Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free to Breathe Link Up

Welcome to "Free To Breathe" our weekly poetry gathering at Strawberry Roan.  Each week the link will be up for you to share new and previously posted faith poetry.  I encourage you to join us, and to visit those who share.  Leave them some love and be an encourager!  We all can be Son's and Daughter's of Encouragement!

Here is a photo to help inspire you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Water from stones

Have you ever been in a place where you could choose between showing the love of God and speaking your mind?  Ever had the choice, at the end of a frustrating day or at the beginning of a long awaited task to stop and be filled with God's grace or filled with your own stuff?  

We aren't alone.  If you want to read about someone who really understood that check this out:

Water From the Rock
Numbers 20 1 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.
 2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! 4 Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
 6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. 7 The LORD said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
 9 So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
 12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
 13 These were the waters of Meribah,[a] where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where he was proved holy among them.

I really wanted you to read the whole thing.  All of it.  The frustration of taking the people through the wilderness to the edge of their new home.  The years and years of arguing with people who could only think of their past in glowing terms instead of working towards a promised golden future.  The Israelite's could not pull it together.

Are you nodding with empathy because you know how Moses felt?  Or are you the complainer in the bunch? Do you feel like someone, somewhere is having it better than you do right here and now?  Are you thinking you know what God wants you to do without asking of Him?  

Moses asked, God spoke and Moses still did not listen.  How many times Mama's and Daddy's have you felt THAT?  Talking, talking, asking, asking and getting nothing. No respect. No listening. No love.

Uh...hold that thought...right there. Yeah that'll do.  Now ask yourself this - do you do the same thing with God?  When He speaks are we already doing our own thing in our minds?  When He tells us the fruits of the spirit are we trying to glue a few of our own to the tree?  Are we not both complaining Israelites and frustrated Moses?  At the same time even, at least some days.

This is not easy.  Doing it on our own is impossible.  God doesn't even want us to try. He wants us to trust Him.  

Strong willed, smart and determined.  Sensitive and big hearted.  That's my little boy.  Easily frustrated and afraid. Faith filled and God seeking.  And yet still a child needing me to help him.

When he is like an Israelite in the desert, complaining and making no sense, it can be hard not to be a frustrated Moses.  To smack down with the staff. To shout loud. To put my foot down as the Mama.  Proverbs as a hammer. Ouch...yeah it hurts. A lot.

When talking doesn't work. When being the heavy makes it worse. What can we do?  Do what God said to in the first place. Honour Him. Be the fruits of the spirit. 

Quiet voice, "Hey Daddy play his favorite gospel song please.".

Quiet Mama speaking to Daddy, "Daddy let this storm pass."

Suddenly a hostile, complaining, confused child enjoys some fruits of the spirit, starts singing and dancing to the Lord, right off the naughty spot and into my arms.  No more tears. No more fears. Just waters from the stones, washing our hearts and easing our thirst for Him.

We have hard jobs to do as parents, we have challenges as families, but I believe if we seek God before we give in to our frustrations we will find Him and in finding Him we will find the solution.   

This, of course, is very much like shampoo instructions: apply, lather, rinse, repeat.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  God's grace, however, has no limits and no end.  There are no last chances for those under His grace.  

Find that song, or poem that can bring everyone's hearts to God.  Use it. 

This is ours: John the Revelator

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giving Up

The snow fell, finally, wet and heavy. It fell hard for hours.  It covered the lines until they broke under the weight.  No power, knee deep snow.  We had to get cords and generators.  We had to be prepared.  We had to help the workers fix the downed lines.

So often life is like this.  Heavy weight until we buckle under.  It feels like we will break beneath.  

Jesus knew this.  Jesus knows this.

Luke 11:46  Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."

In Matthew, He reminds us He will carry our burdens.  How?  By us helping each other!   In Galatians we are exhorted to do just this. Carry one another's burdens.   Lighten the load, folks.

(I could have given you those verses, but I really want your Bible in your hands about now, looking them up! So go...look.  I'll be here waiting...)


Are you back?  Did you find Matthew 11:30 and Galatians 6:2?  (and you thought I wouldn't help you out!)

As we enter the season of Lent many people give something up for God.  Last year I gave up my comfort zone.  It was hard. It was rewarding. It changed my life. It literally changed everything.  God moved in my life in ways I never imagined.

