Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Long Time Coming

August 2008. That’s the last time we got to visit. It’s been a long time comin’, but this is my last post to this blog. I can’t put my finger on why. I resisted the urge to do this since May. Remember when my husband went back to work? It was really hard to get back in the groove of blogging, even though when I had to semi-give it up in April when he was out of work for a while with his broken arm. It pinched real bad to alter my habits and step away from the PC. I thought once it was everything back to “normal”, that I couldn’t wait to get back “on” on a regular basis. But, it wasn’t like that. I kept feeling like I was being invited to something sweeter, better. I didn‘t answer the invitation. That’s just the truth. I didn’t.

What I did instead? I COMPROMISED! Yeah, that’s a beautiful word, is it not? Not so much? Yeah, I know. A little time away, a little time on. That got me through the summer. I had loads of stuff I wanted to blog about, but I also had a “check” about them. Not yet. Not time. When we left off in August, something unexpected came up on a Friday that completely took my attention away. Diverted my energies to something else. In regards to blogging – I was immediately paralyzed. At first I kept in touch. Then I couldn’t even do that.

2 things. I’m very visual, and back in late April, early May I kept picturing my blog with a picture of a window, shutters closed, and “Closed for Business” written across the front. I did NOT like the picture. I resisted. Kicking and screaming, I resisted. By October the picture was of me in my living room, company pulling up in the drive, knocking on the door (i.e. visiting me on the PC), me peeking through the drapes, so as not to be seen. But, I can’t make myself let them in. I can’t open the door. A sort of paralysis.

A hundred times I felt it would please God for me to shut down the blog. A hundred other times I felt it would please Him that I should push past the malaise, dig deeper and do better than I left off. Indecisive paralysis. Pathetic, eh? In my weak and partial defense, anytime I would try, my computer would “lock-up”, dial-up would be a pain, nothing would work. It seemed pretty clear that I just needed to give up the ghost. Never been good at that, though. Sorry.

Now that I am over the “hump” of decision, I hope to be in contact with those of you who are inclined to forgive my absence, and trust that you remain in my heart and in my prayers. I didn’t keep in touch, because I didn’t know what to say, and didn’t (and still don’t really, but now I am resigned to it) know what was going on. Because that’s the other part of this. There IS a metamorphosis of some sort going on. It almost feels like a bad thing. Definitely a strange thing. But, my God says “No, it’s a good thing”. I see changes in me, that I don’t understand and aren’t clear to me. But, I think a little dose of belated obedience may help things along. As I type, I see more and more clearly, that I am on the right track. And I am excited at what the future holds.

Things are good here. God is still on the throne. He reigns. Always will. He’s on the throne. But I haven’t been heeding Him. He gave me an invitation back in April. I am going to see if it’s still good. Better late than never, at least I hope!

I want to say THANK YOU from all of my heart to yours for your friendship, kindness, and encouragement. Please know that you each, if you ever visited, made my life richer in ways you will never understand. May God richly bless you in your lives in every way, and keep and hold you high above the fray of life, as you give Him glory and honor and praise.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pleasure in the Pain - Really?

Just like a rose has beauty, that can only be obtained by risking the thorns, so life has a beauty and joy to be attained only through enduring pain. Back in early July I blogged about some Scattered Thoughts, among which was the phrase Pleasure in the Pain. Here were some of the thoughts about this phrase from that post - "I have to admit - this one irks me. This one is not engraved in my heart just yet. I believe it. But, I struggle tremendously with it. I don't have wisdom to offer in this one. It is a new concept to me. I will share from my journal here as well. "I asked God about this yesterday as I swept, as I admitted I was NOT feeling pleasure in the pain. "Where is the pleasure, Lord? I'm not feeling this." So far what I have is this - "For the Joy set before" me - its the pleasure of knowing, of being "fully persuaded" that God is sovereign and at work in the midst of the pain, in order to bring glory to His Name, to make His Word true - What Words do I believe Him for? "

This phrase and this concept have continued to wander through my mind and to blossom into something a bit more fruitful. I am going to take a leap of faith and try to lay out my discoveries about a painful topic to discuss. Because pain, for all of us, is real, and personal, and we don't generally want to air out or discuss or "touch" our boo-boos.
Here's h
oping that putting these thoughts out here will be a worthwhile endeavor, that something in here will bring hope and comfort to us!


