Thursday, January 31, 2013

A matter of speaking

   When we moved to Tennessee in 1998 we bought a house in the rural area, away from the Navy base. Our first neighbors were born and bred Southerners and gave me my first dose of the language barriers that would show themselves from time to time throughout our stay here.
    Our neighbors had a six month old baby daughter and when her mom and I would discuss baby Emily, her mom would always say, "she's a mess."  I would look at this sweet little girl, clean hands, clean face and clean clothes, and think to myself, " her mother doesn't know what she's talking about. She looks perfectly clean to me."  Translation:  describing anyone as a "mess" is an affectionate term to describe ......I'm still not sure what, but all who use it, say it with love.
   The second terminology that took about three years to understand would be the term " coke" to describe any flavor of pop (soda).  When we would be visiting friends or neighbors and be offered a "coke" I would politely decline because it's not my favorite.  A few minutes later I would see someone with say a Sprite or a Dr. Pepper  and think, " well I would have had one of those!"
   Since I've been working in a community hospital, employed by mostly Southerners and the patients the  same, I have found that there still is more terminology that gets lost on me.
   For example, when I am leaving a patient's room and ask them if they would like me to shut the lights off when I leave, I get a look of total perplexity as the patient, usually elderly and hard of hearing ( I assume)stares at me.  So I lean in closer and say loudly, "WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO TURN THE LIGHT OFF?"  They still look at me like I have three heads.   By this time, my coworker will hear me shouting down the hall, come in, ask what's wrong, and I'll explain what the issue is and so they will laugh and in a normal tone, say to the patient, "want your light CUT off?  To which the patient quickly says, "oh yes, yes."  Go figure!  I like to say their Southern ears can't understand by Northern accent, but really, CUT a light off?
    Tonight, when my shift started and I was making rounds with the day nurse, I asked the patient, "Do yo need anything?"
    To which the patient replied, "A chicken breast."
    I stood there a second wondering how I could get her a chicken breast and started to tell her the cafeteria was already closed, when I decided to ask her again, "Do you need anything?"
    "Oh," she said, "I thought you asked me if I 'd eaten anything?"
    Now that was Northern sounds on Southern ears.
    By the way, no, she didn't need anything.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TJOLC Part 3

I was talking to my husband this morning about our plans for our future move.  When to put the house up for sale, what to do if the house sells fast ( I don't think it will) when to apply for a job.

I get excited thinking about it.

I've had on my dining room table, since after Christmas, piles of stuff to sort through.  Mostly notes, journals, bible study materials.  Today I decided was the day to finally tackle it and see my pretty tablecloth again.

What a blessing it's been to be God's child.  That's all I could think about as I've sifted through notes, highlighted text, names on prayer lists.  The blessings have abounded.

I wanted to save everything, but just couldn't let myself do it, so what I've been doing the last few hours is typing in pertinent notes and comments that I've written or I've highlighted and put them on my computer.

Some of the markings are more than 10 years old and I can look back and see, NOW, what God was doing THEN.  Maybe God's been preparing me all along to leave comfortable and step in faith to walk where there is only light for the step in front of me.  Sometimes it seemed that I have been in a holding pattern for several years and now the wheels are beginning to be oiled, the engines are no longer idling, but are locking into Drive.

Who knows what's ahead?  Him.

Him alone.

And that gives me peace and great joy.

I found a scrap of paper with notes on it I had scribbled several years ago.  I read the passages from time to time but had lost track of it till today.  I hope they speak to you and give you great peace to know that He has not forgotten you.  It's just not time yet.

1.  Maybe what God is doing while we wait is more important than what we are waiting for.

2.  Waiting means, "I trust that God knows what He is doing."  And unlike us, God is never in a hurry.

3.  Why does God make us wait?  God's focus is the person He's making us to be, not the place we're going.

4.  Waiting is the hardest work of hope.

5.  Waiting isn't something we have to do until we get what we want.  Waiting is part of the process of becoming who God wants us to be.

Have a blessed Wait.


walking and writing with Heather

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Ripple Effect

I was reminded this morning of the events in our lives, the moment, the day, the hour, the trial, the challenge, any of the things that we are facing, and all brought a picture of a still, calm lake that has just had a pebble thrown into it.  The ripples start, first bigger ripples at the center then as they continue to get wider they get smaller.  Soon the ripples reach the shore, with a few stragglers pushing against the sand and then the water is calm again, like nothing happened, but underneath the surface organisms have shifted and moved to another part of the lake where they will live and breathe and have their being.

But a piece of bark, that had been  floating for days, rode the waves of the ripples and landed on the shore to be picked up by a small child and used to dig a hole in the sand.

