Created to Crave

A good story brings such satisfaction!  

I suppose that is why so much of my family’s tradition includes Christmas stories.

From Dr. Seuss’, The Grinch to O.Henry’s, The Gift of the Magi, there is much delight.  Troubles and problems are taken care of by mysterious changing of hearts and amazing and sacrificial offerings of love.

Heart and love are key elements woven into the best of stories.  It’s no wonder my family holds so much anticipation for the same stories re-read and re-read, year after year.  Whether on pages or on the screen, we line up the stories and dig into the reading and viewing from Thanksgiving eve to Christmas Day.

I believe we are created to crave the resolution of conflict with a changed heart that has been turned around by love.

 It is God’s way.

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It is the whole of the Christmas story; Jesus  in the flesh, come to earth to be born. Why? To change hearts by way of His sacrificial love for us.  And so, we love to hear that theme over and over… on the pages of books and on the screen in the movies.

HOPE resounds! And we all love HOPE.

May I suggest a new read, or perhaps a re-read of a story that was crafted by me and eight other author friends: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt.

Kick off your Christmas story season with this tale – you won’t be disappointed.

 

One Weary Child Held

The LORD allowed me this:

A quiet day.

Not a single one to be in my way.

So I slunk back into the warmth of my blankets and slept for a while longer. One cat at the nook of my knees, the other alongside my back and the dog by my side on the floor.  Comfort hovered.

Hot water flowed and the steam engulfed as I reveled in the uninterrupted shower.

A breakfast eaten in solitude.

And a time to study the Word in the morning sunlight as a gentle fall breeze drifted by…274

Yes, I chose to stop today.  I chose to be still.  It was a hard choice because many things called after me in my mind, chasing me and taunting me to go. Do. Get busy.

The Word filled me and I was left with this conversation today.

Just me and the LORD.

Me: “Oh dear…what do you see when you see me LORD?”

Kinda scary. Right out there.

My mind reflected on my failures and my shortcomings; the traps I fall into repeatedly. Yet, I was soothed by recalling that Jesus stands between me and my Father God’s eyes as He looks upon me.

Despite my dark heart, Jesus clears the vision and I heard God responding to my conversation starter…

LORD: “I see my weary child with a desire to praise me and serve me.”

Like a single leaf in the cradle of my hands, I was held gently in the palm of His hands and Grace washed over me.

Hope stood firm in my presence.

Friend,

hope can stand with you as well.

Simply. I just wanted to share my experience of the LORD’s compassion today.

Be encouraged my friend.  The days are long and difficult, yet the blessing of stopping for the reading of God’s Word and the initiation of conversation with Him is abundantly rich.

 

 

 

Meditations on a Swing Set

Gazing out at the snow covered swing set in my back yard

a string of thoughts

was set into motion.

Child’s play. It is all a prep.

A revving up to the heart break of parenting.

Do you remember?

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The two year old struggling to get on a swing….?

Chuckling, a twitch of heart pang feels for the child who has no skill yet.

The three year old who sits and calls to you: “Push me!”

Smiling, a sympathetic heart watched as the child attempted the swing motion with uncoordinated thrusting back and forth that resulted in no momentum at all.

Now the child can push himself. And he swings with oblivious abandon.

No chuckles anymore, fear has come. We hear the thud and then the cry; he fell off the swing….clocked his brother in the crossing…and the two collided.  Heart aches.

Higher and higher the swinging goes.  The poles rise up out of the ground and slam down into the ground again.  A warning is given.  But it falls on deaf ears.

The heart hurts.

Cringing accompanies the fear now and a rehearsal recalling the quickest route to hospital is begun in the mind.  And the eyes continue to watch…

He jumps off and exclaims, “Geronimo! Look at me!”

The heart skips a beat. Maybe two.

This time there is no run to the hospital.  This time.

A revving up.  A prep for the heart ache in the raising of our children.

My heart has swelled with feeling and sympathy.  My heart has ached, and hurt, and skipped many a beat.

Then and now. Even more now.

The swing set has been replaced by a bigger play on life.

What to do?

Then I thought, Apply the lessons to me.

I am the child and my God is the Father.

At times…

Why do I pursue life, on my own, without Him?

Why do I  thrust myself forward and back unproductively?

Why do I pump harder and harder without attention to my surroundings?

Why do I turn a deaf ear to the warnings of my Father?

How have I caused my Father heart ache?

Is not my Father also looking down with a heart chuckling feeling for me; Does His heart not ache, and hurt, and perhaps skip a beat as He has had  to watch me stumble along in my way?

And yet.

He is patient.  He is compassionate. He is ever forgiving.

Mercy and Grace are poured out upon my walk with Him.

And so too should I be.

God, my Father, is a lover of hearts,

a changer of hearts.

Hearts are HIS main concern!

And so too should be my way.

So I continuously turn my heart back to Him and pray.

Forgive me LORD, for all I have done to cause your heart to ache.

