Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Good Words: Prophetic Prayers Over Our Lives

"(Lydia, who we read about in Acts 16, was a woman from) the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who worshipped God, who WORSHIPPED God.  The Lord opened her heart, OPENED HER HEART, to heed the things spoken by Paul.  And when she and her household were baptized she begged us, saying, 'If you judge me to be faithful to the Lord come to my house and stay.'  And so she persuaded us.  

You know, when you study her you find out Lydia was a worshipper, but more importantly you find out that Lydia was one that listened and that she was a woman of detail, and a woman who opened up her heart and head.  She had an open heart.  

What's your husband's name? (Andrew) Andrew. I just see your home as a happy place, and where people want to come and gather and you opened your home.  And for some reason I just feel that you're just a healthy eater, I just see organics and, I just feel sorry for your husband--he probably has to sneak out to get something sweet.  But know this, says the Lord, that I am coming with a fresh visitation to your home.  Yea, even throughout the rest of this year and into next year says the Lord, for I am bringing the right ingredients for you.  Know this, says the Lord your God, that you and your husband will run side by side, says the Lord, for I have equally yoked you, says the Lord your God.  

And know this, oh man of God, and get ready, says the Lord, for you are going to be known as a great teacher says the Lord.  And know this, that I have uniquely put you together O man of God, and I have linked your heart and your mind together.  And know this, that the technology that rests deep inside of your spirit, that I have planted it, says the Lord.  You will bring it forth to many others.  

Know this, husband and wife, know this, that as a couple there will be many children around you.  And I see you both being teachers of the Word, says the Lord your God, that you will bring the Word forth no matter where you go.  But O man of God know this, that I see you walking down a dark hall, and it's like you hear the footsteps of a hollow hall.  But know this says the Lord, you carry My Spirit O man of God, and know this, that you're going to touch many young hearts, says the Lord your God.  The two of you need to get ready, says the Lord.  

Know this, O woman of God, that I have given you a clean canvas, and you're going to start to paint with the oils of My Spirit, says the Lord.  And you will paint the canvasses of the hearts of empty women, says the Lord, where they have given up hope, they have given up the desire to even move forward.  

And know this, says the Lord, that I will cause the two of you to be firestarters in young couples' hearts, says the Lord.  And I have put the two of you together says the Lord.  There is a shepherding (given?) to you, says the Lord your God, and you will shepherd.  You will shepherd many couples, says the Lord, that have had hope deferred, that have given up on their lives.  Get ready, for your house will be a sanctuary, your house will be like a Ponderosa [buffet] for My Spirit, says the Lord your God.  

Get ready, for the two of you are about to run a new race, and you will be successful in the races that you run, says the Lord.  For I have put medals around your neck, not to show you as a prideful spirit, but I have put medals around your neck to show others that they can do it.  So get ready, says the Lord, for the rain is about to fall upon your life like you have never seen before.  

And get ready, says the Lord, for you're going to see many come to know Me through your love and though your care and through your perseverance to others, says the Lord.  Your home will be a place where people get radically saved, they will get healed, they will get brought back together.  I see marriages that are splitting coming back together even before they step foot in the church, says the Lord your God.  For I smell, I smell the pastures of a farm, says the Lord, I smell the smell of sheep, says the Lord your God.  And you will be the ones who will pamper and take care of the sheep and you will nourish them back to a health and you will turn their hearts back to Me, says the Lord. 

Amen."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Things I've Never Done Before

We are toward the tail end of 2017, and I am realizing there are in this year some significant things that I've never done before now.  I haven't written much--on Blogger or Facebook or in my journal--nor taken pictures of some of these things, and yet they are accomplishments.  Here are a few:

I have been serving this year as a member of my village's first-ever Zoning Commission, whose job it is to draw up a thoughtful draft of a zoning law to propose to our community and village board.  This has been a collaboration of several volunteers who live in this village and members of County and regional institutions walking us through this process.  We are nearly finished, and I am glad.  Zoning is often dry.  But what stands out to me of this experience is an excitement, a deep hope, a vision for my community that good things are happening here and better things are on the way.  There are so many avenues being traveled to usher in the amazing things going on in this area.  It is hard, but it is awesome.  Good people, a good place, a God who is faithful to His good promises.  