Sometimes our life is the pebble that starts a ripple effect in someone else's life and sometimes we are experiencing the ripples of another person's life.

Your life, the choices you've made and will make today, will have a ripple effect.  Just like the choices I will make today will make ripples that someone today, tomorrow, or next year or fifty years from now will be affected by.

If you could, which ripple would you like to be taken out?  Imagine if that ripple were not there.

Imagine if your ripple is the direct result of someone's pebble being dropped in the center of a calm lake.

Would your life be better or would it be worse if you weren't part of someone's ripple?

You are a part of someone's ripple and someone else is a part of your ripple.

We don't ask for the things that are completely out of our control to happen to us, but still they do.  A family member dies, the C word is now part of the vocabulary, a car runs a red light and slams into you, and forever our lives our changed.

The ripples begin.

You meet the people you would have never met if that ripple effect hadn't started somewhere way back in the middle of the lake, where you have never traveled, but still it's ripples splash onto you and you are changed.

Changed for the better in some ways or changed for the worse in other ways.

But still changed.

And when you look back
    and are able to see each ripple before you that made your ripple,

         you see that each ripple brought with it something you needed to face the moment you are in right now.

                You couldn't stop the rock that started it all from falling,

                     but you can see that when the ripples started,
                        it not only caused the water itself to move and the organisms in it to scatter,

                           and as they scattered, along came something that jumped onto your ripple that you needed

 and you couldn't have gotten it if the rock that started it all hadn't fallen.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Warning! You may want to close your eyes when you read this.


A characteristic that is not really cheered on here in America.  We're Americans.  American pride and all that.

Humility is not something we like to talk about or encourage.  It certainly isn't something we want to teach our children.  Stand up for yourself, be proud of who you are, don't be weak, don't be so mousy, be tough.  Show pride in your work, how you dress, what you think, what you believe.

And yet, God wants me to be humble.  I read that this morning.  Be humble.  Seriously God, in America?  Humble?

I see the synonyms for humble are:   demure, down-to-earth, lowly, meek, modest, unassuming, unpretentious

The antonyms of humble paint quite a different picture:  arrogant, bumptious, chesty, conceited, egotistic or egotistical, fastuous, haughty, highfalutin (that really is a word!), high-and-mighty, high-handed, high-hat, hoity-toity, huffish, huffy, imperious, lordly, overweening, peremptory, pompous, presuming, presumptuous, pretentious, self-asserting, self-assertive, supercilious, superior, toplofty, uppish, uppity.



Even the words for humble are less than the words that describe the opposite.

The definition of humble is
1.  not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive
2.  reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
3a. ranking low in a hierarchy or scale:  insignificant, unpretentious
  b.  not costly or luxurious

As I often do here and like to do, look up the Hebrew and Greek words and find some wow part of it that really makes the verse speak, but even the word humble in both original languages and the variations that it is used both in the Old and New Testaments mean what the word is defined in English.

Pretty much every thing you can think humble means is right.  Basically, to be brought low.  What we are taught to be prideful in or about, humble is the opposite.  When we are being prideful of our pride, side-by-side next to humble it doesn't look good for us. It looks even worse when we're prideful of our humility.

I'm believing God wants to give me some freedom in knowing this truth though.  It's freeing to be humble is what I'm learning and being reminded.

All those words to describe the opposite?  Those look like words that I'd have to do a LOT of confessing and repenting around the actions that come with them.  I'm looking for freedom, folks.  Freedom to live freely without fear that my prideful actions will be my downfall.

A few years ago I read a book on humility, written by Andrew Murray.  The name of the book was Humility.  I took a sheet of paper and wrote out some passages then from that book and this I'll share with you, whoever is still reading this - it's a hard topic to digest, I know - here.

(It's always hard to see where I need to be humbled, but God showed me the blessing that comes with it and to remind me of it again years later.  I hope you are blessed today, if even for just reading this to the end).

From the pages of the book, Humility by Andrew Murray:

His(Jesus') humility is my salvation.  His salvation is my humility.

Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.  Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others: it is the root of all; because it alone assumes the right attitude before God and allows Him as God to do all.

Humility is the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all and in all, and in which we make way for God to be all.

Jesus lost nothing by giving everything to God.

Humility is one of the chief and the highest graces.  It is one of the most difficult to attain, and one to which our first and greatest efforts ought to be directed.

Humility is only where we, like the Son, truly know and show that we can do nothing of ourselves, that God will do all.

Humility makes the soul fear that it would dishonor Him by not trusting Him wholly.

