Saturday, October 5, 2013

31 Days: Day Five Word of God Speak

This.  Major conviction for me.

I shared yesterday how I am calling this releasing the words. Funny that is exactly what I need to do.

I help a few ladies from my church lead a small group of the middle school and high school age girls in our church.  We are reading Graceful, by Emily Freeman and we recently touched on how we present ourselves to one another.  The example of cussing came up and it was a gut check.  It's not something I'm especially proud of, but it's an expression of the sin I let into my life. That's not condemnation for you, hear my heart, it is sin for me.  Sin I am aware of and have not been able to overcome.  And as I thought of that, the verse above was brought to mind.  I have it in my home as a reminder of an area I need to seek grace for because I can't do it alone. 

There's a nursery rhyme you should remember from growing up...

Sticks and stones
may break my bones
but, words will never hurt me.

Words do hurt.  

On an especially trying day of motherhood, the Lord led me to Proverbs 15:1 and I posted this picture on Instagram. I'm pretty sure I posted something about needing it tattooed to my forehead...I elected sharpie on my palm.  As my patience dissolves the octave of my voice rises.  I could give so many excuses, but they don't eliminate the impact my behavior has on my children's hearts.

I know I will never achieve a sinless life.  I know there is grace and forgiveness. I still long for a day when my words are quick to encourage before they are quick to correct.  That they are words spoken in kindness and not in anger.  That they would be pleasing to the Father in all ways.  That this would be the truth of my home:


Friday, October 4, 2013

31 Days: Day Four Word of God Speak

Yesterday {today...ugh, I digress} I shared this concept of releasing the words.  I suppose it isn't quite a concept without an explanation.  In a nutshell, I believe I'm "doing" this series wrong.  I'm certain I am creating rules for this in my inner dialogue, being my worst critic and all, therefore there are no rules to be doing anything wrong.

I set out to let the Lord speak and he is.  I also attempted to not have an opinion about what that looked like and the reality is I am human with sin nature and I had already put God in a box.  I was sure that each post would be words gifted from heaven and elegant and life changing and and and. What seems to be happening is more like an extended version of Judy Blume's, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
If you have ever read this gem, you know the preface of her ongoing dialogue with God.  It's more or less and inner commentary of her thoughts, her own narrator if you will.  That's a lot like me.  I fumble through the day talking to God.  My most prized time being in the shower.  It seems to be the place I slow enough to breathe.  Other times it's through gritted teeth, please Lord let them obey.  Or through tears, fresh with worry.  Or smiles, thankful for sweet reminders of His nearness.  Or on and on. I'm not a bible scholar, but I have a knack for my personal prayer time.  It's become my sanity, my stable calm in the storm.

And, so I translate the releasing of the words to mean, are you there God?  It's me, Jenni.  Instead of me retreating and claiming this to be a dismal failure, I will proceed in writing about how I speak to Him and how He responds.  He doesn't bellow back, "I am."  Nor does he whisper his presence.  He is steady.  I feel him all the time inviting me into worship, relationship, into a covenant of grace, hope and mercy.  Today He is speaking faithfulness because he is near.  He is near for me, for Margaret and for you.


31 Days: Day Three Word of God Speak

Here again, late...well after I should be in bed.  I'm restless.  I would love to say I've set the tone with the perfect ambiance of peaceful worship music, a flickering candle and a warm cup of joe.  Alas, it is not.  It is however, been replaced with the murmur of the television and the knocking of overalls in the dryer.  I'd still be here in this place of questions I can't answer and prayers I'm willing with all my might to play out in my favor, so this is as good a place as any to release the words.

That's what I'm calling this...releasing the words, releasing the feelings.

This relationship I keep with the Father is my safe place. When a ripple hits the water and I'm bewildered with the change, He is there.  Or so enamored with tranquility I never notice, it's because He is there. 

This safe place doesn't keep me from feeling the hurts from words spoken or wounds from relationships broken or the discourse left behind from lies believed.

