Saturday, March 18, 2017

A father's love

Imagine all the best qualities you might see in fathers today...

  • A daddy who is playful with his children, who snuggles and cuddles them and takes time for them.
  • A father who is present in teaching his children to ride a bike, to skate, to read or to draw.
  • A papa who forgives quickly and offers feedback his child can handle.
  • A daddy who builds up his daughter with words, telling her she is beautiful and special and has a lot to offer the world.
  • A dad who asks his daughter how her day was, then tells her he is proud of how she handled herself.
  • A father who sits across the table over coffee and offers wisdom to his daughter's questions and concerns.
  • A daddy who gives eye contact, attention and affirmation.
  • A father who would talk to someone on his child's behalf, opening the door of opportunity for her.
  • A papa who scoops his daughter in his arms when she returns home from a weekend away.
  • A dad who respects others and quietly serves the needs he sees around him.

I have seen every one of these scenarios in the world around me and when I do, my heart is warmed. This list could go on and on... watch and see. These traits may not all be present in one man, but collectively, we know what fatherhood can be.

Whether or not we have these things with our own fathers, and whether or not our children have these things from their daddies -- these are the traits of loving dads and we know them when we see them. They bring security, peace and confidence. The child can feel loved, valued and treasured.

All the above describes our Father in Heaven. All of these traits were designed and are modeled by Him. This is the way God our Father loves each one of us. Soak in that. Can you believe it? Can you really receive it?

If we knew this with all our hearts, minds and souls, why would we ever doubt?

Our Father, loving Daddy, please reveal to me what my relationship with you could be like. What would you like me to know about you? Would you help me to hear your voice and to understand the way you see me? Fill me with joy and peace as I trust in you so that I may overflow with hope. (Romans 15:13)




Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finding God in the Quiet

Family demands, long to-do lists and no time for self… This is where many of us find ourselves today – or might it be more accurate to say ‘lose ourselves’? But God knows the longings of our souls, including our great need to feel loved, accepted and connected to Him, the source of our ultimate strength and deepest refreshing.

Living connected to the Vine is turning our hearts to Him consistently and making time in our day for Him. Finding some quiet time in each day and finding God in that quiet is so important. It's not easy when there are so many distractions, but taking this time is worth fighting for!

“Solitude is the ONE place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us,” according to John Ortberg, pastor and author. “The great danger is not that we will renounce our faith, but that we will become so rushed and distracted that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.”

The discipline of doing it is probably the hardest obstacle. Look up Kerwin Rae and his 3-minute "Pathway to Freedom" video -- it's excellent! It's not a spiritual video, yet it's full of pure truth and very motivational.

Rae maintains that the ultimate key to freedom is structure and discipline. "Because structure and discipline creates freedom," he says. "Unfortunately, for most of us, we don't see structure and discipline as freedom, we see them as an inconvenience, an obstacle, as something we're being forced to do. But structure and discipline creates habit, and the habit sets you free."

On April 22, I'll be speaking at the Women's Breakaway on the topic, "Finding God in the quiet, when my life isn't quiet." I will share insights on how to carve time for that essential revitalization -- to find God in the quiet, when our lives may be anything but quiet.

Heavenly Father, please quiet my spirit today and help me hear your voice. There are so many things that are beyond me to figure out and I long for your wisdom and direction.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Called to BE

I call out to God in a busy place. I’ve got many plates in the air that I’m trying to keep spinning. I’m hurried and busy and stressed with wanting to get things done. The more I get done, the better I’ll feel, right?

Oh, that is my wrong way of thinking. I’m somehow trying to carry the burdens of the world (or at least the world around me) on my shoulders. Trying to think it all depends on me. How arrogant is that? Yes, I can have an impact, but apart from Him I can do nothing. He is the Vine and I am the branch that is dependent on Him, and not the other way around. When I abide in Him, I surrender that He is God and I am listening. Then the answers come more quickly, the peace comes more fully and the world around me is impacted more effectively.