This year my offering for Lent is to give up my assumptions.  You know those nasty things that keep us from people, places and ideas because of what we think or assume.  It won't be easy.  It will be hard, but if I let go and let God I'm confident something amazing is going to come.

Like the hydro lines, we aren't meant to carry weight that isn't part of our design.  God made us for Him.  We did not make God for us.  He designed us to carry things, and enables us, through grace, to let other things go.  

When it feels like it is too heavy - give it to God.  He can carry it. He promised to.  When you see a brother or a sister struggling under a weight, help them.  Lessen their load as God lessens ours.  Can we offer them a break from the kids?  A job?  Extra food from our freezer?  Clothes?  Maybe a job reference?  How about an encouraging call or art project? 

What burdens do you see people stumbling under today?  How can you help?  

Drop that assumption that they asked for it, or that they deserved it or that it was earned.  

Drop the assumption that your help is not wanted or needed. 

Drop the assumption that God will send someone - He doesn't have to. 
He already sent you by opening your eyes to their need.

If God shows you something, only the devil would want you to walk away.  Our burdens become less when we share the load.  Pray together. Love one another. Be salt and light.

What are you giving up for Lent?  Care to share?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Free to breathe

Inspired by the hymn writers, poets and psalmists of another era, and in celebration of those who write still today, we are going to be doing a poetry link up here. Starting next Wednesday Strawberry Roan will be home to faith based poetry.  

Everyone will be welcome to link up to their work, new or old, and I encourage you to visit the links and leave some encouragement for each other.

Today's poem, to start us off, came to me last night. 

Free To Breathe

The world is built on pressure. 
Gravity keeps us held down.
Jobs, family, expectations
keep us held tightly too.

It can be hard to breathe.
Feeling the tight chest, panic.
Too little, too much, too soon
and sometimes way too late.

Sin weighs heavy when the
devil lies and we believe him.
Sin crushes us, a weight that
is not ours to carry alone.

We hold on too hard to the
things this world promises.
We let go of the gifts that
come with no price tag.

We sink back, and wait to die.
Our spirits weigh heavy in us.
We fall to our knees and pray.
We wait for judgement to fall.

Holding our breath, we wait.
Yet when we trust in Him
we can fall back and learn
to breathe the freedom of grace.

Free to breathe, free from sin.
Free to breathe, free from shame.
Free to breathe, past the pain.
Free to breathe, costing only faith.

Fall deeply into grace, all the way.
Let grace cover your face,
fill your mouth and nose, eyes and ears.
And find there you are free to breathe.

Souls find space, spirits find the sun.
We can breathe in freedom.
We are redeemed, free to breathe.
A second chance called grace.

Copyright 2012 Shanyn Silinski

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This love we have

There is a song by Patty Loveless, You don't even know who I am, about the day a marriage dies.  The spouses realize that they do not know each other and she drives away. He calls to say sorry but he doesn't know what for.

Are you saying sorry to make someone feel better?  Do you know what you are sorry for?  This used to be such a trying thing between my husband and I early in our marriage.  We would have a misunderstanding. We would argue. I'd say sorry even when I had no idea what I was sorry for!  Sorry for fighting. Sorry for not being good enough. Sorry for what....

1 Peter 3:1
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,

I was using words to fight battles that didn't need to be fought at all.  We teach each other how to treat us, forgetting that God already told us how to be.  Throughout the Bible there are rules, directives and instructions for both husbands and wives.  Being people with our own strengths and weaknesses it is not reasonable to expect every Christian couple to look, sound or act the same.  We are not the same. No one is.  

Some wives I know trick their husbands into doing things, they nag, cajole, bribe and beg.  They offer bodily rewards for good behaviour and withhold them when they are not pleased.  We don't do that.  We can't.  Neither has the time nor inclination for marriage games.  

Other couples I know work so very hard to never disagree, never argue or fight.  They think they will be over if they say a cross word or do something thoughtless.  Their feelings are squished way, way down. Their needs put aside as they think they are serving the other.  

Everyone deals with the stress of life in their own way.  Some snip and use sarcasm. Some degrade and demean. Some gossip or vent to their friends. Some drown it in drink or other vices. More horrifically some resort to abuse to regain the illusion of control.  Some sadly cut pieces out of each other day by day until nothing is left.

He is my best friend...even when we don't agree, we still love each other.

