Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I have posted this story before, over a year ago and it's my most popular post. It seems a lot of people google search about being in the palm of God's hand and find their way to my story. This story is what sealed the deal for me that God is truly a personal God and knows me intimately.
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.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Paul tells the story of a chance meeting with his abuser that led to forgiveness and closure for both of them.... a real tear jerker. He also sheds light on some of the concepts that he brings up in The Shack. He talks about how God has no expectations of us because he already knows everything about us so he can't be disappointed in us. Disappointment comes from not getting what was expected and expectations come from not knowing.
Makes sense to me! So often we feel that God is disappointed in us....that he expects more.
I loved it. And you will too.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
In this autobiographical book Madeleine truly shares herself with the reader....her insights, fears, musings, thoughts on writing and her spirituality. I've found it to be food for my soul.
Particularly compelling for me in my quest to cultivate humility is a part early in the book where she talks of pride, self-consciousness and humility.
"When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware: we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves. The Greeks have a word for ultimate self-consciousness which I find illuminating: hubris: pride: pride in the sense of putting oneself in the centre of the universe.......The moment that humility becomes self-conscious, it becomes hubris. One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time. Therefore, the act of creating-painting a picture, singing a song, writing a story-is a humble act? This was a new though to me. Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration of something or someone else."
To me this speaks of the selflessness that Jesus talks about.... putting others first.....being a servant...dying to self. I find in my life that I withhold out of my own self-consciousness. I miss out on the essence of the moment and other people. I'm too worried about what I look like, how I fit in, how I'm coming across, to truly just be. Or as Madeleine would say to live ontologically. - a concept she explores throughout the book.
I'm inspired by this thought. Rather than trying to minimize myself in an effort to be humble and selfless could I simply forget about myself and see where that takes me? It seems soooo....well....reckless. I like it!
Any thoughts? Please join me in a discussion.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
This summer I had one of those light bulb moments. This profound "Aha" moment was, of all places, during memory verse time while I was helping with my 8 year old's VBS group. The theme for the week was "Be a World Changer" and the virtue for the day was "Be Wise" The scripture being James 3:17
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
I have always highly valued wisdom. As a teenager I remember praying for wisdom above all else. I love the story of Solomon. Proverbs is one of my favorite books of the Bible. As I thought about this passage that I've read many times before, it dawned on me that I have valued the wrong kind of wisdom. Verses 13 to 16 told me more about that wisdom.
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
Wisdom breeds humility and yields to others. It puts others first rather than self. When I examined my own desire for wisdom I squirmed as I realized that it came from selfishness and pride. To be painfully honest, I want wisdom so that I will look good. I want to be able to always know what the right thing to do or say is without ever making a mistake. I want others to like and admire me. I want to be better than others. It has nothing to do with humility at all! It looks so ugly when I write it down like that but it never seemed that way. It's so deceiving.
If you have been tracking with me this past year you know that I have been struggling to be free from resentment. The Lord's answer has been to yield my spirit to others and cultivate a servant's heart. And now I learn that God has actually been giving me the keys to obtaining the wisdom that I have prayed for all my life.
In the topsy turvy kingdom of God, the key to wisdom is found in humility. The wisdom of the world stems from pride and selfishness. I do value humility as well. I just never saw how wisdom and humility were so closely connected. In fact, it was the topic of my very first blog post.
Monday, August 3, 2009
It's a little late, but as promised I'm posting the results of my journey with U Weightloss. I reached my goal to lose 25 lbs. in 12 weeks, which was just in time for the dreaded bridesmaid dress to arrive. The dress, which was snug when I ordered it, had to be drastically taken in. I'm now back to the weight I was when I got married 15 years ago. I'm 5'7" and weigh a comfortable 140 lbs.
I'm not going to take this for granted. It was a few stressful years with work and young children that contributed to my weight gain. I've learned that eating healthy, regular exercise and taking care of myself benefits everyone. It's been a long time that I've felt so good physically and mentally.
