Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dream Whispers

Sometimes when I am dreaming at night, I find myself in a weird situation and I am able to "will" myself into making the situation super cool...like flying, or using just my eyes to move stuff. Basically, I have the chance to take my muddled, brain-dump dream, and really spice it up into something worth investing my sleep into.

That's what last month's ACFW conference was for me. I was able to take my countless hours of writing (I'd prefer to call it something much more than a brain-dump :) ) and spice it up, then present it to agents and editors for a chance at a dreamy outcome.
After returning home and sending out my requested submissions, it was so easy to rub my eyes and quickly forget the excitement and encouragement, just like my night-time dreams fade so quickly with my waking hours.

The details of last night's dream seep from my memory as the day tick tock's away, like the swelling pursuit of my dream deflates as time passes with silence and waiting. I need the reminder, and God grants me the assurance that the dream is still alive.

Twice since conference, I have entered into a small group environment with two different groups of people, but the topic of discussion was the same... Dreams. I didn't choose the topic. It was already in place by others.You may say it's coincidence, but I choose to believe otherwise. I believe it was a divinely appointed topic. And while it undoubtedly spoke to others, it was a personal whisper to me by Someone who gave me my dream in the first place, and Who knows how quickly I can forget His hand in it.

God created community to build us up and provide accountability. Both are things I desperately need at times like this. I may be in a season of quiet, a test of patience, but God doesn't let me drift too far away from the dream that He planted in my heart in the first place. Through group discussion, He gave me a chance to showcase my dream to others, to recall what the dream is about, and re-align it with His will if I had perverted it into personal striving. With the assurance of other believers in the small group setting, God reminded me that my dream is worth hanging on too, no matter how anxious I get as time passes.

If I can just remember that He is faithful in my pursuit, and that He'll continue to meet me on the path ahead, the only thing I should really ask is--not when or how--but what?

What, Lord, do you have next for me? I am excited to see!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Personalized Signs and Wonders

"Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe."John 4:48

Imagine Jesus, the Savior of the world, standing in front of you and saying this. I can almost see and hear Him now. He probably laughed and threw His hands up in the air, shook His head, and said it in a baffled tone.

But you know what? However He said it, He cared enough for those people to steer His next steps away from just telling them, to SHOWING them in mighty signs of healing. Yep. He went ahead and knew that they were dust and pushed them along with every effort to have them believe, even doing so on their terms.

He loved them that much.

This morning, I stepped away from the belief in my heart that God has amazing things in store for me, and found myself in good company with the Galileans who Jesus spoke to in the above verse. I simply threw a fit because I haven't seen any sure favor yet for my writing. Or to be completely honest, I haven't seen what I have defined to be that ultimate assurance.

The cool thing is, God knows what specific signs and wonders I need to believe His will for my writing. And, as I look back, I see His little blessings along the way. Sure, they don't look like the same caliber of blessings that others around me have (in my flawed sight), but He knows what I need better than I do. Each small blessing has served its purpose in prodding me to take the next step, either by sending off that proposal, or just thanking God for the gift He's given me.

Why do I beg for MORE signs and wonders to believe in Him? 

And why is He so faithful in providing them, when I constantly fall away and forget all He's done?

Throughout the Bible, we see God's people faithfully walking one moment, then royally messing up then next. We see the Israelites freed from slavery by God's mighty hand, and then we see them throwing fits because God didn't do it their way. It's humbling to know that I am no better than them, even when I have the story right in front of me to learn from! 

But that's how we humans are, right?  Keeping our attention on each step we take for ourselves, instead of looking up and waiting for God to work signs and wonders at His own pace.

