“Worship Through Prayer” for She Reads Truth

Worship Through Prayer is a devotion I got to work on as part of the She Reads Truth In Spirit & in Truth: A Study of Biblical Worship reading plan.

 

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“Worship Through Obedience” for shereadstruth.com

Sometimes writing feels like an impossible puzzle to me. There are times the pieces come together, and there are times I push and push and can’t connect them all. This article was one of those puzzle battles, but the She Reads Truth editors took the pieces anyway:

Worship Through Obedience

It’s good to have people come alongside you.

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Rebekah

I was honored to write a devotion for SheReadsTruth.com:

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Can You Say “No” in Ministry?

This article is my attempt at tackling a question I’ve been wrestling with over the last few years. Many of you have walked with me in the wrestling. Thank you! I hope these words encourage you today.

 

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You Can Rest Now

Thank you to The Gospel Coalition and Melissa Kruger for helping me think out loud about rest in this article

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/get-off-hamster-wheel-and-rest

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Forgiveness

~~~~~~
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand. . . .
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
–Psalm 121:5,8
~~~~~~

My mind goes out and comes in,
addressing past grievances against me,
perceived or maybe real.

But the Lord is my keeper,
I’m not an apt keeper.

My Lord, please keep these grievances—
they cage me when I keep them—
Keep them for me.
You are judge, I am not.

Keep them,
free me from them.
Let me cease going out and coming in from them
and rest in your shade,
the shade of one who loves me
and doesn’t hold grievances against me.

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All This Beauty

img_3356A blanket of snow
fell last night.

If I get bogged down
in the shoveling and
the ensuing puddles and
the required gear,
I miss the beauty.

So it is with life:
I can wallow in the brown slush or
choose to stop,
look up, and
watch the snow tumble down,
hushing everything,
and thank the one who sent
all this beauty.

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Work

“Let the excellence of your work be your protest.” –Bill Lane

I read this quotation tonight and immediately felt discouraged that my work this week has consisted primarily of caring for my children, felled by strep throat and high fevers.

Discouraged I didn’t have written work I could pour over and make excellent, I walked past the rooms of my sleeping children, and the words hit me—the excellence of my work. These children are the excellence. They are the excellent work of God, who has entrusted them to my care. Today, this is my work.

Today, I triumphantly unloaded the dishwasher, made different dinners for still-sick throats; read some Harry Potter, Fancy Nancy, and On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness to their respective listeners; and, under my son’s persistent tutelage, I finally beat him in the Wii Mario Olympics long jump competition. Twice.

There are so many heartbreaking events I could stand in protest against today, but tonight I stand in protest against the voices that yell, “Do something of value,” ignoring mothering as something of value. Tonight I see that God is doing excellent work in these brilliant young lives, and He’s given me a front-row seat. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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Nothing works today—

Nothing works today—
The vacuum,
The bus,
The heat.

Nothing is complete—
The laundry,
The lists,
The house.

When nothing works the way I want,
When I cut it to the bone,
It feels like you’re out to get me, God.

But you,
You meet me there:

Yes, I’m out to get you,
My treasure.
Your heart, I’m after your heart
That’s hell-bent on your plans,
I want it bent on me.

Your plans and hopes for today are too small.
Mine are big.
Mine are better
For you.

Let loose your desires to me,
I’ll hold them fast.

Like balloons,
Dreams held down too long
Wilt.

But give me your dreams,
Release your clenched fists,
And watch them escape
From you
Into me.

Yes, things break here.
Yes, they’re incomplete.

But one day,
You’ll see
All things work
Together
For good,
All things complete.

Trust me.
I have good for you
Even today.

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Bountifully

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
–Psalm 116:7

We’ve lived in Pittsburgh for almost three months now. We moved into a house built in 1929. It’s a beautiful home with countless issues we unknowingly walked into. We miss familiarity; we miss old friends. Some days the loss feels deeply painful.

The Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

There’s a friend in Nashville who is dying and several who already have. Today has been hard.

Truth-telling: Do I believe God is dealing bountifully with me? Does it feel like he’s dealing bountifully with me and with these families? No. No, it doesn’t feel bountiful.

If we stop long enough to feel it, life this side of heaven is hard and hurts and doesn’t feel good. All the feels are rough and scratchy; they wound and hurt. This side of heaven there’s a constant commingling of sorrow and joy because things here are broken. Jaggedly so. But I’m choosing to believe today that God is, among countless things, an artist. His medium is often mosaics: taking separate, broken pieces and forming them into one masterful work of art. The end work is only the artist’s until it’s finished.

As I work with him through the heartache and pain that are so often life, I want to believe the truth, his truth, that he has dealt bountifully with me. If I choose to believe he is unmercifully dealing out hardships and suffering, there’s no rest for my soul. There will be  hardships and suffering until heaven, and I am choosing today to believe that God always deals bountifully with me. It’s not always in the way I’d choose for him to deal with me. But he continues to deal out his unyielding faithfulness nevertheless.

So, today, I’m listing ways he’s dealt bountifully with me. I am not ignoring the pain, but I am fighting to see God’s provision even there. It’s so easy to complain; a friend once said, it’s lazy to complain. It’s a sacrifice to thank, a sacrifice of praise, to see God’s bountiful provision everywhere.

List:
Very little is familiar here. But he is.
We believe he brought us here and that he goes before us and will be with us.
We believe he is providing, even when his provision doesn’t always look the way we want it to.
We believe his mercies are new every morning, even when they don’t look the way we asked for them to look.
We believe he is good, even when it’s hard to make out his goodness.
We believe he is never changing, he never sleeps, he is always in our midst, he is in the details, he is love.
We believe he is a good father: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” –Matthew 7:11

Even as I type these things, I can feel my heart softening and the Spirit reminding me of God’s good gifts we’ve seen here already:
We have been loved well by new friends who are not scared away by my tears and have delved into life with us around their table and ours.
We have neighbors who brought us a feast in a Steelers’ cooler and continue to explode and expand our definition of generosity.
We see God’s overflowing provision in our church and in our kids’ schools. . . .

God has dealt bountifully with me. And however my list of that bounty looks today, it always ends with the truth that he saved me and is saving me and is mighty to do so. I deserve eternal death, but he is graciously bountiful to me in Jesus.

My little sister taught me to pray about the details, however small, because God loves us, details and all. And you know what? It helps. Imagine that: It helps to call on my creator, the one who is always with me and understands me completely. It calms and encourages my soul to ask him to give my kids strong friendships or to help us find a plumber or to ask him to meet us in our sadness and realize he knows sadness well.

Because he is our shepherd, we shall not want (Psalm 23:1). Even when my wants hit a screaming pitch and seem they’ll never be met, one day, I shall not want. Even today, I shall not want for the things he knows I truly need. He gives me daily bread. May he give you and me pause to stop and eyes to see that daily bread, accept it as enough and even as bountiful provision, and break it with one another.

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
–Psalm 116:7

 

 

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