Friday, November 28, 2008

Sometimes It's Enough To Make Me Wonder Why...

but I won't.

I won't wonder why.

I won't do it.

I won't.

I could go into all the things that could make me wonder why but I won't do that either.

Instead I choose to trust...

That God is in control.

That He cares about my well-being.

That I may not have all I want but He knows what we need.

That He wants to best for our family and has a plan to get us there.

That He knows the future.

That praying will bring the unexpected and more than I could imagine.

That His Grace is Enough.

That His mercy covers me and is new every morning.

That He is faithful, far more than I can fathom.

That He will protect us from the forces that want to stop us.

That all I need to do is love... love God, love my neighbor.

And just not wonder why.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Simple Grace

Be thankful for the smallest blessings
and you will deserve to receive greater.
Value the least gifts no less than the greatest,
and simple graces as especial favors.
If you remember the dignity of the Giver,
no gift will seem small or mean,
for nothing can be valueless
that is given by the most high God.

- Thomas a Kempis

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Art of Contentment... or something like that...

I'm crossposting something that came pouring out of me, and took all sorts of twists and turns over at my other blog. It's worthy of this blog too, but I'll just post a link as the kiddos are looking for their lunch.

May you live blessed today...

The Art of Contentment

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sometimes, it's Square One.

Sometimes a person can talk about praying first and then expecting whatever God brings. Yeah, a girl can talk about it but then, you know, it gets hard and can get forgetful in the middle of all sorts of stuff, forgetful about praying and expecting and all that. And that is when a girl, this girl, has to decide to go back to square one and start again.

Some of Jesus' most influential words, right in the middle of The Sermon on the Mount Matthew 6 :24ff) are these...

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other;
you will be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money.

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—
whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.
Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,
for your heavenly Father feeds them.
And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.
They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory
was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today
and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

So don't worry about these things, saying,
'What will we eat?
What will we drink?
What will we wear?'

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers,
but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,
and he will give you everything you need.

So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.
Today's trouble is enough for today.

I read these words, words that I practically have memorized for all the times I have come back again and again to remind myself of them, the assurance of faith that He has it all in control, and the reality that my job here isn't to create anything more than a secure nest egg in order to survive, and that trusting God to do the unexpected will take care of the rest. We work hard with what we have and then, we trust God will use our efforts and he will take care of us, just like the birds and the lilies.

I am humbled because every time I take my eyes off the real prize, that of HIS KINGDOM, and nothing else, that is when the worry begins for me. The minute I put my hands around things and start to work them out myself is when I forget that He's going to take care of me, even if it isn't how I expected. And when I start worrying about this or that, whether it be my health or our savings or whether or not 'this or that' will happen as we planned, when I worry, I am always, always, always not praying first about it.

So it's back to square one... (Psalm 46.)

God is MY refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
So I will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
All I have to do is as he says, "Be still. Know that I am God!"

He is God! He is God! Why do I think I have to take over from God??? Why???

Be still and know that he is God. Seek first His Kingdom. He'll give us what we need. He'll help in times of trouble. He will. I pray. He works. And it is so.

That's square one.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some Thoughts on Thanksgiving...

I hope to do a little writing this week about Thanksgiving (hope is the key word!!!) but for tonight, check out my post from today on my family life blog. Check it out!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Song of Thanksgiving

Let All Things Now Living
Words: Katherine K. Davis, b1892
Music: “The Ash Grove”, a traditional Welsh melody.

Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
To God the creator triumphantly raise.
Who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,
Who still guides us on to the end of our days.
God’s banners are o’er us, His light goes before us,
A pillar of fire shining forth in the night.
Till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished
As forward we travel from light into light.
His law he enforces, the stars in their courses
And sun in its orbit obediently shine;
The hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
The deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine.
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
With glad adoration a Song let us raise
Till all things now living unite in thanksgiving:
“To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Living Expecting the Unexpected.

I talked a little about the discipline of praying without ceasing yesterday. What I didn't talk about was the hard part of it all... expecting an answer and then trusting Him with what He says. That is something I'm not very good at, at least not yet.

