Wednesday, November 19, 2014

You Find what You Look for ...

If you've been married for any length of time, I'm sure you know by now that your spouse can do things that you find annoying. I mean, it can't be just me, can it? 

Let me give you an example. I've always been a night owl, while hubby could happily go to bed at 9 PM. I can be nodding off on the couch in the evening, but around 10:00, I always get that burst of I'm-not-sure-what, but I could stay up for another couple hours after it hits, no sweat ... until the alarm goes off at 5 AM. I guess God just designed our biorhythms differently. After all, variety is the spice of life, right?  

That being the case, it's not unusual for me to sit up reading at night, while Wayne slumbers peacefully beside me, quiet as a mouse. Quiet as a mouse, that is, UNTIL I turn off the light and snuggle down to drift off to dreamland myself. It usually doesn't take more than thirty seconds, a minute at most, before I hear that first raspy little snore. Really? 

I literally feel my entire body tense at the softest hint of a snore. My blood pressure elevates, and I find my thoughts spinning around at the injustice of it all.

I've been reading for over an hour, and you haven't made a single peep. But now ... now that I'm trying to sleep ... now you are going to snore. That's just great. Priceless!

I used to get so frustrated that I'd go and sleep upstairs. All I could think of was that I had to get up in "x" amount of hours, and I knew I'd never fall asleep with Mr. Freight Train next to me. 

We even purchased an expensive mouthpiece a year or so ago, one that is supposed to keep the snoring to the bare minimum, and my beloved is talented enough to have figured out how to snore around it! Yes, I admit that it happens only once in a while, and the snoring is softer than it used to be ... but it's still snoring! 

So rather than focus on the part about him snoring softer and not as often as he used to, I find that I focus on the fact that he is snoring at all. 

Okay, okay, okay ... I'm off on a bunny trail. This post wasn't supposed to be about snoring. It's about focus. 

God has been talking to me a lot about focus these days. And the awful truth is that if I am looking for something negative, I don't have to look far. There's always a ready supply of negativity available, most of it beginning right inside my own little head!

But I'm learning that if I will take my magnifying glass and look for the little nuggets that my Father puts in my path, I am so blessed; and those thoughts wrap themselves around my heart and carry me safely through my day.

I had such an experience the other day. My husband and I were eating lunch, and the restaurant was equipped with televisions. It was the weekend before Veteran's Day, and the stations were showing all sorts of ads where sports teams had made it possible for soldiers to come home and surprise their loved ones at the various games. Apparently Wayne had seen several of these reunions throughout the weekend, and he was describing them to me. I could tell that he was very touched by them ... to the point of reaching to wipe the little telltale glisten from his eyes, as he struggled to speak around the lump I could hear forming in his throat. 

I just sat and listened, touched by the stories he shared, but even more touched by the man I've shared my life with for the past thirty years. He is a family man, and his heart is wholly God's. His desire is to leave a spiritual legacy for his family. Nothing means more to him than me, our kids, and our growing number of grandkids. What an incredible blessing! 

And to think I'd have missed it entirely ... 

if I hadn't moved that magnifying glass two inches ... 

from his nose 

to his eyes. 

We do find what we look for. Why not look for the good? What have we got to lose?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Love in the Little Things...

As I shared at the end of last month, God has been speaking Psalm 46:10 to my heart for quite some time now. And my focus has been on the "Cease striving" part of that verse. Recently, He very pointedly directed my attention to the second part of that statement: "Cease striving AND KNOW..."

To be known in the sense of the Bible often implies an intimacy in relationship, a type of knowing that implies vulnerability and transparency ... it is more than an academic understanding. I have come to realize that I have walked with the Lord for over thirty years, yet I have kept Him in the box of my limited understanding, for the most part. There are wounded places in my soul that have kept walls around some parts of my heart, limiting my ability to trust and rest in Him. It's been easier to know Him as the helper in my plans, with me being careful to maintain enough control of those endeavors to keep me feeling comfortable. 

So I have begun praying for God to touch those wounded places and make them whole again. And I have asked God to help me to truly know Him in the deepest sense of relationship. 

Last week, after praying that way for a couple days, I woke with a tune running through my mind, catchy and familiar, yet I couldn't quite place it. I remembered once being taught that God sings over His kids.

"The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17
Our teacher said if we woke with a song in our heads, we could envision the Holy Spirit singing over us as we slept. That thought has always warmed my heart. 

I headed off to work, still pondering. I felt nudged in my spirit to turn on the radio. So I tuned to my favorite Christian Station, The Bridge

I'll bet my song is going to play! I thought. 

The first song I heard was Forgiveness, by Matthew Ward.

