Friday, January 25, 2013

Two Kinds of Agains: 5 Minute Fridays

Five Minute Friday

Trying to get back into the swing of things, I come this morning to the page with the Friday-intent on writing without editing for five minutes about the topic Lisa-Jo Baker decides upon.
Today it is AGAIN. 

Again, my side hurts, Again, it hurts to even stand up and walk. Again, I wonder how long, O Lord, will I feel this health-forsaken. It's been one year now since the big problems began and I would have to hunch over and limp in pain. How my right side would feel like it was exploding from within. Months and ER trips later, sobbing phone calls to midnight on-call nurses later, I would have tests done, and again doctors would scratch their heads and again they'd say it's my anxiety and again I'd cry at their blindness and ineptitude and then I see the specialist after all those tests come up fine and he says to go on this weird, strict diet and so I do and again I feel the pain but this time lose weight I didn't mean to let go of and again I can't fit into my clothes...never thought I'd be saying that in terms of clothes being too big...and again I hurt and again I turn to Husband and cry at night because I am sick of being so sick and isn't everyone else so sick of me being so sick, too?

We can say a lot of agains if we let ourselves. I can get stuck in the again cycle and be prone, as you can see, to complaining and sinking further into discontent.

I don't mean this is what Paul meant by thinking of things pure and holy and good.


Again, my Jesus saves me. Again, He is the Healer and Comforter and it is His touch that can bring me peace. Again, day after day. Christ comes to shush my complaining-agains and remind me of the promises of His agains.

Again, He would suffer for me. Again, He would save me. Again, He would die for me. Again, He would take upon the world's sin for me.

It is an amazing thing to behold, just how different two kinds of Agains can be.

So...again I go to work with this pain and this weariness....again I might have woken up in pain and cranky...

but I am changing my again of angst to the again of gain. I am gaining God's promises and choosing that over malady.

And I just might have to do that each and every morning, again and His mercies are new...again and again.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Most Radical Lullaby

Ann wrote today about radical faith. It's a theme she's been writing on and I've been riveted, as usual, by her insights.

I wanted to write a blog entry about what radical faith looks like to me and I had a million thoughts:

- I don't have time to sit and write a blog entry; I have to pick Eldest Girl up in 20 minutes.
- I don't know what I should say; I haven't felt very radical lately.
- My side still hurts and I don't want to get up.
- I am not qualified to talk on the subject.
- I'm weak and a faith-wuss.

Do you see the downward spiral? Once I heard the snaky hiss of that last thought, I stomped up and grabbed the laptop, logged in, and began writing here.

Sometimes, I have radical faith.

Sometimes, I don't have radical faith and I let my fears rule.

But I will count the ways I am radical in my faith, past and present and future, and I will list them as things I am grateful for - because living eucharisteo is the most radical thing I've ever tried to do.

I Am Radical in My Faith Because

I realize I don't have to do big, expensive things for God to love me and be pleased with me.

I realize that, in His upside-down Kingdom, the little turns to big and the nothing turns to something.

I know what God has called me to do - serve this family of mine - and I do it. It is a daily struggle and a daily joy and I am still learning how to live out grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love.

I am taking on my own kind of dare that is rather private and so I cannot share here...but it is between God and me and it is radical!

I invest my life into these stepchildren of mine - these children I did not birth by womb, but birthed by heart.

I sponsor two children and co-sponsor a third and am so blessed by each of them. I realize that it is the love that counts, not so much the money.

I have realized that if I pray, God, will you give me wisdom? then God might show me that I am wrong in my present thinking and I have to be okay with that.

I know walking a life alongside Christ is hard (In this world you will have trouble), but I feel secure and strong enough in my love for God to know that it will be all right in the end (but do not fear; I have overcome the world ~ John 16:33).

I have began memorizing Scripture with the Romans Project (see sidebar badge) and it is scary because I fear failure...but I'm doing it anyway. That is radical.

I am leading a DVD study on Ann's "One Thousand Gifts" and trying so hard to learn it out and walk it out and live it out. Such a radical notion, this give-thanks-in-everything. The Bible is so radical!

I am loving when I do not feel loved. I am serving when I feel jipped and unappreciated. I am forgiving when I don't feel forgiven. I am not choosing some battles I normally would choose.

I am slowing down. That is radical.

I am sitting here listening to Husband play with Son. And play is not common around here. Calm is not common around here. And my heart wants to burst out in tearful gratitude for this bit of time I carved out to remind myself that I can write about how hard things are over and over...

but God will constantly remind me of how He has us all in His palm.

Do you not know, Lisa, that if you take your hand out from beneath all of them, that My hand will not be there even moreso? (this the Lord said to me one day last year as I cried and clutched)

I am breathing. Heavenly Father, glory to You! - I am breathing!

This I haven't been able to do in months.

I breathe. I breathe the name that can only be breathed: {YHWH}.

On Ann's blog, she quotes Rabbi Lawrence Kushner as saying:

“The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable….
This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing.
The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.

I can finally be still enough to listen and breath His name..I breathe it like a song.


...the most radical lullabies I've ever known. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

If Thirst, Have Drink

What to say when I haven't said anything for over a month?

I feel guilty.  I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed.

I also know that I have been attending to things that were, perhaps, more important than my blog.

