A little bit Mary, a little bit Martha

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But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NLT

I got caught in a “Martha” moment in the middle of prayer this morning. I started praying for my Mom, who has not been feeling well. From that, my mind spun ahead to her Birthday which is next month. I started out a lot like Mary, just sitting at Jesus feet enjoying His presence. Then before I even realized it my mind took off and spiraled into Martha territory. Here’s a bit of how my prayer went:

“Thank you Lord for this moment, these precious times with you. I lift up my Mom today in prayer and ask that you give her strength and healing……” (Mary)

I hope she is well enough for the party. I remember my Aunt Esther dying right after her 80th. I wonder how much longer I have with Mom……I don’t want to think about it. She is 84 after all……I wonder when I can get into the clubhouse to decorate? I wonder what I should put on the tables? I need to send invitations out soon…..Oh, I know just where I will get them. I need to get all the addresses…….what will people want to drink? What about food? Flowers? I hope we can go to church that morning because I hardly ever get to do that with them…..what road was it that I turned on last to get there? Maybe I could print up the story about the red shoes and work that into her party somehow…………(Martha)

Whoa, I just tired myself out. And where did Jesus go anyway?

Over and over again, God uses me to demonstrate that He indeed does have a sense of humor. Thankfully He also has a ready supply of forgiveness. Thank you, Lord…..and:

Forgive me, for my Martha heart. Help me always to choose you, the better part. Though there are times when we need to charge in and get things done, there are also times when it’s just as necessary to be still before you and just enjoy your Presence. And while I am scurrying around like Martha, checking things off my list, help me to have the peace of Mary in my heart. Amen.

While Martha and Mary had different personalities and ways of expressing their love, it’s clear that they both loved Jesus and He loved both of them.

Live in His love today!

God wants you (and your baggage)

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Some things come easily to me. It’s a gift, I know. I hear of people who struggle to believe that not only is there a God, a Supreme Being who created everything we see; but that He also wants to hear from us. We don’t serve a passive God. We serve one who wants to be involved in every aspect of our daily lives.

It wasn’t enough for Him to create everything and disengage. That’s not how He works.

What is hard for me to imagine is eternity. I always think someone will mess things up like what happened before with Adam and Eve in the garden. But the Bible says that we will live with Him forever, so I take Him at His word and I thank Him everyday for that future hope.

I pray for those who are struggling today to believe, and my belief humbles me because I know that it is truly a gift from God.

We are a flawed people loved by a perfect God. That is what I rejoice in today. My struggles come in the form of fear, worry and anxiety which the Bible says pretty much points to a lack of faith. The other day I awoke on a perfectly wonderfully free day off with my mind literally teeming with anxiety. I knew the cure so I headed out to pray.

I lit my lantern and with a dove softly cooing from a neighbor’s rooftop I gave myself a talking to. Then I talked to God.

Sometimes things like anxiety…..fear….worry, are choices, my friends. We have to choose who we will serve on any given day.

That day, I rejected my anxiety. Sometimes you have to do that. I had to ask myself who I believed. I had to put my faith into action by trusting the One who told me I didn’t have to worry. Each day is a choice whether to take God at His word or not.

My prayer went something like this:

I love you, Lord. I really love you. I am an extremely flawed individual, wrapped up in anxiety, bundled up in worry far too much of the time, but what I do have I give to you. Thank you for taking me as well as my baggage. Amen

While I was praying I envisioned me and Jesus sitting on the shore of a lake sometime in the future. We were sitting on a large rock side by side listening to the water lap gently on the shore, when He turned toward me with love and a bit of a twinkle in His eyes and said, “See? I told you there was nothing to worry about.”

My friends, give Him your baggage today, whatever it is.

He knows what to do with it.

 

 

In the early morning hours

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I thank you God for still loving me despite the crazy thoughts, those prayers wrapped in fear that I whisper in the dark. Thank you for enfolding me in your love after I have dumped all my garbage in your lap.

Thank you for always meeting me, no matter what time it is. Bound up as we are in these hours between day and night we sometimes forget that you are outside the constraints of it. You’re always awake, nothing slips your notice, Lord.

Time and time again I am surprised when you don’t reject me. Instead you throw Your arms open wide as you nudge me towards your Word, which is the source of all comfort.

This morning, when I knew I wouldn’t go back to sleep, I started the coffee and grabbed the big heavy robe. The one I always reach for when I just can’t seem to get warm. I went outside under the canopy of stars, my fingers wrapped around my coffee mug, and I looked at the constellations and saw that they were all still there and saw it again for the miracle it is.

