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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Leaning Heavily

Honestly, I have no idea what the new year holds. I will say, I'm quite ready to be done with this year.  It has been hard for me to even come here with all that's going on.

But today I'm here.  Today is all I can focus on.  I have to leave in God's hands the rest.  The future. Or I'll go crazy.  Really.

What I can do is focus-today- on what God is teaching me. Lately, He has been speaking to me on rising above the circumstances, on matching my intentions with my actions. I am not great at this.  My intentions are seemingly established and then I fail to rise above and my actions display something entirely different than I intended.

I heard recently that it is wise to know our intentions first.  Perhaps this seems simple, but it spoke to me. If I examine my motives, analyze what I intend, then maybe these intentions will be easier to keep.  They will be more ingrained within.

Thou, therefore, my child, be strong in the grace that (is) in Christ Jesus...-2 Timothy 2:1YLT


It is His grace that enables me.  So, I lean heavily these days.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Always found

After Christmas confession:

This has been the worst Christmas for me ever.  It's now over so I hope it's safe to say that.  My favorite part of the season was the  Shabba-Chanukah party we attended Friday night.  Does that tell you anything?

Christmas Eve day, I tried desperately to keep it together while taking care of my last minute wrapping and keeping the kids entertained but clean and ready for service.  I was painting a smile on my face but when I realized that six gifts had gone missing(?) I lost it. Not in front of the kids, but alone, the tears came.

And I started thinking.  Maybe, there were tears that Mary cried on the day before Jesus was born.  Or in the months leading up to.  She would have been hormonal, right?  And stressed even.  She was pregnant with God's son. Not Joseph's.  They were journeying far.  And they arrive at their destination only to find 'No room at the inns.'  Maybe she broke down a little.  So, perhaps, waiting for Jesus, it's okay to cry under the pressure, wanting so badly the relief of his arrival.

And then I thought some more.  I remembered the song 'The Little Drummer Boy'.  And I prayed that me letting the kids make gingerbread cookies and ornaments would be enough for Jesus. He knew my heart wasn't in it this year.  But I did what I could.  I gave what very little I possessed.

And then I found the presents.  And we made it to church.  And that was beautiful.  We ate Chinese food and read a Christmas story before bed and all in all it turned out okay.

Christmas morning, I tried to keep things jolly as well.  We opened presents, and messed the house royally with polly pocket shoes, puzzle pieces, and play-do and at noon when the kids left, I again let the tears come.

But it's okay.  Jesus is here.

We never did find the thumbnail Jesus from our nativity.  And the last few weeks, every store I've been in I've looked for a replacement nativity....with no luck.   I found one finally, on Saturday.  So I bought it.  It's still in its packaging to save it from the three year old's violent hands but I may just open it and take out baby Jesus.... to hold Him, to remind me that He can always be found.


submitting at Playdates with God

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dwell in the source

December has felt a little mooney, a bit blah.

In fact, I can't quite believe we're this close to Christmas.

Circumstances in my life have shifted considerably and I'm already feeling the 'after Christmas blues'.  Maybe, because November, in many ways was very special. In other ways it was very rough, but within that difficulty I could really hear God. And I'm not hearing Him as well this month.

Last night, a friend and I were talking and she said that she prays and she does her readings but one thing she just can't get is the meditation part.  Meaning, her mind continues to wander whenever she attempts. I almost had to laugh, because she said it as though, she were one of the only ones with this problem.  I told her that I was fairly certain most people had this problem. I'm reading Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood right now and it's a treasure of a book. It speaks quite a bit on going into the silence, hushing the outer man.  If the Desert Fathers recognized the difficulty in meditating, certainly, we in our busy lives will find it near impossible.  But I think that the more we practice, the more we discipline ourselves, we will find that God is waiting to meet with us in the silence.

This section really spoke to me.  This is something I am certainly in need of practicing:

"May I say here that the mind cannot remember easily when it is full of criticism; you cannot afford to take umbrage, to have prejudices, nor hold to yourself these violent human emotions which flare up in human contacts.  Let them go and dwell in the source of all love, infinite love"

The only way I have managed at all during this time is to pray for those I resent.  To try to stay above the human drama and enter instead into the drama of Christ's love for me.  The drama of His birth, His death, and  enter, too, into my own dying to self for Him.

".....Prepare yourselves to be sons of God, rise to your full height and live most of your life in spirit while in the material world....The discipline of the body and the spirit is an exercise as old as time.  The conflict of body and spirit, joy and sorrow, has been an accompanying mystery;"


I am practicing this picture of my inner man rising above. Staying above with the peace that surpasses all understanding.  I heard a suggestion recently to breathe in with the thought, 'I am' and out with the thought, 'Peace'.

"I will give you a talisman to use in times of pressure, of drabness, of temptation.  Say, 'There is no measured time at this place, no future, neither is there a past.  I am in the eternal moment, the limitless, infinite, now.'"


Furthermore, I am in today.  Today only.  Only God know what tomorrow holds, so here and now, I am able to trust.



submitting at Playdates with God

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sure looks fun





Our first winter in Iowa.  The boy's first 'taste' of snow.  It sure looks fun.  But I know enough now to say that  looks can be deceiving.  It's all fun and games till someone has to shovel the driveway.  Glad to be back in sunny Arizona complaining about the chill of sixty degree weather.