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In late July, through several circumstances, it became clear that I was to study the Sermon on the Mount. The way it all came to a head was one of those wonderful pile-up of occurrences where you know The Holy Spirit is practically flashing a neon arrow - saying "Here-Here! I have some good stuff for you to know! You need this!". It was a wonderful time of study, and it was all good (of course), but, in particular there were 3 treasures I came away with. This was without a doubt, my most prized. Matthew 5:4 "Blessed and enviably happy (with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace) are those who mourn, for they SHALL be comforted". I have to say, on the surface, this still is not exciting to me when I read it. Sorry, call me shallow, but, I can't get excited in my own messy, human self, to consider the prospect of mourning. And I don't really think we are meant to. Rather, I think we are to have an expectant, confidence that God in His utter goodness, doesn't allow our grief, our pain to be wasted.

Here is how my Strong's Concordance helped me to discover the truth in God's Word on this subject, as I wrote in my journal about my discoveries:

"To mourn as it is used here means just what it says, i.e. mourn or grieve. But, the real treasure is comforted. Which means to call near, i.e. invite, invoke, (by imploration, consolation) beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire. 3844 – near, from beside, at the vicinity of, proximity to. 2564 – to call. What do all these definitions combine to tell us? This - our grief is our invitation to draw near to Our Maker, Our Abba Father, Our Comforter. Our grief calls us near to Him, like nothing else (unfortunately) does. This speaks to me of a recurring theme lately. It seems The Holy Spirit is encouraging me to believe and seek to know the pleasure in the pain. To me this is a biblical promise of it. If I combine the invitation to come near to God during my grief, with the specific “blessing” mentioned in this scripture, then I see that there is an opportunity to know God in way that allows us to experience His favor, and having a very personal revelation of His matchless grace". So went my notes....

In the middle of July, Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, left this world for one far, far better, as we all hope to do one day, due to complications from cancer. As I watched person after person share their testimonies that weekend, about how he lived his life, and how that living had enriched their lives, I had many thoughts. One, again being the idea that you can't run from the pain and have optimal life. Many forms of Eastern religion strive for "nothingness", "detachment" and variations of that philosophy. However, only Judaism and Christianity embrace the pain and look to the overcoming strength we have through our confidence, our hope in The One who not only created us, but Who we abide in, Who lives in us, and Who is working a far greater treasure in and through us than we can imagine. My Mama and I were speaking on the phone about Tony Snow's life and death and this principle, and she shared with me about an anecdote she found at One Cosmos, (an intellectual sort of blog a bit over my head - but worthy). In the story, Tony was being interviewed about 1 year ago, and all that he had to live for was the topic, i.e. all the reasons NOT to want to leave this earth just yet. You know, the part that makes going to our REAL home heartwrenching, mostly for those left behind. And Tony Snow turned to the man who was interviewing him and said words to the effect "Isn't it great to love this much?", with tears in his eyes.

To me this is a poignant illustration of the fact that when we run from the pain, when we choose denial, and cover-ups through activities to hide and anesthetize ourselves from the pain, we rob ourselves of the richness that could be ours. The richness of acknowledgingthe pain, running to the Father and sobbing, "This hurts, it hurts so bad! I don't know what to do or where to go, PLEASE help me, Father! Make this count for something, turn this to something that will strengthen me, make me more like your Son, BE GLORIFIED in my life, in the lives of our family. Be glorified!" The grooves yielded pain makes in our heart etch out more room for Him to live inside of us. I believe that when we hide from, fight or otherwise try to mask the pain, we run the risk of destroying ourselves, of turning bitter, or becoming brittle. Right now, I can't point to any good reason, its just an instinctual belief. And I can look at my life and see that no painful experience I or people I know and love have gone through, has ever failed to bring an etched beauty to our lives. Like those candles that were the rage years ago. They were very beautiful when lit. They were etched out on the inside so that when lit, the cut pattern showed. Our pain cuts a beautiful pattern on the inside of us, hollows us out, carves off some of that sin nature, so His light can then shine through, yet again, Christ in us, the hope of glory!

