Nuggets: Words of Life

Feels like forever and I honestly wonder what I have left to say. It’s taking pretty much all my gumption to sit down and write even for five minutes right now. My creativity feels anemic–unless of course you’re talking about coming up with creative ways to use every household nick-nack or tool as a safe and entertaining toy for a one year old.

But I have five minutes and I’m desperate to revive what I feel may die if I don’t use it. A few thoughts from my Scripture reading today.

In Genesis 27, sneaky Jacob and his mother conspired to steal Esau’s blessing from their dying father, Isaac. I’ve often wondered why Isaac didn’t simply unsay what he’d said. I’m mean, couldn’t he just say, “Oops, I made a mistake. That’s not what I meant to do. Let me retract those words!” We do it all the time in our modern world: “I didn’t mean to say that!”

But words have power. Words stick. First words, last words, unintentional words–they all have power. Isaac told Easu, “That blessing must stand.”

What I say today stands. I cannot take it back, unsay something or cover it up with an, “I didn’t mean that.” I can speak life and blessing and hope into my husband and daughter and those I meet, or I can damage their hearts with unkindness.

Father, give me words of life. Put a guard over my mouth and let me speak only those things which you would say.

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Nuggets: The Hand That Rocks My Cradle

Today’s little post is for sure a “nugget”. I’ve been hustling my tail to clean, mow, shower and cook while Evie is napping. And I even snuck in 15 minutes of chill time! My window of opportunity is closing.

But my heart wants to share what God spoke to me late last night. Little One has slept through the night (mostly) from a very young age. But since she became super mobile, she’s often very restless at night and wakes herself up. We’ve seen her sitting up rubbing her eyes (still asleep) then slump forward, legs in a criss-cross-applesauce position, but her head down on the pillow.

Several times last night, I hurried to her room to calm her and give her a pacifier before she woke up too much. Finally, she was standing in her bed, crying and mostly asleep. I decided just to make her a bottle and rock her for a while.

Maybe it’s because yesterday was Mother’s Day. Maybe it was just God’s timing anyway, but as I sat there thinking, “Five in the morning is going to be here so fast!” I heard Him whisper:

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.… Psalm 121:3-5

God continued, “You will never rock her with as much tenderness as I rock you. I’m never impatient or confused when you’re upset, awake, or fearful for seemingly no reason. I’m never out of sorts when you need me or even just want me. I’m thrilled to be up all night long with you. And I can’t wait to see you in the morning over coffee when you’re awake and want to talk to me, too.”

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassionon the son of her womb? Even these may forget,but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.… Isaiah 49:15-16

The Mark of An Artist–Perfect Imperfections

I’ve never really considered myself an artist–outside the privilege of using that term to describe creating sentences. But when it comes to colors, shapes, designs, even simple decorating–I’m the first to raise my hand and ask for help.

(True confessions, my husband is the one who arranges our furniture and hangs our pictures. However, he can’t get dressed in anything other than a uniform without asking my advice. At least I’m good for something!)

But recently, I saw the most adorable sign. Then I got a wild idea and thought, “I could make it instead of buying it!”

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Pretty perfect, right? I’m talking about Evie, here 🙂

My sister is a pro at making things–all kinds of things from wood, so I enlisted her help to walk me through it. Each step of the way, she kept reminding me, “You want it to be imperfect. Don’t stress out over any ‘mistakes’. They just add character and make it unique. Consider it kind of like your signature. In fact, you can always bang it up a little more with your hammer or distress the paint with sandpaper.”

Well, given that I’ve spilled wood stain on it in the wrong places (and on my pants and driveway), and had the unsolicited help of 10 tiny fingers and four furry paws–there have been a lot of mistakes.

But it was in my quiet time this morning that it hit me. I was praying through Ephesians 2:10–

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If I am God’s workmanship, then shouldn’t He be the one to sign off on all my “imperfections”? Why are those not His additions of character, His signature and intentionality in my life?