The highest glory of man is in being only a vessel, to receive and enjoy and show forth the glory of God.  It can do this only as it is willing to be nothing in itself so that God may be all.  Water always fills the lowest places first.  The lower, the emptier a man lies before God, the speedier and the fuller the inflow of the divine glory will be.

Here's what God says about the word humble.  If you're looking for something to do on a lazy Saturday you might dig around in these places.

Exodus 10:3; Numbers 12:3; Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 2 Samuel 22:28; 1 Kings 11:39; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 33:23; 36:12; Ezra 8:21; Job 8:7; 40:12; Psalm 18:27; 25:9; 147:6; 149:4; Proverbs 3:34; 6:3; Isaiah 13:11; 23:9; 29:19; 58:5; 66:2; Daniel 4:37; 5:19; 10:12; Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12; Matthew 11:29; Luke 1:48; 1:52; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:2; James 1:9; 4:6; 4:10; 1 Peter 3:8; 5:5; 5:6.

That's just Humble, other variations like humbled, humbles, humbly I'll put here another time.

The beauty of knowing when our hearts are not humble, yet very prideful, is that because of Jesus there is Free forgiveness.  You don't have to be bogged down with a guilty conscience today - you can be set free and given a restart button to push.  I'll be prideful again, so will you, but Jesus has given us the freedom to trust Him to give us what we need to be the humble people He sees us as.  He loves you and has set you free to live in humility.  True humility.  True freedom.  He died so we can live Free!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Taking the chance while there's still time

When I first opened my Bible and felt the pricking of my heart to want to know more, to understand more, I didn't have a degree in theology, divinity, or any other ology or ity's.  I was a homemaker, a wife, a mom, looking, searching, hungering for more than what I had known thus far.

I had in my youth, gotten solid teaching on exactly who Jesus was, what He did, what it meant for me.  Solid.  Rock solid.  But......

I didn't own it, I didn't take it personally to heart, it was more of a knowledge rather than something that I believed and lived wholeheartedly.  This is not to say that there was any action, or lack thereof, on my part that would have made the facts of Jesus less relevant or less true.  It was just simply Jesus, God, God's Word was somewhere out there, in my knowledge bank rather than my  heart's bank.

But then I started, with shaking hands, heck, shaking all over, reading His word.  Not just assuming I knew the facts, just the facts, thank you very much and that's all I needed, there was something compelling me to dig further.  To want to know more, of what, I wasn't sure, but I knew there had to be more to the story than the basic facts.

But how?  How do I read this book that I've been told is God's word and apply it to me?  How?  What right do I have reading words that were written for a people I have never known, would never know, what did any word or words of an ancient book have to do with me living thousands of years later?

Without those questions answered, I just began reading.  I only had one thought in the back of my mind as I read promises that were for specific people groups, circumstances, and times, "if God said it to one person, He may someday say it to me."

It wasn't that I understood Messianic prophecy, or any type of prophecy for that matter - end times, Isaiah's, Jeremiah's, or any of the prophecies that were spoken by God -  but there was a hole in me that kept getting filled by the words that I was reading that God was speaking centuries ago!  How can that be?

I didn't understand and I only leave it to the faith He's given me to know that someday I will understand what I can't understand now.

So for example, I believed that because God spoke to Isaiah, "never will I leave you or forsake you," I would grab the coattails of those words and believe that if God said it to one person, or one people group, He just might mean it for me too.  Not in the exact same way or with the exact same scenario, but somehow, my heart's hole was getting filled and comforted by these ancient words.

He kept doing that every time I opened the pages of His word, my heart would get filled!  Paul's letters in the New Testament brought comfort to me, even though the times I lived in were so different God kept filling my hole's heart with words like, "it is for freedom that Christ has set you free."  Or, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body (I knew that part) through death (knew about the cross story)  to present you holy (what?) in his sight, without blemish (what?!!) and free (!!!!) from accusation(you mean for those Colossian believers, right Paul?).

Let me understand, I'm a sinner, remember that Paul, always have been, always will be.  What's this about being holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation?

You mean those that have already died and are living in heaven right? That's what I'll be in heaven, right?

And my eyes fell on this:  "bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of  God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

I thought, we don't have to have great endurance and patience in heaven, do we?

So my mind had to was compelled to wonder....this Jesus I've heard about all these years growing up, you mean, there's more to know about him than his story of his suffering, death and resurrection?  Isn't that enough?

Yeah, it is the part that's necessary to hear and believe for your eternal life.

But the words I was reading, beyond the story of his death and resurrection looked like, to me at least, that those letters that Paul wrote and Jesus' brother James' penned, and the disciples John and Peter also penned, they were writing for the believers in their lifetime, right?

