Seeking Him

“All night long on my bed
       I looked for the one my heart loves;
       I looked for him but did not find him.

  I will get up now and go about the city,
       through its streets and squares;
       I will search for the one my heart loves.
       So I looked for him but did not find him.

  The watchmen found me
       as they made their rounds in the city.
       “Have you seen the one my heart loves?”

 Scarcely had I passed them
       when I found the one my heart loves.
       I held him and would not let him go. . .” Song of Solomon 3:1-4a

Linking up at Walk With Him Wednesday @ Holy Experience  (sorry couldn’t get the button to work)

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A Race of Sorts

 

Everyone brought their A-game.

This one had a title to defend.

He was favored to win.

This poor guy didn’t stand a chance.

It was a close one.

Photo finish!  The cat won by a paw.

Does your race feel like running in circles sometimes?  Mine does.  I tend to come back to the same things.  “Didn’t we learn this one already?  How did I get back here?”  Let’s keep running, Friend.  We may not look as graceful as these guys accompanied by organ music, but by His grace and with His help, our feeble legs will cross the finish line.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

My Foundations, Your Legacy

Tomorrow, something utterly ridiculous, but today, some Chesterton:

 “But there is one thing that I have never from my youth up been able to understand. I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. . . If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”

Isn’t that so well put? I have been having discussions with my besties about the importance of remembrance. We all know how important it is to learn history in order to avoid the mistakes of the past, but sometimes we talk with a tone that sounds a lot like arrogance. It seems to say, “We know better.” Yes, we might know more, but to suppose we know better is foolishness.

My best friend and I are both Pastors’ kids and we were recently talking about the privilege of this perspective. There is something that happens when you have a front row seat to watching someone give their life away, in service to our King. An appreciation of all who have gone before gets nurtured. Whether I agree with the person or not, my respect for a lifetime of sacrifices, begs me to listen for truths well earned.

I am increasingly aware that anything I am able to accomplish in this world has everything to do with the people on whose shoulders I stand. My thoughts, my ideas, they are not wholly my own. There are so many that have spoken into my life and taught me lessons. Some, I spoke to once. Some, I did life with for a season. Some, I never met: Chesterton, Lewis, Chambers, etc. Some gave me my allowance. 😉

So, as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, let us speak with appreciation and gratitude. Let us honor them as we push forward, reminding them that our accomplishments are the extension of their sacrifice. Let us listen to/read their thoughts as they might be solutions to the problems we now face. And, more than anything, let us be encouraged by the supernatural faith of ordinary men (and women).

“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” Hebrews 11:39-40

Be Lifted Up

Lift up your heads, O you gates;
       be lifted up, you ancient doors,
       that the King of glory may come in. 

 Who is this King of glory?
       The LORD strong and mighty,
       the LORD mighty in battle.

 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
       lift them up, you ancient doors,
       that the King of glory may come in.

  Who is he, this King of glory?
       The LORD Almighty—
       he is the King of glory.
       Selah

Psalm 24:7-10

Did you do this?

This is why it takes us so long to get through our shopping!  My kids jump from tile to tile, just like I used to with my brother.  Isn’t it funny how some games never get old?

Art from here.

Grab your favorite warm beverage, it’s storytime.

My life is a continuing testament to God’s provision and loving care.  This is a very personal story, but I realize that it is more His than mine.  And, as I am so proud of the way He lovingly weaves everything I need into my life, I wanted to share. 

Once upon a time ;), we were apart of a great adventure that looked a lot like a homeless shelter.  A dear friend of ours invited my husband to work with him in opening a new shelter, in the city in which we were living.  It was downtown in a nondescript, if not ugly, brown building.  On the third floor, were 16 suite type rooms, for residents.  The first floor housed social services for the organization.  And, on the second floor, was the kitchen, dining room, outside-rooftop-playground, shelter offices, and our apartment.  Yes, we lived there.  In the early days, it was a necessity because there was only a handful of staff, and everyday had 24 hrs. full of challenges.  It was a time where our personal lives were so intertwined with shelter life, that it’s hard , now, to think about it as a job my husband once had.  If we were doing an Easter egg hunt for our son, we did it for all the kids in the shelter.  If we were making popcorn balls for ourselves, we made extra to give to the residents.  We believed in it, and we invested our lives in a way that sometimes looked a little crazy.  There were very many nights when I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning, because a resident who missed curfew was throwing pebbles (or yelling) at our bedroom window.  Which would result in this conversation, “Are you really just going to leave them out there?” “They missed curfew.”  “Honey, it’s cold out there, maybe they have a good reason?”  Then, my husband would get up, get dressed, let them in, give them a talking to on the elevator ride up, and come back to bed.  The way we invested wore us out (and honestly, couldn’t be sustained for any long period of time), but now, looking back on those years, we treasure them.  It was a time, where we never questioned if God could use us, or where He could use us, all we had to do was walk out into the hallway, and an opportunity to do something with Him, would present itself.