We accomplished a kitchen renovation!  With a lot of patience, and then a lot of planning and elbow grease and help from amazing friends, after ten years we finally got our dishwasher.  And a beautiful, more functional kitchen in every other way, too.  

My husband and I took our first-ever kid-free destination vacation to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  You can read about that in the blog post just before this one.  It was better than our honeymoon!  

For the first time ever, I planned this year's Vacation Bible School program using a curriculum that didn't need any modifying to be suitable for our timeframe.  And it was WONDERFUL.  Still a high-stress season for me--there are innumerable details to consider when planning those events.  But to use a curriculum that is just flat-out excellent, and that fit perfectly with our 3-day plan, and to have an excellent team to work with in making the big pieces happen--that was different, and I found myself having FUN all three nights, even while "running the show."  Thank you, Group Publishing, for creating quality weekend-length VBS curricula.  Thank you, Lord, for putting it on the radar for us.  

In September, Andy and I did this food thing called "Whole30."  It's an elimination diet that completely cuts out the food groups that tend to cause gut and inflammation issues for people, allows your body to reset, then reintroduces things so that you can discover what food your body truly functions best with.  I first heard about it three-ish years ago and thought, 'That is an awesome thing that I could NEVER do.'  Guess what?  I did it.  And my body feels great.  I can legitimately call this the biggest physical accomplishment my body has ever done, because it was a 30-day-long accomplishment that has paved the way for permanent health and lifestyle changes.  Childbirth and backpacking through Costa Rican jungles did not take as much endurance (and those things both took some endurance!).  

And I have been coaching soccer.  What?!  I don't think I'm the one in my family who would be pegged as The Coach.  Truthfully, I am not being *much* of a coach: I am co-coaching U6 AYSO soccer for my son's team.  Introducing soccer to four- and five-year-olds does not take a great deal of soccer skill, and it also includes a great deal of just loving on these little kids and having fun with them and obliging them when they want you to come see the dead worm they found.  But it is coaching nonetheless, and I am really, really enjoying it.  U6 is a good level of (co)coaching for me.  

There's still time.  I wonder what other things I've never done before will be done by the time we get to December 31?



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ten Years Strong: Choose Well

Year 10: from the shores of the junction between the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, Kingston.  

I write from the Canadian Thousand Islands today, from a beautiful little cottage on Landons Bay near Gananoque.  My husband and I traveled here, just the two of us, to celebrate a beautiful little milestone--ten years of marriage--and like a decade of marriage, we've never done anything quite like this before.  My parents have our boys (thank you!), we don't have much to be responsible for this week, and we haven't felt this serene in...probably ever.  Even on our honeymoon, we were learning how to be actually together for the first time ever, so "serene" only described bits and pieces of our three-week road trip.  

We have had a good ten years, but you know what's interesting?  It is only in this past year that I feel like I'm beginning to understand how this thing--this life of marriage and parenting and loving Jesus by loving people--I'm only just beginning to understand how this thing works.  And in a lot of ways, prayer for example, I'm still taking baby steps.  

When I think of it this way, fifty or seventy-five years of life and learning alongside this man doesn't seem improbable or boring.  I'm beginning to understand that with Jesus and the good man He gave me, fifty or seventy-five years of life and learning really is a thrill, really is an adventure worth committing to, really is very beautiful.  

And do you know how it happened?  The gist of it is that I CHOSE WELL.  There is a long version to the story, one that involves a couple of decades of the Lord setting me up well.  But through those decades there were plenty of opportunities for me to choose poorly.  Sometimes I did, and the Holy Spirit allowed me to experience the consequences but was faithful to work all things together for my good, because I love God and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  But despite temptations of various kinds, when it came down to it, I chose the important things well.  I chose to give Christ charge over my life, and later I chose to say yes to an important question asked by a very, very good young man.  

This does not mean I am always "happy" about my circumstances.  There are plenty of opportunities for me to realize what a selfish old grump I am, and the Holy Spirit allows me to experience the consequences.  But as I continue toward Him, continue choosing the important things well, He is always faithful to work all things together for my good.  He is worth everything, and so is my husband, and so is my family.  

"Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And it is well with me."



