Friday, March 21, 2014

She Shares Truth: Jonah 1 & 2

"But Jonah ran away from the Lord..." Jonah 1:3

Several years ago I had a vision.  Not a vision as in the heavens opened up and I saw what was to come, but a dream that came to me as I sat and prayerfully meditated on my future.  I saw an old white house, restored and brimming with life.  There were 5 bedrooms and each was occupied by a woman and her child[ren].  These woman were from different places- some had left abusive husbands, some were homeless- all were searching for another life.  A life with meaning, an existence with purpose.  

In this old white house, these women and their children found God.  They grew to know love and what it means to be a mother.  They learned how to stand on their own two feet.  They gained strength and found their smile.  They learned how to be self-sufficient, how to manage money, how to cook, clean, sew and garden.  Most importantly, they found joy in being a mother.

I knew this was my purpose.  I knew I had to find that old house and make a home for those women.  

But, like Jonah, I ran away.  Who was I kidding?  I know absolutely nothing about shelters and rescues and battered women.  I have zero business sense.  I didn't even finish college!

Fast forward to 2013.  I'm having a conversation with my pastor when it all comes out.  That vision I had years before.  He leans back in his chair and crosses his arms over his chest and listens intently.  He almost seems surprised.  We talk about it for awhile and my heart is about to burst!  I love talking about it- I know every little detail and I can feel my eyes light up.  I lean in and start to use my hands to express my excitement over the plan.  I spend the next couple of days dreaming about it.

And once again, I run away.  I push this vision down- deep in the deepest file of my mind.  Hidden away where it can be forgotten.  I don't have time for it, Lord.  (I don't have time for you, Lord.  I don't have time for your work, Lord.  Not now.  I am so busy with my family and my church.  Maybe another day.)

I run away.

Fast forward to March 2014.  It's all coming back again.  I am reading Jennie Allen's Restless and I am discovering my threads.  Hospitality, Caring, Teaching, Encouraging- these are my spiritual gifts.  I am weaving the threads together when I realize I am outlining my vision.  The vision I had years before.  Once again, I feel the excitement brimming up.  But where do I go from here?

To be continued....

Friday, March 14, 2014

Psalm 38 #SheSharesTruth

Psalm 38
(Words in parentheses are my own)

O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
(I've sinned again, Lord.  This time it's really bad.
Please don't let this be the time when it all comes 
crashing down on me.)
For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
(I can feel your disappointment in me, Lord.
I feel the incredible sting of guilt and 
I know you are teaching me to listen, Father.)
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.
(Oh Lord, I feel sick.  My sin has overtaken me
and my body is crumbling.   I know you are 
trying to wake me up.  Why am I so blind?
I cannot stand myself.)
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
(God, I can't even get out of bed today.
I cannot bear the weight of my sin.)
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.
(Lord, I know I am disgusting.  I know everyone knows
what I have done, so I hang my head low and hope
no one notices me.  I never smile, Lord, because 
smiling is too painful.  I am far too sinful to 
deserve to feel happy.  
My heart is broken, God.)
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
My friends and companions avoid me
because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
(I am so alone, Lord.  My hearts longs for a caring friend,
but my neighbors avoid me for fear of what the community
will say about them if they reach out to me.
I cannot even entertain the thought of leaving the house,
Lord.  I know I look battered and beaten down by life.
My sins have made me an outcast and I daresay
I deserve it.  I know you see me and I hate what you see.)
Those who seek my life set their traps;
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they plot deception.
(I hear their murmurings, their whispers.
I sense their stares and I know they
want to watch me destroy myself.)
I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear,
like a mute, who cannot open his mouth;
I have become like a man who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
(I am too ashamed to seek out your voice, Lord.
I cannot speak the words you have given me.
I spend my days ignoring their whispers
and I don't respond to their accusations.)
I will wait for you, O Lord;
you will answer, O Lord my God.
For I said, "Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips."
(I know you will help me through this, Abba.
I know you will hear my cry if I will just 
open my mouth!  Father, my fear is that 
if I remain in this sin, this guilt, 
then it will be easier for me to continue 
sinning than to take the initiative to 
turn my life around.
God, if it's all going to crash down on me, 
please don't let my neighbors and friends
abuse me with their words.
Lift me up, Lord.)
For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.
Many are those who are my vigorous enemies;
those who hate me without reason are numerous.
(I can feel it coming, Lord.  I know this is it.
I am opening my mouth, Father!  I confess- 
Here me, Abba! I am ready for change!
Everyone has turned against me-
you are all I have.)
Those who repay my good with evil
slander me when I pursue what is good.
(I am trying to turn my life around, God,
but they are still pecking at me. 
My neighbors still spread lies about me
and talk behind my back.)
O Lord, do not forsake me;
be not far from me, O my God.
Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my Savior.
(I am so alone, Lord!  Please come quickly!
Help me face this world, Lord.  Please do not 
leave me to face these people alone.
I am opening my mouth to ask for help,
please open my hands to accept it.)