In all of it, the truth is I am loved. I am valued.  I am worthy, whether someone else sees that or not.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 Days: Day Two Word of God Speak

I love the show Parenthood.

I fell in love with the series Brothers and Sisters by way of re-runs.

Both remind me of my family.  This zany cast of characters with big personalities and big voices scrambling to do the best they can.  The lot of them equal part failing miserably to smashing success all with the appropriate combination of comedic relief and dramatic suspense.

Good television. 

At least I think so.

One could dissect the shoddy parenting, life choices, boisterous family gatherings and the insanely nosy thread they all share. But no one could deny the passion they share to love one another deeply.

I come from a big family and I married into a big family.  It's a bit of a zoo.  Finding a voice can be a challenge.  Growing up my aspirations were to be an actress...the theatrical version not the on screen variety.  I loved preparing for a role, losing myself in the storyline. The closing curtain was bittersweet, the culmination of hard work and the end to another pocket of time.  Time that I was able to become someone else.  See life through another lens.

Once I tried out for a Jewish role in a concentration camp.  The role would be incredibly challenging, but I was motivated so I would have an excuse to shave my head.  I was a senior in high school.  My seasoned and level headed Director cast me as a Nazi guard.  Not quite a year later, I would find myself in my college freshman theater class and I was practicing a scene were I was to kiss my partner.  I was engaged to be married and pregnant.  I dropped the class.

One year, very different perspectives.  I don't regret dropping my class.  In fact, I'm glad I did.  But, somewhere along the way I laid down my passion to pursue motherhood and being a wife.  I never felt I was giving one up for another, but in a blur you look back and 15 years has passed.  It makes you pause to examine your life.  To compare your teenage aspirations to your adult goals. And what I find and know to be true is that I am exactly where I should be. What I also have discovered is that I lost a little of my brave.  The part of me that was fearless and thought I was unstoppable.

So what does being brave have to do with the show Parenthood?  I watched the season premiere last week and was struck by the scene shared by the character Christina who was recently given a clean bill of health after being diagnosed with cancer and her friend, Gwen who also has cancer and has relapsed.  Christina is contemplating helping a local politician run for mayor.  Indecisive about her decision, Gwen offers this advice to Christina, "Don't wait, don't wait for anything.  If this is something you want to do, you need to do it. If there's anything 'this' taught us, it's that there's no waiting.  This is not the dress rehearsal, this is it."


As a wife and mother in the thick of homeschooling two teenagers it's easy for me to think God can't use me.  That he didn't prepare me for such a time is this.  Maybe his plan isn't for me to be an actress, but I don't need some grand standing call on my life to be brave.  And I surely don't need one to obey, follow and be used by God.

I know this post is a jumbled mess of words.  So am I.  I feel all the feelings all the time and they bounce around in my mind fighting to get out. But what I'm trying to convey is that being open to be used by the Lord is the easy part (for me anyway), the go and gets tough with the follow through.  So, I'm going to pray for the brave.  It's already in me because He is in me.  Let's do it, let's be brave together.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Days: Day One of Word of God Speak

I sat tonight pondering the day, asking the Father to speak.  I thought surely this would be easier and yet no topic materialized.  When I prayed over what 31 Days would look like for me, I clearly wanted a shift in my heart when this time came to a close.  Keeping with the idea that it takes 30 days to make a habit, I wanted to give myself to this 'experiment' as authentically as possible and let the Lord speak...uninhibited by my flesh. And so I sat, not wanting to throw words together but persevere in patience.

When still nothing came to mind I went to the bookshelf that holds among it the bible that belonged to my paternal Great Great Great Grandmother and thumbed through for inspiration.  I found a newspaper clipping bookmarking Ezekiel.  So I pulled out my Life Application Study Bible and read through the preface of what the book of Ezekiel covers.

