Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In a Whisper

It is quiet times when we contemplate, sitting with our hands folded.

God, are you there?  Did I get moving so fast I buzzed right past you?

We sit.

We wait.

And he whispers, yes.

Yes, I move too fast sometimes.  Thinking on all I can and want to do.

So fast I keep on trucking and I miss my turn... I'm down a long stretch of road where no exists seem to be left.

But then I slow, I sit, and I realize: sometimes life does move to fast and I have to be careful not to move with it.  He is waiting to use me, work through me, speak to me.  But I can't hear it in the buzz... His voice is most clear in the silence.

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

I love the events recorded in 1 Kings 19, as Elijah runs and God speaks.  God... in a whisper.  And it isn't that he can't speak in wind, earthquake or fire... adrenalin rushing, heart racing, mind going, wondering, grabbing, filling.  But I think it is the slowing down of the heart... breathing out, quick-beat-pounding tapering to the rhythm of rest, mind clearing, senses simmering... where God strikes some of the deepest chords.  Whether we slow down for pain... or slow down, simply, for silence.  We seem to hear more clearly in slow-down... we seem to allow ourselves to be moved more efficiently.

 Just.Slow.Down... let God work in a whisper.

Perhaps you are having a too fast time right now... perhaps you are slowed down just right.  Where-ever you are... whatever your mode... listen.  See if you hear Him... see if you are moved by him.

Whispering blessings,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Plumb Line

It has been like a plumb line... this bloomy process God has called me to.  In those moments of discouragement or wondering why my world is off-kilt; I look back at that plumb line leading to BLOOM and I see all that God is calling me to Bloom in and I feel a connection... a need... a draw to re-situate for full-SON and proper nourishment to reach that BLOOM.

It is those extra moments with my children, the ones I use to think they would just ignore me if I took... yet they pull close to me, 'sit here, sit by me'... 'read this, read it again'... and 'play a game?'

Moments of looking deep into their eyes as they rattle off a story of play and seeing their joy sparkle, their understanding that I am listening not just humoring.

It is the moments of giving my heart, my time, to my husband.  Of setting aside self to recognize his deep needs... needs in the unexpected.  And praying, striving, praying to meet those needs of honor and respect.

It is reaching beyond myself.  To be relational, devoted to God, giving to others of myself, my time, my attention.  Listening instead of talking.  Hearing instead of saying.  I am seeing hearts, hurts, and needs and I am loving others more deeply as a result.

This bloomy path is not easy.  I want to draw back to my own safe center.  The one in the shadows, outside of the SONlight and nourishment.  The one where bruises and sacrifices don't happen.  The one where, if I were to be honest, it is more about me than it is about anything or anyone else.  How did I ever grow so much without blooming?

Blooming is growing too and I haven't missed that simple fact.  The growth isn't as exponential or obvious, rather, it is the extension of previous growth in a more beautiful form.  How could I have missed blooming sooner?  It is such a wonderful process... even in the pain and sacrifice.  And I am so grateful to the Father for calling me to this critical point in growing.

I pray, no matter where your plumb line is, that you are finding yourself in bloomy thoughts and graceful growing... to be more like Him and pointed towards the Son for full nourishment in every day.


To read my journey so far with my ONE WORD: BLOOM, follow my blooming Icon:

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Reflections on Love

There were so many scriptures God used when I was a Christian wife married to a secular husband.  Some He spoke to encourage me to stay, some to give me strength.  But the hardest scriptures were those which He used to transform ME, to be a better wife, love my husband (even in his secular ways) more deeply and show God more completely.  1 Corinthians 13 was the hardest of all.

All Christians know 13.  They smile and numbly nod as it is read, 'Ah, yes, the love chapter'.  If they are like I was, they think on how beautiful that scripture will look next to their framed photo of their wedding day (if it isn't already there).  They scribble it, share it, memorize it... but like so much scriptures, it is often done in vain.

I once did it in vain.

Then God spoke to my heart and said LOOK, really look and see with the eyes of the heart, apply really apply, even when it is hard, the precepts spoken of...

