I read an awesome post on Wednesday by Mandy Steward. She told the story of a little boy and his prayers. The mom so convicted over her own prayers being safe and ordinary she stopped and thanked God for the extraordinary, simple things. (Read the post.)
My heart was roused to thank God for the seemingly ordinary, but are really extraordinary things.
Dear Lord you are most generous in the blessings you’ve given me. I thank you for…bracelets that look like threaded gumballs. Green shoes. Pen & paper and the ability to pour forth my heart. Dark purpley eye shadow. Laptops. Lattes.
For precious pictures by a more precious little girl in India.
Thank you for frozen yogurt, mango frozen yogurt, coconut frozen yogurt, and the Mochi I love topping it with. For text messaging & Twitter. Starbucks pumpkin cream cheese muffins….smelly good candles…and Autumn! Thank you ear plugs.
Thank you for giant Chihuahua ears.
Thank you for funky & outrageous colored nail polishes. For sleep in, lazy Saturdays….And awesomely funky tights. For sweet wine, and cupcakes…oh and brownies too.
What extraordinary ordinary things can you thank Jesus for today?
Monday night as I was writing yesterday’s post, I was reminded of a poem I wrote back in 1994. I think it was the first poem I ever wrote. It was written out of a desperately empty heart. I debated sharing it here because I was not sure it fit. It is in some ways highly personal and after sharing it with one person they told me it was depressing. Despite that, it’s remained close to my heart.
As I said I wasn’t sure about posting it until today (Tuesday). It was this comment by a dear friend that was confirmation. I’m still not sure how it fits into my post from yesterday, but I felt the undeniable pressure to post it here.
Dry and fragile, like the fall leaves,
my spirit finds no satisfaction, no relief.
I cry out “Oh my God, where are you now?”
Yet, still this emptiness lingers with no relief.
My heart finds joy and is soaring,
like an eagle on the blue.
How then, my heart then finds
no joy and comfort to ease my aching soul?
I cry out again, “Oh Lord, my God?
Where are you now?”
But still no answer to this loneliness I feel.
All rights reserved. Please be kind, do not take or use without permission.
There are advantages to living in the desert. It’s not the 112°+ temperatures. It’s not the Gila Monsters or other various monsters. Living in the desert is like a Biblical lab in being in a dry and thirsty place.
I can understand verses like Psalm 63:1 where the Psalmist declares to God that he longs for Him like parched ground thirsts desperately for rain. In Phoenix when it rains we have a crazy phenomenon of standing in our garages in the dark and watching the pellets of water crash against the concrete and asphalt.
Of late I’ve felt like this parched land. Like the deer that is dying of thirst. My time with Jesus has been longing not been there. I’m fighting my will, and my will always ends up being the champion. It is a constant struggle. The thirst is there…but the effort is not.
I made the choice tonight to put my will aside. To take a harder path. The one that did not include me being lazy for the last hour before bed. I picked up my Bible, and I read. It would be just like Jesus to meet me where I am.
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If any one is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scriptures have said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”” – John 7:37 & 38 ESV.
Jesus knows my struggle. He knows I’m thirsty. He cries out to my heart. I know you’re thirsty. I know you desire to be with me. I know you are struggling with your will. I’m here. I will fill you. I will refresh you. Come to me my daughter. Drink in my Word.
I used to write poetry often, but I haven’t written a poem in a minimum of nine years. Talk about a dry spell, writers block, etc.
The other day as I prepared to round the corner that would nearly drop me on our door step, it tickled. A few lines. I dropped my stuff as soon as I walked in the door and made a dash for my Moleskin and pen. I had to take these images and put them to paper.
Most of the time my poetry is based off of circumstances in my life. This one is no exception. God is performing Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition on this 35 year old soul. He’s teaching, purging, tearing down and building anew. He is whetting my soul’s pallet for what a life without sin is.
I’d forgotten the process. The wrestling through it. How the words of a poem take shape and then morph into a different shape.
How the lines give voice to my heart’s whispers.
I long for Eden
Where sin did not destroy
Where perfection reigned
Where jealousy did not infect
Where pride did not stage civil war
Where death had not yet stolen
Where greed and selfishness did not take possession
Where separation did not exist
I long for Eden
Where communion was a walk side by side
Where joy was in the rise and fall of the sun and moon
Where worship existed in every breath
All rights reserved. Please be kind, do not take or use without permission.
Graphic by Shawn Landis
Yesterday I shared my weariness of being on this road I’ve been walking. I loved your comments because they echoed my own heart.
Last Friday I was standing in our kitchen at work with another lady. We watched as a baby bird enthralled with trying to jump on a window ledge. He didn’t quite have the spring in his little bird legs to get up there. A few moments later his momma came with what we quickly learned was a big juicy worm.
She flew down and attempted to give him the worm, but it was too big for him to eat. She flew back up to the safety of the tree that shadowed him and did her best to make it more manageable. Flew back down to the grass but it the worm was still too big. She darted back up to the branches.
God is forming me. Molding me. Preparing me. He requires growth out of me before I can take on what He has for me. If He were to force the future on me I’d spiritually gag, and rely on myself.
Though this journey is long I’m thankful that He isn’t force feeding me.
I’m an impatient person. I hate waiting on people. I hate being behind slow drivers or walkers. I’m early 99.99% of the time unless I force myself to be late and even then I struggle, and I fear I’ll have children who like to dilly dally and that already drives me nuts.
Shawn and I have both been on a journey the past three and a half years of God revamping our perspectives and giving us dreams for the future. At times it’s been a arduous journey. Others it’s been one where I sit in the passenger seat and just allow God to drive [not that I don’t have any responsibilities]. The road has been long.
