Wednesday, July 27, 2011

He's God. And I'm Not.

I've noticed over the years that many time friends "steal" quotes from my blog and post them as their Facebook status for the day... Tonight, I'm going post a quote that I "stole" from my sister, Jemima, who recently posted it on Facebook.... :)

"Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep
The storms are raging on the deep -- God's deep, not yours --
Be still and sleep.
... God's heaven will comfort those who weep -- God's heaven, not yours --
Be still and sleep."

How glad I am.

The world's problems are not for me to solve tonight.

They are for God, in His Almighty wisdom and Infinite power to take care of.

He can change hearts. I can't.

And "all His works are done in truth and righteousness."

He never misjudges a situation.

He's God. And I'm not.

I'm so glad.

Friday, July 22, 2011

God At My Place? Or Me At His Place?

Psalm 27:4 has been one of my favorite verses for a long time. When I think I want something badly, I often restate the words of the Psalmist: "ONE thing have I desired of the Lord...."

THAT will I seek after.


Knowing Him. Loving Him.

His Worth.
THAT will I seek after. All the days of my life.

The other day I was looking at the verse again, trying to figure out how to paraphrase it for someone after a conversation when I saw something in the rest of the verse.

The Psalmist says that he will seek after the Lord, "that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple."

I've always thought of it as David seeking after his God.

But... wait! There's more.

He's seeking to live in GOD's presence.

He's not seeking the presence of God in HIS life.

He's transplanting his life, his location, to GOD'S presence, where God is.

There's a difference.

Is God with me everywhere, anywhere? Sure! Can I hear His Spirit on a hilltop or in a bustling city street? In church or at work or in the car? Of course!

But so often I pray for the Presence of God in MY life, when what I should be begging for is to live my life in GOD'S PLACE.... to plant myself where He is, rather than to try to add Him to MY life and loves and wishes and places.

In a literal church building? I don't think that's the essence of what David is talking about.
He talks about going to the temple, though.
That meant leaving HIS place (even though God communed with him there often)
and going to GOD'S place.

I've prayed a whole new way this week about several things.

I haven't went anywhere different physically.

But I've asked God to let me live in His presence,
even if that's all that He gives me in life.

Somehow I feel, like David, that if I only want one thing in life it must be this:

To live where God lives and to behold His worth and beauty.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pieces Will Feed a Multitude

If my life is broken when given to Jesus,

it is because pieces will feed a multitude,

while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.

~ Ruth Stull

The Saddest Thing - According to a Hippie

I wrote this last summer, and then never posted it.
It's kind of pointless, I guess, but it amused me. :)
~ Mary

Yesterday I was running errands, going to home visits all over the rural Ozarks.
I ran out the door at 7 am, with a rice cake and a date cookie to sustain me for the day.
Now it was early afternoon and some food sounded good. Maybe Subway? Except there was no such a thing in any of these little towns... I passed one after another. Most of them had a dozen houses and a post office. I would be doing good if there was a gas station that sold some candy bars and peanuts - certainly not a sustainable and reasonably healthy lunch.

As I passed the stop sign for the next little town, it looked as though perhaps there were more than just a few houses down the street. So, I pulled off the highway and wandered through small-town America for a bit. It was all so classic - a few little antique stores and handcraft shops; an old man leaning against the wall under the awning of a little shop smoking a pipe.
A few old cars and battered pickups rattled through the town. But nothing was open. This was a Monday, and all the stores had signs taped in the windows that said, "Open Tuesday-Friday."
I sighed, wondering why the whole town decided not to do business on Mondays.

And then I saw it - a little health food store set back from the crumbling sidewalk! A faded orange "OPEN" sign hung in the window. Maybe I would find some lunch here! Certainly they would have plain yogurt or.... something. I pushed the creaky door open and stepped inside. As usual, the smell of herbs, spices and bulk foods permeated the atmosphere.
Nobody was in sight. At the counter, a few papers hung here and there proclaiming, "Fresh organically raised lamb!" or "Homegrown vegetables - Call Marla."

Then a little lady appeared out of the back. Thin, stringy white hair hung down her back over her organic hemp blouse. Her Birkenstocks looked worn and well-loved. Her flowing skirt looked like it belonged in a field of daisies. Most notably though, her little brown face looked aged and etched with care. It was thin as was the rest of her.

"Are you looking for something?" she asked helpfully.

"Oh.. no... I'm just... looking. Nothing in particular," I replied, hoping that she wouldn't expect me to buy something if I didn't find lunch material among the bags of stone-ground rye flour and packages of dried mango.

"Do you live around here?" she inquired a bit puzzled.

"No, I don't. I live over by ___."

"Oh!" she said, this time with just a bit of interest rising in her slow, tired voice. "So you must know ___ ?"

Actually, I didn't know her aquaintance.

She sighed again. "Oh..." as she continued watching me glance across the shelves.

I tried to make conversation. "So... have you been in business here for a long time?"