The truth is I need to take time to just BE. I have so much to do but I am called to BE. I need to soak in God’s goodness, and in the fullness of His light I will see how to connect the pieces of life that fit together.

As I look outside, I see winter. Today I see quiet grey skies, a small blanket of snow, bare branches and quiet. A sleeping earth, receiving rest and replenishment. In the Midwest, we see a longer span of this. Is it because we work hard and need more rest, or does the longer rest produce our great Midwestern work ethic?

Nature reminds us that rest is good and quiet is good. God rested on the Sabbath and I will too. He built in a time for rest, reflection, recreation and replenishment. 

God, I will rest in knowing that you will provide all that I need for each day. You’ll guide me in the right priorities when I take time to abide in you. Thank you, God.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Things I've been learning in 2016

The new year will soon be here, and it’s a great time to reflect on lessons learned this past year. Here is a sampling:

A long-held dream can become reality. 

My goal was to write 50 words a day as a way to make progress on the huge undertaking of writing a book. After two years in the making, Life, Love and Loss was published in April, and I am overjoyed with the sense of accomplishment and the wonderful feedback from many who have been inspired by it. 

Love means letting go.

Things can change in an instant and we can never take them for granted. I lost a friend in January, buried my faithful furry companion in March, and walked with several others who experienced a significant loss. I’ve learned to be grateful for the time we had together and to treasure each moment as if it might be the last.

I can adapt.

My workplace transitioned through huge change this year. But there are new people to work with, new disciplines to learn and new opportunities to pursue. I’m learning to better adapt and go with the flow. 

My perception is not always reality.

It’s not accurate to take limited information and run with it. There is more to the story than the side that I see. Before accepting a conclusion, it is better to open dialog. I thought I was being phased out of my job, but I learned it was not true at all.

Discipline is surprisingly good.

I took the Whole Life Challenge and did things I didn’t particularly want to do (exercise more, pass up carbs and sweets, drink more water and get eight hours of sleep). I was pleased to learn that the way I take care of my body is directly related to fewer aches, improved wellbeing, greater energy levels and better-fitting clothes! 

God still loves to answer prayers.

I thank God for many prayers answered in 2016: improved relationships, better decisions, healed bodies and minds, trouble averted, opportunities given, and the continued blessings of friendships, old and new. God loves with an everlasting love. The impossible becomes possible when I abide in Him.

The possibilities are endless.

Prayers are always needed for wise government, peace in war-torn places, the spread of the gospel and homes for the homeless. The world needs solutions to humanitarian issues. Real change begins with prayer. I am a world changer, right where God has placed me.

Gratefulness is amazingly fulfilling.

Gratefulness trains me to look for the positive among the negative. It flips my view, and gets me out of places I could become stuck. Rather than focusing on the dark details, I can be a light that shines in the darkness. My light gets brighter as I thank and praise God for all He has done, and believe in all He is still doing! I’m determined to head into 2017 in a spirit of gratefulness, amazement and worship.

How about you? What were your most inspirational moments in 2016? What have you celebrated? What have you learned from the most difficult days? How are you better today than you were last January?

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Spirit of Christmas

T raveling to be together or
H osting guests,
I ncluding those less fortunate in our preparations;
S erving, giving, doing for others.

W onderful spreads of special foods,
E ating, feasting, celebrating!

P reparing room to
R eflect
O n the Reason for the Season.
C arols and singing…
L ittle children anticipating…
A ngels announcing
I mportant news: holy birth of the long-awaited
M essiah.

:

E xtraordinary,
M agnificent,
M erciful God who loves us so much
A nd sent His only Son so that
N o one need perish. All He asks is that we
U nderstand His precious gift is free…
E ternity with Him,
L ife for all who believe.

I nspiring awe, impossible to keep quiet,
S haring the good news with all.

G od has come… in the form of a baby… and we’re
O verjoyed…
D o not fear.

W e will walk with Him, abide
I n Him,
T rust in
H im… for all we need.

