Monday, July 30, 2012

dancing on key

Yesterday you danced with abandon on black and white keys, inspired by what you saw in this:
It inspired me to. I didn't want the music to stop. I wanted to soar with it to heaven's realm and sit in worship at the feet of God. 
I pray you will always be captured by the beauty God shines into your life. That you will dance on the paths He makes firm beneath your feet. I pray too that my rather firm rebuke to not stand on the piano keys while plucking at the strings, will not inhibit your quest to express the beautiful desires He places in your heart. 
So how do we react when our children's overflow of their heart clash with our parent-thoughts on what is allowed or acceptable? I wrestle with this often. Like yesterday when I caught Brianna playing the piano with her feet, knowing she was inspired by the above video. Or when Reese drew (very good) pictures of his favorite superheros and wrote the alphabet in crayon on freshly painted walls. He thought they needed a little something, though I rather liked the simplicity of blue and cream walls. Or when the kids use our tools, lumber, tomato cages, etc. to build traps to catch the bad guys or build forts with them or imagine themselves into a great drama. John Eldredge writes of these things. I don't have the answer right now. Someday perhaps I will. But what I do know, is that when we stifle these desires completely, we smother the creative spark our Creator God placed in us. Have you wisdom on this subject? Have you learned how to fan the spark God placed in your child into a flame? Have you gone through your own time of stifling it within yourself and have learned how to let it spring back to life once more? Please share, we'd love to listen.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

when you don't believe you're making a difference

"When are we going to read the Bible at night again?" asks Luke, freshly cleaned of the day's grime, a soft pleading in his big brown eyes. It's already way past bedtime, but this time, I pause to listen to his heart. I choose not to rush to the finish line of head on pillow...mine and theirs.

"Do you like when I read it to you?"

Brianna, standing at sink, finished with baptizing her face with water exclaims her approval.

And Luke says that when we don't read it, it kind of feels like we don't believe in God.

Oh how heaven has a way of bringing me to my knees. And the Living Word takes on flesh in our vintage pink- and blue-tiled bathroom. A little child leading the way to a Father's heart.

And who would inhibit a child from seeking God?

So we pause, deny the clock ticking further past head-to-pillow time and we read. Their requests. About some dry bones and our salvation.

And all this time I thought our habit of reading the Bible before bed didn't matter to them, that I was only doing this because it fit with my preconception of what Christ-following parent does. Wiggly bodies, constant interruptions and rabbit trail conversations have a way making one think they aren't paying attention and that this desire to sow the Word in their hearts doesn't matter. But they are and it does.

So I offer this encouragement to you as I remind myself. Keep pressing on in the ways of the Lord. You are making a difference even if you cannot see it.

sharing with: thought-provoking thursday @

Thursday, July 26, 2012

when a hike awakens

Choosing to hike weekly with my children this summer was one of the best decisions I've made. It forces me out of the house and away from the chores. It feels my spirit. It sets us on the course of adventure together.
And yet I forget this in the midst of daily to do's. My encouragement for you...schedule time outside the house with loved ones, friends or family. Sometimes having it on the calendar forces us to see the intention into reality.

Brianna, Reese, Luke and Ben,
Yesterday we hiked one of our favorite spots. You climbed high, explored low and ran ahead free. We ate trail cookies and dried fruit and drank refreshment on a fallen pine. We captured beauty in a lens, spoke encouragement to Jack and rejoiced in Moses sleepy in his sling.

I pray life might always be so for you. May you clamber to the highest heights in seeking God, stoop to notice the gifts He lays at your feet and run the marked race with the freedom found in Christ. May you be refreshed body and spirit and recognize when you are where you are because of the dying to self of another.

May you capture remember to capture beauty, speak encouragement and rejoice always.

It is my prayer for you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

when a life changes the world

There are little words needed for this story. The moving to tears and pull of heart strings speaks volumes.

I had forgotten about this gift, the one I gave when I heard Rachel's story last year. And oh how blessed we are when God invites us into the story of another, small though the part may be.

And if you are moved too, a new campaign is begun to bring new hope and safe water to those in need. May they also receive the Living Water too.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

now that's convicting! & what would you choose?

I'm reading from the first book of Chronicles this week. It's part of the selected readings in my one year Bible (which, by the way, is a great go to when you want to be in the Word but feel at loose ends as to where to pick up or what to study).

