Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sin on a Silver Platter

This weekend I was blessed to spend the weekend with 3 of my 5 closest friends in the whole world in Tucson attending the Beth Moore conference. Having missed the Siesta Sister Memorization Fiesta, I was super excited to be able to go to this one and it could not have come at a better time. I have had many seasons in my walk with Christ. I have had seasons of complete dependence and seasons of independence. There have been seasons of fruit, and seasons of drought. Seasons of great change, and then those in which I hardly changed at all. But ... there has never been a season such as the one that I am coming out of now.

You see something happened a few weeks ago that made me decide to basically just take a break from God. I was so focused on the perceived cause of my break instead of my response, that I never even realized that I was in a state of rebellion. That is until God started calling me home last week. I will keep the ways private, but He did three separate things through three separate people to show me that although I was not speaking, He was. Suffice to say that He spoke loud enough that I knew my time of ignoring Him and the reasons I was doing so was coming to an end. I knew what He was going to ask of me. He was going to ask me to forgive ... something that I was not sure I would be able to do with all the raw feelings of hurt that had not improved at all. I began to see that I had not done what God asks us to do repeatedly in the Bible, and that my choice not to was tearing me apart. So I was looking forward to the weekend of forgiving. What I would never have guessed was that I was actually about to have my own sin handed to me on a silver platter.

It all started Friday night. Standing outside the doors I just knew that He would use the weekend to restore and resurrect my battered soul. I was both excited and completely scared as I waited. Friday night was good. The worship was anointed, as was the teaching. I cried and cried, but still felt the burden of my hurts. Then came Saturday ... specifically the second set of worship when Travis Cottrell spoke the words laid upon his heart. How each word became my heart beating ... how deeply they fell upon me ... how completely they consumed me. Travis suggested that we go to our knees if there were things that were burdening us, that we take them to the mercy-seat. There was not doubt in my mind that was exactly where my Father would have me go to meet Him. Then, the song began. There are not words to sufficiently describe what each note, each word, did ... suffice it to say ... they brought me to my knees and His feet. One word Travis spoke kept echoing in my soul ... surrender. God was calling me home ... but wanted me to come home in a stance of surrender ... physically ... spiritually ... and emotionally. Once there ... God quickly showed me that what had started out as my hurt had become my sin. My sin of unforgiveness. My sin of turning from Him. My sin of rebellion. How quickly I realized that coming home meant asking for forgiveness for my sin ... not the judgment of someone else's. Ouch! My pride crumbled onto the metal floor of the risers I was kneeling on as I confessed it and asked for forgiveness.

I learned a few lessons at the end of this season. I will forewarn you that none of them are earth shattering. They are things that I knew in my head, and heart. I am sure they are all things that we would read and say, "Duh ... I know that!" I would have. BUT, even with that said, I fell. So here goes....

~~~

We all carry hurts around. Some are bigger than others. One thing they all have in common is that they, like everything in life, can become idols when we carry them without taking them to God. When we harbor them they God encourages us throughout His Word to give our troubles to Him. For in our weakness He can be glorified. David is a good example of our heart’s attitude should be. In Psalms he says, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:5, 6 (NIV)

~~~

You can choose to ignore God, but God never chooses to ignore us. Nothing we do, or do not do, goes unnoticed. If we are in sin and are not being convicted, it is just a matter of time. You see our sin keeps us from our primary purpose: being lights that point to Him, so that He will be glorified. It is all about Him.

~~~

God does not correct to tear us down or beat us up. He does not delight in our failures. He corrects us because He loves us (Heb. 12:6) and to bring peace into our lives. (Heb. 12:10) What He wants is to bring us back to Him.

~~~

In a few days, it will be the 1,977th anniversary of Christ's death. In three more days it will be the 1,977th anniversary of the Resurrection of Christ. All of the above lessons are possible because of this one set of events. On Saturday, I went to the mercy seat with a beaten and tattered soul. In His mercy and forgiveness I found grace and restoration. All He asks is that we meet Him there. What better way is there to honor the sacrifice He made to save us?

