Matthew 6:25 - 27

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Lying down means 
Giving up control.
Handing everything over 
including when -- or if -- or how -- 
to get up again.
- Saturdays with Stella

I've recently finished listening to the audio-book version of Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. I chose to listen to this because I have boys - boys who lost their dad 16-1/2 months ago, just before their 13th and 18th birthdays. Boys who are on a quest to know what it means to be a man. I learned so much from this book ... about men in general, my own father, my husband (and his father), about women in general, my own mother (and her mother), about myself, about God's intended purpose when He created "them, male and female He created them", and about the effect of sin on men and women and their identities ... but mostly, I could finally begin to understand my boys! 

I can see their journey to know themselves and to become "a man" so much clearer. They are both running ahead, full-speed, charging into that unknown place called "manhood". The other thing I learned from the book is this - masculinity cannot be imparted from femininity! It must be conferred by a man.  There is nothing I can do now, as a single mother, to teach my boys to be men! I might be able to help draw out their God-given masculinity through my femininity, but that is unknown territory for me right now, and very scary! You see, my feminine identity has also been changed by sin ... but that's another blog (and so, now, I'm listening to Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge, to begin my own journey of healing for my feminine wounds).

Concern for this journey of my sons' is the primary focus of my life right now. I am both encouraged to see that they continue to define their individual identities and scared to death where it may lead them! I am terrified that it is leading them away from God (who has promised to be a "father to the fatherless" and is the ONLY one who can impart the true sense of masculinity and identity that they seek) and that I will lose them, too. I pray for them, I plead that God will protect them, guide them, shield them, lead them, defend them, give them wisdom, etc. But I want to DO something. I feel like it is my RESPONSIBILITY to do something; after all, I am the only parent they have left! And yet, I don't know what I can do! Punish them for choices I don't like or don't think are wise? That's never been an answer. And, truthfully, I have very little power over either of them anymore. I feel like I've failed as a parent because of that...but deep inside me is a little voice that keeps saying "this is the way it should be, the way it is, it's time to let go".

Letting go has never been easy for me! I'm a first-born. I need to be in control! That's always been an issue for me and one God has already done a lot of work on, but I sense that there is a much deeper work beginning in me ... one that goes to the core of the wound of my heart! I'm only beginning to see the root issues and am no way ready to share it with you now, so I am listening to Captivating and trying to keep my external and internal world quiet enough to allow God to take me to the place where I can be healed and restored to the woman He created me to be. What that will look like, I have NO IDEA, and I am truly trembling to take the journey! 

After being in the valley of the shadow of death for so long, I'm beginning to feel the need to get up and go on ... pick up my bed and walk forward (as I said in my last post). I'm ready to start putting energy into that forward motion, to jump up and GO ... but now I hear the Lord saying "DOWN"! Didn't He just tell me to "pick up your bed and walk"? And now He's saying "down"? Is He contradicting Himself or am I somehow to do both at the same time? That's always been my dilemma with surrender - I can't just lay in my bed all day, day after day, and do nothing! Life has to go on ... I have to be doing something! I don't get it!

In her book, Saturdays with Stella, Allison K. Pittman shares a very clear picture of what the command "down" looks like, in the context of dog-training and in our lives. In her experience of trying to train Stella to obey the command "down", she had to literally knock her feet out from under her to get her from "sit" to "down"! And isn't that what happens at some time to all of us - we feel as if God has pulled our feet out from under us? Everything we had been standing on, building our life on, is suddenly removed? And haven't we all heard story after story about people who had to "hit bottom" before they turned to the Lord? To say that God does that to us seems at least cruel, if not evil, doesn't it? I thought that too. But now, I'm beginning to understand, that God loves me so much that He won't let me stand on any foundation that will only crumble in the end, other than the "sure foundation" He has given me in Jesus ... He won't let me cling to any "worthless treasure" as my source of security other than the true treasure of Himself!

"Down!" is a pose that intends to keep her in her place for a while -- still and ready for the next meaningful instruction.
Recently, I've come to understand that this internal pull to separate from the normal busyness of life, to quietly decline invitations to run here and there doing this and that, is my Father calling me to come away with Him for a time ... to "retreat" and be still and listening for His instruction. As Ms. Pittman points out, dogs have no sense of time, no picture of what the future looks like. There is only "now". Likewise, the master has infinitely more knowledge of what the future holds for the dog, and must be the one to give the commands ... to lead.  Again, we do not know what God has intended for our lives - apart from His word ... His commands. He has infinitely more knowledge and understanding of where we will find our true "selves". 

And so, He calls me to "down" ... to surrender ... to give up control of everything, including when -- or if ---how -- to get up again. 
And why not hand it over to the One who holds everything in His hand?
In the meantime, when I'm "Down!" -- face, feet, and belly on the floor -- I need to remember that God will lift me up in due time (see 1Peter 5:6). 
 For now, I remain "down" ... still ... quietly listening for instruction ... learning to let go.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Making your bed and lying in it ... or CARRYING IT?

