Look Closely

This morning my husband found a dark puddle of liquid in the tiny reservoir under our refridgerator’s in-door water dispenser. There’s a shiny cover, so it wasn’t immediately obvious until he saw the edges of the cover were dirty.

Water is clear. This was not. Together we quickly cleaned it up.

It made me wonder what else I look at everyday without seeing it. My marriage? My Bible?

Yes, I tell my husband I love him everyday, and I read my Bible everyday, but is it possible that just below the shiny surface I am missing something that needs attention?

Isaiah became a prophet for Israel, and at his commissioning God told him:

“Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’” –Isaiah 6:9 NIV

As a mom I can sort of relate. Many times I feel like I’m speaking but my children are only hearing, not responding.

And this morning I realized that every time I went to refill my water from the fridge door I was seeing but not perceiving.

The puddle of whatever-it-was was easy to clean up, and the good news is, as soon as we admit to God we are not fully engaged with Him, He responds. As soon as we ask forgiveness, He forgives and cleans us up.

So, quick, check that little spot under your water spout in the fridge door. Then get a cup of water, sit down and really look at your Bible. Not sure where to start? I recommend Psalm 51, Isaiah 6 and Matthew 13.

Dear God, forgive our forgetfulness, numbness and blindness. Thank You for giving us eyes to see You again today. Amen.

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My Wife Won’t Speak to Me

“Guest Post”

I love my wife. I sing to her, paint for her, provide for her and love her like crazy.

But here’s a typical day:

She sleeps as late as possible, then gets up and rushes around to get ready for the day. She walks past me like I’m not even there and doesn’t bother to say either “Good morning” or “Good-bye” on her way out the door.

Throughout her work day she knows she can call me anytime, but she doesn’t. I leave her texts, but she doesn’t even read them.

We meet for dinner, but she eats it without thanking me for taking her out. In fact, she invites some of our friends and talks to them the whole meal, acting like I don’t even exist.

On the drive home she listens to her music, yells at other drivers at times, but treats me like I’m invisible.

When we get home, she changes to comfy clothes, crawls into bed and turns on the TV. She laughs at fabricated jokes but can’t seem to hear my true humor.

Hours later, without any acknowledgement of our marriage, she clicks off the TV, turns away from me and goes to sleep.

I watch her, aching to love her. But I’ll wait until she turns to me first. She usually talks to me at least once on the weekend. In that time, I woo her, but she seems to forget me when Monday comes again.

So I wait. I love her so much.

__
Is this our relationship with Jesus? Are we doing life oblivious to His crazy love and constant presence? Is occasional time in the Bible enough? Is weekly worship acceptable?

Dear one, He waits for us. Let us speak to Him now and now and now … allowing Jesus to fill our spirits and invade each moment of our lives with His divine presence.

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9 Spiritual Quotes & Questions from my Kids

Click the links for related Scriptures. Enjoy!

Me with always is God.

Why did God create storm?

What’s the fastest way to see Jesus? Climbing a tree or swimming?

[About a coloring page featuring Joshua, son of Nun and his fighting men:] I want to name the others. This is Kung-fuey. This is Tom. This is Bob. This is Caleb, and this is Joe.

How old is Jesus?

God made me impossible!

You can’t take Jesus’ love from your heart.

I know what sin is.

[singing] Put on the full armor of God, so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Put on the full armor of God from Ephesians 6:11. The helmet of salvation, the bracelet of righteousness, the belt of truth and the shoes of peace …

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Not Difficulty, but Drudgery

“Sometimes it is not difficulty that makes me think God will forsake me, but drudgery.” –Oswald Chambers

Day after day she sits.

Every morning she is in the same spot. Sometimes she looks one direction. Sometimes she moves and looks another. But she doesn’t leave her roost.
She stays as the sun rises.
She remains through the day.
When wind picks up and rains drops fall, she watches, unflinching and unmoving.
When the twilight comes, she keeps her post.
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I look for her at the start of my day. Pulling back the drapes, I see her once again. I try to take a photo, but she has hidden herself well. After several failed tries, I leave her to her privacy.