Lisa

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When God Blows Off the Dust

I just love finding old boxes of keepsakes that have been put away for awhile ... the kind of boxes that you take down "just to see what's in them" only to be greeted by a face full of dust flakes when they are first tipped into your hands. The kind that bring back the feelings of playing treasure hunt when you were little. I love the feelings of anticipation, eagerness, and curiosity all rolled into a healthy dose of remembering things long past. When I do visit them, the scene goes something like this:

Feeling sentimental, I take down the box. Standing on tiptoes, I use my fingertips to tip the box slightly causing it (and some of the dust resting on it) to fall into my arms (and face). Tenderly I wipe off the dust to reveal the word keepsakes, which I trace with my finger before opening it. Opening the box, my eyes and heart are flooded with instant memories. It is almost too much to bear. One by one I pick up objects tied to ancient memories and for that moment relive them as if they happened yesterday. When at last I reach the bottom, I put it all carefully back in ... replace the lid ... and return the box to its elevated home.

Some might call this an exercise in sentimentality, but I think it is more than that. To me, this whole process keeps me grounded to who I been and what has happened both good and bad to make me the person I am today ... and so I keep returning to the box from time to time ... some times to remember sometimes to add more.

The other day, I had such a journey ... BUT I never touched my keepsake box - God touched His. The one that he keeps on me ... the one that He wrote Keepsakes upon and tucked away. Gingerly he took it out ... I felt it happen ... He lovingly traced the word with His fingertip ... (notice that He did not blow the dust off of it .. as I am most positive that there is no dust in Heaven) ... He opened it ... and took out the tears I cried when I had cancer. (Psalm 56:8) Holding them up to the eternal light of Heaven, He smiled. You see, as He was doing this, I was having a conversation with a friend that is an Oncology nurse. I was inspired to share my cancer story with her, which I did. I offered to share some of my writings with her, and she said that they might be able to use them in their quiet room that they provide for the patients. We also talked about me coming in and talking with the patients ... being a positive beacon of hope for them. That is why God smiled while holding my tears ... He had a purpose in taking down His keepsake box. You see His keepsake box, like mine, holds within it all of the things of my life that have made me who I am today ...things that He has allowed knowing that he would use them to do great things. That day He took out my cancer to use it again... And just like when I open my box ... it touched me and made me cry ... only this time they were tears of gratitude at the tenderness of my Savior's hand and the faithfulness of His Word.

So whatever you are going through ... remember that God has a keepsake box on you. too. One that He will open from time to time and use the contents to do great things.

Lisa

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Give a Day ... Get A Whole Lot More

Last December my family and I heard about Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Day" promotion, and we could not wait to sign up in January when the program officially started. We logged in the day it started and found the perfect place to volunteer, Dreamchaser Horse and Rescue in New River, Arizona. I was raised with horses, and absolutely love them. (If I could pass one off as a rather large dog with our HOA, I would have one grazing in my backyard right now.) To be able to help these amazing people who rescue neglected and abused horses and get free tickets to Disney? It was an amazing opportunity. Those of you that know me, know that I am an honest person and that I have been fairly transparent on this blog ... today is no exception. The main reason that we signed up to help was the free tickets. My youngest daughter has never been to Disney, the tickets are really too expensive for us in this day and age, and this was a way to go for free. It sounds shallow, but it is truth ... although not the whole truth in the end. Before I explain what I mean by that, I would like to share the experience of our day with you.
















Yesterday was our "day" of service. (Clarification, at this particular site the volunteer time slot is from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. - 4 hours ... hardly a "day" in the literal sense of the word.) We got up early (5:30 a.m.) and headed out to New River. It was still a bit dark when we left the house at 6:30, but we were in for a beautiful sunrise. Splashes of pick and purple highlighted the horizon as the sun began its ascent into the cloud strewn sky. Driving through the open desert, everything was in sillouette and so very peaceful. Admiring the stillness was a great way to spend the time it took to get there.















