Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ouch, that hurts!

I know that there are a lot of people right this very minute that are hurting for a variety of reasons. Some people have seemingly unbearable problems, burdens that make me ashamed to sulk about the small stuff. But some of them are people just like me who should be fine, they're living in the sweet spot, just cruising through life. There is no illness at the moment, there is no major problem, no issues of real note, but there is a hurt, a pain that comes from the small arrows that have apparently never been addressed over the years and the resulting confusion whirling around the "why am I feeling like this" question.

There are just things that come to the surface when I least expect it and sweep my legs out from under me. After I recover from the surprise, I get to my knees and lay them before the throne. Through the tears, I try to hand them to the one who offers healing and security.  It's a scary feeling to let go of those things but it's a necessary release.  There isn't a lot of inspiration in this writing, just truth.  I'm sorry that I can't explain it any better than that but those of you who have pain...of any kind...understand. 

Lately, in dealing with some things, I have been hearing what I believe is a still voice from God that keeps saying "trust me".  I don't know what that means except to know that He offers something calm and peaceful, something greater than I can imagine, something I don't understand but desperately need. Does that take away the stings of today? Right at the moment, it does not, but then maybe it is not supposed to. I am thinking it may be a calm in the storm, a hand extended from heaven to hold while I wait,  the comfort I need to get through the darkness unafraid until the sun shines on me again....and it will.
 Now, here is good news for those of us who are more vulnerable to our hurts and fears at night.
 The Son is always shining on us, even in the dark.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"As It Turns Out"

I am from a church going family. I can't remember a Sunday when we weren't in church and at a family dinner after. It was just what Sunday was about in my world and it has given me some of my most treasured memories. I was in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Confirmation and every conceivable youth event our church had to offer. Still, there was a part of me that felt confused and empty, like I was involved in all the business and politics of "churching", but I didn't really understand what faith was really about and there wasn't a lot of talk about salvation.

I thought I just wasn't old enough yet or that there was something more I needed to do. I remember a lot of chanting, standing up and sitting down and hymns that I knew all the words to but sang without thinking about what those words meant. Maybe that sounds familiar to someone.  It is really a personal recollection, and not meant as a slam against any particular church or denomination. I know some extraordinarily faithful people in churches like the one I went to.  I remember a lot of twenty minute talks about God but what I don't remember is someone going through scripture verse by verse and teaching God's word as bottom line truth.  Maybe I was just to young to remember. I even had a pastor, yes, a pastor tell me once that the Bible was written 2000 years ago and is not really applicable for today. That really messed me up!

As I experienced pain and a lot of searching in my life, I found my personal Savior in Jesus Christ and turned my life over to Him. He meets us where we are and I found that so comforting. I didn't have to totally understand doctrine or theology to have His forgiveness, unfailing love and acceptance.  God chose the Bible as His way of communicating with His people and I decided that I needed to know what was in there.  I also determined that I could read it literally and believe that it is truth.  If I can't count on the integrity of scripture then I have no baseline from which to operate.  If it isn't ALL true, then none of it is and it is not worth the time to sort it out.

I have had periodic spurts of quality preaching but I was still missing something.  I believed the Bible and I had no qualms about looking there for answers but I didn't know how to study. I didn't know how it was all connected and which parts were written as prophecy, which were written literally and which were parables. I had no clue about the book of Revelation and virtually no understanding of end times. I didn't know the historical background or chronology that provides necessary incite to the setting and culture of the times.  Turns out that is pretty important and I didn't even know where to begin.

I have to say that all of that has changed. I began to sit under the teaching of a Bible teacher with an incessant  passion for teaching the word of God. He studies the whole picture including historical documents and commentaries from the time. He understands church history. He knows the culture, the region and has actually gone to Jerusalem to study.  When I began to sit under verse by verse Bible teaching with someone who has an incredible gift of making it interesting with movie like reality, I began to put those lost pieces together and figure out that the Bible is a book that IS meant to be understood.  It is meant to communicate with us the ultimate truths of God. Turns out, it is really interesting. Turns out, it is full of instruction for today. Turns out, it was meant as a personal communication to His church and me.  After years of confusion, it turns out that what I really needed was in my hands all along. I just needed to listen to someone who is brave enough to teach it verse by verse without the fear of people getting restless and voicing disapproval at it's depth. Thank you Galyn for not watering it down, for making it real and exciting and for unapologetically bringing the truth to light.  I hope you know what an impact you are making. As it turns out, the truth did set me free.

