Friday, December 20, 2013

You are Fabulous!

   You know how a car zooming down the road can drift a little to the left or the right if the driver is not paying attention?  Funny how just a little thought in your mind can pull you near the edge of falsehood.  Imagination can cross the line especially if you are not anchored somewhere deep in belief. I try not to dabble in low self-esteem too much, but it knocked on my door a few times this week so I thought I’d blog about it. I even laughed at my own conclusions when I look at how far-fetched my thinking was.  Here are just three of the scenarios that maybe you can identify with:
     Last Sunday, a wonderful friend came up to me and said; “Wow, Lynn you look great!”and two   others chimed in and agreed. My “confident”self looked them in the eyes and said, “Oh gosh, thank you!” However, here’s what was filtering through my mind – “wow, I must have looked really bad last week.” 
    I remembered someone days earlier telling me they liked the color I picked for a sewing project. Guess where I went with it. Stating the color was great was easy way to say something nice, since they probably didn't like my creation.
    Sat down at a network meeting and the person next to me decided to move to another spot. I had an internal chuckle for a minute and then I wondered if my morning shower wasn't working. I actually said, “Did I scare you away?” and they smiled and said, “No, my friend that I was supposed to meet, just came in.”
  Why in the world do these thoughts drift through our brain taking us off course-especially if the incident involves a compliment? I have always been sort of proud of the fact that my earthly father gave me an important gift - personal confidence.  He believed in me and was always more concerned about my thoughts and spiritual things than outward appearance.  He taught me it is not a sin to feel beautiful, in fact, it is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and for others around you. I really think it is deal breaker when raising kids. So what makes me waft toward negative thoughts and whispers of doubt?  Plain and simple – here it is:

                                                                I forget who I am. 
    When I remember the truth of how precious I am, everything changes. The hopeless tragic mess I portray is traded for the One who sees me completely different – as a rare, exquisite pearl of great price.Jesus never lost sight of that here on earth.True, he was God, but also he had all the emotions and circumstances of common man. Let’s look at how he handled a compliment and perhaps receive another great message from this passage in Matt 3:16-17.
    “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”
At this moment there was a manifestation of perfect unity–The Father’s voice confirming his approval of all the Son will do, the Dove–Holy Spirit resting upon the actions of Jesus and Jesus about to embark about His work on earth. Looks like the first thing we need to do is come into unity with our Maker. The chapter ends here, but something in the next chapter is so telling!

Right after God’s approval and compliment something happened,the real work began–as it does with us. Let’s peek at verse 1, chapter 4 of Matthew.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Almost immediately this is when Mr. Not-SO-Nice comes to knock on his door with all kinds of questions about Jesus’ identity. (We’re going to have those thoughts come in, but we must put them in the right place)
“If you are the Son of God, then make these stones bread, or throw yourself down or change who you worship” (greatly paraphrased but you get the idea)

Jesus never wavers. He is so connected with who he is that his purpose and love for the Father remains unshaken. As we finish through the gospels we find that he lived the rest of his earthly life in the full knowledge of who he was! Beloved!

I've decided I need to return to my own baptism of sorts and hear what the Father has to say about me and believe it when silly thoughts want to attack my identity. “This is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased” Check out how the Message version reads: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” Wow!    Who wouldn't think I’m beautiful, or enjoy things that I create marked with his love or want to sit by God’s delight? Spurgeon expounds on why Matt 3:17 is so important to us as believers. 
  “The Father is not only pleased with Christ so much as to love Christ and to dwell in Christ, Himself, but He takes us up and He delights in us when we are in Christ because He has more delight in Christ the even Christ, Himself, can hold-and He wants more empty vessels into which to pour the rich wine of His soul’s delight. He loves Jesus so much that He can afford to love poor wretched sinner such as we for Christ’s sake! He does, as it were, say to Himself, “I have filled the ocean bed of my dear Son’s Nature with my Divine Love. Now bring here all the dried-up torrent-beds that you can find and I will fill them, also. Yes, bring here the dry Sahara’s, the wild deserts where never a drop of dew has fallen, and I will make them all to rejoice and blossom as the rose with this superfluity of love which I have to My dear Son ! There is enough to make Me love, even the world, for His dear sake. “Our Lord Jesus has so won the Infinite heart of the Most High that the Divine Love overflows to us! Beloved, let us come and get under the dripping of this love! Here is Christ’s cup running over-let us draw near and drink form the overflow of the love of God to Jesus Christ. “   
   As we enter the season of Christmas cheer and remembering those we love, you'll be sure to hear a compliment or two. When we receive them, let’s remember that we are chosen, marked by his love and the delight of his life. Revel in it and don't shrink back. It underscores your identity as a believer! God wants more and more and more of us to fill us up with his love. We are stretching the love of Christ by believing we are cherished with a compliment. Not by our own doings, but we really are all that and a bag of chips in Him.

