Tag Archives: fear

To See the Sea

“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,” 

Psalm 148:7 NIV

For five days I have lingered, listening to the sound of the ocean, watching the waves that are never and always the same dance to their self perpetuated music.  Calming, peaceful, constant… I am conscious of my every effort to open up, take it all in and tuck it away for safe keeping for the days that I will not have the pleasure or ability to do so.

The ocean.  I’ve walked beside it, waded into it, sat in front of it and stared for countless hours upon it. It is beautiful and soothing to my inward most parts.   I’ve pondered it’s depths and width and length.  The sheer vastness of it is humbling, reminding me in one swift glance of the greatness of  our God.    Surely the ocean is an adequate earthly reflection of the power, glory and majesty of the Lord.  And even as I walked upon the shore discussing these things with Him, He reminded me that this is only one of many beaches, shores and oceans that exist by His creative power.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Isaiah 40:12

Spending time at the ocean causes me to become quiet and introspective- at rest.  I am visually reminded in splendor that there is so much that is bigger than me and beyond my ability to fathom, comprehend or understand. When I am beside the ocean, I find that I am able to let go of the wrestling that so often occurs in my head and my heart ever striving to try to understand everything that I do not,  working to try to figure everything out and trying to be in control of everything that I’m really not.

When keeping company with the sea, I am able to just let go and “be.”

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10 

The truth, is that I’m no more capable of “figuring it all” out in the throes of everyday life than I am here in the presence of the sand, seashells and sound of ocean waves roaring in my ears.  Somehow though, I forget.

I can spend countless hours thinking…about how to get things to work out the way I want them to.

I have spent countless hours worrying…about how it will be if they don’t.

So much wasted time and energy on that which is unproductive.

And so, today I am thankful for the ocean.  I am thankful that it stretches so far out that I cannot see the end of it.  I’m thankful that it is so deep, even at it’s beginnings, that my toes cannot touch the bottom.   I’m thankful for the way that it tosses and turns, as if it has a schedule of its own rising  higher or diminishing as the day grows long.  I’m thankful that I have no control over the sea.

This truth offers me a life-giving reminder that it really isn’t my job to be “in control.”  It is only my job to BE.

To BE still and know that He is God.

To BE obedient to His every leading.

To BE quick to hear and obey His voice.

To BE diligent to hide His Word in my heart.

To BE His daughter and everything that that means.

Father, thank you for the beauty of the ocean.  Thank you for the beauty of the truth that all that I must BE is a child of the King.  

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Filed under Christian Growth, fear, worry

Keep the Change

 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family, And from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” Gen 12:1 NKJ

“Outward processor” that I am, my husband was a faithful sounding board as I worked through the options again…and again….and again. He just listened while I laid out our choices, picked them up and scrutinized them, and then repeatedly found myself at the same indisputable conclusion.  God was asking me to make a change.

Up until this point I had been comfortable where I was.  For months though, the Lord had been revealing to me, in the gentle way that He does, that it was time to move forward into the next thing.  Unwilling to deal with the brewing discontentment,  I shoved it into to the pile  labeled denial.  The inner nudge was confirmed however when that which once seemed easy, was easy no longer, and the satisfaction, joy and fulfillment that had once been now waned.  Each were replaced by an undeniable hunger for more and different.   Seeking Him to discern the lack of peace, it was found when I acknowledged the life transition He was leading me to walk in.

Transiton

1. a:  passage from one state, stage, subject or place to another  : CHANGE

Because change is one of my least favorite things,  I struggle not to grimace at my change loving friends.  To them, change magnifies life as an adventure; and venture they do, diving boldly into the deep places of the unknown equipped with faith.  Me, I’m more of a stick my toe in the water kind of girl when it comes to transition; because we all know that, once you do a cannon ball into the pool of change, there are no takesy-backsys.

Change requires Faith.  Change requires Trust.  Change requires us to step out blindfolded into the unknown.  It demands our own willingness to allow the Spirit of God to lead and guide us into all truth, all the while trusting that He is making our path straight and will not allow us to fall.  Change, in my opinion, is hard and each time it knocks upon the door of my life, I quietly  peek out of the peephole of my heart, deciding whether I will let it in.

I know that God’s Word is complete, infallible and undeniably true.  When I read the account of Abram however something seems to be missing.  God told Abram to “go,” and Abram went. I would love to have been the fly upon that tent flap when he went home and shared this news with his wife Sarai.  Had I been her I’m sure I would have responded something like “So, let me get this straight; we are packing up everything we have, and leaving everyone we know, to go …and we don’t even know where we are going?!”