If you're interested in listening to Galyn Wiemer's teaching, check out his website at It is full of study aids, audio and video teaching and opportunities to attend other Bible studies in Des Moines. He has written four books including a comprehensive study book, "Framework For Christian Faith".  We are privileged to have him teaching at Faith E-Free Church in Audubon on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Please feel free to join us on this incredible journey.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Step Away

I pray. I give God problems and then I all but strain muscles jumping up to grab them back because I am not quite certain that He fully understands the situation and will take care of it the way I would like Him to or as quickly as I had hoped. I may just have been a little hasty in giving that to Him. Come to think of it, maybe I can just handle it on my own.  I can envision God looking at me when I try to manipulate the outcomes and saying.... (think police drama).
"Put the problems down. I'm not going to tell you again. Just put them down and step away!"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"The Goosebump Things"

There is a deep part of me that only surfaces when someone, (this time a student) asks me things like... "Did you do what you wanted to do with your life?" Surprisingly, the answer is... no. I wanted to do theater or perform or be in speaking of some kind.  I have done some of that and I loved it.  My parents thought that it was too risky so they recommended that I become a teacher because I was interested in art. They said it would be a good life for a woman who wanted to raise a family. Because I respected my parents and because in that time, teaching was one of the only options for a woman, I did as they suggested. Does that mean that my life was a waste or that I am not happy in what I am doing? That answer is also, no.

God has obviously blessed what I am doing, my art programs have been strong, my students win a lot of awards at contests and I get messages from former students that I have influenced their life choices and inspired them. I am always deeply touched by that. It feels like a thumbs up from God.  I am in a position where I can be His hands and feet and I am happy to be used in that way.

I love my kids. I spend a lot of hours with them and we develop a rapport over time. I like the enthusiasm and youth that I soak up from them. It gives me an opportunity to keep up and stay current to some extent. I am flattered when they want to have their pictures taken with me. When they ask my personal advice, it makes what I do seem more significant. But, I need to be prepared. I need to be able to speak out wisdom....that only comes from a relationship and a long walk with the Lord. I need to be praying that He will bind my tongue unless it is of Him...which should leave me speechless 80% of the time.

For the record, I have a deep and abiding love for the Lord and for my crucial people and of course that gives me my greatest fulfillment.   I still long for the "goosebump" things. For me, there is something transcendent about being in or going to a play, listening to live music or attending performances of about any kind. There are times when I am so moved that I don't even have words to express it.  When I am the one speaking or performing, I have the satisfaction of thinking that I may have touched someone and given them that same indescribable feeling. That is the stuff of my dreams.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Hero, My Dad and My Father

This is a bittersweet time of year for me.  It was this weekend in 1972. I was a senior in high school, a cheerleader, had a boyfriend, a car and good friends.  I couldn't imagine that my life could get any better but it did.  I was selected as a homecoming candidate which I never, in a million years, thought would happen. Homecoming week was like a dream to me. After years of struggling with friends and identity, I got to experience this week of convertibles, formals, pictures and "fame". I still remember that I thought I would just burst with excitement. I honestly didn't care who was queen, I was just so excited to be living this Cinderella story...every girl's dream. We even won the football game that Friday.

The parade was Friday afternoon and I got to ride in a 1962 Corvette convertible (did you notice I said Corvette?) with my name on the side. As the parade made it's way uptown, I saw him. There was my dad, arms across his chest, leaning up against the corner of the drive-in bank smiling and nodding at me.  I knew that he was proud of me and that meant more to me than anything. Even now, as I envision that, I feel warm and loved. That scene is indelibly etched into my mind and it is precious to me.

My dad was my best friend despite the fact that we fought and argued and made up and fought some more. Dad and I were cut from the same mold, fiery and quick tempered, opinionated and outspoken, but soft, loyal and introspective with a heart that was easily broken. After a dispute or even a knock down drag out, he would quietly come in and sit on the edge of my bed that night to resolve it and make sure we were okay.  He taught me a scripture that I always remember, Eph. 4:26, "Don't let the sun go down upon your wrath".  It is something I have attained to in my life and I believe it contributed to my peacemaking. It's atop the list of things that he taught me through example.