"Since 1974. We - well, I mean my husband and bunch of other hippies - all moved here back then and started this kind of stuff. There was a whole bunch of us - we all lived together. Just a caravan of cars and buses, and we lived out of those. We all lived on wheat germ and vegetables and homemade bread. We were all healthy, and spent plenty of time in the sunshine and fresh air. But it's all changed.... " and her voice trailed off as she looked out the health food store window wistfully.

"It all changed. I'm the only one who hasn't changed. Everyone else eats white bread and has a pot belly. It's the saddest thing I've ever seen in my life." Each word seemed to drop heavily, wearily, sadly.

I suppressed a chuckle and stared hard at the basket of freshly dug sweet potatoes at my feet lest she see my amusement.

She tapped her hands on the counter. "Yes. The saddest thing I've ever seen... It's the old hippies who used to eat alfalfa sprouts with me who are sipping pepsi and beer now. They don't even care about healthy bodies anymore." Then her voice rose to an angry pitch: "And they're the ones who know better!! It's really depressing to go on with life when nobody else lives for your ideals anymore."

And then her phone rang, and customers walked in and needed her help, and I had to buy something for lunch and leave lest I be late for the next prenatal. I wished that there would have been time for me to say something - anything - about the essence of life and what really matters and is worth living for. But, she was busy and I had to go, so I left the little wiry brown lady in her store full of stuff to keep her fading earthly body together a little longer.

I just had to chuckle as I drove away. What a perspective. The saddest thing she knows of in life is pot bellied people eating white bread and drinking pepsi.

Maybe sometime I'll see the her again, or maybe I won't. I honestly don't even remember the name or location of the little town where I found her health food store.

But I remember her. I still think about her sometimes. And I still wonder if she weeps over her white bread eating friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It Will Make No Difference in the End

Re-posting this from a couple years ago, because it's just so true. It doesn't matter what other good things you choose in life. It really doesn't. God is the choice in life. He is the way, the truth, and life itself. May I live that way!

If you have not chosen the kingdom of God,

it will make in the end no difference

what you have chosen instead.

- William Law

109 Degrees

The thermometer on the back porch reads 109 degrees today. That's out of direct sun.

Jemima asked me today if I'd like to be her - pregnant, on bed rest.... in air conditioning.
It made me chuckle. Well... maybe.... today! :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Real Me

The real me is what is inside my heart,

not what I choose to carefully let out of my heart."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Family Picture Fun!

Mom wanted family pictures for Mother's Day since she had all of her kids home for the day. Jemima was on bedrest (still is), so that decided the location for the pictures - her front yard, where she could hurry from the couch to a chair and sit up for a few minutes, looking like she does that all day.

Jon from church agreed to accompany us over there and use his skills to create stuff we would all really like. It was also really helpful to have a male in charge of picture taking, because somehow all the males in the family are more inclined to behave and smile when he says so. I'm not sure why. (Thanks, Jon!)

Okay, so we did take a lot of posed pictures first, but these days there's a lot of kissing in the family, so the younger married couples were all about a kissing picture. I love it! All of the random expressions and looks on everyone else's faces are just hilarious!

And then, the nice posed one where we all tried to smile angelically so it could hang on the wall for decades without us hating it. I was surprised that we (er, Jon) managed to get that many people to look at the camera and look pleasant all at the same moment! No small feat, if you've ever watched our family picture taking sessions in the past. They're pretty entertaining. Though, with a sister who's a professional photographer, I'd have to say the pictures have been better in recent years. Or maybe that's just because we've all grown up a little.

Anyway, you'll have to enjoy these pictures here. Because you're not going to get them in your year end letter. Instead, we hope that the next family picture (the one we'll send you) includes two babies.... That will be worth taking a picture of! It's been a long time in coming in this family!

The Two Pregnant Gals

The two happy newlywed ladies in the family
(Heather - left, due in November; Jemima - right, due at the end of August)
both even more happy to be adding to the family!

(Sorry if these pictures bore you... I did post them on Facebook a few months ago...)

Choose for us, God

Choose for us, God,
nor let our weak preferring
Cheat us of good
Thou hast for us designed
Choose for us, God;
Thy wisdom is unerring.
And we are fools and blind.

A Summer Away From Facebook

I'm sure some of my friends wonder what happened and why I left Facebook for now, after being a prolific Facebook poster for several years. There really wasn't (and isn't) any stunningly huge reason, other than that I simply felt the Lord asking me to do it. It was amazing how simple it was for me to give it up, too. I just said, "Okay, Lord" and actually began looking forward to life without Facebook for awhile.

It started this spring, as the Lord began convicting me of attitudes and habits in my life that didn't please Him. And chief of all sins, was that my habits and ways of wrong thinking didn't bother me enough to change them. I wanted to change them... I'd resolve to do better... but so soon I'd be living the same old busy, self-absorbed, God-forgetting, people-pleasing way.
Which meant that I really wasn't very serious about changing. People who say they're preparing to be professional athletes or musicians and can barely squeeze in a little time each day to practice show by their actions what really matters to them in life. They can say whatever they want to about their desires and goals, but it's obvious to everyone where their priorities lie. So lived I my life.