Our wedding day: July 4, 2007.

Year 1: We reenacted our first date, hiking up Giant Mountain in the Adirondack High Peaks.

Year 2: A windy, rainy boat cruise on Raquette Lake.

Year 3: We welcomed our first son two weeks beforehand, and our pictures didn't usually focus on the two of us.

Year 4: I was office manager at Beaver Camp, and finally got a picture of our family near the end of the summer during teen camp Coffee House.

Year 5: Office manager again, teen camp Coffee House again.  Two babies this time.

Year 6: 4th of July celebration with friends.

Year 7: A quick anniversary picture in the field while visiting my parents.

Year 8: Joining in the 4th of July Boat Parade on Pleasant Lake, visiting Andy's dad.  Pregnant with baby #3.

Year 9: We periodically shouted things like "Hey, that guy over there is awesome!" while hosting our California cousins.  We were in the thick of "doing life."




Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's Not You, It's Me

I so often have a hard time enjoying my children.  "Often" as in, pretty much daily.  

I love my children, and literally for as long as I can remember I have looked forward to being a mama.  I practiced on my little brother from the time I was five.  Then I was everybody's favorite and most reliable babysitter (if I do say so myself...).  Then I had "favorite little kids" that I would invest myself in as a young adult.  I've always loved children.  

So it is with a bewildered heart that I find myself, over and over again, feeling put out and put upon, annoyed, overwhelmed, distracted, frustrated, like my plans are being held up because of my children.  I have my own agenda, and over and over again, because of them, I feel foiled again!    

These are real feelings.  

Regularly, I see Facebook posts from friends who seem to just adore everything about being mamas, getting Warm Fuzzies all the time as they look at and interact with their children.  These girls all just seem to embody "mother" in all the best ways.  To lay their lives down for the sakes of their children is one of their greatest joys.  

And I'm over here like, "What is this?  Why don't my kids get it that they're supposed to be perfect already?  I want to love being their mama, but they're messing it up for me!"  

Remember, I love my children.  But these are ugly, real feelings.  

Talk about my own worst enemy.  

I am so, so selfish.  And I wrestle with my own selfishness all the time, because when I go ahead and get around to acknowledging it's there and a Big Problem, I still just want things my way.  I'm having an argument in my head between the proverbial angel and demon, all the while knowing the right thing to do, and just stubbornly sticking with the demon.  

I remember almost eight years ago, a pastor praying prophetically over Andy and me, assuring us both that these (yet unborn) kids of ours would follow the Lord all the days of their lives--but that it would NOT be easy--we could not just sit back and say "we got a word from the Lord (about this)"--it would be HARD WORK training our children in the paths of righteousness.  

It IS hard work.  But I have always thought of it as hard physical work, directed toward shaping my children.  

It didn't occur to me that the hardest work might be primarily spiritual, and primarily within myself.  

Sanctification is Hard Work.  But if I don't deal with myself more than anybody else, I'm not only a hypocrite who doesn't actually grasp unconditional love and grace--but my kids know it.  They are perceptive little buggers.  

"Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you." James 4:8b-10

"Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me, and know my thoughts!  See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"  Psalm 139:23-24

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."  Ezekiel 36:25-26

Oh, and there's a happy paradox: it is through all the (genuine, heart-wrenching) wretchedness that Undivided Joy is born.  

I am (very, very slowly) learning.  Jesus, bring me from head knowledge to a heart of flesh.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Morning Promises

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things
Out of the dust...
Out of us.

Father, when things happen like Andy's preaching last Sunday, when he gushed about how wonderful I am and that he still has so much to learn even after ten years of knowing me and that he's excited about that--when that sort of thing happens

it is a good feeling
of assurance

but it also makes me feel so undeserving of that praise.  I know how cruddy I can be.  I know how

grumpy
lazy
disillusioned and disappointed
bitter

I can be on the inside, and I know a lot of it leaks out.  

I get frustrated and overwhelmed, impatient and irritated, sad, full of pity for myself, fed up with serving ungrateful people, selfish.  I am tired.  

And yet that is me without You.

The You in me
is different.

The You in me
can look at the bigger picture 
and appreciate the story
at least trust that 
You always write good stories.
The You in me
sees the poetry in life.