I was really disappointed with myself before I started this and I didn't know how I could reach my goal. I'm glad I had the help of UWeightloss because I don't think I could have done it in the time period I needed on my own. However, now I have changed my lifestyle enough that I know I can keep with it. The program involved regular exercise and a hormonally balanced diet that is based on the diet of Dr. Natasha Turner. It involves eating meals that are balanced between 40% protein 30% carbs and 30% good fat and then switching after a month or so to 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% good fat. I found that my body really responded to this way of eating. I feel very comfortable throughout the day because it keeps the blood sugar even. I lost 5 inches around my middle which is where I had packed on the pounds.
This journey has shown me that I can reach a goal. If I set my mind to something, make a plan and follow it, the results will happen. I think in life, we get lost in the muddle and although we have dreams, we don't make the conscious and practical effort to realize them. Sometimes, we don't even really know what we want. I have found that I am very goal oriented. Once I get started, and invest time and money in something, I keep going. I guess that's the accountant in me.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
1. urgent or persistent in solicitation, sometimes annoyingly so.
2. pertinacious, as solicitations or demands.
3. troublesome; annoying: importunate demands from the children for attention.
I love that word! Most translations call it the parable of the persistent widow. But I think the word importunate packs a lot more punch in explaining the way Jesus meant for us to pray.
I've been pondering the tale of the importunate widow these days while reading from E.M. Bounds about prayer. Honesty, my prayer life has never been fueled by this level of feistiness. I guess I just give up after a while of praying about something. After all, God knows what's best so if it's meant to come about it will. And it seems almost like a vain repetition to make a point of praying the same thing over and over again. Then there's the uncomfortable feeling of being too "name it and claim it" as if I'm trying to order God around. But...... to be really honest...... I'm just too prideful to be a pest. To be that desperate.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. I think that can very well mean blessed be the desperate. I admit that I have just not been desperate and humble enough to stand importunately before God. In fact, I've been rather mamby pamby. But I've had enough now because I've been stuck for long enough!
The words of E.M Bounds are changing my attitude. "Energy, courage and perseverance must back the prayers that heaven respects and God hears......Persistence is made up of intensity, perseverance and patience.......Faith functions in connection with prayer and of course, has its inseparable association with persistence. But the latter quality drives the prayer to the believing point."
Bounds goes on to say "The absolute necessity of persistent prayer is plainly stated in the Word of God and needs to be stated and restated today.....Love of ease, spiritual laziness, and religious indifference all operate against this type of petitioning."
I feel like I'm at a standstill within myself. I'm on a merry-go-round, revisiting the same situations over and over again. I've come to the realization that God is the only one who can help me get off. It's time to lose the pride and the self efficiency. It's time to be like those desperate ones in the Bible whose faith healed them. People like the blind Bartimaeus or the Syrophenician woman.
Here I come God. I'm going to be a pest now. I'll be here everyday, pounding on the door. Just letting you know.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I'm stuck in my spiritual life while haunted with this scripture. It dawned on me recently that the whole sacrifice thing has to do with living in love. When something gives it's life for another, the aroma is infinitely pleasing to God. The way that we lay our lives down for others is by putting them before us. To deny our ourselves for others.
That is just too dang hard for me! And that is why I'm stuck. Nothing else really matters about this Christian life if I can't at least do that. So why bother?
Oh I can be nice, loving, giving and self sacrificing in a myriad of ways. I look good on the outside, and it's honestly genuine. However, if someone makes me feel the least bit stepped on, unappreciated, taken for granted or devalued, then look out. I won't be laying my life down for them anymore! Then there's the people who just plain annoy and irritate me. I'm not so willing to put them first either.
Once I heard Beth Moore say that 90% of our sin is in our reactions. That is totally the case with me. I could be so holy and spiritual if I lived alone on a desert island. I don't go looking to sin, but other people get to me. I just can't stop taking offense, harbouring resentment and feeling self protective. I just want to be able to let it all go and live in love despite others. What is wrong with me??? I long to be.....unfettered.
I've been thinking of something I read a while back, that if you can't seem to stop a certain sin, then you just don't hate it enough. I think that's why I'm writing about this here. I really do hate this and it makes it more real when I write about it.