I mean, come on, God is God. He could easily have picked up the sandpaper and scrubbed out any “mistakes” (which of course He doesn’t make!) But if He chose to leave anything I find unlikeable, then it’s probably up to me to simply learn how to put to good use this unique, fashionable creation that He intentionally put His name on.

After all, I’m His workmanship–created for specific things He planned. It’s all on Him!

Overstimulated and Underwhelmed

In my defense, I only bought one of them!

But, that’s not the purpose of these writings–to defend myself. Rather, to publicly humble myself, seek God’s face (and hopefully point to it for the sake of others) and turn from my wicked ways so that God might bring healing, hope, blessing and favor. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

What did I buy?–a noise maker. A battery operated toy that blinks and blings, tosses hard plastic balls in the air or rolls them across the floor. The rest were generous gifts from family and friends (and don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for them and will continue to use up their precious batteries many times over!)

BUT …

Yesterday, as I usually do, I set Eve on the floor of her bedroom to entertain herself for a few minutes and then flipped the switches on one, two, three, four toys. I watched her begin to play with her favorite hungry hippo, gleefully. But the moment the next toy barked, she glanced that way. Then behind her when the next one woke up — She did a full 360 just trying to keep her eyes on all the entertainment and decide what she wanted to do next.

Finally, I stepped over the baby gate and headed to take a shower. Within 30 seconds, she was at the gate crying! All those wonderful, animated toys and she was over it all ready! Overstimulated, she was quickly frustrated and wanted only the secure and simple arms of her post-workout, sweaty mommy. 

Abba tapped me, “Listen to me in silence, O coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength; let them approach, then let them speak; let us together draw near for judgment.” Isaiah 41:1

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” Job 6:24

And for good measure, He had me look up what an inspired dead guy had to say about being quiet: February 13, 1949 – “It seems to me that what I am made for is not speculation but silence and emptiness, to wait in darkness and receive the Word of God entirely in His Oneness and not broken up into all His shadows.”  Thomas Merton

Do you ever feel that way–over stimulated. But are you also terrified of what might happen in the scary silence? I know that there’s scarcely a moment I’m not, at the very least, audibly entertained: the news, worship music, a sermon, a phone call … nothing bad, but rarely silence.

Last night, when we returned home late from a meeting, I set Eve on the floor while I made dinner and dumped a bag of colored balls in front of her. She was thrilled!

So what of silence? Where do you find it and do you think it’s really all that important? Can we truly know the heart and mind of God amidst the cacophony of our lives? If not, then why do we still avoid the silence?

Reviving The Story

Well, I was just about to hang up the proverbial hat and choose to make writing a well-remembered season. But that’s just it, I guess it was my choice, and not the plan God has for me … yet.

Not two weeks ago, the mere idea of conjuring up fresh content baffled me. Today, ideas are stirring in my spirit. I don’t know how original they are, but if God has rekindled the desire to put words to page, then He must have something valuable for me to say.

Similarly, I once put eating disorder recovery behind me. After I wrote the last chapter of my book, I literally “closed the book”. I haven’t reread it. I haven’t had any desire to continue ministry in that vein. But twice in one week, God has brought concerned family members and friends to me–seeking empathy, insight and hope for their own loved ones now struggling. Again, maybe I have something left to say.

Eve demands a lot of my time and attention right now. There’s scarcely a moment when I can actually string my thoughts together, let alone put them down in a manner respectable for an editor. However, at the same time, I’ve never had so much material as this little provides! I have a feeling she’s going to teach me, all over again and, what it means that God is my Father. She’s going display to me my desperate need for a savior, comforter, counselor and Abba.

I also feared that in my new role as Mommy, my quiet times with the Lord would be greatly diminished. Maybe so … kind of and sometimes … but at the same time, I find spontaneous worship and grateful tears so close to the surface.

I read Psalm 143 this morning and recalled how just within the last week, sweet Eve has begun stopping and reaching for me. When I move too fast, when she can’t keep up. When she hits a hard surface or simply doesn’t know where to go. When she wants out of her bed and when she simply wants to share the mirror with me, enjoy my company and make silly faces–she reaches for me.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me to know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:6, 8

Nuggets: What Do I Do Because of Who I Am?

