Summer Rest

Jesus sent out his disciples two by two, for a time, to do the work of the Kingdom.  After they returned to Jesus, “they reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Mark 6:30-31

Jesus knew all about ministry.  He also practiced rest.  He understood that his disciples needed a quiet place to unwind, debrief and rest.  I think a quiet place with Jesus right about now sounds good.  Although I haven’t been all that regular blogging this summer due to a variety of reasons, this next week I am resting so there will be no blog.   I hope wherever you are in the next week, that you make some quiet time to be alone with Jesus to rest, debrief, and unwind.  Whatever your ministry, whether it be in the home, at a church or in the workplace, it/they will benefit greatly if you take a respite from it/them, even for a little bit of time.  I’m looking forward to hearing God’s voice in the quiet.

Happy Resting

Jen

The Fragrance of a Blossom

I have a choice to make.

Erin Davis, in her book, Connected, wrote some words that jumped off the page and into my face and soul.

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They are about Haggar.  “She could have stayed by that stream, waiting for a different kind of comfort.  Pining for Sarai to come out and be her best friend.  Longing for Abram to love her for who she was, not for her ability to give him a son.  Begging for people to see what she had gone through and validate her pain.  But she chose to let God be enough.”  (p. 175, emphasis mine).

All of my breath whooshed out of me.  The words seared my soul.  I am guilty of this: “Begging for people to see what she had gone through and validate her pain.”  Davis penned truth and the truth made me cringe.  Ouch.  This is not a picture we want for ourselves.  It’s not one we want to show off at functions or post brazenly on social media, like we do our life highlights.

Lord, do I do that?  I whisper.  I think/know I do.  Help me to choose to let you be enough.  Teach me how to do that.  

Instantly, reading those words, I had been convicted.  I thought long and hard.  What was God going to say to me?  Would He say anything at all?  I doubted.

His reply:

Song of Songs 2:13

The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.  Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.

It was a verse listed to look up in my devotional.  I haven’t been all that faithful these summer days.  Today I was and God was waiting.  Funny how that happens.

“The blossoming vines spread their fragrance.”  How do we combat begging for validation?  We let the fragrance of Jesus spread through us and out to others.  We give ourselves as an offering.  Instead of begging others to see and hear us, what if we just wafted through the room spreading goodness, kindness, gentleness, a smile, or a hug?  We paid attention to them rather than seek attention for us.

I don’t know what a fig blossom looks like but I do know a cherry or apple blossom.  Beautiful on their own.  Magnificent as a whole.  Maybe the same could be said of us.  Beautiful and fragrant alone and breathtaking as a whole (or a church).  It’s not us that makes it so but the one we are attached to, breathing life and scent through our lives.  I am the vine, you are the branches…John 15:5

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I was tempted to leave it there.  But the last part of the verse kept calling me back.  It makes me uncomfortable.  Those words.  Darling. Beautiful.  But I had asked to be taught how to make Him enough.  I think part of the answer is in the last part.  He’s inviting us to come with Him.  We need to be in His presence for Him to be enough.  I can own a bible but if I don’t read it, it’s not that useful to me.

We also need to upgrade our thinking.  He sees us as His darling.  His beautiful one.  Get used to it.  I can squirm all I want but it’s not going to change.  I don’t need to beg Him to validate my pain, my circumstances or myself.  I have nothing to prove to Him.  Because anything I could offer would seem like cheap fakes.  He’s not interested in cheap or fake.

He wants us just as we are.  Our real selves.  Begging, questioning, doubting, ranting, furious, anxious, depressed, joyful.  Whatever.  He redeemed us on the cross over 2000 years ago.  Long before you or I were born.  He knew us.  Our lives.  He died for them.  His enoughness (yes I’m making up yet another word) covered all our inadequacy because we are His darlings, His beloved.  Why do we seek anyone else out when He knows exactly who we are?  You knew me before I was born.  Psalm 139.

I have a choice to make.

 

The Freak-o-meter

I’m just about ready to overshoot my freak-o-meter.  Would you care to join me?  Are you feeling it too?

Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about and you are asking your self,  What is a freak-o-meter?  A freak-o-meter measures the intensity of a freak out.

As I said I am about to overshoot mine.  Why?  Because summer is hard.  And it’s not even hot out.  I should be as cool as the weather.  Instead my freak-o-meter is sky-rocketing.

Here are just a few reasons.  Feel free to add your own:

1. I am tired of all the social media, blogs, etc. that are telling me I’m doing it wrong.  They are offering steps to do everything better – write better, blog better, eat better, make your kids be better than the best.  I’m tired of it.  You are not inspiring.  You are making me feel like a colossal failure.

2. Also on social media I subscribe to a few blogs about healthy eating, natural living, etc.  I like them and they have some good stuff but I get weary about hearing about kids who eat broccoli sandwiches washed down by seaweed shakes and topped off with Brussels sprout gluten-free cake.  Really?  All this does is make me think about how I need to improve my kids.  It’s not them.  It’s me.  I know this.  I get cranky as I feed them stuff they won’t eat.  Because my kids will go hungry rather than eat what they don’t want to.  Remember they come from two extremely strong-willed people.  That would equal three strong wills in one body.  I can only fight so many battles at once.

3. I am competing for time on the computer with my two boys.  It’s making me irritated to say the least.  We do have time limits in place before you get all excited.  It’s not working in my favour.  Therefore I have written two blogs in two weeks.  If I try to work, they are breathing down my neck or reading over my shoulder.  Grrrr.  The Freak-o-meter jumped another number right there!