I might need to read it again because somehow I missed the part where they whined, cried, feared, questioned and doubted in response to God’s command before they were obedient.  It isn’t there; They heard, and they obeyed.  They trusted their God which told them to “go” so much that they knew if He was telling them to go, then where He was taking them had to be better  that where they now were.

That same God who told them to “go” is just as faithful within my own life, and yours too.  What is familiar always seems safer than the unknown.  The truth remains however that God loves us so much that if He is telling us to “go,” then we can be confident that where He is leading us is the best place for us to be.

Father, help me to have the courage to obey when you tell me to “go.” 

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The Naked Truth

but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— Eph 4:15 (NKJ) 

It had been years since I had been to an OB appointment.  After the birth of my second child and my husband’s gracious and sacrificial act of permanent birth control assurance, I had no trouble finding ample excuses for years of why I couldn’t go.

Somehow this became the topic of conversation among a group of female friends all sitting at the same table.  As I jested at how long it had been since I had been, the dear friend in front of me countered with a stern look containing both gentle disapproval and genuine concern.  She “encouraged” me, on no uncertain terms, to call her the following week with the name of the doctor and appointment time at which they would be seeing me. She shared of someone important in her life whose life had been saved due to the early detection of cervical cancer as a result of a pap smear.  In all of my taking care of others, she assured me, it was necessary that I take care of myself.

I can’t imagine that a Pap smear falls among the “top ten favorites” of any female’s list of life. Due to a childhood filled with traumatic sexual abuse however, I seem to struggle more than most when it comes to this unpleasant yet admittedly necessary task.  I did make the appointment but only penciled it in on my calendar and commenced contemplating my options.  Briefly, just briefly, I thought that perhaps I could just lie about it to my well meaning friend… I mean after all she wasn’t coming with me.  Feeling sick guilty at just the thought, I scratched that option off of my list.  I could accidentally forget…I mean, I do keep a very busy schedule.  I knew however that that excuse would fly about as well as… well…something that doesn’t. I would only be postponing the inevitable.  Deep down inside my friends’ words held much value to me because, like it or not, I knew that they were filled with truth.

The day arrived.  Dread was waiting beside my bed staring me in the face as I woke up.  Before my feet hit the floor, my mind cycled through old familiar emotions of sadness, anger, self-pity… frustration that the choices of others still had the ability to impact my life as they did.

I cried all the way to the office.  It was the normal routine.  I was thankful that the doctor came in to meet me for the first time before I was required to remove all of my clothing, drape the ugly, drab green, too thin hospital gown over myself and lay flat on the uncomfortable examining table with my feet in the stirrups.  As I shared my history with her the tears began again and refused to stop.  Exposed, vulnerable, and uncomfortable only skim the surface of the depth of my feelings.  The doctor was gentle, kind and understanding.  I was most thankful when at the conclusion of the exam she asked me if I would like to slip out of the back door of the office so I wouldn’t have to deal with a waiting room full of people. I’m quite certain that, at that moment, she could not have offered me a more gracious gift.

Good friends are the friends that are willing to speak truth, even the hardest of truth, in love.  They are the ones that are willing to bear the brunt of your response to truth for the sake of your well-being.  These are the kind of friends we should be most thankful for.  These are the kind of friends we should strive to be.

Father, help me to always speak the truth in love to others.          

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Taste and See

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8 (NIV) 

Before a long day of errand running I was hoping that I could at least lessen the sure to come begrudged moans of despair arising from my children with a “pre-errand running” treat.  It was a peace offering per se’ as I offered them a verbal run down of all that had to get done and why it was imperative that they be a part of it. Stone faced and eyebrows furrowed they didn’t even try to hide their less than enthusiastic demeanors.  I had to squelch my own frustration at their outcries of injustice of being “dragged along” wishing that I could help them comprehend that I too was less than excited.  Battling a head cold and awakening to a severe sinus headache there were other things that I would rather be doing on my day off as well; but the duty of life called and sometimes “ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.”

Normally reserving the “if your good” bribe for the end of our trip to be used as leverage at the sudden uprising of sibling disagreements and impatient complaints I decided to change things up a bit and begin our errand running spree with a quick stop at the newest ice cream dive in our little town.