U nlocking the mystery of all history… Jesus Christ has come,
S avior of the world!


THIS WE PROCLAIM: EMMANUEL IS GOD WITH US!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

8 Amazing Promises from Romans 8

As the beauty of the season begins to unfold, I'm in Romans 8, finding several amazing promises around why Jesus came to earth. The interpretations I share have come from reading various versions (NIV, Voice, Message and Phillips). In each of these, Paul's language is richly expressive -- as I'm sure it was in the original text.

1 - There is no condemnation for those who are walking with Jesus. If we've accepted Christ and are doing our best to abide in Him, there's no reason for us to be blaming, guilting or shaming ourselves for any past mistakes.

2 - Since the law wasn't enough, God made things more personal by sending His son to take on the human condition and live among us. Jesus freely took it on, humbling Himself as a helpless baby, limiting Himself to an earthly body to do what needed to be done to set us free from sin.

3 - Then, God sent His Spirit to indwell us, inspire us and intercede for us. What could be more helpful? We are adopted into God's family and get to call Him our daddy.

4 -  That also means we become heirs to all the treasures of His glorious inheritance. With that, God placed within us a deep and abiding hope to experience the true freedom that will be ours one day. In fact, all of creation is practically on tiptoe to see what is to come! We yearn and long for the day when all will be made right, once and for all.

5 -  While we wait as patiently as possible for that day, this time of enduring does not diminish us. No, we are enlarged in the waiting! When the waiting gets hard, the enduring gets long and there are no words, His Spirit prays on our behalf in groans too profound for words.

6 - Meanwhile, we can rest in the knowledge that God works in and through all things to orchestrate good, right and beautiful out of pain, ugliness and ashes.

7 - Paul begins to summarize: If God is for us, who can be against? Who would even try? What would be the point? We have an overwhelming victory in Him.

8 - God is totally for us -- backing us with the full force of the Holy Trinity, in love. He hasn't missed a detail. Nothing can separate us from the love of God... Absolutely nothing.

Heavenly Father, you offer us a love that is beyond anything we've ever known. It is difficult to grasp. Please open our eyes that we may see, our minds that we may believe and our hearts that we may fully receive all that you have given us.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Finding great riches

Step into the shoes of someone finding great riches: A surprising find, an unexpected check, maybe even a fabulous sale. I can imagine the excitement about receiving something more – even much more – than I was looking for. That is a great description and a wonderful way to think about scripture. I have been rolling that thought around for several days, since reading this verse:
I will rejoice in following your statutes like one rejoices in finding great riches. (Psalm 119:14)

Rather than thinking about God’s Word as restrictive, the psalmist finds pure joy in following God’s gracious guidance. Whoever wrote Psalm 119 (presumably David) took a great deal of time of examining the Word and reflecting on many different ways to express appreciation for it. He meditates on it, seeks it, trusts it, obeys it, delights in it, keeps it, hopes in it, follows it, dwells in it and ponders it.
This psalm – the longest one – is thoughtfully written as an acrostic, using each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in order. Eight stanzas are devoted to each letter. A beautiful poetic work. It centers on exalting the written revelation of God, taking joy in His Word. All but a few of the 176 verses follow that same pattern. In it, the scriptures are referred to as God’s Word, His law, statutes, precepts, commandments, testimonies, judgments, decrees or promises.
 “This wonderful psalm helps us to wonder at the immensity of Scripture,” said Charles Spurgeon. “From its keeping to one subject it helps us to adore the unity of Scripture, for it is but one. Yet, from the many turns it gives to the same thought, it helps to see the variety of Scripture… Its variety is that of a kaleidoscope: from a few objects a boundless variation is produced. In the kaleidoscope you look once, and there is a strangely beautiful form. You shift the glass a very little and another shape, equally delicate and beautiful, is before your eyes. So it is here.”

How rich we would be if we could treasure the Bible that way – to dwell in it and let it make its home in us. What a gift we have been given. Let’s read it, remember it, reflect on it, rejoice in it…!