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Archive for January, 2011

Monday Morning Prayer…..

When then, eternal Father, did you create this creature of yours?

You show me that you made us for one reason only:   in your light

you saw yourself compelled by the fire of your love to give us

being in spite of the evil we would commit against you, eternal Father.

It was fire, then, that compelled you.  Oh, unutterable love, even though you

saw all the evils your creatures would commit against your infinite goodness,

you acted as if you did not see and set your eye only on the beauty of your creature,

with whom you had fallen in love….

like one drunk and crazy with love….You are the fire, nothing but a fire of love,

crazy over what you have made.

-The Prayers of Catherine of Siena-

 

What an audacious prayer….Only One who understands her incredible worth and immeasurable value from Father God, could pray like that…..I want that kind of boldness……I want to know, that I know, that I know…..not in my head…..but at the very core of who I am…..that His love burns for me….so deeply in love He is with me….hopelessly hooked….ruthlessly committed…..furiously longing to hear my voice call to Him…….His Beloved…..showing off His splender all around me….together forever……CRAZY kind of love.  He is CRAZY in love with me…..I can hardly take it in!

We were created with this vacumn shaped hole that only our Creator can fill.  Some of us spend a lifetime in search of this love….only to come up empty handed.  It is only when we begin to understand that we are deeply loved by a committed God who went to great lengths to pursue us….that we find real peace with ourselves and others.

It is a wild leap of faith to say…..I believe You when you say that You knew me before time began…..expectantly waited till the appointed time for my arrival here on this great spinning ball…..and from the time I took my first breath……You have pursued a relationship with me!  I never found you….You found me!  I was desperate for love…..acceptance….value….and You showed up….and I didn’t even know, at the time, what it all meant…..this relationship with this undenyable force. I just knew that I had to love you back in my own feeble pathetic way.  And even when I failed You miserably, rejected your love, pursued others over You…..You still came after me…..loving me…..wooing me back…..believing in me…..desiring this crazy love relationship…..And not for one minute have You ever taken your eyes off of me…..

And all I can manage to say is “thank you for falling in love with me”….

“Where would I be…..without your love”

 

My prayer for you is that you will be able to say the same thing……and believe it!

 

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Brennan Manning tells this story:

A young female disciple of Jesus wanted to develop a spirit of compassion for all human beings.  But when she went to the supermarket to gather her groceries, she found her compassion sorely tested by an ugly assistant manager who would subject her to unwelcome caresses.

One dreary, rainy day she could tolerate it no longer and began to shout angrily at the manager.  To her mortification she saw Jesus, who was reaching for a jar of peanut butter on the shelf and quietly observing her behavior.  Shamefaced, she came and stood before the Lord, expecting to be rebuked for her anger.

“What you should do, “Jesus kindly counseled her, “is to fill your heart with as much loving-kindness as you can muster.  Then whack him over the head with your umbrella.”

Every time I read this story….I laugh hysterically.  I love that Jesus is reaching for a jar of peanut butter.  While He’s grabbing the peanut butter, I would be running for the chocolate!!!  Kidding, but not really!  I can relate with this girl for, like, so all of my life. I desperately want to love others…..to give mercy, show compassion and offer tenderness to those I come in contact with everyday……but what do you really do with people, like the guy in this story.  What do you do with your best friend who stabs you in the back.  Husband who cheats on you. Pastor who trash-talks your family and kids and you don’t even attend his church anymore.  Rude DMV clerks, angry sales people. LIFE!!  How do you know when to speak up or shut up? Where do you draw the line and stop living as a doormat to some, gather up the courage to have boundaries with others, and sprinkle a little self-control along the way?

Clearly, Jesus had boundaries.  He had this amazing rhythm to his life of being and doing.  He would get away to “be with His Father” and then “go and do”, by healing the sick, teaching, and exhibiting His powerful love to everyone He came in contact with.  Even His disciples wanted Him to adhere to their schedule at times, but He knew why He had come and was focused about living out His Father’s will and not His own agenda.  Jesus also wasn’t afraid of His emotions, but He also wasn’t ruled by them either.  He spoke to the point in John 4:44, “The devil is your father and you prefer to do what your father wants…” or rage in Matthew 16:23, “Get behind me Satan!”…. and blazing wrath in John 2:16 when He said, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace”.  The  umbrella raised….so to speak!

