Praying Attention:)

Lillyann has an amazing imagination, and I love following her chain of thought. We were sitting at the dinner table yesterday when she said, “Look, it’s a fish in the tree!!” I saw the leaf she was referring to and even saw the semblance of a shark in it. She processes information as I do, and I plan to encourage her to keep on seeing what she sees and not worry if no one else sees or appreciates it. She has a beautiful creative spirit, and I know God will use it to bless her and others in her path.

I love to look at clouds and find all the wonderful shapes within them, and I’m fascinated by wood and the many images hiding in the grain of each unique piece. Sacred imagination is the best because it is the way I communicate with God and is a powerful component of my prayers. It shapes my prayers into sweet images which are very similar to those clouds and wood grains.

The heart is between the soul and the spirit, and Jesus fills my heart with His sweet presence. When I am praying attention, I see the images He places before me:) As I draw nearer, I see and hear more clearly. I marvel at how God knows and loves me, and I thank Him for allowing me to get to know and love Him more. He knows I’m a visual learner, and I know He is the Master Teacher. It’s a beautiful combination.

God’s reality is better than my imagination at its very best. I’ve allowed my imagination to carry me through difficult times, and I thank God for giving me a creative spirit. It blesses me and helps me draw nearer to Him. It is a gift I have learned to embrace, and I know I can help Lillyann as she embraces her own sweet personality. It is tempting to get caught up in the imaginary at times, and I’ve allowed myself to get trapped there when my reality was unbearable, mostly in matters of the heart.

I’m learning to let His reality become mine, and that is the best of all. Lillyann and Mylah are so very different. Mylah will lay on the floor in complete contentment as she decides how something is put together. She and her sweet daddy share the desire to take things apart and put them back together again. I love their unique expressions of spirit so very much and can’t wait to see how God will use those gifts.

The lessons this week have been pivotal as I have turned my attention to God and focused upon seeing His will in all things. I have been awed by God’s presence as I’ve let the things of this world fade away and embraced Him as never before. I sometimes feel the need to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming lately, but that’s been a great side effect of living in His reality. His truth cut deeply into my heart this year and continues to do so, but His reality is a sweet balm that heals as nothing in this world.

I plan to continue looking at clouds and wood grains, and I thank Him for the creative spirit He has given me. He is the Ultimate Creator, and I am created in His image. It follows that I should create:) I pray I will use all the gifts He gives to see Him and myself more clearly while helping others do the same. There’s that nudging again! Giving up the need to be who others desire for me to be is taking off the blindfold, unstopping my ears, and getting off my treadmill. I haven’t liked all I’ve seen and heard this week, but I don’t plan to go back to the blindness, deafness, and busyness that keeps me from seeing and hearing God as He desires. Praying attention is a beautiful thing:)

Fog and Faith

The fog today was as thick as any I’ve ever seen. I missed seeing the beautiful mountains in the distance, but there is a soft lesson hidden in the white mist that touched my heart. It reminded me that faith is believing without seeing, and that was a lesson I needed today. I like knowing what’s ahead when it comes to finding my way, and that’s exactly what God is trying to get me to change. Not being able to see ahead is unnerving, and uncertainty about where He is leading is even worse. The praying life is about love, but it also requires a level of faith I do not yet have. I suppose that’s the point of the lessons:)

I don’t know if it’s human nature or just me, but I say I trust and then offer a list of questions up to God in an effort to find out what’s coming. Even with all those lessons in love about being present and staying in the moment, I still find myself with one foot in the future. The world says to get a foot in the door, but God says to keep both feet in the present and leave the future to Him. Perhaps one day I’ll learn to do that without having to be reminded.

Lillyann is like me when it comes to wondering and worrying about what’s coming, and I love that about her. If I ever get weary with her worrying, I just remember that I am the same way with God. He is patient and loving, and I ask Him to help me be the same. Lillyann is surrounded by those who love and care for her, and I thank God the love He placed in each of their lives and in mine. Knowing you’re loved is at the heart of faith, and God’s love is the most powerful force on earth and in heaven. How can I not have faith when I know who He is and how He loves.