Has anyone ever told you "you've made your bed, now you can lay in it"?  How about this one (or some version of it): "just pull yourself up by your bootstraps" or "get over it"? Maybe, even if no one has said any of those things to you directly, the thoughts play over and over in your mind, alternately defending and accusing you (Romans 2:15). It's one thing when your painful circumstances are a direct result of choices you know you made - then, guilt and shame and remorse scream these things at you keeping you mired in the mess and unable to move forward. But what about those circumstances that seem to have come out of "nowhere" ... weren't your choice or any consequence of choices you made, were unwanted and unchangeable? Most of us, at some point in life, have been handed painful circumstances of life that were much like the latter - unasked for, unwanted, and unchangeable. Our only real choice is what we will do about it. Maybe we find something that will just "dull the pain" or keep us too busy to notice the pain so that we can just "live with it", because in reality, we've lived with it for so long that we have become comfortable with it ... accepted it as our "identity" and don't have a clue who we would be without it. Some of us lay on our bed of affliction for a long time, waiting for someone to come by and do something or say something or give us something that will deliver us from the pain. After all, if there is truly nothing I can do about my pain myself, the answer must lie in the help of another, right? 

Jesus came upon such a person one day while in Jerusalem for a festival. At the pool near the Sheep Gate (Bethesda), he saw a man lying on a mat who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. He asked the man a very important question, "Do you want to get well?" At first glance that seems like a "Duh!" kind of a question ... why else would he lay beside a pool in which he could become well if he were able to get into the water when it was "stirred"?  But Jesus was really asking him if he was willing to take responsibility for his own healing. 

His response was one of excuses, "Sir", the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." He didn't answer the question! He made an excuse why it was impossible for him to be healed. It seems to be a genuinely honest response, doesn't it? And it seems harsh to call it any excuse, right?  

I've been thinking about this incident today. Many others were, apparently, being healed by stepping into the water. Undoubtedly, there were others who required help to get into the water and had people come along side them and help them. But this man was alone. We are not told what caused his disabilities, nor are we told why he is alone, but we can be sure that those things were not hidden from God or from Jesus' understanding. So, we must be as surprised as this man was when Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!"  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (See John 5:1-9)

This morning, while engaged in some mindless, routine activity, I heard the still, small voice of my Healer say to me "pick up your bed and walk". It was one of those odd thoughts that seemed to come out of nowhere, but it had the impact of the Word of God in my spirit. I instantly felt my weakness and apathy solidify into strength, motivation and direction. Like many others, I've wanted someone else to do SOMETHING ... ANYTHING ... to take away this painful circumstance and enable me to walk a new life with strength and purpose. I've wanted my healing to come in the same way I've seen others healed - by the efforts of others who come alongside and help me. But my reality has been that I am alone and unable to move myself to a place of healing. Today, I realized that what I've been "sensing" for myself is, in fact, God's will and word to me ... I have to accept that this "bed of affliction" is mine to carry with me, and in order to walk forward, I have to pick it up, and step forward. Jesus said it another way in Matthew 16:24, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  This seems like such a hard word; and it is. But it is Truth. And Jesus said, "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" John 8:32. And, I had asked to know the truth!

I just want to make it clear to those who read this who also may be questioning what they are to do with the painful circumstances that they have been "dealt" that Jesus did NOT shout this out to every person laying around the pool of Bethesda. He spoke it to one man because that was what that one man needed to hear to be healed. God did NOT tell me to preach that this is the answer for your healing! He DID speak this word to ME because it is what I needed to hear! 

Blog Updates and Book Reviews

I've made a few updates on my blog as of today, and I just have a few things to say about them:

1.  I've added the picture behind my header of the birds on a branch. I have to make a disclaimer: this is NOT my photo. I got it online from someone else who got it on line from I don't know where. If this is your photo, I apologize and humbly ask your permission to use it on my blog. If you want credit, I'd be happy to add that information, too!

2.  I've update the "Books I'm Reading" section. Books move from one level of priority to another for me as I go through this journey. Some of these books I have not turned to in several weeks to months, but still intend to go back to soon. Some of them, I have not yet begun, but again, good intentions ... And a couple of them I am working my way through simultaneously.

"Heaven" by Randy Alcorn  is changing my theology, or my understanding of God's word. If you haven't read it, I think it is a "must read" for every thoughtful Christian, and even those who reject the Christian faith would find great insight and "enlightenment" from it!

I'm listening to an audiobook of "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge after another widow friend asked how she could incorporate this into the lives of her sons after the death of their father. I had an idea, but am facing the same issues: how do I help my sons become "men" without their father? And on another level, I am asking myself  "what is God's design for a man?" So far (I'm about 40% through it as of today), I'm finding it extremely interesting and will be listening to "Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman/s Soul" by John and Stasi Eldredge as soon as I'm done!  I've discovered that, when my eyes are tired of staring at a computer screen, or Kindle, or when I am driving in the car, listening to a book being read by someone else is WONDERFUL!

"Saturdays with Stella" by Allison K. Pittman is a light, fun devotional for all you dog-lovers as she shares the lessons God taught her during her Saturday obedience training classes with Stella! I should say, "light reading", but "meat" for the soul! If you have a dog, have ever trained a dog - especially if you've done it in formal obedience classes - you'll love this book!

I haven't been doing much blogging lately, but it's COMING SOON! Watch for "Making your bed and lying in it ... or CARRYING IT?"