Archive: February, 2013

It’s Like Looking In A Mirror

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The similarities are striking.  And I’m not just referring to our blue eyes and blonde hair and big, plump lips.

I’m talking about my first born, my oldest daughter.  I actually remember looking at her the first week of her life and my eyes would pool up with tears of joy and awe.  I could see myself when I looked at her.  Like looking in a mirror.

Lately I have noticed another striking resemblance.  I have noticed the similarity of our human condition.  We both “want what we want when we want it”.

Ever since her younger sister came home from the hospital she has seemed to be annoyed by her existence.  And that has annoyed this momma!  My husband and I have tried everything under the sun to teach her kindness and compassion towards her sister.  And all human efforts have failed-miserably!  And I am reminded of my own failures.  Just as she says after a lecture from daddy, “I will do better tomorrow” or “I’ll try harder next time”, I recall countless times I have said that to my heavenly daddy.

And so help me God, if she doesn’t work through this until she moves out of the house at age 18, I at least want her to learn something in the process!  And just as I may stumble and sin even though I want to obey, I want to learn something in the process!

So today, the Holy Spirit literally spoke to me.  And I found myself praying one of my favorite prayers—“God use this!”  And I asked, “Please, Lord, don’t waste this sibling rivalry!”.  And the Holy Spirit breathed life into me and instructed me to do the following: I will have her write answers to the following when she is taking a”time-out” from her sister.

  1. What was my sin? (What do I need to work on)?
  2. What fruit of the Spirit do I need to ask God to help me with?
  3. What can I do differently next time to become a girl of great character?

And BAM!  It’s like looking in a mirror!  It’s the same process that I have been instructed to do by my heavenly Father to develop my godly character.  It’s a plan for living:

  1. Repent.
  2. Ask for God’s help.
  3. Obey and act according to God’s will.

Thank you Jesus for not giving up on this girl, just as I cannot and will not ever give up on my little girl.

 Glorifying God with you,

 Erin

 

 

 

 

 

The Hot Seat

Blurry Prison

My steps unsure, my boots clank as I’m ushered into a small courtroom.

They sit in nervous twitch up front, in the hot seat. I sit right behind them. All I can see is the back of her head, tangled locks drape over to shield shame.

Hush hovers over pressed-wood-walls of the courtroom. The judge prepares to address the couple, our friends who had their children taken away. Friends I’d ministered to, entered life with, jumped in the ditch for… praying when it was all over, we’d be following right behind Jesus together.

But this isn’t the case today, not yet anyway.

The judge hones in on me like a death star tractor beam and says, “Who are you?”

I stand tall, legs weak, stomach even weaker and mutter words, “I am a friend.”

I think to myself ~ a friend who, when CPS called, took their three children home to my house. A friend wondering how she got in this mess when all she wanted was to share the Gospel, love her neighbor as herself. A friend who actually thought the children would be safer in foster care.

Then I began tossing ideas, “Why wasn’t I seated on the other side… with the social worker?” I agreed with her, not with them. Why in the world did I sit and then stand on their behalf. These mix of emotions pop like firecrackers in my soul.

Judge Pounding Gavel

Then something happened.

God began to shift my perspective from disgust to mercy. Mercy and love towards these people who didn’t deserve it. The same kind of scandalous mercy that knocked me off the road headed for hell years ago.

“…For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment,” (James 2:12-13).

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;” (Romans 14:10).

I feel the blush run over, the joy fills deep.

I’m reminded that I too will sit in the hot seat, the seat of judgment. Only the courts and the judge will be much different.

My worship overflows within the confines of my chair as I am thankful. I am thankful that on that day, God my eternal judge, will see the blood of the Lamb who is worthy instead of myself, my sin, who is unworthy. He will stand on my behalf not because He is just my Savior, but because He is my friend.

“If we don’t love the people we can see around us, then we don’t love God, whom we can’t see,” (1 John 4:20).

 
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Cookies and Confessions

Brown Sugar Spoon Close-up

Pat, pat, pat…

She squishes brown sugar into the cup.

The quiet one spills ingredients into the cookie bowl, but that’s not all she spills. The rhythm of the stir is interrupted by a confession of sorts.

Her heart hammers, her eyes pulse as the confession rumbles over her tongue like claps of thunder.

The girl at school speaks mean; she pushes; she threatens,” the hesitant one speaks.

My cookie stirring rhythm breaks again, her words interrupted. My emotions feel like a fuel-flame with smoke billowing, an unglued moment on the horizon for sure.