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Do I speak ALL things with kindness and love, not accusations or irritability?

 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Is my faith head knowledge or heart matters?

 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Do I give to others from the heart?  Do I follow the spirit's leading and use of me or do I seek to plow my own path to receive some sort-any sort of recognition?

Love is patient
relying on the Spirit for understanding for which our patience is often extended
Do I?

love is kind
not me being kind to gain approval from God or others, rather, the gentle kindness that spills out of a heart full of the Spirit... the kindness that looks at ALL others with the eyes of Christ.
Do I?

love is not envious 
or boastful 
or arrogant   
or rude. 
 love is glad for the success of others
it stuffs pride and unpacks listening ears
 is humble, ready to serve those around... NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE!
 is ready to see beyond self and extend grace to others (rudeness is really only selfishness expressed when we want our own way)
Do I?

It does not insist on its own way; 
 It is pliable and always waiting for God's way... not just in self, but recognizing the value in others as well
 Do I?

it is not irritable 
or resentful;
 It is patience, waiting, and open to see LIFE abundant around, ready to embrace it with open arms
it lets go of the past... even 5 minutes ago past... because Jesus let go of the past to offer us a future, we should accept it readily, without strings attached.  Everything happens for a reason we should ask what we can learn, how we can grow, who we can help as a result.... not resent.
Do I?

it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, 
but rejoices in the truth.
 Do I?

It bears all things, 
 good, bad, and everything in between with spouse, children, family, friends and... ALL
Do I?

believes all things, 
 have a purpose, have a place, have a time and trusts God with ALL
Do I?

hopes all things, 
will work out, are working out, are part of God's plans because CHRIST is the hope I live through
Do I?

endures all things. 
Through our sufferings, He is glorified; through our weakness, He is strong - do I fully submit to enduring ALLLLLLL?
Do I?

Love never ends. 
 It is eternal, not just external.  It is internal, not just superficial.  It is the gateway to heaven so
Do I really live it?  Breathe it? Show it?  All-the-time?
Jesus did.
I'm not Jesus, I never will be, but shouldn't I be a reflection... am I allowing myself to be a reflection?  Or do I get in the way trying to do instead of letting him do...
unending through me.
Do I?
 But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; 
as for tongues, they will cease; 
as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 
Our humanity will end only One thing is everlasting
so what is the purpose of our desires now?
What is the value of HIS desire now?
Which will I choose?
The temporal 
or the eternal?

 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.  

When God first convicted me to REALLY apply this chapter to my life I realized then how much I had looked at the passages as an "idea" but never really OWNED them.  As I began applying, living, doing them- joy seeped in, peace took over, faith was built, hope was renewed and BIG change happened in my house.  I didn't look at how others weren't living 13, I simply did my part to live it and God worked in others through me.

I would like to say I have it down now.  But I don't.  These verses often echo in my heart though, as I weigh out my choices in behavior and thinking.  "The Love Chapter" is a challenge, meant to be carried out day-after-day-after-day until we meet Jesus.

It isn't about love it is how to act in love.
It is the ULTIMATE love dare!

Are you up for the ultimate love dare?  Will you reflect on LOVE each day, all day?

I do... well... at least I try!

Happy Valentine's Day!  May your heart be full of Christ's love.


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Sunday, February 10, 2013

In the Beginning God

On the other side of Sunday morning I journaled, looking at the trials and heartaches the sunrise had brought...

I felt trapped, imprisoned.  The worship leader talked about "Freedom"... Paul's writing about freedom as he sat, chained to a wall.  FREEDOM in prison... how could I continue thinking I was imprisoned to hear those words and KNOW that truth?

The enemy is the only prison guard who ever keeps us... but our sentence is dismissed in Christ... the only thing to keep us imprisoned is ourselves.

So I let go of the chains and walked out the 'door'.  But I stood still within the 'halls' of my prison. And that was when someone said it:

In the beginning GOD

Nothing else matters but those four words setting the stage for all of creation, all of God's Word.

The walls disappeared and i saw HIM there.

In the beginning GOD.
As it is now GOD
Nothing else matters GOD

He wants us there, simply with Him.