Father, my prayer today is that you would be with those
who are suffering through heartbreak.  Lord, we are all
sinners.  Help us to remember that when we look upon
those whose sin is public.  Help us to offer support during
others' dark times instead of abusing them with our stares
and whispers.  Use us to lift them up, to raise their faces
to the heavens and seek you, God.  For none of us are 
without sin, none of us have led perfect lives.  When our
neighbors are down, help us to offer our hand to help
them back up.  Let us not join in the murmurings of the
community, Father.  Give us strength to rise above the norm
and offer our love and support even when it isn't what everyone
else is doing.  Help us to go against the flow.  Help us to love, Abba.
In your name we pray,

Friday, March 7, 2014

Psalm 130 with #She Reads Truth

Psalm 130
(My own words are in parenthesis)

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;"
(Oh Lord, I'm in deep.  
I'm not sure I will be able to crawl out this time)
"O Lord, hear my voice.  
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy."
(Lord, can you hear me?  Oh please listen for my voice!)
"If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared."
(Thank goodness you don't write down every sin I commit!
If you did, it would be better for me to just lay down and give up.
You forgive, Lord, and I will forever honor you- thank you God!)
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning."
(I will wait for you, Lord!!!  I know you will answer my 
cry and when you do, you will see that my hope is 
completely in you!  Without you, I am an empty
meaningless sinner.  I will wait for you forever 
and I will anticipate your coming!!!)
"O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel 
from all their sins."
(Friends, listen to me!!!  Give the Lord EVERYTHING 
you have- He will NEVER fail you!!!  He will rescue 
you from your muddy pit and wash you white as 
snow.  He will save us all and forgive us of 
every sin we have ever committed!
Hear our prayer, Lord!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Approach and Make the Most of the Lenten Season

In years past, I have jumped on the bandwagon of giving up something for Lent.  I listen to my friends discussing life without soft drinks and bread and know that in a week in we will be sitting around drinking diet soda with our pizza.  Why do we attempt to make sacrifices?  Are we really seeing and understanding the true meaning of Lent?  Can giving up chocolate lead to a closer relationship with Christ?

The idea behind the Lenten practice of self-denial is to use the time normally spent on what you are giving up in prayer and communion with the Lord.  So, if you eat a lot of chocolate, then you could devote the time spent eating chocolate to time reading your Bible and the money spent purchasing chocolate you could give to charity.  

In order to make the most of the next 40 days, choose to release something from your life that stands in the way of your relationship with Christ.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Choose to use your devices ONLY to spread the word of God.  Use your computer for Bible study, tweet inspirational bible verses, Instagram inspiring photos of God's creation (we are using the hashtag #withtheseasons) and BE DONE.  Put it down!  No selfies, no shopping, no Pinterest.  Spend the extra time with your family- creating art and reading books.  Visit family and friends.  Go outside.  Connect ONLY for ministry!
  2. Fast one meal.  Spend that time praying for the hungry.  I would never encourage my children to give up a meal- they are such picky eaters they need all the nourishment they can get!  However, consider explaining to them what you are doing and why you are doing it, then busy yourself reading to them from the Bible while they are eating their meal.  It's a win-win!  You are distracted from hunger and remain centered in why you are choosing to fast.
  3. Read 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  Choose to follow her example.
  4. Give up shopping.  I know you have to buy groceries- that's not what I'm talking about!  When you see something you really want, make a note of how much it cost.  Then use the money you could've spent on new shoes to sponsor a child through an organization such as Compassion.  You won't be sorry, I promise!
  5. Choose to eat in instead of eating out.  Prepare meals with your family and enjoy time spent around your kitchen table in your home.  Home should be a haven- a place where your family feels safe and loved.  I don't know what your schedule is like, but commit yourself to serving at least one meal to your family every day.  Join hands around the table and offer prayer to the One that loves you enough to fill your belly with sustaining food that gives you strength and energy.  Use your strength and energy to minister to your family.
  6. Turn off the television.  Come on!!!  In today's advanced times you can easily set your DVR to record your favorite shows.  Chances are you won't even want to watch them at the end of the 40 days!
There are so many options to help you grow in your relationship with Christ- this is just a drop in the bucket.  Pray about it and choose change.  Please consider leaving a message in the comments about what you are giving up for Lent and why you chose that particular thing!  I cannot wait to hear from you!