Psalm 37:7a

"Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him." Psalm 37:7a

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Our children... are His children

I had written these thoughts about "Our Children" in 2008, five years after they had all married and left our house very quiet and a little empty. By then I actually had time to reminisce about all those years I was allowed to co-labor with the Father (in a very minuscule way, of course) with the molding and shaping of the 3 little lives that He had blessed me with. I realized, after the fact, that there was more than one way to look at each and every opportunity I had as their mother. And it had become way too easy to question whether I had done a good job with the years I had with them. So I share this with all of you now because I do believe I would have been encouraged if someone had said these things to me during this season of life. Of course, it's much easier to look backward and see that the Father was there every single minute, of every single day, of every single year. Even in those times when I felt alone and inadequate, He was there desperately trying to cheer me on, and remind me that HE HAD CHOSEN ME to love on them for as long as He allowed. And as these little ones became bigger ones, I had to believe that He was walking beside me on every step of this journey called parenting... and He was walking beside them as they were becoming more and more independent. Who better to be partnered with than the One who created me, and who created them, and who loved all of us more than we could ever love each other... if you can even imagine that!

                       Thoughts on "OUR Children" 

I believe nothing in life will cause a woman to experience so much joy and yet, so much pain as our own children. Is that possible? Our children steal our hearts early on and we spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out how to find peace in our hearts concerning them.

  • We want them to be able to depend on us, but we don't want them to fear    independence or shelter them from the joy of living their own life... 
  • We want to keep them safe, but we don't want them to be afraid of others or afraid to live life...
  • We want to make them strong in character, but we don't want them to ever think they don't need us in their lives...
  • We want them to think for themselves, but we don't want them to quit asking for our advice...
  • We want them to trust the Father, but we are afraid to release them into the Father's hands.

I am amazed that the Father ever chose to give us such an awesome privilege, that of raising HIS children. He must have known that we would sometimes make bad choices and occasionally forget what He said, and even refuse at times to follow through with what we know to be the right response.

  • He must have seen our inadequacies…
  • and our weaknesses…
  • and our stubbornness…
  • and our selfishness...
  • and He must have loved us just like we love our children… 
  • enough to look past the pain and instead to choose to to delight in the moments that are beautiful…
  • because all the other “stuff” in this world pale in comparison to the joy of having each other.

Today I know that we have been blessed as mothers with this amazing gift of unconditional love for our children…
who are actually, ultimately, forever… HIS children.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Lewis Train Station

I recently found some journal entries that I had done 12 years ago. I was actually surprised that I had written those things down since there are so many thoughts I wish I had written down back in those days. Even though I am in a different season of life, I believe that some of what I said back then might just be what someone else needs to hear today. And even though my perspective is slightly different now days, I still remember well every single one of those emotions.   Sooooo, this is for all those who are in ever-changing seasons... and wishing they weren't changing so fast. I have learned that God is good even when you don't see His goodness. I will never quit sharing my Jesus with my family... and will always pray for them to know and experience for themselves His love and grace and mercy! 

2004: The Lewis Train Station - a fairly accurate picture of what life is like at my house lately. The "train" stops here occasionally and then it is off again to another destination. Occasionally family gathers and hugs are exchanged and conversations catch everyone up on everyone else's life out there in the real world... and then off again they go.

     Sometimes I understand how women can go through a "midlife" crisis about now... what ever happened to MY life, because it appears that I have lived for everyone else's happiness, and the very thing that has brought me so much happiness thus far... which is being their momma, has been overshadowed by their new identity as a husband or a wife... or a daddy or a momma... which are all beautiful things I prayed for them to become.  
     I think that is what makes being a Nana so amazing... in this season of life, when I don't see that I've accomplished much at all, and I don't have a clue what the future holds... and I sure don't feel good about what I look like today, (I'm how old???). I occasionally wonder if I have missed out on "something" along the way. And then this beautiful little guy comes along and he absolutely loves me and lights up when he sees me, and the best thing is that all he wants is just for his Nana to play with him. How awesome is that!
      Our emerging, ever changing role as "the parent" in our children's lives is so totally different than anything I ever expected. Of course no one could ever really prepare you for this season of life... and you never would have believed them even if they tried. Everything changes and you often feel helpless. But the truth is that you learn to really appreciate the slightest effort on their part to let you be a participant in their world. I only wish my mom was still around so I could express my appreciation for the way she handled me when I thought I was so grown up at 18... and 22... and even 33. That's how old I was the last time I had a chance to tell her how amazing she really was! I remember how seldom she made me feel guilty for waiting so long inbetween phone calls... or taking time to come home for a hug. Now days, I am usually whining (and occasionally silently pouting) when I don't get to see my grandbabies at least twice a week!
      I find it hard after all these years, to accept my life can no longer be totally consumed with my kids happiness. Just because their schedules demanded it for so long, it surprises a momma when the demands are fewer and farther between, and it leaves you wondering what is going to be that important in your life now. Of course you are blessed if you have a man that loves you and longs to have you all to himself... finally. (and I am blessed with one) But who are you now... who will "need" you in the days, and months, and years ahead... who can you offer to take care of when they're sick, and will they be willing to take care of you when you are old? Who even notices your presence in the room... and who will even notice when you're no longer present on this earth? This is the season that you begin to consider what legacy you will leave behind when you leave this temporary life... 
     My only hope is that I leave behind a lifetime supply of sweet memories that my children and now, my grandchildren, will share with their own little ones. I hope that, as they are making sweet memories in new and perhaps different ways... that they will choose to make a few of their own family memories in the same ways. I hope they will share the amazing miracles we experienced as we loved the Lord and loved His flock and loved each other. 
     Is that too much to ask for? A legacy of a momma... and a Nana... who loved well?

