Thursday, March 20, 2014

When Less is More

Favorite Proverbs: #41 When Less is More

Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Proverbs 15:16

What do you want more of in your life? And what do you want less of?

This is going to sound strange, and maybe a bit off topic, but I want less bushes. My winter project this year was cutting down four evergreen bushes that have dwelt next to my house since I moved in. I’m sure at one time they were quite lovely, but they grew into wild, untamed things. They might have been intended for other reasons, but they’re pretty much spider condominiums once the weather warms up. They’re chock full of the eight-legged creatures. Fast ones with eerie webs. And they just give me the heebie jeebies. This was the year I drew a line in the sand and said no more. 

A few afternoons snipping, chopping, sawing, and hauling…the monstrosities have been evicted. (Along with their unwelcome inhabitants.) It’s amazing how clean and open and approachable my house looks now! And as I was unloading the last glorious load of branches and brambles at the dump, I started wondering if I had any bushes in my mental house. Thoughts or memories or stories or tendencies that I might mean for one reason, but just end up becoming shelter for creepy crawly thoughts instead. I want less of that kind of internal dialogue.

I want to be able to give myself more grace. It’s so easy for me to read promises in God’s word, and picture them for other people. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that they apply to me too. His extravagant love. His patience. His grace. His peace. His joy. His strength. It’s not just for others. It’s for me too. I want more of that.

Less bushes. More grace.

Worth the Wait

Favorite Proverbs: #42 Worth the Wait

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

What are you longing for? And how might you put your hope in God?

The company I work for has been going through a massive reorganization, which has left me in a strange sort of limbo for the past two years, and despite the time that’s passes, there’s no end in sight. It’s so incredibly frustrating to try and function with no clear vision or purpose. Not to mention little or no communication, feedback, or resources. It’s truly made my heart feel sick. I long for the day when the dust finally settles and I move forward with purpose again.

In the original post, Liz said: “To move from doubt to belief requires a leap of faith, which often looks less like leaping and more like waiting, trusting, and praying.” I need to find a way to make that leap; to let go of my need and desire to be in the know, and to have control, and put my job and my career path in God’s hands. I know in my head that it is a testimony to just do as best I can with what I’m given. My head knows this. My heart still feels frustrated.

But even as I’m writing, He’s reminding me this time of limbo had its blessings too. I know. I just wish it was over. Lord, give me the courage to make that leap of faith.

Step by Step

Step by Step - Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:26 

This one hits his one hits home, and is such a wonderful encouragement. I’ve read and re-read this post over the past two weeks, just letting it simmer and soak in. And just like God loves me enough to have this verse show up in the line-up just when I needed it, he loves me enough to have this song show up during worship on Sunday:

“A thousand times I've failed, still your mercy remains. And should I stumble again, still I'm caught in your grace….Your will above all else, my purpose remains. The art of losing myself in bringing you praise…To love you from the inside out.”

I want to be graceful and sure and always do the right thing. When I stumble, I feel disappointed, embarrassed, and dumb. But who am I trying to impress? God knows the depths of my heart and all my secrets. The ones I treasure with joy, and the ones I would rather not own up to…anytime…ever. But they’re not secret to him. And his mercy remains. When I stumble: 1) He’s not surprised because he knows (and designed) the path and 2) I’m caught in his steadfast loving arms.

As this Proverb implies, sometimes stumbles happen because I’m being careless. And inevitably, after a stumble or a wobble, it’s my natural tendency to take a moment to reset and regain my balance and composure. To bring my awareness back to the path or the task at hand. Maybe even glance over (or up) to get a reassuring glance before moving forward once again.

This insight rings through all the pain and embarrassment: “You don’t have to try to be steadfast—you are steadfast.”

For this, I am so profoundly grateful. (But I’ll try to give more careful thought to my path just the same.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Birthday Party

I can't get this story out of my head.

"It was the right thing to do." ~ Tony Campolo  

Lord, give me eyes to see the right thing, and the everyday courage to do it.

"I would join a church like that." ~ Hawaiian Diner Owner

I couldn't help but think of a passage from Crazy Love by Francis Chan:
We need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God. You've probably heard the expression "I believe in God, just not organized religion." I don’t think people would say that if the church truly lived like we are called to. The expression would change to "I can’t deny what the church does, but I don’t believe in their God." At least then they’d address their rejection of God rather than use the church as a scapegoat. 
Stuff to ponder.  

And stuff to live.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Seven Brides...or So

I love when stories collide.

I'm reading through the Old Testament again and made it to Judges 21. Strange story. But when I got to this verse:

"So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them." (Judges 21:23).

It made me think of the "Sobbin' Women" song from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and the subsequent scene where the brothers sneak into town and pretty much capture their sweethearts. "Tell ya 'bout them sobbin' women who lived in the Roman days...."

What a hilarious mental picture to make the word come alive!

(And while it's not exactly the beginning most girls would imagine for their fairy tale of wedded bliss, I hope these young women went on to have happy stories, like their movie counterparts did.)