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Heart Thoughts

Above the Commotion

It’s funny how we can live near someone and not really know the full sweetness of friendship until we are far away.  It was that way with my friend Stephanie.  Her dad is a pastor whom our family greatly respects, and he still challenges us with His passion for scripture and its application in our daily life.  But it wasn’t until our family moved to another state that our friendship really blossomed, and I count Stephanie as one of my heart-friends.  So when she wrote these thoughts for you, friend… I couldn’t wait to share them with you.  They speak so much to a struggle we all have, if we’re honest.  They call each of us to rise above the commotion of everyday life… for something so much more.

From Stephanie:

We are selective by nature. Facebook friends with irrelevant or bothersome posts get unfollowed. The especially appealing images are re-pinned on Pinterest. Magazines are purchased based on a headline’s promise. We innately filter life and choose what we spend our time on. This is good.

We are always looking for the best information, funniest videos, most insightful articles— discoveries meant to increase our happiness or improve how we experience each day. The search is legitimate, the longing innate, but the sources we look to for fulfillment are insufficient.

I keep up on Instagram, check out new books from the library, and seize quality “me” time at a coffee shop— often looking to those things as a source of fulfillment.

But no matter how desperately I try to extract balm for my battered emotions and nourishment for my weakened spirit, those sources are insufficient to heal.

 

Jeremiah 2:13 describes how the people of Israel made the same attempt and failed: “They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.” I hadn’t realized it before, but I am an expert at digging broken cisterns.

 

 

You are probably familiar with the saying, “Not everything that glitters is gold.” In this day and age there is a lot glittering. There are so many cisterns holding out the promise of living water. We expectantly approach, desperately thirsty, and we depart devastatingly unquenched. If we want to address our spiritual dehydration, we must look to a different source. It isn’t modern, it doesn’t have a subscribe button, it’s not “pinable” and it won’t go live on Facebook. It’s a daily, genuine relationship with the Creator of your heart, the Savior of your soul, the King of the universe. His words for you are alive and accessible in the simple, unadorned, un-hashtagged Holy Bible, and “They are more desirable than gold—than an abundance of pure gold” (Psalm 19:10). His words alone will truly satisfy our thirst.

 

In Proverbs we receive the instruction: “My son, be attentive to my words…For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh” (4:20, 22). The healing, life-giving words Solomon is drawing our attention to are ultimately the supreme words of scripture. We must be attentive. We must be watchful, critical, discerning.

 

The source of ultimate joy, deep satisfaction and renewal is hiding in plain sight, we are often just too distracted to see it.

 

Amidst the chaos of other voices clamoring for your attention, “Wisdom calls out in the street; she raises her voice in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion” (Proverbs 1:20, 21).

 

Picture the last ridiculously loud situation you were in. Concert? Sports game? Bar? Driving while one kid has a meltdown that could shatter glass, the other kid conveying their desperate need for a cracker? Think about the concentration required to hear what someone is saying to you over all of that noise. For a moment, somehow, your brain manages to tune everything else out, your eyes lock on their lips as they form the words. You carefully take note of their gestures to interpret what they are communicating and without even knowing it, you lean in. That is the kind of focus needed to filter out the commotion of distractions in this world and take hold of the life-giving words of Christ. They are there, amazingly, ironically free and worth more than everything else this world can offer.

 

 

 

I’m so tired of leaky cisterns. I’m irritated by a dissatisfaction in things that were supposed to be rewarding. In a world of movement and temporality, of trends and innovation, I am chronically attention-deficit. The void in my heart aches and longs for undistracted, uncontested time with the One who satisfies. I want to filter out more of the trivial, the secular, the empty; I want to be attentive to His life-giving voice. His call is steadfast, and though we are not, the way remains open. “Therefore…let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 HCSB).

 

Visit Stephanie at Read, Cook, Devour to see what else she’s sharing.

 

{Thank you, Stephanie, for challenge and encouragement!}

 

Prayer Changes Everything

Prayer changes everything.  I’ve said this with my mouth for years, but it’s finally beginning to sink into my heart.  Recently, I’ve had an ongoing interaction with a fellow believer that’s grating on me.  We have a difference in opinion about something, and with all my being, I believe that I’m biblically “in the right” about the issue.  It’s chafed against me, causing “righteous indignation,” as the person’s way of dealing with the issue has, I believe, caused others to go astray.  Somewhat embarrassed, I can tell you that my go-to-tendency is to get irritated, to talk when I can of my irritation, and to go round-and-round constructing well-crafted reprimands to say to her, either for real, or in my head.

Thankfully, I have a small group of women I’m in contact with who speak the truth in love, and one of the things I’ve heard from them is to “let it go.”  They don’t mean to forego confronting an important issue, but rather, to commit it to prayer and be willing to wait for guidance on what to say, and when to say it.  But how do I do that?  Especially when I’m right?

 

How do I wait patiently before addressing an important issue, letting God determine the timing and process?

 

I begin by prayer.  By that I mean intentional, ongoing conversation with the Lord about this person.  When I’m tempted to tell her what I think, or to “sound off” to another person who knows the situation (and I tell myself it’s for advice, or for commiseration), I instead tell it all to God.  Mind you, He already knows.  But talking to Him about it is genuinely sharing in a safe place.  He’s not going to go blabbing to others.  He loves this person more than I do, and He loves me too.  He’s the only One, actually, who can do anything about the situation, and the bonus is that He’s going to work on me in the process.