Soft serve was the name of their game and with an abundance of choice toppings to choose from we piled our self-serve cups high.  We chose all of our favorites and loaded back into the car to enjoy our self created delights.  As new sounds arose from the back seat expressing the yumminess of their treats, I dug into my own creative creation.  The chocolate concoction of soft serve covered in bits of oatmeal cream pie, chocolate chips and whipped cream; my taste buds tingled in anticipation of what I was about to experience.  What disappointment greeted me when I realized after the first bite that due to my current state of severe congestion I could not even slightly detect any taste or flavor.  Cold? Yes. Mushy?  Yes. Sweet, delightful, and tangible comfort as I faced the full day of errand running ahead? Disappointingly, not even a little bit.

The $3.00 cup of cold mush I held in my hand now seemed tremendously overpriced.  Without the flavor, without the taste it had lost all appeal.

It wasn’t that the ice cream and accompanying toppings had lost their taste, no; instead, it was that I had lost my ability to perceive that taste.  Something within me prevented me from receiving the joy and delight that the ice cream had to offer.

The Lord and all that He has to offer are so much sweeter than any cup of comforting confection.  The Hebrew word taste in Psalm 34:8 is translated as perceive. Merriam Webster defines perceive as “to become aware of through the senses.”

Our ability to perceive through our senses is a gift from the Lord.  The beauty of autumn, a hug from a loved one, the sound of a sweet needed rain, the smell of a newborn baby; God and his goodness to us can be perceived in all of these things.

When we stop perceiving the Lord in each of these little things that are not so little we must take time to step back and remember that this is indicative of only our inability to perceive and not a lack of his goodness and faithfulness.  Are you too busy, stressed or worried to properly perceive?  Does life have you bogged down and congested?

Take time to seek the Lord and allow him to help you taste and see, in every place, that He is good.

Father, help me, at all times to properly perceive your goodness and faithfulness. 

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Scare Tactics

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

The smell of French fries lingered while squeals and laughter filled the air.  We were quarantined and confined behind the glass doors which separated those who must dine amidst colorful ball filled pits and twisty slides.

We nibbled on green side salads while stealing one or two of the grease entrenched goodies left uneaten by our distracted dates. The social norm of don’t talk to strangers was now exchanged for “play nice with your new friends…”

All was lovely until one mom decided it was “time to go.”  Every mom in the room involuntarily stiffened and without saying a word we collectively pooled our strength, resolve and determination as a joint offering to the mommy in question.  Together we stand, mommies of preschoolers Unite!

A novice she was not as her tactics were clearly well planned.  Having previously withheld the coveted plastic wrapped toy, she now offered it as a bribe to leave. The daughter, no novice herself, had somehow already caught wind to what was going down and as soon as her dirty bottomed feet hit the floor we caught only a glimpse as she scurried back up the impossibly steep climbing tube never intended for anyone over the age of 25 or taller than 3 ½ feet.

With raised eyebrows a forced Cinderella pitched voice that had undertones of “if you don’t come right this second you are really gonna get it” escaped from the mom. With bravado and spunk the four year old faced off with her mother through the thick plastic of the highest tube bubble and giggled.  One could faintly hear the whistling of Old Western dueling music in the background.

Desperation spread across the mother’s face.  The child was in control of when they were going to leave; she knew it, the child knew it and every mommy in there knew it.  All tact aside the frustrated mom began to lose composure.  First, counting in the ominous tone; One….two….three….  She could have counted to one hundred, the girl was indifferent.  Then “If you don’t come right now I am going to throw away your toy.”  For a second this caught a fearful glimpse but her daughter quickly decided the power in her possession was more enticing than a pint sized plastic pony. Finally, the mother, obviously infuriated and powerless had reached her limit and said in a tone indicating that she had already won, “okay, FINE, I’m leaving.”  She aloofly walked out of the door and pinned herself against the wall on the other side out of sight to her daughter.

After a minute or two the four year old looked a great deal smaller as the question of “was mommy serious” turned to the recognizable fear of “mommy was serious.”  Frantically scuttling out of the tubes and down the slide she was crying and hysterical as she ran out of the play land screaming “Mommy! Mommy!”

There have been many times when I have resembled that stubborn child, remaining in a standoff of obedience with the Lord.  In these times I am so very thankful that He never threatens me with abandonment.  Instead He is longsuffering and waits patiently for me to choose obedience…as long as it takes.  Even when my own disobedience causes me pain He comforts me and loves me through it.  Romans 2:4 states Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  I am thankful that my Abba will never leave or forsake me.  No matter what.

Father, thank you for your compassionate mercy.  Thank you for loving me and never abandoning me even in the midst of disobedience. 

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Filed under Analogies, Faith, My Father's Daughter, Trust