Father - I own this sin - I hate this sin - forgive me and deliver me from it. I put my trust in you working in me to accomplish the impossible. AMEN
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I'd love to hear of other good sites to listen in on. Leave me a link if you know of any.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Drew is a former pastor who was disillusioned by the religious institution and he has a few things to say about that. He's current, in touch with today and very entertaining. But mostly, he's a great interviewer and people person. Insightful and authentic, he gets places in interviews with people that are astounding.
The interviews are all spiritually based and he always zeros in on the heart of his subject. There are chats with numerous celebrities, actors and musicians whom you would never have know were authentic Jesus followers. Listening to their stories has really inspired hope in me that Jesus is not as unpopular as the media would make us think. Some of my favorites are Alice Cooper, Dyan Cannon, Kathy Ireland and Jane Russel.
Many of the interviews are with the big cheeses in the Christian world like Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, David Wilkinson, Rick Warren and Brennen Manning. You see a side of these guys that never comes across when they are being Pastors and Authors. He's done a few interviews with William P. Young, author of The Shack that are really worth listening to. I especially enjoyed hearing from Chuck Swindoll. He's the real deal!
There's also interviews with people from opposing spiritual camps like Deepak Choprak, the president of the Church of Scientology, the high priest of the Church of Satan and a leader in the Mormon Church. Drew asks the good questions and draws out some very great dialogue.
Has anyone else heard of him? What do you think?
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Life has been busy........sick kids........sick husband.........15 year anniversary spent with hubby on the couch coughing up green stuff. Four family birthdays three days in a row. Couldn't have planed that one if we tried! A weekend trip to Whistler Mountain.
But I'm healthy! Somehow, I missed the sick boat. I think it's cause I wash my hands all the time and never take a sip of anyone else's drink.
Recently I spent an insane amount of money to join a new weight loss clinic that opened up near my house. I'm usually not one to go for something like that and it took a bit a convincing husband to agree but I knew I needed the support they could give me.
My motivations being:
- 15 year anniversary this year
- 25 high school reunion in August
- Bridesmaid in June - do not want to be a 42 year old fat bridesmaid! Have you seen the dresses these day??? They are not the puffy taffeta numbers of my day. They are all strapless and slinky. I've never worn something like that in my life!
It's not rocket science. Eat less. Exercise.
Seems easy but it's not. I've tried to lose the 25lbs. that have crept up on me in my early 40's and it's just not budging.
This is week 3 and I've lost 8 pounds and 12 inches. I'm so happy and inspired. I am also, enjoying the support with meal making, exercise and one on coaching sessions. I guess I'm a go for the gold star kind of girl so if no one is checking up on me I cop ou. I've realize how disappointed in myself I was getting. It's very detoxifying to talk about it and to be doing something productive about it.
And I'm not caring about anyone but me right now. My family's getting crappy meals but I'm loving mine. It's sort of like the Zone diet where each meal is balanced so you don't have swings in blood sugar and cravings. I'm taking off to the gym regularly. I have so much more energy and NO MORE HEADACHES.
Husband is supportive which is great.
I am guaranteed to lose my 25lbs by MAY 15. When that day comes, I will post before and after pictures. I can hardly wait!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Yesterday, I met with my morning group of ladies after the Christmas break. We call ourselves the Ooglie Booglie Girls. We picked up the name from one husband who teased his wife that what we do (hear from the Lord) is ooglie booglie!
As we start fresh in a new year, we asked the Lord what he wanted to give each one of us as we work through our book together in the next few months. He said he was going to give me joy and laughter.
It's like he's prepared my heart for it with that video. He gave me a taste of what I've been missing and created a desire for more. Then he told me he had that very gift in store for me!
I feel like I am starting out 2009 on a new plateau. The past 10 years have been a time of introspection and personal growth. A time of figuring out who I am and who God is. A time of finding my grove.
Although there have been times of joy and laughter, my spirit has been heavy and it shows in my countenance. My children sometimes call me on it. "Mom, are you mad?" or "Mom, you're in La La land." I've been a lot more serious than I need to be and not always present for the moment.
But something has changed in me. I feel that I can emerge, a little more sure of myself, a little more sure of God and a lot more light hearted.
I say Amen! to that. I'm ready for a little more laughter. That kind of belly laugh that's under girded by joy and gratitude. A certain lightness of being that's in touch with the things that really matter.