Right, guys?

Right, God?

God didn't answer  God kept filling that hole, filling it, filling it, filling it with words of hope spoken centuries and millenia ago, and my heart was being filled.

So I just kept reading and rereading and marking up my Bible to find that verse that spoke so loudly to me at 10:00 in the morning on a Thursday in 1993 and still it spoke to me on a Monday night around one in the morning in 2001!

So I believe God's word, ALL of it, is for me, is for you, is for ALL.  Those ancient words spoke then and they continue to speak now.

There's so much more to the story then the Christmas story and the Easter story - two VERY important parts - but the middle part is just as important too.

This morning I read in a bible study I'm doing, these words, what I would say are the middle part of the story.

"The King of the universe wants a real, live relationship with us.  He's not interested in just being a mind reader.  He's not even interested in just being a provider.  He's both of those things, but the role He relishes most is Father.  He wants us - frail mortal creatures - to connect with Him and communicate with Him as the dearest relationship in human existence.  He rejoices to hear our voices.  He delights to be our sole and holy source for all things in life."

That's why I keep reading and studying Him and His word.  Because He is the answer to all my questions, my fears, my doubts, my joys.

I write and I pray and I pray some more for whoever reads this to KNOW this too.  Not just head knowledge that can be recited on demand, but KNOW it in your heart, in  your soul.  He is worth it.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Watching Time Speed By

We started a project, just the two of us.  She wanted her apartment to be decorated, to be cozy, to feel like her home.  She didn't, she thought, have an eye for decorating or putting things together, but when I walked in  the apartment the other day, only the second time since she's been a married woman, I saw a home.

She gave me free reign to "do whatever you want to do, Mom."  There wasn't much that needed to be done, she'd already put her fingerprints on it, a picture here, a collage of wedding pictures there.  It looked like her.  It looked like her and her husband.

She really didn't need me the way she thought she did.

But we started this project, this painting project.  We went to Lowe's and bought a pretty color called, Sprig to cover what once was the white bookshelf that had been in her room, holding her Harry Potter books, her deals from several library book sales, her children's books, books that I had had as a child.  And we painted it sprig.

And we set it up in her apartment, against a wall that connected her kitchen to her dining room and living room space.

And it looks good.

It looks good with her wedding pictures in a window frame above it.

She's the woman her husband married, she's the daughter her dad and I raised, she's the sister that used to annoy her siblings (and maybe still does from time to time), but she's still the girl I remember.  Now I just have to get to know the woman she's become.

She doesn't need her Mom to show her how to decorate, how to make her married house a home.  She's there.  She'll do just fine.

Just Writing with Heather

Putting the Pieces Together

I've been doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles lately.  I got a toy for Christmas, the iTOY and on it I have an app for putting together jigsaw puzzles.  I've always loved doing jigsaw puzzles and I remember my Grandmother, in the winter months, setting up a card table in the living room where she would work on a one thousand piece or more puzzle.  We would work on it during the day while we watched As the World Turns and Guiding Light (if there was no school) and every so often look up at the TV and watch an intriguing scene.  In the evenings, when it was dark oh so early, she would have a long-arm lamp across the puzzle in order to differentiate the details of a piece.  She'd always complain that her eyes weren't what they used to be and she really shouldn't work on these puzzles at night, but still, the unfinished puzzle, with its pieces laying around the edges and some scattered inside, would entice both her and me to keep finding the piece that fit here, and here, and well, I might as well try and finish this sky part.

Anyway, in the 21st century we don't have to have our jigsaw puzzles taking up space on a card table or dining room table or anywhere else for that matter, because we have these things called smart phones and tablets where we can pick up our jigsaw puzzles and take them with us wherever we go, never being afraid of brushing a piece on the floor or losing space in our living rooms while our card tables take up space.  So that's why I'm doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles lately.

And I'm thinking.

I'm thinking about my technique, taught by Grandma, of first finding all the edge pieces and putting the "frame" together first.  I can't start a puzzle any other way except to put the frame together first.  Some can just jump in and put pieces together, but I have to have a frame to fill in.  A frame gives me context.  A frame gives me a starting point.    If I were to just start with any piece, and I have tried to do this, really, to step out of my self-inflicted ritual, but always find myself needing the context, needing the framework first so then I can start with the inside pieces, the guts of the puzzle.

So that's how I start these electronic puzzles too.  The outside edges first.

When a puzzle is laid out in front of me, the pieces in a pile,  I can be overwhelmed trying to envision that pile of mismatched color ever becoming the picture on the front of the box, as my Grandma used to have standing up on the edge of her card table, or the picture that I can return to with just a click of my finger on a button on my iToy.