Manning writes, “The wisdom to discern when it is appropriate to turn the other cheek and when it is time to raise the umbrella comes from listening to the heartbeat of the Great Rabbi, Jesus Christ.” I have found, recently, that instead of reacting, wanting to be right, or fearing that I am being taken advantage of in some way…..but instead choosing the act of slowing down….breathing deeply…..listening…..reflecting and allowing myself to be silent long enough to hear the heartbeat of God has made all the difference in my life in a most AMAZING way.  Moreover, the fact that Jesus wants to teach me how to handle EVERY situation in my life , including my relationships, and those I come in contact with, and does not become moved when I sometimes react inappropriately, instead of waiting on Him….makes me run into His arms all the more nowadays.  He is my greatest friend and teacher…..He desires to school me in how to listen and hear his voice……to become one with His heart…..for His creation…..and I love that!

 

 

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This Monday Morning…..

TRUE POVERTY

BY

Brennan Manning

Jesus, my Brother and Lord, I pray as I write these words for the grace to be truly poor before you, to recognize and accept my weakness and humanness, to forgo the indecent luxury of self-hatred, to celebrate your mercy and trust in your power when I’m at my weakest, to rely on your love no matter what I may do, to seek no escapes from my innate poverty, to accept loneliness when it comes instead of seeking substitutes, to live peacefully without clarity or assurance, to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in my life fad away, to belong no more to myself, not to desert my post when I give the appearance of staying at it, to cling to my humanity, to accept the limitations and full responsibility of being a human being – really human and really poor in Christ our Lord.

I don’t  know about you, but I need to chew on this for a bit….be back!!

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This Monday Morning….

 

A MORNING OFFERING

(John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between us)


I bless the night that nourished my heart

To set the ghosts of longing free

Into the flow and figure of dream

that went to harvest from the dark

Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me

Welcomes the wonder of this day,

The field of brightness it creates

Offering time for each thing

To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:

The quiet loyalty of breath,

The tent of thought where I shelter,

Waves of desire I am shore to

And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.

 

Love, love, love this book….and the mediatation it inspires in me….”to risk being disturbed and changed”…..”And waste my heart on fear no more”…..these jump out at me today…..probably because this is where God has me…..I am being asked to take great risk….to let go of my fears….jump!  I will ponder and pray over these phrases today…..as I make breakfast, homeschool my boys….meet a friend about our class we teach tomorrow…..go with Dylan to his doctors appointment…..and so on and so on. I’m learning the discipline of intentionally mediatating, seeking, and listening while talking to God throughout my busy day….. and, boy, is it a discipline…..Blessings on your Monday, my friend!

 

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I love to bake…..and, I must admit, I bake a lot.  Every week….at least every other day…..not for myself…..but for all my guys!  Brownies for Dylan and Davis…..lemon squares for Dustin and Daeden…..Deke will eat anything….ANYTHING…..and whatever Daley requests when he blows thru town to visit his old ma!  Today was for Rob.  He loves cookies…..so these are for him.  They will be gone by the morning. One of the startling things for Rob when he married me almost ten years ago, was how food NEVER stays around our home for very long.  Especially when I bake.  So, I will hide some of these cookies so he isn’t devastated in the morning when he wakes to find them all gone:-)

On a side note…..did you know that Hershey, Pennsylvania smells like chocolate? Did you also know that the Hershey’s Chocolate Factory produces (among other things) more than 20 million Hershey’s kisses a day….Yes, A DAY! It must be absolutely fabulous to live in that town and smell chocolate all day long…..sigh!  Thanks mom and dad for giving Daeden a subscription to National Geographic for Kids…..We learn the most amazing facts:-)

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Restoration Projects……

“When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase

that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces.  But

He doesn’t put them back together as a restoration project

patterned after our former selves.  Instead, He sifts through the

rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another

project – a mosaic that tells the story of redemption.”

