was revealed in scripture...the WHO behind it all. Like all relationships there was a time of testing as I built the trust in this friend. There were times I did not want to hear what my BFF had to say, but eventually I learned that this friend was always loving and truthful. Unwavering. Flawless. Beautiful. This friend would never be satisfied to leave me alone, even when I turned my back. I rarely am without it. It serves to remind me of my purpose. Although I hide the Word in my heart (Psalm 119:11) I like to keep a "hard copy" with me in my purse, bag, office or car. You never know when you might need your BFF. Trust me, my friend often introduces me to new friends wherever I go. That's what friends are for!

Happy 4th of July, friends and Keep digging beneath the surface!

For further Reading: Genesis esp. Ch.1) , John (esp. Ch. 1 & Ch. 14), Colossians Ch. 1-3 oh, may as well read the whole thing!), Revelation (esp. 19:13)



Journal from the 90's.
Rev. 19:13, John 1:1, Genesis 1:1

7.03.2011

Too Many Lives(Part 2): The Journals


A trunk full of the stories of my many lives!
 Healing comes in many forms. It also sometimes comes in bits and pieces, sometimes instead of all at once. My journals hold within the pages stories of the many lives I have lived and at times the power to heal. 

Writing to me has been the one thing which is constant, like the breath
It is the one thing  that I have done for so long it is part of who I am.

 There are many activities that have come and gone but from early on I picked up a pen, put it to paper and revealed, revered and reflected the soul that I was. The voice that resonated in time, captured on the pages for better and for worse, staring back up for all to see. There have been times when I have considered holding a "Journal Burning" party, but after further consideration I have held back. 
The one time this idea became exceedingly strong was shortly after being introduced to my Savior. I wanted to burn every thing written on those pages because of the very stark reality portrayed. Captured under the microscope were lurid details of my very nature. It was not pretty at times. I did not hold back, there I was staring back up from the pages at myself as when one looks upon their reflection in still water. 
Clear, sharp intriguing and bare was I
no hiding from those pages jealousy, anger, selfishness, and fickleness.

Yet there was also an authenticity on those pages that would not be denied. 
A rawness, that staked a claim which would not be refused. 
Here in these pages there was a voice longing to be heard but beneath the surface there was yet another still, small voice which was yet to be released. 
At one point I did throw away my journals - these were from my teen years and I did it impulsively as much of what I did in my early years. But as fate would have it or by God's design, depending on your perspective, I soon began to pour out my heart and soul once more on paper at the requirement of a professor for a Human Relations class I took at 18 years of age. The wonderful and challenging thing about this was that we were expected to journal on specific hypothetical questions as well as reflect on the class and our experiences personally. Well that was all it took, from this point on I picked my pen back up and have never put it down. I continued to journal my life journey and put on paper "the good, the bad and the ugly" as well as the big kahuna philosophical inquiry into life's deeper meaning.

 Enter Jesus Christ
My pen became a vehicle for the underlying voice which was birthed on that day. 
As I wrote at times I felt the Spirit move within me and the pages began to be transformed by the power of His Spirit. Years passed and much was recorded on the pages.
 There in those pages emerged a new voice...there was no doubt. But the old voice was also there, questioning, pleading and at times accusing. But still, hidden among the rambles, a Light was beginning to shine (John 8:12) . A light that would not be snuffed. Amidst the foolishness, there it was...Wisdom, a wisdom that was not my own and one which I had no claim to but instead which laid claim to me. There slowly the pages began to show a relationship instead of only my thoughts, feelings and activities. Emerging out of the darkness was a voice which revealed wisdom, hope and clarity. So you see I could not burn those books, after all. They became precious to me as they revealed the heart of the one who came to bring light, life and truth. This same one promises that in time, everything unworthy will be burned up. But, for now I will keep these journals, because I never want to forget exactly who I am apart from my God and his amazing grace. I need to remember, even as I, with Paul, press on to that which Christ has taken hold of in me... that depth which I have come from- to keep me from the sin of the Pharisees and the blindness of pride. 
In these journals there is  healing, supernatural birth and transformation better than any "Transformers", Superhero or action movie. In these journals there is the power and presence of a Living God as He relates to me and I to Him. 
I am thankful that I didn't follow through and burn those books. 
Because in them is the mind of my Savior and the transformation of one sinner to saint.

Until next time, Keep digging beneath the surface,
Dawn

For further reflection:  John 1:1-14, Colossians 2:3, 1 John 1:5, 
                                  1 Corinthians 2:6-16,  2 Corinthians 4:6