Weeding the Soul

May Guest Blog on Crossreads.com

My backyard provides God such a wonderful backdrop for my education. Gardening teaches me that many of nature’s processes mirror our struggles. Take weeds for instance. What a wonderful metaphor for life’s yucky stuff that embeds in our souls when we are not paying attention.

I hate weeding. Our backyard contains mulch beds for my herbs, lilies, azaleas, chrysanthemums and an array of other perennials. Not only is weeding physically tiring—hours of squats, tugging and pulling, but it’s also messy. The weed in this picture didn’t images (6)look like a weed at first glance. I figured that it was grass that had grown from the clippings that sprayed the mulch beds. So for a few weeks, I ignored the spot.

It grew.

images (7)No big deal. Yes, the grass was growing in my mulch bed, but grass killer would take care of it when I got around to it. How many times do we assume that a behavior or a habit isn’t a big deal? Or we know it could develop into a problem, but there is no urgency in our minds. We’ll get around to it before it gets too bad.

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“I Just Can’t.”

You’ve seen her.

Cozy cardigan over a cotton tunic, skinny jeans and name brand running shoes. Hair combed just enough for the messy look to be fashionable. Just enough makeup to not feel insecure in the morning drop-off line at her kids’ school.

But you really haven’t seen her.
Because if you did your heart would break. 
Last night’s argument with her husband ended up in a sleepless night. A few hours later the toddler woke up crying. Another fever. That morning, her tween greeted her with silence, unfinished homework, and an unsigned permission slip for the field trip that day. The smelly sink disposal called for white vinegar and the main bathroom hamper overflowed with clothes. She forgot detergent during her last grocery trip.

She drove away from drop off with a beautiful smile and a wave to fellow parents while inside her soul was crushing her to death. With each heartbeat, the deep, torturing pain of hopelessness pounded against her dream of a life she would enjoy. A tear fought its way to the surface, only to be interrupted by the toddler’s feverish whimpers.

What would you say to her? What thoughts would you have when she is at the point where she whispers “I. Just. Can’t.” No religious verse can take away her present. A gentle squeeze of her hand may offer needed human touch, but still her present remains 11as it has for a few years.

 

The tragedy of emotional pain can happen to any of us. Unknowingly we have walked by the young woman whose boyfriend abruptly ended their relationship or the woman who finds herself in a place where her native tongue isn’t widely understand causing her to wander through her present all alone.

The dark night of the soul is an experience that lasts too long for most of us who’ve been in these shoes even for a moment. No matter what the status-single, married, with kids or yearning them, life can be difficult. When the fabric of our soul sheds, the danger signs appear but are unfortunately invisible unless we….unless she lets someone look deeply into her eyes.

How can we as a company of sisters help each other not fall into a living hell? Even the medical community recognizes that a prevention ethic is best. What can we do better so that one of our sisters knows that they don’t have to hide behind a smile and a wave?

Ruth 3:1  Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?

The words “seek” and “security” give form to our compassion and empathy. Seeking involves deliberate action. I picture a person holding a telescope looking into the distance on behalf of someone else. The picture reminds me of Isaiah 21:6 which says: “Go, set a watchman, Let him declare what he sees.” Let’s discover the next steps of our sister’s life! Whether by prayer or research, we can find opportunities that our sister can take hold of to find or rediscover her value. She must realize that her present narrative is a roadblock versus a foreshadowing of her future.

Similarly we can carry vision for our sister’s life. This carrying is more than verbally affirming dreams lost by the wayside. It is stewarding her vision when she is down. The day she rises she will take it back. Ruth of this Old Testament story  was a young widow. She was in a place of transition after the death of her husband, who was Naomi’s son. Ruth was personally aimless but relying on the strength and wisdom of her mother-in-law, who was also in a place of grief and transition. Age and experience is valuable. The years in which Naomi accumulated wisdom and understanding gave her the strength to carry vision for her daughter in law’s life. In current times, this means that older mothers should remember what life can be like for a younger mother. Altruism involves prevention. No woman ever has to get to the point of giving up. Ruth was childless and a widow. She had no acceptable status in her culture. We must be proactive with checking in with our sisters with words of encouragement and offers of practical help. If they can’t find a sitter, we can bring the coffee or tea to them. We need to discard pleasant surface conversations and sit in front of them at a function and say, “How are you doing with the things on your plate?” or “Is there anything that I can pray for you about?”.