CLOSING: As I prepared to put this together this morning, I sought further examples in scripture. Here are an Old Testament and New Testament examples that I believe illustrate the promise and invitation to KNOW GOD more completely, the invitation to draw near to Him in a brand new way, found in Matthew 5:4. "I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You. Therefore I loathe [my words] and abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." These are Job's words to God at the end of his fiery trial, just prior to the Lord turning his circumstances to showers of blessing. Job 42:5-6 This feeling and knowledge always follows knowing God at a deeper level. It is good for us. And now, "But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Acts 7:55-56, a passage from Stephen's martyrdom. Note - he SAW The Glory of God, Jesus, and an opened up Heaven!

His pain was NOT in VAIN!

Neither is your pain or my pain. It's not in vain. It's not for our destruction. Whether the pain is from our own personal failures, or the blindsiding, t-bone that life can hit us with, no pain that we will run to the throne with will be in vain. We can claim that for ourselves, and for our loved ones.

Don't let pain have the last word, let God!

"28 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose...31What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] 32 He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?] 34 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us? 35 Who shall ever separate us from Christ's love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?...38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, 39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Free to Fly Flashback!

Hey everybody! I sure hope you are all enjoying your Sunday evening! I haven't been able to get to the PC to put my thoughts in order, but I am so very much looking forward to doing so and to getting around to visit! Tomorrow I will be doing that.

In the mean time I was working in my journal, and saw some old notes, from last fall. It reminded me of a post I did based on those notes and I felt it was quite timely, really, even more so now that 1 year ago. So, if you feel life is placing you at a crossroads, this one is for YOU!

Much love, and prayers,
Maria

Click here to read this post on choices.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Joy!




Good morning all! Hope Ya'll are hanging in there today! We're hanging in there too! Things are good here at the Ponderosa. But what does that mean when I say good? Does that mean that there are no "issues"? All bills paid? Vehicle (yes, that IS singular) all maintenanced and in hot shape? All projects moving forward, yard perfectly mowed, and no dust bunnies? Have I and each member of my family set and achieved all appropriate spiritual goals? Well, that would be an emphatic NO! This is not the Cleaver household, this IS the planet earth, where we are promised troubles and MORE importantly an answer to them all! Why do I bring this up today?

Because it is my heart to throw a life line of hope, a reminder that all is not lost, all is not topsy-turvey. What keeps us going, what is the characteristic that allows us to enjoy life, in spite of and in defiance of obstacles? Joy. The joy of the promise, the answer, the sufficiency, the abundance, the overflowing, eternal, majestic, overwhelming, life-giving wonder of Jesus. Joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Got bills to pay?
Jesus will give you wisdom, give you time, give you favor, give you opportunity to get it done - maybe a little at a time, but if you will consistently seek Him and do your part, you will look back and see how far you have come....just DON'T STOP!

Got a family issue, with spiritual roots?
Get in the presence of the Lord - get in The Word. You need the strength of it, the life, the wisdom and change of perspective it will give you. Take that Word with you everywhere you go, chew on it, pray it, declare it, sing it (while you drive, mop, clean the shower, pay your bills on-line, travel to a meeting, etc). DON'T STOP! ("This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:8-9)

Got a habit to kick
or trying to make a new one? Trying to break free of a stronghold in your mindset? Turn your back on a sinful behaviour?
  • Keep your eyes on HIM! He'll keep you in His perfect peace.
  • Acknowledge you can't do it without Him. And don't think too far ahead. Just take it one day at a time, remember - it's "give us THIS day our DAILY bread"! Even the provision in the wilderness was daily manna.
  • Testify of your desire to see His change in you
  • Thank Him for the victory that is yours because of Jesus completed works!
  • Determine to let Him live in and through you TODAY!
  • When you fall, get right back up - be quick to!
  • Then do it all again tomorrow! DON'T STOP!