Through You I am 
more than a conqueror
Through You I can
scale a wall
Through You I am 
a new creation
Through You I can 
do all things
Through You I have
a heart of flesh, 
not a heart of stone
Through You I carry 
the light of life.

And it's a beautiful thing.

You always make beautiful things
Beauty out of ashes.
You rejoice over me
with singing
And because I have breath
(because You gave me breath)
I will praise the Lord!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Paradox

On March 31, I realized that I had written twice in January, thrice in February, four times in March...and I thought, "Wow! Wouldn't it be awesome if I continued that pattern all the way through December, so that by then I'd be writing basically every other day?!"  

And then I never wrote again.  C'est la vie.

I have been mentally struggling with a lot of paradoxes lately.  Things like:


I am an adult, but I feel like a child.
I am young, but I feel the aging happening.
I love quiet, but am surrounded by noise.
I want to live slowly, but I have to live hurriedly.  
I want to pare down our possessions, but we're always acquiring.
I can't help but dive into projects, but am overwhelmed by what's on my plate.
I need to be more healthy, but what's another day of bad food choices?
I desire to be content and joyful, but usually I am wanting and grumpy.  
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
This is an awful lot of "I" statements.  We can get into a lot of trouble with "I" statements.  There is nothing inherently wrong with my feeling all these things and more.  But what I choose to dwell on shapes me, and then shapes the people around me.  So yes, Lydia, go ahead and look in, take stock, process.  Then look out at the people around me (especially the little ones that are daily affected by me).  And look up.  All paradoxes have their answer in Him that is equally engaged with the stars and our cells.

"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."  Philippians 1:6 




  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Heard You That Time!

God spoke two little, wonderful things to me earlier this week.  

One evening I browsed through last season's Joyce Meyer magazine and did a double-take.  There in plain print was a typo, the wrong reference assigned to a verse: "Romans 8:35-37 says, 'The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).'"  

I thought, "No it doesn't.  That's the part of Romans that says, 'For I am convinced that neither height, nor depth, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things in heaven, nor on earth, nor below the earth--nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God...This verse about the thief and abundant life, that's John 10:10.  How'd they mix those up?"  (I do realize that what I almost-quoted is actually Romans 8:38-39, but you get the gist.)  

And then I thought--"WOW!  Seriously?!  I just recognized a SCRIPTURE REFERENCE TYPO, and not only knew the correct reference, but also the verse of the incorrect reference!  ME?!  WOW!"  And it was just so edifying.  Scripture references are not my forte, nor indeed is scripture memorization.  And my internal dialogue regarding scripture includes this attitude too often.  But guess what: it's in me more than I realize, written on my heart.  There is LOTS of room for improvement, but I am not a hopeless case, doomed to a lifetime of "I know how I underlined it, and where it is on the page...some page...probably Old Testament...about such-and-such a topic..."  Spend time in scripture.  It's worth it.  

The second God-talking-to-me thought came the next morning.  I had slept in a little, wasn't feeling great, dove right into the day, and I decided to sneak into my bedroom after putting the baby down for First Nap to have my own quiet time with Jesus.  Commence the thoughts, "You're being lazy.  You should be processing laundry, or playing with Lewis, or at least making this bed."  And I recognized those lies and decided I'd better start praying.  Out loud, so I wouldn't get distracted immediately.  

You know what that prayer turned into?  "Martha, Martha, you are distracted my many things.  But Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her."  

Jesus said that.  Martha was annoyed that her sister curled up to listen to Jesus while she was left to get dinner on the table all by herself.  But the ONE THING that is more important than anything else, even dinner for company?  Listening to Him, loving Him.  (See Luke 10 for the full story.)

And that prayer also reminded me that my spending time with Him, my prioritizing quiet time--in that God commands a blessing.  Deuteronomy 28 is a chapter full of blessings or curses that will be born out among the Israelites, and the long list of really, really good blessings hinges on "if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.…" (Dt 28:9b).  

Anybody remember the greatest commandment?  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Heart (time spent with Him) comes before strength (good stewardship of your household).  Both are important, but one is more important.  

Cheers to spiritual ears and the gift of hearing the heart of the Father.  May I ever improve!