Going Forward

We are living in an exciting time to be a Christian! We are also living in a terrifying time to be a Christian. One of my favorite authors and teachers has written a timely and pointed blog post that I think is a must-read for anyone who calls themselves Christian. Please read Going Forward by author and teacher Beth Moore. And then go forward to church. Forward to scripture, forward to prayer, forward to loving the way Jesus loved and still does.

 

Sticky Notes

I have a thing for sticky notes. Fun or quirky. Bright or beautifully designed. Different shapes. Ones with quotes. Lined. No lines. Small, large, any color. The only exception is the traditional square pale yellow. None of that for me, thank you. Years of working in an office created a life-long love affair with little bits of paper. Even though I’m retired, I use them every day and get so excited when I see a new shape or color or find a funny one at a specialty or gift shop.

Staring at me now from these sticky notes at eye level on my desk….

A 3 x 3 pale purple on which I wrote, “I give myself permission to take care of ME.”

On a 3 x 3 pale pink with a tulip watermark I copied, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24”

A 2 x 2 neon orange square proclaims, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Nehemiah 6:3”

On another orange I scribbled a Jennifer Rothschild quote, “It is well with my soul even when it is not well with my circumstances.”

On a two-toned bright green one shaped like a thought balloon I jotted a Shakespeare quote, “My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and every tale condemns me for a villain.”

Theres a bright yellow flower-shaped sticky note with several scripture references on it. I have used sticky notes through the years to help me memorize Bible verses.

I wish these sticky notes were stuck to my heart instead of my desk! Some of them are stuck to my brain, and I hope they’ll work their way down to my heart eventually. But I don’t think there is enough of whatever that sticky stuff is on the back of the paper to make these words stick to my heart. They keep falling off. And I mess up. Again. And I forget to take care of ME. Or I let my circumstances dictate my feelings, and I get my heart broken. Again.

And I guess that’s why I have them stuck at eye level on my desk. So that every morning, I see them again and read them again, somehow embedding them into my mind and my heart, reminding me once again that I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. To hide God’s word in my heart. To remember who I am and WHOSE I am!!!

I just added a neon pink heart-shaped sticky note. “RWYAAWYA!”

Remember who you are and WHOSE you are! Maybe this one will stick to my heart.

I love you.

Hope In Front Of Me

It’s a gray dreary Friday, and it’s pouring rain, which is fine because it’s August in the bluegrass and we need rain every chance we can get! It spits against the window, drowning out any birdsong. They’re in hiding anyway, waiting for it to stop, finding shelter in the trees, hoping for a break in the action.

I woke up with hope singing in my mind this morning. A song called, Hope in Front of Me, by Danny Gokey. Here are the lyrics to the chorus…

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen, there’s hope in front of me

“Hope in front of me.” What a great line! Hope, in all it’s glory and grace, boldness and beauty, is right in front of me if I will just open my eyes and see it. If I will look up instead of down, if I will reach out instead of inward to myself, Hope is standing right there, waiting for me to grab on with everything I have! Grab on, hold tight, and stand tall in the power of the Holy Spirit! That’s a promise in the scripture we can take to the bank.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13

Click here to listen to Hope in Front of Me.

I chose the featured image because kids are our hope!

 

Flip-Flops

How to be retired, lesson number One. Sleep at least till dawn! I flunked that pop quiz this morning and was up at zero-dark-thirty. Routine is good for a person, right? I am a “do-er” and I truly don’t know how to be retired. But the song in my head this morning is giving me a little hint. The line on a loop is, “No one but Jesus, nobody else can show us how” from a song called Ain’t I a Woman.

Did you know that “retirement” is not in the scriptures? I have always counted on the fact that God uses old(er) people. I’ve spent the first half of my life raising a family and earning a living, and, while I served my church through those years, I always felt as though there was more out there for me to do. More to see, more to try, more to learn, more to experience. And now I have more time to try.

Yes, I have stuff I need to do. My house needs some serious attention as does my body. Exercise, diet, cleaning, and painting are all on my list. And there are things I want to do like travel, expand my art and music horizons, spend a lot more time with family. The trick for me is going to be how to balance it all. One thing I know… My early mornings will continue, because keeping my appointment with The Lord in the mornings makes the rest of my day go right, whatever I’m doing.

Yesterday was a hard day, but I got through it one task at a time, one minute at a time, one hug at a time. There were two things I saved to pack until the last minute. One was my sign on the door… A painted wooden sign that says, “Dear Lord, please let this be a flip-flop day.” It has a pair of flip-flops painted on it with a beach behind it. Yes! The other was my little Bible that I kept on my desk. God’s instruction manual for life, including how to be retired. “No one but Jesus, nobody else can show me how!”

A New Song!!

I woke up with new words in my head this morning. I get so excited when that happens!! I fumble to get my alarm shut off, grab my phone, and get the words down before I forget them or lose them.

Heal me Lord
Bind up my wounds
Touch me now and
Heal my broken heart

Take away the dark
Shine upon my life
Free my soul and
Live within my heart

The melody is a slow, prayerful tune. I hear this as a solo voice a Capella or maybe with soft piano. Lately, I’ve had a lot of great big sound with orchestras and choirs singing full volume in my head when I wake up, so this is a nice change. And it brought to mind the scripture in Isaiah 61 about God binding up our wounds…

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of The Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

This is the kind of scripture I just have to sit and soak in, sit with my hand on my Bible as though just touching it can make it come alive in my life. The words in this passage are just plain old juicy! Thick and rich, ripe with meaning and love, dripping with healing and grace.

I think that God knows how to bind up our wounds before we even know we are hurting. The words this morning made me think, “I didn’t know I needed healing!” But God knows how to go right to the sore spot… And all He has to do is speak a word. And, sometimes, He chooses to touch us with His grace and healing.

The Voice of Truth

I woke up late this morning. It was one of those nights when I didn’t feel well, didn’t sleep well, and every time I woke up I had a different song in my head. Maybe the songs were keeping me awake! Regardless, this morning when I finally did get up, these lyrics were constant and on repeat in my brain.

But I listen to the sound of Jesus singing over me.
And the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I would choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

This is an older Casting Crowns song, and it begins with

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
On to the crashing waves

That’s where I am right now. In a boat that feels like it’s supporting me, but it’s taken on leaks and I’m faced with bailing and hoping for the best until things change. OR climbing out of the boat onto the waves and taking that step of faith “out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is.” But the “waves” in my world, the obstacles that get between me and Jesus sometimes, “call out my name and they laugh at me.”

Sometimes I just have this feeling deep down that I won’t ever win, that I’ve tried before and failed so many times. So, what makes me think this time will be any different? It depends. Who am I going to listen to?? I like to think I’m an intelligent person, but scripture warns against someone who is “wise in her own eyes.”

But the great thing is (to quote Pooh) that I get to choose whether I will listen to the gremlins in my life tell me that I will fail, that it will never work, that we can’t afford it, that the sky will fall IF. Or whether I will choose to listen to the voice of Truth… The One that tells me not to be afraid, the voice that sings over me while I sleep and tells me of His love and mercy. The same voice that prays for me even when I don’t know how to pray for myself. The same voice that raised the dead can raise me out of that boat so that I can walk toward Him in the middle of my storm.

He never promised that it would be easy, but He did promise that He would be with me. And if I keep my eyes on Him, I can step out of that boat and walk on the waves of fear and doubt, rejection and illness, toward the life He has called me to live.

listen to Casting Crowns, The Voice of Truth