Monthly Archives: May 2013

what is?

A few words latch tightly onto my spirit this morning.

Not “what if”, Elaine, but rather “what is”.

What is. What if I could just live there instead of living in the interminable list of maybes? I’m going to try. With God’s help I’m going to endeavor to live in the reality of today and not take on the unseen possibilities of tomorrow.

What is?

Family relocation in less than a month. Four of us heading south. Two of us heading north.

What is?

Exhaustion. I must take time to rest my body, mind, soul, and spirit, even in the midst of chaos.

What is?

Fear of the unknown. Today, I give it over to God and allow the Faith that has carried my Elaine in these last forty-seven years to be enough to see me through till nightfall.

What is?

Food in my cupboards and a little money in my pocket. Daily manna for daily needs.

What is?

No startling news on the health front. Thanking God for still waters.

What is?

A family’s love. I am accepted and celebrated for who I am.

What is?

The truth of God and his Word tightly tethered to my heart. Oh the sweet, inescapable grace of the Creator! Wherever I am, God IS as well.

What is?

Friendship. Kinship. The fellowship of the beloved. The family of God is long and wide and high and deep. I am not alone on this pilgrim road.

What is?

Good books. Good authors. Words that sustain me, challenge me, and lead me toward truth.

What is?

A day filled with sunshine. A good day for a walk in God’s garden. Eden doesn’t seem so far out of reach.

What is?

Motherhood. They are mine for a season. Today I’ll give them my time, my patience, my love, and my faith. It’s the best I can do.

What is?

Kingdom influence. An undeserved grace. A weighty privilege. A sacred participation with the Almighty. It might sneak quietly into my day, but I pray for eyes to see, a heart to believe, and hands wide-open to receive it as it arrives.

What is?

Right now. This moment.

What is?

Jesus Christ near me, with me, in me.

What is?

Enough peace for the journey I’m traveling.

How about you? What is? I’m praying that God will keep us focused here, on the “is” that really is and not on the “what ifs” that crowd our agenda. In keeping it this small, in breaking down the grand chaos into bite-sized, reality chunks, I think we’re better able to live our moments as they arrive. Not that we deny the truth of “what is”; the starkness of the life in front of us can be a challenge. But even when our “what is” is difficult, as a people of faith we can be certain that God’s “what is” is coupled alongside us as we progressively step through the struggle.

Would you be willing to think it through today – all the way through? Write down your “what is” and receive it as truth? “What ifs” are time wasters; I don’t know about you, but I’ve got enough on my agenda without squandering a single speck of emotional and mental energy on living a scenario that has yet to breathe.

What is? Well, I better get busy with it – two kids running down the hallway and asking the lunch lady regarding today’s menu. I’ll see you on the other side of my Monday, friends. Keep me posted on what your “what is”. I am praying for you.

Confessions of a Reluctant Juror {handling the truth}

Truth exists. Truth isn’t relative. Sometimes, however, truth gets buried beneath the details—layer upon layer of story that muddy up the process of discovery. Why conceal it? To quote Jack Nicholson’s famous line from the movie A Few Good Men . . .

“You can’t handle the truth.”

The truth is, once the layers of a story begin to accumulate, once personal involvement becomes so thick and entangled in the details, and once a step or two is taken across the line that exists between honesty and deception, well, handling the truth means handling the history related to that truth. For some people, it’s impossible to go there, to live there . . . with truth.

Handling truth. Handling lies. This has been my portion over this past week, sorting out the intricate details of a civil case. With the invaluable aid of the other eleven jurors sitting next to me, we did our best to dig through the layers of one particular story. In doing so, we reached a conclusion based on the minimal amount of evidence presented to us.

Yesterday afternoon, we walked away from one another and back into our own lives—our personal stories that now include a chapter called Room 327. The truth? Well, I think some of it remains back in that courthouse, buried in the hearts of the plaintiff and defendant involved in the case. Between the two of them, truth exists. I’m fairly confident in my conclusion, though, that neither one of them willingly wants to handle it. The story is so deep and its layers so thick that truth no longer has a commanding voice in the matter, perhaps only a faint whisper every now and again.

Handling truth. Putting our hands on the Bible and promising to tell it, so help us God.

So . . .

Help us, God. Help me, God. To handle the truth. To reverently, passionately, confidently, and with full assurance hold truth. Speak truth. Mean what I say and say what I mean. Put my hand on the Bible and have it signify something . . . signify everything, knowing that as I live my life before men, I first and most importantly live my life before God.