I'm a planner. It's engrained in my being to work towards making the next thing happen. I've been accused at times (whether right or wrong) at being discontent and driven. Those seem so very negative to me. I see myself (whether right or wrong) as more in the determined category. I know that hard work can get you there and sometimes you have to plow through and get it done, even if it's exhausting, even if it leaves you feeling powerless, and yes, even if you don't get the results you want. That's just me. And I think it has served me...and our family well as I've had to push through some hard stuff in my life... pastoring a congregation while going through the personal trial of infertility... the whole adoption process with how out of my hands it was... moving away from all the people who knew me well and making a new life in a new country with a new husband... those things and many more, are well, examples of my determination to make something happen, move forward, sometimes with costs, but always with good intent.

So that's me. I'm a planner. But this praying thing and sitting back and letting God work it out, and then accepting HIS answer and THE answer, in spite of wanting another way... well, that's a new thing... and new way of thinking, and takes a new style of determination to make it happen. Being hands off and letting Him have control is not natural for me (for anyone???) so this praying expectantly is tough work.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near;

Let the wicked forsake their way,
And let the unrighteous their thoughts;
Let them return to the LORD, that He may have mercy upon them,
and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are my ways your ways, says the LORD.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways
And my thoughts than your thoughts.

~ Isaiah 55: 6-9 (NRSV)

Wowzers. Here He says directly to me,

Tammy, I love you, and I made you a determined woman. And I am grateful, my dear child, that you work so hard, coming alongside me, never giving up when trials hit, always working through

But Tammy, remember this... You don't know it all. And you don't have to know it all. Tell me what you need. I'll deal with it. Pray. Relate to me. Let's get to know each other better by talking together.

And I promise, if you let me, I'll give you MORE than what you can even imagine in our beautifully created, but woefully human mind. You pray. I'll answer and Tammy, you can't imagine... you CANNOT imagine what I have in store for you. You don't think like I think. I see it all...hear it all...feel it all. I know your needs better than you do. And I will do even more than what you ask. You may not expect it, and you may not understand , but 'my ways are not your thoughts are not your thoughts'.

Tammy, put aside the ways you take over and do things your way. Let me answer in my own time, by my own way, and I promise that 'I will have mercy on you. I promise. All you have to do is pray. And expect the unexpected.

I love you, oh Child of Mine.

Your Heavenly Father

Oh, what a comforting way to live. But wow... it's hard. It's hard to let go and walk this way without pushing or prodding or trying to figure it all out. But hopefully, I'm savoring the process, knowing that God has it figured out so I don't have to. I just have to let him answer His way and expect the unexpected.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pray First.

This is my new thing... and wow, is it ever a discipline to do. I've never been good at the "up early, down on your knees, formal" kind of praying. I get all guilt-ridden over my inability to stay awake or even know what to say except the "God bless so and so" or the "God help..." So what I'm doing is praying myself to sleep. Between that and praying through my Little Man's temper tantrums or for peace when it's all too much, well, it is amazing how God puts people on my heart in the middle of the night.

You see, I don't sleep all that well for a whole lot of reasons. So I find myself falling asleep, and often. So I pray as I fall to sleep... counting my blessings, asking expectantly, offering gratitude, pouring out my heart, asking healing on friends who are sick or dying or in depression, asking for guidance and wisdom, praising.

And it's working. It's becoming habit and that is what I long for more than anything, to be a woman who prays out of habit, not out of crisis. And in this time when my ministry role is behind the scenes... his wife, their mother... this HAS to be MY job.

So I pray. And then expect His answers, the ones He gives me, whatever the answers are, to be right... and right on time.

Pray without ceasing.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ahhh...she speaks.

A couple people have wondered where I've been. Here, it truly has been awhile. I find that I don't have enough time to actually write down what I'm thinking. On my other blog, I took an unplanned hiatus due to many factors, which include a need to stay silent for my own sake and sanity, and for the sake of friendships, two amazingly creative and energetic children who seem to need my undivided attention, and the wonderful Fall weather that lured me away from anything related to the indoors.

Here... it's been for other reasons. Namely a lack of discipline in finding the time to actually do the spiritual work in my personal life that I crave. It feels as if I fail at every try, and in doing so, I am not able to be the wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, and most importantly, the Child of God I long to be. It is Thanksgiving Season, a time to live grateful more than ever before, both in recognizing all the blessings I have receive, both seen and unseen, and in actively living in response to what I have received. I sometimes am not very good at that at all.

But for today, a new start (I hope!) I live grateful and leave you with these words...

Getting it absolutely right is God's job.
- from These High Green Hills by Jan Karon

Truer words have never been spoken.

What a relief to hear.

I have more to say. Hopefully soon.