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Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category

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Be Still
Stormless, hushed, undisturbed
Be Still
Satisfied, unruffled, peaceful
Be Still
Untroubled, composed, soothed

“Be Still” – He told me Sunday morning – Sunday morning after a week of big and little challenges. Some challenges were mine; some were second-hand, belonging to those that are mine.

The fixer in me twitched inside, stymied – wanting to take care of it now. Yet, not all challenges are right-now fixes. Some are journey fixes. Some are not even mine to fix.

Be Still

How do you do that? It’s like trying to stop my feet from rubbing together when I sleep. How does the fixer in me still itself? How?

Yet He tells me to be still.

Like I would tell my boys when they were little and the night terrors came, or their stomachs ached or life pulled sobs out of them. They trusted that I would make everything o.k. or show them how. Their hearts would stop racing, until finally they were relaxing against me, resting, being still.

Being still is a faith action. Being still speaks, “I give it to you; I trust you.”

My boys knew they could come to me. They trusted me. They knew me.

Oh, this mothering has taught me so much about the Father – about how I need trust Him and in the trusting Be Still and know [He is] God (Psalm 41:10)

To Know – realize, experience, recognize, understand, anticipate, believe

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I can be still because I know He is God, God who wants to be my Father, who wants to become the shade in the glaring, uncomfortable heat of challenges, who wants to shelter me beneath the feathers of His wing, who wants to bind my wounds scarless, who wants to shelter me in the storm – that He saves me when I cry out, like a Knight in Shining Armor.

When the big and little challenges come, first or second-hand, whether they are my own night terrors, stomach aches or life pulls sobs out of me, I know He is God, my Father – and my heart stops racing, the fixer in me lets go – and with Him, I can be still.

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harvesttableThe pewter tulip bell that used to hang beside my grandmother’s front door, it fell to the ground the other day beside my back door.

The flag bracket for the flags that herald the seasons and moods of home beside my garage door – it fell to the ground, too.

When the rains came yesterday, we put buckets on the floor to catch the evidence of a family room roof leak.

These growing up challenges my boys to men face, there are broken things there, too  – I’m supposed to be teaching them how to fix them – and sometimes, the lesson is a mess all around.

My kitchen table, instead of looking how I know it can look, is mini-piles of many messes. It’s more than a dinner table. It’s a work table, a business desk, an art table, a celebration table, a lecture table, a prayer table – and I just can’t seem to make it what I want – a neat, tidy, polished harvest table with 3 white pottery cups filled with zinnias.

There is so much evidence of the outside-of-myself brokenness.

For a moment tonight, a long moment, beyond a pause, a lie tried to slip into my mind – and, if it were to slip into my mind, it would try to drip into my heart where it would try to crowd out all hope.

The lie? Oh, it’s an old lie – like ants in the summer sneaking from the outside in, the lie tries to sneak in when I least feel equipped to handle it.

Standing in the kitchen among the near-last clippings of zinnias in mason jars, pottery cups and vases, and a green tin bucket of tomatoes that needed to be cooked, the lie, it crept in, uninvited, unwanted.

I wrapped myself in a quilt and crept out to the porch. In the darkness, I wished for a real-live, on-earth dad who would have made me feel awesome about myself, who would have fought for me, hugged those old lies away.

The Father, though, He didn’t leave me out there alone. He came and sat beside me, reminding me, “I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me” (Isaiah 45:4)

Though you do not know me, like I know you, He says.

I don’t know how to fix the bell or the flag bracket. I can’t fix the roof or patch the ceiling. That kitchen table with its mess – what do you do with the mess?  I can’t even fix my children’s growing up challenges. All the things I really, really want to do – I seem to be coming up empty of what it takes.

“I have chosen you and have not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9)

I sat there, blinking at the star, listening to the neighbor’s dog and the katydids, wrapping the quilt tighter in the crisp coolness.

