The Waiting Game

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Life is all about waiting. We begin that “waiting game” within the womb – waiting to make the first appearance into this world. From then on, it’s as if we are always pushing forward – waiting for the next big life experience. To walk, to talk, to go to kindergarten, to go on a first date, get a first kiss and graduate high school; life is always rushing forward. The list goes on throughout our lives: we are always pulling at the harness to go faster and sooner.

Human nature doesn’t like to wait. However, to wait is necessary in every arena of life. All of those “hurry up” things, that we feel are just not happening fast enough, are only good when received at the God ordained time.

If a cocoon is opened early or a bird egg is helped to hatch – the butterfly and the bird will die. The same is true of the plans God has for us. Often, we jump in, run ahead and find ourselves crying out for Him to fix the mess we made by our impatience. The true answer is to wait!

Waiting is not the same as inactivity!

Seeds that are planted wait as the germination process takes place, each having a time table that is appropriate to its ultimate production – only producing what it was created to. But that germination process is not inactivity.

Though nine months is required for a baby to develop, every second of that time-frame it’s cells are actively working, creating a miracle of life while we wait.

Jesus waited, listened and moved only where and when He was directed by the Father. Learning this discipline requires just that – discipline. When our tendency is to move forward, to do something just because we always have or others expect it, often we are stepping out from God’s planned purpose for us.

If you feel rushed to make a decision or pressured to move forward (from any outside expectation) – slow down, stop and wait. If your next step doesn’t find you at a place of confident inner peace, be aware – this could be that God hasn’t directed you yet. Only when He has spoken will you find anxiety lift and peace flood in. I am not saying that it won’t be difficult, stretching or that you will have all the answers; that’s not how He operates. Just as a baby doesn’t jump up and walk or talk in full sentences at birth, we must grow into who He has created us to be.

Waiting is the key! Learning to wait and listening for the Spirits stirring and direction will bring you to a life where you will see the Father working and your next step will be to go there. Until that direction is heard be committed to the last thing you heard Him say!

Join me in the “waiting game” as we wait in His presence – listening and moving only as He speaks.

John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (ESV)

Ecc. 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven (NASB)

We Are Never Empty

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As I wrestled with sleep through the late hours into the morning, I dreamed. I woke over and over from a similar dream – quickly falling back to sleep to dream another version. This puzzling dream was filled with only one thing – open boxes. All the boxes were different sizes, construction and material but all were empty. I began to question God and wait for an answer as to “what does this mean and what do I do with it?”

That morning, I soon found myself listening to my pastor explain a tradition of the Feast of Tabernacles regarding drawing of water and empty cisterns. (In Latin, cisterns translates to boxes) My galloping heart sat transfixed, waiting for God’s revelation.

Now, days later as understanding has marinated in my spirit, His direction brings expectation in my heart. We the bride of Christ have allowed our cisterns (the place of His indwelling presence) to grow cold and empty – thus many empty boxes.

How easy we trudge through life in the midst of chaos, pain, and distraction; never realizing that each hit we take from those we love, our physical ailments, financial struggles and living in a crazy “on the edge” world; sucks the water from our own cisterns. We live in a state of constant empty boxes – our cisterns have been depleted – and that is the insidious lie! We have been given full cisterns – ALL the time – it’s a sustainable promise! The Spirit dwells within us, we are never empty – we just don’t take time to dip in and drink.

Within each of us resides the Spirit of God through Christ – we have all we need within us. Jesus has given us a river of living water that is available to us ALL the time. We don’t have to live a life with dry empty cisterns. Just stop, dip in and you will find water available! Begin to walk in a life filled with thanksgiving and praise – yes in the very midst of all that sucks you dry – there you will soon find that your cistern is no longer dry but will begin to flow. Joy will bring relief – and though life may still be in the same state you will find the journey now flows differently within your heart.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

John 4: 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Living a Road-kill Lifestyle

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“I have such a crazy busy day, I don’t know how I’ll get everything done.”

     We have all said those words – felt the build up of stress they evoke – experienced the exhaustion as that day ends only to begin again tomorrow in the same fashion. How do we get off this crazy cycle?

     Expectations wait for you at every corner, every event, while every individual seems to elicit more of your life. Even worse, they are all good – nothing you’re involved in says, “This isn’t worth doing”. But, still the chaos swirls around you whispering “more, more, more”.