Fog is part of living in the mountains, and I love watching it settle in the valleys. When it comes too close to home, I don’t like it. Today was a vivid reminder to have faith in Him when I can’t see or don’t understand what’s next on the path. The fog is lifting, and the temperature is dropping. I see the mountains, and I see the beautiful white fluffy snow clouds coming from the west. The girls are excited, and so am I:) The beauty of a spring snow is that you know warmer temperatures are just around the corner. Looking forward to the snow and also the sixties this weekend.

My faith is getting stronger, but I have a long way to go. The girls don’t worry about whether or not mommy and daddy will take care of them. They play happily as all children should. They have reminded me today to do the same when it comes to my Father:)

The Law, The Prophets, and Love

 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 makes it clear what happens when love isn’t present.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” NASB

I never thought of these scriptures being connected to the transfiguration even though I know all scriptures are beautifully connected. The Law and the Prophets came together with Christ’s perfect love. Moses, Elijah, and Christ coming together at the transfiguration makes for an amazing scene. No wonder Peter wanted to build three tabernacles. He didn’t see at the time that Christ was bringing a special unity that would allow the law to be fulfilled according to God’s perfect plan. The prophets foretold His coming, and Jesus brought the love necessary for God’s will to be done and His Word to be complete.

Love changes everything, and Christ is God’s love in human form. Without love, we are nothing. Living the praying life means doing all I do with love. Praying is love in its purest form. Jesus sits at God’s side and intercedes unceasingly. If that is how He loves, then isn’t it the way I should also love? I see the call to pray in a new way, and I’m praying in a very different way. It isn’t as if I’ve prayed without love, but I am much more mindful of the love that makes prayer possible. It is all about connecting to His precious love first and then sharing that love as God desires.

I’ve struggled with the sharing at times, but I’m growing and learning to listen and follow His lead in that regard. I’ve had the tendency to overdo, enable, fix, and veer off His path when it comes to loving. The lessons in love over the past few years have helped me see love in a new light. I see now that was a prerequisite for living a praying life. A praying life is a life centered in sharing Christ’s precious love. That’s been the lesson this week, and I have been blessed to hear several messages about just that. Another beautiful lesson has been that God is all around me if I will open my eyes and be willing to step out of my comfort zone.

God finally got me out of the building and into the world this week. I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I do know that loving Him and sharing His precious love is all that matters whatever He has in store for me:) This beautiful message on the transfiguration helped me see a glimpse of His glory, and that helped me hear His call more clearly and have the courage to obey when I didn’t understand. Thanks be to God:)

I pray it blesses you as much as it does me. Thank you John for allowing me to share it:) 130224_Glory

Learning to Obey in a Different Way

To obey, according to the dictionary, is to “do as told” or “be controlled.” I’ve been thinking a lot about obedience lately as God has asked me to give up what I love dearly. I’ve struggled, cried, begged, fussed, and even asked Him quietly if He still loves me. All were futile as He waited patiently for me to obey as He desires. I decided to give up space to God for Lent, and that has challenged me to my very core. God wants me to surrender all, and I came to a place of willingness to do just that last week as I learned to obey in a very different way.

As I prepared myself for the worst, God gave me the best. He always does that, so I have to wonder why I continue to question or doubt Him. I should know by know that He is who He says He is and knows what He’s doing. The scriptures in the path this week reminded me that my questioning amounts to disbelief. That sobering thought helped me get rid of my acquiescence and do as told with a different heart.

God’s ways are higher than mine, and I found myself shaking my head and smiling as His plans unfolded. They make absolutely no sense, but they are perfect. I love that about Him. As I questioned Him about crossing lines, He was clear that there are no lines or divisions in His body except for the ones made by others. He wanted me to cross those lines and go where He was bidding. I’ve never considered being part of more than one church, but God made it crystal clear that is what He wants. I pray I will let Him control and listen only to Him so I can make the connections He has in mind.