I thought I’ve been waiting well, and I’d like to believe at times I have. However, I’ve learned in the last couple weeks I haven’t been. I’m weary of these travels, and my weariness has led to selfishness, and frustration.
In talking with friends, I’ve explained it this way: I’m ready for the exit that will take me to the destination or at least the exit to the road that will take me there. Instead I’m on the same road and only the name of the road has changed. Patience, self control, and more waiting are elements this road requires. The same elements that have been required all along.
I wonder who the person is I’m supposed to be at our destination and why it’s taken so long for me to become her.
I know this part of the journey must happen. It is absolutely imperative.
So I continue on this journey. Being shaped and reformed to the person I am supposed to be becoming. I do my best to wait well.
How are you waiting lately?
I hate myself.
Myself being my selfishness.
I’m dastardly. I hate with a passion that I continue to sin, and sin so easily. I relate to Paul when in 1 Timothy, said that he is the worst of all sinners. I long to live a holy, set apart life for God.
As much as I long for this and as much as God is faithful in showing me sin in my life, I feel like a failure. After 18 and a half years of walking with Jesus I feel that I should be so much farther along in denying my flesh it’s pleasures. Again I feel like Paul when he proclaimed that he doesn’t do what he wants to do but does rather what he hates.
It’s ugliness not only affects my life but that of those close to me. My decisions to sin literally rips away joy and peace from others, it can send them into a place they were never meant to be.
Last night at church our pastor explained sin in an incredible way. He said that when we sin, we are taking that thing and making it a higher treasure than walking with God. Adam and Eve did this when they ate of the fruit which God told them not to eat.
A few thousand years later and I do the same thing.
With repentant heart I prostrate myself before Him and ask for His ever abundant, never ending forgiveness. I ask for His help in changing. That He would take away my selfishness, my pride, my lying & evil speaking tongue, my bitterness.
I’m trying to be more intentional about giving grace to others. Let’s just say it goes against nearly every fiber of my being, but in my desire to be like Jesus that means giving grace to those I don’t think deserve it.
Yesterday I didn’t fair so well.
I have this co-worker, we’ll call her Jane. Jane tries my patience every single day. Today….I snapped. I replied to a complaint (one of many that narrates her entire day) in a snide, snappish way. What I said was most likely true, but the way in which I responded was not full of grace. It was full of frustration, lack of patience, and anger.
(click the image to read. insightful)
We are instructed by Paul to not sin in our anger. He does not say to not be angry, but not to sin in our anger. Today…I sinned.
The side effect of asking God to reveal sin in your life, is you begin to notice things you normally wouldn’t. You begin to catch yourself, unfortunately some of the time not until after you’ve already sinned. Yet He is still faithful to reveal it to you.
A friend and I were talking last week about how there is beauty in imperfect things. She shared that she was struggling with Matthew 5:8. In the sermon Jesus is giving He commands us to be perfect like He is perfect. The problem is of course we aren’t. Instead, He takes us and slowly (ever so slowly) begins the task of sanctification. Sanctification takes these useless, chipped, broken lumps of clay and applies us to the wheel and later then to the furnace to form us into images of Him.
The only time we are going to achieve perfection is once we’ve crossed Heaven’s gates. From now till then our lives are spent being formed to becoming like Him.
And becoming like Him, means giving grace. Giving grace to Jane, and all the other Janes at work. It means keeping my mouth closed, and my tongue bit when I feel like spouting off.
Grace means seeking God’s help cause I know I can’t give grace on my own.
When I was 17 I had my first boyfriend. I’d waited so long. For a girl, 17 is always a ways away. But I’d finally found someone who liked me. However, this boyfriend tried to take what wasn’t his to take. Something I wasn’t willing to give. On a spring night 18 years ago my boyfriend tried to rape me. Though nothing it didn’t go as far as it could have I remember standing in the shower trying to scrub off what had happened.
It was one of a couple events that occurred with him that haunted me for years. The images that would play over and over in my mind. The betrayal I felt from someone I’d trusted.
I gratefully haven’t thought about him or the events that occurred in many years. The Lord has been gracious to keep those things hidden in a dark crevice in my mind that is rarely, if ever visited.
This weekend though the door to that crevice was opened, and the feelings – betrayal, used, hurt, thrown away, fear – swept through my mind and heart like a fierce wind. Memories.
Shawn and I had visited the city where all of this had happened. In fact, we’ve gone there many times in the nine years of our marriage. This door had not been opened on previous trips, but this one it was. As we drove through the city (together as husband and wife, lovers, best friends) it struck me that God had taken this city that had been a place where someone had tried to chew me up and spit me out and He redeemed it. He remade it into a place of sanctuary for Shawn and I.
We go to Tucson to get away for a weekend. To escape for a couple of days the realities of life. To celebrate our love and our marriage. Though the emotional scars of what occurred 18 years ago will always be marked upon my heart, I can be assured though, that this city where this wicked thing happened, has been and continues to be redeemed to a place where my husband and I can be without fear residing in my heart.
Just as He did with my own wicked heart, redeeming it to something that can be in His presence, He’s redeemed this place so I can be in it’s presence with the one who loves me.
Please keep in mind that I know for many the redemption of a place, or song, or a car doesn’t happen. I know for many hearing a song or smelling a scent or seeing a certain type of car can throw you back into the hurricane in the instant moment your breath catches. I know that. My heart breaks for you, because I have been there. The nightmares that would come when I wasn’t even sleeping and would keep me awake. My encouragement would be to press into Jesus. He feels and knows your pain so much more than you can imagine. Ask Him to redeem that thing for you. It doesn’t mean the scars & hurt will go away, please know that. Those always stay, but by His grace He can take something and allow you to experience it without the anxiety & fear, without the shame.
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.