~Ken Gire~

 

In the middle of the “project” it sure doesn’t feel like anything good is gonna come out of it, does it?  To embrace our sufferening….to let it reshape us…..change us…..move us…..let it school us…..to not fight the waves of despair and intense fear…..but to roll with it…..move with it…..let it free us, I’m learning takes great discipline.

It is our natural inclination to run from that which is hurting us.  Whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual pain…..the very act of allowing God to use it for our good….to make us more like the person He intended for us to be before we ever took our first breath…..is unbelievably scary, to say the least.

Yet, there is this call from the depths of me that knows from past experience that He is always gentle…..tender…..and loving in His restoration of His children.  The discipline of becoming still and quiet before Him as He gently picks the shards of glass from my wounds requires a great amount of trust.  It also requires that I be honest with Him about my pain, fears, failures, and that which got me to where I am at in the first place.  And let me just say that it takes more than one sitting….it is a process.

I have grown tired of running from Him…..and as painful as it has been, lately, to allow Him access to the deepest parts of me…..I can see something new and amazing coming to light.  Every time I take the risk of meeting with Him…..late…..in the darkness….letting Him speak words of love and encouragement over me……and then sitting still as He gently peels the layers of lies, hurts, and fears off of me…..I come to trust in His goodness and faithfulness to me a little bit more.  He has shown me that I don’t have to live this way anymore.  I don’t need to build walls to protect me….He will protect me. I do not have to run from Him…..I can run to Him…..full speed…. jumping into His arms…..His laughter ringing in my ears as He swings me around……and holds me tight…. I’m His girl! It blows me away to know that “this process”  will result in something so incredibly better……He has this crazy plan…..He intends to use it all…..the good….bad….ugly……to write a new story…..this is not just about me….it is far-reaching…..And just in case you think this doesn’t apply to you…..smile….since we all are broken in some way, shape or form……He calls each one of us to healing and restoration that moves us towards wholeness……will you take the risk and join me?

 


 


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What Do You Believe……

“I love the story of Edward Farrell, a priest from Detroit, who went on a two-week summer vacation to Ireland to visit his relatives.  His one living uncle was about to celebrate his eightieth birthday.  On that day, Ed and his uncle got up early.  It was before dawn.  They took a walk along the shores of Lake Killarney and stopped to watch the sunrise.  They stood side by side for a full twenty minutes and then resumed walking.  Ed glanced at his uncle and saw that his face had broken into a broad smile. Ed said, “Uncle Seamus, you look very happy.” “I am.”  Ed asked, “How come?” And his uncle replied, “The Father of Jesus is very fond of me.”

Do you believe that God really likes you?  Honestly?  Not loves you because theologically He has to….but really digs you.  I can tell you that for most of my life….really up until recently…..I figured I probably really annoyed Him.  I whine too much….struggle with unbelief……live defeated at times……fear most things…..am a jerk…..don’t love others like I’m suppose to…..am a horrible mother…..crappy wife…..unforgiving friend…..and the list goes on.  Basically, I must be a huge disappointment to Him.

Here’s the thing…..I would never tell you that.  Mainly, because I don’t believe it for a second.  I absolutely know that He adores you….lives to watch over you…..enjoy you…..be with you…..love you…..I just couldn’t believe it for myself.  So what changed?

I’m beginning to understand, in my old age, that I can’t change….Only Christ, who lives in me, can change me.  I can will it and white-knuckle it….but I will just fail again and again.  Absolute surrender…..of myself….my will…..my plans……complete and utter surrender to Him.  To take Him at His Word.  To choose to believe what He says about me, He means. Even when my feelings scream the opposite. This has begun that change…..deep inside of me.

Brennan Manning says, “God loves by necessity of His nature; without the eternal, interior generation of love, He would cease to be God.  But if you could answer, “The Father is very fond of me,” there would come a relaxedness, a serenity, and a compassionate attitude toward yourself that is a reflection of God’s own tenderness.” I love that…..

I’m so flawed….yet still I am deeply loved and adored by my Father in Heaven.  I choose to believe that He is very fond of me….and it makes me smile too! How fabulous to be liked…..to know that He enjoys me…..tenderly loves me….even when I’m a ding-dong:-)  I don’t have to try and be perfect anymore…..I already am in His eyes!

 

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