God is Truth (see John 14:6). He knows truth. And when I have failed to get to the truth of the matter as it pertains to my own life and to the lives of others, God alone holds the key to perfect understanding. He has sorted out the details, sifted through the layers, and that which remains hidden to us (sometimes by us) has already been found by him. Truth cannot be concealed from God’s eyes; truth is revealed . . . always, ever-present and crystal clear. Sometimes, however, our vision is blurred by the fig leaves we use to hide our many sins, our shame, and the overwhelming pride that led us to believe we could live independently from truth.

To live truthfully, is to bow soul-naked before God. Those unwilling to do so are those who have no fear of God. Instead, they fear man, a tangible fear to be certain. But it’s not an eternal fear. If we could really take hold of the everlasting, take hold of the truth that what is happening down here on planet earth is but a dress rehearsal for what is to come for our eternal tomorrows, then we’d no longer have to place our hands on the Bible and swear our allegiances to truth. We’d just live truth. Our word would be our oath and our souls would breathe easier. Our crosses would be fewer and our burdens lightly carried.

Handling truth. How goes it in your own life? Where does your allegiance lie? Who do you fear most . . . man or God? When was the last time you bowed soul-naked before your Creator and allowed him to sort through the layers of your story to get to the truth? You may not be able to handle the truth, but God can. God does. God is. And with the help of his Holy Spirit, he will release you from the fig leaves that are preventing you from your freedom walk in this earth-garden.

I pray that kind of freedom for each one of you today. I’m praying it for myself, to live so honestly before God and before you that we don’t have to waste a moment in the courtroom of life to get to the truth.

The truth is . . . my soul has been profoundly affected by my experience this last week. My heart is open to all the ways that God may want to use it to teach me more about him, more about his people, and how better to live that more in this earth-garden until he calls me home to his heavenly one.

Soul naked before the Father. Even so I come, Lord Jesus. Teach me to handle your truth. As always, friends . . .

Peace for the journey,

on burying the blue sweater . . .

 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” –Isaiah 43:18-19

It’s time to throw-away the blue sweater (modeled here by mini-me, a.k.a. Miss Amelia).

How do I know the time has come? I just know. Sometimes a heart just knows.

It might be obvious to you and others that I probably should have let this one go a long time ago, but it’s been my friend for over twenty years . . . a lot of memories and a lot of back story to this particular sweater. It’s tough letting go of a friend like this.

Perhaps you understand. Maybe you have such a friend—a “holding on to” that is holding on as well, tenaciously gripping your hand and heart and unwilling to release you on your way. Could it be that years of comfortableness (of living with the old and with what’s easy) have robbed you of something new, something better?

Maybe, like me, you’re blinded to your need. To others, your need is obvious; your sweater is old, torn and tattered by years of overuse but rather than releasing it to the junk pile, you’d rather squeeze a few more wears out of it. You won’t force the issue, because forcing the issue means facing it as well.

If this is you, might I offer you a checklist of sorts, a few diagnostic prods when assessing your need for a new sweater? And lest you think I’m solely talking about the clothing that hangs in your closet, let me assure you that, greater still, I’m talking about the clothing that hangs in your heart, your mind and soul as well.

How do you know when it is time to throw out a sweater?

  • When it has outlived its usefulness.
  • When it reveals more than it conceals.
  • When the color fades.
  • When it prevents space in the closet from being available for something new.
  • When it adds to your load rather than easing it.
  • When it no longer warms your frame.
  • And most importantly (at least for me in this season), it’s time to throw out a sweater when it becomes a stumbling block to others, especially to those who sit beneath my influence. If I can’t let go of an old sweater from time to time—if I cannot release that which is no longer beneficial to my well-being—then how can I expect them to release theirs? What is modeled is often what is lived. I must be willing to rid my closet of the non-essentials so that my children might experience the freedom of doing the same.

Indeed, sometimes a heart just knows when it’s time to let go. Today I bury this sweater. Tomorrow, possibly something greater. It’s all in keeping with God’s “new” for my life.

I challenge you to do the same. Take a look in your closet today; examine the frayed edges of your heart, soul, mind, and spirit. Do so with this checklist in mind. Maybe there’s a sweater or two that needs to join mine in burial. It’s not always easy saying good-bye to a well-loved, well-worn friend, but sometimes, it’s required if we want to make room for God’s new dispensation of grace.

May our Father grant you his discernment, his strength, and his peace in the “letting go.” I’ll meet you graveside, friends, and we will glory together in the release and in the freedom that is ours in Christ Jesus! As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

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