Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Over the weekend, our area was hit by some fierce storms.  Many friends and family members are dealing with the remaining damage and necessary repairs.  It is a heart wrenching thing to experience and yet most of us with tread through a storm at some point in our life.  Storms can be physical- like the ones this weekend- as well as mental and emotional.  Here are some common threads of storms....

There is often a calm and stillness before the storm hits.  In the minutes before a storm arrives, there is often a calm quiet and stillness.  The wind disappears as trees will stand as soldiers on duty- not moving.  Sometimes there will be a sweet scent of approaching rain.  In life, a storm will often follow a period of happy contentment as difficulties and conflict will seem non-existent.  All of life seems to put off a sweet scent of favor.

Storms can build slowly or arrive suddenly.  Storms can build over a period of hours or days when you can prepare and plan while others seem to knock the breath right out of you with their random suddenness.  The same is true with the storms in our life.  Some we "see" coming and do our best to prepare- maybe a relational conflict or issues with a child.  Other conflicts seem to shatter our peaceful lives within a heartbeat- a job loss, an unfaithful spouse, a doctor's visit gone horribly wrong...  Both are painful and equally devastating.

The ripples after a storm can extend well beyond those directly affected.  Storms will always have the most impact on those directly affected, but the ripples flow out encircling countless others in the waves of sorrow and grief.  After a storm, businesses who are impacted are unable to help their customers.  Family members may have to put off plans and duties to rush to the aid of loved ones in need.  Life rarely continues as "normal" for a community as a whole.  The same is true of emotional storms...  Often those in the center of the storm do not see the effect it is having on others as they are too encompassed with their own damage and pain.  Yet, the ripples do have impact on lives....the closer you are to the storm, the more ripples you will experience.

The "choice" of who is impacted can seem so random.  One house could sustain such heavy damage that repairs are impossible and it will need to be torn down while the house next door may only have broken limbs off of trees.  Whole towns can be affected while other communities had no damage or impact.  Life struggles, too, can seem so random.  One family may be devastated while close friends may never seem to face the harsh winds of trial or heartache.  However, our Father is never "random" and the harsh storms we face always have a divine purpose to draw us to Him.  Painful?- yes. without purpose?- Never. 

Dealing with the aftermath of a storm can take much longer than the storm itself lasted.  Repairs to homes, vehicles and such can take days upon days.  Depending on the severity of the storm, months or years may even be required to fully restore things.  Emotional damage after a life storm may take great time from which to recover.  Unfortunately, you can not put a "rush" order on healing.  Seek after Him and rest in His timetable and healing process for you.

It's always best to be in the storm shelter when the storm hits.  Being safe and secure in the storm shelter when a storm hits makes a huge difference in the kind of aftermath you will face.  Oh, isn't this true in life as well?  With those life trials come, we desperately need to run to the shelter of the Most High God!

"Thou art my rock and my fortress; for thy name's sake lead me and guide me." Psalm 31:3 RSV
"Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55: 22 RSV
"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8 RSV
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." Isaiah 26:3 KJV

"To know God as He really is- in His essential nature and character- is to arrive at a citadel of peace that circumstances may storm, but can never capture." Catherine Marshall

Impact Questions:

1. Are you being hit with a "storm" right now?  Are you in the ripples of a storm that has hit someone close to you?  What impact are you struggling with currently?

2. What could the Father be seeking and/or teaching you through this season? 

3. What is preventing you from running to the shelter of the Most High God?  Anger? Hurt? Discouragement?  Try confessing that to Him!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Dealing with the Grassburr

Recently, I heard my youngest son beckoning me to come to his aid.  Now, as a mom to three kids, I often try to work needs out from my current place of work or rest- being honest!  Yet, something in me knew that this plea was different.  I found him sitting on the floor with a small grass burr or sticker in his foot.  Now, in Texas, these painful burrs grow on weeds in our yards and they seem to stick to anything and everything.  They are very painful when you step on one. 