My dear husband and I are like the Alabama song, She and I.  We have our own world. We live there happily most of the time.  When we don't we work it out.  In prayer and in action.  In word and deed.  It wasn't always that way though. 

We struggled.  We really did.  Each wondered at the lure of walking away and yet we never took a step.  God honoured our vows to each other, and helped us honour them as well.  We learned to communicate. We learned to share. We learned that we are going to fight sometimes.   

I honour my husband, I respect him. I defend him and adore him.  He is my best friend.  No one else has to feel that way. They don't even have to understand.  I do. He does. It is enough.

We are conscious however, that as a Christian couple, we are showing a Godly marriage to those around us. A living, breathing, real life marriage.  Of equals but not the same.  Of best friends who are not clones.

There are a lot of 'models' out there that we don't fit.  It doesn't make them wrong. It doesn't make us better. We are who we are, and God created two unique people, brought them together in an amazing way to love in ways that are totally out of this world!

We surrender to each other's strengths in life, in faith and in love.  The roles we have balance our marriage and honour God.  We have said the same promise to each other every night since our marriage, and before that even.  It always ends with, thank you God for him/her.  Always.

Whatever the day brings, we face it together. We don't agree always, wouldn't that be boring?  We are both strong willed in different ways. Talk about oxen and asses in the same hitch (you pick who is who...he knows and so do I! It changes daily! ha! ha!)  

I know the way he looks at me that he loves me more than words can say.  He knows the way I look at him that I love him more than words can say.  

Feelings get hurt but we know it isn't intentional.  Angry words get said but no one walks away.  Life gets stressful and brings us to our knees, we join hands and we pray.

Where do we fit in this world of plans and programs?  How does my marriage, blessed by God and one of surrender to each other and to God, fit in?  It doesn't.  It doesn't have to.   Surprised? Don't be. God designed each of us from the womb, through the experiences of our lives to be who we are right now, where we are right now.  Seek counsel. Seek advice. But always seek it prayerfully. Seek it looking to the Word of God as the final answer.  

This love we have is so wonderful and yet it does not even begin to compare to His love for us!  Love one another as He loved us.  (Read John 13:34-35)  They will know we love Him when they see how we love each other.   Don't struggle to fit in with a plan or program, don't force your husband into a role that isn't his and don't be pushed into one that is not yours.  Trust God to lead your marriage and your life.  Trust each other in faith.

And don't forget to live, laugh and love! Fully. Every day. Every moment is a precious gift. Cherish it. Be blessed by it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This is love

““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” John 13:34-35 NIV

Does your love show through in the things you say, think and do?
Do people know, by your love, that you are His child?
Let your love show, today and always!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An audience of One

Matthew 6:4
so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Pray in secret. Give in secret. But it isn't a secret if God knows!  It is only secret from people.  That is to combat our human tendency to compete.  We want to be the fastest, the best, the wisest, the most commented upon or followed. We crave that very thing which caused Satan to fall and that is our own pride fulfilled.  It is like emptying the ocean with a thimble.

Pray in secret. Give in secret.  Write not for the comments, cash or accolades but for Him. Write, sing, pray, create and live for Him.

It takes a lot to put ourselves out there creatively.  We risk judgement, ridicule, misunderstanding or worse not being noticed at all!  

A friend wrote about judgement today, you can read about it here (Thanks Carey!) and it really really convicted me.  It made me pray. It made me think.

We serve. We pray. We love. We give. We offer ourselves and actions to God as a blessing.  We obey when He prompts us to action.  We listen for the whisper of the Holy Spirit.  We don't own it though.

We may wash the feet of a sister or a brother.  We care enough to serve them.  But it ends there for us.  We don't own their feet, nor the cleansing.  We gave it away, freely, as a love offering.  Those don't have strings.

We don't get to question or judge whether they walk in dirt or mud again.  It's not our affair, even if we did wash their feet.

God blesses us with the words, images, art and song to lift up our brothers and sisters.  We give it as a love offering.  It is no longer ours to covet.  It is no longer ours to expect praise for.  We've done it for God, and it belongs to Him.

BUT WAIT...THERE IS MORE!  Our job is not done!  

Romans 12:8
if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

God also expects His children to love, encourage, serve and care for each other.  We are supposed to be the encouragers to others! We are supposed to show them love and grace.  We are to lift them up. Love them. 