Chronicles is not the first book of the Bible that comes to mind when I'm casting about for inspiration and direction from the Lord, but this God of ours, He has this way of showing over and again that His Word is living and active and does not conform to our preconceived notions.

And this week, He's been touching my Spirit deeply with His truth.

Like on Sunday.

I'm reading 1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30. Briefly, it captures a time of war for King David and the Israelites. A time when they are victorious. Ain't nothing going to bring these guys down with God on their side.

So, Satan decides to get into the act and tackle them from the inside. Specifically, in King David himself. The old Enemy suggests to David that it would be good idea for him to take census of Israel. This is a BIG no-no in God's eyes. And David knows it (though, familiarly, he realizes the greatness of his sin after the fact).

So what does God do? He gives David three choices of punishment and lets David decide which one to go with (I took notes on this parenting strategy ;) )

Here were the choices:
1. three years of famine
2. three months being overtaken by the swords of men
3. three days of plague from the Lord which would ravage every part of Israel

I paused here to reflect upon this choices and consider how I might decide were I in David's position. I'll pause here for you to. Think for a moment. What would you choose and why?

When you're through, skip below the picture to see my choice (and David's) revealed.

I went with #2. The three months of being beaten by my enemies. Three years of famine seemed too long to endure and three days of plague "ravaging every part of Israel" seemed too unpleasant. I figured the punishment fit the crime - as David, I had taken a census to see how large my army had grown, so I should be punished in this area too. And perhaps the innocents - women, children and men not of fighting age or ability would be spared.

Guess what David chose?

Number three.

But his reason for that choice was what hit me hard.

He chose it because he would rather have fallen into God's hands than into man's. (verse 21:13)

Now that's convicting.

Deep down, I made my choice based on the familiarity with the ways of men rather than with the mercy of God. There still is part of me that fears Him. And not in the "how awesome and powerful and worthy of respect" kind of fear. I'm afraid of what He could do to me, would want to do to me, when I sin. I hold a belief that He wants to make me pay for my sins.

But it is wrong. So wrong. And I need this reminder daily. And if you need it too, here are some verses, balm for your wounded soul:
  • There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18)
  • God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:4-11) ... ever notice the similarity between discipline  and disciple?
  • Not to mention all those verses in the New Testament about Jesus paying for our sins Himself. Like this one and this one and this one and this too.

Oh, and David? How did he fair with his choice? You can read about it here. I think you'll be encouraged by what happens.

And I wonder, what did you choose and why?

Sharing with: thought-provoking thursday @

Thursday, July 12, 2012

walking on water

Summer often seems to fly by - gone quicker than the flicker of a firefly. So I'm trying to sip it in. Enjoy the moments as they happen. And here in this space, I want to wander back in time and savor the essence of summer's past. Perhaps it will help summer present taste all the sweeter. So pull up a glass of chilled beverage and sip along with me...

There was a time when I didn't like to swim. At least in the front crawl-backstroke sense. It just seemed, well...boring.

So that left me, my sister Hilary and our friend Amanda (we three who most frequently shared pool-side time) to invent new ways to enjoy the water apart from lying by or floating on it.

One day we decided to try to walk on it. I think it was my idea strangely enough given my agnostic/atheist bent at the time.

I wonder if God wasn't in stitches watching us.

We decided a slow approach and stepping out on faith would result in a quick sinking to the bottom. After carefully considering the situation, we figured running at it would give us the greatest chance for success.

We knew the odds were against us. Yet, I think all of us held some kernel of faith, even little ol' God-doesn't-exist-and-Jesus-was-just-some-guy me, that one of those times we actually would defy gravity and feel a watery carpet beneath our feet as we journeyed to the other side.

Obviously, we didn't even make it close to reaching the other side or we would have made it into the history books.So it became a game to see who could take the most steps before the inevitable plunge. I think our record was four.

And now, two decades (!) and a whole lot more faith later, does the same thing still not happen? And I wonder if this is how many of us Christ-followers live...

Letting our logic and knowledge of the natural world battle and triumph over our faith in what God can do. Taking a running leap at a situation instead of stopping to pray and asking God for the faith and direction to guide our approach. And when we don't get as far as we had hoped, looking around and comparing how far we got against the success of others.