Got a hurt to heal? A grief to endure? Stay tuned! That's my next post!

Why do we have so much trouble anyway?
"So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:7-9

He, most emphatically, IS our JOY!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away, 1st Day of School, & THANK YOU!


Fay, Fay - go away! Phew! As I type this I just heard the weather woman say that Fay is still bringing the wet stuff, maybe to some of you all. Fortunately, it is not so much now days, and should be gone soon! I have to say, that we were so blessed to only get lots of rain. Not flood porportions here, like in some towns. Not much at all in wind damage, either. And to do without electricity for a day or two, well, that's just an opportunity to be reminded how good we have it in the USA, and how many luxuries we take for granted.

Well, we navigated our way through the paper maze and our youngest, (my home school student for 8 years!) is at school getting his schedule for his first day of 10th grade today! God was in all the details, every step of the way, and that made me so happy as we went along. I was able to be confident that God was handling this. I truly felt like a passenger in a vehicle, with a VERY capable driver! It's my hope that our son will have that same assurance as he goes about his day today, through out this week, and through out this year.

I want to especially say thank you for hanging in there with me, and many of you have had kind comments and prayers for my family. And I can't tell you how much it encouraged me and caused me to draw strength, knowing that God was working and moving through hearts of friends and family all over the place (thanks partially to the internet) to pray for my family. We all thank you!

I will be posting later today, but I didn't want to wait a minute more to tell you all that your prayers matter and so does your friendship!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Transition!

I wanted to take a few minutes to explain my absence. This summer there's Lots of change in the air. Changes in me. Changes in my role in SEVERAL areas. We are all doing well. I guess it would be better termed as transition, rather than simply "change". But, times of transition are precarious, often frought with challenging situations which make you want to give up, when there is truly no going back, and so you must go forward. Paul spoke one time of having an open door of opportunity, and with it many adversaries. And I feel like that's what's ahead of my family, myself, my husband, and both of our sons. Especially our youngest. Opportunity. Lots of it. A wide open world. The thing about opportunity and the transitional state of crossing over the threshold from the previous to the new now is that, we DO have an enemy and we would be wise to remember our enemy is not the people who make us count to ten, turn red in the face, and grind our teeth. Oh, sorry, you've never done that? :) No, when opposition comes, and the opportunity to given in to a defeatist attitude, we must rather remember, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but MIGHTY through GOD to the pulling down of strongolds. We must train our hearts and minds and mouths to moving forward and letting go of our right to be hurt, or angry or even weary. We must continue to engage in life and faith and love. All the while moving forward.

So, the transitional place I find our family is a good place filled with life threatening challenges. But, God is good, He is at work, He goes before us, He covers us and watches our back. He is our life, our salvation our future and our hope. There are a couple of analogies from when a pregnant mother gives birth to where I am at. First being, I understand (I had c-sections ahead of time so I don't know from experience) that just prior to labor the baby is very still. That fits me, because inside I have felt "very still" and any blogging I have done has been usually with great effort in the last 3 months. I understand it better now, as the stillness is a time of preparation. During birth (the transition period) sometimes something happens to the umbilical cord, which endangers the child, threatening it's life supply of oxygen infused blood. Well, that is a picture of situations I have been facing. When the umbilical cord gets twisted or caught in someway, this has to carefully be treated. This is simply an anology of things, of people needing much prayerful attention and me not being able to multi-task as well as I'd like. I have just only been able to perform my daily tasks, go about daily living in the moment, pray, and pray, keep moving forward and it seems to take ALL of my attention right now. There has been absolutley nothing left in me to visit, comment, or post. But, you are all in my thoughts and prayers. I know there are moves, and not moves, college, jobs, financial challenges, health challenges, and many more things all in between the lines facing you all, and being experienced and you are in my heart. I just wanted you to know.