“I equip you, though you do not know me” (Isaiah 45:5), He reminds me.

“Listen to me – Listen Close, ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me” (Isaiah 45:5)” – His word pursues me, reaching out to pull me close.

You are equipped, He tells me – nothing you are going through is a surprise to me. Nothing your children are going through is a surprise to me. I made them. I made you – and I equipped each of you for each journey, each challenge.

You are not fatherless, success-less, you are worthy of first-class dreams that I put inside you – that is why those dreams are there – because I put those dreams inside you before you were born.

I knew the challenges the boys would face. I made sure you were equipped to handle them – I knew about them before you were born. I knew you wouldn’t give up on them – I put that inside you to – that not-give-up-ness.

You just don’t always know my plan for your life. You have to trust me. I don’t reject you. I chose you. I named you. One day, you will hear me say the name I gave you – and you will love it! I gave you the best equipage available in the universe to handle the precious responsibility I gave you – you lack nothing; you have the best of everything.

Don’t believe the deceiver’s lies. Know me more. Trust me better.

And, the Father, he sat beside me, watched the star in the sky with me as I let that hope drip into my heart.

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A Seed Emerging Fragile (Click here)

I confess – I enjoy a front row seat to how these boys communicate to each other in this house of mine. Their tag-team humor, their eye-popping honesty to each other – sometimes it un-nerves me. Other times it humors me beyond measure. At times, I just want to pack up my chair and exit. Every now and then, it just wows me.

My soldier-son, he went to visit my people in Louisville. He admired the girls there. Thought he might find himself a Louisville girl.

“That’s what your dad did,” I quipped. He decided maybe he really shouldn’t find himself a Louisville girl. Those are the one-on-one, light-hearted conversations.

Then there’s the two on one talking. A brother talking about the challenges of working at a camp, a worker spitting on the floor he’s mopping, wondering if leadership realizes all the trees he’s cut down, the grounds he’s mowed and how this son is frustrated with hypocrisy but wanting to live faith.

Moments like those are sometimes the “wind-whipping- moments, when either because of our choices or others choices, we are “tromped, hoof pressed, storm weathered pressed leaf pressed, water pressed, gravity pressed,into soil blackness”

“Get used to it,” said the soldier son. “That’s life.” He paused and a few seconds later added, “Pray about it.”

We looked at him, not sure how serious he was taking this conversation. This son who rolled his eyes every time I said, “Pray about it.” This son who wasn’t sure how to handle the Prayer for a Solder son I sent him last September.

The conversation continued. In the midst of life’s challenges, living faith came in the form of a crying camper whose walking stick was broken by a bullying camper and how this joyful son struggling with challenges that threatened to distract him from what he considered his real mission – showing God’s love to these campers – searched for another stick from the stick pile, crafted it into something awesome and gifted it to the camper or how he carried a camper with a twisted ankle to the nurse and then carried him back to the cabin.

“They say they want to be like me,” he said about these campers.

That is where “the core of itself remembers light and flimsy roots push upward emerging fragile. . . reaching ever light upward.”

That’s life, I thought, the good fruit of life, that is. Where walking faith rises above the challenges like cranberries in the water in the harvest.

Soldier Son says from the kitchen, “Pray about it.”

And we both look at him, “Are you mocking us?”

And he repeats, “Pray about it. I’m serious.”

And I am just overwhelmed at both of them, these seeds emerging fragile, growing faith, using that faith, no matter how imperfectly, despite real or imagined challenges, to live hope in an imperfect world.

They both seemed so fragile to me this weekend, these young men 6 ft 3 and 6 ft 5. God was reminding me that no matter how fragile they seem in the challenges they face. No matter how they are just young men, seedlings and saplings on so many levels, God’s word, that faith seed within them, is more mighty, more strong, more than enough to grow them out of these fragile times until they are to the world what an oak tree is to an acorn –

because God is just that big, that powerful, that faithful to us.

 

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