Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Martha or More Mary?

Luke 10:38-42 (New International Version, ©2011)

At the Home of Martha and Mary
 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”   41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke and I were reading his Bible together, and we came across the story of Jesus visiting Martha and Mary. The images in his Bible really struck me straight in the heart.  I have been working, with God's grace, on being a more Mary like person.  Less frustrated, frantic and less worry about the 'stuff' and spending more time in the Bible, studying, reading and praying.  We all have.

What I didn't realize was that Luke had seen the change in me as well.  He looked at the pictures, on both pages, and with a serious look on his face told me, "Mama, being more like Mary makes it easier to hear Jesus, right?" and right then I knew something very special.  He was seeing the Mary in me, and not remembering the times when I was more Martha.

I know Martha, I know her.  I've been her for a lot of my life.  The frantic, the must do, the only one person alone doing everything rushing and missing life.  I've rushed around, angry and frustrated, and missed blessings heaped upon me and I've been so angry to do things 'alone'.  Not realizing that it is my choice.  I can choose to spend that time at His feet or I can be rushing about preparing for a mortal feast missing the eternal nourishment in His Word.

How much have I missed?  On one hand, too much and on the other, enough to learn to listen.

Learning to listen to the things that really matter makes it so we can listen to the things which are not things!

Laughter, wrestling, little hands helping clean up, little boys growing big, writing in my gratitude journal, taking a walk, petting a new born calf, properly doing my work, homeschooling, keeping our home nice, enjoying my husband, and the list can go on and on...

The food of grace fills me.  The Word nourishes my soul, my spirit experiences joy and my life feels more balanced.  I don't feel like lashing out.  I feel like embracing.  Instead of feeling frustrated, I'm calmly and prayerfully approaching challenges.  Instead of losing sleep I'm falling asleep in the loving arms of my Lord.  Instead of feeling angry, I'm feeling joy.

Let me amend that - I'm seeking joy!  I'm seeking His loving Arms!  I'm looking straight on and embracing the blessings in my life.

Still, I know I'll slip and embrace my Martha and that's okay.  She and I have been together for a very long time.  I learned her young and assumed her busy fussing was a good thing.  Because anyone who could sit still wasn't being a good hostess.  She wasn't being what she should but shouldn't we be just the opposite?

How many times have we wished our hostess would sit and enjoy instead of fussing, rushing and dashing about?  What a wonderful message for us to stop and enjoy our guests. After all everyone is a guest in our lives as we are in theirs.  Shouldn't we embrace being Mary instead of trying to impress the world with our busy Martha?

I'm working really hard, really prayerfully on being more Mary in my life...I hope you join me!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reporting from outside my comfort zone

Even the most familiar places can be foreign and strange
when blanketed in a dense fog.  

I have a story to share with you, it is about how God answers prayers and it isn't going to be what you expect.  At least it wasn't what I expected!

My last post was about moving outside your comfort zone as a Lenten exercise.  Giving up your comfort zone as a sacrifice and a builder of character.  Well let me tell you what have I been outside mine!  For the past few weeks I have struggled with and dealt with things that were so far away from my thoughts when I wrote that post!

God answered my prayers indeed He did!  I got to experience some things in my life that have been scary, stressful, hurtful, isolating, freaking me out hard and I've been struggling with depression.  I'm the confident one and I'm our family anchor.  

Settled firmly on the sandy bottom of our life and in my faith.
My little ship bobs and hangs on the waves but never really feels like it is going to swamp, or sink.  These past few weeks have had me submerged and gasping for breath and while I started out fearing it and even hating it some.  I also started to paddle, to swim, to reach out to Jesus who has calmed storms before.

God didn't take the storms away.  He showed me how to sail for the weather.  He taught me how to chart an unfamiliar course and avoid the rocks, how to pull off of the shoals when my bottom was dragging stuck in the sand.  He is bringing me to more time in prayer, into the Word and He is also bringing my family with me.

