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Showing posts from December, 2012

What Moves You?

I recently reset my home page to a generic page removing my news site from the first thing I see when I turn on my computer. It's not that I don't want to know what's going on in the world, but I found that the news didn't always drive my towards prayer which should be my response. I get more of a compact version of news over email these days and it has helped direct rather than distract me in my praying. Advent brought about deeper reflection for me on suffering and pain in the world, especially thinking about Christ's coming into a world very much like ours today. 

My daughter is writing a point of view essay and we were discussing the criteria for her paper and possible topics. It's supposed to be about something that moves me, mom. She informed me in her sweet mature tween way. That launched us into a discussion about things that cause a heart-stir, a movement in our heart. We laughed about her brothers, yes, they move her sometimes in a good way, other time…

December 23 Our Glory and Our Hope

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Awesome things you will show us in your righteousness O God our salvation. O hope of all of the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away. Psalm 65:5 

It is too easy to get overwhelmed by all the things that aren't right in the world. Injustices in particular are difficult to swallow. The pain of my sister and her husband as they offer love and grace to their precious adopted children, one of them is fighting and doesn't want to be loved, friends wondering why the Lord hasn't filled their home with children yet, the suffering of the marginalized, the pain of those struggling to make it through each day, the homeless man at many of the corners of our city...  Without even realizing it I can easily carry the weight of the world on my shoulders so to speak, and I become burdened and sorrowful. This morning's passage reminds me afresh that God is our salvation and hope.

The Father sent his Son to a world that was aching much like today's world.

How does that …

December 21 A Busy Heart

Today didn't turn out as I expected. A series of morning appointments going longer than I had planned set my day on an unexpected trajectory. I felt the anxiousness rise as I realized that I wasn't going to get the things I needed to get done. "needed"... I realized that the "needed" list was perhaps a bit self imposed. 

My days are often like that. I haven't checked in with the Lord about the things He wants me to do or finish. Seems I'm consistently reflecting on that. My own sense of effectiveness is measured by how many things I've finished. My sense of joy often is measured by how others perceive me. Are they pleased? I wonder. 

Mixed up priorities. My eyes are so often stuck on myself and not on the Lord as it should be. 

Forgive me, Lord. Yesterday's victories are gone and I'm faced again with another day filled with temptation to rely on myself and go about my day alone, without Him. 

Needing to take tomorrow off to reflect and pray.…

December 19 He Never Changes

December 18 When Things Are Hard

I was part of an audience that witnessed an amazing sunset last night. It was an amazing display of beauty that took my breath away. A painting done by God. The fiery colors of orange, red, and purple were stunning. The Creator of the Universe paints the sky each night and few of us are around to notice it. It's there, but many times there are things that are blocking its view. Sometimes it's the weather, other times it's busyness and heart burdens. Yesterday if hadn't been that the sunset was right out my window of the place I'm staying I would have missed it.

A heavy burden was laid on my heart yesterday and I had a choice of what I was going to do with it. Some difficult words were said to my husband and I, ones that at first pass had the potential of being very hurtful. We had been talking the day before how we both wanted to grow in letting what others think and say about us not bother us so much. Little did we know we'd get to practice that right away. Br…

December 16 Letting Go

I dropped my oldest son off at a large metropolitan airport last night for his first flight alone. He's flown before with friends, but this is his first trip on his own. Security at this airport can be tight. But he made it. The signs for the gates are tricky, but he navigated just fine. I asked him to text me when he was at his gate, and he did. He texted me this message. At gate, have coffee, just about to board. I'm fine, Mom. It made me laugh. My husband looked at me and smiled. Where'd he learn that from? The coffee part, he means. Regardless of how many pieces of carry-on we have, I like to have my hot drink in hand before a flight.

As he got out of the car, my son reassured me. I've done this a thousand times with you, Mom. I'm okay. We've trained him to do this but sometimes the thought of letting go is so hard for me. As I drove away from the airport the Lord and I had a heart chat and He showed me again so often that it's my lack of faith drives m…

December 14 When It Doesn't Make Sense

My heart is grieving today. As I helped my daughter write a paper this morning my phone alarm alerted me to news of a tragedy in Connecticut. While we were eating breakfast in California, a gunman walked into a small town school and shot 20 children and 7 others, including his own mom. Parents who said good bye to their children this morning were anticipating a family weekend ahead not news that their child is no more.  I'm struggling making sense of this. 