I can say this: I have several things to accomplish in the next few days. At the end of those things, I believe I will have successfully gotten our youngest enrolled full-time in a local public high school as a sophmore. My heart is excited for him, because I believe that this is part of God's design for him, and I KNOW that he will be blessed and will be a blessing. I am in much prayer for him and his circle of friends. Like Psalms 127, I believe he is like an arrow being sent out to accomplish the great things God has for him. There has been a great struggle for his heart and spirit. It is so hard to witness a loved one or anyone for that matter, struggle with life and death choices of which way they will go in life. Lest you think I am being over dramatic, let me just say the question of which way our lives go IS most defintely a life and death question. And no one can make that choice for you. No one thing anyone says to you, or book they give you, or song they play for you does it. It is a sacred dance between God and us, us as an individual, and there is no one else that can dance your step for you, and no one that you can dance their step for them!

So, if I can succesfully navigate (and I believe I can) the paper hoop to get him in, then next Friday on 22 August, I will no longer be a home school mom, and our "youngun' will be embarking on the next phase of his journey, and I am very excited for him.
I am not sure this post is making sense, but its the best I can do right now. I can assure you I will be able to focus more and post, visit and comment, when that date arrives and we have been successful at making this transition.

Oh, here is a definition of transition:
1.movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
2.Music. a. a passing from one key to another; modulation. b. a brief modulation; a modulation used in passing. c.a sudden, unprepared modulation.
3. a passage from one scene to another by sound effects, music, etc., as in a television program, theatrical production, or the like. –verb (used without object)
4. to make a transition: He had difficulty transitioning from enlisted man to officer.

Much love and prayers to you all! "See" you 22 August!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

ABCs of the Word - Be of Good Cheer!

My new Bloggy friend found over at Grey Like Snuffie is hosting The ABCs of The Word every Thursday. Every once in a while I will be chiming in. Today I'll just let the scripture speak for itself. These words come from the Amplified Bible, which takes the King James and gives the Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) more descriptive meanings to some of the words which don't translate as vividly into our English.

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence
. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]"
John 16:33

What Does it Mean Anyway? "Free to Fly"...

Well, it's like this: Here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Free: a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen b : enjoying civil and political liberty c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself...having a scope not restricted by qualification 7 a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded ...Now, here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Fly:1 a : to move in or pass through the air with wings b : to move through the air or before the wind or through outer space c : to float, wave, or soar in the air ... a : to take flight ...6 : to work successfully ...Examples which apply from Websters: fly high : to be elated - fly in the face of or fly in the teeth of : to stand or act forthrightly or brazenly in defiance or contradiction of

What does this mean in my life? This means that in life we are meant to be free. While historically mankind has not always enjoyed the opportunity to fully appreciate what that means, we are so indescribably fortunate as to live in a time of the greatest spiritual, physical, financial and political freedom ever known. Freedom doesn't come cheap, nor does it come easy. But the best things in life don't come that way do they? As I write this I am struck by how this sounds like a political statement, and for me this is much more of a spiritual thing, but, same goes for that (political that is). Freedom doesn't come easy. And it's worth whatever fight you have to make to overcome in your life in order to live a life that succeeds. Now the questions is - what is success for you? What is your standard? In my mind what is needed is a definite target - because you can't hit and maintain a moving target. A stable, rock-solid, anchor with no variable, yet multi-faceted. Something pure, just and worthy. If you look at any web page of news you can see that our society is certainly lacking in this area. What a great time to live as a rebel! Nowadays to be a rebel, all you have to do is be willing to engage in the battle of life, while anchored to Christ!