Flour escapes the bowl as my mama-stir becomes quite aggressive.

“I will high-tail-it like hell-fire to the school and yank her 3rd grader legs out of socket,” I say with not one ounce of hesitation.

Maybe there should have been some hesitation, but my red-hot reaction steamrolled over any logical sense that may have been standing in its way.  

Moments later as reflection skips across the shoreline of my mind, I think … if I affirm that God holds everything together, like eggs in my batter, then I am free to establish a sustainable rhythm as I entrust my child, my family, my issues to God. Not partially, but completely.

No aggressive intervention,

No embarrassment in the school yard,

No emotions tossing over the side of my bowl,

No breaks in the rhythm of sane thinking.

There is only ~ a steady stir from the One who makes the ingredients come together in a way that honors Him.

There is only ~ the spilling of His infinite blood against splintered wood, stained with grace just for mamas like me, like us.

peach-and-brown-sugar-cookie-ice-cream-sandwiches
 
 

 Now back to the cookies…. 

As the young one and I share a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a Coke,

the eternal One weaves a divine message into the fabric of my soul,

“Your girls don’t need a perfect mama who never comes undone;

they just need a mama who finds perfect rhythm in the arms of a

perfect Savior. 

BROWN_SUGAR
 

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Hot Your Toddy

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Do y’all mind having a little fun today? It seems lately my entire town has been sick with this cold/rsv/flu thang, and we are all sick and tired of it.

Literally.

This sickness has woven itself into the fabric of our social scene and we just can’t have that! We’ve missed AWANA games, Bunco, coffee… You name it, we’ve missed it!

Yes, ma’am I am shaking things up a bit today as I share my great grandma’s cold remedy. For y’all with more sophisticated palates, this might not be for you. But for all y’all down-right-desperate-sick folks, you may reconsider.

First, y’all should know some background: My great grandma had a little Arkansas with a dash of Tennessee in her. I say this because her backwoods, gun carrying, moonshine making, bunker owning version may offend. But don’t worry my sweet sisters, I will also provide the Southern Baptist Version.

There were several occasions my mama made a hot toddy for me, minus the splash of whisky. But whisky or not, this traditional southern staple was, and remains to be an old home remedy for the cold and flu.

Hot Toddy

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Ingredients for the Southern Baptist Version:

Big ole mug

8 oz boiling water

¼ tsp ground ginger

3 whole cloves

Cinnamon Stick

2 green tea bags

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice or splash of apple cider vinegar

1 splash of (whiskey) or not…

Slice of lemon

Boil the water, stir ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick; add tea bags and steep for 5 minutes. Remove bags. Zap in microwave for 1 minute to get it real hot; then stir honey and lemon juice right in (optional heathen splash). Drop in lemon slice. Drink it while it’s hot, take a warm bath with some essential oils and crawl into the warm bed.

Bless your hearts and feel better sweet friends!!

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His Wonders at Work…

God with power and might at His disposal yet works in this wise. His quiet performances are indirect, deep, serene, and seemingly slow and have to be explored, understood and appreciated. He quietly and confidently moves, working wonders day after day. In every experience, at work, in church, and in society, it sometimes appears as though God were being defeated, and the movements of His grace and providence were failures, and that all His plans were reversed, flowing upstream in the opposite direction from the ocean of blessings. One has but to look up and cast his gaze out from the shore of frustrating encirclements of the present and consider the entire stream of God’s purpose among His people in order to see that He is continually winning the battle in quiet, circuitous ways.

God works through individuals, conquering some heart, and through that heart He pours His purpose like a mighty river. The Lord makes His conquests by keeping His saints in utter dependence upon Him, making them live by faith. There is to be none of self in His program, but all of Christ instead.  

–Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

That’s what I read in my devotional this morning.

After, I found myself thinking over our bible study last night.

Our deepest grace-needs scratched quickly on blue strips and passed in vulnerable fashion to the left.

Sometimes we miss Grace because we know we don’t deserve it.

We so desire His perfection now. To see Him at work in us in BIG ways and now.

We battle the voices in our heads that echo endless lies corrupting our thoughts. They weaken and defeat us.

We grow so weary of it all. Tapping at the door of perfection… trying and trying again. And failing… again and again.

And we forget about imperfect progress.

Along with failing to see the undeserved Grace that is absolutely meant for us… we miss out on the many, many small victories along the way.