Flashback Friday

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Now and Within

"Each one of us makes his own choice; it is either the way of negation, a materialistic philosophy, or the way of the creative spirit, the Way of Life.  'But one thing is needful,' he said, and 'now is the appointed time.' One has said that 'two of the greatest words in our language are now and within.'"- Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood







Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This Christmas

I'm not especially looking forward to Christmas this year.  In fact, the past few holiday seasons have lacked their usual sparkle.

It's the commercialism, the greed, the way that as an adult I'm forced to see how retailers have hijacked that which ought to be reverent, special and holy.

But climbing atop a soap box doesn't help.  All I can manage to do in any given day in any given situation is look inward.  Where do I fall on the spectrum of greed and buying into commercialism.  I'm sorry to say, I have a long way to go.  And maybe what I hate is what's inside of me.

I do know that over the years, I have been given a holy ache.  I have understood a little the word compassion.  I have felt urged to sacrifice because I have so much. And I feel it's not enough.  But I know God takes my little.  He sees it.

Last year, my husband and I bought chickens through the Compassion program rather than exchange gifts.  It was not much.  But it was a place to start.

This year, we chose to sponsor a child through Compassion.

And still....

Still, I find myself this month, shopping madly to fill all my American aches.  I fill not my Godly ache.  I justify my shopping sprees by telling myself that I so often go without. How is this true?  All my needs are met.  All.  And there are so many who lack basic necessities.

An Africa Drought Survival Kit costs $13.  Same price as a video game on sale.

Food Baskets for Survival are $40. Twenty dollars more will buy a holiday food basket from Amazon complete with Camembert cheese, crackers, sweet butter and cookies, decorated with poinsettias.

$100 through Compassion buys a cow to give milk and food,  things I take for granted, things which too often go to waste. This is half of what a leather jacket would cost.

I write these comparisons down to convict myself.  To remind myself of the luxury I live in, which I'm blessed to be able to afford.

But as God has blessed me, might I now bless others.



Gifts of Compassion

Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yikes

This is a little pathetic.  It's a picture for Flashback Friday and it was taken Christmas 2007. First house in Boone, Iowa.  Only three children.  It feels like a lifetime ago.

It makes me chuckle, this picture.  How the tree is dwarfed by the presents.  The presents. How far we've come in so many ways.

I can assure you that our Christmas this year will not look like this.  For many reasons.

I have moved slowly but surely from the commercialism since that time in my life.  I don't want to teach my children that this is what Christmas is all about.

Funny how God moves us.  Forward.

Flashback Friday

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When it rains



When it rains.....








 "....let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power.....May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give peace to the brothers and sisters. May they also give them love and faith." Ephesians 6:10,23

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

He is my refuge and my fortress

hh










Sometimes it's dark. But that's only because my eyes are weak.  I'm breaking free and expecting the miracle of healing.  

I'm all over the place right now, I realize, but bear with me.  I'm desperate for change.  Desperate for God.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Seeking Stillness

Tired:

I am always tired, it seems.  I have to continually remind myself that God will give me rest.  And He is faithful in this but I add so much of my own chaos day to day that I often feel unrested.

So, I am learning to turn continually to Him for all my needs.  To not only rise above chaos, but to not create it.  This is no easy task.  In  Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood, there is a line I read this morning which says, "...this still Presence will give you complete majestic dominion over all mankind- that disturbing mankind within yourself.....Wake, then, little, perturbed, anxious, weary, frightened children, and stand released in this holy stillness."

So, I am seeking this stillness.  And I can relate completely to the 'disturbing mankind within' myself.  Meaning, I need morning after morning, afternoon, night, always to allow my crucify my flesh.  It's painful because the flesh does not go willingly.




Friday, December 2, 2011

Something Waits...

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.  ~Andrew Wyeth



I don't so much prefer winter.  And this winter has not come in well. But there is grace. I am at least not in cold country anymore. 

I need to hold on desperately to that last line in Wyeth's quote.  Spring will come.  And I don't know what waits.  But I know that winter is not forever. 

So I focus on today.  


StudioJRU

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who

Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.
Mark Twain


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities
I couldn't resist.  December 1st, today and in so many ways, I'm glad November is behind me. I've been away from here for a while because I participated in NaNoWriMo. And I 'won'!  The experience is one I'm so grateful for and one which will take me who knows how long to process.  

Going in, I almost thought of it all as a joke- for me.  How would I write a novel, a brand new novel with all else in my daily life? But God, in His amazing way, found fit to bring to me an idea, to give me time off from my school, to come every day to where I wrote, and to teach me of Him, further and deeper.  It was all a gift. Whether anything happens ever with my story, I know that it was an avenue He used to strengthen my relationship with Him.

And in the midst of that beautiful gift, my home life went haywire. Thankfully, not due to all my time writing. But circumstances, hidden, God chose to reveal last month and here, there are not words to describe the feelings behind the happenings. And I don't understand the timing anymore than I understand the circumstance,but I know that as I wrote about a girl seeking Jesus, Jesus sought me.  

And so I don't know what the future holds. But I know Who holds my future.