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Utter Extravagance

Ephesians 1:15-19 (Message) "That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you — every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask — ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers, oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust Him—endless energy, boundless strength!"

I have to admit that lately, I’ve struggled with focus… with clarity… with purpose. I find myself just going through the motions, just putting on my game face, just surviving one day at a time. I can honestly say I’m not depressed, I’ve just been emotionally numb... coasting along in nuetral. So when I found these verses I was reminded of what God’s track record is in my life, and the work He continues to call me to... and well, let’s just say I felt a bit overwhelmed and extremely inadequate.  The Father occasionally has to get my attention by pulling me away from everything that separates me from Him, the good things and the not-so-good things. And I am learning that this is actually a GOOD thing. And it always amazes me that I am so easily distracted from the very thing that fills me with joy… HIS presence in every area of my life. It’s obvious when I have forgotten to look for Him in my every day, because on those days I am insecure, inward focused and unable to hear His voice. I don’t feel alone, but I do feel isolated.

As I meditate on these verses, I question if I ever grasped “the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers”. One thing I've learned, the enemy loves to see us doubting ourselves… questioning our worth, our uniqueness, and ultimately questioning the “One” who actually calls us His own. In those moments, and on those days (or entire seasons) we miss out on the “utter extravagance of His work in us”. When I look back over the last 4 months and consider what I may have missed out on, my heart is heavy, and I recognize what has taken place. In the particular version of scriptures I shared above, it tell us that “endless energy and boundless strength” is waiting for us. Wow, I would love to be able to say that those words describe what I have been experiencing recently! But obviously... I can't!

Why would I ever choose NOT to acknowledge what is available from the Father… the utter extravagance of His work in me that’s only available when I trust in Him? I realize that this place I find myself in comes down to a matter of trust... and the last four months spent just putting in my time comes down to trust. So I’ve just been going through the motions because I am choosing not to trust the Father.  

Sooooo... why would I want to miss out on a season of endless energy and boundless strength? Honestly, it truly isn’t a matter of wanting to miss out… it is a matter of choosing not to see that which He has called me to. The enemy loves to render me emotionally numb and ineffective because it keeps me from seeing the Father’s utter extravagance… and experiencing this glorious way of life He offers me.

As I read these verses again and again, I begin to crave anew that which has been missing in my life. Today I am asking for the very thing Paul talked about in these verses: TRUST. And I encourage you to pray that the Father will keep “your eyes focused and clear, so that you will see exactly what it is He is calling you to do”. When we do this, we will grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers.  And I am convinced that, when we recognize the utter extravagance of His work in us who TRUST Him, we will once again experience the endless energy and boundless strength that He provides. 

How could we NOT want in on this amazing gift from the Father!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Seeds & Weeds In My Fields

Recently I’ve started my days in the book of Matthew.  I’ve been listening to those familiar parables many of us know & love.  It’s interesting how the Lord will spoon feed His stubborn children another full, satisfying meal using the very same words… only 10 years apart. Yet, He reveals completely new truths about Him & often about ourselves.  I used to believe that every passage had one specific truth & all who studied it would gather the same exact wisdom.  But reality began to sink in this morning that previously on my journey, the Father had led me to those familiar verses… He had quietly whispered a different nugget of wisdom, just as powerful… one that I had specifically needed for that time & place. Truth is… the time spent in His word today, digesting the meal He had prepared for me, will prove to be just as rich & refreshing, & is meant to give me new insight & discernment.  I am reminded that the truths I gained the first time were only tidbits of the wisdom He had in store for me. 

had read it many times, contemplated its meaning, even meditated on this parable… the one beginning in Matthew 13:24. Jesus said the farmer had sown good seed. Then the enemy came in during the night & planted weeds while his servants were sleeping. When the servants found the weeds growing up along with the wheat, they asked the farmer if they should go out to the fields to pull up the weeds. But the wise farmer said they must wait, for in the process of removing the weeds, they might hurt the good seed too. He told them to allow the seeds & weeds to grow together… & when it was harvest time, the weeds would be removed first, & then the wheat could be safely gathered.

