Saturday, February 16, 2008

In the palm of His hand

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

A few years ago, God spoke to me through a painting. He put my whole life into perspective and securely anchored my soul.

When my second daughter was a little over a year old, and the oldest one four, my husband and I made the decision not to have any more children. We were happy with the size of our family and wanted to move on with our lives. However, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss for the chance to have a son as well and hold a baby of my own one more time.

Oddly, this decision led me to think about getting a piano. Since I had two girls I definitely wanted them to play the piano. I found a beautiful 1918 converted player piano that looked lovely in our home. I dug out my old music books and began to tinker with tunes long-forgotten. As my fingers found their familiar place on the keys, it brought me back to my early teenage years, before the solitary disciplines of music were put aside for a social life.

The music opened up a longing and a passion in me that had been sitting dormant. A grieving in my heart emerged for the loss of my own identity because, in the years that followed, fitting in with the crowd became my priority. I learned to put on a new face for each area of my life, and lost my own. I began to wonder how things might be different now had I made other choices then. My heart was wavering with insecurity and the music was bringing it to the surface.

Having the piano in my home reminded me of a print I had seen years earlier. It depicts a young girl playing a striking grand piano. Her eyes are interlocked with her little sister’s, whose hand is perched on the keyboard. I remembered standing in the art store 15 years earlier, the picture tugging at my heartstrings as I admired the soft pink dresses and the black patent shoes. I remembered thinking at the time, “If I ever have girls, I am getting this picture.”

When I popped into an art store in the mall and described the painting, the clerk knew it right away. It was a well-known painting by Greg Olsen, entitled “Dress Rehearsal”. She said it could be ordered in as a framed special and if I didn’t like it I didn’t have to buy it. That seemed good to me since the idea of picking out matting and a frame seemed overwhelming to a perfectionist like me. When it arrived, it was more than I could have imagined, beautifully framed to match my home.

As that picture hung in my living room its significance became apparent. For one thing, it was uncanny how much the two girls in the picture looked like my own. The hair and facial features were the same for each girl. Although the girls in the picture were a little older their age difference matched. In fact, as my youngest has grown up, she is convinced that it is her in the picture and wants to know where the pretty dress is that she was wearing!

Then God spoke to me in my heart. He got my attention with that picture and He told me about my life.

“Your life is in the palm of my hand”.

"I saw your longing in that art store years ago and I have given you the desire of your heart. "

"Everything now is meant to be. "

“Do not regret anything, because your life circumstances have brought you your husband, your children and your identity. Don’t worry about not having any more children, because everything is good as it is.”

As it began to sink in, this message brought me an incredible peace and security. My marriage and relationships improved because of my secure heart. I was somehow different and it showed.

You may wonder how I can be so sure it was God who spoke to me. It’s hard to put into words but it’s like having knowledge in your mind all at one time that you know you didn’t make up yourself.

It’s like having a dream with the story all laid out before you and all you do is observe, not remembering how it came into your mind.

It’s like how you know when a puzzle piece fits.

The Bible says, “My sheep hear my voice.” I just knew that this was the Lord’s voice and not my own. I have always had a faith in God but He became so real then. He was actually involved in my very life and thoughts!

A couple of years later, God gave me a reminder and a confirmation of His message to me. I went forward for prayer at a church conference, and the person who prayed for me said, “God has you in the palm of His hand.” It was good to know I was still on the right track.

Monday, February 4, 2008

I want it all and I want it now.

"Yuppies' creed: 'I want it all and I want it now.'"
—Russell Baker, New York Times, February 6, 1988

I've been pondering what I've learned about the things in my heart from my dream.

contentment and coveting

They really are two sides of a coin. I didn't see it at first, even though it seems obvious. The Lord wants me to be content. The reason that I am not is because I'm coveting. I asked myself what it is that I really want and I began to realize that I want it all!

If you know me in my everyday life you probably wouldn't guess that about me. You would think I am not in want of anything. (or maybe I don't hide it as well as I think) This is because I never articulate these longings.........they are all in my head or my heart......swimming around. They are expecations that I am subconsciously striving toward.

So I thought I would make a list and get them out once and for all. This makes me feel sooooooo painfully vulnerable. But here goes:
  1. I WANT an impeccably clean and organized home.

  2. I WANT a bigger home in a more prestigious neighborhood.

  3. I WANT a better and more physically fit body.

  4. I WANT to be valued and recognized in all my roles (wife, mother, employee, bible study leader, etc).

  5. I WANT everyone to like me.

Now on a conscious level I am very aware how blessed I truly am. The Lord has actually given me the desires of my heart! I have a wonderful and handsome husband, two lovely girls, and lots of quality relationships, a really nice home in a great neighborhood, a housecleaner, and a great job in my own home. Life is not without it's tensions but generally, it's pretty good.

However, on a deeper level, I have set some standards and expectations for myself and at any given time I am responding to the fact that I am not meeting those standards.

When others aren't helping me to accomplish my goals I get resentful and critical.

When I am not meeting my standards, I get angry at myself.

I am in a constant state of striving.

I get anxious and hurt when I don't get the recognition or attention that I feel I'm entitled to.

Oh, this is sooooo cleansing. When I lay it out like this it seems so silly. It's okay to have goals - but ones that are doable and I don't have to get harry if it doesn't happen. And it's okay to enjoy the fruits of my labour and the blessings of God without setting my heart upon the things of this world....without wanting more. I desire to live in a state of gratitude not striving!

I can actully see these WANTS piled up on a big barge which I am shoving off to sea. The barge is floating farther and farther away and I'm feeling more and more detached from it........weightless.....peaceful.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.........

Tag I'm It.

So, Rob at The Spyglass, tagged me with this completely ridiculous meme that I am only participating in to be a good sport. However, the exercise has not been without merit as I have gleaned the title for my next blog post from Rob's post on this.

So here go the rules:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

I walked down the hall to the book shelves, put my hand on the first book on the midrange shelf which happens to be "The Complete Bartender".

Page 123 sentence 6-7-8 offers us the recipe for Brandy Milk Punch which looks rather ghastly to me. I'm more of a fruity martini girl.

1. Add a few ice cubes to a highball glass.
2. Add brandy, milk and generous pinch of sugar
3. Stir

Here's line 4 just in case you are really into this recipe.....and the ingredients are 2oz. brandy to 5oz. cold milk.

4. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon

PS. I'm not tagging.