Monday, November 25, 2013

So you wanna be great?

   What if you could preach to a stadium and watch thousands come forward with a decision for Christ?  How about if you had a voice that could sing the tenderness of God so clearly that others are moved to tears. What if you designed an entire water system for remote areas in the world so no one would ever go thirsty again or discovered the cure for cancer once and for all? Aren’t these the people we aspire to be? They are noble people worthy of honor.

    I think all these deeds are more then commendable, but I don’t think God is as impressed as we are as humans. Maybe it’s because these amazing feats were God inspired anyway. I’m not discounting the effort or perseverance some have laid forth, just underscoring the origin of brilliance.
Pretty sure our best ideas and creativity do make Him smile on some level because it means we've dialed into an area of our life where God is speaking to us and we are listening. However, I think the big Daddy “that’s my kid” smile is generated by something far more simple– by loving and caring for others with the love of God. 

  The message of how we are to love reminds me of an intimate campfire found in John 21, but here’s a little background before the campfire story: Jesus had been crucified weeks earlier and the disciples were anxious for Jesus return. Peter decides to get up and at least do what he knows best- fishing. It sounds like a good idea, so they all decide to go. It was what they were skilled at so perhaps they would feel better about their loss of their dear friend Jesus, however even the fishing trip on the Sea of Galilee was unfruitful. They had not caught a single thing all night. Nothing was going right. They were leaderless for the sake of the gospel and now even failures at their trade. Frustrated from the long night, they approached the coastline heading back. A voice from the shore calls out as the morning light began to surface on the dawn of a new day–
     “Hey, let down you nets on the other side”

 Hum… where had they heard that before?
John who also in the boat, snaps his memory and heart together and declares, “It’s the Master!”

The mesh is let down and fish begin to launch themselves into their net. Peter could care a less about the fish. He can’t stand it. In stead of waiting, he jumps overboard and swims ashore when he spots Jesus.  
The whole idea of Peter rushing to meet Jesus tickles me and makes me think how well he knew Jesus’ character trait of love. This encounter was the first he had since flat out lying publicly about even knowing who Jesus was. He failed his dearest friend during one his most difficult times, yet he is running to reconciliation! (Don’t we try to avoid people like this at the grocery store? - Hiding in the fruits and vegetables when we have offended someone because of shame.) The only explanation of his "run to see Jesus" is Peter had a repentive heart and he KNEW what Jesus’ response would be -to receive him back as a friend and a brother. (It kind of underscores the verse – “it’s your kindness that leads us to repentance.”)  Gotta love this!
    Later at the campfire, I can picture Peter sopping wet, warming himself up.  I believe the campfire setting was an intentional underscoring of how far love, forgiveness and acceptance can go.  Campfires have a way of warming one’s heart not only cold hands.
   The smell of warm bread and fish is filling the air while this motley crew gathers round for breakfast and fellowship with their beloved resurrected leader. I can’t help but think Peter is rewinding his failures with the sights and sounds of a previous campfire -the campfire where the denial happened. Can you imagine the conversation? “Lord, I’m sorry. I was terrified and afraid. I thought I’d die too and who would take care of my family?”  Here's how Jesus handled it:

   After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

   “Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

 The “these” could mean disciples, or fishing nets and trade. Jesus is basically asking him about his about his life. “Do you love me more than all of this?”
I find myself being asked that question frequently in my mind. My “this” (my projects, my desires, my work, or my goals…my, my, my, etc) wants to wave a tiara to focus on what I can accomplish for Jesus. However, I think Jesus is most impressed when I spend a little extra time with a lonely senior, encourage a troubled friend, walk in repentance and offer grace to those as much as I have been given.  Mother Teresa says it so perfectly, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”  

It’s not really about the “great” thing we are doing as much as the uncomplicated measure of love with which it is dispensed at any given moment.  

   In chapter 21, Jesus continues to ask Peter two more times if he loved him. I love that Jesus who can peer right into the conflicted and exuberant heart of Peter and ask him the same question two more times. Jesus knew the answer, but here’s a thought- maybe Jesus wanted Peter to hear the answer for himself. Peter’s previous actions had not showcased what love looked like but more like self preservation and fear.    

   We blow it just like Peter swayed by our “things.” He had made the worst mistake of his life in the weeks prior, and is now sitting face to face with his savior whom he betrayed and rejected. Peter’s changed heart sings out, “Lord, you know I love you” several times. The last time he was emphatic and even frustrated that he keeps being asked the same question. Each time Jesus tells him to tend to his sheep and Peter is tucking the message deeper and deeper. I see this scripture as a healing balm stroking over a humbled man.  Broken and helpless transformed from unstable sand into Peter the Rock on which the church would be built.  

    God wants to build his church with you and I in much the same way.  If we’re gonna walk in simple love and do it well, maybe we, like Peter need to hear ourselves say it several times- “Lord, I love you…. Lord you know I love you… Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know I love you!”

 Jesus will reply – “then feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, and feed my sheep.”

 So you wanna be great? Just do what you normally do but dive in like Peter and love.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

When We Get Dirty

  I drove through a lush valley the other day. Farmlands were ripe with artichokes, corn and a bounty of assorted vegetables laid ready for harvest. Laborers in the growing land became human conveyor belts as the boxed produce traveled from field to truck. The more south we drove the landscape began

 to take the appearance of a giant zebra. The striped markings rolled over farmed mounds were perfectly spaced to accommodate the rows and rows of grapevines. I couldn’t get over the bounty of the land mile after mile. 
        My eyes gazed to homes situated on hilltops on each side. I thought to myself – Man, that must be some view each morning! What a great place to live!  But the longer I dwelled on the glory of living on a hill, the more I realized that most of my enjoyment would just be for taking in the beauty of the harvest rather than experiencing the wonder of touching the fruit of labor. Certainly hilltop living has its place, besides just scenery. There is wisdom in seeing the whole operation of growing and harvesting from an eagle eye; however something magical happens on the ground floor of hard work. 
      The life picture displayed for me, soon became God’s voice and colors of grace were drawn in. It was a canvas of the ups and downs of walking with the Lord. We’ve all heard friends talk about their mountain experience with gusto, but then we’ve also listened as others sigh when they are in a low place filled with struggle. I saw the low place of toil as the farmers became human ants working together for a common good. It was indeed hard work. My dimly lit window that I peeking out of into spiritual matters swirled before me and the breath of His spirit breathed into my small space so I could chat with my Maker. I rubbed off the moisture of his breath. The great scene of the abundance that lies in the low valleys of our souls became clearer with each wipe of the glass. Could it be so? that in middle of our hardest labor that  some of God’s best work is done?
       We are so accustomed to the struggle in the valley that we don’t look for much else like the laborers whose body aches from muscle spasms and sore joints from years of abuse. He continues to pull weeds, water and maintain the farm because harvest is coming. In the scorching heat his head is covered while his clothing takes on the color of the mud.  The long hours have dug the farmland into his pores.