We don't get to ask for that back.  (part of me cries here though - we shouldn't have to ask should we?  if we are to encourage each other that assumes a two way exchange of encouragement doesn't it?)

We don't get to ask for that back.  God already has asked for it back, for us!  Encourage each other. Lift each other up. Be there for each other in prayer, love and in actions.  

Our love offerings are given to God, for His use to encourage our brothers and sisters. To convict them. To challenge them. To bring them to song or prayer. To move them to action against wrong.  They are for His use.  We write, sing, love, pray and serve for an audience of One.  

Matthew 25:40
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

We serve Him by serving each other!  We show God's love by loving.  We show how life lived in grace looks by living it out loud. Actively.  By words. By actions. 

God blessed you with skills and talents to be used for His glory. They may not be the ones you wish you had or the ones you wish He'd use. But they are exactly what He knows is needed when He calls for them.  Can we be obedient to that?

Can we truly read someone's efforts, and leave some love?
Can we see a call for help and answer it?
Can we really pray when we type 'praying'?
Can we reach out our hands and hearts wholly?
Can we truly say, Your will and not my own?

If the only feedback you got was from God - would you be excited to hear His words or terrified?  Let's be overjoyed that He is our audience of One, let's be so excited we tremble that we can be His children.  Let's be the reason someone looks closer at our faith because of our joy, because we live under grace, because of Him.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What's your poverty?

What do you have? Is it better than what I have? Can I have it? I want it. I think.
God opened a door yesterday and I went through, in faith, and I met a person on the other side I did not know.  I thought I knew her, but I didn't!  She wasn't who I thought she was and I wasn't who she thought I was.  It was very good to talk to a sister in Christ who approaches things so differently from I and yet we share the same foundation, the same belief.

The one thing we talked about that could have been a sensitive issue was poverty and money.  I never thought about it the way she does and she had not considered how I look at it.  It was enlightening. Neither was out to change the other's mind.  We were talking.

She emailed me this morning to clarify what she had said. She was afraid she had offended me.  I wasn't offended, and I messaged her back saying that.  But it still weighs upon my heart what we talked about.  We each saw the same concept, the same word in such different ways. 

Consider that. Two sisters, in Christ. Faith filled, redeemed by grace, understanding our words and works are nothing without grace and love.  And yet on this issue and one other we are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Not in conflict because we are not judging or questioning, we are seeking to understand.

In what I saw as abundance she saw poverty.  Where I saw friends as family, she saw only family OR friends.  What I saw as a chance to see yourself as a blessing she saw as her being bereft at making a wrong choice. 

Instead of arguing, we explored and found that much like a sphere, you can be on side very far apart and yet that makes you on the other side very close together.

She still may think I'm a bit crazy!  And I will still worry for her heart.  But we neither judged nor tried to discount the other's path.   What a richness and joy that is!  What a blessing!  Her strong faith leads her, just as mine does me.  But God in His great wisdom does not have us walking the same paths, roads or wandering the same deserts.

When we talk about hot trigger words like poverty with other believers are we speaking with our hearts tuned to God?  Or are we so certain in our rightness that we feel righteous?  There are many kinds of poverty - poverty of physical needs, poverty of spirit, poverty of fellowship and poverty of _____________.

God doesn't just speak of physical poverty, He speaks of poverty of spirit as well.  If you have all the physical abundance in the world and don't have a richness in your soul then you too are sitting in poverty.

In the town I live near there are many huge homes and fancy yards.  The secret is what is inside.  Very often yard furniture or nothing.  The people invested everything they had in an outward show of wealth and were left with a hollow, empty space to live in.  This is much like our hearts as well...so much of our lives can be dedicated to the exterior that we neglect the soul, the spirit, the Temple.  

It wasn't a word I would have chosen to use, poverty, because I see it in quite a different way.  But to her it felt and looked just like it should.  And it wasn't acceptable to her family, to her. And she felt led by God to go back to a place where she had an abundance to share with her brothers and sisters.  Her path. I pray she finds her way and is blessed as she travels it.

How do you share your abundance?  Do you question if you have anything to share?  We all do!  God gives us an abundance in the poverty of life without Him.  Are we going to share our talents, gifts and time?  Are we going to be bold and ask to be shown how to find abundance in our poverty?

I normally share a verse, but I invite you to share the verses that speak to you on this!