As I sit to sip my coffee and open my Bible, a movement outside catches the corner of my eye. She has not left but shifted once again. But something is different.

Looking up and out into the trees in my yard, I strain again to see Mama Bird. I’ve been watching her daily this spring. She’s still in the nest, but now I also see someone else. A small fuzzy someone.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. –Matthew 10:29-31 NIV

On one side of the four inch aspen trunk I see Mama’s tail feathers. In the nest on the other side are twitching new feathers. I cannot see their heads. What is their interaction? Is she feeding him?

I go back to my cup and study but soon I’m at the window. I see two tiny heads. Mama bends over to a very small, almost indiscernible one. A newborn. He isn’t twitching; he’s hatching. Oh, happy birthday!

As baby breaks free, he ruffles Mama’s feathers. She is on high alert. Does she see me? Her small head twists as baby presses through.

Another glance up and out. Now I see them both. A few minutes later I again only see Mama. In the same nest, the same place she has been every night and day for over a month.

Though she hasn’t left, she sits higher. Again I notice her ruffled feathers. Oh, Mama, how I can relate. Bless you.

I glance at the clock: 23 minutes until my baby birds are up. Another day for me in the same place. I shift from the kitchen to the laundry room, but the tasks ahead look much like yesterday’s.

In small moments of frustration, I look up and out. I see Mama there. Great is her faithfulness, I muse, because great is Yours.

Oh, Lord, You are here. You see Mama, and you see me. Thank You for the mundane and the chance to trust You in it.

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What Can I Do?

“What can I do?”
“Can I stir that for you?”
My kids swarm around me as I do my daily domestic dance. I glance at the clock and quickly calculate that supper needs to be done sooner than later.
“Please set the table,” I answer both of my girls.
“No, I meant, what can I do in here. I want to help,” says the oldest.
I reiterate, “It would really help if you set the table, honey.”
As I say this my younger daughter again asks, “Can I stir that, Mama? Please?”
Gently I ask her also to assist in the dining room, not the kitchen.
“I don’t want to do that.”
“Me neither.”
“Well,” I sigh, tired of my own repetition, “that’s what would help Mommy.”
My princesses suddenly leave me alone in the kitchen. I hear them in the hall putting on shoes and a moment later the sliding door to the backyard opens and shuts.
Another sigh slips out as I glance from the kitchen to the bare dining room table.

The next morning I sit poised with coffee, Bible, devotional, pen and journal. I praise, confess, and feel a familiar stirring for something more.
I write a sophisticated prayer in my journal when suddenly I realize what I’ve asked: God, what can I do? Can I stir that for You?
The day ahead comes to mind: taking kids to school, teaching, meals, cleaning, laundry.
No, I meant, what can I do of importance, God?
The list of mundane tasks crowd into my thoughts. Frustrated, I start to push them away until …
Ahh, You want me to ‘set the table.’ It’s not what I want to do, but it’s what You’re asking. Forgive me, Lord.

No great ministry—or rather, there is no greater ministry—than daily responding in love to whatever He calls me too.

As I go about my day, I feel a shift. Acceptance of the day’s activity brings me peace. I listen to and laugh with my daughters. I drive kids, dust furniture and dice chicken with ease instead of irritation.

Contentment! Who knew such joy existed in simply setting the table?

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” —Matthew 20:25-28

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Inhale! Swallow!

In 1992 presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s history of drug use came to light. At the time President Clinton protested he “didn’t inhale.” A fine line of acceptable behavior was drawn.

Now in 2014 in the state of Colorado, marijuana use is legal. Go ahead and inhale! (Oh please hear my sarcasm.)

One of the starkest moments of my life came at the age of fourteen. My aunt and uncle lived with us while my uncle received cancer treatments. Years of smoking and drinking had led to a body ravaged by cancer.

One Friday before school I found my uncle at the top of the stairs. Too weak to take more than a few steps at a time, he was resting before walking down. I stood on the landing to say good-bye and stared into vacant eyes. He was silent, and I saw only cancer, not a man.