LORD, grant me the gentleness of heart to offer mercy and grace to my children.  May you give me your wisdom in guiding them.  Help me to be patient and compassionate and forgiving. 

Even when my own heart is breaking.

There is HOPE in the cleansed heart….HOPE for the changed heart…

all for the Glory of God!

HOPE!

No Deadbeat Dad Here!

A  “deadbeat dad” is:
A father who does not provide for a family that he was part of creating. ( http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=deadbeat%20dad)
Countless headlines tell tales of deadbeat dads.  Courts tire of postponing, in search of deadbeat dads.  Wives despair over deadbeat dads.
And the children cry.
Tears trickle warm.  Eyes are welled up.  Throats tighten as they fight to hold back.
From crying, to crying.
In silence that cuts them down…
The children, young and old,
cry.
Broken and in need of fixing, this world was…..
Answering the need, Isaiah 9:6b proclaims:  ” And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Broken and in need of fixing, this world remains still….
Everlasting, meaning: lasting forever or for a very long time, describes the kind of Father this “child born” (Isaiah 9:6a) would be called.
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This is the Father who endures for all time; He never goes away.  This is the kind of Father that has endless compassion on the ones He created; those He brought into the world by breathing life into them.  
There is no deadbeat dad here!
For these, He provides everything His children need –
they want for nothing in the arms of the Everlasting Father.  
For these, He guards and protects –
they are safe in the arms of the Everlasting Father.
The one called Everlasting Father
brings healing to the broken – the ones in need of fixing in the heart.
And the children smile and laugh and are filled with JOY.
BUT…there is more!
This is not just for today in this present world.  No, my friend. This Everlasting Father relationship continues – thus, the “everlasting” adjective.
Into eternal life, the everlasting father/ child relationship IS forever,
and IS always,
and IS without end.
All of this, once again, was prophesied to be true (Isaiah 9:6).
True for the taking,
the claiming,
the holding onto.
Are you broken?  Are you in need of some fixing in the heart?
Take.  Claim.  And hold onto Jesus.
This Jesus, called the Everlasting Father, is for you.
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 “I Have It…Do You?” ….next post up!

Tuesday Tidbit: Got the Advocate?

Perched in a usual spot

with expectation of a calm eve,

the start of the storm rolls in with a low rumble…

the smallness of it’s voice is disregarded.

Like a whip cracking alongside a steed

the voice increases with defiant stabs

and wounds the trusty bonds.

Creating a tumultuous clash at the footing of the landscape

the voice,

like a lion,

braces with a roar and frantically paces in his cage.

Stripped of fight

the decision to step aside leaves the door open

and the owner of the storming voice

carelessly tosses aside the heart that loves even still.

Left in the aftermath lull

there is little to do

as emptiness fills up the vessel.

Numb and distraught and confused

the dust settles.

The words refuse to come but the soul wails!

The Advocate quietly and assuredly arrives

speaking in earnest He gathers the weakness up and brings to mind

all that was taught and recorded.

The heart is revived

and is able to stand at the threshold

ready to give and receive the mutual embrace.

The storm transformed

returns the young voice,

while mercy and forgiveness and love 

remain.

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Are you the voice of disaster?  Or are you the heart that is wounded?

Are you the one who needs transforming or the one in need of restoration?

Perhaps you have had a season in both situations, over time…?

In moments when I am desperately seeking and not knowing what to do or what to say, left in the aftermath —  I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who was given to me.  The Advocate – the One who supports and stands up for me – comes and teaches me and gently reminds me of all Jesus taught.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

He strengthens my heart to persevere and stand able.  Able to both give and receive mercy, forgiveness, and love.  Just as Jesus taught.  Just as Jesus did.

Today I remain, perched in a usual spot, full of peace

as I have been ministered to by the Advocate.

Got the Advocate?

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Tuesday Tidbit: Throw with ALL Your Might

Got anything you are worried about?

Prepare and gather your strength.

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With all you have, resist the temptation to keep it close.

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Once in motion, do not stop!   Throw with all your might …..

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“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”  1 Peter 5:7.

Just a visual tidbit today.

Do you have anything that is weighing heavy on your heart?

I do.

God, the maker of heaven and earth…the One who made you….desires that we cast ALL our worries, concerns, anxieties ONTO Him.  So, let’s say we do it!  Today.  Purpose your self to throw off and cast onto Jesus, all that weighs heavy on your heart. 

47 Things on Thursdays: The Saturation

“Jobette” is the pet-name I gave myself as I endured my trial with Cancer.  Like Job in the scriptures, I was physically tormented with pain and sores in my illness.  I experienced humiliation and loss.  Days were spent writhing and wrestling.  And in my pride, the pride I did not think I owned, I indignantly questioned God.

In patience, my God generously poured out grace upon me.  Undeservingly, I basked in the lavishness.  Despite my ignorance, looking over and beyond my pride, He let loose a steady stream of grace.