     A day must come when the brakes are applied. The screeching of tire meeting pavement must fill the air because without that application the next sound will be the uninterrupted crunch of metal and breaking glass as you become the road-kill beneath your “I can do this” chaotic lifestyle.

     Living in a constant “flurry” of activity leaves no place for the whisper of the Holy Spirit to direct you to that broken young mother, that lonely old man, that friend who needs a listening ear. No time is available to dig deep into the Word searching for the nuggets He has stored there just for you – just for today. No time left to “pray” for your friends needs that you carelessly regurgitate “I’ll pray for that”. The enemy loves to keep you at this pace for when he does you are of no threat to him and of little value to those you love.

     The application of the brakes – the NO – has to be a choice, a very specific decisive choice. It is NOT easy but once applied – in time – you will find the rhythm of walking under the grace of God. Waiting, listening, hearing and moving as He directs. Will you never again feel that “busy” day syndrome – No – but it will be with a different mindset and with an outcome that will be eternal.

     Hit the brakes today – avoid becoming the road-kill of your chaotic lifestyle – step under the peace of His presence and learn to walk in the rhythm of His grace.

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (ESV)

When You’re Broken Beyond Repair

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     Football practice wouldn’t be the same today. With the snap of his arm bones, my grandsons’ hope for a winning season was broken before it began. Silence and chaos broke out all at once; covering the field quickly as realization of the accident spread. In the midst of the shouting and ambulance ride comes a calming voice from a trusted friend, “It’ll be alright, it’s a clean break – it will heal.” Surgery waits, not once but twice to repair this double bone compound fracture but in the hands of a skilled orthopedic surgeon it will heal, he will play again – life and his arm will be “good as new”.

     There are times in your life when you feel that you have been broken beyond repair. The tragic loss of a loved one looms over your heart. The betrayal of a trusted friend crushes your spirit. The angry vicious words spoken against you grip your mind. But through the pain there is a calming voice that can be heard – He is speaking in the midst of that pain – “It’ll be alright – you will heal – life will be good again.”

     Your brokenness can heal – It’s not quick, it’s not painless, it’s not easy – but the skilled hand of a surgeon can repair it. And you have a skilled surgeon waiting for you – one who knows intimately the pain and hurt you are walking through. Jesus is waiting; His surgery heals, restores and gives new life. He is there wiping every tear, whispering His love back into your broken heart, pouring restored trust into your broken spirit, eradicating lies from your mind – whispering “Life will be good again.”

     When you feel you have been broken beyond repair – remember – in the hands of a skilled surgeon you will heal, you will play again and life will be good. Trust your brokenness into the hands of your surgeon – He is waiting for you.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (ESV)

Psalm 147:3 He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.(ESV)

Stronger & Higher Together

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With a 6ft wooden fence between them my 20ft majestic Purple Robe tree stands beside my neighbor’s spectacular Wisteria vine – both prolific in growth and multiplication. Shoots abound underground – both ways – between the fence line. Each spring to early summer both flower with intoxicating floral blooms that are glorious to behold. This summer, however, I have noticed an exciting merging of the two. The Wisteria, now strong and flourishing, has “jumped the fence” and has begun intertwining with the strength and height of the Purple Robe, reaching its tendrils higher then it previously could. OH, MY – anticipation waits for next springs glorious sight as they erupt – stronger together – each increasing the others beauty – transforming from glory to glory.

Spiritually, we too are meant periodically to “jump the fence”. Those who believe in Christ are many – many different individuals in many different buildings – each prolific and multiplying in their own sphere. As one body through Christ – it’s ok – to “jump the fence”: to intertwine and to bring the beauty of one into many.

We, individually plant our roots into a single place of growth. There we are safe, nurtured, grow, and produce; reaching the top of that 6ft fence, our strength then can be shared, expanded, enlarged into the body of Christ around us.

We as a body require and thrive in unity and connection to each member – whether that is individually or as complete groups of believers. We are all one in Christ!

Just as the strength of the Purple Robe will support the continued expansion of the Wisteria vine (even over the fence) so should we strengthen and support our sisters and brothers in faith. Together we will produce the glorious sight of growing from Glory to Glory. We will grow stronger and higher as we become one body – loving and walking together.

I Corinthians 12: 12-13As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with the body of Christ. For we were all baptised by the Spirit into one body, whether we were Jews, Gentiles, slaves or free men, and we have all had experience of the same Spirit. (Phillips)

Just Add Water

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     Most kids are fascinated with things that grow. Mine were the same; over the years we had countless “experiments” to watch things grow. Washcloths, rocks, crystals, submarines, dinosaurs and a myriad of other gimmicks that came up – all changing what WAS into something NEW. The experimentation always began as water was applied.