Isn’t this a great reminder of our everyday lives? Often I get so distracted by weeds the enemy has planted in my life that I spend all my time & energy trying to contend with them, instead of focusing on the good seed that the Father has planted around me & in me. How much joy have I forfeited being distracted from God’s best while trying to deal with a “weed or two”. I know one thing for sure, weeds can come in many sizes & varieties. Sad as it is, some weeds are planted in our lives in human form. And I admit, they can occasionally suck the joy right out of me. I allow them to distract me from enjoying the Father & celebrating His presence. Whether they show up in my neighborhood, my workplace, my church or my Facebook page, the Father wants me to turn my gaze away from them & back to Him. Some weeds are only revealed in my attitude, & often cause my heart to become “ugly as sin”… so to speak. I fail to recognize those weeds until I see them in the light, after spending much needed time with Jesus. But even “ugly” doesn’t always turn my eyes away immediately, & I can become bogged down in the muck of despair in a quick moment. (can anyone else relate?)  Oh yes… other weeds can be quite delightful to have around… & I tend to question my “good judgement”, thinking perhaps I am being too critical of something that appears to be harmless. (so not true) I admit right now that the enemy has become quite good at deceiving me like that.

Before I know it, especially on exhausting days, I’ve turned my gaze from what is “good seed”… those blessings from the Father that are meant to nourish my soul. Sometimes… I get so consumed with my efforts of “dealing with weeds” that I don’t even notice my appetite for God’s best is almost non-existent. This in turn, renders me quite apathetic to His loving invitation. He invites me to come alongside Him & experience the best He has planned for me on this amazing journey called life. Again, I confess that I too often feed my soul with the weeds… & I am left empty… & powerless… & useless to the One who has created me to be His hands & feet, right here in this hungry, starving-for-love world that I live in. How this must break my Father’s heart…

I’m convinced that few of us can be completely rid of the weeds in our own “fields” (and in our hearts) on a daily basis. Try as we might, the weeds will always be there & the enemy will always try to distract us from enjoying what the Father planted in advance. So starting today, & hopefully until Jesus returns, I will strive to carefully tend to His “good seeds”… and I will also strive to be grateful that He has generously planted such an abundance of them in my life. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

In That Moment

Have you ever been in “that” place? You know… that overwhelming, exhausting, empty, grieving place? Were you grieving for something or someone you once had… and found yourself struggling to admit that you still desperately wanted them in your life for that moment in time?  Did you silently ask all the wrong questions, until finally, you realized that the One who loves you most has all the right answers?

Often I have struggled to truly live in the “present”. I hold on to the sweetest memories, and sadly, the bitter moments of the “past”, the very things that crowd out the joy of the Father’s presence in the “now”. I have quietly struggled with what isn’t… instead of being openly thankful for the reality of what is. I have wrestled with that ongoing fear of what might be waiting for me some place down the road, instead of celebrating what Jesus Himself has invited me to experience in this place… the very place He has led me to right now.

So often, just before I've picked up a pen and paper,  my scribblings have begun with a desperate cry, one full of questions … and pain… and unrest. And yet Jesus meets me right where I am. I find myself wrapped in His arms, His Holy Spirit quietly whispering His promise of peace and mercy, and then He invites me into His rest. It is in that moment that I allow Him to fill up the empty places left in my soul with Himself… His presence, His love and His joy. Yes, I am even filled with His joy in this weary moment and in this foreign place.

If you look on my poetry page today you will find something I wrote years ago. As I sat at my Mom’s bedside for almost 5 weeks, painfully watching her breathe what might be her last at any moment, I watched her struggle and found myself struggling… knowing in my heart that she never wanted to be on life support. But I listened to my Dad tell her that he was longing for the day he would take her home & cook for her & care for her once more. And in that dark place, I found myself desperately asking Jesus to give me a little more time with her. But right there in my selfishness, in my pain, in that place of unrest… He began to fill up the empty caverns in my soul with Himself… with His presence, His love, His joy and especially His rest. As I released her into His waiting arms, I exhaled and I relaxed… and then I relinquished my own weary grip.