He was in pain from the experience.  I saw that, in just a few moments, I could relieve him of the pain, stress, and worry about getting it out.  However, he would not let me near the source of the pain.  He wanted me there.  He wanted my help.  He just didn't want me to touch the source of the pain.  Yet, the only way that I could bring him conclusion to it all was to touch and deal with the source of the pain- the grass burr.   Truth is, he was fearful of the inevitable pain that would come from removing it.   Fear was the real enemy here- and a possible lack of trust- because that, and that alone, was prolonging the pain he was experiencing. 

This experience made me reflect on my own experiences.  Times when I cried out to the Father to remove or deal with a painful situation I was facing only to hold Him at bay due to my lack of trust or fear of  "dealing with it".  Our Father allows us to face such trials and times for the exact plan of growing our trust, courage, and maturity.  Often these seasons will be painful, but all have purpose.  Sometimes, the pain is prolonged because we shrink back in fear- denial becomes our masquerade as we limp through a season.  He longs for genuine healing....wholeness.  We, too often, prefer to mask the brokenness than be vulnerable and required to forge into the mess that brings purpose to the pain.  He wants more for you!

"Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

Check out the message version of this passage....

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

Too often, we read this passage and thinking that we will never face difficult or painful times, but that is not the case.  Instead, He comes and bears the weight of the burden on Himself until we reach the point of healing and wholeness.  Until that time, we find rest in His perfect peace and comfort.  He is our sufficiency to walk through today... and the following days.  I love how the message says that we will "learn to live freely and lightly."  We learn.... we learn that limping in a masquerade is a burden and yet allowing Him to walk us through that "grass burr" to healing brings rest. 

1. Are you dealing with a "grass burr"?

2. What is preventing you from dealing with it?  Is it fear?  If so, what are you afraid of?

3. Do you trust, truly, that He has your best interest at heart?  What prevents you from trusting Him wholly?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Nightly Ritual...

Each and every night, I have a ritual that I do.... I tiptoe into the back bedroom stepping over scattered Lego landmines and laundry that has overtaken the carpeted floor.  I, first, pull back the covers on one son who cannot sleep unless he is buried under a quilted sea. He often gets too hot and I find a sticky sweat covered face.  Then, I look to our youngest son who cannot seem to go to sleep with anything covering him.  It is not uncommon to find him curled into a tight ball longing for warmth.  Two boys, same room- yet differences abound.

That is parenting, huh?  Knowing your child so intimately that you know when to pull back and give them freedom to fail and grow as well as when the time is right to draw in close and pour words of wisdom into their hearts and minds.  Do I pull back the things in their life that are harmful or that will lead them into sticky situations?  Do I diligently cover them in prayer daily?  Recognizing that life will often leave them cold and looking for comfort-- oh, may they find it in HIM!  Friends, I do this every single night. As their mother, I cannot rest until I know that they are well tended and cared for in their beds.  Often, this has driven me from my nice cozy bed...

How intimately does the Father know you?

"GOD, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute— you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! And please, God, do away with wickedness for good! And you murderers—out of here!— all the men and women who belittle you, God, infatuated with cheap god-imitations. See how I hate those who hate you, GOD, see how I loathe all this godless arrogance; I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred. Your enemies are my enemies!

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life." (‭Psalm‬ ‭139‬:‭1-24‬ MSG)

The Father knows EVERYTHING about His children.... and He is ALWAYS with them.  There are times when he will allow you to sweat out sticky situations to see areas that you need to strip out of your life.  There are also times when He allows you to feel the chill of a life lived in your own self-sufficient efforts in order for you to see and long for His protective covering.  Yet, He is ever on guard and watching over you.  That is the nature of a loving relationship....a protective Father allowing His child the opportunity to grow and mature.

1. Is the Father revealing an area that you need to "strip" out of your life?  How have you seen His protective covering in your life?

2. What part of Psalm 139 touched you most?  Did any part of the Psalm surprise you?

3. How does it feel to know that the Father is always with you, if you are His child?  Does it bring comfort or make you anxious?  Why?