Security is essential to wellness. We can guide our sisters to a secure place. Newness can make life topsy turvy for any human being. Is our sister newly married? What about in a new job or fresh out of college? Is she newly divorced? Let’s anticipate her struggle for this segment of her journey. I don’t mean suppressing her natural emotions or allowing her to become codependent on you. A listening ear is like a soft pillow to someone who feels like the foundation is shifting under her feet. Similarly, well-timed words are described in Proverbs 16:24: Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Every mother experiences something new every few years, a birth, entry to the school phase, puberty, leaving home. Too often, we, the sisters, wait for our churches, schools and community organizations to offer classes or events . We can be the class or event on cloudy afternoon if we shift our schedules and make space to serve and be what God envisioned for sisters to be. We must protest the dividing lines of economics,race and education and be a company of sisters. Even shared faith does not matter. Life challenges all people.

If we make this a part of our lifestyle, then we won’t see her, the one with the tear finally falling as they teeter on the brink of giving up everything on this side of heaven. Her pain and her woes don’t have to be medicated with the secret stash of liquor, drugs or the darkness of her bedroom. Sisterhood was created to keep our chins up when they begin cowering, our eyes fixed when they begin to wander and our hearts strong when weariness comes close. If you are Naomi, go find a Ruth and if you happen to be Ruth, don’t hide behind a smile and a wave. Let us see your eyes.

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Saints, God is Cheering You On!

The-Journey-From-Syria-Matthew-Cassell-CeasefireHow often do we crawl into our coziest chair and gleefully open our Bibles to discover something that God wants to share with us? Consistently our God pulls us into his presence to give us the security that comes through his adoring love. A child always is secure when he knows he’s loved, desired and affirmed. This is our God. He’ll never leave us or forsake us. After a time, He pushes us out but only because he wants us to give out what he’s poured into us. It’s like a back and forth game that a child would play with a parent.  Maybe you’ve witnessed the cute giggles as the little girl runs to her Daddy’s lap and then runs several feet away for a few minutes only to return to her Daddy’s loving embrace.

Our view of God the Father is crucial to our wholeness. We can’t possibly run to a Father that we think is always criticizing us, watching us with a stern eye or ready to take away some of His blessings back for our bad behavior. Scripture says that the goodness of God leads us to repentance. Repentance is having a change of mindset. How ironic that by continuing to unleash his goodness towards us, we will slowly but surely change the way we think for the better.

The beauty of becoming can be, if we let it, a process of brutally naked surrender to a God that whispers hope, affirms our efforts, and gives us courage for a journey that none of us are prepared for.

westmorland-story-background-july-2015Arduous but seasonal, this journey is a long adventure. I believe in a Loving Creator that does not give us more than we can bear but knows that if we glean from his wisdom and blanket ourselves in his care, we can actually face battles head on and win. We can win at parenting! We can win at adulting! We can win at reflecting Christ to our co-workers! The prize is self-awareness, spiritual maturity, and emotional health.  Old baggage burns and chains of insecurity that have made moving forward a challenge can be abandoned.

No matter what your stage and season of life, you can begin to appreciate that this journey of personal transformation refines the quality of our love for others and provides a healthier well-being for ourselves.

Keep running dear saint. God is cheering you on!

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(This is an excerpt from the introduction of a manuscript that is almost finished. The proposal will be submitted in the Fall to a publishing company. No matter what season in life we are in, parenting, singleness, or retirement, we can choose to acknowledge every situation that chisels away the hardened places in our souls. God wants us to be malleable clay and when we choose to comply, a wellspring of emotional health comes forth.)

 

Believe You are Threatened? – The Crime of Belief

via Daily Prompt: Believe

Public schools today are on lockdown in Charlottesville, Virginia. My children’s private school headmaster sent an emergency email to parents about an hour ago regarding what media is calling “a social media threat”.

images (3)This threat comes because some human being believes that the massacre of Las Vegas needs to be duplicated here in Charlottesville. Apparently this human is upset about the recent Lee Statue debate and the city decision regarding it’s removal.  Our nation’s racial history is the centerpiece.