So when an older gentleman hobbled onto stage and picked up a guitar, standing quite solo behind the microphone, bent back, bushy eyebrows, looking as though he just rode in off the range, and shared his heart with a whisker framed smile, "This song meant so much to me when I first gave my life to Christ.  All I have, all I do, I owe to HIM... HE is all that matters in my life..."

And he played....
In the Garden

I had to sing along with this old hymn I remembered so clearly from my youth.  When faith was simple to me, loving God selflessly was natural.

God was there on Sunday.
In those words
God's great heart
That place
And He wove His spirit into the crevices of my heart.

How could I not see Him sooner?  All this time I run and work and try... do-do-do, be-be-be.  It isn't about me or 5-steps ahead.  It isn't about tomorrow or how... it is about now.  HIS strength and wisdom and call and the peaceful simplicity of his presence.

The chains and halls and imprisonment... dissolved around me.
And there I stood, in the garden alone, as it was in the beginning... God.

This older gentleman in his blue jean vest and striped button down... he had it
He lives it.
He LOVES with all his heart and lives it simply and bluntly.

Oh that I could breathe such faith.

Be Blessed in the garden this Sunday,

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Gentle Grace, Steady Breaths

I had one of those weeks... the kind that only comes around once in a while.  The kind where you step back at the end and say.... Wow, God, I remember when this week would have been a battle... but this week was beautiful.

God blessed me with an ability to take the kids and attend a conference retreat with the Mission Service Corp (part of the North American Mission Board) in Gold Canyon, AZ at the base of the Superstition Foothills.  I love the names of everything around here!  I feel like I am in an old western with modern conveniences!  The time of fellowship and sharing was such a blessing.  The workshops offered tools for ministry and the testimonies reminded me of how this missionary life may be rough sometimes... but it is always rewarding when we see the Kingdom come through the work God calls us to.

I had hoped to progress in some schoolwork the rest of the week but Brenden was sick Wednesday (his sisters were determined to nurse him back to health!), another meeting popped up on Thursday and here we are, Friday, and I have resolved to just consider this week an impromptu vacation (for the kids anyway!)

It was a combination of that realization and an event the night I came back from the conference which opened my eyes to the growth in grace God has brought me to.  I know I am not "there" yet, but He has brought me so far.

An email Tuesday night telling me my storage unit was going into auction for non-payment.  An intersection of God ordained events which left our funds shored up shorter than expected, my eyes were opened to ask the needed questions: Can I really let go of things in this world?  Can I really trust God for EVERYTHING.  Like we ask so many in the Truth Project: Do I really believe that what I believe is really real.

There was some heartache at first, as I ripped away from my flesh to truly embrace the Truth.  It didn't take long to see the answer was YES.  God is in control.  The many testimonies of his care and provision prove this.

The storage problem has since been straightened out and, no, we are not going to loose everything.  But I know now, for certain, that the hard answer is: it is OK if we do.

but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
- Matthew 6:20

It is in that gentle grace... the slow steady breaths through the week... trusting that God is in control of ALL things... even the goofy looking things that make you feel isolated or like the ground is shaking... yes, these things too are under God's grace, God's control.  The upturn of expectations and schedules and ideas yet simply walking through, trusting God's grace to lay them all day where they need to be.

Not all weeks are like this.  But this week was.  How did I walk through, maybe it was the peace found in the conference retreat, maybe it was simply so many steps before which brought me to a place of steady breaths and gently walking, maybe it was simply God and simply embracing that Truth... HIS Truth... he will never leave nor forsake.

I pray you know these simple truths, His wonderful and, yes, amazing Grace in all the moments on mountain tops and valley lows.


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Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Way of Life

We are not saved by our works (the things we do for Christ or for others).


We are saved for works... the Spirit that comes to dwell in us wants to move through us.  We won't have to try or do... we simply won't be able to help ourselves... good works will just fall out of us all over the place!

The good things we do should be our very way of life... like breathing and blinking.

It is how God prepared it.

It is how he intended us.

Let us breathe Christ.

May you be led by the spirit into a way of life filled with good works... may you shine to others through the good works God has created you for!