When we arrived in New River, we were surprised by the lack of paved roads. Choosing the more green option, New River has ecomonically thrifty dirt roads that are rather bumpy and make one feel a little as if they are going off-roading. The first thing that Jillian noticed was old fashioned mailboxes pictured on the left. When she saw them, she asked: "Mommy, are they having a mailbox sale?" I responded, "Why do you ask that?" To which she replied, "Well, they have a table full of mailboxes over there." We could not help but giggle, as I explained that all mailboxes used to be like these.


















The next thing we noticed was the amazing way that the morning light played upon the surrounding landscape, and just how green it was ... thanks to all the rain that we have been having in the last month or two. There is just something magical about the golden hue that the morning sun bathes all creation in. In the birth of a new day the color of everything just seems more vibrant, more alive. To my gain, Google maps had sent us in the wrong direction, and while Pat was trying to figure out just where we went wrong and how to get where we needed to be ... I jumped out and tried to capture the amazing light with my camera. Soon after, Pat decided that the best thing to do was to turn around and head back to the first main street that we had been on and start over. It was getting close to 8:00 and we had precious few moments to loose.

















After a little backtracking, we happened to notice a small sign on the side of the road that declared (in small letters) that Dreamchaser Rescue was right down the road. (Not the road that Google maps had listed, but the right road nonetheless!) We arrived with just seconds to spare, parked our car, and jumped out into the .... mud. Acres and acres of the wet, dirty, sink in to your ankle kind of mud. It did not take but a moment to take the jump into the full realization that we were in for one wet muddy day ... full of dirt ... water ... and poop. Looking at all the stalls, we knew that mucking stalls was in our future ... with all the muck multiplied by 100 from all of the recent rain. Looking down at our white tennis shoes, we also knew that we would be most likely going shoe shopping in the near future.















We spent the 4 hours there split between two jobs. First, we were introduced to the most interesting rakes that I have ever seen ... and the wettest stalls that I had ever seen. We raked ... we shoveled ... we scooped ... we pushed ... and we dumped our offering of manure onto the biggest pile of manure I have ever seen. Have you seen the shows where they have the trash collection bins delivered to houses that are being completely rehauled? The ones that take up a complete driveway? The ones that are just shorter than a semi? Well there were two of them, and they were absolutely full of manure! Let's just say that we are so grateful that we did our time before fly season!















The second half of the day, we spent our time digging up large rocks out of a large grassy area and dumping them around the outside of the field to make "a wall." After about an hour of rock detail we decided that we would actually prefer the dirty, dredges of pasture poop detail to the boring, monotonousness of rock detail. At least in the pastures and corrals there were horses to pet and visit with. (We tried that with one of the larger boulders we moved, but it was just not the same.)


Four hours later, we were finished, sore, and really muddy. My youngest managed to fall into the most disgusting puddle of yellowish liquid ... I almost got run over by a jealous horse ... and our shoes are now brown. I am not sure there is enough bleach in the whole industrialized part of the world to make them white again. I have thought about contacting the makers of Oxyclean and asking them if they would like to purchase them to use in their next infomercial ... they would make a fortune if they could get them back to white. I personally would buy a life time supply. We did finish the wall, the stalls were clean ... until they remade the mess just as we walked away ... and we did earn our tickets to Disney. There is one thing, however, that happened that I was not expecting. Both of my children, even though covered in mud and whatever else, unanimously agreed that they wanted to come back to Dreamcatcher again and volunteer their time ... even though there would be no more Disney Tickets, no pay out, and no earthly reward. That was perhaps the biggest perk of our Give a Day, Get a Day experience ... my children found within them hearts that want to serve ... just to serve.

Some Additional Pictures

K and "Poppy" who liked to lick more than any dog I have ever met.

Poppy in action.


The yellowish puddle that Jillian fell in.


The donkey - Phil


The Goats


The Pig



The (Dirty) End