God brought it up to me over and over. I was miserable - trapped in a life of pressing needs and clamoring noise, knowing I needed God more, but living a barren inner life. How can one give God to others if you aren't full of Him yourself?

My dear sister-in-law gave me a book on Brokenness that I managed to read in snatches over Spring. The Lord used that book to show me how wrong, dead wrong my heart was. I was existing as a Christian, looking like and acting like one to all the world around me, but not living, fully living - drinking at the Springs of Living water, every day, all day any more....

The difference between doing and being something is so vastly huge! I realized that although I still looked and acted much the same outwardly as I did back when my heart was right, inwardly I was withering. I'd lived the Christian life long enough, that I could get up every morning and "do" it... be kind, servant-hearted, cheerful, forgiving... but did I love God with all my heart? Did I crave Him? Did I still know and walk with Him as I used to?

I then spent a few days at a Bible conference, seeking God. He kept peeling back the layers of my heart with every message I heard, every chapter in the Bible that I read, and every time I sought God in prayer. Showing me my heart, probing into the corners... reminding me that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and that He is near to the brokenhearted.

Did I really care more about living a life that people agree with and being a person who they like, or did I care most about what God wanted from my life? ...All so elementary, but all so fresh again when your heart is all wrong and you didn't even realize the half of the ugliness of it all!

There was also another situation going on in a friend's life that had been heavy on my heart for months. During this time, God pointed His finger at my heart as the prophet Nathan once did to King David and said, "Thou art the man!" All of the grieving I had done over this dear, dear friend of mine growing cold towards and then leaving her husband and children.... God showed me that she had done it to another sinful human being... but I had done it to Him, my Creator, Redeemer, the Holy, Almighty God. I no longer loved him like I should, not because I had any reason not to love Him, but just because I was busy and full of everything but God. I can rarely remember being so convicted and grieved by my own sin and my own heart as at that moment as I realized that God's words from James 4:4 rang true in my own life: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses...!"

God brought me to a point of desperation to again have a pure heart, a broken and contrite heart before Him, a heart that I wouldn't exchange even a little piece of for anything in all the world or in all of this life.... A heart desperately hungry for God... to love Him, to know Him, to delight in Him, and Him alone!

All of these things I've always said in my head. There's never been a day in the last twenty years, when I haven't thought these things or wanted my relationship with Jesus Christ to be like that.

But living these things is different. It's one thing to resolve to know and love God as He is worthy of. It's an entirely different thing to roll yourself out of bed an hour or two earlier after only a few hours of sleep to seek Him until you find Him, instead of just functioning on fumes. It's one thing to realize that you need God more than anything else in the world. It's an entirely different thing to live that way - to let urgent work pile up and cancel fun events because there is nothing that needs to be done more than to commune with God and listen to His voice.

As the Lord humbled me and crumbled every last little thing that I might have thought I was doing "good" or right, I began to desperately want to bring Him pleasure, and the slightest care about what anyone else thought or approved of faded. It has become one of my goals this year to live for an audience of One - God, and Him alone.

Which brings us to Facebook. Sometimes Facebook makes me feel like I live in a viewing tank with many folks visiting my life and sharing their opinions. It's not all bad, in fact, often it's helpful or nice. My goals for Facebook have always been to encourage and inspire others to seek what matters most in life; to make them think; to be real and honest about myself, and if nothing else, to just make people smile. But, in my quest for seeking the pleasure of an audience of One, I thought that might be easiest without the distraction of other people's commentary on my life or opinions. :)

Facebook hasn't taken up a ton of my time in the last year because I rarely log onto it when I'm on the computer. I usually just Facebook from my Blackberry while I'm waiting in line or elsewhere have 2 minutes with "nothing else to do."
Nothing else, that is... except seek God. He can be sought anywhere. I don't ever see myself having a slow-paced life and easy routine that makes it easy to seek God and spend lots of time in His Word. I don't have slow mornings in my jammies with tea and my Bible. I have 2 am calls from frantic mamas who need me now.... or if I wake up in my own bed in the morning, there's an incredible amount of things to be done around here, like my own mother needing my help. Evenings are no better. Days are non-stop. Sometimes there just are a hundred things that HAVE to be done.

Mothers of little ones find this true. You can't wait to nurse the baby just because you haven't spent some time with the Lord yet. The toddler wakes up at 5:30, crying that he's wet again... and the four year old wakes up throwing up, regardless of whether you've read your Bible or had enough sleep. Sometimes you just have to be a mom. Some days I just have to be a midwife, and a sister and daughter and caregiver....

But above all, I HAVE to seek God. I have to love Him. I have to know Him. I have to live for Him! THAT is the cry of my heart. If my heart is desperate enough, I will seek Him daily and above all else in life!

I plan to come to back to Facebook and I'm not making a lot of other major changes to life... except that regardless of what else happens, I need God.... enough of Him to fill my heart to overflowing, every day. And I intend to live that way!