What one person believes threatens us all.

Be sure, I’m a believer… of good health and wellness, in racial equality…in Christ. I believe in home cooked meals and a daily dose of dark chocolate, as well as the freedom of speech and the freedom to peaceful protest. Keyword: peaceful. Some of my beliefs threaten someone, somewhere. For example, statists despise my belief in parental rights and those who are pro-choice are dismayed that I am a pro-life African American woman.

Does belief have to threaten at all?

As a Charlottesville resident, I’ve written posts in the past two months centering on the problem and my solution for those who feel threatened by someone else’s belief system.

“Let’s be neighbors and respect each other’s individual intellectual property when it comes to belief and speech. I learned the importance of this at a very young age as a young black girl living in a mostly white suburb.” Respect the Rules of My House

“Some whites sincerely didn’t like the end of slavery, go figure. They really believe that they are being taken over by other ethnic groups. I don’t get it, but it’s true. They’ve suppressed their anger and fear until now. Likewise some black and other minorities are tired of not only systematic and institutional racism, but also of individual encounters with these white people. Some of these white and black Americans, have stayed segregated and have no one of another race to call friend. Some don’t want that blessing.  They just want to unleash their suppressed anger.

1 John 2:11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

If we truly believe that humanity is a band of brothers of every tribe and tongue, then there is a disconnect between our belief and reality. While there are those in our present day who would say that some humans are genetically inferior than others, most of us shake our heads and ignore their utter stupidity and warped need for self-adulation.” Who Let The Dogs Out?

What you believe doesn’t have to threaten or offend me.
IF you are a white supremacist, I’m okay with you. I have my own belief about the reason why you believe what you believe, but I’m not bothered by what you believe about my racial identity.

IF you are atheist, I am not insulted by the nonexistence of your spiritual belief.

The issue for all of us is when belief becomes action. From proselytization to Las Vegas shootings, protests, demonstrations to political legislation, we are afraid of the consequences of individuals putting their beliefs to action.

The problem we face, collectively, is that we cannot control what others believe. We despise this reality. But belief is innate to our human species. We can prosecute crimes when they come against our life or liberty. But we cannot, and I pray that we will never be criminally punished for believing what we choose to believe.

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Lord, I Want More Than Crumbs!

“It’s his nature that provides us with revelatory insights that influence our whole identity and personality.” Graham Cooke

crumbsRevelation is heaven’s food for our spiritual nourishment. The Holy Scriptures reveal the full expression of himself that God desires to give us.

Matthew 15:27 records an incident when a Canaanite woman, born outside of the Abrahamic covenant, begged Jesus for the healing of her demon-possessed daughter.  At some point the Spirit of God had opened her mind to the reality of God’s beneficence and power to heal. Her request of Jesus reveals the earnestness of her hunger. Recognizing the fact that Jesus was Hebrew and she was not, she identifies herself as lesser in privilege yet willing to get any “crumb” he offered.

At first, he responds to her that he has only been sent to “the lost sheep of Israel”, the children of God who are deserving of his nourishing bread.

But she persists and eventually says, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

This scripture is rich with revelation…insights that communicate to us God’s nature and intents. The two that strike me from this passage are his use of the metaphor “bread” to answer her request for healing. Notable as well are the state of her hunger, her parental need, and her persistence to pursue. These last items can be applied metaphorically to our lives today – the divine hunger to delve into the depths of Scripture in order to encounter God ourselves and see our loved ones encounter him as well. Crumbs provide temporary relief. It’s as if the woman was saying, “If my daughter can just get a day’s reprieve from her oppression, I’ll take it…I’ll take a crumb!” But we know, as a human being, she’d want to full loaf of bread.

We learn much from nature as well as God’s natural laws that govern the functions of life. Physical hunger pangs compel us to eat. I believe that we have spiritual hunger pangs as well that compel us to wonder and to chew slowly on Scripture, savoring each nugget of truth in order for every fiber of our beings to draw from Divine life.