My dad fixed things, including me.  He was a farmer, a good manager and had that "jack of all trades" ingenuity. He was capable of doing anything (leaping tall buildings in a single bound), but most of all he answered my question.  He was one of the only ones who made me feel beautiful, like I had value and had an irreplaceable role in a great adventure (Eldredge).  I felt that I could do anything as long as he was there to cheer me on and support me. He had me in church every Sunday and I was a good girl. I didn't do bad things, in large part,  because he held me to a high standard. I knew that he'd do anything for me, except let me fail at being who I was designed to be.  (I loved my mother deeply and I have all the precious things she left with me too, especially her mother's heart.) As you can tell, my dad was my hero and I was his little girl.

That next Monday, October 2, 1972, after school, my life was changed forever. I was at cheer leading practice and my girlfriend came to tell me that Dad was in a tractor accident.  I flew home and as we drove up the lane, I saw the pastor's car in our yard. I jumped out of the car and ran to the house.  Standing at the gate was my friend's mom, shaking her head from side to side, crying and saying 'I'm so sorry'.  I will never forget that day.  It is as vivid and real as yesterday.  I know it wasn't my fault or his choice but I felt abandoned on that day and absolutely helpless.  That one moment in time when he was thrown from that tractor as it rolled, that one moment where his life was taken from this world, changed mine. I can't even count how many times I needed him to come to my rescue or to give me answers and unconditional love after that day. I felt abandoned and alone.

I was angry at God for years. What a cruel trick!  He allowed me love someone so much and took him away. I couldn't conceive of a God that would do that and leave my mother, who was sick so much, and my seven year old sister alone.  Isn't that an age old question with so many variations? One day, twenty some years later, a pastor asked me if I was angry at God for taking my dad.  He explained that we live in a fallen world, accidents happen and God grieves with us. Yes, I believe that God is in control, He could have stopped it, and at this point, I don't need to know why He didn't or why it had to happen.

My life changed that day too.  I suddenly began to see my Heavenly Father differently. I saw Him as someone I could turn to, someone I wanted to talk with, share my life's pain, bleed and cry with. It was sweet relief to be able to think of God as someone who would come along side me and cry my tears. My anger slowly melted away as I began to wrap my head around my newly found Dad. I began to understand that my Father was also my Savior. He was my Christ who suffered more physical and emotional pain than I can even imagine, who understands me intimately. He knows my heart, my every thought and loves me anyway. He thinks I'm a picture of the beauty He created, His princess, His bride. (He even blessed me with two sons that are so much like my dad.)

Today, as I write this, I feel the exact same feelings I felt that day in 1972, but through the tears, I feel the loving touch of the Father on my shoulder. I have a new hero in my life today but I don't think Dad all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


In Psalm 46:10 God commands us to "Be still and know that I am God".  I can do it for about 7.5 seconds and suddenly, my mind is racing to something else and something else after that. I desire to spend time with the Lord, I really do. I yearn to put myself in a state of solitude before Him but even though I am quiet on the outside, my inner spirit is racing.  It is a daunting task to even get a coherent prayer on the table sometimes. When I suddenly become aware that this is happening, I feel guilty or abandon the effort donning an excuse of too much on my mind. I can picture God holding out His hand and saying, "Hey, wait a minute, come back, don't give up... I wanted to talk to you." Oh, how I wish He would use an audible voice to break through the noise in my head.   Why do I struggle with this lack of focus?

There are periods of time, mostly when I am in an organized Bible Study with homework, that I keep a prayer journal and actually pray through it. I so admire my precious friends who are prayer warriors. "God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do. I am who God says I am. I can do all things through Christ. Gods' word is alive and active in me." This was our pledge of faith in the Beth Moore Bible Study, "Believing God". Boy, did I need that reminder!

One of the things we learned in this study was that our promised land is a place of conquest, a place where God brings forth great harvest, a place of unapologetic blessing to the obedient.  Our promise lands are places of great victory over our enemy.  God does speak to us. I need a daily reminder that scripture is always the best place to look for answers.  The enemy wants my focus on anything....except God.  If I want to sit quietly in my promised land, it appears that I need a great victory in this conquest over the one who plots to steal my focus. God has promised to drive out my enemies before me. (read Joshua 3:10).  Well, alright then! What amazes me is ...when I take a few minutes to focus even by writing, He answers my question.  Thanks God, for reminding me that your Word is your voice.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two Dreary Days

So...we have two cold, rainy days in a row and I'm sulking and crawling under a blanket and pulling it over my head.  I experience such disappointment when my options are limited. When I am forced to stay inside, I want to be outside.  When it is too hot outside, I want to be inside. Apparently, I'm insatiable.  Why can't I just have what I want, when I want it? Why can't the weather be 75 degrees and sunny all the time? Okay, I know we do need rain.  I would really like the wind to stay under 10 mph so my golf ball doesn't go bouncing off walls and trees when I aim straight at the pin. Although, to be painfully honest, that could have something to do with operator error.  Don't we tend to have a preconceived notion of what things should look like? I know I do.  When it doesn't look like that we are disillusioned and even shattered.  How do you suppose God felt when Eve took a bite and Adam followed suit? We have a way of grieving His heart over more important things than disdain for the weather. The question I ought be asking is more like.  Why don't I give Him what He wants in my life when He wants it?