So today, I’m thinking of our little group of beautiful women and sending this thought…

…perhaps it is in the receiving of His Grace and in the bits of progress along the way (however small they may be) that we catch a real glimpse of His Wonders at Work.

Let’s not waste time missing it anymore.

Praying for you… Father, yes, keep us in Utter Dependence upon You. Center us on Christ… increase our Faith… rid us of ourselves. 

 

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Here, Lord, it’s Yours!

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A daily devotional reaches straight through to my heart and causes me to seriously reflect on my desire for two specific things that I deeply wanted to see happen last year.

Things I took to prayer over and over again.

Not material things.

Sovereign decisions that I wanted badly to go my way.

I emotionally invest myself in the gift of these things before they are actually mine.

Relish the idea of them.

I mentally move myself  into the place where these things will bring great resolve to some of  the heavy complications in my life.

Oh and, just as a child does, I engage deep in the notion that surely God will want these for me.

So, when the first thing doesn’t go through. And again when the other fails too. I sustain great wounds.

Satan whispers the word: rejection… right into the center of my heart. And I feel it burn there.

Rejection from God.

Yes, there it is. I said that. —At the time I surely thought it, so saying it now makes no difference.

I am real flesh.

And she feels fully in her heart.  Stomps her feet hard at times.

And on occasion when particularly bruised already, stares up at her heavenly daddy and says… “why not… why not that, for me?”

I know, I’ve told you already, through kneeling, tears and anguish, He offers peace. True.

So. Very. True.

But, what of these things that we want and don’t get? These seemingly good-for-us things?

Well, I eventually let them go… accepting that He knows best. That He has something else in mind beyond me.

He is good. And gracious. And for me, not against. 

The devotional I read is by Elisabeth Elliot. She starts out by saying that there was some-thing she also wanted very badly.  She prayed for it and thought it would add to her life in a very good way, but the Lord did not see fit give it to her.

She, like me, wondered “why” and her thoughts with the Lord went like this…

“Do you honestly want to know Me?” He asks. I answer yes. “Then do what I say,” He replies. “Do it when you understand it; do it when you don’t understand it. Take what I give you; be willing not to have what I do not give you. The very relinquishment of this thing that you so urgently desire is a true demonstration of the sincerity of your lifelong prayer: Thy will be done.” 

She goes on to say…

“So instead of hammering on heaven’s door for something which it is now quite clear God does not want me to have, I make my desire an offering. The longed-for thing is material for sacrifice. Here, Lord, it’s Yours.”

And for me, the thought of making my earthly plans and wants and desires a sacrifice… affirming my love for Him and my trust in Him.

Yes, I want that. 

Here, Lord, it’s Yours!

 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

 *Linking up with Tracy from My Daily Walk in His Grace for Winsome Wednesday. 

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Great Expectations

As a practicing psychologist, I deal with people in pain every day.  And I find myself often discussing realistic and unrealistic expectations and how this impacts our mental health and our relationships with others.  And there is a powerful concept in psychology that research shows to be one of the most effective tools in managing distress and that is acceptance.  The more readily one can accept pain, the less pain one experiences.

God speaks of this concept of acceptance and the importance of giving up the illusion that we deserve a problem-free life.  Jesus urged his disciples to align their expectations with reality in this fallen world—He told them you will have troubles.  Sarah Young speaks about the dangers of having unrealistic expectations in her book “Jesus Calling” when she says, “Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties.  This is a false hope!”

I find that the difficulties of life still can take me by surprise and my pride swells, telling me I deserve better.  Wow!  I am so glad I don’t get what I deserve!  But I also am learning (thank you for your help, Holy Spirit!) to turn sooner, and not try harder.  And I am learning the power of a 2-word, very simple, but very profound prayer.  That prayer is, “Use this!”  I ask God with a faithful and trusting heart to use my circumstances (the good the bad, and the ugly) to give Him the glory and to point me to Him more clearly.

So what are are we to expect in our earthly existence?  The Bible tells us to expect abundance.  But let’s not make the mistake of thinking this is an earthly abundance of riches or freedom from disease or a life free of trials.

Expect to be BLESSED.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Expect to be COMFORTED.

“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5)

Expect GRACE.

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14)

Expect LIFE.

“The thief comes to steal and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly “ (John 10:10)

So let’s go about our earthly walk with great expectations.  Expectations of a loving, faithful, powerful God who wants us to enjoy Him and glorify Him even in the midst of adverse circumstances.

Glorifying God with you,

Erin