I loved this:

Restoration: Ezekiel consoles the people by telling them that the day will come when God will restore those who turn from sin.  God will be their King and shepherd.  He will give his people a new heart to worship him, and he will establish a new government and a new temple.

The certainty of restoration encourages believers in times of trial.  But we must be faithful to God because we love him, not merely in our future benefits.  

Give his people a new heart to worship him, yes Lord. 

The part that left an impression on me was the second excerpt. The certainty of restoration encourages believers in times of trial.  But we must be faithful to God because we love him, not merely in our future benefits. I was reminded of the time I spent discussing today's Jesus Calling devotional with the kids.  Today's topic Come to Me closed with, "What I want is to be their hiding place -- and yours.  Let Me heal your hurts and give you a quiet place for your soul to rest. Come to Me, and I will give you rest." We read the listed scriptures, finishing with Matthew 11:28.

While the devotional pointed to seeking Him in times of trials, I took a slightly different approach.  In retrospect the approach my heart is dealing with.  We discussed how easy it is as believers for us to rush to the Father in times of unrest.  We pursue his face with petitions of  how to change a situation, heal a body, to bring restoration, and the list flows deep from there.  But we are called to a relationship in all the ebbs and flows of life.  He is the source of life in all things.

The parallel of these coming together stung.  The reference to be faithful to the Father in all days and in all ways, not just in times of benefit.  To come with our burdens, yes but also with our joys.  To come with our brokenness, but also with a restored heart of thanksgiving.  How easy, how complacent I can become in seeking out the Father's healing for my laundry list of woes and yet in the time of wholeness I drift. 

As I contemplated it all I starred at these books filled with wisdom and smiled at their origin.
One that spans generations with it's weathered cover and family lineage scrawled inside.  One that shares sweet moments with my babes, discovering the Lord's truth together.  One that my groom gave me with my forever name imprinted on it.  One loving selected by my biggest of big brothers.

The Lord gave me a tangible moment to show my unbelieving eyes that he sees me.  I needed the reminder of the love that surrounds me when I want to give root to the lies the enemy plants.  The truth is I am a joy counter.  I seek beauty and count it joy, but I also absorb pain and wallow in it too.  The later beckons me to lay it at the Father's feet, but in the fullness of joy I should also rejoice.

And so I will continue to count joys, strive not to give way to lies, and in all ways give thanks to glory and goodness of God.

What is God speaking to you?  How can I pray and believe with you?


31 Days: Word of God Speak

Joining in with the 31 Days is a stretch for me.  When I started writing several years ago it was a way to record memories, a place to share my thoughts, a place to file away the days. Fast forward and it has been a journey of those things and more, but yet I don't have much to show for that.  Limited knowledge of code and some silly errors on my part and a good deal of my writing is floating away in cyberspace.  Other pieces through the years are places only my heart it the incredible friendships forged through baring your heart on the interwebs or the stories too tender too share.  All that to say, sweet Jessi shared her choice to join the 31 Day bloggers and I knew it was time to get back to writing.  In that moment that I knew I should join the thought, "word of God speak" popped into my mind.  As I processed that as a topic, the song of the same name by Mercy Me was brought to my mind.

The beginning lyrics convey exactly what I will be writing about...inadvertently what God is speaking to me.

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

I first shared of my 31 Day topic on Instagram, sharing that most recently I have been vacant from this place due to some trials I have endured in the last few years.  Heartache is more like it.  I am not a victim, because for as mush as I have endured I have been responsible for my own misjudgements, careless words, unforgiveness, the list is long.  In this time away I have lamented, I have prayed, I have called on the Father and I have wept.  And, so I want to practice even more intentionality and in turn transparency with 31 Days of letting the Lord speak. I intend to wait on him, to seek his face and share the journey.  I have no idea what that will look like.  Maybe a quote, a scripture, a song, a blog post will be shared and how it spoke to me...maybe something entirely different.  What I do know is I am expectant.  He is trustworthy to give my burdens to and he is worthy to lavish my praise on. Yes, word of God speak.