But then…a green shoot bursts through the soil
 before long..
a flower bud appears.
Soon the flower falls to the ground and dies,
now a budding fruit starts to take shape.
 Weeks later,
harvest has come.

     The perfect environment for growth has been formed in the middle of back breaking work. The harvest will bring a revival of bounty that is distributed to all who will receive. .

                          The bounty doesn’t just happen.
                                      It happens in the valley of struggle.
                                                 It happens through persistence and pain.
                         It happens when old things die so new life can be brought forth.

    Maybe we should keep our eyes open a little better to see what kind of environment God is working on.
       Could it be that when someone loses their job they are forced to understand dependence? 
       Could it be when someone is looking for a spouse they know better than anyone the     
       importance of love?

Get where I’m going here?  Let’s not be so quick to rush out of the pit of struggle without gleaning all that the Lord has for us.
                        We grow in the valley;
                                        We harvest in the valley, and get dirty,
but most of all we shine with riches that give the hilltop homes something to really look at.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Outlaw, The Cowhand and The Ranch Owner’s Son.

        Have you ever seen the poverty spirit on the face of friends or yourself?  It tries to deflate the power and joy of walking with God.  It takes a highlighter and emphasizes our struggles to scribble out a new story line of why this or that is happening.  Slowly the disappointment creeps in  and it wants us to beleive we can't and even shouldn't expect anything better. We can't always erase our struggles, but sometimes we do need to adjust our mindset.

What is a poverty spirit? 
-  For simper terms: it is an attitude of lack:
lack of time, lack of physical health, lack of finances, lack of Godly intimacy, lack of self worth, lack of joy - the list goes on and on. Worse than the un-honoring spirit of poverty, is our attitude toward it. We just learn to accept it, like it's our lot in life.

It is kind of like addicts that recover from addiction that still need to learn that anixouness and manipulation don't need to exist anymore. The one that has lived on the streets and has suddenly found a home and job has trouble believing they are safe and secure. Physical problems have evaded them, but the mental scars still need adjusting. They have to discover the new person inside that matches their new life.

 As a Christian, when we enter that world of spiritual poverty, we have lost our spiritual identity. We should be walking in abundance as God’s sons and daughters – how do we forget this? - After all there is a new person inside of us! Have you ever felt like Haggi when he said, “And he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” Translated into present day lingo – that poverty spirit sounds a lot like this: “if you have time, you have no money and if you have money, you have no time,” “you pray and pray and nothing happens, but it always works for others,” how about “those hits just keep coming -one after another and don’t they come in threes?”  (can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one)

I have entitled this little message The Outlaw, The Cowhand and The Ranch Owner’s Son. You can have a poverty spirit like an Outlaw that is always on the outskirts of blessing, or perhaps you find yourself like me (more times than I like), as The Cowhand trying to work my way to favor. I’m trying to dump those mindsets and darkness for a much wealthier place – The Ranch Owner’s Son.  How does the poverty or wealthy spirit work when it comes to how we live, our things, finding comfort or believing for a miracle? 

               When it comes to living –
The Outlaw mindset lives in the past and remembers how good it used to be and hopes to steal a piece of anything of value.
The Cowhand is doing everything for today.  He has to hurry up and get one thing after another done because time is wasting.  If he doesn’t do it nobody else sure will. He is his own keeper.
The Ranch owner’s son lives with eternity on his mind.  He dreams about Kingdom value instead of earthly possessions.  He is interested in people not tasks. 

              When it comes to gifts or things –
The Outlaw is a hoarder of even the littlest of things. The underlying issue is fear of lack. He no longer even sees it as a problem as stuff just piles up. He is drenched in the fear of "what if's?"
The Cowhand - finds himself buying things on credit - and "I'll works it off later" mentality. He is proud of his accomplishments and what his talent and hard work can do or purchase.
The Ranch owner’s Son – is a giver.  He knows his father is wealthy. He knows he can’t out give what has been given to Him.