I was stunned as I let the lyrics soak in. It's not that I haven't heard the song before, but this time, I listened like it was God speaking directly to me. It was almost verbatim what my last Bible study lesson had taught, and God had indeed shown me some people I needed to forgive.

The next song I heard was my song, the one the Spirit had been singing over me as I slept, the one I'd been humming since I'd climbed out of bed. It was Greater, by Mercy Me.

Another recent Bible study had taught on the importance of speaking life and not death, the importance of breaking words of death which had been spoken over you in your life, or even those words of death you might have spoken over yourself ... like what a failure you are ... words of rejection ... words of self-hatred, etc. I'd agreed with God that I had some work to do in this area, as well. 

And now my heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe, was sending me specific words of encouragement to help me succeed! 

That's love! Love in the big things. Love in the little things, like the song that stayed with me all day long. 

He longs to love us. Just ask Him!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Putting my Money Where my Mouth is...

The name of this blog is Dare to Share. So now I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I'm going to take a giant leap of faith... 

Let me digress for a minute. You may have noticed the picture up above ... that's me atop a 30+ feet-tall pole, attempting to perch atop a teeny, tiny board ... preparing to take a leap for the bar that's extended in front of me. I may hit that bar, or I might miss it. Either way, those harnesses that they put around my chest and my hips are going to catch me in my fall. I am safe. At least that's what they told me before I climbed that pole...

And they were telling me the truth! But for me to find that out for myself, I had to take the leap and test the harnesses. 

This event took place at the Outdoor Wilderness Learning Center, in Dubach, LA. We celebrated our daughter-in-law's birthday there at the end of October. 

As I reflected on my time atop that pole in the days that followed, God reminded me of what my husband told me the day after the event: "I've never loved you more than I did when I saw you up there on top of that pole." That love wasn't based on externals. It was based on his knowing that I was facing my fears, and that I was willing to learn to trust. God showed me that our faith in Him is just like that. He is crazy about us from the start, but His love is kindled anew when He sees us facing our fears, trusting Him to prove Himself ever faithful to us in each circumstance that comes our way. When we leap forward in faith, He is that harness that will catch us and carry us forward. We might hit the intended mark, or we might fail and have to try again; either way, we are not on our own. He is right by our side, carrying us through. I call it "living in the leap"!

Okay, so I've avoided it long enough. I said I was going to put my money where my mouth was. Here goes: 

When I first wrote Worth Every Tear, I had aspirations of setting the world on fire! I would bring hope to countless families battling with wayward children. While there is nothing wrong with desiring to help others, my motives were not as pure as I imagined. It wasn't just a desire to help, but a desire to prove myself to God, to earn His favor by showing Him what I could do for Him. 

Aren't I grand? Aren't You glad You saved me? 



Sickens me to admit it, and I'm not sure I even recognized it until recently.

But confession is good for the soul, right?

So move onward a few years. What am I doing for God now? It has to be something big right? Well, at least that's the lie I bought into. Part of the challenge of living in this world is not to be of this world, and the world measures success by how important something seems to be, how significant... how big... how expensive... So our Western culture teaches us, anyhow. We are supposed to Think Big

I've spent the last couple years wondering What Now? The book is complete. I'm back in the workforce. Homeschooling is a thing of the past. Who am I now? What am I doing for God now? And I wasn't able to come up with anything that seemed good enough, big enough, important enough... 

I believe that's because my focus was still on me and not Him. Earlier this year, He pulled me up short and told me to STOP! He needed to get my attention. I wrote about it several days ago: Are you BUSY too?

In the past four months, God has radically changed the way I perceive many things. He's shown me that I don't have to earn His favor; I already have it. He's shown me that I don't have to make things happen; He's got it all under control. He's shown me that I don't have to understand everything He is up to ... I just need to trust that He is up to good things, especially when I don't understand! 

Recently, a friend posted something on Facebook that has totally reshaped how I view ministry. It is worth reading: Click here

What I do for God doesn't have to be a great big thing. No, I can do the smallest thing from a pure heart, and my GREAT BIG God will use it for His glory and for the good of all who are touched by it. 

All that's required of me is to focus on my relationship with Him, spend time getting to know Him better and better. As I learn to hear His still, small voice more and more clearly, in the midst of the chaos of the world, and as I obey without worrying, trusting Him to "catch me if I fall," He will make a difference. I simply need to live ready, and leave the results in His hands. 

So be encouraged today! Your leap of faith may be to smile at the next person you pass in the grocery store. Or it may be to leave a $100 tip to a waitress, as my friend did. Or whatever God whispers to your spirit. Just be ready to obey and leave the results to Him.

Today, He told me to share what He has been teaching me, so I have put my money where my mouth is and "dared to share." The results are up to Him. 

Learning to live in the leap (of faith) is setting me free from performance and perfectionism. There's room on my perch! Join me today!

God bless you!