As I've been working these puzzles I've been thinking.

I've been thinking how one piece can seem so irrelevant by itself but when I finally find its home among the sky portion, or the mountain landscape, or the ocean's waves, it makes the whole section and ultimately the entire puzzle tell a story.

 When that one piece is missing or that one section is incomplete and all the other pieces have connected and found their places in the picture, the end result is disappointing.

Remember searching and searching the floor, inside the box, under the furniture looking for that last, lost piece?  The picture wasn't complete without piece one thousand, even though nine hundred and ninety nine pieces were connected and made a part of the picture.  Even when looking at the "completed" puzzle, all of the sky in place, or the ocean, or the building intact, that one little piece that is missing is a distraction to the beauty of the finished, albeit, slightly incomplete puzzle.

I think our lives on earth are like that.  Without Christ in our life, in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls, our existence is like that pile of puzzle pieces waiting to be put together.  We can tell ourselves that we're a good person, that we have meaning and purpose, but without Christ putting our life puzzle together we are incomplete.  We are missing piece nine hundred ninety nine out of one thousand pieces.  When he saves us, when he makes us his child, when he opens our eyes to the truth of who he is and who we are with him and without him, those scattered mismatched pieces of our lives begin to make sense.

When I look at one piece of my life, one regret or one sin or one loss or one sadness, all I'm seeing in that piece is the shade of the color or perhaps the small line that will give a fence definition, and without the other pieces of the puzzle connecting to it, the piece doesn't make sense.

But as one piece connects to another and soon the sky is formed or the flower is recognized or the building's door is complete, soon the big picture comes into focus.  It does make sense that this piece with a line across the middle is part of this fence that surrounds a lovely garden.  

When I start to look at the pieces of my life, the loss, the regrets, sadness, the joys, the challenges, and I see them fitting into the Framer's hands I see the value of the seemingly insignificant pieces.  The pieces  I wish didn't make up the Big Picture of my life now have a purpose.   They now connect to another significant piece of my life.  They connect to the outer edges. The outer edges of  my life's incomplete puzzle have already been framed.

By Him.

I don't have to wonder how in the world this piece of the puzzle is ever going to fit in the big picture because I know that eventually it will fit.  It will make sense.  It will be the piece that is needed to make the picture clear.  The beauty of the big picture will be seen.  As the pieces of my life's choices and things that have happened to me get pieced together, God is seeing the beauty of the completed work.  He already knows how it's all supposed to look when it's done.

When one of the pieces doesn't seem to fit or make sense or have purpose - "maybe this piece is from another puzzle" - God is holding that piece in his hand for just the right time to connect it to its puzzle mate.  There is another piece, at least one, but maybe three or four, that need to be joined with the one that doesn't make sense.  It has a specific place in the big picture, surrounded by other specific pieces of the big picture.

We are being made complete, restored to what the Framer intended all along.  Our pieces, which once were just a pile of mismatched color and lines are now made into something that will be complete and without connecting lines.  It will all make sense.  Just you wait and see.  Let God put your pieces together.  Don't try to force a piece that doesn't fit, even though it looks like it should, let God make the piece fit into your big picture.  He's got the finished picture, sitting beside him, seeing how the pieces of your life, many of them seemingly without color, without definition, without purpose, will connect to make a beautiful masterpiece, full of color and purpose and connection.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Afraid of Not Being Afraid

When I was training for a half-marathon in 2011 I found that the root of why I had never tried something like that ever before started with fear.  I was afraid.  I had a lot of logical excuses of why I couldn't run 13.1 miles, and some of them did make perfect sense, but at the bottom of the pile was one - fear.

It wasn't fear that I would get hurt, a possibility.  It wasn't fear that I was too old.  I saw lots of runners, much older than me running in the races I saw my daughter run in.  It wasn't fear that I would die of a heart attack while training, although that was a possibility.  My body was at risk of going into complete shock being used in the way training demands.

It wasn't fear that I would look ridiculous running.  I was able to laugh at myself easily and I knew I would get quite a few laughs on that one.

It wasn't fear that I'd get hit by a car, and believe me, there were times when I was running that I would pray for that to happen just so I didn't have to train anymore!

It wasn't any of those types of things that I was most afraid.  I didn't realize until about midway in my training that the true fear that had kept me from trying this and so many other big things in life was rooted in the fear that I would..... succeed.