Be Blessed this Sunday,

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All The Ways NOT to Perform an Experiment

Thomas Edison actually had 3,000 attempts to create the light bulb. When asked about the failures he said "I didn't fail 3,000 times. I found 3,000 ways how not to create a light bulb"

I've seen this quote in various forms and suggesting various quantities of attempts... but you get the idea.  And while we were not trying to develop a light bulb this week... we took the Edison stance in our attempts at a science project this week!

 It started with this book we borrowed from the library.

We were wrapping up the plate-tectonics portion of our science studies; volcanoes, earthquakes, creation of mountains, etc.  We have done some small experiments along the way but when I saw some of the ideas in EARTH, I wanted to just spend an afternoon exploring more!

We had hoped to do at least 4 of the experiments but the time we took on the 2 we got done... we had to call it good at that!  Time because this mama learned, living in surroundings NOT my own, it isn't enough to know supplies exist... one must also have supplies in hand the day before planned experiments.  (Apparently, other people figure they can move their own stuff without telling anyone!! *haha*)

Therefore, we were missing 2 vital pieces to our first experiment and had to improvise.

Experiment #1 - CO2 within a Pyroclastic Cloud and the effect on Oxygen
The idea:
- create CO2 with baking soda and vinegar
- observe Oxygen with burning candle
- funnel CO2 into container with candle and watch as flame goes out, indicating O2 leaving the area

We were suppose to have a votive candle, a jar, a straw, some clay, a bottle, vinegar, and baking soda.
The votive should have set down in the jar creating an environment easy to trap CO2.
The straw was suppose to stick into the clay, covering the bottle, filled with the CO2 producing mixture.
The other end of the straw was supposed to be placed OVER the candle so the CO2 could 'pour' onto the flame.

We had NO votive or straw... both of which I thought we had!

So we improvised:
 Attempt #1, How NOT to perform Experiment #1
 Idea: Quickly lift lid of bottle as CO2 pours out and watch as it extinguishes match.

Result: The matches wouldn't stay burning for an effective observation.

Attempt #2, How NOT to perform Experiment #1
 Idea: Use larger candle in our possession, place in large plastic bucket, create CO2 in bottom, watch CO2 rise in accordance with flame going out... had to trap CO2 by placing a 'cover' over bucket so we taped on Wax Paper.

Result: Almost set fire to the lot behind the church.  Half-expected a neighbor to call the police on the 'crazy people' playing with matches on church property!!  Simply: I didn't stop to consider the height and heat ratio when compared to the flammability and and relative height of the wax paper covering.  Evidenced by middle two pictures.

Attempt #3, Listen to 9th grader, who actually pays attention in science, because she made this less dangerous suggestion from the start!.... How TO improvise in performing Experiment #1!!!

Idea: We lit a piece of slow burning, thick paper after anchoring it in clay inside of a tall thin glass.  Baking soda in bottom of cup, we poured in the vinegar and as the CO2 rose, the flame went out.  

So cool

Result: It worked!

We had a BLAST and even though we didn't get everything done - or everything done RIGHT, they got it!  And Ashley recorded it:

I loved the wet-legged, barefoot snapshot as she worked at her Science journal.  Wet why?

Because Experiment #2 explored the continents, density and drifting on the mantel:
Much less trouble then the flame.  Brooke began to stack rocks to simulate volcanic build up to create an island much like Hawaii!

Wet also because of clean up from our...er.... attempts at CO2 vs. O2!

There sure was a lot of H2O!

In the end we ended up with extra experiments:

1 in Centrifugal forces as a bucket full of water is swung around without spilling
1 in refraction (bottom right)
1 in reflection (water from cement onto wall under awning, bottom middle picture)

Oh, and for those who are wondering, yes, quite the water fight ensued... it was in the 70s here and to our Montana skin.... that is a heat wave!

I am loving this Charlotte Mason-y type of exploring.  What did we ever do before it?  Thank you to those who have encouraged me in these adventures.  If you haven't tried learning through exploring... you should!  Soooooo much fun for all!

Be blessed,

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