             When it comes to finding comfort –
The Outlaw retreats and isolates himself when faced with crisis. He knows he is vulnerable and wants the dark shadows to hide his pain. He beleives he deserves what he gets.
The Cowhand – tries to fix it himself – by a great diet plan, encouraging people, upbeat music, a good movie and the list goes on and on.
The Ranch owner’s son knows that he abides under the shadow of the Almighty and that the Owner of the Ranch has given him a book of promises in the word of God. 

             When it comes to miracles-
The Outlaw says God doesn’t do miracles anymore especially for people like me
The Cowhand says God could or maybe do something but just not sure if God wants to do it for me
The Ranch owner says God loves to do miracles.

I’ve noticed a pattern when that poverty mindset steps in.
It’s when things “have me” instead of “me having things.” 

The wealthy or the Ranch Owner’s son searches for God’s place in every circumstance.  I want to start a practice of doing this –It's really just practicing His presence in my life (one of my favorite books by the way) Either when I encounter difficulty or when someone tells me their woes, I’m gonna ask that question out loud, “where is God in all of this and what can He do?” For believers, hopefully it repositions us from Outlaw or Cowhand to Ranch Owner’s Son. When I ask the unsaved, perhaps it will open a door to a wealthier way.

For right now -here’s my call to action:
  •  Renew my mind – through his word and putting   good input in front of my eyes.
  •  Give hilariously – find creative ways to bless others – a note, sharing a talent.
  •  Give my first fruits – I’m tired of giving God my left over time or squeezed in time. I gotta remember that ALL of my income belongs to Him and He so graciously gives me 90 % of what is rightfully His!
  •  Be diligent – Old habits die hard – I’m gonna remind myself of the Outlaw, Cowhand and Ranch Owner’s son – Who am I today?
Thanks for letting me process my conversations with the Ranch Owner!  So glad that I am his daughter- The Ranch Owner’s son!  Who are you?



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When God says, "Turn"

   The sun slowly tickled the rooftops on the horizon and I was headed home. It’s the same path I take every day. My right turn was just ahead to the street my family has called home for years – Anacapa Drive.  I love coming home. Part of it is perhaps is the four legged greeting committee. Three cats drape themselves about to change the home landscape into a welcoming zoo. The pomegranate tree/bush has a Siamese dangling from the branches as a silken ornament. The walkway to the house is sporting a squirming calico who is trying to convince me she is a stepping stone. The black and white giant is perched regally on the porch awaiting his mistress and his tuna delight. The scent of a warm meal prepared by my sweet husband fills the air before one foot is even in the door. Who wouldn’t want to go home? Going home always starts with one familiar spot - a right turn onto Anacapa Drive.
   Today, the car in front of me didn’t seem to have the same passion I had for going home or for my favorite turn. I wanted to accelerate, but his clunker “pokied” along with the speed of a teenager forced to wake up on a hot summer morn. It was as if he couldn’t quite gauge where the turn started. He clearly didn’t know where he was going. I was so irritated. I wanted to kiss his bumper with a hurry up nudge.  It was then; I noticed he was an older gentleman. He had on one of those big bug-eyed glasses you get after cataract surgery. The shadows and the beams of light from the sunset must have produced confusion for his tired eyes. He was in no hurry to go anywhere, so he just puttered. There was no passion to get home, no excitement for the anticipated turn. 
                               It was then I heard a God whisper, “so it is with my church.” 

Humbled, I saw a reflection of myself in a mere instant – how do I act when God says, “turn. “ Like a scene from the movie Scrooge, my mind re-winded to the many times God had said, “we’re going my way, Lynn”, “lay your own talents down and pick up my grace,” “get out of the boat and start walkin’ on the water.” In all of the cases, I was the clunker.  In God’s grace, he wasn’t pointing out my failures as a sign of unforgiveness, it was a learning curve or should I say “turn.”