Cigarettes never became a temptation to me.

Drinking on the other hand …

Six months after my first husband died, my best friend told me she was expecting a baby. She and her husband were buying a house, and (from my perspective) living happily ever after.

That night as I drove home to my lonely apartment, angry tears blinded me. I pulled over, unable to drive. I yelled at God in my car. “Why?!” I decided to get drunk. Glancing out the window, I saw a bar across the street. By God’s grace I started the car and went home.

I didn’t swallow.

Smoking, drinking to get drunk–legal but not healthy. Calming and numbing but not life-giving.

Counterfeits.

–> Do you pursue life-giving habits and recreation? What would change if you did?

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

The Breath of Life! Inhale that!

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by LIFE (2 Corinthians 5:4, emphasis mine).

he [God] will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces (Isaiah 25:8-9).

Death and grief swallowed up by life! Drink hope!

God, the counterfeits seem so real. Show me the truth today, and I will breathe it in and ingest it. Amen. 

 

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RUN!

[This excerpt is from Sara's ebook devotional Up to Know Good Daily Inspirations, on sale for only 99¢ March 21-28.]

I work from home and the other day I found myself looking into my pantry. I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted some chocolate to help me deal with my stress.

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As I stood there, I started to make a deal with myself. If I get some work done, then I can eat some. Suddenly I realized what I was doing. I firmly shut the door and ran down the stairs to my office determined to get my work done before the end of the day.

Do Good–Temptations look different for each of us. It might be TV, chocolate, too much time at the computer, etc. Whatever unhealthy choice you are facing today, do not stop and negotiate with it. Simply turn and run the other way.

I not only finished the tasks I was dreading that day, I also started on some other work. Though turning away from the chocolate was difficult, I left my office that evening feeling elated at what I had accomplished.

“She caught him by the cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left the cloak in her hand and ran out of the house” (Genesis 39:12).

God, help us to see through our temptations and courageously run away from them.

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When Will I Be Grown Up?

My four year old moves the rocking chair in the living room back and forth. With her legs too short to reach the floor and swaying in rhythm, she looks like she’s swinging more than rocking.

“When will I be grown up?” She calls into the adjoining kitchen.

As I do my domestic dance–my preferred way of describing walking countless times around the kitchen as I prepare a meal–I hesitate before giving a glib answer.

In that pause God whispers to my heart, “This is the question you’ve been asking me.”

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I look at my daughter in her pink tiara, several layers of shirts and dresses and neon blue and yellow striped socks. A lump forms in my throat. I enjoy her being four–innocent yet smart, sweet yet stubborn. But she wants to grow up.

“It takes years to grow up, Honey. You’re a little more grown up today than yesterday, and tomorrow you’ll grow a little more.”

She stops rocking and stares at me.

“But if you’re wanting a specific time, you are considered an adult when you’re 18. That’s when you can vote and join the army.” (I have no idea why I tell her about enlisting in the military, but there you go.)

“Okay,” she says, and then in typical Princess fashion twirls away onto something else.

Meanwhile, I return to my domestic dance so we can eat lunch soon. The daily grind goes on, and I struggle to accept it. I swallow down tears and confusion.

God, when will I grow up? A simple response whispers in my spirit. Two scriptures:

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Psalms 126:5-6
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

A harvest. Sheaves. (Umm, what exactly, God?)

From dictionary.com:
Harvest (n)
1. a crop or yield of one growing season.
One lifetime? My lifetime?

2. a supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored: a harvest of wheat.
Okay, not until the crop is ready. That makes sense.

3. the result or consequence of any act, process, or event: The journey yielded a harvest of wonderful memories.
Definitely in this case a process. God said in Galatians to not grow weary. Anyone can hang in to see how one act or one event in life will turn out. God asks us to wait and see what the process will produce.

Sheaves, plural of Sheaf
-noun
1. one of the bundles in which cereal plants, as wheat, rye, etc., are bound after reaping.