In Matthew 15, Jesus uses the metaphor of food when speaking of healing. But the healing from demonic oppression that the woman’s daughter received was not physical, although I believe we can apply physical healing into this revelation. In this particular story, not just the daughter was healed. The mother was too. Certainly the daughter’s healing within that hour was spectacular for her and those who knew her. However, both mother and daughter received mental and emotional healing, cultural healing and the healing of their identities. Jesus’ answer to the mother’s request and his compliment about the completeness of her belief let her know that God is no respecter of persons when it comes to belief. Christians today understand this because when we are born again we become grafted into the Abrahamic covenant and its enumerable blessings. We get to “belong” based on our “belief”. Every human being is a creation of God. But not all are children of God. Belonging and being accepted by God as his child innately transcend our need for societal and cultural identity. Furthermore, Jesus’ posture – answering her request, giving her attention, ignoring the disciples’ recommendations to send her away, healed her emotionally and mentally.

As a Canaanite, she would’ve been conscious of the stares of the disciples, yet she mentally pushed through because the Holy Spirit had spoken to her that their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, was different. Both mother and daughter had been encumbered by the sorrow, frustration and fear that the demon-possession brought.

How did the demon possession manifest? This is a point I cannot help to mention. We know from other passages in the Gospels that demons could bring physical and mental and emotional ailments. (Matthew 4:24; Matthew 9:23, Matthew 17:18; Mark 5) It really doesn’t matter whether the daughter had a demonically influenced disease or mental weakness because all of these situations cause great suffering. Nothing is too difficult for God. His “bread” is to give healing.

In another post, I intend to discuss the warrior-like persistence of a woman. The mother did not run away at the disciples’ suggestion. She held on tenaciously to a truth that she knew in her innermost being. Like a mother lion, this woman used the revelation of God’s goodness to pounce on and destroy that which was stealing the fullness of her daughter’s life. This revelation, like raw meat, she held in her teeth and would not. let. go.

God designed a woman’s body to naturally feed her unborn child through the lifeline of the umbilical cord. Revelation is our umbilical cord.  The mother first received revelation of God’s desire to heal. Yet she hadn’t received the next revelation that God actually wanted her to have more than crumbs. He gave her what she requested based on the revelation she had received up to that point.

I wouldn’t be surprised that this woman got the next revelation when the Apostle Paul went and preached to the Gentiles. Having tasted the crumbs, the reality that she could receive the whole loaf of bread like the children of Israel would have been her ultimate heart’s desire.

As children of God, have we begun to eat the full loaf of bread – spiritual nourishment – guaranteed to us through salvation? As partakers of the Abrahamic covenant, we have the the right to the full loaf but have we only eaten a few pieces?  I’ll shift this metaphorOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA slightly. Let’s be hungry for revelation that we haven’t had yet! Let’s not view God’s Words as a loaf of bread where every piece tastes the same. As we earnestly pursue the written Word we get to know and experience the presence of the living Word, Jesus Christ. After his ascension, Jesus released the Spirit of God to come and be with us and in us. Let’s ask God to whet our palettes with the desire to pursue his mysteries and unanswered questions. Let’s even seek to discover more than the small doses that one Sunday sermon gives! Lord, I want more than crumbs!

Through the Holy Scriptures God tantalizes our spiritual palettes with hints that He is better than the most benevolent human being, He is more beautiful than the setting sun, and He is more faithful than the sunrise.  We cannot help but delve deeper and begin to swallow, first passages that are easy for our human understanding to comprehend, then later divine realities that answer our most difficult questions and satisfy our mysterious spiritual longings.

Humankind was created by an uncreated Being whose depths are unsearchable yet who beckons us to search.  His nature is soon discovered and as we learn how to interact with him by sitting in silent wonder, singing heartfelt praise or studying his digestible Word, we are changed. We are transformed. (Romans 12) We consent to belong to him — forever a child needing His “revelatory insight”. images

He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 13:11

 

 

Lord, fill us with wonder as we read your Word and sit in your Presence. Let us not be satisfied with all that we’ve learned so far in the Bible, from sermons or through books. Give us the excitement and courage to venture into scriptures that we’ve wondered about. Lead us Holy Spirit to know you – as much as a human being can – in all your glory! Bring us revelation today. We want more than crumbs. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Mommy or Me: Who is first?