I went back inside and opened my devotional book to this:

You can live as close to me as you choose, I set up no barriers between us; neither do I tear down barriers that you erect……Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling”

And then towards the bottom,

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, I will meet all your needs according to my glorious riches. Nothing in all creation will be able to separate you from My love.

Beautiful lines of Scripture from Genesis, Philippians, and Romans. It was all the confirmation I needed.

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Our hope is in the Lord

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After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

I barely watch the news anymore. And the opening MSN page that I hastily retreat from on my way to Facebook? I barely give it a glance. I don’t care about the Kardashian’s latest escapade, or what happened to Lindsey Lohan’s Mom. I scan the headlines to see if there is something I really need to know. I put my foot in the pond of world events and stay there long enough to know what is going on and then I get out. Looking around at our world today, it would be easy to cave in, to despair. To forget that there is still so much good.

I got to prayer late this morning. I allowed myself the luxury of going back to bed. Not to sleep, to read. I grabbed my cup of coffee and propped myself up on my pillows with two cats settled on either side and read all the way through to the end of “Odd Hours,” the fourth installment of the Odd Thomas book series by Dean Koontz. I felt the pressures of the week closing in and I wanted to close them out. I wanted to beat back time. I needed fiction. I needed to know that the terrible events happening in the book were just that, fiction. And that just maybe I would get a happy ending out of it.

I wasn’t disappointed. The bad guys died. Every single one. I needed that. I wanted to close the book and feel some relief that things are not nearly as bad in the world as the events in the book I just read.

Because all too often in real life the bad guys don’t die, or get caught, they thrive. They prey, they get away with murder. They steal from innocent people who are just trying to get through the day and keep what they worked so hard for. They show up at a Navy Yard and kill an innocent custodian among many others, who never failed to show up for work.  He was only doing his job. Like they all were.

Soon, we will have Obama care going into effect. It is something rich people and the politicians who pushed it through will not have to worry about. They will all have their own plans. They will not be bowed down with extra taxes if they fail to commit to a government plan. It’s the working people who will. We will be punished if we don’t buy into it. None of us asked for it, but we are getting it just the same. I don’t usually comment on politics on my site, because my hope doesn’t lay in any politician or world leader. Thank God.

And today, it hit me like a thunderbolt as I was coming home. It’s like I really got it. I knew why the early persecuted church found so much comfort in each other.

Where there is more turmoil in the world, there should be more love, more strength, more unity in the church.

We need to be reminded that our hope is in Christ and there is nothing we need to dread as long as we keep our focus on Him. That’s pretty much what my devotional said today and I needed to hear it.

Here is the last paragraph:

You inhabit a fallen, disjointed world, where things are constantly unraveling around the edges. Only a vibrant relationship with Me can keep you from coming unraveled too. Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

May this give you hope today, it does me. There is so much good still in the world. As long as we keep our eyes on Him, He will bring those things into our path and we will once again be recharged, renewed, imbibed with hope.

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. Revelation 22:12

Love your neighbor but cut yourself some slack too!

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

“Hey you, there.

Gripping the steering wheel on the way to work, I see you. You with the heavy sack on your shoulders. You, trying so hard to love your neighbor that you forget to cut yourself any slack at all. I see you.

I see all the worries you try so hard to press down. I see how valiantly you get up and go out the door while I have yet to touch the sky with My dawn’s light. I see how you pray on the way to work, trying to beat back the panic attacks that come like flocks of black crows beating their wings in your heart.

I know how you worry about everyone, both the ones near, and the ones far away. I know that each day you fear a phone call. One that tells you they are in the hospital or they fell, or worse. You feel like if you could corral everyone in one place, you could control circumstances…..keep them safe.

I see how you place them in my care and take them back again.

I see how you coast to a stop in the parking lot as you draw a breath and heave that bag and juggle that traveler’s mug full of courage.

Drink from My cup of peace.

My child, in your haste to do right by everyone else, don’t forget yourself.

Sometimes we try so hard to love our neighbor that we forget all about ourselves.

photo source: creative commons, some rights reserved by remittancegirl, on flickr

The One Thing

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One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:4,5

I tossed and turned last night. Even my dreams seemed disjointed, unfinished. I always think of the Psalms when I feel turbulent like that. I find comfort in the fact that the writers must have felt just like us, more often than not. Something was causing a wrinkle in my peace. It was just one thing overriding all the others. Isn’t that how it is so many times.