God has put on my heart numerous times the fact that I have worshiped the online world. And I'm not talking about Facebook or some no-brainer web site...I'm talking about spending hours and hours reading amazing faith-filled blogs, connecting with amazing online sisters-in-Christ, researching faith-related questions, listening to Christian music, adding to my Guinness Book of World Records-Big-Christian library...

these are all good things, right?

"When one is thirsty one quenches one's thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition" ~ Jean Pierre de Caussade

and Ann Voskamp, in "One Thousand Gifts," continues, saying,

If we are dying of thirst, passively reading books about water quenches little;
the only way to quench the parched mouth is to close the book
and dip the hand into water and bring it to the lips. 
If we thirst, we'll have to drink.
I would have to do something.

It took a few times of being knocked on the side of the head for me to get it, but I was idolizing my desire to learn more - but not through spending time with God or reading Scripture, but by being the academic and reading those beautifully-written, what-I-term "Christian living" books and soaking up those authors' knowledge about the Christian life because...come on...I like to hear a woman a bit older than me telling me about her troubled past and how God redeemed it. 

We like success stories.

We like stories in which we can relate.

And yet...

Mary is a success story. Paul, too, don't you think? A nobody becoming a Somebody. In fact...isn't that what God's Kingdom is all about? It is our world that is so upside-down. God yearns to make us nobodies into Somebodies. 

So many people in the Bible struggled. I can relate to so many of them - they were all sinners, just like me. Why wasn't I reading the Bible for the relateable stories?

I feel God silenced me in some ways. Every time I wanted to write a blog entry, something interfered - a child needing something, Husband needing something, work, other hobbies, whatever it was, something in the past month always got in the way of me sitting down here and writing. 

I realized, after years of grumpy and sometimes anger-exploding-mornings, that I need to sit and pray before I start the day. 

I realized, after hearing the message over and over from different sources, unknown to the other, that I needed to seek God's wisdom about important things going on in my life...

and I needed to take a break from the internet. I needed to take a break from my Christian blog-perusing, even my own blog-writing. 

Then came the day (ironically, after a Christmas gift card was used on Amazon to buy fabulous Christian books) when I felt God say to me to put down every single book except for the Bible for one week. 

And I did.

I'd like to say that an epiphany came and I spent time seeped in God's Word every day for hours and have notebooks and notebooks of journaling to show for it. I'd like to say that I feel that peace which surpasses all understanding. I'd at least like to say that I feel better. 

But I can't say that. Because I don't feel better. 

My health problems worsen, marriage strain still exists, chaotic children drama still occurs daily. 

And, what is worse than that, to me: I barely even got into God's Word this week. 

I did, however, put down all other books. 

It is taking a great deal of courage to type all this down. For so long I've wanted this blog to be a place of wisdom and safety. A place where people could come and read and feel comforted and possibly even ministered to (read the newer About Me). 

But, somehow, I got it in my ego-driven little head that I had to "write pretty." Oh, I could ask the hard questions all right. And I often do ask the hard questions. But I knew that was a good thing to do. We should all be asking the hard questions, right?

But when it came down to doing the hard thing...

what was it I learned that weekend away?...

the real meaning of eucharisteo....

and I stumbled upon, while link-jumping, this old blog entry of mine...

which just about blew my mind...

and I realized that I wasn't doing what I wrote about. I was doing a lot of reading, thinking, writing, talking...but I wasn't doing. 

I wasn't obeying; I wasn't truly listening for God's wisdom; I wasn't truly sitting in God's Presence. 

I only truly wrote about it.

So as I sit here now, I feel a bit better about my blog objectives. I know I can't just write pretty anymore. If I am going to be any kind of friend, much less a mentor or disciple, I have to get down on my hands and knees and get honest with God. 

God, I am sorry that I have walked the walk but did not fully engage the way You want. I am sorry that I made other things into idols: internet, books, music, church activities. Yes, even these very "godly" things can become dangerous idols if depended upon too much. And so, Lord, I seek Your forgiveness and ask for Your wisdom and guidance as I step into the knowledge that I need to read Your Word more. I ask for Your blessing and help in fighting off the enemy - both my own apathy and the real enemy that seeks to kill and destroy. I ask You to direct my footsteps, now and always. Amen.

And so, with some heart-pounding, I joined Ann Voskamp's community over at ScriptureTyper. 

It is called "The Romans Project"  and you can click that link as well as this one from Ann's blog describing why she decided to do this. And you can also click on the badge to the right and be connected to the community to which I have made myself accountable. I just signed up and perused it. I am overwhelmed. 

I used to be so good at memorization, but in early college I had a dreadful, traumatic experience in my theatre class and because of that mess (which included my brain blanking on the script during a testing performance) I walked away from the stage and from any and all confidence in my memorization ability. So I came to this project with clammy hands, afraid to fail myself...but more afraid to fail God. 

But in my stumbling and falling, lately and always, I do know that God would rather me try and fail than not try at all. He'd rather me try to dig into His Word than keep that Bible closed. And who knows...if I stop leaning on my own understanding...who knows what things I could accomplish?

So I invite you. You who are flawed and messy. You who spend too much time watching mindless television because you feel too depressed to get off the couch. You who are a closet-theologian and think that you know just about all you need to know. You who doubt your own ability to get anything right. I invite all of you. Let's take this challenge to memorize God's Word. It is one of the most important things we can do. 

Ann Voskamp writes, 

"God gives us time. And who has time for God?" (p64, "One Thousand Gifts")

Let's make time for God. I think it is the one habit He would have us do. Don't you?