April 1, 2015

Jericho Fears

It was finally warm and sunny enough to visit the beloved greenway close to my house. I needed to be out in nature, to be moving with no one around. I needed space to wrestle with God.

I was wrestling with fears:
fears about finances (looming tax bills, car on the frits, lack of savings, things just being generally tight),
fears about my future (will I ever have babies, or will my body be too old by the time a husband shows up, will I ever have a house, or be able to adopt, or ever get married????) and
fears about my heart (when it is time to love, will I fail again?).

As I walked and spoke aloud with the Lord expressing my fears and pleading for him to "JUST DO SOMETHING ALREADY"... in his graciousness he didn't tell me "you are enough strong, just deal with it on your own," or "I am God, I will do what suits me," or ask "what is your problem?"

He replied to my confession with an image:

Jericho: a fortress with its walls rising, seemingly insurmountable to a band of ragtag people after years of traveling in the wilderness, but also essential to overcome as part of entering the Promised Land.

The Lord in his tenderness revealed my fears, a personal Jericho, were a wall standing between me and a land of abundance and promise. The thing that was to free me from these walls? Worship ...wholehearted passionate worship of the King of the Eternal Kingdom who forever holds me in his hands of love. Just as the walls came crumbling down with a trumpet blast from the priests the fears surrounding my heart will evaporate as I worship. Worship and time. Jericho's walls didn't topple in a day, or by the end of "Jesus loves me this I know." It took seven days, a cycle of completion ending with a grand finale. Worship is the key, but things also take time. A pattern of trust has to be build.

In our journey of learning to trust in the love and promises of the Father lets meditate on His word and what He has already done:  
"I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you." (Joshua 1:9 words of Rehab)
"The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us." (Joshua 2:24 words of the spies)

"Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18)
 "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." (1 John 4:16)

Think about the garden of Eden... there was no place for fear there, only love. We are not meant to dwell in fear. It is crippling. We are meant to work with our hands, have free relationships, and walk with the Lord in the cool of the day, forever in His presence. We are meant for worship, crafted to be objects of his love and vessels pouring His love back to Him and the people around us. As we exalt  the One who is love our fears come crashing down, having lost their power, leaving us free to dwell in the Promised Land of abundance.

March 18, 2015

Winter's Green

It is late winter, so late that the days have begun to warm, the earth slowly turning our hemisphere towards the sun again. Sitting on the banks of the swollen creek I am struck by the abundance around me. There is a constant steady flow of water, quenching the roots near by and splashing life on the moss covered banks, the only green left in this winter-scape. There is life and grace here, even if it not bursting garish like the fall, or timid and coy like the spring, or verdantly languid as the summer. Winter life is different. It is hardy, embedded close to the mud and clay. It remains despite the frost and ice. Millions of little mosslets clumping together for warmth and solidarity outlast the grasses and green leaves. In its humble state it is sustained.

"As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are but dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts."
Psalm 103:13-18

We need not be afraid of our feet of clay, he knows that we are "but dust," but instead grow a humble home out of the muddy circumstances we find ourselves in as we press in. Do not despise small beginnings. The moss though so small and dependent holds the banks of the creek back from avalanche. Humility keeps our faith from erosion.

Like the moss we have to situate ourselves close to the constant living water, so close that we are sprinkled and splashed with daily abundant grace. This is the key to making it through the skinny seasons, the cold times, the long hard nights. As every season changes we can be sure that this winter is on its way out, but as it goes we have to learn to remain humble and dependent for there will be another winter, maybe longer than the last. We cannot give into despair. Every living creature needs constant and change, the stability of seasons.

"He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.

The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.

He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love."

selections from Psalm 147

Though the Lord holds galaxies in his hand and orchestrates the path of the planets, He cares deeply for you. He see the sparrow fall and the moss grow. He was there in the dark wet womb before our mothers knew we existed crafting you, holding you, loving you. Through this winter and the dark seasons that are ahead he will continue to sustain you, he will heal you, and bind up your wounds, and again the Lord will bring us into spring... oh glorious spring with its life, resurrection, redemption warming the soul like sun on your face.

March 14, 2015

5 Reasons I Will Be Sad to See Winter Go

Winter needs to leave. It's time already!

Even down here in the south some of us are getting cabin fever and feeling the effects of vitamin D deficiency.

I could fill and entire encyclopedia with things that I will be thankful for as spring arrives, but here is a short list of five things I will be sad to bid farewell too as the climate begins to warm again.

1. Always having a good excuse to make myself a hot beverage. I love tea, adore hot coco, and venerate coffee. As I drift off to sleep I think with delight how wonderful it will be to sip coffee eight hours later in a new day. If you offer me something hot to drink I will pretty much always take you up on it. If you want to ensure that I won't deny you the pleasure of hospitality, then offer me coffee, unless of course you got it from a gas station (excluding QT of course). There is nothing so marvelous as holding a warm cup of delight in cold hands on a grey cold day.

2. Wearing scarves. Winter attire is often bulky and tiresome, but I could never get weary of wearing scarves. They are so pretty and cozy. I love sleeping with my blankets and hands up near my face, so to me wearing a scarf is like akin to staying in bed while functioning at a normal adult level through life. Spring, summer, and fall thankfully have their acceptable versions of scarf, but it is not quite the same as cozy crochet nestled between your chest and chin.

3. Making, eating, and sharing soup. My feelings for soup are not quite as strong as they are for coffee, but I do look forward to the comforting sensation of making and eating soup on a cold winter day. A big pot of soup is so easy to share with friends, and can be eaten off of for the rest of the week. Soup is so simplistic but can also be nuanced and can be crafted from almost anything you have in the kitchen. There will always be a special place in my heart for a hardy warm soup, that summer soups like gazpacho will never fill. 

4. Crocheting. I know that I don't have to give up crocheting when spring arrives, but I inevitably do. There are more outdoorish things to occupy my time in the warmer seasons than making extraneous hats, gloves, scarves, and socks. I am starting an Esty shop to sell some of my crocheted things, so hopefully this hobby will become an income source instead of dropping off. As spring comes I hope to expand my abilities into multi-seasonal projects. I have kept my expectations low, as I have a bag full of discarded projects from winters past lurking in my closet.

5. Celebrating winter holidays. The end of winter seems to drag on but he beginning of it is filled with so many of the celebrations that the child-inside-us looks forward to all year: Christmas with its lights, gifts, and such cozy feelings, Thanksgiving with its colors, food, and family, New Years where we get to start things afresh, putting the old behind and celebrating the new. Honestly after January the holidays are pretty lame especially compared to their early winter counterparts, so it is easy to say "come on Memorial Day," but just as easy to get excited again in a few months about winter's return. 

As the robins return and the spring rains drench the lawn, as our arms and ankles are free to be exposed to the sun again... I will remember winter and its wonders keeping their memories alive until the leaves drop yet again exposing the bare branches.