You think, “If it weren’t for that co-worker.”

“If it weren’t for the problems with my son……my daughter…….my Mom…….my Dad.”

“If it weren’t for this addiction.”

You think if you could just get over that one hill that’s standing in your way of perfect peace and happiness then it would all be okay. But I am here to assure you, that as soon as that one thing is gone, another will crop up. The good news is that God can handle that one thing, right now today.

He might not remove it, but He can give you perfect peace about it. I know that, because I just prayed about my one thing this morning and He did what He promised, He removed it from front and center and put it in its rightful place, somewhere in the back of my mind. I can’t speak for later. I may have to pray that prayer all over again and it’s okay. I can do that.

Mind you, I didn’t pray for Him to remove it, I just prayed that I could find my peace in the midst of it. And I prayed for peace in it, just for today because that is all He has promised. He knows my mind, how it tends to skip ahead to the next days troubles and the next.

But like the manna in the desert, He promises enough for today and that’s all I ask.

This morning, I want to make my one thing the same as David’s. He was beset by trouble from every side and yet he knew the value of keeping his gaze fixed on the Lord. He knew God was His only real hope. He knew that gazing on Him wouldn’t make His troubles dissolve, but he know if he filled his mind with a beautiful vision of the future that he could stand strong today.

I pray that’s your desire today. Put that one thing, whatever it may be, squarely in the Lord’s hands.

He won’t disappoint you.

A Pinterest Lesson

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I wasn’t calm last night on Pinterest. Not calm at all. And I usually am. It’s my new favorite thing, but last night it all went sour. Sitting at the computer in the dark, I was glad my Mom couldn’t see me, because it would have confirmed her belief that computers and all things that are spawned from computers are straight from the pit of hell.

I was obsessed, you see. With that little empty board on the left that is the first thing I see when I open my Pinterest page. It’s the one that says, “Create a board.” And I don’t want it there. I want the first thing I see to be all my beautiful boards, not that sad empty one. It mars the landscape. And last night, I sat there frazzled, already beyond tired.

I couldn’t even move it down to the bottom.

It……was…..something……I……couldn’t……control.

The worst thing was that on every single profile I looked at? They didn’t have it. Their pages were all nice and pretty. Only their wonderful pins were there. What did they know, that I didn’t know? That is what was mocking me.

And the truth was, that was the real problem. I felt like I was alone. Like I was the only one in the world of Pinterest that didn’t know.

I felt like I was back in first grade and I could see myself sitting at my desk, struggling with math, as usual. It seemed everyone got it but me. I can still remember it, that day a classmate sauntered by. I can still see her face as she shook her head at me as she went up to hand her finished paper in.

I can still remember the day I had to stay after, again with math problems. Again in first grade. A classmate’s sixth grade sister came by and she was mad that I was crying, mad at the teacher for making me stay after.

That’s how I felt last night at the computer. Alone. And the devil taunted me, everyone knows but you. Everyone has the answer but you. As I crept off to bed, unsuccessful in my endeavors, Elaine snickered at me. “I am the only one that has it….” my voice trailed away and she smiled and shook her head. She knows how weird I am.

This morning I woke up groggy, not a very happy camper. I felt kind like this guy:

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I found him on Pinterest, of course.  

Carrying my lifeblood cup of coffee back into my room, I opened my devotional for today and God brought me to tears through it. This is what it said:

July 18th, by Sarah Young”
 
I AM NEARER than you think, richly present in all your moments. you are connected to Me by Love-bonds that nothing can sever. however, you may sometimes feel alone, because your union with Me is invisible. Ask Me to open your eyes, so that you can find Me everywhere. The more aware you are of My Presence, the safer you feel. This is not some sort of escape from reality; it is tuning in to ultimate reality. I am far more real than the world you can see, hear, and touch. Faith is the confirmation of things we do not see and conviction of their reality, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.” 
 
And then? When I got to work I had a co-worker pull up her Pinterest profile and she had the empty pin too. And I didn’t feel so alone anymore.
 
You see, the problem, or what I perceived to be a problem was still there, it was just that now I had someone to share the burden. To make me feel less alone.
 
Even enjoyable things can be marred sometimes because all we see is the thing we don’t like. Not the hundred things of wonder all around us.
 
Pinterest learned me.
 
And even if the empty board taunts me until Kingdom come. I will be okay with it. I will.
 
 I think.