     Even in these childhood experiments the key began with the water. Water is our life source that transforms and without it dehydration quickly begins.

     Spiritually we too need water – we need to be immersed, saturated, engulfed in the water of the Spirit and the Word. The transforming presence of God must be continually entered into – it is the key that changes what WAS into something NEW. His presence is our life source and we quickly find that when we step out of that place of His presence – dehydration begins.

     You often don’t even realize you have stepped out of that flow; dehydration is a slow process. You suddenly awake to the feeling that something is missing. How did this happen? Life just got busy, distracted, overwhelmed and here you are. But, just like those tiny cardboard washcloths, the transformation can swiftly take place. You need only to submerge into His presence to watch the transformation occur – renewal begins and the old is refreshed.

     Pursue, wait and be engulfed by the presence of God – stay saturated in the water of the Spirit and the Word as you allow that water to continually change what WAS into something NEW.

IICorinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

A Muddy Mess

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This time of year brings a lot of rain to the Pacific Northwest and along with it comes mud! My long-haired dachshund loves to help in the yard and if my hands come into contact with dirt he believes I have given him automatic free reign to dive in too. His 2-inch legs quickly dig a hole that engulfs him head to tail. His passion and love for digging at this time of year brings about a soggy muddy, yet ecstatic wiggly mess.

     So what does that have to do with the spiritual?

 We are rather the same. Our passions and desires can quickly find us covered in mud, even those that are good, profitable and enjoyable.   If we allow those passions to run ahead of God’s plan for our lives we can quickly feel overwhelmed, frustrated and well, rather muddy. We have become distracted from what He desires for our life.

If your passions and desires run you into that place where peace has disappeared – stop – step back – refocus at the feet of Jesus. Don’t keep digging in the mud.

Just as a warm soapy bath awaits my little muddy buddy sometimes we too need a quick cleansing. That is easily found when we look back to the cross of Christ and wait in His presence. Suddenly all the mud is washed away and peace reigns. We enjoy the bubbles and abide in a promised place of rest as we trust His leading not our own.

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Training For Battle

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     This week was full of military training maneuvers that made themselves known in my home. Hour after hour the floor shook, my dishes rattled and my anxious dachshunds barked – and more then once did my own gasp escape and heart rate jump. But, today I was pondering the natural and spiritual of the training process; the training is necessary in both arenas.

     Training for battle is required for a positive outcome!

   In the natural, our military must be prepared at all times, willing and ready to obey a call in an instant as well as prepared for the job at hand. Each has a place to strategically move to and work from. Without training maneuvers the ability to instantly produce a needed outcome would not occur.

     In the spiritual it is similar. We are encouraged to be ready in season and out, to put on the armor of God, to keep alert and be watchful for the enemy’s tactics. The difference? We are not to fight under another mans armor, to fight on our own behalf, to even use our own words in the warfare. BUT – to know that the battle’s outcome belongs to the Lord. We are to stand, stand firm in faith! We are to pray in the spirit at all times – not using our own words to accomplish the battle but knowing HIS words will deliver.  Our aim in all areas of the conflict is to bring restoration and peace – and this aim must come from a place of love.

     The battle is not our own but HIS!

      HOWEVER – we must fight!

     We fight against the spiritual forces that surround, infiltrate and overcome our minds, our environment, our physical bodies and our daily lives. So how do we do that? It is all about being trained and ready for battle – knowing the place to move to and work from at the right time, and that training is found as we wait in HIS presence. When we are trained for battle the outcome is one of victory!

And the Walls Come Down!

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     Walls are meant to protect, to keep out or to keep in.

 But unbeknownst to us we find that outside forces have placed walls around us. Walls that set limitations on who we are – such as physical or mental illnesses, financial barriers, broken toxic relationships, and even environmental constraints; these are walls that must be broken down to allow freedom in our lives.

The story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho is a great example for us to consider. Joshua knew Jericho was promised territory but with thick tightly shut walls there was no way in. They had natural options just like we have – battle through with all the weapons and strength available, negotiate and manipulate to make a deal that allows a win or to listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.

Here, for Joshua and for us lies the rub! To run ahead and do all that is naturally possible makes the most sense – for isn’t that what makes a strong independent people?