2. any bundle, cluster, or collection: a sheaf of papers.
Okay, now I’m getting excited. So God promises not just one shaft of wheat, and not even just one sheaf, but bundles of bundles?! Yes, sow those tears, and God promises loads of joy in return.

I might know 12 people like that–full of joy, living in the reality of Christ day-by-day. Most people, even Christians, are polite, superficially nice. Some are grumpy, bitter, cynical, in denial, or simply shut down. “Do you want to grow up?” I hear the Spirit inquire. Yes. Yes I do.

As much as I love my daughter at four, I cannot wait to see the young woman she will be in 20 years. With a smile, I imagine my heavenly Daddy saying something similar about me. A little more deeply I trust His goodness and believe the harvest will come in the right time. For today I think I’ll go swing in the rocker.

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The Answer Is “You”

“Do you know who the pearl is?” Kathy asked me. My mind stumbled as I quickly found Matthew 13:45. I love having a search function in my eBible. Did you know “pearl” only appears three times in Scripture? Anyway …

I found it and silently read Matthew 13:45-46:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

As I searched and scanned in my Bible, Kathy went on. “Of course Jesus is a Pearl of Great Price and a Treasure. But for the first time, God showed me that I’m the pearl. I’m. The. Pearl.”

The next morning I found the passage again. Despite sipping decaf coffee, I slowly woke up. I read the parable imagining an 18th century distinguished merchant sailing on oceans world-wide looking for the best jewels money could buy. Then the last two words arrested me, bringing other verses to mind.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; YOU WERE BOUGHT AT A PRICE. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, emphasis mine).

Like a movie, my mind went from the high-seas to the cross. The picture zoomed in on Christ’s bloody, pinned, mangled body. He looked at me as He exhaled and literally gave His last breath for me. In that moment, I was bought.

Tears streamed down my face. I searched for the tissues and prayed. “Oh, God. I didn’t realize. I knew in my mind, but I didn’t really believe. I’ve still been trying to be beautiful according to the mirror and the scale. I’ve been trying to reach significance through mothering and ministry. Thank You for literally giving EVERYTHING, down to Your last divine breath. I believe You. I am the pearl.”


–>Do you know you are beautiful and significant? Is so–please share how in the comments below so we may further encourage one another.


In this self-important world, too often I downplay the ache inside for beauty and value. But God created me with a need to matter. Then Jesus came, stretched out His arms, and invited me into life that overflows with love and purpose.

You and I are not special in the one in a million way. In all of human history, we are each one of a kind! God saw you and gave up everything else so you could be His. YOU are the pearl. Let the Merchant adore and treasure you.

The day I realized I was His pearl, I (uncharacteristically) got a manicure with pearly white polish. Knowing how quickly I forget, my fingernails remind me: I’m. The. Pearl.

–>What can you do today to remember God’s great love for you?


“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

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The Death of a “Pet”

Today, September 19, 2013, my life-long companion Underdog passed away. Underdog was known for her self-pitying, self-loathing, yet prideful posture. On walks she looked mostly at the ground with a smirk on her snout that suggested she expected a reward for this later on. Sometimes she received doggie treats, but never enough to satiate her enormous hunger.

Underdog was needy all the time. Her nick-name was Never Enough. When not sulking, she lay at home, whining. She whined to be pet with affection. She begged to be fed from the table. She pawed pitifully for recognition.

Underdog, however, never achieved the great destiny she believed she deserved. Instead her posture eventually left her crippled. Her appetite left her grossly unhealthy, and her incessant whining left her alone and abandoned by even those who tried to love her.

The death of my “pet” is a day to celebrate. I have walked and taken care of Underdog long enough! Today, in the great process of becoming more like Jesus Christ, instead of being tugged along by Underdog, I walk taller and freer Under God.

What pet attitudes or beliefs keep you company? What lies do you live with?

God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself. And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun. –Romans 8:29-30 (The Message)

God, thank You for setting us free from lies that have become destructive companions to us. Make us like Jesus. We praise You for the destiny and freedom we truly have in You.

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