Ages and Stages Part 4 Mommy or Me: Who is 1st? (Repost from 2014)

bw profileI think I was in my upper-twenties when the dawning occurred. “I” had become lost in the role of “Mommy”. The decision to be a stay-at-home mom cost us financially but rewarded us with the certainty that we could completely oversee our children’s formative years and we could home educate them, teaching each subject according to a Biblical worldview.

Sure, I loved strolling to the playground, attending story-time at the library, and visiting friends 3-4 times per week. But I also loved writing, playing the piano, and learning whatever I could about God.

I never wanted to forsake my “personhood” for the roles that I’ve been blessed with. As much as being a wife and mother delighted me, I knew that I had been endowed by my Creator with certain gifts, talents and missions to accomplish while on this earth.Deep within

Some young mothers get caught in the cage of “I have no time for me.” Ladies, whether we work in the marketplace, at home or not at all, we have to make time for ourselves and I know it ain’t easy. I thank God for the friends that became like family. They encouraged me to nurture my interests even though my husband worked 80-90 hours per week back then.

As moms, we can make it work. Our dreams really can come true…one day. For me original bedtimes stories became the inspiration for a fiction series that I started called The Ages of Laus Perennis. My passion for prayer, teaching and personal ministry grew as my husband and I began to attend various East Coast conferences that equipped us for future roles within our local church.

I remember playing piano for a Baptist church, sitting my one year old daughter on my lap and teaching her to keep her hands on her thighs so that I could reach around her to play the piano. Since I had no babysitter I had to make it work. 543159_570549866336064_696008493_nMany times I had to volunteer to host something in order to be a part, especially when there was no money for a babysitter. My kids would play quietly in their rooms or be in bed while a prayer meeting or bible study was going on, or the “baby at the time” would just sit on my lap.

You know the adage: “where there is a will there is a way.” Really, this is quite true. God wants us to enjoy life. Since He doesn’t want us to shrug off our motherhood, He shows us how to juggle the duties of these roles with the wonderful interests, talents and missions that make us come alive. After all, He gave us those interests, talents and missions.

I wouldn’t trade motherhood for the world! I’m a strong advocate of parental rights. I love having so many children and I love their wide age range. It isn’t always easy, but I applaud God for the choice He made for my life.

What opportunities are waiting for you? What doors are open but you haven’t noticed them? Being an author, intercessor, friend, gardener, DIY-er, home chef ( I LOVE to invent recipes), songwriter, worship musician, Castle TV show junkie, and home educator enables me to be fully me.

We are better parents when we give ourselves time and attention, not by neglecting our kids or spouses, but by heeding the wisdom of our Father.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Father, Your desire is to continually guide us, for our desire to be satisfied in scorched places, and for our bones to be strong; so that we will be like a watered garden. (Isaiah 58:11) As we faithfully fulfill our family roles and spend time with You, show us how to use every deposit that You’ve given us, that You may be glorified and we may be satisfied.

Perfect Parent? Not!

Ages and Stages Part 5 Perfect Parent? Not!

(a repost from 2014)

15577863_653198091555495_855300141_nIt’s great to see the reception that this blog series, “Ages and Stages” has received.  The 4000+ views tell me that we, as parents, desire a sense of camaraderie and affirmation. We will never be perfect parents, but we can always be perfecting our parenting.

I wasn’t sure what to write for this last post, but sure enough a few conversations with my adult children brought to light a subject that all parents need to face at some time: wounds of the past.

Once my children became young adults I hoped that opportunities would become available for them to reconcile anything in their past that caused them struggle. I didn’t want them to carry baggage of childhood rejection or adolescent confusion into their adulthood. While we don’t have to do anything to guarantee our children’s physical maturity–nature does that—we do need to do a few things to guarantee our children’s emotional maturity.

Conversations this past week with my adult children were hard. To hear the stories of fear and loneliness; rejection and unclear teaching about relating to the opposite sex; and self-imposed isolation and emotional suppression shocked and saddened me. I never knew. This may seem hard to believe since I am a home educator who is pretty much around her kids all of the time.  How can a child be lonely in a house full of people?