I look across the table to my own precious kids studiously working on their homework assignments and the sight of them takes my breath away. What if I was that parent? The mama who had carefully bought Christmas presents early tucking them under the tree hoping her curious kindergartener wouldn't be too curious. Her heart is breaking tonight and I have my four of my own in my arms tonight. 

I don't like pain and I don't think I'm alone when I say that I don't like suffering. In fact even though I shouldn't…

December 13 His Choice for a King

December 12 Hope in His Return

I was given a gift today of 30 minutes of silence. It wasn't the kind of silence I had expected. I was bound to the dental chair due to an unexpected filling that was needed. I had to fight a wandering mind as I sat in that chair this afternoon. The to-do list constantly threatens me and it was all I could do to keep from hyperventilating over all that I was trying to cram into today. We travel tomorrow to visit family which means there is a lot more than usual to finish. It's also nearly Christmas and I haven't all the gifts I need for special family members we will see. We have been back here for so few Christmases that it makes this one so much more sweet with our families.

Breathe in, Jenn, I am here. It was almost an audible whisper. The Holy Spirit spoke and thankfully I was still enough to listen. It takes getting me into a dental chair to get me to be still. Closing my eyes, God and I fellowshipped. I spoke of the heart burdens. The many things I will leave undone …

December 11 Simple Faith

Intrigued this morning by the story of Rahab. I'm imagining the circumstances surrounding   the meeting of Rahab and the two spies. Her courage is surprising. But it's God's plan in bringing Rahab into the family of God that amazes me even more. 

God chose to bring this woman into the genealogy of Jesus. She wasn't a good person. Scripture names Rahab as a prostitute. My years of prayer walking around the brothels in our neighborhood and of meeting women who have given themselves over to this profession brings distinct images into my mind. It's a dark world out there and Rahab was part of it. 

She promises to shelter the spies and to protect them. They are at her mercy. The king of Jericho is after  them. They promise that when they return to take over the city that her and her family will be spared. Rahab's simple faith is sweet. Faith that is recorded in that great chapter in Hebrews along with the great men of faith including Abraham and Moses. There she is. R…

December 10 Surrender

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To surrender means to let go and to trust another. To release control that I want into the hands of someone else. This morning I'm praying for that deep surrender. In prayer for this day I felt a wave of a long to-do list wash over me and the feeling of panic over the too-many-things-on-my-plate thing that happens so often. Christmas is nearly here and there's much to do before then and we return to our home abroad soon after it is over. The urge to get up and "do" is strong and runs contrary to the calling to stillness that I sense the Lord speaking to me this morning.

Surrender raises some difficult questions for us. Are we willing to trust God with our everything? Sometimes it seems easier to trust Him with the larger life-things. My future. But to trust Him my todays are harder. Sure I pray each day and commit things to the Lord, but I also jump in faster than I know He wants me to into fixing things, getting things done.

What might happen today if I simply trust…

December 8 Prince of Peace

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There's always something that tries to keep me from trusting the Lord. Almost daily there arises something that threatens to throw me off balance, to lose my footing. It's in those moments I have a choice. To respond in faith and let Peace wash over me, or to respond with anxious thoughts and busyness. The heart's response in times like these reflect what's really inside.

Isaiah wrote of the promised Child, "He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." Isaiah 9:6 The prophet wrote in a time of turmoil and unrest for the people of Israel, writing of a peace that they had not known. He is coming, he writes. The Prince of Peace.

The Prince of Peace is the Son of God and He reigns within me. The problem is that I so easily forget that and assume the reign of my life. That's when my feet slip.

My husband gave me a hug this afternoon and I tried to wre…

December 7 Be Still

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The clutter in our home overwhelmed me today. I found myself in a pile of papers, schoolbooks, and forms this morning. Sitting on the floor I sorted, filed, and recycled. Attacking the mess took a lot of effort since I would rather straighten up the pile rather than do something with it. I've asked the Lord to help me this Advent to do things that are hard in my life and I know this is one of them. Dealing with the messes. Physical ones are easier, heart messes more difficult.