I thought, wrongly, that I had to have a choice of either or.  Instead God is showing me I can have, in balance, that which I need for all the roles I play in life.  I was wrong in my comfort zone about so many things, and yet in others I was right, deeply right!

God knows me so well, He crafted me for the tasks I have, and I'm thankful for this time outside my comfort zone.  I'm not super happy to be here - do not misunderstand me!  My comfort zone is very, well, comfortable and this place is not!  But it is here, in my personal wilderness that I've found my quails and manna and I've not felt my spirit hungry.  

My comfort zone won't feel the same when I get back.  I'm certain it will have some big holes and some tears and even a few new windows knocked in.  But that is okay!  By learning to give this time and these fears and this worry to God I've learned that my illusion of control was always serving me at MY pleasure, not for God's purpose.

The fog which makes even the most familiar things seem strange and foreign has become less suffocating and more lovely.  I've relearned things, and I've discovered things new and anew.  I feel blessed by this time and while I won't want to get in line to repeat it I also won't forget its lessons either.

I started reading my Bible more deeply, more prayerfully.  I have been diligent in my prayers and in keeping my gratitude journal.  I've brought my son into reading and praying more with me and he inspires me with his beautiful faith.  I've learned that my hours of worry and my streams of tears do not, in the end, change things.  Prayer does.  Actually doing things does.  Stepping out in faith as imperfect as I am at this.  Those are what brings movement and the only way through something is to KEEP GOING!

God has blessed me and I trust that He has blessed you as well!

I've rested on a number of verses but none so much as this one...and I've prayed it, sang it, shouted it and claimed it for myself, for my family, for us all.

Psalm 121

 1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from? 

2 My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber; 

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life; 

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giving up my comfort zone

Lent - this is a confusing time for me and I'll tell you why.

I have heard for years either seriously or in jest about the things people give up for Lent.  Instead of giving up soda pop or chocolate for Lent, this year I'm doing something different.

When I was reading my Guideposts devotional I was inspired by one of the writers.  She gave up her comfort zone for Lent.  And that ended up being something she did the whole year through.

What in my comfort zone can I give up?  My fear of rejection when I reach out to people?  My pride that says it is me that takes care of things?  My comfort at feeling like I'm in control when I know deep in my heart He is.  My discomfort being around people who are not my first choice for company? Maybe it is my need to be busy instead of being attendant to God?

In my comfort zone I don't count my blessings as much as I should, they are just there.  In my comfort zone the things I need are just within reach.  Always.  What if they were not?  What if that job or friend or _______wasn't there?  What if it was just you and God?

How can we make Him our comfort zone and within that we can be blessed freely?  I have been learning not to lean on myself but upon Him.  That shouldn't be so hard but I confess freely that it is!

When we are able to give up some of our comfort zone maybe we'll find ways to share God  and the message of the empty tomb. When I think of giving up my comfort zone I am reminded what Jesus gave up on the Cross and I'm humbled. I'm awed.  He did that for me.  He did that for YOU!

Feel free to share your Lenten journey with us in the brightly blessed, always and in all ways.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

God is Present

God is present. 
He is there when the tears fall hot on the pillow.
He is there when the fear makes muscles tremble.

God is present.
He is there when our prayers are silent anguish.
He is there when our prayers soar and fly as eagles.

God is present.
He is there when a little boy prays for his daddy and grandpa.
He is there when a mama prays for things with no name.

God is present.
He is present in joy filled laughter.
He is present in wonder filled exclamations.

Got is present.
He is present when His children gather together to pray.
He is present when we lift each other up to Him.

God is present.  Whether we want Him to be or not.
God is present.  Now, then and so far into the future we cannot see.

God is present.  
He is present and I am thankful for it.
He is present and I am in awe of it.

I'm thankful for those who remind me that God is present.
I'm thankful for you!

Be brightly blessed, always and in all ways...