4. On the computer is a stupid game I allowed them to download.  I researched it.  I really did.  All they want to do is play this game.  There is nothing really wrong with this game.  Except it makes them freak out at times.  Which then the game is revoked for a time being.  This makes my own Freak-o-meter jump.  If you are going to point the finger and tell me I shouldn’t let them on the screens then I’m sorry I am not one of those moms.  Because really, they need to work in the world and learn to navigate those screens and use them for good.  We are told to be in the world not of it.  (So we have boundaries.) Or ignorant of it.  I’m trying to hit a balance.  Some days it works, others not so much.

5. I have had a few rants with God of late.  I’m not sure He’s seeing things my way.  This makes me really want to have a hissy fit!

These are just a few of the things driving me to a major freak out.  All these things irritating me, at the root, are the same thing.

You are not enough.  You never will be.

It’s a lie that slithers around, hissing at me from social media, tv, my own thoughts.  I readily believe it.  I’ve written about it before.  I want to slink back to my cave and hide. It’s so much easier.  I don’t want to be available when God calls because I’m afraid I’ll fail.  If I stay hidden, he won’t see me right?

As I surreptitiously made my way back to the cave the other day, thinking I could get away with hiding, God reminded me that he had called me out of there.  “What about being available?”  Shoot.  I hate writing about stuff only to have it put back in front of me!

Ugh, you see my freak-o-meter God?  It’s shows I’m a failure.  I’m not enough.  I never will be.

He really didn’t see it that way.  Instead He showed me how those words “I’m not enough” is really a twofold bold-faced lie.  I was familiar with the one.  The other was a surprise. 
 Satan uses the “not enough” phrase to keep us down.  We are easily deceived.  We are bad.  We can’t do it. Nothings going to change.  Yup sounds about right.

But the second part of that lie, is actually a truth.  We are not enough.  We can’t do it.  We never will.  It’s not what God intended for us.  Instead he wants us to give ourselves over to Him and then through Him, we will be enough.  He will give us what we need to overcome and do and be.

I was reminded, listening to a speaker at camp, that we were given it all when we said we loved Him and would give our lives over to Him. We can’t and won’t be enough.  But He is.

My freak-o-meter is starting to descend.  How about yours?  I don’t think it’s instantaneous though.  It’s going to take some time.  These lies have been with us so long, it’s going to take retraining.  Maybe a lot.  I’ve got a few things to think about.  What about you?

What’s making your freak-o-meter sky-rocket these days?  What lies are you listening to?

What a Pair of Rain Boots Taught Me

I sorted clothing in piles.  Towels, swimsuits, T-shirts, shorts, a pair of jeans all sat on the floor.  He read the list back to me and we double-checked it.  Check, check and double-check!  Everything accounted for but the boots.  I washed the mud off them and wiped them dry and set them in the sun.

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Packing for camp calls for organization!  My oldest child was headed off to overnight camp for the first time ever and I wanted to make sure that he had all the essentials.  However my tendency to under-pack hit high gear as the piles grew on our floor.  Uneasiness gripped me.  I hate overpacking. Boots?  Really?  The likelihood of him actually putting them on was nil unless he was forced.  It’s been as dry as a bone outside too.

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What to do, what to do?  Adding extra weight to the bag exasperated me.  He didn’t need the rain boots.  I asked my son.  He didn’t want the boots.  I stated my argument to my husband.  He showed me where the boots could fit quite nicely in the bag.  It was under-packer vs. over-packer (Mark).  I made some arguments in favour of leaving the boots.  My husband relented.  “Don’t send the boots then.”  Agreement!  The boots stayed home.

As we walked the grounds after arriving at camp, I noticed mud.  The fields were a bit spongy.  It dawned on me that boots would have been a good idea.  I apologized to my son.  He was okay with it.  He’d rather get muddy and wear crocs.  I cringed inwardly.  My son was a mud magnet.  Water too.  He was a real life version of the book, Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch.  It seemed to jump on him.  His brother would be clean but my oldest would be sopping and filthy.  I told myself as long as it didn’t rain it might be okay.

I’ve been glued to the forecast this week. They didn’t get the rain we did on Tuesday but it rained.  I worried about him having wet feet.  What if he got trench foot?  Okay way over the top.  I beat myself up over and over.  Why didn’t I just send the boots?  I wished I could relive that moment of packing over.  I’d do it differently.  I pointed my accusing finger at my husband.  “Why didn’t you make me send the boots if you thought he should take them?”

“I did tell you to send the boots, over and over again.”  I looked at him.  I didn’t remember him saying to send the boots.  Only that he showed me where they fit in the duffle bag and then him telling me to keep them behind because I’d gone on about it repeatedly.  I stopped.  My brain had no recollection of Mark telling me to send the boots.  I’d only heard what I’d wanted to hear.  Don’t send them.

How selective is our hearing?  Do we make decisions and then tune everything and everyone else out?  We hear the words we want to hear.  That support our arguments and agendas.  Do I hear selectively with God as well?  Am I missing huge parts of our conversation because I’ve tuned Him out?  I’ve heard what I want to hear, justified my reasoning?  What adventures, journeys are we missing out on due to our selective hearing?  I wasn’t even aware of my hearing problem.  Let me rephrase that.  I am aware I can be bullheaded but it shocked me how bad it really is.  How I totally missed a whole part of a conversation!  How one-sided it was!

Does God get tired of being told to shut up (in a nice way)?  Does His silence sometimes come as a result because we aren’t listening to begin with? We’ve tuned Him out?  Do we make poor choices as a result?

I need to go back and examine how I communicate with God.  And people.  This is going to take some work.  I need an hearing aid.

A consequence of my selective hearing was I made a poor choice and my son is the one who is most affected.  He’ll be the one with wet and muddy feet.  Our hearing problems don’t just affect us but often those we love as well.  I don’t think I’ll look at those boots the same ever again.