Having raised nine toddlers, I have had much opportunity to observe the young pour themselves a cup of refreshment.  Not having mature eye hand coordination, each toddler has naturally overflowed the cup, resulting in a liquid spill onto the counter and the floor, often causing the cup to tip over  before the toddler sized coordination is able to stop the action of pouring.  This is the picture I have when I envision God pouring out His grace upon me.  Overflowing and spilling over by choice.  Not because he is unable to coordinate his eyes and hands, but because he chooses to keep pouring a steady stream until I am totally saturated.

Grace.  After twenty three years of following and studying the Lord, ya think I would know well the concept of grace.  In my head, I knew it well. Defined as a free gift, I knew it. Yet, I confess, that I am just beginning to really know grace now.  One of 47 things I know is that God

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Gentle in His ways, my God works in my heart.  “I had to give way and trust that my Father, my Abba Father, was healing and doing an even greater work in my heart where the soul lives” (*Towdah p. 127).  Submitting to the understanding that I might never be healed of my physical affliction I learned that the healing of my heart was of more importance.

The residue of cancer treatments leaves its mark on my life and keeps me in a weakened state and God continues to work in my heart.  I am finally “getting – it.”  The saturation of grace is now beginning to flow out of me and into my vision and into my actions. I want to pour it out too!

Now, I indignantly question myself.  Why had I not been more generous with grace before?  Why had I not desired to pour it out with toddler ambition? 

Sadly I see and sadly I admit it is because I was too full of pride.  Grace and pride cannot co-exist. Like Job, “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3b).   In my pride, I was unable to access grace in a way that would allow me to receive it fully; I was not able to comprehend the fullness of the gift.

I believe, my Father God has been working in my heart for the last twenty three years.  Twenty three years of gently rubbing against my pride and finally it is being purged!  Now grace is able to be known in my heart – defined by true visceral understanding, allowing me fuller comprehension of the gift my God has been freely and lavishly spilling.  My heart is changing.  And that my friend, is where its at.

The message spoken through the prophet Ezekiel to Israel is pertinent even today, even for me, even for you,  “I will cleanse you from all your impurities…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (Ezekiel 36:25b,26a)  Only God can change a heart and make it new.  This is the working of grace.  Saturated daily, I am praising my God for what I know about Him: He works in my heart!  

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Come back next Thursday for another offering of what I know about my God!

* Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope is available at Amazon.com

The Heart Drives the Action

Every year it’s the same.  For twenty five days in December, my children arise and begin discussion about whose turn it is to pick the chain.  This is not a ponderous chain as is referred to in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol; it is a chain made up of colored construction paper that hangs in our dining room.  This is a chain everyone eagerly takes apart link by link.  Inside each link is my handwritten note of an activity to do in preparation of the season.  Each year I have included a new Christmas movie to enjoy.  Consequently, we have a pretty good collection to watch – it’s all part of our tradition!

During dinner tonight, I was thinking about all the conversation that has been going on in regard to the Newtown killings; so many opinions, so many sides & arguments as to what we should do to prevent such things from happening. Emotions are high.

One word came to me: Heart

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It’s always about the heart.

All the movies we watch at Christmas, are always about the heart.

Miracle on 34th Street: Doris & Susan Walker’s hearts softened and they believed in the impossible.  The Grinch: his heart glowed as it grew three sizes.  Charlie Brown’s Christmas: Charlie Brown’s friends give him the end credit for his pathetic tree – after all, it’s the heart that counts.  A Christmas Carol: old Ebeneezer’s heart is changed drastically and he becomes a kind and generous person. Rudolph: it’s about the heart accepting others even if they are different.  It’s a Wonderful Life: George has a change of heart and gains contentment in his life – discovering the heart of each person effects those around them. These are highlights of our viewing.

We love these movies! Not just those in my family but the general public loves these movies.  Why?  Why do we watch year after year and tear up, feel good, and get satisfaction over seeing them?  I believe it is because they all touch our own hearts. And we all yearn to see hearts changed in others.  We root for the goodness that the heart change brings.

God is just like that.

He yearns for heart change. Ours.

Without Jesus in the manger, without His sacrifice of blood on the cross, without His resurrection from the dead, we would not be capable of changed hearts.  Scripture says, “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10: 9 – 10).  The heart drives the action.

We see it in the movies.  Doris fires Santa and Susan has no imagination, the Grinch is a thief, Charlie is depressed, Ebeneezer is stingy and cruel, the reindeer are judgmental, and George is suicidal.  Until…until their hearts are changed!

It is the same with us.

More rules and regulations, more guns…no guns, metal detectors and practice drills will not make us safer, our children safer, or our culture at large safer; these things are only pacifiers at best. We are only truly safe in the arms of our Lord.

Our culture at large needs heart changes, one by one, because the heart drives the action.  It’s always about the heart.  Changed hearts means changed actions. This is the answer to everyone’s frantic worry; it’s one word: Heart. The heart is the root of the issue.  Won’t you consider giving yours to the Lord Jesus?  Ask Him in; confess Him and believe in Him; you will be safe.

If you have a heart that loves the Lord, love those around you and share the love given from above...until their hearts are changed.