Physical proximity does not mean emotional intimacy. In our culture we bond via internet and texting. Those on the other side cannot look into our eyes and see the reality of our souls. Another cultural challenge is our frenetic lifestyles. We can be so busy! I’ve learned that more often than not, we must take the time to knock on our child’s or teen’s door, and enter their world.  We need to talk – no, listen to them, expecting at first to be met with the phrase, ‘I’m fine’. But we must keep knocking and making ourselves available; not just to be cheerleaders at sporting events or ballet recitals, but to be shoulders to cry on and hands to pray with.

Unfortunately, most of us did not get this as children and teens. We entered parenthood with handicaps and didn’t even realize it.

Long ago, I heard someone say that we can only do the best we can and we must trust Jaredito 3God to fill in the rest. This is the truth. We are not perfect. Hopefully we will tell our kids that when they are young! Aging as a parent has to do less with our numerical ages and more with our emotional health. Do we react or do we respond? Do we admit when we are wrong or do we play the blame game? Do we suppress our own emotions and deny our own weaknesses, or do we present ourselves as clueless and thankful grace-recipients on a journey to learn how to love well.

Blessings to you and your family! Thanks for reading some snapshots of my life as a parent who is learning as she goes.

Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Malachi 4:2 But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.

Lord, You are Jehovah-Rapha, God our Healer. Heal the minds and emotions of our children so that they can move forward into the next stages of their lives without hindrance. Comfort our aching hearts as we acknowledge our failures and mistakes over the years. Remind us of Your promise that healing, restoration and satisfying life come to those who humble themselves before You. We love You God and we are thankful for Your tender mercies.

When Silence Screams

Restlessness. Distractions. Chatter. We don’t know how to be silent anymore.
But Silence desires our attention.

Psalm 46:10
Be Still and Know that I Am God

As an introvert, I can sit quietly in the shadows at a party.  That is different from sitting alone in my house with no phone in my hand, no window open to hear the distant traffic and no TV on in the background. Silence. Complete silence can be uncomfortable because I’m wired for sound. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household of four children who played instruments, a mandatory chore for some, but a pleasant break from homework for me. When we weren’t practicing the tuba, cello, piano or viola, we were playing our radios in our bedrooms. Silence arrived when everyone was finally asleep.

My current family is even bigger. I’m mother of six children, ages 5 – 25. All but the oldest lives at home and so sound is a part of my life. Lots of continuous sound.

My best friend still doesn’t understand how one of my sons can ask me a question and I don’t “hear” him. Sound. It’s always around. I’m so used to it that someone’s question just melts into the stew of busyness in the house.

Don’t get me wrong, sound isn’t bad, but it can be such a constant in our lives that we forget sometimes to turn everything off and just appreciate the silence.

In the past week, I’ve asked myself “Why is it to challenging to sit down and do absolutely nothing, close my eyes while fully awake and just be?” After all, God’s still small voice and the reality of his omnipresence is more apparent when I’m still and quiet. Sometimes it takes so long to even turn off my inner voice that I hear Silence scream “Shshsh!”.

As a former worship leader, there were times when it seemed as if Jesus had come into the sanctuary. A holy awe swept the room and silence urged our attention. But still, it was terribly difficult for me to restrain playing the piano quietly, thinking that He needed my sound in order to stay.

What He desired was 100% of my attention.

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Practicing silence can be an act of worship to God. Due to the variety of denominations in the Christian church, outsiders may think that some do “it” right and others do “it” wrong when it comes to service style. We’ve seen scenes of  loud “holy roller” Pentecostal churches and quiet and stoic Anglican or Quaker churches. The contrast is stark.

I’m a firm believer that God inhabits the praises of his people in song and spoken word. I believe that every believer should be comfortable “shouting to God with a voice of triumph”. Can we hear the Spirit of God say “Clap your hands, all ye peoples!” and do it?  (Psalm 47:1) But sometimes He wants our silence. “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1) In the place of silence is divine rest. We quiet our own voices because we know and we trust in the One who has all of the answers. We turn off our internal speakers, the mental lists, yesterday’s marital squabble, and the spirits of hell that seek to steal our peace.