The potential for succeeding was keeping me chained in fear.  If I succeeded, if indeed I do manage to run/walk 13.1 miles, if I do manage to train week after week, adding distance and time to my ability, if I keep on keeping on and God forbid, succeed, well, than what' the next thing I'm going to sense the crazy need to overcome?  Climb a mountain? Run a marathon?

I was afraid of where success would lead me.

Now, I'm beginning to prepare for another I-would-never-do-that moments and face a challenge that used to scare the crap out of me and it's all because I succeeded in running 13.1 miles!  If I can do that, I can do _________.

Fear of succeeding kept me locked up for a lot of years.  I was afraid to be a nurse.  I was afraid to even try to be a nurse.  I was afraid to even take the necessary prerequisites to be a nurse.  I was afraid to even apply to try and be a nurse.  I was afraid to even think of applying to try and apply to be a nurse.  I was afraid.  Deeply, deeply afraid.

Not of failure, I had failed things before.  I knew my limits.  I knew I didn't have a math mind.  I was okay knowing I wasn't the smartest person in biology or science.  I used those things as a cover to hide where the real fear was lying.


If I succeed in passing my classes and clinicals and God forbid, again, passing my state boards, then what was next?  Logically, I had to USE that license I was granted and then what?  What if I was a good nurse?  What if I succeeded then?  I was afraid of where success would lead.

Crazy, huh?

It's easy to admit we are afraid of logical things.  Afraid of failure, the dark, heights, spiders, closed spaces, death.  Those are equally understandable fears.  Lots of people fear some if not all of those things from time to time.  But who is willing to admit that what our logical fears boil down to is really success doing what we are afraid to do or success at doing what we said we would NEVER do?

To succeed at something will automatically mean that something in me and around me will change.  Who I am before I face my fear of success will no longer be the comfortable place I can stay when I would rather not change anything but instead just keep checking off my list of reasons why I can't do the things I'm "afraid" to try.

Maybe I'm the only person who is, or was, afraid of success.  I don't think I am though.

What about you?  What are you afraid of succeeding in doing?

I'll let you in on a secret.  God did not give you that fear.  God put in you the desire to be and do so much more than what you tell yourself you are able to do.  He gives us the ability to be and do  who and what he created us to be and do.

He knows more of what we're capable of doing than we could ever imagine actually doing.

What about you?  Where are you afraid of succeeding?  What are you going to do about it?  You'll have to do something now, you took the time to read this far, something already stirred inside you a little as you read my words.  You won't be the same now.  Whatever you have said you could never do, that thing is now going to start gnawing at you to do.  Believe me, I know.

Just remember, "God did not give us a spirit of  Deilia - fearful, timid, cowardice, afraid - but of dynamai - to be able, possess ability, have power to do something by virtue of one's own ability and resources, to have potential for, to be capable, possess skill or competence - of love, and of self-discipline."  This quote is from the book of 2 Timothy.  I'm not going to give you the verse if you don't already know it, pick up your Bible and look for it!  Who knows what else you may find.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Breaking Down the Gates of Feelings

John 8:32  Then  you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

My new granddog, Penny, was rescued after being found on the steps of a church.  She has displayed what is labeled in dog world, as "separation anxiety."  My daughter and SIL  have been kennel training her since the first day but one of the first times they left her alone when they were gone for a few hours, Penny had tried to escape from her kennel.  When they returned a few hours later, Penny had a bare spot on her forehead where the hair had been torn off from trying to get out of her kennel.

The next course of action was to keep her contained in the laundry room, out of her kennel, with a baby gate  in the doorway.  Penny would be free to walk around in the laundry room, but unable to wander in the rest of the house.  When her "mom and dad" returned, Penny was not in the laundry room but wandering in the house!  She had jumped over the gate.

So, they doubled the gates, and left her in there the next trip out of the house.  When they returned, this is what they found.  Be sure to look on the bottom left.

What is even more remarkable is that when Penny chewed her way out of her "prison" she looked like this:

When we are exposed to Truth, truth that our mind believes, truth that our hearts absorb, we are like Penny and do everything we can to run out of our former prisons.  Penny knew it was freer outside the prison then in.  

When our feelings (which many times are the rulers of our hearts) are exposed for what they are, just feelings, Truth begins to reign in our hearts and minds where once only our feelings of fear, feelings of anger, feelings of sadness, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of self-control, feelings of pride, and other feelings once reigned. 

When feelings lose their place on the throne, Truth sits down and rules our life.

When Truth trumps feelings our lives change.

When feelings reign, fear surfaces. 

When Truth reigns, fear looks at Jesus and sees Him as the Master of nature, the Master of government, the Master of pain, the Master of relationships, the Master of healing.