The hardest thing to do is to choose to believe what you cannot do or see! Having faith in God – stopping your own striving, working, and trying – it is not easy but it is the only way that HE can come in and show himself strong on your behalf.

And the Walls Come Down!

 Joshua and all of Israel chose to listen and obey – to do what didn’t make sense. They were to quietly walk around the city once a day for 6 days then on the 7th day walk around it 7 times and at the sound of the trumpet shout and rejoice that GOD was delivering the city into their hands. Now remember, they did these things before they saw those walls start to shack, crumble and fall down – they rejoiced BEFORE – for they knew a God that was faithful to His promises. That sound, the sound of rejoicing erupting from them was the key! We too, can listen and obey – and as we rejoice BEFORE we see results the shaking is occurring in the heavenly’s .

And the Walls Come Down!

Freedom can be found! The walls that have blocked you in – limiting you in that which God has chosen for you to do must come down.

The lies of the enemy of your soul can be set back! As you accept and stand up with the authority that you have been given as a child of the King of Kings, a believer in all that the blood of Christ purchased for you, you too can listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.

And the Walls Come Down!

Rejoicing BEFORE you see the outcome because HE is faithful, because He is a good father and because He is always for you – that is where freedom begins, that is where the battle is won, that is where peace in all circumstances begins!

     Only then do you look and find that the miraculous has occurred.

And the Walls Come Down!

A Warrior’s Unexpected “Call to Arms”! (by J. K. Sanchez)

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     The air in the room instantly became thick and hot, her ears hearing only her crashing heart beat; four unexpected words spoken in a sterile environment now bouncing through her head like a ping pong ball – “you have breast cancer”. How she receives, processes and walks through today and the months and years ahead will transform her and impact everyone her life touches.

     The insidious leviathan called “breast cancer” begins to surface, having already begun its rampage within the territory belonging to her. Does she run or fight? Her first responses to this attack are terror, numbness and inability to move. But soon instructions, research and information are received and the sword is offered; now decisions loom. The still surreal question before her – surrender to this monster’s fiery breath or take that sword with both hands, brace her feet and prepare to move forward into the fight of her life?

     This devouring disease looms as a possible destroyer over every woman. There is no discrimination to its destruction – all are at risk. Every year over 200,000 women are faced with this monster’s appearance.   Every year the decision to take up a sword of defense is forced into trembling hands of women of all generations – the single woman, the mother, the career woman, and the retired woman. They all will receive a “call-to-arms” that was never expected. This battle is one that is a life-long sentence! These women may make it through the skirmish, but will live everyday for the rest of their lives with this leviathan and its smoldering breath lurking under the surface; never knowing if it will resurface again.

     Two brave warriors: Cherrie, a vibrant grandmother in her 60’s, and Rachael, a single mother of two in her 30’s, live each day with this lurking monster’s presence, but they walk with positive attitudes of thankfulness. The determination to fight – to lift the heavy sword – is wielded by three powerful words that stand strong within each of them: Faith, Hope and Love – the greatest of these is LOVE.

     Each of my friends and every woman who will encounter, fight, survive or succumb to this insidious disease are already winners, for they have made the stand against it. How the battle is fought is the key – it is the positive attitude within them that knows that they were made for more.

     At 64, the unexpected jolts in Cherrie’s life had adjusted to a soft daily roll. But one morning in March 2011, everything in her life quickly changed. As an exuberant positive person not much could shake her; but as the doctor spoke she barely heard anything past “stage 1a breast cancer”. This was a routine mammogram that now had turned into a tidal wave crashing over her mind. Shock, fear, anger, and tears all flooded unbidden over her, but within minutes the destructive wake stirred a determination as she announced, “Let’s get this taken care of NOW!”

     Her years of experience and research skills immediately kicked into gear. Her first contacts and rapid response came from friends working in the local hospital. They connected her to some of the best cancer specialists and within weeks she was scheduled to have a lumpectomy and begin a regiment of radiation.

     Though her greatest fears were of the cancer spreading or cells being left undetected, she knew her positive attitude had to stay intact.

     Cherrie was overwhelmed with love and support from her daughter, granddaughter and friends; this love became her strength. Shortly after surgery she received a surprise visit from co-workers touting pink roses and champagne to celebrate, cheer her on and stand beside her – just in case she grew tired as she wielded this heavy sword. They were in her corner to fight this fire-breathing leviathan – they knew this red head had enough fire in her to breathe right back at him. Their support, encouragement and love were what helped her through the hardest days. The very best medicine is often found in friends – laughter, love and of course some “furry” snuggles.