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Something Beautiful"

The song by Need to Breathe, says I need something beautiful to touch me. There is a deep longing in us for beauty.  I read John Eldredge and it is a focal point in his writing. In a recent devotional he quoted Simone Weil "There are only two things that pierce the human heart: beauty and affliction. Why do we long for beauty? I suggest that it represents everything that is good and worthy in the world. It displays God's intention when He gave Adam and Eve an ideal environment in the garden.  It demonstrates how He truly wants to give us every good and perfect thing yet, we go about doing life and creating our own affliction.  As an artist, I create a lot of things. I am capable of making a horrendous mess before I have anything beautiful and then I inevitably see the flaws.  I can easily comprehend affliction. Clearly, I need to work on "getting" the beauty part. I am getting more sensitive to it's touch.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Apparently, There's Pain.

As I look back to last night's Ethos Project, I recall the young presenter relating the story of a father  frantically, relentlessly digging in the rubble of an earthquake for 72 hours (when everyone else said there was no hope) to find his son alive and rescue him. The tears were flowing as I imagined our Heavenly Father digging through the debris of our lives in a desperate attempt to save us and set us free. The difference is, the boy was elated and relieved to see his father. We, on the other hand, are under that wreckage  clinging onto those things that need to be heaved away before we can climb out and be free. Are we scared that we will have to give up something? Are we afraid to see our Father face to face?

I got chills as I watched what I'm sure was over a hundred people, mostly kids go forward after hearing the message of salvation and the offer of freedom from the bondage that was holding them in sin.  Through the tears, I watched kids I see every day believing the gospel and giving their lives to Christ. How many days do I sit and wonder why a student is acting out or why they can't just sit still and be quiet for once.  Apparently, there is pain...pain that I can't see, pain that requires a Saviour.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Indian Summer

I love Indian summer.  Those words immediately paint a picture that is brilliant with the hues of fall, the feeling of the crisp air on my skin as I sleep with the windows open and the smell of harvest's abundance.  My impulse is to jump up and run outside to see if there is a pile of leaves to dive into. When I think of that,  I approach my day much differently and I have a choice to make.  I can focus on the upcoming winter or I can choose to focus on this beautiful extension of summer and enjoy the here and now. I lose the glory of today when I look ahead to the possible grays of tomorrow. I choose today.

Having a Child

Having a child is a commitment of epic proportions. There is no greater emotional risk than giving birth to someone who will lay claim to your heart. This person will redefine your idea of love,  they will be someone you will cherish and fiercely defend, someone you will be willing to suffer and die for.
Although you will want to take away all their pain and fix everything, you won't be able to and when you want them to learn from your mistakes, they will make their own. They will live their lives, they will marry someone they will love more than you and they will have their their own family...and someday understand that having a child is a commitment of epic proportions.
Written 9/4/10

On Boredom

Boredom…. a word so overused and misused. If there is boredom, it seems to me that there might be an absence of thankfulness or a spirit void of the creativity that would push us to pursue something that makes us tick louder. There IS a part of life that makes me yawn. Those tasks that have to be rehearsed over and over again without variation such as cleaning, paying bills and pulling weeds. But, after those things are out of the way, there is a whole world by which we can define our existence. God orchestrated this treasure hunt and packed it full of incredible beauty and intrigue. When there is no prepackaged entertainment readily available or maybe (play along here) before looking in that direction, I propose that we go outside. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get my chores done so I could go out and explore at our farm and create an environment for myself out of whatever I might stumble across. I look fondly upon the days when technology consisted of a black and white television and a corded telephone. (I was lucky though because our phone had a long cord that I could stretch down the basement stairs in search of privacy, well, until someone on our party line began to click because they wanted to make a call.)
Being outside beckons us to be creative, it begs us to look. Fortunately for me, art does the same thing.
Written - 9/2/10