As I continue to think about Mary's journey I am wondering today how she felt. Lonely, I'm sure. I wonder if there was a friend in her life who though it seemed implausible, chose to believe what Mary told her. Did she have a friend walk her through the days of pregnancy? I am sure that there were moments of overwhelming emotion. Perhaps days. Thinking about this puts her visit to Elizabeth her cousin into better perspective. Here was a woman who, too understood the miracles of God. Elizabeth was tha…

December 6- faith

Reading through Mary's Song of praise this morning, wondering what it felt like to be her. This young woman became impregnated with the Sonof God, in a mysterious moment, and was left to carry Him for 9 months, in a society where that was not only improbable but scandalous.

As a person whose default response is, "how will others perceive me?", I'm stunned at Mary's response to the angel who first announced to her what would happen. "Behold I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:30)  Her response was that of submission and faith. That is definitely not always my first response. There is a submission of heart that must take place in order for faith to happen. To trust in the One who I serve requires willingness to surrender everything to Him first.

I am tempted daily to take things into my own hands. To fix problems, smooth over issues, and carry tasks out on my own. I am convicted of my need to surrender all to the…

December 5 - my Rock

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The sun decided to come out today. We grabbed our winter gear and ran out to the beach the moment we woke up. It was too beautiful to miss. It's funny how I don't jump out of bed when it's cloudy and wet. My feet drag, I hit my snooze button on my alarm, and I settle myself into a more comfortable position. A few more minutes won't matter, I reason, I won't miss much.

And yet I do miss much. I miss moments with Jesus, the Son of God. I miss precious moments in His presence. In exchange for a few extra minutes of sleep? I love praying when I'm outside and I can look far into the distance. That doesn't happen very often for a city dweller. I am pondering a problem that arose today, something that requires fixing but I don't know how to do that! There's a large rock on this beach that many people travel from far away to come and see. This rock rises 50 feet from the ground, and is an amazing sight to see. It's rounded edges tell of the sea's wa…

December 4 - a walk in the rain

We braved the wind and rain today. Exchanging dry clothes for the wet bedraggled look, we ventured out for a walk on the beach. We were layered up and ready for the cold, but we weren't ready for the rain. In 10 minutes, our down coats were soaked through and I was soon wet to the bone. It's been a long time since I've had that feeling.

Our family loves to watch shows where others brave the wild, and we act like we enjoy that, too. It's a fun joke we have because at the end of the day, we really just like the comfort of our home, our heat, and warm clothes.

This morning I'm reading about the hope of salvation. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation." Psalm 68:19 There is no other one who can offer us salvation like the Lord. This salvation is my hope today. Salvation from my sin, not only once and for all sin, but my daily sin. I grieve Him when I don't choose to trust Him. Anxious thoughts, fear, anger, frustration at other…

December 3 Trying to Quiet Down

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It takes so long for my soul to quiet down. We drove down the coast for a few days to get away from busyness. We packed our bags with comfy clothes, games, books, and favorite snacks and left the city. Though we all have things we still need to work on, there's something about getting away to simplicity. Though I'm not disconnected entirely, I can feel my soul slowing down. I'm not so bothered by the mess of strewn clothes and empty cups. My family notices the difference.

We took a long walk on the beach this morning. It was an amazing walk. There was a misty rain and a strong wind, but we were intent on getting out. Breathe deeply, I had to remind myself. I stay at a shallow breathing pattern throughout my day. It's as if I'm out of breath. As quickly as I tried to empty my mind of worries, they flood back in. I'm clinging to the word, hope, this morning. I cast those burdens back on to the Lord. I pray through them aloud. There's something about verbally…

December 2 Hope

The Webster dictionary defines the word "hope"- as the desire for attainment, trust. This week of Advent focuses on Hope. I am struggling to hope. The struggle of my heart against discouragement is a daily thing. One moment I'm hopefully and happy, the next moment I am fighting for it again. Happiness and hopefulness are tied together in my heart, but I'm not sure they should be. 
It's raining this morning. It's the third storm of the week to hit our region and the clouds have been nothing but thick and heavy. It feels a bit that way in my soul. 
I am aware that at every moment I am challenged with the choice to hope, and trust in the Lord, or to trust in my own strength. A few days ago I encountered a situation that brought me from the highest peak to a very low valley. Hope seemed shrouded by stormy clouds and I couldn't see beyond that. I cried out to the Lord, asking Him for deliverance. He answered. What's my response when hard things hit? Abrah…