     Now 5 years cancer-free, Cherrie knows that love was the reinforcement she needed every day, “To be with those who were positive and loved me unconditionally kept my hope up. ”

     This destructive tsunami hits new women every day, but from one warrior to the next, Cherrie’s advice is “above all else try to remain positive, it is frightening but necessary to be optimistic. Put your trust in your medical team BUT ask questions at every opportunity. If you need help – ask for it! The people who love you sometimes don’t know how to help – so tell them.” And with a smile and some sweet levity Cherrie advises, “be thankful for Lane Bryant push up lingerie – I am!”

     Rachel, a 34 year-old mother of two with no risk factors, was unprepared to hear the results of the recently found rapidly growing and painful lump on her breast. As the doctor diagnosed, “It’s an invasive aggressive cancer”, the words sounded as if a death sentence had just been handed to her – this aggressive cancer could mean less then a year to live. Within weeks, armed with firsthand encouragement and research, she chose her best option for surgery and a double mastectomy, lymph-node removal and implantation of expanders were accomplished.

     Life as she had known it had come to a screeching halt – surgery, weeks of chemo and a myriad of medications took over her life with her biggest fear looming in front of her – her two young sons without a mother.

     Rachel lives a life that is positive – always looking at the best in life and others, so it was time to focus that positive attitude on the fight of her life.

     Family stepped up! With her sister’s ability to research healthy options in every arena and help with her boys, as well as her mother’s strong shoulder and prayer warrior spirit – she found the fuel that helped her make the decisions to fight this leviathan. The onslaught of support through kind words, prayers, and gifts of all types overwhelmed her with love and hope that she would complete this journey.

     With months of pain, medications that made her sick, loss of her hair, setbacks, surgeries and more surgeries, as well as living through months of hormone inhibitors which made her feel dead inside, this young warrior responded, “Giving up was never an option or a thought.  No matter what I am facing and going through, God has given me this life and it is His to give and take away. My goal is love, truth and kindness – even on the hardest days.”

     Now only months since her last medications, she thoughtfully responds, “I am still often tired, but grateful for each day with my sons. I’m lucky to be alive, even though I still have pain and hard days.”

     She thinks often of those who unexpectedly helped her in many of the little everyday ways – providing meals, finances, occupying the boys, and a myriad of thoughtful gestures. She is filled with joy as she sees the example of God’s grace having been walked out in her family – seeing them come together, reconcile differences and support both her and each other has been an unexpected blessing.

       Life is never the same and this battle is never really over. Once you have cancer it is always lurking. The thoughts that ring loud and clear from Rachel are “before this, the world and life felt so big – full of wonder and possibilities. Now I don’t feel that way. Hopes and dreams are simple now, but I have deeper peace and security. I’m able to be more honest and direct. My relationships are all simple because I’m at peace with others and myself. I don’t place expectations on anyone and I allow myself to have weakness and space to rest.”

     Rachel’s thoughts for those beginning and fighting this battle are to walk daily with “Focus- Laser focus! Focus on what is in front of you right now. Whether it is a person, a project, decision, pain, recovery, gift, blessing, sunshine, or storm – all you have is right now. Soak it in. Also, every step is temporary, whether good or bad. Pain comes and goes and healing takes its place.”

     Though cancer takes over every thought in this journey, it is not what defines these women – they have not chosen this battle and have no control as to how, why or when it attacks – but they do have a choice; how they respond to it.

   Loving support and prayer are the covering and glue that seem to hold together as well as strengthen body, mind and spirit while these warriors trudge through this darkness.

     Human beings are able to pick up, move-on and overcome so many horrific obstacles in life because of three seemingly small words: Faith, Hope and Love. Faith that there is a God bigger than all of this, who loves us and is the ultimate one in control; Hope that our life (our story) is not finished yet, and that there is still a promised future waiting for us. And the greatest of these – love. A love that will change, support and bring life, growth and strength to the atmosphere that surrounds us. Love is the adhesive that is the key to any type of recovery.

     Let’s come along side these fighting warriors with faith, hope and love; bringing some small strength to them as they fight this insidious leviathan. For we know not if we may be the next warrior in need of strength to lift the sword in the fight of our life, as its lurking presence may beckon our own unexpected call-to-action.

 

Photo courtesy of : saphatthachat@freedigitalphotos.net