If I do something because I want to, that isn’t obedience. If I do something because I believe I have to, that isn’t obedience. If I have to be bribed to do something, that isn’t obedience. When it comes to obeying as God desires, I have to listen carefully and trust completely that He knows what He’s doing even if it makes no sense to me. The result is something I never could have come up with on my own, and it blesses beautifully when I finally obey with complete surrender. True obedience means not having to understand. If I do something because I understand or came up with the idea in the first place, that is worse than not obeying at all. That’s taking His place, and I’m afraid I’ve done far too much of that in the course of this journey. You know what they say about that road to hell, it is surely paved with my good intentions. I think I’ll steer clear of that path and take His:)

The Courage to Pray

Courage is “the quality of being brave: the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.” I’m finding that prayer takes a lot of courage as I let go of the known and trust God. Facing all life brings and all God asks without fear takes courage. Praying not only takes courage, it also gives me courage. It’s a blessing to have wonderful friends who encourage and pray for me; I am very blessed when it comes to friends and family, and I thank God for surrounding me with so much love. Love makes fear flee and gives me courage. Courage and encouragement are derived from the Latin root for heart. I’ve learned that my courage has to come from God’s love. As I share His love with others, we are both encouraged.

God is calling me way out of my comfort zone. He does that when He wants me to get out of His way so He can do His work through me. I don’t understand all He has in mind, but I do know that He is calling me to leave the known and trust Him in the unknown. It’s what faith is all about, and I’m learning to be still and remember that He is God and knows what He’s doing. Once I stopped wrestling and arguing with Him, I found the sweetest peace I’ve ever known.

It’s difficult to explain to others what I don’t understand myself, but those who know and love me don’t need an explanation. I love that about connectedness; it doesn’t require words, just love. I’ve studied God’s Word for many years now, and that study has been intense during the past four and half years. God is bidding me to step out and serve those who are disconnected from Him and from society. He is using disconnection to teach me powerful lessons that I must learn before I can do what He’s asking me to do. His ways are higher than mine, and sometimes they go right over my head. That’s when faith becomes even more important. Painful is an understatement when it comes to making the changes He’s asking me to make, and uncomfortable doesn’t begin to describe my angst. He has given me peace, and that gives me the courage to keep praying.

Living a praying life means more than praying more fervently or more often. It means having the courage to ask God to be honest, hearing His call, and answering it when I don’t have a clue where it will lead me. It also means dealing with those who don’t understand. Thanks be to God that it means feeling His sweet presence as never before and finding that those who love me dearly encourage me to keep listening. One friend said it sweetly, “I trust God, and I trust you.” That spurs me on and lifts my spirit when those who need concrete answers pull me down. When it comes to the praying life, nothing is set in stone. That makes some very nervous as they worry I’ll drift too far away. It makes others happy that I’ve pulled up my anchor and given God the wheel:)

The Cost of Obedience

Disobeying God comes at great cost, but obeying Him takes all I have. The lesson this week has been just that. He lets me do some of what He wants and some of what I want for as long as I want, but He refuses to give me the peace that comes when I surrender all, trust Him, and do exactly as He asks. I try to bargain with God and do a wonderful job of convincing myself that what I want is the really the same thing He wants. It makes perfect sense in my mind; but my heart doesn’t buy it, and neither does God. I gave up bargaining and put my persuasive techniques away this week.

Change is never easy, and a dear friend reminded me it’s what living is all about. As much as I would love to freeze a beautiful moment, I know I would not even if I could. God could leave us in those precious times, but He knows they would not be precious if He did. He doesn’t make me love Him or obey Him because He knows that only when I surrender and obey on my own will I find the peace and purpose He so wants for me. I cannot truly obey until my selfish tears and childish tantrums subside, and I surrender all to Him. Sometimes, I obey because I do not have a choice. The result is misery for me and for those I serve.

Obedience means being in God’s presence and living not only a praying life, but also a joy filled one. Change is part of the journey, and getting outside my comfort zone is the only way I can remember to surrender. I can refuse to change and stay where I’m comfortable, or I can trudge along in misery. It’s my choice. God will not make me go where He bids, but His peace stays with Him when I walk off on my own. The cost of His peace is obeying Him, and the cost of obeying Him is dying to self and trusting Him completely.

My heart breaks as He calls me away from my comfort zone and into His will. Fear causes me to hesitate, but my love for Him enables me to get past those fears and let those tears clear away all that is in His way. I know God will bless me as never before as I trust and obey. As the beautiful hymn by John H. Sammis says, “there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.” I want to be happy in Jesus and find the joy He has for me. Obedience is expensive, but it is well worth the cost. Disobedience is a little cheaper, but it never satisfies and always leaves me wanting more.