Thank you, Lord, for revealing where I am in this vicious cycle of enjoying your blessings, then straying from you, then finding you are still with me again. Please let me hang with You HERE for a while, and protect my heart from looking down again!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Man-Made Thought Life

I got caught by the snare of worrying about what people thought of me yesterday. And it wasn't just one instance that concerned me, but I could find something in every part of my life that would pierce my mind and have me believe, "They think you are a fool," or "You are unreliable," or "You don't have what it takes."
It's not unusual that I worry about others' thoughts of me. Like I told my friend, I am Greek... worrying comes with the blood! But, yesterday was nothing more than an all out attack on my thought life, and my attitude was pummeled with defeat, and having caught a cold as well, I was physically and emotionally beat.

Today, I opened the Word. I have been pretty consistent in doing this each morning, but today I did it out of desperation to control my thought life. And wouldn't you know, I came to the most appropriate passage just by flipping open the Book:

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

The example of Paul is so perfect for anyone who sways toward letting men's approval define how they act, what they say, what they think. It reminds me that my focus should not be on men, but on God. If I am blameless in God's eyes, then what does it matter if I might be condemned by men? And really, how often have I been wrong in assuming I've let someone down? Trust me, it's been a lot!

The Scripture goes on to say: 

"I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Galatians 1:11,12

If I truly trust God, then I know that I can depend on His Scripture. It is not man-made, but divinely inspired, written to assure me that He is alive and active, accepting and assuring, and I am loved by the God of the Universe! What can man do to me? Even if I have failed someone, if I lean into my Lord, and do all I can do to seek forgiveness, then shouldn't I step forward, with my yoke of burden firmly resting on Christ?

What peace is discovered when God speaks through Scripture!

Thank you, Lord, for never failing me, never giving me false Word or false thought. You love me inpite of myself.


Monday, October 8, 2012

The Word for Monday

It's Monday. I have a choice to start the week off frazzled as I look at all I have to do, all I am expected to accomplish...Or I can rest in two of my favorite verses, and realize, whatever I need to get done, pales in comparison to all He wants to do for me!

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2Timothy 1:7

"And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." Mark 11:22-24

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not just a bus ride.

Three excited boys ready to go!
 The tears are freshly wiped away. My heart is slowing and my mind is clear. How can such a simple task work me up into such an emotional flurry?

Today, I took another step outside of my little world...or shall I say I let my boys take that step. We've gone from private Christian school, to public school, to riding the bus to public school. Okay, for some of you, this may seem a little step...not even a step really, just a part of the expected setting of school age kids. But for me? For this secret bubble-coveting mama, sending my boys off to the bus is HUGE.

As I had my cry session after closing the front door to the rumble of the passing bus, I connected two dots on my parental map. Because this feeling of "cutting the apron strings", and the doubts that creep into my mind, are reminiscent to those from the first week of knowing we were making the big switch to public school.

And they all boil down to one ugly truth: The words of others cause my spirit to stumble.

It's nobody's fault but my own.

I have let the horror stories whispered by mothers and children, not just throughout these past few years, but throughout my whole life, take root in my memory bank and slow me down from completely walking in faith during these school days. I've hindered the embracing hand of God in taking over and carrying my children along, even without my coddling. Even in the secular school, even on the notorious bus ride.

The same kind of words affected me those first few days of switching to public school. Only stories, only expectations, not necessarily God's plan for my children. 

Why do I let the words of others shape my anxiety? And why don't I choose the very real possibility that my kids might enjoy it, might never come across the horror scene in my mind, might make life-long friends in that two by two row on the ride to school?

It's so easy to dwell on the negative and give it permission to hide any light of hope, isn't it?

How appropriate that my memory verse for my Bible study this week is:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;  
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139-24-25

To be led in His everlasting way is more satisfying than allowing my own anxious thoughts to consume me. It is only by Him that I can find peace at all.

We covered this morning in prayer. As we always pray during the drive to school, the boys and I sat around our living room and prayed before walking down the driveway to the bus. It's the same God we prayed too, the same provisions we sought...only, their day away from me started a bit earlier than normal.

And in faith, I'll wait with patience to hear about it as I always do.

Thank you Father, for being the God Who Sees, the Great Provider, the Heavenly Daddy. You care for my children even more than me!!!