We can and should use silence in two ways. Sometimes we need to be silent in order to actually hear what is going on within our souls. Have you ever been quiet for awhile and then you get to a place where you are forced to pay attention to the state of your soul? We can carry on conversations with co-workers with smiles on our faces and sobs in our hearts. We are good at masking ourselves. We are good at denial and suppression. Silence is helpful in allowing us to admit what’s really going on inside and then turn to the One who can make things better. At the same time,  there are times in our moments of solitude when we self-introspect and talk too much. God is trying to speak and we have our lists and wants and petitions and needs and then we finish throwing it all up, get up and resume our day with burden-laden souls. There are times when we need to be still and listen to the silence. A mysterious rest descends like a soft blanket. Reliance and devotion to God is strengthened because in our silence we are saying, “Your presence is enough.”

Psalm 131:2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Are you willing to wean your soul from the distractions and just be still? and silent? Are you ready to close your eyes and not be afraid if you, oh tired mother of toddlers, fall asleep in the midst of your quiet time with God?

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Feel the weights fall off and every atom in your God-breathed being begin to vibrate with heavenly peace.   And if God chooses not to speak in his still, small voice, welcome and appreciate His constant presence. Jehovah-Shammah. God is there.

I know He speaks in the stillness.

I believe He heals in silence.

When silence screams “Shhhh!”,  stop and

just be.

 

Isaiah 32:17-18 (NKJV)
17 The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,…

 

 

 

 

Cover Them With Your Wings

 

I love the picture of God as a bird. I personally picture him as an eagle in this Scripture:

Psalm 91:4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

I found out that mother eagles fly under their young in order to catch them on their very wide wings if they fall. What a beautiful picture of watchful care and meaningful presence as these babies learn to fly on their own.  An eagle’s wings can mirror our human life experience.  Our life experiences have given us knowledge and understand that can protect them from unnecessary danger. Predators know that they can’t get to an eagle’s babies if they are hiding under their mom or dad’s wings.

Protecting our children is one of the main duties of a parent. I often think of the mother bear or mother lion who ferociously attacks any predator who comes after its young. Since families are the building block of communities I can easily extend this role of protection to the Bible figures Noah and King David.  Being warned by God of mass judgment and destruction, Noah built an ark to protect his family from disaster and the Warrior King David fought to protect his people from the Philistines and Syrians in 2 Samuel chapter 8.

Google defines refuge like this: “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”

Our God is a perfect protector. We can snuggle in the safety of his authority. He is safe. No matter what you learned in bible class, you don’t have to be afraid that God will give you any disease or calamity.  Bad experiences come into our lives as a consequence of our individual choices and living in a natural world affected by the effects of sin in mankind.  Our Creator-Redeemer is caring. He seeks to rescue us and he desires to be our refuge.

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As parents we are quick to protect our children from the dangers without, but what about from dangers that come from within their own hearts and our own homes?

While we’ll never do a perfect job, it’s helpful to remember that our homes should be sanctuaries of safety from trouble. In our technologically advanced culture, this may mean internet safety. When they are school age it means making sure that they know how to judge character and develop healthy friendships. When they are young, it’s making sure that we instruct with clarity and patience.

Furthermore as parents, we need to take inventory of our choices, attitudes and actions. Kids are watching and listening at all times.  Is kindness and tenderness evident in our actions? Do we gossip to our friends? How much are we on our phones, laptops, tablets, etc?

Covering our children is much more than providing the best shelter possible. It’s a place where their souls –minds, emotions, physical bodies — are protected from anything that would cause a trauma or a wound that keeps them from knowing God as a safe authority figure. When wounds do come from within…from within our homes due to our rash responses or quick tempers, may we be quick to apologize and comfort.

I firmly believe that the better we know God as safe and use him as our covering and refuge, the better we’ll be able to offer the same for our own children. We can learn from the best when we remind ourselves that we too are children, under the care of a safe God who sent His only begotten Son to rescue us from trouble.

1 John 3:8 For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Galatians 1:3-4  Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Psalm 91:1-6

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord“He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]

And from the perilous pestilence.
 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.