“While walking by the sea, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.”

Yeah? So what?

… because they were fishermen … 

What do I do “because of who I am”? Because of what people believe about me or what I believe about myself? What do I do daily to meet expectations–others’ or my own? What do I do because I “have to” to make a living, to make someone happy, to keep the world spinning or because no one else will do it?

What do I do to maintain my identity? And will I leave it?

Will I leave it all behind to follow Jesus? Does He only have to invite me once? How many pleas must He utter? Can He simply say, “Follow me”?

Nuggets: When Today Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

It’s been a bit since I shared a nugget, I know. But when God keeps you up at night, bombarding you with His precious thoughts (Psalm 139:17), sometimes you just gotta share!

I wrote a quick devotional last night for my niece, Kylie, talking about preciousness and God took it from there.

As I tuned into His precious thoughts, God brought Psalm 5:3 to my heart.

In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].

This verse reeks of expectation: watching and waiting. But that’s not how I tend to order my day. From the moment of waking (or even going to bed at night) I have a budding plan of what must be done, what relationships must be tended, who must be seen … and a growing anxiety that there’s just not enough time to do it all.

But God says all I have to do is prepare a sacrifice and prayer, then wait and watch. Here’s what I wrote in my journal this morning:

I set so many plans and expectations on each day. I want to plan everything, right down to intimacy with my husband and what time I will have a third cup of coffee. But you, O God, have called me only to prepare my prayer and sacrifice (surrender) and then to watch. Your goal, plan and summation of my divine to-do list today is to watch and wait for you. 

In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. Isaiah 26:8

That takes a lot of pressure of off the day, right? It effectively cuts my to-do list down to a manageable size and I have plenty of time to get it all done. All I must do is prepare myself before the Lord–commit the day to Him and surrender the rest. Then, watch in confidence of His goodness and ability to take care of it all.

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

If you prepare your prayer and sacrifice before God today–what has He left on your to-do list? What will you take care of first?

Book Review: Saffire

An intricate story with complex, diverse–if not a bit confusing–characters. The best part is that history is woven into the narrative, a piece of history that was unfamiliar to me.

The writing is wonderful, rich and creative. Many times I simply paused in awe of the author’s ability to describe a scene or individual.

My only complaint is that the characters remain underdeveloped. I finished the story feeling as if even the protagonist was holding something back from me. He remained mysterious. Certainly, all the supporting characters seems that way.

Overall, a very enjoyable read.

Nuggets: Hang Your Hope Up

flicker5-copy-4I’m hanging my hope on …

We’ve all said this at one time or another, or admonished someone else, “Don’t hang your hopes on that!”

Where is it safe to hang your hopes? Are you sometimes afraid to even identify what you hope for, for fear that it will never come to fruition? That if you hang it up, it will dangle precariously and then crash at your feet in a thousand pieces? Another common phrase is “hopes dashed to pieces.” We all know the feeling and the gut-wrenching sound of shattering hope.

So again, where is it safe to hang your hope?

Psalm 62:5 says, “For God alone, Oh my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” That’s the ESV, but KJV words it this way, ” … for my expectation is from Him.”

That word “expectation” in the Hebrew is tiqvah and actually means: cord, expectation, hope.

I can picture a cord with all my hopes swinging from it.

I wrote recently about expectation in marriage and how quickly it can dissolve intimacy. I also read this: It Takes a Lot to Build a Marriage and Only One Thing to Kill It.  I can personally attest to hanging high hopes on my husband–hopes that he often doesn’t even know about since he can’t read my mind. And then, having them hopelessly crushed when he is unable to fulfill my lofty, mysterious expectations.

Do you know why he cannot fulfill them? Because in the end of Psalm 62 it says, ” … power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.”

God alone has the power to meet my expectations. He only knows the desires of my heart (even before I voice them–even before I identify them). He alone is the safe place to hang my hope. 

Where is yours today? Is your hope safe?