Something incredible happens to me as I tell God about this woman and the situation.  First, I get it out.  I vent.  It lifts the load somehow because I’ve shared it.  I’m real with Him, too.  I dump it out, and I let my ugly show.  He already sees it anyway.

Then I begin to see from a new perspective.  As I tell my Papa all my frustrations, learned scripture begins to come back that sheds Truth onto the problems.  Past experience reminds me of good, and of not-so-good, ways this thing can be handled.  And sweetest of all, I begin to think of this person the way He does.  Clarity comes and I may see that yes, she’s wrong.  But also, I am.  I begin to ache for how the areas she handles incorrectly will bring her harm.  I see in a new light how it may harm others.  Almost invariably, this realization drives me to pray more, to ask God to intervene in ways only He can.  It drives me to have a heart of love toward the person I believe is wronging me.

 

When I drop everything to pray about a difficult person, I also begin to see myself in a different light. 

 

The still, small voice of my God reminds me how close I am, always, to making some grave error that will harm me or others, and of how many times He has stopped me, or saved me, or forgiven me for those errors.  He begins to challenge me, “little one, but for my grace, that would be you.  And it has, time and again.  Give grace.”

 

prayer-changes-everything

 

Sometimes, and far less often than I might like, He calls me to speak the truth.  In-all-capital-letters: IN LOVE.  When I’ve genuinely walked this little journey of God-talk full circle, He may take some of those truths, and some of the wisdom He shares, and ask me to speak it to the person I began praying for.  But something has happened by this time: I now long to share it for the good of that person, and for the purpose of reconciliation.

I don’t mean that the person will always like me, or be happy with my words.  It might even cause emotional or relational division.  But if my heart’s longing is for their best, for their ultimate deeper reconciliation with the God who made them, and if my involvement is infused with gentleness, speaking the truth has a bigger purpose than my personal opinion, or my status of being liked.  Now when I speak, I’m not seeking retribution or personal gain, but am willing to be used, literally, for the good of another.  Now, when I speak, I’m not just not seeking my own elevated status, but I’m willing to be put down, to build another up, eternally speaking.

 

Prayer changes everything.  When I give God control with my words, it changes me, and allows me to be used for GOOD.

 

 

Praying for someone doesn’t always get magical results that match my requests.  It doesn’t always change situations.  But when I pray “in earnest,” and “without ceasing,” it always changes my heart.  Whether it drives me to speak up or be quiet, it teaches me and grows me closer to the likeness of my God.  It creates in me a new heart, a new mind, toward another.  Praying for another literally changes my heart, my mind, and my actions toward that person, with the potential to bring them good in the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

 

How has God used prayer to change you?  How has He used your brokenness for another, for good and Glory?

 

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Legacy Leaving | Intentional Grandparenting

Their hands rest side-by-side as they chat over my mama’s life story.  Gently, she fingers each charm of the bracelet she’s had for decades, and she tells of each memory represented by a small charm, determined to pass these  along and leave a legacy, this portion through the trusted heart of her only granddaughter.  My girl listens intently, jotting notes in her scrolled but neat handwriting, precisely documenting so she won’t forget.  This act of legacy leaving is intentional grandparenting, and more, it’s intentional relationship that is a gift to each one of us.

connecting-generations-spiritual-legacy

 

As I watch from the adjoining room, I’m ever-so-grateful for the gift that is memory, the intentional way in which my mom uses pockets of time to instill in her grandkids the story of the past, so they can carry it to the future.  I’m thinking of the moments we’ve made together, the spoiling I’ve had in friendships with older women than me.  It’s bittersweet to realize there are moments lost, but it renews my commitment to foster friendships with those in my season and those well before me, to share what I’m learning with those who are yet to walk the paths I have walked.  I want to connect with those who are like me and those who are different, because I know I have something to give, and something to gain, in doing it.

 

Sometimes, it’s hard work to connect with those who are in a different season of life from ours.  But it’s oh-so-important, because each one of us has something to teach, and something to learn.

 

leaving-a-spiritual-legacy

 

On the issue of grand-parenting, I’m thankful that our kids have family who is intentional about building genuine relationship.  From cross-country visits, to annual hunting trips, to trips back to the growing-up-home of their grandpa, they’ve been blessed to build memories.  Those memories teach my children what is forever-important, and I know they will impact their own parenting, their friendships, and their marriages.

 

My second son has moved to another state to work and to explore what God has in this season and the one to come.  He’s independent: fiercely independent.  But as he stretches his wings, he’s also reaching back, keeping ties strong as he knows how.  Recently, he texted me and asked about my family.  In talking with a new friend, he realized he didn’t know as much as he’d like to know about my aunts-and-uncles-and-cousins-and-sibling.  It was so cool to have a few moments to share those with him, to do my own legacy leaving, and I know there will be more stories to come.  I hope even more, that he will build strong ties with his own siblings, and create beautiful stories to pass down to those who’ll come after them all.

 

Legacy leaving is sometimes uncomfortable, but as we stretch to give to others a piece of ourselves, we grow, too.

 

legacy leaving

 

I had to twist arms (almost literally!), but recently, my mom and my daughter sat down with me and shared live on Facebook about intentional connection with others in different seasons of life (click to view).  For my mom, doing anything “live” and on camera, is an act of sacrificial love… and in this case, one of intentional grandparenting.  I’d love to know your thoughts, and how you’re learning and growing with others in different seasons.  Share your own thoughts below?  And be blessed!

 

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