I took notice of the things that hindered the man in front of me for they were the same things that produce stumbling blocks for me.
  • The path was not well lit - I reminded myself that it is in his word where I find his direction and light.  
  • The way was unfamiliar – I must stay in the state of becoming like Him - stretching my abilities, taking risks with my faith and going the extra mile.
  • He was  worn – Isn’t it true, that in my weakness He is made strong?
  • The turning radius on his old car was not as good as a new car – What if God wanted me to befriend those with traits that I find uncomely like those who brag or are superficial? Worse yet, Does that describe me?  How flexible am I? How far does God’s grace in me extend? It is easy to love the poor and needy but what about traits of those that I find distasteful? Help me Lord to see with your eyes and heart.
  • He tried to turn too soon and then too late and ultimately missed the turn altogether.   – How many times have I not waited on God and it got me in trouble? I can remember a few stupid purchases I bought that cost me twice the amount because I wanted it now. instead of saving for it. Believe it or not God in His wisdom sometimes wants me to do without or HE wants to give it to me, Himself.  And how about the times have I missed what God was doing?  Could it be that fear or past experiences hold me back from today, so I drag my feet?
  • He didn’t appear to have a destination in sight – When God says turn, I need to remember the real destination – and that is to God, Himself.  The bumps, hard turns and brief moments of sheer delight should not be my focus.  I’m pretty sure Peter walking on the water underscored that one.
   I didn’t even need to pinch myself to know it was true, the puttering senior in the clunker car was me. I made a hard right on Anacapa Drive and zoomed up the street to my home. My lack of patience for the older man eased into compassion. I openly thanked the Lord in my car because he is steadfast in his love for me even when he observes my annoying “life driving.” He is not afraid of my failures as the navigator of heart. God’s turns include invitations to stretch my faith and submission to his Lordship. I think I will turn onto Anacapa Drive with a different perspective- there is a GPS (God’s Perfect Son) at work my life and yours. 
Want to make a turn with me?
Home is really a beautiful place! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Mother is a Legend

My father had been told he wouldn't live to see me born. My mother, pregnant with her forth child (me) thought she would be raising all four of us siblings alone.  She faced the news with the same tenacity as how she approached life -Bold and Resolute. As a faith hugger, she slipped into eternity sooner than my dad, but she did watch him live well into his golden years.  As Mother’s Day approaches, so many things remind me of this incredible woman and how blessed my siblings and I were to have called her, “Mom.” 

Here are a few wonderful lessons I learned from my mom:

 She believed in making things better, not always equal. Not every gift to our friends and children was exactly the same.  She looked at needs and met them as much as she could.  We were happy when one of us got new shoes, even if the others didn't get anything.  We, as children understood from her that giving was an act of love, not an entitlement.
• She was a mother, not always a friend. As the teen years approached, I tested the boundaries of her patience far greater than the three before me. My mother told me what I didn’t want to hear, took away privileges and once even slapped me in the face. (that’s another story, but I completely deserved it.)   She didn’t particularly care if I liked her or not. She had another purpose; she was shaping me. I was the wild monkey, but she was the keeper of the bananas.  There was no mistake of who was calling the shots, even though you couldn’t find a gentler soul.  As an adult, she was always more than a friend; she was my mom – a keeper of my history and a woman loved me from the start of my first breath.
• My mother had a church, but she was not a pastor.  Our home was a gathering place for a Mecca of different kinds of people who called my mother, “Mom.”  We sat in the cathedral of her sanctuary and listened to her heart.  While we ate, played, laughed from her wit and her love for all things, she was at work overseeing the basic need of humanity –love.
• She taught me that the wisdom of the soul is not always found after the letters of your name.  Mom was a fan of schooling, and encouraged each of us to run after knowledge, but her biggest goal was making us better humans.  A better human is always thirsty for information.  She modeled that with her vast self-taught knowledge of birds and nature and the gift of music that came to her naturally.
• My mom wore laughter lines, not a frown mark could be found on her delicate face.  I can remember holding my giggles with our mother, while my father, the engineer figured out a way to get the car running again in the desert. He had nothing more than a coke flip top and duct tape to work with. It’s a figurative picture that has etched deeply in my mind on how to handle stress – find a piece a humor about yourself or your situation.  The wisdom of laughter has carried me through tough battles.