So, now you have the heart of it, we loved it, it was hard, and everyday there was drama.  On one particularly not good day, I was in my pajamas, playing with our 3-year-old son in the living room.  As we were playing, the door to our apartment opened, and a small group of well dressed business people walked in, chatting about what could be done in the space.  I recognized the leader of the group as one of the women that worked downstairs, in social services.  They had blueprints.  They talked about tearing down my bedroom wall, and they didn’t seem to notice that I was shocked, and wishing I had a sweatshirt, or a robe on!  Thankfully, my husband had heard the commotion, and came in on a white steed (okay, not so much on horse, but very much saving the day).  He said something or other about, you can’t just barge into our apartment unannounced.  She said something about needing to make plans.  He said, something about making an appointment.  She was really upset and didn’t understand, but then looked, I think, for the first time, at me and my son in our pajamas, and realized maybe she should have thought about it a little more.  They all left to talk about it in the hallway, and then I was back to Duplos, and Elmo playing in the background.  But, the damage had been done.

You see, my shock was not so much about people rushing into the apartment.  This happened a lot.  (In fact, in our first weeks, one of the staff members would walk into our kitchen and take our food out of the cabinets, to feed the residents.  My husband had a talk with her about that.)  I was shocked because these well clad strangers were talking about closing down the shelter.  The shelter that we loved, and invested our all in.  The shelter that we believed in.  And, then there was the fact that my husband would be without a job, and we would be without a place to live, all in one fell swoop.  Just as all this was dawning on me, the white knight returned with an explanation that didn’t explain much, and then went back to his office for a meeting.

I was left with confusion, hurt, and overwhelm.  I walked to the kitchen to pour myself another cup of coffee.  Away from my son, and Elmo, I felt the liberty to pour out my feelings to God.  I can remember, even now, the way it felt to have the rug pulled out from under me.  I didn’t really know what to do, or where to stand, in this new reality.  Then, I did something new, and unexpected.  There, in the silence of my kitchen, I lifted my hands and started to praise God.  I praised Him for His goodness.  I praised Him for His faithfulness.  I praised Him for all He had given us.  I’m not sure why that was my reaction.  I’m pretty sure that God lifted my hands, and put those words of praise in my mouth.  Because, in that time of praise, in my kitchen, there was respite for my soul.  As I came into His presence, I was reminded of all He is, and all He does, and all He can do.  It was there that I left my overwhelm, and replaced it with a peace that can only come from big, BIG God.

But, this is not the end of my story (although it has gotten long, sorry).  I told you this was a story about provision, and although there was provision in the kitchen, it was not enough for our excessively generous God.  A few days later, we were at church, in worship, when my sweet, loving God wanted to tell me that He saw me, and heard me.  Our worship pastor is a very talented songwriter and likes to try out his new songs on us.  So that day, he taught us a new song, line by line.  And this is how it went:

Lord I surrender all

To Your strong and faithful hand

In everything I will give thanks to You

I’ll just trust Your perfect plan

Chorus:

When I don’t know what to do

I’ll lift my hands

When I don’t know what to say

I’ll speak Your praise

When I don’t know where to go

I’ll run to Your throne

When I don’t know what to think

I’ll stand on Your truth

When I don’t know what to do

The chorus blew me away.  I saw myself standing in that kitchen, with my hands raised, only days before.  How on earth could God have orchestrated this?  Now, I know that this song was not just for me.  God gave Tommy Walker this song so that he could share it with a whole slew of people.  And, I know that it has, and will speak to them, and give words to their hearts.  But, the timing, and the specificity, of those words spoke so directly to my heart.  In the midst of uncertainty, and chaos, He had heard my cry.  And, I knew that a God that would take such care with my heart, would very easily take care of the other stuff.

 “Praise be to the LORD,for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:6-7

P.S. If you want to hear the song, here is a video (from a different church):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfR1xLnwpTg

Like, Whoa!

Remember in High School when a song would play on the radio and it would completely encapsulate what your heart was feeling?  My self-centered teenage mind, would think, “How could they possibly know?”  Well, it happened to me this morning. 

Make It Through, by Sherwood. 

 Click here to play

It’s just right.  The happy tune put to the words I’ve spoken to my Heavenly Father over and over.  If the words were to stand alone, you would read overwhelm and drudgery, but because of the cheerful tune, you hear matter-of-fact reality.  That is so where we are.  We have no answers, and aren’t quite sure where we belong, but God has filled our faith tanks and so there is a peace that comes.  It is our happy tune.