When feelings try to reign, Truth sets our feelings in place and says, "I am the Way.  I am the Truth.  I am the Life."

When feelings try to control us, Truth gently says, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."

Truth brings true feelings.

True feelings that empower, that encourage, that enable, that humble.  True feelings bring true freedom.

Freedom brings Truth.

Freedom feels Truth.

Real freedom comes from Truth.

When you know the Truth, He sets you free.

Truth feels freeing.  Truth liberates.  Truth enables.  Truth empowers.  Truth brings courage.  Truth banishes fears.  Truth lives in you.  

If you believe Jesus is the truth, Truth lives in you.  

We still have feelings when we have truth but our feelings don't reign.  Our feelings aren't in charge.  Truth is.

Do we really want to be free?  Do we really want to do everything it takes, like Penny did, to be set free?

You see, your feelings are like Penny locked in the laundry room.  Your feelings have locked you in.  You can stay there and have room to walk around.  But the space is small, there's not much to see when you stay there.  There's not much to do except what you're doing.

But when you take the Truth that the Truth giver gives you, you have the power to be set free.

Feelings don't have to reign.  

Jesus reigns.

You will ginosko - to know, come to know, recognize, understand - the truth, and the truth -aletheia:  , truth, reality, fact - will set you eleutheroo - to set free, liberate.

Jesus has opened the prison doors, you don't have to gnaw on plastic to get out.  The gates are down, the door to freedom has been opened.

Just walk in it.

Truth is holding you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Journey in Song

I started a love of hymnal collecting several years ago when my grandmother gave me a few that belonged to her and her mother.  I've kept my eye open for them anytime I walk in an antique store and my daughter has found several for me that I've added to my collection.   

The Church has been singing God's word for centuries and I have the last two centuries works in my home.  God's people, singing His word, across denominations and cultures.  

I hope you enjoy the treasures that I have found.

 The North Star Song Book is a singalong book I had when I was a girl going to church camp.

 The Hymns of Praise has my Great Grandmother's name written in pencil.

 Several hymnals have held special things between their pages.

 These are three cutout articles from a newspaper column called, "A Hymn is Born."

 What's this little girl's story?  Who did she grow up to be?

 Beyond the Sunset.  A quote?  Another song?  Or perhaps a special message from the giver to the receiver of this hymnal.

These three pieces were found in a little book called The Lutheran Hymnary.  Perhaps belonging to a Great, Great Aunt of mine.  The notecard has the phases of a card game that looks like it was a variation of modern day Phase 10.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Standing Firm in Freedom

One of the often used phrases that unbelievers use to describer believers is "hypocrite."  We are, all of us, guilty as charged.  There are some, myself included, who talk a good talk, but our walk is not always seen by the world as genuine.  Sigh.

That's not to say we all are hypocrites all the time.  Some more than others really do walk the talk, even when we expect the bomb to drop saying that they are living some kind of secret life of whatever you can name - pornography, stealing, cheating on their taxes, beating their kids, etc. etc.  Christians do do those things and so much more.

But we don't have to be hypocrites.  We don't have to wear a mask pretending that all is well and we are super Christian and nothing ever bothers us.  We don't have to pretend.  We don't have to deny our very real struggles.  We don't have to add fuel to the fire of what the world calls hypocrisy.  We can be real.  We can be....Free.

There was only one place in all of the New Testament that used the word that Jesus used for freedom in Luke 4:18.  How fitting that the Only One who can give us freedom from our sins is the only one who ever used the word to describe Himself.  He came to "proclaim freedom for the prisoners"  (NIV), "to proclaim that captives will be released" (NLT) "to preach deliverance to the captives" (KJV), "to proclaim release to the captives" (NASB).  

The Only One who can give true freedom is Jesus.  

It's not the freedom that we like to boast of here in America.  Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

No, it's the freedom of the gospel message, that Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross and his defeat of Satan and resurrection from the dead is what gives us Freedom.  True freedom.  

Freedom to walk in peace.  Freedom to live without fear.  Freedom to make choices that honor Him who made us.  Freedom to be real.   

We don't have to pretend that we're something that religion or the world or your professor or your atheist friend or relative says we "should" be if we "really" were Christians.  

We can admit we are flawed.  We don't have to hide our hidden sins that we're afraid if anyone knew about us they would be so disappointed.

We don't have to hide.  We don't have to be a slave to the things that we keep doing over and over and over again.  We can get off the merry-go-round of our hidden shames and walk free.  We can stand firm in freedom.