• She held a degree in nature, but she was not a biologist.  Comical, vivid scenes of my mom nursing a dead bird for days in a Kleenex box portray the extent of her care to all.  (She didn’t have her glasses on and could not understand why it wasn’t opening its mouth to the worms she had dug up.)  Compassion knew no bounds.  She is probably the reason I let flies out the window, rather than smack them.
• Mom was a cheerleader on the sidelines of our lives, not playing the game for us.  Through her support, we learned to face failure, not escape it.  She knew that we were born to leave her nest one day and that struggle produces resilience.  Mom would share the pain of our burden and offer us tools to succeed, however we used our own creativity and strength to find our way out.   She didn’t blame teachers, friends or other parents when I got in trouble, because Mom was also supporting the process of my growth.  She made sure I took responsibility for my actions. 
• My mother was older than most, but not feeble of heart and mind.  As the last born, my mother was well past her mid thirties when she gave birth to me; however I never thought of her as ancient, even in my teens. It was not because of what she wore, (heck my mom was wearing nylon stretchy pants way before it was cool).   It was her open heart that made her young.  To stay youthful is to have an open mind which is pliable.

• She was properly put together, not righteously proper.   There was not a smack of pretense in my mother’s character.  Mom was not a fan of brand names and fluff.  She was practical and resourceful.
• Mom was a boundary maker, not rule stickler.  She knew that rules were meant to serve, not control.  Because of our relationship, it made me want to please her.   Rules with rapport always make life easier to swallow.  The gift of boundary marking generated a life long security for me. From her, I learned how to set boundaries myself.
• My mother was a retail market of confidence building, not a department store of timidity. Confidence is perhaps one of the greatest gifts one can give a child: confidence to speak your thoughts, confidence to make right choices, confidence to try new things, confidence to know how to be treated and how to treat others.  We all knew we could do and be anything we wanted to in life.

• My mom is a legend, not a mere example.  There are not many women that are graced with such rare beauty and wisdom.  I can only hope daily to step into a puddle of her goodness generated by a love filled footprint.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gold is Nothing Special

 Gold is nothing special. The good book tells us we’ve been refined in the fire as gold. My daughter and I were having a conversation the other day about this very topic. She was doing a Joyce Meyer bible study with her women’s group. She was intrigued with the notion that gold is really just plain metal. It only displays its luster when light shines upon it. The thought of this idea, really puts our good deeds in their proper place.  We are not much without our Light of the World – Jesus Christ.
   Taking it a step further this morning, I asked the Lord to show me some ways that he shines on my golden spots (still being refined.)  Don’t we all want to be “lusterlious?” This morning I heard Him say softly, “it is in My joy.”  The strange joy of the Lord in the middle of chaos and heartbreak is a game changer for onlookers. You can’t fake joy, if you do, then all you look like is an uncaring buffoon.
  The kind of joy that gives you strength to smile and find beauty in the smallest details is God’s type of joy. Joy is river.  I can remember camping as a child and trying to build a little dam to make a swimming hole near a streamside. It was impossible to harness the fast moving water.  Rocks and sticks would tumble away from the places I put them from the power of the flood. 
   You see, liquid joy has the same effect as a powerful river.  It cannot be contained. It gets in every nook and cranny. It washes away debris. It cuts a clear path and breaks down resistance. It has a vast supply. No wonder the Lord says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
   The best part of the whole joy thing is – it’s not our own joy. Do you have joy like that on your own?  I sure don’t have enough. Today, I’m asking for more joy from the Lord. I want to be ridiculous in my happiness with joy that speaks to the broken.  May it be unbridled, filter through all that I am, wash away the dull prune faced spiritual pride that we think make us look good,
   It is in God’s joy that the gold of his new work in me shines today. Who is satisfied with boring metal anyway?  So, take a deep breath and breathe Him in.  Let your lips turn upward and may any self made dams break down.  It’s a great day to be alive! Let His joy bubble over you, because although Gold is nothing special, God sure is!