As I write this, I wonder if more us might walk on water as Peter did with Jesus if we stopped and prayed and waited for the buoyancy of faith to bear us across the ripples. Perhaps I'll try it again this summer. God still may say no and I may still sink to the bottom, but perhaps He and I could have a good chuckle over the audacity to believe a 2000-year-old miracle could happen again.

Do you think you might try it to? Let me know if you do that we might share the joy of our faith together.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

the hallelujah rain

A land parched, dry throat cracking, begging water.

Don't toss your lit cigarettes; fire hazard, proclaim the signs.

Dry, hot spell. Pressure mounting. Grey clouds swell.

And we beg for relief.

Wind stirs, approaching black, promising liquid.
They threaten to pass us by, and will we miss the mercy?

It's a hallelujah rain.

A rain driven to quench. A thunderous beat, pounding it's desire to reach home.
It's God coming to rescue with us with Living Water.
And will there be a rainbow?

Always. It's His promise. And His Promise.

Praying for all those awaiting mercy, be it in the fall of rain or the fall of God upon their hearts.

sharing with thought provoking thursday @

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

that I could do the same

I'm a wimpy Christian. Really. Because when push comes to shove, I tend to hold back from confessing what I really believe.

Yes, I'll admit to believing in and trying my darnedest to follow after Christ, but confessing what I really believe about what He asks of us in the Word? And telling others, no matter what they think, that Jesus is the only way to God and they are lost without Him? Now that has me shaking in my boots, or Crocs, since I tend to slip those on the most these days.

It's easy to confess these things to people who I have an inkling will agree with me. But when I know or suspect I'm in hostile territory, my stomach ties itself into knots and I worry that I might offend, or worse, be wrong (not about Jesus or His being the only way, but about some other theological points that cause us Christ-followers to fight against one another instead of together).

Worse still is my timidity at using His name in casual conversation, crediting Him with the many blessings He bestows and saying grace aloud and offering to pray for someone out of context and reading the Bible aloud in the presence of non-believers. (Note: I did this last thing last evening, queasiness aside, in the presence of my daughter's friend - her family aren't believers. As I read from Acts, I realized how shocking, how dangerous this Gospel can be what with talk of sexual immorality, beating people up, standing up for their belief in Jesus. Really, I'm surprised the Bible doesn't come with a PG-13 rating!)

But God, He keeps bringing me these examples of people who stand up for what they believe in - even at their own peril.

Like Paul. I'm currently going through a Bible study on Philippians and it's crazy because this guy is actually joyful despite being under guard and facing the strong possibility of death. And he's been beaten and locked up many times because he boldly proclaims what he believes. And he even has the nerve to tell them to follow his example (see Philippians 3:17 and 4:9). Could I do the same? Would I?

And then, on Sunday, we worshiped at my cousin's church. And the sermon was a presentation by a missionary family in China. They can talk about Jesus and share their beliefs, but under strict guidelines and rules. Could I do the same? Or would I chicken out and play it safe for fear I would step outside the rules and face punishment?

What is more, they shared a testimony about one of the young man whom they led to Christ. He married this year in China, and in a very publicly Christian ceremony, both he and his bride boldly proclaimed their testimony and beliefs to their guests. Something which probably fell outside Chinese guidelines according to the concern expressed the missionaries at doing so. Could I do the same? Would I chose take such a bold, perilous step on my wedding day?

Oh, that I could chose and would chose and really trust God as my firm foundation. What is more I need to see that His foundation remains firm even when the ground heaves and shakes beneath these quivering feet. Because faith. It's being sure of what I hope for and being certain of what I do not see (quip of Hebrews 11:1)

What about you? Are you able to confidently proclaim your beliefs? Or do you tend to back off in the face of opposition?

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Monday, July 2, 2012

the desire to pray & play

Just a quick post to tell you about an amazing challenge for the month of July hosted by Erica Dawson on her blog of the same name. It's called Pray & Play.

This is something I've been meaning to do for awhile - set time aside to pray for each of my children but other things (even the things of God like studying the Bible) often tune up their squeaky wheel volume.

For this challenge, I'm going to ask God to help me set aside 20 minutes in my day to pray for my children (that's 5 minutes per child) and ask Him for specific verses to pray over each of them. I'm not sure how the playing part will play I set individual play time aside or do a group play or do I mix it up? But I'll trust God to work that out.

Does this sound like something that would benefit your spirit too? Hop over to Erica's blog and let her know. :)