It was in those weak and weary moments that He revealed to me this truth… that it’s not necessary for you or I to be strong enough to hold onto Him. He is the One who holds tightly on to us. I am discovering that so often the Father allows the emptiness, the exhaustion, the grief for this very purpose... that He might draw us to Himself. And in that moment we will experience what it feels like to “rest in His grip”. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Hard Questions

As I sat in the home of some good friends of ours last night, ate dinner and fellowshipped with three other couples, WE began to watch a video series called “Radical”. I was overwhelmed with a new reality. It is the reality that, although I am extremely blessed to know Jesus personally, I am also responsible to live out the life of a Jesus follower. Now… I know this shouldn’t have been a “new” reality. The sad truth is, in our church culture today, we often assume that all we have to do is say our prayers, attend church, love God and try to be nice to others. It seems so simple when you look at it that way. The problem comes when you realize that believing in Jesus and being a follower of Jesus are radically different. The lesson began to unfold with a few simple, yet challenging questions…

1) Do I believe what the Bible says about the church?
2) Do I believe what the Bible says about the lost?
3) Do I believe what the Bible says about the poor?

WOW. Just WOW is all I can whisper right now. As we began to consider what the disciples were asked to do when they became followers of Jesus, and when we began to discuss what those in other countries today are being asked to do as followers of Jesus, it became very obvious that our American culture has “dumbed down” our calling to actually be obedient to the words Jesus spoke about following Him. We have conveniently accepted the lie that all we really “have to do” is be a good person… most of the time…

If we would spend just a little more time reading the “words of Jesus”, we might find out that there really is more to being a “follower of Jesus”. We might realize that we have been called to be HIS hands and feet to a lost world… to so many people who are watching and waiting to see if we live out what we say we believe. This is admittedly overwhelming, and yet it is also inspiring for me to ponder! If we really LOVED the lost… and if we really LOVED the poor… and if we really looked like the church that scriptures described so beautifully, how would our lives be different? What kind of RADICAL changes might need to be made in our life in order to reflect Jesus to this lost and hurting world around us? Can we truly be recognized as a Jesus follower by our actions today, or yesterday, or last week, or last month?   Based on our daily choices, will others be drawn to this amazing Jesus that we claim to follow?

Whew… on my face before the Father right now. Will you join me in asking the hard questions??? And then… be a true “follower of Jesus” alongside me. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

And my heart responds "Lord, I am coming."

This morning as I spent an extended time praying for someone else, who needs You desperately right now, my thoughts began to race, and I struggled with a little twinge of fear… fear that seemingly came out of nowhere. I am not one to easily be shaken like that, and I know without a doubt that fear does not come from the Father. So I immediately went back to some scriptures that I had read earlier this week, and realized that, at the time, I had no idea how much peace they would bring me. I had read in Psalms 27  “Yes, though an army marches against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that God will save me.” And then a few verses later it says “Listen to my pleading Lord! Be merciful and send the help I need. My heart has heard You say “Come and talk with Me, oh My people.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.””

It amazes me how often the Father will bring verses to us in preparation for a future need. As I look back over my life and see His handwriting all over the walls of my heart and mind, I am reminded how often He spoke His words to me in advance, and they were exactly what I would need in the days that followed. I think back on the time I was pregnant with my second child, and I knew what to expect, especially since I had been scheduled to deliver by C-section, just like I delivered my first baby. And yet, just a week before the date, I began to struggle with fear. A sweet friend encouraged me to sing a favorite hymn or chorus as I was wheeled into the surgery room, one that reminded me of the Fathers love and protection. I quickly explained to her that, if I began to sing loud enough for anyone else to hear me… they would quickly put me out of my misery… and out of their misery too! Singing is definitely not a gift the Father chose to bless me with!

Alas, as I hung up the phone that morning 35 years ago, I began to pray for the Lord to take away my fears. Immediately He reminded me of the 2 verses I had just memorized in the Navigator bible study we were involved in at the time. First, Isaiah 41:10 tells usDon’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” And the second verse was Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You.”  Having His words planted deep in my heart, I entered into that amazing miracle of participating in new life with absolute confidence in the God who speaks to us when we cry out to Him.

Just like He had provided exactly what I would need ahead of time 35 years ago, the verses in Psalms reminded me this morning of His provision once again. Just as the passage I mentioned earlier said, in Psalm 27, I am once again choosing to proclaim His words spoken to me in preparation, “My heart has heard You say “Come and talk to Me, oh My people”. And my heart responds “Lord, I am coming.””