You see, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery."  Galatians 5:1

This freedom, Eleutheria in the Greek, means "a free person.  Freedom, liberty, latitude, privilege; autonomy, independence, generosity.  Eleutheria was essentially the right and power of self-determination, the state in which one can act and move without restricion or hindrance.  Freedom signified the relationship of an object set over against something else in which it was not under the authority, force, or control of that other object."

Christ set us free from the bondage sin entangles us in.  We can say no, with Jesus' power in us, to the things that keep us trapped and in bondage.

To be burdened - Enecho - means to urge, harass, badger. To be held in or by anything; to be entangled in something, be enmeshed, to be subject to.  See, Jesus has already set you free from hypocrisy.  He's already set you free from the sins that trap you, that tangle you up like a fish in a net.  You are Free.

Jesus has set us free from the yoke of slavery, not a slave of a man, but a slave to our sin.  Douleia is that state of man in which he is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life; a state opposed to liberty.

Jesus died so that we can live free.  He has liberated us.  Long before Lincoln freed the slaves or the women's lib movement of the 60's and 70's, Jesus already laid the ground work for liberation.  For freedom.
Only today, in America at least, we are not slaves of another person, but slaves of our sin.  You have been set free from that sin slavery.

We have the power within us, His power, to bust out of the self-imposed prisons that we find ourselves in.  Whatever burdens you carry, be freed of them, Jesus has the shoulders to carry them for you.  

Don't beat yourself up with the past shoulda, woulda, coulda's.  The past is where it is, the past.  Today you can stand firm, steko - to stand, stand firm, steadfast (firmly fixed in place, immovable, firm in belief, determination, or adherence).

You do have the choice to stand firm or fall flat to bondage.  His power is in you, because you belong to Him and for no other reason.  He died so that you can live.

Live in Freedom!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Laying the Ground Word

Ever since yesterday when the word Freedom rolled its way out of my brain, down the nerves of my arms and fingers where it was let loose and typed, it has been rattling around in my brain settling in then waking itself up as I think off the top of my head how many ways in which the word Freedom is actually used.

I live in the United States, so right there, Freedom is an important word to Americans.  I looked online this morning for quotes with Freedom in them and found some interesting expressions by some unexpected individuals.

But, for me, it all really starts first in one place:  God's Word.  So.. are you ready?

First, I looked in my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and found that the word Free and its six variations, including freed, freedman, freedmen, freedom, freeing, and freely were all used for a total of 111 times in the NIV (New International Version).  Of those words, Free was the word used to translate twenty-five
 Hebrew words and fifteen Greek words!

Very, very interesting, don't you think?  One English word to sum up a total of forty other words.

The word Freedom is used in the Bible (NIV translation) to translate three Hebrew words and six Greek words.

To backtrack just a little, the English definition of free according to Merriam-Webster is a long, long list of various definitions.  It may be easier to just use synonyms to give a broader definition.

Free stresses the complete absence of external rule and the full right to make all of one's own decision - "you're free to do as you like".

Independent implies a standing alone; applied to a state it implies lack of connection with any other having power to interfere with its citizens, laws, or policies - "the colony's struggle to become independent".

Sovereign stresses the absence of a superior power and implies supremacy within a thing's own domain or sphere - "separate and sovereign armed services".

Autonomous stresses independence in matters pertaining to self-government - "in this denomination each congregation is regarded as autonomous."

And that is just Free as an adjective!

Some synonyms of Free used as a transitive verb:

Free implies a usually permanent removal from whatever binds, confines, entangles, or oppresses - "freed the animals from their cages".

Release suggests a setting loose from  confinement, restraint, or a state of pressure or tension, often without implication of permanent liberation - "released his anger on a punching bag".

Liberate stresses particularly the resulting state of liberty - "liberated their country from the tyrant".

Emancipate implies the liberation of a person from subjection or domination - "labor-saving devices emancipated us from household drudgery".

Manumit implies emancipation from slavery - "the document manumitted the slaves." 

When it comes to Free used as an adverb, it's much simpler:  "without charge, in a free manner."

Jesus himself used a word in Greek to describe himself, fulfilling a prophesy Isaiah spoke hundreds of years before the little baby boy was born in Bethlehem.

Isaiah 61:1 says "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...."

Luke 4:18, when Jesus sat in the synagogue of his youth, he rolled out the scroll and read to the people he had known since his childhood:  "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed...."

The Hebrew word in Isaiah deror which means freedom, liberty.

The Greek word Jesus used is Aphesis - to release, send away, remit, forgive.

I'll be looking for Aphesis and Deror  in 2013.  I'll be looking for Freedom.

The synagogue in Nazareth that sits on the original floor that Jesus would have walked on.
Photo courtesy of Rhonda Piper Photography